the grass is greener on the internet

Random non-revision thoughts…
November 12, 2008, 11:07 pm
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Yes, I should be revising or sleeping, but I’m curious about a couple of things…

  1. How does Twitter make money? DOES it make money?
  2. Can you sue for online impersonation, say, the kevinrudd account on Twitter (not kevinruddpm)
  3. I saw an ad just before about an interactive feature which is meant to be on the MLC website. Something about joining their panel of experts for discussing…stuff. Um. Want to know more about this one!

A lot of people are talking about politicians on Twitter and whether they should be using it to just broadcast or actually interact and address issues that come up. Now one of my favourite clubs has jumped on the bandwagon and I’m wondering where they should draw the line…

I think there are a few possible levels of involvement on Twitter, from lowest to highest:

  • Broadcast – you just write your own updates
  • Listen – you write your own updates and follow others passively
  • Respond – you write updates and also reply to @ twitters
  • Interact – you write, respond and create @ responses to others’ tweets
  • Engage – you write to provoke responses and actively interact, creating…conversation.

As a politician you don’t really have time to engage. In fact, if you’re engaging all the time then I’d start wondering if you’re really doing anything with my taxes at all.

Most people are saying that politicians can acceptably draw the line at Responding.

However, the club that’s just joined Twitter currently looks like it’s just stopping at Broadcasting.

Is that okay? Can they just stop at giving us information? How far can they go towards engaging?

[Edit: Just found the Darth Vader Twitter – hilarious enough to get away with Broadcast any day.]


The Sunday sum-up
October 26, 2008, 12:15 pm
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You can tell I’m procrasinating from writing essays when I come up with a Sunday sum-up…

The 2008 US presidential competition is probably the most internet-oriented election we’ve seen to date, and social media is playing a big part. And why just stick to inflammatory YouTube videos, keyword analysis from Wordle and blog sentiment graphs when you’ve got the GoodGuide app::

This shows you the contributions to both political sides by fast food chain employees.

This shows you the contributions to both political sides by fast food chain employees.

You can pull up any industry or company – I’m amused by this one. Although with rumours that Dunkin’ Donuts is owned by the defence industry I would have thought it would be further right… The finance industry is surprisingly centred, with media & entertainment to the left. Tobacco and pharmaceuticals to the right are pretty much a given but I wouldn’t have picked the overwhelming slant of the transportation industry.

Found this ppt via Servant of Chaos and I think there’s a lot to learn… (unfortunately WordPress won’t let me post it properly)

Stealing From The Information Architects

Steal the good stuff, change it into the best it can be and then pass it on. Next!

NYT has apparently reported reduced profits due to less advertising, looks like I might have to eat my words about the future of advertising. AdAge reports that the Russell 3000 Newspaper index is down 69%. But some online companies are having issues too – Amazon shares just took a plunge due to a revised profit forecast. So…when the recession is over, will advertisers come back to traditional media?

The blogosphere is practically in love with Seth Godin at the moment with the release of his book, but you don’t get to the top of the AdAge Power 150 for nothing… This post sums up for me what I’ve been trying to say a few times about all of the companies changing their logos::

Consumers aren’t marketers, they don’t get excited over logo changes.

They get excited over a better experience.

If a logo does not add value to your corporate identity, don’t change it.

That’s why one of the top branding agencies doesn’t have a logo.

Who says finance people aren’t sociable?
October 22, 2008, 9:57 pm
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Companies are really getting serious about using the internet and social media to communicate with us difficult-to-understand Gen Y-ers.

You really know that a marketing practice is starting to become pervasive when the financial planners get in on it. This from my inbox today…

Interested in a career in Financial Planning?

If you think you are we’ll give you all the latest gear for a year –
including the latest laptop, coolest phone and camera PLUS a salary package
for 12 months valued at over $25,000*.

It’s a great way to jump start your financial planning, business or media
career and a fun way of becoming the most talked about, most watched
personality in financial planning history.

Get paid to run your own social media campaign. If you’re good with people,
not just numbers, then you could be regularly interviewing current financial
planning students – creating blog posts, videos and photos on their views,
opportunities, challenges and social life. You’ll also be reporting on the
Financial Planning Association’s National Conference and various FPA events,
interviewing all the major financial planning players as well as
investigating the major issues facing future financial planners.

All you have to do is dust off your inner Spielberg and make a video of
yourself. Tell us in 2 minutes or less why you should be the Financial
Planning Association’s Blog Star.

Submit your entries by uploading your video to YouTube and send us the link
before November 13, 2008 for your chance to win. We’ll fly the winner to
Queensland to be introduced as the FPA Blog Star at the National Conference
on November 19.

To enter or find out more go to:

The Financial Planning Association is Australia’s leading representative
body for the financial planning profession.

*Total salary and prize pool valued approximately $25,690. Includes: Apple
MacBook 2.4GHz, Sony handycam 30GB, Canon Powershot A580, Nokia mobile phone
and Wireless broadband.

Wow. Way to appeal. Dude, I always knew I wanted to be ‘the most talked about, most watched personality in financial planning history’ when I grew up.

I don’t really know where to start. They’re trying to use celebrity appeal as an incentive to get a student to run their social media campaign for them (as well as giving them an awful salary, I might add) which seems to come from the assumption that once you have a blog with content and a couple of youtube videos under your belt you’re a superstar.

It makes me want to laugh, and laugh.

Not to mention, how many people do you know who imagine being celebrities for being financial planners?

I’m also confused about the ‘participating universities’ list on the website – what, so anyone not from one of these universities can’t be the ‘Blog Star’? I note that most of the top tier universities are missing. Not sure why this is, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t help.

I am impressed that the industry is willing to take the risks online to better engage with a new generation of graduates and provide more information about themselves. But the whole thing does feel a little bit like ‘let’s do it because everyone else is’ and a little less like it’s being used as a strong tool to accomplish their strategic goals.

Watch out for the Blog Star…

Bubble burst for paper?

Australia’s Marketing Magazine has been touting – somewhat gleefully – that with the global recession and subsequent slashing of advertising budgets, online advertising will take over.

Costs do seem to be the concern du jour, with being green another key topic. Just look at this ad for SnapTax in Canada::

[…and more here.]

The caption, in case you can’t read it, says:: “Paper is Evil. Do your taxes online in minutes.”

[I really hope this ad wasn’t published in a magazine.]

Yes, paper has costs both financially and environmentally. But although there are claims that the media moguls of Australia are finding less of their revenues are coming from the newspapers, isn’t there just something about paper that online doesn’t have?

Newspapers are cheap. You can pick them up, wave them around, flick their pages and find out things you never would have thought to look up. You can cut articles out, file them away or stick them on the fridge. You can carry them around in a bag for reading when you’re bored. You can hide behind them when someone you don’t like walks past. They’re tactile. They have a smell all of their own. And…once upon a time, we used them to wrap up hot chips, or cut words out for collages.

I wouldn’t be heralding the end of traditional media, not yet. While there are still lazy Sundays in with the papers, it will be very much alive.

However, I suspect we will be seeing much more of this::

Okay, not this specifically. But this is a fine integrated outdoor/online example from DDB NZ for Pascall’s.

For the release of the company’s new ‘fruit bursts’ they’ve set up this billboard, which keeps public attention quite well. The strawberry you see is filled with the lollies, and is slowly being filled with air. When it gets large enough it should hit the pin and burst, leaving product samples all across the carpark. (Now to buy myself a ute in NZ…)

But the real attention grabber is the associated website, aptly titled ‘When will the fruit burst’. There’s a $4000 reward for correctly guessing when the fruit will burst (as well as a live feed for bounty hunters).

The campaign feeds into itself beautifully and if Sophie Monk eating KFC can get into the news, then I’m sure an exploding billboard showering a carpark with lollies should too.

Online for the win? Patience might be required. But it’s definitely going to play a big part from now on.

Country is not a category
October 8, 2008, 10:12 pm
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I’ve been enjoying the commentary on nation branding by brandsinger – it seems to be an emerging area in the industry with countries like New Zealand going as far as to consult branding agencies.

A number of nation branding rankings have been released recently, some dubiously covering the subject, but all completely disagreeing with each other.

This feels…well, stupid. How do you compare countries anyway? The country I want to live in may not be the country I want to visit, the country I want to do business with, the country I think is the most economically stable or the country that the most people migrate to. I really don’t think you can see ‘country’ as a product category.

Comparing countries and trying to rank them is then like trying to say which mobile phone is the best. Some are pitched for design and ease of use. Others try and pack as many features as possible into as small a package as possible. Then there’s the phones which offer the basic features for a highly competitive price. Can you compare all of these? No. Not unless you do a value judgement on behalf of your audience about which qualities matter the most.

Save your sensible!
September 12, 2008, 8:27 pm
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I’ve bitched about advertisers not using the interactive content on facebook to its full potential, but the new Spring Valley campaign is all that and more.

A while back Spring Valley redid their bottles for a more ‘modern’ and fresh look – let’s be honest, it was clean, but boring. Now the bottles have changed again, but this time with an integrated campaign.

Titled ‘save your sensible’, it revolves around the idea that if you listened to your conscience more, or rather your ‘sensible’, you’d drink Spring Valley. So far I’ve seen bus stop ads, some youtube shorts, and their official website.

My favourite part is this video in the website intro:

If you have a visit of the website it has a fully interactive ‘sensible’ which you can feed, throw, or post on your facebook. It’s like the pet application but branded – I like. It’s entertaining, and engages in a way which is relevant to the product. Slightly bemused by the subliminal ‘mm, yum’ sounds you hear as the animation loads though.

I like that instead of appealing to the inner guilt we all have about trying to be healthy, they’ve gone for a humourous, feel-good message. It’s a balance because the guilt is probably more powerful, but it’s also unreliable and doesn’t let you feel good about the product, just resentful. It also allows you to abuse your ‘sensible’ for fun – because they know you will anyway. Interesting…

The ‘sensible’ must have been a tough design decision…what does your conscience look like?

The website intro has it as quite a clean animation, but unfortunately has a passing resemblance to those ghost things in Pacman…you know.

The youtube version as well as the banners bring to mind the words ‘potato’, ‘flobbly’, ‘wormy’ and ‘squelchy’. Now nobody expects their conscience to be pretty, but nobody listens to phlegm. (If it doesn’t look good, and it drinks Spring Valley, what does that say?) The funny thing is that it does have a slight cute factor, especially with its facial expressions and the occasional colour change.

The actual animation on the website (and Facebook, I assume) has quite poor rendering, which was disappointing. But I guess that’s the compromise you make for real-time interaction, and you can do quite a lot with the animation. It never stops moving (or making sounds, which was a bit annoying). There was also quite an obvious dog reference with the ‘sensible’ being eager, panting, blinking, growling and wagging its flobbly tail. There’s also plenty of positive reinforcement potential for when you get sick of poking the poor thing and feed it some juice.

All three versions are noticeably different even though they tie together the same concept, so I’m wondering whether it was a matter of different creatives…

I love the concept and it’s been done quite well – I think it might just have enough of that kitsch factor to be able to pull it off. It’s all about the tipping point. We’ll wait and see…

I think this one works…

Not as sure about this one though…

The push and pull
September 10, 2008, 11:27 am
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Cheers to Gordon for the heads up on FeedBlitz, I now have a newsletter which will deliver my latest ramblings to your inbox every Monday. So for those who can’t be RSSed, the subscription link in the right hand nav 🙂

I’m still trying to decide whether push content online is the answer or the destroyer of worlds.

I suppose in traditional marketing terms, push content is the sales line, the ‘we’re now entitled to send you information whenever we want so you won’t forget us’. Hail to the RSS aggregator and the Facebook mini-feed. In an environment with so much content competing for attention, it makes sense to get yours to be delivered to your target market without needing to attract their attention every time to get them to put effort in.

But there’s the problem – it doesn’t require their attention. So it won’t make any difference to them whatsoever. Besides the fact that with so many push services competing for attention, we go back to the original issue of how to get consumers interested.

As usual, it’s probably all execution; if you’re really getting them engaged and interested in what you have to say, they’ll listen whether you’re sending info out or if they have to come to you.