Audi Uses Snapchat for Latest Social Campaign

It may be filled with selfies and slightly NSFW content, but brands are starting to dip their toes in the Snapchat water… or, in Audi’s case, they’re taking a flying leap off the diving board and doing a cannon ball.

Their latest use of the ephemeral, image-and-video app is called:

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Here’s the full snap:

Audi’s use is pretty great. Brands like Taco Bell and Nordstrom are playing with Snapchat, but this is perhaps one of the better campaigns/contests I’ve seen.

Location: The Last Piece of Twitter’s Success Puzzle

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Twitter has been eating Facebook’s lunch recently – and I’m loving it. They’re moving quicker and breaking more things than the Facebook crew… and those things they’re breaking are barriers and ad revenue goals.

One thing, though, stands in the way of Twitter and true success in the ad space – Location.

They’ve Been Thinking About Location Before
It’s something the Twitter team dealt with even before Twitter was Twttr – back when it was a Jack/Noah/Ev concept. At that time, Dodgeball was buzzing in NYC, letting people drop notes to their friends, via SMS telling them where they were. Odeo was dying and Apple was gobbling up any podcasting goodness out there as the “status” idea started to morph into something.

Dodgeball, as we all know (or maybe not because I’m learning not everyone is a nerd like me) was eventually bought by Google – which them shut it down. However, it was resurrected as another playground game-named service as (you guessed it) Foursquare!

Location. Location. Location.
Since early on, Twitter’s mobile applications (and indeed its API) have let users share location data with Tweets. How much that actually is used varies depending on which report/study you read (and how they’re done). A USC study and resulting app says one in five tweets carry identifiable location data – either actively shared or in metadata. That number seems much higher than the previously assumed 1-3% that’s been discussed around the net for years.

That low number starts to provide a hurdle when looking to have an active part in that all-important proximity to point of purchase for Twitter.

The Mobile Holy Trinity
They’re already pushing hard in the mobile game with their MoPub buy (which will bring rich content experiences to the mobile Twitter feed soon – and holy crap it’s going to be awesome) and their opening up the ability to created Tailored Audiences, essentially bringing actual retargeting to mobile devices via data partners.

If Twitter could (and it’s going to take more than tech – a change in user behaviour) connect the three: rich ad units, retargeting, and location… you might as well just give them the advertising prize for a social network right then and there.

So, how do they do this?
That’s a tough question, and one that teams at Twitter are no doubt toiling with. Content that’s being targeted to users based on location now is only taking into account location data entered by users in their profiles – an imperfect targeting solution, but effective enough for brand campaigns aimed at increasing recognition and other “softer” metrics.

If Twitter wants to build confidence among traditional retailers and businesses, they’ll need to get closer to the register.

Change The Rules
While not ideal, changing the terms of service to allow Twitter to use real-time mobile device GPS coordinates to serve content is a way forward. The company is already testing a “Nearby” function that lets users see content being published in their vicinity. It’s only a short step from that to using the same location info for ads.

Likelihood: Medium

TwitSquare
Buy ’em. Foursquare has been struggling the past few years. The app is great – don’t get me wrong. They’re just not proving a great platform for brands to bet on. Crawley is trying his ass off and I think they’ll get it right eventually, but will it be too late?

If Twitter could buy Foursquare and get some of the “here I am” goodness from that platform to rub off on Twitter (not to mention all the local business recommendations, etc.) it could offer a whole new dimension to their platform.

Likelihood: Low/Medium

Get Physical, Physical

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I probably talk about these at least once a day, but iBeacons! iBeacons! iBeacons! If Twitter invested in this technology and linking it with their platform, push messages could be sent to users when they were browsing near products.

Likelihood: Medium

The Full-on Dream Sequence Scenario
This is how it’d go down in a perfect world, a literal combo punch of everything above.

It’s June 2014. Twitter, having just bought Foursquare in February is rolling out the latest version of their app – complete with Foursquare’s location-aware push notifications. John is walking near Regent St. and gets a push notification from Twitter: it’s a rich ad unit showing the nearest Gap stores to him (there are 3) and advertising their 30% off sale. John clicks he location that’s also right next to an Itsu because he is craving some sushi.

When John enters the Gap store, his phone vibrates, welcoming him to the store and reminds him that he was looking at some of the new 1969 Original Skinny Jeans and a cardi on the website earlier – then it points him to where they are in the store.

When John wanders over to the denim section, the iBeacon near the Original Skinny Jeans beams info on the jeans to his phone along with a special, Email subscriber only deal for an additional 10% off denim (because Gap knows John loves denim).

John goes to the register, pays with his phone (because I’m pretending we’ll all be doing that next year), and leaves the store. Since his digital wallet is linked with his email and store accounts for brands like Gap, H&M, JCrew and more, John gets a Tweet after he’s a block away telling him to drop them a Tweet about how the new jeans fit and linking him to a customer satisfaction survey.

At the End of the Day
We may be a little further off from that than I’d like, but right now Twitter is flying toward that reality at full speed. If they can crack the location issue, I think they make an incredibly strong case for being one of the most-important marketing tools of our time (even more so than they already have).

Bank of America Tells WA/ID Customers: “You’re Real People Now”

I’ve been pretty vocal about my disdain for the fact that certain Bank of America features (such as their mobile apps) haven’t been available to residents of WA/ID. To their credit, the people at @BofA_Help have done a great job empathizing, even though they haven’t had a “fix.”

However, I got a response today that made my eyes light up.

Now I can bank on the go (well, in 4-8 weeks)… it is 2011 after all. Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

Building a Trending Topic

Trending topics are the holy grail of Twitter marketing/outreach. You can buy your way to the top, but how are those topics that aren’t paid for moved to the top of the list? HINT NUMBER 1: Have something to do with Justin Beiber… seriously.

For a more academic look at what goes into creating the trending topics, read this PDF:
Trends in Social Media: Persistence and Decay

 

via Gizmodo via Mashable via NYTimes

Does Relevance Translate to Resonance (and More Importantly, Dollars)?

When Polaroid appointed Lady Gaga, the meat-wearing, beat-dropping, gender-bending, pop star their creative director in 2009, I thought it was kind of fun. Sure, take a visible, creative person and give them some magical unicorn title and let the press salivate and type away for a couple weeks. That makes sense. However, at this last CES she actually paraded a number of products in front of the techy masses that weren’t half bad.

Now today, Intel announced that Will.i.am, the auto-tuned, dapper rapper, has become their Director of Creative Innovation. What he’ll actually do in that role is yet to be seen.

What I found really interesting was Intel’s statement about the deal (hire?):

“It’s imperative that Intel and our innovations are kept in front of the global youth culture that embraces new devices and new forms of communication and entertainment.” – Deborah Conrad, Intel

So, if this is about keeping their innovations in front of the global youth culture, why didn’t they sign up Justin Bieber to be their guy?

This really begs the question: is relevance really translating to resonance? Will this global youth culture see Will.i.am and connect the fact that he’s promoting the processor in their computer or mobile device? Will they even know what a processor is/does?

I hope this means every IDF will open with a BEP performance, or at the very least that “I Gotta Feeling” is playing every time Paul Otellini steps on stage.

Disclosure: I worked closely with Intel for 3 years while at Owen Media Inc.

The “Other” ROI: Looking at Real Online Interactions

You see it every day; that new report from an agency with a cool sounding word and a couple numbers thrown in there – “The Secret to Social Media ROI.” Now, I’m a big fan of actually tying actions (of any kind) to overall goals – which, in the case of companies that have staff, expenses, etc. usually relate to bringing in cash. However, when we’re talking about social, the idea of bringing a better experience to the customer needs to fit into that equation – Real Online Interactions.

What we as a loosely-banded industry are struggling with is the idea that we have to neatly fit into the mold of traditional marketing models of ROI calculations – but it’s harder than that. Now, Jason Falls might call this a tree-hugging hippie way of looking at things (and he’s right), but without a little hippie in the mix, things get might cold and mighty stale really fast.

Today’s consumers are much more apt to write about a brand on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or even a forum than they are to actually take the action of calling customer service/support should have need something or have an issue.  More than that, they expect you to respond – 81 percent of them in fact. With all these online opportunities for creating real connections between brands and users, the importance of genuine, open communication becomes paramount.

In a day when people know “Frank from @ComcastCares” (Bill Gerth has since taken over) or “Elliott from @AlaskaAir,” there’s a personal nature to these interactions that once used to be thrown up to the Internet gods in hopes that someone, somewhere would see and do something. These interactions became – wait for it – real.

So, how do you “be real?”

1.       Put a face on your brand – It doesn’t have to be the CEO of your company (Frank proved that), but it does have to be someone who has a passion for people and a personable nature that makes them not only effective at their job, but a person that users can see themselves talking with – after all, that’s what they’re doing.

2.       Tear down the walls – Users could get the company line from reading a press release, but it’s the fact that they feel like they’re getting a peek behind the curtain that keeps them coming back for more and gives them a sense that you’re on their side (which you should be).

3.       Keep it real – Talk to people like they’re people. Don’t use jargon and marketing speak. Some of my favorite accounts on the Web are more interesting because they’re NOT in the normal brand voice, not because they’re mirroring everything about the brand.

4.       Don’t be a robot – If I receive a response from a brand that sounds suspiciously canned, I immediately click to their actual Twitter feed to see if they’re just blanket responding to people with “Thanks for the feedback!” or something like that. It takes 15 seconds to craft a meaningful message in 140 characters – take the time.

5.       Set aside time – For most small or medium-sized businesses, the time is what becomes the major factor for whether or not social media efforts are able to be personal or not. Setting aside time for these interactions gives people on the brand side a set period where they know they have dedicated time to answering and interacting.

So, when you’re building your ROI model and looking at your overall program goals, don’t forget that “other ROI” and be sure to have a section of your KPIs that focuses on customer satisfaction, sentiment of your brand, and repeat customers/users. While the accounting department is looking at the bottom line and seeing a red or black number at the end of the day, it’s the people who are making decisions about how brands and customers interact with and help each other that are changing the way brands are working in today’s market.

Norelco Goes the Cause Marketing Route, Is Still Funny

When Norelco first came out with their body groomer a while back, the online experience site for the new product was down right hilarious. It finally took aim at something guys had been talking about in locker rooms for years – grooming – and put a face (and other parts) on it.

Now, as everyone and their uncle Jim is involved with some sort of cause marketing, Norelco brings us the “Deforest Yourself. Reforest the World.” campaign, complete with another great site that lets you find out what kind of “tree” you are while creating a decidedly naked version of yourself (complete with hot cartoon leaf holder).

Here’s the one I made (I’m calling my leaf holder Shannon… why? Why not?):

The site, while still trying to sell you a glorified razor, is pretty entertaining. I found out I was a maple tree, but I don’t remember that that means. Maybe it’s hinting that I should be Canadian?

Anyway, check out the page here: http://www.shaveeverywhere.com/deforestation.html

Happy shaving.

P.S. Speaking of socially-awkward products with weird marketing, remember the ClearBlue ad that got really awesome at the end?

HP Slate Hype Site Falls Flat

When I heard that the intro video for the HP Slate was out, I had to watch it. Then, just like the video said, I went to hp.com/slate to check it out. Then, when I woke up from the coma their boring ass site put me into, I started writing this post.

Seriously though people, look at the site. SO BORING.

Yes, that giant graphic is clickable, but does anything make you WANT to click it? Nope.

The boring text tells you the boring details about how you can get more info about the HP Slate. Email submission? Really?

Now, I’m not one to get all over a company for design aesthetics, but this page just made me thoroughly not excited about this product. If this is their idea of a page that is meant to drum up excitement about what quite honestly looks like it might be a great product, I think it fails.

Something like this lends itself perfectly to a great social media campaign prior to launch with videos (which they actually have, but they show up in a pop-up player only after you figure out the riddle of where to click) and great content/interaction. Instead, HP has a boring link to their general HP Twitter feed – no icon, nothing that makes you want to click.

I never try to criticize without offering suggestions and assistance, so here it goes:

  • Have a more-explicit call to action in the headline. Something like “Touch here to learn more about HP’s Slate”
  • Have a mouseover animation on the actual Slate where something changed to let the user know to actually click. As it is now, you can’t actually tell that’s a video launcher.
  • I’d also have the actual video play within the border of the Slate, so make it bigger and do that with options to go full screen, etc.
  • Also, lose that hand in the back, it looks weird. Why would someone touch the back of the device?
  • Loose the boring fonts, HP uses some cool, funky fonts. Use those.
  • Lose the boring e-mail submission fields
  • Use the space on the right to link out to social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) by using icons, not a boring URL.
  • Make everything shareable – videos, the page, etc.

If HP wants to know more, they can contact me. I’m always willing to help out, but for now I see a potentially great product getting off to a lackluster start.

The Success of the iPad is in the Hands of Devs, Not Apple

I’ve been going back and forth over whether buying an iPad is worth it or not – eventually my gadget-fiend portion of my brain took over an I just whipped out my credit card and bought one (due to ship on April 12, which is also Mariner’s opening day).

When I thought about it, I realized that the iPad could cut down on a lot of things I’ve been accumulating over the past couple years: remotes, media players, crappy netbooks from Dell, etc. I look at the iPad not as the world’s shiniest eReader, but as a device (no, Jony, not a magical one) that will allow for consolidation in the average household.

Now, granted the iPad doesn’t have a ton of out-of-the-box capabilities, but the app world is wide open for development of time/space/effort saving applications ranging from home security management to apps as simple as a remote control for your home theater PC.

I don’t see myself whipping out a PPT using Keynote on a flight from Seattle to SFO, but I do like the idea of watching a movie on that flight and having the ability to see the screen at a good angle because I’m not worried about the weirdness of a keyboard + screen on my tray table.

I think you’ll see the success or failure of the iPad in the next 5-8 months as devs scramble to get their apps on the iPad’s larger, and more easily manipulated screen. The only question is: if a developer builds a great app and no one hears about it, does it exist?

Are Businesses Today Learning from the Underpants Gnomes?

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I love Southpark. I’ve loved it since the very first episode I saw, which was on VHS. My friend Kyle brought the VHS over and I’m pretty sure we watched “Cartman gets an anal probe” about 30 times.

OK, enough anal probing. The real topic for this post is how businesses are waking up to the reality that they can’t just sit back and throw messages out into the ether anymore aiming at their target audiences and hoping they get the point. They’re moving beyond the easy way of doing business with their snazzy “phase 1: collect underpants… phase 2: ?… phase 3: profit” business model and are figuring out what that second piece really is.

So, what is it? Social media.

Social media, in all its forms (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube, etc., etc., etc.) offers a real chance to connect and create two-way communication while living in the brand. What’s living in the brand? It’s having a space where lines are blurring between what’s marketing and what’s real social interaction. That’s where today’s decisions are being made.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every company out there should be on MySpace and Twitter trying to create these situations… they have to ACTUALLY see the benefit in being in these situations, not creating an air of the situation, get it?

So, which companies do I think are doing this right? Here are a couple that you won’t find profiled on every social media blog:

Tatango
Get on Twitter and you’ll see these guys. Get on Facebook and you’ll see these guys. Young CEO Derek Johnson (@tatango) and his merry band of plugged-in cohorts (@tatango_alex, @adrianpike, @tatango_amiel, and @tatango_andrew) are out there, every day doing the social media legwork that’s bringing users and coverage to their product. They’re not pushy, they’re real and people can tell that. Check out their awesome tool for group text and voice messaging while you’re at it.

J & D’s Bacon Salt
While it’s not a hard sell to get me to buy something that can make everything taste like bacon, J & D’s Bacon Salt takes it to a new level. When you arrive on their homepage you kind of get this feeling that you know these guys from back in college or maybe even one of them was in your fraternity – that’s what it’s all about. You can connect with them and because of that you listen to what they have to say. Because you listen to what they have to say (on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) you live in a world where you can make your broccoli taste like bacon, man!

Who do you think is “getting it?” Let me know in the comments or hit me up on any of MY social networks.