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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

The week in social: Tumblr cashes in, new look Flickr and super-specific searches

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Yahoo buys Tumblr

As predicted last week (we must have had our ears pressed firmly to the ground), Yahoo bought Tumblr on Monday for a whopping $1.1billion. All cash. That’s a lot of suitcases full of notes. In an attempt to attract younger players to the Yahoo brand, CEO Marissa Mayer said Tumblr was perfect to appear “cool and relevant’ and signposted that this deal represents ‘the stake in the ground of what her strategy is going forward for Yahoo.”

Read more on the deal here.

  
Twitter hands you your cards

Announced last week, Twitter Cards now enable users to sign up for a product or service with a single click (no more filling out the same info on several forms). The Lead Generation Card - “makes it easy for users to express interest in what your brand offers. Users can easily and securely share their email address with a business.”

Learn more and see how they could work for you.

  
Flickr gets new look

Smack bang in the middle of the day that Yahoo bought Tumblr, the Yahoo-owned photo storage giant Flickr went and got itself a makeover. It’s almost like it was planned… as Marissa Mayer explains: ‘We have a nice set of the creator brands. Photographers and writers. With that, there is natural set of opportunities that arise between Flickr and Tumblr and we’ll deal with that as it comes’. In a coup for users, alongside the revamp was the news that each account holder now receives 1 Terabyte of free storage – or enough room to park 537,731 photos. So get snapping!

  
Pinterest gets more…pinteresting

In a move aimed to broaden Pinterest’s appeal, it announced Wednesday that it would be partnering with individual brands to allow them to display deep dive data instead of simply linking back to the original item in the form of Product Pins. For example, a grocery store could pin a photo of a meal, and have the Pin display all the ingredients and prices needed to create it. Handy as it stops users ending up being directed somewhere else, able to “glean more information direct from the site…making the platform more attractive to advertisers in the process.” Are we looking at a ‘visual Google’ in the new age of SAO (Social Aggregation Optimization)?

Find out here.

  
Gaming gets more social

Alongside the Xbox One announcement this week, Microsoft debuted Skype on the new device. Alongside group video calling (via the Kinect camera), the Xbox/Skype combo will allow you to share in-game (or in-movie) screenshots via the Snap feature of the console and the photo sharing capabilities of Skype. Voice commands will also be available making it “easy and natural for you to celebrate and experience the moments that matter to you—how and when you want, together, through your living room TV”.

Read more on the official blog.

  
Lend us a tenner…

…on your phone. Things just got interesting – and a little bit secretive – in the money-lending stakes. Square Cash, an invite-only page, purports to let friends send money directly to each other’s debit cards. We’re not sure whether this is a good idea, or has the potential to go very wrong (perhaps late at night, perhaps having imbibed a few adult beverages and feeling particularly friendly).

See how it could work for you here.

  
Is Facebook turning teens off?

A Pew study has shown that online teens are spending less time on Facebook. It mentions ‘over-sharing’ and ‘drama’ as being turn offs and reasons for turning to other platforms such as Twitter (which has seen an increased usage among teens from 16% in 2011 to 24% today). Interestingly, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest don’t get much of a look-in among this demographic, with only 11%, 3%, 5% and 1% reach respectively.

Visit Pew for more.

  
Twitter launches ad targeting for TV

Via a special dashboard, Twitter now allows campaign managers to monitor when a commercial has aired on TV and coordinate promoted tweets, pushing social interaction with live programming. Michael Fleischman of Twitter said that the new service uses ‘video fingerprinting technology to automatically detect when and where a brand’s commercials are running on TV, without requiring that advertiser to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details’. Instream broadcasting clips can also now be broadcast by a brand as part of Twitter Amplify, with BBC America, FOX, Fuse and the Weather Channel being among early adopters.

Read more on the Twitter ad blog.

  
Foursquare launches super-specific searches

This week, Foursquare launched a more advanced suite of super-specific search options for mobile users looking to find relevant places of interest nearby. In a blog post, Foursquare showcased a number of sample searches as examples of how users might use the new functionality including. “One of the museums in Paris that my friend Matt went to last year, that’s also near my hotel.” and “A bar downtown that’s new to me, but that my friends have been to. Oh, and that has margaritas.” There is also the option to indicate the amount of money you’re willing to spend while searching for restaurants and the like using a series of pecuniary symbols like $, $$, $$$.

  
100 hours of video per minute…

..is the rate at which the 1 billion YouTube users (per month) are uploading to the service. Someone else did the maths, and that’s over 4 days of video uploaded every minute of every day. Helping the increase (from 72 hours per minute last year) are YouTube’s move into paid-for channels that are ‘aimed at rivalling streaming services like Hulu and Netflix’.

More stats and facts here.

  
Another purchase for Yahoo?

Rumours abound that Yahoo (fresh from buying Tumblr and revamping Flickr) are looking to move into the streaming video world with a reported bid for Hulu. Up against other bidders like Directv and Time Warner Cable, it looks as if Yahoo have thrown their hat into the ring too. To see the pricing, and find out the bidding history for the site, read more here.

  
App.net passes 100,000 users

ADN (as the service is sometimes known – App Dot Net) is an ad-free social platform popular with developers, and has both free and paid-for options. Free users can follow 40 other people and have 500MB storage on-site. Paid subscriptions keep the site clean of ads for both sets of users. The site is responsible for 1,500 developed apps, and has 150 in their app directory.

For more details, read this post.

  
Digg says new Reader won’t be a standalone app

This week, Digg announced that Digg Reader, Digg’s Google Reader replacement tool will not come as a standalone app, rather as an addition to Digg’s current platform. Announcing the news at Internet Week New York, Andrew McLaughlin (CEO of Digg) said “aiming to build something that’s very clean, very simple and very fast.” The new service will include the ability to sort by popularity, and will be displayed in “a really clean, uncluttered way, with a lot of speed and performance”.

More info on the service can be found here.

What does Facebook’s news feed revamp mean for brands?

Friday, March 8th, 2013

The first thing to note about yesterday’s announcement by Facebook is that it was something of an anti-climax. Graph Search was (potentially, at least) a fundamental shift in the way people will use the platform and Thursday’s news, it was assumed, would be just as significant.

Photo: TechCrunch.com

In fact, it was little more than a redesign.

 

There were three main changes:

1. Larger news feed: with larger images, videos, previews of links, etc.

2. Filtered news feeds: choose to only see Photos, only content from friends, etc.

3. A new, consistent user interface across mobile, tablet and desktop

 

Facebook is walking a tightrope in an attempt to keep users and advertisers happy – the forgotten people in between the two are brands who aren’t spending on advertising.

For advertisers, Thursday brought more real estate in the news feeds – and so the potential for richer and more eye-catching branded content.

Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call with Wall Street analysts in January, “Advertisers want really rich things like big pictures or videos, and we haven’t provided those things historically.” This changed yesterday.

This change is also intended to improve the experience for users, of course – as is the announcement of a consistent user interface across platforms, and the ability to filter the news feed to only view certain posts. For more on this, marvel at the soft focus and slow-building soft rock behind Facebook’s feel-good explanatory video.

Whilst these changes mostly revolve around user experience and interface, they are important for brands.

The shift to a more visual news feed means that extra effort should be considered in order to produce content that users want to see. More visible external sources (websites, articles, music and videos) also calls for even more emphasis on these elements.

Although it is still unclear how EdgeRank will be affected by this reshuffle of the news feed, we see an opportunity for brands’ content to appear on more than one news feed at once. For instance, if you publish a photo, your update might very well appear in a fan’s main feed, their’ “Photo” feed AND their “Following” feed. Which would, in essence, increase the reach of content from Pages.

Photo: Mashable

Overall, however, this new filtering of the news feed threatens to be pretty damaging for those brands not spending big on Facebook advertising. From privacy settings to news feed options, Facebook have always allowed users to customise their experience: but often the vast majority of people are unaware of these options. The new news feed filters, with their ability to view photos only, look to be different: this is a feature that people will use, and one of the ways in which they will use it is to filter out brand content and look only at their friends’ updates.

This raises a fundamental question about the role of Facebook in people’s lives. Zuckerberg talked yesterday of Facebook as “the best personalised newspaper”, but it’s not where people go to read news. Research last year showed that people follow an average of 6.9 brands on Facebook. The figure for Twitter is 8.5 and 9.3 for Pinterest. People are more interested in what brands have to say on those platforms – from news on Twitter to browsing products on Pinterest.

Facebook is different. People generally use Facebook to connect with their friends, not brands. The changes announced yesterday make it easier for them to do this – without brand messages getting in the way. The challenge for brands, now more than ever, is to make sure their content is not getting in the way – to make it valuable enough that people do want to see it in their feeds, alongside that of their friends, family and exes they “haven’t got round to” removing yet.

The exact implications of these changes will not be seen until they are rolled out over the coming weeks, but it will be interesting to see what the impact will be for users, brands, and of course the advertisers that provide Facebook’s much-needed revenue.

Campus Party Europe report | Look, listen and share!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Last week Campus Party – the annual weeklong, 24-hours-a-day conference & festival on technology and social media – came to Berlin for the first time. Taking the opportunity for a change of scene 1000heads Germany headed down and set up office for four days under the roof of Berlin’s oldest (and now shut, thankfully) airport Tempelhof, host for the event.

Along with the thousands of attendees we set out to watch and learn from the community of tech-evangelists, entrepreneurs, specialists and bloggers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as big a community as had hoped for. While the website clearly marked the event as ‘sold out’ with an impressive 10,000 tickets sold, our estimated number of visitors was much lower with around 3,000 – 4,000 people attending in total. This may have been because the programme was yet to be published just three days before opening with only key speakers confirmed beforehand. Or maybe the organisers forgot to connect to their target audience more thoroughly? As one major German news magazine ‘Spiegel Online’ reported ahead of the opening day: “it seems as if the event comes as a surprise to much of Germany’s internet community”.

But what of the event itself? Well, despite the numbers it was a fantastic four days. A recurring theme of the event was the topic of sharing. Sharing ideas, sharing opinions, sharing data. After all, most of the people came to Campus Party to share, exchange and present their ideas. It was no coincidence then that one of the keynote speakers was Paulo Coelho who opened the main stage on the first day. Explaining his understanding of sharing Paulo told the audience: “You share because you need to share – it’s an instinct”. Of course Coelho is in a comfortable place to say so as he made his name in Russia after giving some of his books away for free! But sharing of course doesn’t necessarily mean giving things away for free. The way we understand it at any event such as Campus Party is more in a communications and publishing context, and as expected a large sector of the audience took the opportunity of a large conference to communicate their ideas, amplify what they have to say (and sell!) and find new audiences.

When it comes to sharing however, let’s not forget another way to connect to your audience: listening. Listening closely to your target audience to figure out what they want from you is an important part of any two way relationship. You’ve heard it before of course, but at the event there was a nice demonstration of it in action from O2 Germany. They presented their idea of listening in a panel with the striking title “How Happy is Germany?” Their system called ‘The Urban Mood’ analyses several social media and online news channel and publishes the results in a playful and – as they call it – ‘adorable’ way. We agree that just spending a little time looking at the data generated in real time brightens the mood.

When asked what ‘The Urban Mood’ offers beyond simply a visually appealing display, the representative holding the talk told us that a possible scenario could be for O2 to react on mere emotional tendencies in the public mood allowing their customer service to act before something happens that could put a damper on the general mood index. They admitted with a smile that this sounds like a scenario from Minority Report but also that they’re not done discussing possible applications for the data compiled by their tool which has exciting possibilities.

Whatever the plans for the future might be I hope they stay true to their transparent and open approach, sharing their discoveries openly. And that’s something that the organisers of Campus Party should keep in mind as well. Thanks for organising such a wonderful and insightful event – now share it with the world in order to grow a bigger audience. How about allowing access to all the videos of talks to everyone out there, not just registered attendees?

In the end Campus Party offered a brilliant programme with many high class speakers and it’s a shame it may remain unshared with the rest of the world. If it were, I bet that there’d be even more people coming to the next edition of Campus Party Europe. And we’re already looking forward to that!

Stay aHead: Surface, battery science and Twitter polling

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Surface or Sink?

The lavish Windows 8 tablet speculations circulating the globe were finally given some clarity during Microsoft’s private Hollywood event yesterday afternoon. It appears that CEO, Steve Ballmer, may very well have found a way to bring his company up for some fresh air. With the release of the Surface tablet computers, Microsoft has officially made the landscape interesting again. It may not be an “iPad killer”, but it will absolutely be an “ultrabook” competitor. A mobile work and play machine capable of fusing consumption and productivity, Microsoft can only hope that developers are willing to jump on this shiny-object’s Metro bandwagon. Without final pricing and the rest of the spec details, it’s hard to jump to any conclusions, but I won’t act like I’m not impressed.

Battery Life Science

A team of researchers based out of UC Berkeley’s AMP Lab have released Carat, an incredible useful iOS and Android app that provides you with personalized mobile battery life-saving recommendations. Simply install the app on your device and it will suggest ways to improve battery life such as updating your OS, killing the hogs, or reinstalling buggy apps. Carat clearly presents an estimation of the expected improvement time for each of its recommendations so you know exactly what sort of impact they will have on your phone or tablet. Describing itself as “Collaborative Energy Debugging”, the free app was built strictly with the intention of collecting more anonymous data for their research aimed at making your devices last longer on a single charge. The team at Carat also shares all of its bug data with the app developers themselves so they can fix these issues. It may certainly not be worthy of precious homescreen real-estate, but consider this a valuable gift for your Utilities folder.

Really Simple Twitter Polling

The most recent class of TechStars NYC graduates had an impressive showing during demo day last week, but PopTip caught my eye right away. The service offers an extremely simple way to create and deliver polls entirely within Twitter, providing the power to crowdsource at scale with minimal effort. By tweeting a question to your followers containing “cc/ #poptip” along with the hashtagged potential answers, PopTip takes care of the rest. Here’s an example tweet: “Who do you want to win the #England vs. #Ukraine match? cc/#poptip”. All of the responses will be nicely organized into a real-time metrics dashboard for the creator as well as a dedicated page of results available for the public to view and share. Even more impressive, respondents are free to misspell words or forget to hashtag their answers, ensuring that every tweet will be accounted for. Consider this a fine addition to your engagement arsenal and expect to see team PopTip take on Facebook in the next few weeks.

Poptip Product Walkthrough from Poptip on Vimeo.

The C-Suite and social media

Monday, June 18th, 2012

As debates hot up over whether it’s time for a dedicated social media C-Suite position, here’s a quick round up of insights and perspectives on social media and the C-Suite.

First off, an infographic on the value of social media from the CMO perspective using data from Forrester, Marketing Sherpa and others. Almost all say they’ll be increasing their social marketing budgets as well as investing 50% more in social recruitment. There’s clearly no one size fits all ROI model but important signals range from traffic to extra search visibility, positive word of mouth, brand awareness and conversions.

Source

But what about active involvement by the C-Level execs in social media? According to this recent study, 82% of people have more trust for an organisation whose leadership team are active in Social Media and even more say it helps successfully project brand values in a positive way. Here’s some choice cuts.

And if you missed it, Mashable recently published the views of execs on their attitudes to social media as part of its Social Media for Business Leaders Series.

First up, Sandy Carter, vice president, social business evangelism and sales at IBM.

“Encourage a social culture: Culture and change management is the foundation of true social business transformation. Create a social business agenda, an integrated plan to be more competitive and have a measurable ROE (return on everything) an organizations does socially. Embed social into business processes — to fully evolve into a social business, organizations need to foster social behaviors, thinking and technology into the fabric of the company, i.e. customer service, HR, marketing, operations. Hire a Social Media strategist/manager: This person is essential to serve as a community advocate and works with employees to understand the value of Social Media. They are also responsible for protecting the reputation of the brand online.”

Next, Alexander Bolen, CEO at Oscar de la Renta.

“We have a huge opportunity, a whole new world of people we weren’t able to speak to before. Figure out the best way to do that for your brand and what fits in with your DNA. I’ll go back to something Oscar has told me frequently: ‘We are not all things to all people, but we should always try to be more things to more people.’ I think that’s the way to do it.”

And here’s Geoff Cottrill’s take, chief marketing officer at Converse.

“We mix it up with posts about product, posts about content and questions about topics of the day. Last year, for example, we posted a design-your-own shoe contest inspired by the Double Rainbow guy, who was blowing up that week on YouTube. Some of what we do is planned, but a lot of it is spontaneous. You have to be flexible and ready to talk about lots of topics — just like at a dinner party. We’re also learning a lot about posting tactics –- time zones, language, regional relevance, etc. I go back to what I said earlier –- you have to have the courage to let go and not try to control the conversation or broadcast advertising messages every chance you get. Be respectful of the time between purchases of your product by adding value and contributing to the conversation. When it comes time again to purchase, your relationship with them should pay off.”

To cap things off, here’s a look at the developing relationship between marketing and technology among the C-Suite c/o IBM. IBM is predicting that by 2017, the CMO will be spending more on IT than the CIO.

A Brand Jam School of Thought – Part 2

Friday, June 8th, 2012

In the second of my trilogy based on the Brand Jam event at Brunel University, I’m dissecting Derek Macaulay’s talk on consumer data privacy – particularly relevant this week given LinkedIn’s recent misfortunes.

Derek talks privacy

Derek is Director of the Horizon Digital Research, a university-funded project that aims to investigate the technical developments needed if electronic information is to be properly controlled, managed and harnessed. His talk was focussed around the concept of privacy in the digital age – the idea that each of us leaves a lifelong digital footprint that we ultimately struggle to keep private until death, when all information and rights to privacy cease (possibly a massive generalisation; more my take on it).

On a contextual level, he made the point that we unknowingly (but increasingly, knowingly) leave behind digital traces; inferences that, welcome or not, provide a record of our personal activities for exploitation through systems such as behavioural marketing platforms and targeted advertising. The flipside is provision of better services, content and experiences (again based on our unique digital footprint), but increasingly this new age of enlightenment brings with it serious privacy concerns.

The point where my head was about to explode came when he referred to Social Media channels as artificial social constructs that should focus more upon transitive social interactions, but really serve as a platform for individuals’ self-actualisations – the reason why tangible product marketing opportunities are rarely awarded through behavioural analysis.

While I wholeheartedly agree that behavioural analysis is flawed, the idea that social platforms are merely artificial social constructs where 90% of content isn’t marketable is somewhat of a fallacy to me. We live in a materialistic world. The idea that people rarely talk about their latest purchase, or intent to purchase, seems a little thin – especially when, in our 13 years of experience, we’ve seen thousands of daily examples where a certain personal arrogance becomes more pronounced in social, as seemingly meaningless disclosures become valuable social currency.

Moreover, I believe that online privacy is not necessarily a concern most people recognise in their online lives; it is instead very much a product of the evolution of the digital marketplace. Isn’t trust generally earned by a brand through its reputation and actions, whether an individual has read its terms and conditions or not?

Perception of Horizon, and other privacy compliance research organisations, by marketing professionals could easily be that of latter-day Luddites, with over-pronounced privacy concerns easily standing in the way of progress by limiting the extent the marketplace can be invigorated by technological innovations.

Yet back in reality, these organisations and action groups do play a fundamentally important role, by clearing out the grey areas of privacy and providing better protection to the consumer.

Would progress be quicker, smoother and more inventive if data privacy concerns were put to one side? Is that really the solution?

And do cases of data loss present a significant risk to the use of any personal digital data in the future?

Stay aHead (vol 2): Apps, efficiency and notable disruption

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Facebook Stands Alone

In addition to its ambitious acqui-hire strategy, Zuck & Co. appear to have a new go-to: the “Standalone App”. Failure is not an option when it comes to mobile and they want to do everything they can to ensure that they deliver the best experience possible for users. Releasing standalone apps allows them to simultaneously appease power users, drive usage of a particular activity, and test the waters of early-adopters before integrating the winning build into the main Facebook app.

Take Facebook Messenger as a perfect example. The result of the Beluga acquisition last year, it was able to greater emphasize FB chat and bring a seamless experience to mobile users. Facebook Pages Manager is another standalone app enabling admins to login as their actual page and manage it more effectively beyond the desktop. Now it launches Facebook Camera just two months after snagging Instagram for a cool billion.

Facebook is slowly filling up its own folder on my iPhone and I think it is safe to say that this strategy will continue moving forward. Definitely expect to see some sort of standalone app for managing Facebook Ads (aka “Stories”) and potentially another for the new App Center. It seems that Zuck now has plenty of cash to throw down for some extra homescreen real-estate.

Increase Your APPetite

What are you really hungry for? Edamam is looking to change the way we eat by helping us build a healthier relationship with food. Powered by sophisticated semantic technology, Edamam has released a digital food knowledge platform to facilitate better daily choices. In addition to a nutrition widget for food bloggers, they just recently released a recipe search for consumers on its homepage complete with accompanying native iOS and Android apps. Simply enter what you’re hungry for and receive everything you will need to unleash your inner chef complete with recipes, ingredient lists, and nutritional info. Filter your options by dietary restrictions or calories and seamlessly share with your networks. Consider this an appetizer and expect to see a series of apps in the near future that will take advantage of this powerful platform’s API buffet.

Inbox Efficiency

Many of you probably have that one personal email address that you use strictly for signups. Maybe you don’t and instead just have a single email address for everything except work. Regardless, this likely results in a constant flow of random newsletters and “important updates” that you probably could care less about. Taking the time to manually unsubscribe from all of these requires entirely too much effort and often doesn’t even work, but there is now a better way to take control of inbox overload. Currently still in beta, Unroll.me allows you to easily identify everything you are subscribed to and manage this in a simple dashboard with a few clicks. Additionally, you can aggregate all of your subscriptions that you’d actually like to receive into a single daily “roll-up” email. With the average user having 100+ subscriptions, I strongly recommend giving your inbox(es) some spring cleaning.

For the Gmail enthusiasts out there looking to bump up your productivity, here is a winning combination to consider: Rapportive + Boomerang + Contactually. By replacing Gmail Ads with useful real-time info, Rapportive helps to put a face to any email. Scroll over an address to get a better feel for who you are dealing with including the latest from their social channels. Another way to build stronger rapport is to always send out timely emails. Baydin’s Boomerang allows you to schedule messages to go out at the perfect time or remove unnecessary clutter from your inbox until it is truly needed. It also enables you to set notifications to ensure a prompt follow-up within a designated time frame. Contactually takes this even further by sending you daily recommendations of who to reach out to based on your email usage, something that Siri probably dreams to do some day.

Notable Disruption in NYC

TechCrunch Disrupt has seen significant growth in popularity over the past few years, particularly its “Startup Battlefield” presentations. There were two clear standouts in my opinion. The first was UberConference which ended up winning the competition. Founded by the creator of Google Voice, it attempts to solve many of the blatant issues with conference calling. Leveraging a simple visual interface, it has a strong value proposition that will certainly make people think twice about using anything else. The other standout was Incident’s gTar, an innovative iPhone-powered guitar with interactive LEDs along the fretboard. Clearly a disruptive tool for an instrument with a steep learning curve, it allows anyone to pick it up and play regardless of their experience.

Is this the death of digital?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Last week, I attended a conference in Egypt all about the uses and abuses of social media in a changing world. One of the questions that kept cropping up during discussions was on the variable nature of the online network, and the implications this will have on our social behaviour.

Now, you may want to argue that the online world isn’t changing, or even that online is all about change, and therefore it doesn’t make sense to talk about about ‘changes in the online world’ – in fact, these are many of the arguments that surfaced during the discussion. But all of our protestations were swiftly silenced when communications expert Mark Comerford gave us all one very simple task: to define the word ‘digital’ in a tweetable summary of 140 characters or less.

Here are two of the definitions from participants @kuebra and @Der_Maverick:

What is interesting about these two definitions (and indeed, each of the 24 definitions our group produced) is that they were all different. Some were so different as to be mutually incompatible. According to Mark, it is this divergence of meanings that, ultimately, makes digital a meaningless word.

‘To me digital is a word that has no meaning. The word is so over-used that it becomes more of a problem to use it than a solution – because for everybody it means so many different things. In many ways it’s a lazy way to talk about the world as it looks right now.’

Not only that, but Mark also maintains that it is nonsensical to talk about our ‘online’ and ‘offline’ lives as if they were two separate entities.

‘Your life is your life is your life. There is no such thing as an unreal life.’

So what do you think? Is this the death of digital? Is it no longer useful, or accurate, to distinguish between our online and offline selves?

Nokia and Miss Minaj shut down Times Square

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I’m new to 1000heads, and have often been asked by family and friends what it is we do. Here’s just one example.

We recently supported the Nokia US  launch of the Nokia Lumia 900. The brand and international rap superstar Nicki Minaj teamed up to host a launch of epic proportions, live from Times Square. Local New Yorkers and tourists from around the world witnessed an exclusive visual and musical takeover, using nine immense CGI screens, crowned by a show-stopping performance from Minaj.

She performed a medley of songs from her brand-new album and then introduced the exclusive Nokia remix of her latest single ‘Starships’, featuring London-based DJ Doorly. Lucky fans in the audience were also filmed to appear in the official video for the Nokia ‘Starships’ remix.

And what was our role in all of this?

Prior to the takeover we invited  bloggers from the worlds of music and technology to join us for the event. The bloggers, as well as New Yorkers in and around Times Square, had no idea what was planned. Aside from a few hints, everything about the event was secret. The only real clue was a giant blue box that had been planted in the middle of Times Square the day before the launch. The box was unbranded but for a distinctive clock that was counting down.

To add even more intrigue and mystery, on launch day we gave each blogger a scaled-down version of the blue box; inside was a pair of Monster headphones and a miniature countdown timer, synced with the main box.

To support the activity online we created a Facebook tab on the Nokia US page called ‘Lumia 900 Live’. The tab mirrored all activity leading up to the event on the ground, still giving nothing away. Then, post-launch, we ran a Facebook competition giving fans the opportunity to win a Lumia 900 signed by Minaj herself. The tab was also the home for the official video for the Nokia ‘Starships’ remix.

The trip was a blast for lots of reasons, the main one being getting to meet our bloggers face to face, and giving them an experience they’d never forget.

So a big thank you goes out to the guys and girls who came along (and gave us such great feedback afterwards); @Couchon, @hyde13, @MissVersatile, @THE_TRUTH34, @CamilleBacker, @popbytes, @blue42richman, @arjanwrites and @mikemacias.

AR and the risks of brand vandalism

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Augmented Reality apps aren’t new, but while playing around with Aurasma I started thinking about how I, as a consumer, am able to express my feelings about a brand.

I’ve never used AR before, so I started simple, creating a rudimentary example that exemplifies how I can, at the simplest level, say what I think about Marmite.


This love/hate example neatly fits in with the brand ethos of Marmite, which prides itself on the intense emotional response people have to its taste. But for any other brand there’s no doubt that a virtual sign shouting out ‘I hate’ whenever you point your phone at its label, could be seen as a problem. Brand vandalism, if you will.

Obviously, one of the glorious things about social media is that we can publicly comment on (and subvert) a brand however we see fit (as long as we’re not breaking any laws, that is). But we’ve seen how uncomfortable this has made brands in the past.

In 2009 Skittles turned its homepage into a live feed of consumer tweets, where any tweet featuring the word ‘skittles’ would be shown. But thanks to a lack of foresight (and appropriate language censors), chaos ensued.

Similarly, McDonald’s was hit during its ‘McStories’ campaign – when conversation about the brand was hijacked for the best part of a week, with a storm of complaints and vitriolic comment.

So are these sorts of AR apps about to make them terrified?

Well, perhaps. But in both these cases one could argue that the damage done to the brand was minimal. From a personal standpoint, if I’m craving a McFlurry on a sunny day, the likeliness of me being put off by a Twitter tag faux pas is frankly non-existent. But they do highlight a vitally important lesson; social means everyone can, and most probably will, have their say. Brands don’t get to choose who says what about them, whether online, in AR space, or in the real world. Social media and AR are simply new tools with which both brands, and their customers, can share their feelings.

What this does mean, however, is that brands that put themselves out there and encourage participation have to be ready for the consequences – and ready to respond to potentially controversial situations in an appropriate and positive way.

Beyond those instances where a person has a well-founded complaint, the majority of brand vandalism can be seen as silly, irreverent but also complimentary. If your brand excites and interests someone enough to generate an emotional response, even if it’s not on message, that should be welcomed and embraced.

Do the opposite by going on the offensive and you risk ‘doing a Nestle’, turning an opportunity to genuinely engage around an important issue into a potential PR disaster.

Ultimately, being part of the social environment means being part of the conversation. And just like in any conversation, confidence, humility, and not least a healthy dose of humanity, will prevail.

So don’t let the hijacking possibilities of AR put you off exploring an awesome new technology – just – like the proverbial Scouts, be prepared.