Some of you may have seen this epic video by David Ellis, a man who basically travels the world and films awsome roller coaster rides (when he’s not being an accountant of course). Me, I enjoy a fair bit of downhill action every now and again, so turned into a 10 year old child when I first saw it.
After seeing David acting like a human rocket, I knew that I would one day find myself at the top of that very mountain about to experience every turn, dip and ounce of speed the Meiders Alpine Coaster had to offer.
Then it happened…
It was a typical day at the office, and my Storm Trooper clock informed me that it was almost home time as I opened my last email for the day. It was my brother telling me about a rock festival happening in Austria.
“Austria!” I told him, eyes so wide in un-blinking wonder I had to wipe tears from my face… ”Do you have any idea what else happens in Austria dude? Do you! Here, watch this video!”
To this day I wonder, had he sent me a link to a Justin Bieber concert happening in Austria, would I still have gone, based purely on one video I’d seen and been inspired by?
The answer is yes; yes I would have.
So it was decided, my brother and I would hire a car in Austria, four days before the rock festival, to tour the countryside in search of the Meiders Alpine Coaster. One alpine coaster amongst hundreds across the country, thousands around the world and located in a part of Austria no one really knows.
We found it…
P.S. No clue why I felt the word “phone” deserved an operatic exit for the video
The journey we took to get to that point was truly incredible. We saw castles, stumbled across waterfalls, hiked abandoned 4×4 trails, slept in a car, saw incredible views, climbed trees and played a drinking game called stump.
Now I know this isn’t a diary entry, but what this story encapsulates is the power of social sharing. The ability to inspire people to do the unexpected, to see new places, to go on a roadtrip with their bro and high five every Austrian on the way as they hop off the Alpine coaster in Meiders…all because of a video uploaded to YouTube by an accountant.
Has a video ever inspired you to do something this crazy?
Today we bring you the first Word of Mouth win of the week from OXO. And it comes in the super-traditional form of a TV ad.
The ad itself tells the story of OXO’s new product (Squeezy Stock) through a conversation: an online video call between a father and son.
Essentially, the act of recommendation is being promoted as much as the product. It’s face to face, it’s online, it’s peer to peer – but it’s an ad. It’s an interesting mash-up of social, traditional and digital media.
This is a welcome reminder that Word of Mouth happens when we’re barely conscious of it. As we mention time and again, the majority of conversation occurs in the real world, playing out in people’s everyday lives – and in places where brands can’t always observe or capture it. In this example, even though the conversation is brokered using a digital tool, Oxo would probably never know that this valuable piece of brand advocacy ever took place.
So what’s my point? Firstly brands shouldn’t become so fixated on social media that they forget they have an opportunity to be part of peoples’ real life conversations. And secondly, traditional and social communications are not in opposition – when they work together it makes a lot of sense.
Pinterest is the current darling of the social media world (even Obama is on it). With the records for fastest adoption (the time it took to hit 10 million monthly visitors), highest referral traffic (beating Twitter in February) and an average user time of 98 minutes per month, ‘pinning’ seems a hot contender for that most coveted and elusive grail: being ‘the next Facebook’.
A cross between Tumblr and delicious, Pinterest has nailed online scrapbooking to become the place where virtual mood boards come to life online.
So just why is it so powerful for brand Word of Mouth? Well, it’s basically a public display of show and tell, allowing us to build aspirational identities and lives from others’ raw materials. With boards such as ‘Products I Love’ and ‘My Style’ encouraging us to share the images and items from across the web that most resonate with our tastes and lifestyles – it’s an instant, visual way to announce who we are to friends and strangers alike.
Pinners are a bonafide online WOM army, showing off what they have, want, love and dream about, using any impactful content they can get their hands on. And savvy brands are filling those hands with their own imagery and ideas.
Publishing and lifestyle brands with numerous high-quality images already at their disposal like Martha Stewart Living and The Knot are having the easiest time, while companies that don’t translate well visually will most likely find that Pinterest isn’t for them.
From a retail perspective, Pinterest can be a dream come true. Users can pin items directly from a brand’s site, creating their own virtual shopping lists – perfect for birthdays or gift registries. These pins, embedded with links to the brand’s own page, are already driving more referral traffic than Twitter. And brands can see what people are pinning about them either through search or the source functionality (pinterest.com/source/yourURLhere), so tracking and analytics are easy.
Yet the best brand boards don’t purely focus on themselves. Instead, they curate boards that represent their point of view. A great example is fashion designer Tory Burch, who mixes boards of her collections with collections like ‘Orange’ featuring inspirations in her signature color. From artwork and colour swatches to Boo, her favorite celebrity dog, she seamlessly blends her collection with other items in a fun way, which also gives love back to other creative content and brands. On the ‘Tory Entertains’ board, she shares ideas for throwing parties and some of her favorite recipes. Those personal touches give users a look into the world beyond clothes through Tory’s lens.
At 1000heads, we’re using Pinterest with our client Veria, the health and wellness TV channel. In the past month we’ve curated over 41 boards and helped grow their combined following from 220 to over 3,117 in just under three weeks. The Veria boards are filled with a mix of the brand’s own recipes, workout videos and health tips as well as re-pins from health and wellness bloggers.
Each of the pins and boards are curated through Veria’s lens of pop-wellness. They are all about health and wellness with a playful approach that doesn’t take itself too seriously (hence the board for cute pets and cats doing yoga). This reflects the motivations for why Veria’s audience (and target audience) is using Pinterest in the first place – education, identification and fun.
Already the opportunities for those brands wanting to take an active role on Pinterest are as numerous as the subject matter of the new boards appearing every day. But there’s also something else to consider – how Pinterest generates organic Word of Mouth between peers. Pinning something brand-related onto my board of ‘things I love’ creates immediate advocacy, and for those brands I’m really passionate about, I can dedicate an entire space to pay homage, visually displaying that passion.
Top 5 Pinterest take outs for brands:
1. Make sure you have lots of sexy and creative visuals on your own brand website and social presences – but also focus on ways to spread those visuals across others’ social presences, where pinners are more likely to stumble across them – independent blogs, social networks, forums. Pinterest shareability is hugely boosted by social visibility elsewhere
2. Create your own boards to give people a feel for the wider world and influences of the brand. Understand why people want to be associated with you
3. Pin others’ images, not just your own, for authenticity, eclecticism and a bit of community love
4. Monitor, thank and reward people spreading your own brand imagery
5. Take time to observe how passions, brands and trends spread on Pinterest. Understanding the psychology and motivations behind those pinners is the best place to start when working to generate your own Word of Mouth
We’re currently doing some very exciting work with East Village. If you’ve not heard of it, East Village will become London’s newest neighbourhood after the world’s best athletes vacate the current premises after the 2012 Games. It will become a living, breathing community – providing homes for thousands of people and a long lasting legacy for East London.
East Village is driven by three core values: more time, more space and more choice. We’ve used these as the inspiration behind our work, to develop engaging and interesting ways to evoke a sense of community, excitement and anticipation around East Village.
After an intense brainstorm late on a Friday afternoon, with the goal of encouraging people to talk about time, the team came up with a peach of an idea. We’d offer someone the chance to have their very own PA for a day.
Asking people on the East Village blog, London Living, just what they would do with ‘more time’, we awarded one lucky winner the services of yours truly for a whole day (absolutely free, I might add).
The aim here was to provide a personal and unique experience, giving the East Village brand a recognisable face and a human quality at the same time. Like a personalised random act of kindness, this was about us going that one step further for our client, and one leap further for our audience – and about taking something online, and making it happen offline.
I never really considered being ‘auctioned’ off as a prize to a member of the public as part of my first permanent career role, but I nonetheless looked forward to it with a lot of excitement (and a bit of trepidation).
It was with a nervous skip in my step that I went to meet Julia, an aspiring writer currently working in film, at 7am sharp (I know – an early start!) at the Shoreditch Grind, a lovely East London coffee house that sits next to the bustling roundabout by Old Street station.
It seemed Julia could not get over the novelty of the situation at hand; she’d clicked onto our blog, commented under a post, and now she had someone at her beck and call for the whole day. She thought it was a fantastic idea and said she’d dreamt of having a PA for years!
Having got thoroughly stuck into Julia’s mass of short stories, creative scripts and sonnets, editing and collating material as I went along, I spent the day organising her work into digestible prose. It definitely wasn’t light work!
Yet it was clear when the day came to a close that I’d really made Julia’s day that bit better. We know that 90% of recommendations come from face-to-face conversations. In this sense, Julia experienced the East Village ethos through a personal experience, and we amplified this message through proactive engagement with a member of our community.
It’s amazing what physical interaction can do, and Julia was full of praise for the concept and the execution.
I’d like to think Julia’s nascent opinion of East Village is now very much one of advocacy and that we’ve shown East Village is more than just London’s newest neighbourhood.
But if one of the platforms we use every day changes, it opens a big opportunity to do something slightly out of the ordinary – and of course there’s usually a race to be first too. Did you all hear about Facebook changing the character limit of a status update to 63k odd characters? What’s the point of that?
Whatever the reason for the change, we thought it would be fun to team up with Nokia and be the first to make use of all that space and produce The Big Nokia Status, powered by Nokia’s worldwide fans…
“Welcome to the Big Nokia Status! We asked some of our fans to tell us what they thought about Nokia, this might be the longest Facebook update ever”.
In total the update consists of 63,157 characters featuring close to 20 passionate bloggers. Who knows… maybe it’s the biggest Facebook update so far, ever?
Choice is great, right? And in a long tail economy, consumers have more of it than ever. But do we sometimes forget that we have the right to create, and not just make choices, when it comes to what we buy?
My partner and I recently decided to go out for dinner at one of Manly’s most renowned seafood restaurants. As foodies we were both very excited at the prospect of an amazing meal, especially because it was ‘free’ – we went armed with a gift voucher worth $250, more than enough to cover the cost of a meal for two.
The evening got off to a fine start, with swift service, a breath-taking view and a well-picked bottle of crisp white, topped off when the manager himself appeared to take our order. After detailed descriptions and his personal recommendations, we made our culinary choices, and settled in to what promised to be an evening to remember.
Jump ahead a couple of hours and we both had full bellies and big grins; the food was exceptional, the service unrivalled, and the evening near on perfect. Our earlier choice – to go out to eat – had paid off.
The bill arrived and to our delight had come to only $150, meaning we’ve have a full $100 left from our voucher, to spend on a return date. Seemingly the night couldn’t get any better.
Which meant that it could only get worse. The manager explained that we would have to spend the entire voucher or forfeit the difference, as the restaurant’s policy meant no cash or additional vouchers could be issued as change.
He gave us three choices – to eat more, drink more, or take a bottle of wine home. But the thought of eating or drinking anything else wasn’t something we were comfortable with.
"A wafer thin mint, sir?"
Luckily I had my beautiful and intelligent partner with me, who immediately responded to the choices presented. “Nope, none of those options work for me”.
I had to hold myself back from laughing, as the manager was obviously taken aback with this response. But then an idea popped into my head, and I realised how both parties could actually win from this situation.
I explained to the manager that it was in fact him who would be making a choice, and presented him with two options.
Make us spend the rest of the voucher now, leaving without our money but with a bad taste in our months, a taste that would certainly result in us talking negatively about our experience. We would almost certainly never return.
Give us a new voucher for the difference. We would then walk away very happy, actively recommending the restaurant because of the amazing evening we’d had, and because of the manager’s willingness to be flexible and understanding of our predicament.
And to help him further with his choice, I reminded the manager that armed with a new voucher we would have to return to the restaurant, meaning there was a very real chance we would spend more money and more importantly create a new experience from which more positive recommendation and Word of Mouth would be generated.
Marketing is often about consumer choice. Brands provide us with options that ultimately encourage us to choose them. Yet increasingly brands are being face with choices when it comes to how they respond to people, within a social landscape where positive and negative experiences are instantly shared.
Needless to say Garfish is now reaping the benefits of great free Word of Mouth from myself, my partner and everyone else we’ve chosen to tell this story to. Including you.
Next time you’re given a choice by a brand, why not turn the tables? Could you give them a choice instead – determined by your agenda, not theirs?
Asda’s decision to put mothers at the heart of its marketing strategy is no surprise; there is little doubt that as the main shoppers and decision makers for family purchases, this level of insight can be very powerful.
What is commendable is Asda’s willingness to look beyond shopping behaviours to social trends. While appearing to be unrelated these trends often have a profound effect on the nature of a consumer’s bond with a brand, through a broader understanding of their lifestyle. An empathetic appreciation of people and the context within which they live is crucial for any brand hoping to play a role in their lives.
For example, I believe that Helicopter parenting is dying. Over the last couple of years I have scaled back my kid’s extra-curricular activities and now like nothing better than homework-free evenings kicking back with a TV show (and not even an educational one!) and a cuddle. My friends can’t believe it. I was the one always complaining if work wasn’t set or rushing them around to ballet lessons, drama classes and chess club.
The reason? I now think kids’ lives are stressful enough without actively adding to the pressure. Almost every activity came with exams attached, and I now sincerely believe that creating stronger bonds in the home creates a happier, more successful child.
What has this got to do with a supermarket? Everything. I can think of several products, services or communication that could tap straight into that insight and immediately create an emotional link with me. Family fondue night anyone?
It would be interesting however, to know how the sample for the Mumdex panel has been profiled; the assumption being that it’s representative of the existing Asda demographic. If so, caution is needed to avoid the temptation to extrapolate the findings to all mums. No doubt there will be a quarterly release of data that will happily make the pages of the national press; the source simply cited as ‘UK mums’.
Equally has Asda considered identifying those mums on the panel with the most influential clout? In a world where brands need to rely increasingly on Word of Mouth both on and (more crucially for this audience) offline, our research shows that it is a certain type of woman across all social classes who is shaping others’ attitudes and preferences, much more than any form of brand communication. Understanding these women and how, when and where they influence is key, not only to gaining valuable insight into the development of social trends, but also to creating a WOM strategy that goes beyond the mummy blogger and into the real world.
We have a new look. Perhaps the result of a delayed January detox and an early Spring clean, we’ve tweaked our brand identity and revamped our website.
Yet while visual updates are refreshing and reinvigorating, what else has changed?
Mike Rowe recently talked about the journey we’ve come on, from humble beginnings in 1999 to more recent client wins, new hires and award successes. Over that time we have changed – in size and skill set – but what’s remained constant is our steadfast belief in Word of Mouth, conversation and sharing; in social communication.
And as the marketing and social landscape continues to change, at a rate nobody could have ever predicted, this ethos has never been more relevant.
So we’ve given ourselves a new look and used some new, simpler words to set out our stall.
These days it can be hard to pass a poster or pick up a jar without finding a QR code promising exciting extras and exclusives staring you in the face. But are those ubiquitous monochrome squares more loved by marketers than anyone else?
Recently, bieMEDIA, an online marketing and media company, predicted the end of the QR code based on the fact that very few consumers actually use them.
We’ve blogged before about the good, the bad and the pointless ways brands are using QR.
But as they move into maturity what are the main arguments for and against these matrix barcodes, and just how valuable are they in driving word of mouth?
QR codes are so popular on posters, flyers and other marketing material because companies can use them to convey specific information about their brands to a target audience. Because the majority of people who use and recognise QR codes fall into the 18-34 age bracket, it means campaigns can be specifically developed for this demographic.
Their versatility also means they can be tailored to all sorts of needs as long as the creativity is there. Just look at this case study from India:
It looks pretty impressive from a community engagement and WOM perspective. But despite the initial positive response, how lasting do those conversations prove to be?
As a QR-virgin myself (someone who has never actually scanned a QR code despite being surrounded by them every day), I am sceptical as to how these codes can be incorporated into a meaningful and lasting campaign. And the data is on my side.
According to an October 2011 survey from strategic marketing firm Russell Herder, although 72% of consumers say they have seen a QR code, nearly 30% of them don’t really know what they are.
More worryingly, 57% of consumers who have scanned a QR code say they did nothing with the information. This means that brands and marketing companies are spending time, effort and money on campaigns that don’t really seem to have an effect on consumers.
Couple this with the fact that other technologies such as NFC and mobile visual search are now on the rise, the trend seems to be towards QR codes becoming nothing more than distant relics of a past era: the marketing equivalent of the MiniDisc.
As with all tools, QR codes are only as good as the strategy or creative execution behind how they are used – and not very many brands are doing that well.
There are shinier alternatives creeping up too. NFC provides the potential for commercial services as well as marketing opportunities. Aurasma, an augmented reality app, acts as a much more tangible ‘bridge’ between the real and virtual worlds we inhabit, providing users with an interactive way of enhancing everyday life, such as this example of a polar bear on the River Thames:
So what do you think? What are your best and worst case studies of QR codes being used by brands? And how often do you use them yourself?
Social media are all about the spread of information through networks of individuals. In other words, WOM: people talking.
But what happens when these conversations are curtailed, constricted and controlled?
There has been a fierce debate raging over the past few days – both online and offline – about the relative pros and cons of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in America, and it could have big implications for the future of the WOM industry – not to mention our everyday online lives.
The bill, originally presented to the United States House of Representatives in October 2011, is intended to pre-empt the problem of Internet piracy in the US by targeting sites that promote and enable the sharing of copyrighted material.
So far, so simple.
But what SOPA and its sister bill PIPA (the Protect IP Act) have done is effectively turned a debate on piracy into a pitched battle between two cornerstones of Liberal ideology: free speech and free markets.
The disagreement pits Internet giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia against businesses such as television networks, record labels, book publishers and the film industry. The latter want to be able to protect their copyrighted material from illegal distribution over the Internet, while the former wish to enshrine the right of their users to upload and consume content according to their will (within certain legal parameters, of course).
Although the vast majority of law-abiding citizens agree that Internet piracy is A Bad Thing, many equally believe that it is not the place of government – any government – to control and restrict what they can access on the Internet.
On the other hand, companies, brands and individuals who produce copyrighted material do not want to see their goods trafficked and bandied about (either on the internet or in the so-called ‘real world’) by others who are not them.
Which puts us somewhere in the middle.
As a word of mouth company, we are committed to the spread of information and ideas around the world. Equally, we are committed to our clients and their very real need to keep their goods and services protected from those who wish to abuse them. The question here, then, is whether the proposals put forward by SOPA and PIPA will help protect both agendas. This is a question that does not as yet have a clear answer.
What is clear is that by limiting the number and type of interactions a web user can experience, the checks and controls proposed by these bills may inadvertently stifle the sort of innovation and creativity that is such an integral part of the online world.
But then again, SOPA and PIPA have got people talking – and this itself may help drive change where it is most needed.