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The worldwide status of Social Networks – Notes and Statistics on the Internationalisation of Social Media

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 16, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience

written for  http://blog.label.ch

The most important reason for the meteoric growth of Social Networks is something called “The Network Effect”. This equates to a tipping point when the value of a communications network to its users rises exponentially with the number of people connected to it. In the past year, we have witnessed one such rising star, Facebook ( but it begs the question is it the only one? ). It took 5 years for Facebook to reach 150 million users and then a further 8 months to double that number. Today, according to Facebook Statistics, it has 400 million users. In 2009 we saw Facebook become almost ubiquitous in every conversation swirling around Social Media and social networks. It was the year in which Facebook exploded into a global phenomena, dominating the Social Networking market worldwide as it became an international social network giant. While its dominated the english speaking press and displaced MySpace its not the only Social Network in the world.

To believe that Facebook or english speaking social networks are the only “players in Social networks” worldwide would be nothing short of one sided owed to very narrow perspective of the hyper connected world we live in. According to Wikipedia, there are some 1.5 billion members worldwide. Across the world there a number of culturally, language, local and regionally driven social networks , that both singularly and accumulatively pose the question whether Facebook can dominate the world in Social Networking. As startling as it is, the ” Facebook Network Effect” is not only a Facebook phenomena and its also occurring across other Social Networks in the world , albeit with different speeds.

Read more…

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Whats the Buzz on Google’s Buzz?

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 12, 2010 in General, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Reposted from http://blog.label.ch

When in logged into my Gmail a few nights ago I got a screen that introduced me to Google’s Buzz. At a first glance I skipped over it not wanting to go to deep into a distracting setup that stopped me from doing what I had originally set out to do : check my email . In hindsight I am left questioning whether Google’s BUZZ has any buzz? Buzz will probably have impact on the digital marketing world overtime but its not that apparent at the moment. However, we should take notice of this change. Buzz is a service that aims to compete in the social networking space not unlike the services of Bebo, Orkut ( owned by Google) Facebook, Twitter to take on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, across devices like the PC and mobile phone.

What Buzz is attempting to do is add the social networking features in the burgeoning number of Google’s services, over the top of the existing number of contacts a person has in their Gmail accounts. It has 97million users at its disposal to do this but it does pale in consideration of Facebook’s 400 million users, Myspace’s 130 million user and Friendster’s 115 million users. Google’s published rationale for Buzz is to work a more centralised and sorted approach to social services, sorting out the noise and organising information into a a relevant experience for users. On its blog it says ” With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations. “

Read more…

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Embracing enterprise social software and social network analysis – Gartner’s near term predictions on Enterprise 2.0

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 10, 2010 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Last week Gartner released five predictions for social software for 2010 and beyond. What is interesting for me is that the fast moving, consumer driven, internet always finds itself leading the technology shifts that are ultimately or stubbornly embraced by IT departments for the remodeling of enterprise communications, information exchange, information publishing and distribution. Enterprise 2.0 while in its nascent days has had a steady stream of adoption inside a large number of companies. They have adopted certain collaborative and social technologies into or in addition to their existing intranets, team rooms etc. The emulation of the consumer web inside companies allows the speed and ease of information distribution and social communication and work collaboration inside enterprises to increase significantly . These can be enterprise to employee or employee to employee communications or working groups spread across many locations.

Gartner predicts that :

1. By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

“Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 percent of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years, most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.”

Read more…

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Coke Goes Viral With the Happiness Machine

Coca-Cola has launched it first viral video , and in getting a rare success in this type of media play. There is no proven method that ensures a success in viral video marketing other than it has to be entertaining. Funny always seem to work well as a formula, shocking as well, bad taste ( but that could seen as bad for a brand) , unreal or just unbelievable also works. Coke’s Happiness Machine, while only no more than a week old , has close to 800,000 views.

In what seems to be too incredible to be true a Coke machine setup in a university or college campus delivers more than just bottles of Coke. Flowers, balloon animals, a huge sandwich, and an endless supply Coke bring delight and happiness to the students.
As reported by iMedia Connection this is Coke’s first official experiment in viral video following on from another teen connection campaign the “Happiness Factory”.

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What Brands are making the best use of Facebook?

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 18, 2010 in Branded content, General, Social Media Marketing, User experience
written for http://blog.label.ch

The rise of the importance of the Facebook fan page has become an integral part of companies social media campaigns or presence. Its not hard to understand why. Facebook is the web’s most popular destination after Google ( it is number 1 in Indonesia, Philippines , Malaysia and Singapore ) where the average user spends in the order of 33 minutes per day and its registered user numbers are upwards of 350 million. As the use or entry to a brand’s website are in decline due to a shift in how consumers use the web this days it makes common sense to to add Facebook into the online marketing mix. With number of brand, star, cause or business fans ranging close to 5.3 billion , that means News Feeds to user’s pages are carrying a range of brand content and updates.

View a full review of Facebook’s internal statistics

Last November “The Big Money” part of Slate Magazine, ranked 50 brands that they see as making the best use of Facebook. The ranking is based on factors like number of fans, page growth, frequency of updates, creativity and fan engagement, not just numbers of fans. According to “The Big Money” Coca-Cola is ranked as the brand that makes best use of the social network thanks to its “organic fan-centric page without a corporate feel” and some extremely good apps the currently coin the phrase “Share Happiness” in a campaign to boost the diffusion , awareness and contact with the brand in social media.

Read more…

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Trend map for 2010 – 2015

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 4, 2010 in General, User experience

Written http://blog.label.ch

Richard Watson of NowandNext has released this year’s version of the Trends and Technology timeline . The evolution of trends and mapping them to a visualization is a continuing project first started in 2007 involving a collaboration with Ross Dawson of Advanced Human Technologies.

This years map sees a greater expansion of continuing trends and a longer outlook than its previous versions. Whilst open to speculation and and unforeseen events the Trends map includes 5 concentric time zones extrapolating out to 2050 with the closest concentration on the next 5 years till 2015.

The map has 16 main influence lines representing the key drivers upon which the trends occur including; society & culture, geopolitics, energy and raw materials, science and technology, healthcare and medicine, the economy, news & media, retail and leisure. There is a lot more detail on this map than in previous years and its reversion back to the intersecting subway map that shows the dense hubs (megatrends) of converging lines is an interesting metaphor for mapping linked relationships. Read more…

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Social Media Pragmatists will win over the Social Media Purists

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 24, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Written for and Reposted from htttp://blog.label.ch

Amongst the daily exchange, promotion, and web of connections woven into the fabric of the online movement of social media specialists, yesterday I read a post by Jason Falls, on his blog the Social Media Explorer. It extolled that the social media pragmatist would prevail over the social media purist.

It is one of the most sensible commentaries I have seen in this space cluttered by the usual virtuous publishings – listen first, stop shouting, transparency, need for spontaneity and speed of action , or the big question on how to measure Social Media ROI. Why does it standout as a poignant comment when all we hear is the importance of engaging in conversations and building relationships ( they still are of pivotal importance ) ? For me it’s the action associated to doing and making an impact on the bottom line that Jason is highlighting. You have take notice of the old direct to consumer or relationship adage – “Call to Action “ – what do you want your consumers to do now? ( it is an interactive environment after all ) Buy, learn more, fulfill a service or need, or be entertained?

Read more…

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Unilever, Publicis and the Pour Tout Vous Dire CRM sale

Posted by John Horniblow on Sep 9, 2009 in Consumer Relationship Marketing, Email Marketing, User experience

Written for and reposted from http://blog.label.ch

One of the more interesting pieces of news I read in the last week was that the Paris-based holding company Publicis Groupe said it has acquired Pour Tout Vous Dire, the French customer relationship management program of a key client, Unilever. While the exact figures have not been disclosed Publicis has obviously seen this as buying a solid media entity that you can build upon. In its original form the CRM program was a direct to consumer magazine that has since morphed into a lifestyle portal online with over 5 million subscribers. Read more…

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Ours, yours or mine – Facebook and the ownership of social communities and the social web

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 27, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

 

image borrowed from BBC.CO.UK

Image borrowed from BBC.CO.UK

Who owns the social web isn’t really a big question. In the many communities the ownership or even the behaviors in that social community are often dictated by the community itself. The community owns the community , the community polices  itself and protects itself, and everybody in the community shares a democratic principle of ownership and inclusion. My observation of inter-communications on many fan and strong communities  is that there can be a point of self  regulation , where the community members dictate what sorts of behaviour are acceptable , what tone  of discussion is acceptable and will pull other members in the community into line or reject them if they feel they are being antisocial or unfair in the context of that community’s voice.  In the community or social media world its the community that has the power  or the onwership by virtue of being involved and sharing their voice and ideas. What it does  is  really raise the question “who owns the community’s brand”?  In the Social media world its definatly the consumer who owns the brand. Even real world  (non virtual brands) are often owned  in the mind of the  consumer, despite what their manufacturers, FMCG brand managers might mistakenly believe, and the consumers non acceptance of product changes or variations often causes dramatic failures for brands. A brand is more than just a product. Coca Cola’s release of New Coke  in 1985 floundered as a failure as Coca Cola forgot what its core brand stood for and thought that taste was the was only factor consumers cared about. Its research failed to highlight that Coke consumers had a deep and abiding  emotional bond to the “Real Thing” and launched a new formulated Coke. The public basically boycotted the new product and the company had ceased production of the old product causing a huge and costly problem for the company. The company had to revert back to the old formula.

 

Facebook has become the greatest facilitators of human conversations, its building itself as a  brand  based on emotional bonds and trust  in a shell of social , web 2.0 services. Friday’s announcement that Facebook users have voted to back changes which give them control over data and content they post on the site  dosen’t surprise me.   The community has spoken , the company had actually listened or risked failure.  Following Facebook’s meteoric rise  to its recent press announcements that it has reached a point of 200 million users I stopped to think about that number and a pending crisis on the ownership of personal data that had emerged in recent months. I for one and many of my friends expressed great concern and a potential swap of services at Facebook’s  assertion that they owned the rights to any and everything published in their services, from photos, to widgets , videos , comments and conversations. It even went to  the point where they could exploit any IP or copyright of anything posted on the site.  Where it almost went wrong was to not listen to the true voice of its consumer base  and continue to pursue a path of proprietary ownership of all and everybody’s personal content, thoughts and conversations when many complained or threatened to leave the service. In this case Facebook the brand, not the service,  is wholly owned by the consumer base it serves. 

What is interesting, and if not co incidental ,  is that it was  the same day  that Yahoo announced that Geo Cities was being closed down. Yahoo paid $3.5 bn for the free hosting service  back in the early days of the dotcom boom.  Where it failed to compete with the likes of Facebook and MySpace is that while they offered a  similar concept of hosting free personal pages on the web  there was no evolution in providing services  that allowed a community to grow or for people to communicate or commune with one another or share it with other friends ubiquitously. Yahoo failed to wrap all it social and communication technologies that it had at its disposal  in different business units( IM , email , even content ) into one set of social communications  services and make the transition to a more Open Web. The brand never really made a leap to having an real emotional attachment to the consumer by failing to provide the emotional conduits or  communications channels. Was this because Yahoo saw Geo Cities only as a media advertising opportunity? Another missed opportunity. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8016532.stm

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Digital Engagement and its metrics- AKA How Stickiness became Engagement

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 22, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

How  Stickiness became Engagement

The  concept of  digital or online engagement has always been an integral part of  the interactive vernacular from its very nascent days . In the early days at the run of the last century the people in the interactive business coined the phrase “stickiness” as a way describing a site or service where a consumer ( or the sites audience)  would spend more time , continually revisit a site,  play with more things , discover new features  or actively converse with their friends. The social communications technologies were all well alive in the early adopter phase , bulletin boards, chat room , and IM.    In the heady dotcom days the concept of developing media properties was all about stickiness. How else could you realistically place  a value on your property  and it potential for media placement if its audience didn’t  return to site , stay longer , use its features , play games, watch or listen to media and go deeper than the 1st page ? 

The real opener for Engagement or the liberator,  so too speak, has been the uptake in the broadband connection at home , rather than having it relegated to the work place . The “always on” connection at home changed the descriptive concept of Stickiness to Engagement.   The simple fact that there was a  general mass market adoption of high speed internet  predicated a  change in the vernacular as the  real marketing potential of the medium opened up.  The availability of more connected , richer  experience  from the consumption of media ( video, audio , and animations ) and a greater depth in connectivity to services( e-commerce, search)  and information opened up the medium and metaphoric description of  Stickiness had to evolve to more active verb of  Engagement.  

The Age of the True Consumer’s Voice and Consumer Generated Content  

Engagement never remains static( not that stickiness did either). The recent mass market adoption of social communication technologies, as in the last 3- 4 years, has  led to today when we talk about the social media revolution, and Engagement  has taken on a new face . Todays social media technologies are facilitators of conversations and dialogues not just confined to one site or group but open to any and everybody, almost anywhere, instantly. Everybody has a voice, a digital persona, a digital footprint and a devise for communicating digitally.  It  is the age of the “True Consumer’s Voice” . Digital Engagement is now the social communications evolution , encompassing social media, digital media and interactive services. Its  not surprising that the UK government recently advertised to appoint a Director of Digital Engagement  to help direct its efforts in “overseeing a move to engage more with citizens through social media and other digital technology.”

The Metrics

So how do we measure Engagement ? The debate is relatively new . In Eric T Peterson’s , web analytics demystified , he describes  Engagement  as  ”an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction on the site against a clearly defined set of goals.”  I think there’s room to expand upon this. Webanalytics is one sided and there are two sides to the equation.

To me a website is essentially a closed environment , although blogs and RSS has opened up content distribution.  The measurement of the closed environment is Quantitative  and measurable, which is the web analytics view point; the end to which  we can determine the quality of a website visit . The engagement metric  comes down to , the depth to which a consumer will go into your site and propensity to interact with or view “critical content” , their ” length of visit”, whether or not they come back e.g.  ” frequency of return visit”.

 If we were to add the consumer’s perspective and become more subjective in the classical marketer’s view,  using the analogy of the “path to purchase”,  we could add the  propensity to which a consumer would recommend or talk about the site,  its content or  its services to a friend using something like the net promoters score. ( you can’t find that in the web analytics) . This, when coupled with the web analytics , gives a good view of a loyalty or advocacy co-efficient for the site. 

In the Open Web or social media context  its about all about Consumer Generated Media ( CGM ) and there’s another dimension which is purely Qualitative. Its the understanding of the voice and tonality of Engagement or behaviourial responses a consumer has .  You can measure  and analyse  Buzz, Tonality and Sentiment, with the real  appreciation of the true consumer’s voice.  When you add your closed systems reporting , e.g.  the  web analytics  to your Open or social  measurement of consumer’s voice then you really see the whole picture.

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The Digital Ecosystem – Awareness, acquisition and retention activities

Digital Marketing  is all about the consumer experience  with , accompanied by, and  within a brand virtually.  From the physical dimension of a brand to its mental associations, its brand equity, or  brand essence , down to very granular services or information surrounding its place in a consumer’s life,  all can and should be experienced digitally. 

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One way of  considering the full digital marketing mix is to look at as a  digital ecosystem. As in any successful ecosystem, all the elements and their inter- relationships support and keep the ecosystem alive, adapting and thriving. And across the digital marketing mix there is a problem if these all remain in silos.  The traditional marketing pillars  of awareness, acquisition and consumer retention  should be applied across all types of  digital interactive services or content in that ecosystem as active environmental roles that support the ecosystem. More importantly,  they must all be considered as  digital consumer touch points, each with an active role  to play. In a cohesive or holistic sense these traditional marketing pillars should applied against very activity in standalone website or across a full digital  ecosystem ( sites,  services, distributed content,  social networks, digital media/advertising, email marketing and CRM ) and should always be considered. Conversely , these digital touch points should be supported by other non digital channels ( POS, above and below the line media , on pack) ; a virtual environment needs to exist with a physical counterpart. 

While some of the activities, content, or interactive services you have on a site may seem obvious its always good to justify there existence against what your aims or goal are in the marketing mix. No one element is exclusive , all are interdependent just as they would be in the normal sales funnel,  and what’s interesting about this is that you can seek to balance activities against the goals and make decisions of what interactive pieces you might consider for the traditional marketing pillars  of awareness, acquisition and consumer retention. 

What’s interesting today in the more social interactive world is that  in the consumers journey along the traditional sale funnel seems to be either accelerated or  they can identified anywhere in the funnel a lot quicker. The activities surrounding your he traditional marketing pillars  of awareness, acquisition and consumer retention seem blurred. Lets take,  for example, Bacardi . In its recent digital campaign  to further its  association with a night clubbing and dance club lifestyle worldwide, it chooses to be a trusted facilitator in an aspect of that  lifestyle, by providing the service of a digital  music sharing platfrom . It uses social media by offering aspiration based rewards of free  limited edition, 1st to hear, music tracks to those consumers (its digital advocates)  that act as a word of mouth spokes-peoples for the brand’s service by being the source of introduction of the Barcardi music sharing platform to their friends and rewards them accordingly.  One could  say that its the digital equivalent  to brands  giving  away a utility  that is associated with or inherent in products consumption. Like a coffee  brand giving a branded cup or spoon or something inherently needed with the process drinking coffee. But in the case of Bacardi its wrapped up in a social relationship reward program that only digital can provide at relatively low cost and be  highly. What is does is either accelerate the potential for identifying advocates  or it even makes a brand advocate out of a consumer who may not necessarily consume the brand or be an MVC. This is not bad thing, who wants to stop a consumer talking about your brand in a positive way whether or not they consumer your brand?

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The Open Identity – DataPortability

Posted by John Horniblow on Mar 13, 2009 in General, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience

 
dataportability

“To help people to use and protect the data they create on networked services, and to advocate for compliance with the values of DataPortability.”
Dataportability.org –  Mission statement  

I think that one of the most important and interesting projects to come too light over the past 18 months has to be the DataPortability project. I can’t think of a more defining project that seeks to put the consumer  in control of their data,   in an easy framework,  than this.

As a digital marketer, online developer  and manager of a major “ecosystem” of company websites I had always been challenged by and worked to successfully remedy the idea of a federated user login and password  or identity that  would allow users navigating a network or an “ecosystem”of websites to have just one unique ID. This unique ID  allowing  them access across a network , without having to login as multiple different identities across multiple sites and let them negotiate and choose or personalize what’s important to them and then manage their preferences.

home_header

Lets face it the majority of us have a number of identities in a myriad of web databases ; As a consumer  I  possibly over one hundred “sign ups” on sites where I have an identity or have surrendered my contact details for either verification of who I am , membership, product registration,  interest in a communication, a CRM activity, a  social network identity , or just a security login and password .  If I was able to simplify this and manage that in a more organised and less haphazard way I would. 

The concept of  DataPortability is having the option or choice to use your personal data between trusted applications and vendors. As  simple as that . What is important , especially in the current digital climate , is the protection of consumers rights when it comes to their data and data privacy. The consumers need to have control over their data by determing how they want to use it and who can use it. This includes access to data that is under the control of another entity and the interoperability of  that consumer identity or data across an independent network of  online services and sites. What will become important in the not too distant future,  is the potential trust rating between the consumer and the companies providing online or digital services , media, and product marketing. Companies with the most transparent , upfront and honest approach to managing consumer data will ultimately be successful. Those whose integrity is questionable or not transparent will ultimately see a consumer backlash. 

With raging debates taking place as to just how far companies such as Google own the insight to online  behaviours by tracking consumer browsing habits from site to sites by cookie-ing them, the concept of DataPortability in extremely timely and necessary .  Its scary to think that Google can pinpoint and locate with uncanny precision a physical person and have a map of all their behavioural characteristics and that they have been known in the past to surrender that information to government security and intelligence agencies.
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With Social networks and the spill over to media networks becoming more open , more interconnected , and more distributed I would say that DataPortability is not an emerging trend but an imminent or inevitable necessity. The current list of  sponsors is impressive  Microsoft, Google, Facebook, SixApart, Digg, Plaxo, Linkedin and apparently 1000s of other participants. Interestingly it includes the two digital darlings,  Facebook and Google,  that appear to be at the centre of debates surrounding consumer data , who owns it , who controls it , and how it can be exploited, with both companies getting into hot water either by government privacy watchdogs or with their userbase themselves. With the support of cross-system data access, interoperability, and portability, people can bring their identities, friends, conversations, files, and histories with them to the service of their choice. This cuts down on the need for form-filling , new passwords, preferences  of data transfer on the consumer side. The service providers or networks can tailor services to suit their consumer base with little effort required by the consumer. Consumers  browse networked services and accumulate experiences and if they permit it, this information is  updated in the network of sites a consumer may participate in. For online and digital service  companies the “mutual control” and “mutual benefit” with consumers has an upside that the  relationships remain relevant, data usage remains transparent  and will encourage continued consumer usage.

For more information go to DataPortability.org 

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IFood assistant : Kraft’s killer IPhone application

Posted by John Horniblow on Mar 5, 2009 in General, Mobile and wireless, User experience

Who would have thought that a food company could sell an iPhone Application  not just for ordering its product?
kraft ifood assistant
The iFood assistant developed by Kraft,  the world’s second largest food company, has turned the tables in mobile marketing for FMCG. Kraft is currently enjoying a rather prominent promotion on Apple’s website and in the App Store, which features video interviews with executives involved in the app’s development.

What’ s great or interesting about this is that Kraft has looked at where it adds value to the its on shelf products and developed a consumer proposition that is purely experiential and consumer focussed. Kraft tapped into its pre existing content base of recipes , cooking videos , add the notion of a meal planner and then added a store locator . The lessons for marketers based on Kraft’s success with this iPhone application are many and that the consumers brand experience goes well beyond the product on shelf , or at home in the kitchen or the real moment of truth when its consumed . The experience can manifest as useful helper in everyday activities. Its about the brand but all   all the services and value added content surrounding the brands , packaged as a “paid for” but highly useful portable electronic assistant that is “always on” in your pocket or bag. One touch away. Its also that fact that it is a conduit or exclusive channel for brand communications that can be entertaining and engaging and that it can extend offers , and potentially coupons as well.

kraft recipes

Kraft is cleverly  delivering its brand through the application, and using it as a advertising platform but it’s also driving new revenue streams from its cut of sales on the App Store — its a shining star in the field of branded iPhone applications. Why? because user experience is centred around  and wanted  valuable services and their  info-tainment value , not just being branded advertising app.  

View Apple’s co branded article about Kraft  

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The internet roadmap – IA Japan’s trends map for 2009 is coming soon

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 23, 2009 in Design, General, User experience

The internet may be amorphous machine , somewhat chaotic it breadth and depth but it also lends itself to very fast and quick generation of trends and directions in human communications and  where and what people do virtually is able to be mapped  as lines , hubs, converging rails and directional lines. 

Tokyo subway map

Tokyo subway map

With 882 stations on 14 lines, Tokyo’s subway system is one of the largest — and busiest — in all the world. The system map is a twisted mass of lines and stations. Consider this : Shinjuku  one of the largest — and busiest stations  in the world  is the main hub for 12 different lines that link central Tokyo and its western suburbs. Approximately 3.6 million people pass through the station each day. It has four concourses, eight department stores, three dozen tracks and more than 200 exits.

The images I  hold in my mind have of the Tokyo subway system are nothing short of mass commuting on a grand scale with little or no respect personal space and that my idea of crowded pales as comfy . The western concept  of the having an invisible barrier that creates an magic space or outer boundary  around your body  goes out of the window when you hear of  whited gloved station attendants, called oshiya – literally, “pusher” politely but firmly shoving people into the cars or  with special human” herding sticks”  to  squeeze commuters onto already seemingly full trains. Its a remarkably efficient mass transit mover  of wave of a humanity , impersonal , raw and sprawling.

internet trends map

 

The  Tokyo Subway analogy  of where internet traffic and trends converge is  wonderful metaphor upon which to begin to put order to the sheer number of cyber commuters , the convergence points of traffic and communications , the conjecture , the posturing , the speculative and the inherent generational morphing that occurs in pockets on the net and then spreads. Information Architects Japan produced a 3rd version of the the map in 2008   ( see above ) presented as an isometric landscape with two layers: one showing the brand evaluation of the main sites, and other layer their interface or usability. The map has changed from the original two maps that looked graphically  like the current Tokyo subway map. 

 What is interesting to note is that map evolves each year and and sites can move from station to station  based  upon a subjective or even and analytical prediction of their importance, business play, style , audience  and get placed on the map  relative  to the actual physical station it surrounding real estate and it core commuter. 

The telling things in 2008 map as noted by IA Japan  were : 

Google - The Center of the Center: 

“In terms of traffic, Tokyo station is the center of Tokyo. That’s why Google (which is slowly becoming a metaphor of the Internet itself) has moved from Shinjuku to Tokyo Station. Google continues to push new modules into the main lines in an attempt to occupy the center circle.” 

trendmap3-google

Dataportability : Unknown, But… : Dataportability.org in Uguisudani

” If things turn out as they seem like they’re going to, the newcomer of the year is Dataportability.org. It has become the center of online identity practically overnight. OpenID, Google, Facebook, Flickr, and Plaxo all opened-up and joined this incredible project. Microsoft probably won’t be happy as Passport (or is it “Passport Live?”) now has no significance.” 

Facebook : Just a Hub: Facebook in Nippori

” Facebook has moved to Nippori because, from a broader perspective, Nippori is boring. But it’s still an important station (Nippori is a hub for Narita, Tokyo’s international airport).”  Just as Youtube is an important hub. 

trendmap3-youtube

 

Yahoo : Ya… who? Yahoo in Tabata

” Along with our speculation that the Yahoo brand will move increasingly into the background as an umbrella for more exciting products and brands like Flickr, we gave Yahoo an insignificant station. Flickr, in Nishi-Nippori, is closer to Facebook (also a strong picture-sharing portal) than Yahoo (Yahoo-owned Flickr is a part of Dataportability.org).” 

trendmap3-yahoo 

 

MSN : Moving Towards a Central Node: MSN in Shinjuku

” MSN has moved to Shinjuku. Lately it has increased its network (see: deal with Newsvine and The New York Times). MSN—unlike Microsoft Live—is doing things right.” 

trendmap3-nyt

I wonder where the map will shift for this coming year ? For more information on IA Japan’s forth coming trend map  for 2009 .

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SoundCloud – A new realm in music and social media

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 13, 2009 in Design, General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

soundcloud

Music is at its very heart  a social media! 

Andy  Cato - “Sharing music has always gone on. It’s giving music away that’s the problem. We wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what we used to do with cassette tapes. When you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.” 

There is an inherent need for music publishers to create buzz around tracks and artists but also to work in their spheres of fellow producers, musicians and their fans or audience.  So in the artist self publishing  and artist self promotional days , that have the music labels traditional A&R business scrambling, what could be more relevant than a social network of music “taste makers” , musicians, labels and publishers? The emergent answer is ; SoundCloud !!  

In the burgeoning world of social media applications  there is a  launch  of new business concept  everyday, redefining the working practices of many social and professional scenes across all types of businesses.  Music, while being at the forefront of consumer media consumption changes, is no different.  While in its nascent days SoundCloud offers a full social network for the  thriving  music scene based on the simple sharing and following concept. SoundCloud makes it easy for people to send & receive music. Simple as that. What it isn’t is one of those illegal peer to peer file sharing platform that have  all but hijacked the music industry and elevated music piracy to the epidemic level. The promise of music uploading and sharing in this community is that you cannot share music without the consent of the proper right holders and any user sharing music illegally runs the risk of having their account deleted and being reported to the relevant authorities.  You can make your music private or public and shareable. What could be more easy than uploading your latest mixed  track, to your known group of promoters and tastemakers or giving it a limited  public preview or limited public download that could be shared across the social media websites across the world?

 

What I also find appealing is easy to use interface, a simple but effective and non nonsense way of getting at what you are there for , listening to music . This is not a Rhapsody or Pandora like website either , but a more socially driven sharing platform minus any overbearing commercialism . 

The Angel 60 Channels

The Angel 60 Channels

But lets not kid ourselves , not every budding or aspirant  musician or DJ is bound to be a radio star or a pioneer in digital music business model such as The Angel , Radiohead, Prince or Groove Armada. What is clear in this application is that realm of music PR belongs in the hands of its fans and promoters.  ”Social Media”  places the audience at the forefront of PR or word of mouth promotion, playing into the hands of the real evangelists; the buzz creators.  SoundCloud will only grow and mature over time from its early underground days. What interesting to me is that the  age of mix tape or mix CD   is a fading long gone distant memory.

Music and its digital portability has placed it upon the crest  of  the wave of change in traditional medias,  creating an urgent need for the major Records Labels and Publishers to review there very model of business. The new wave of artists and their producers are clearly taking control of their own livelihoods and their media.  

http://soundcloud.comjohnhorniblow

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Widgets and the future of CRM

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 11, 2009 in Branded content, General, Mobile and wireless, User experience, Viral Marketing

snapshot-2009-02-11-11-07-56Recently OgilvyOne  Paris released a widget for Croquons la Vie , Nestle France’s  revamped online Consumer Relationship Marketing Program . Aided by what appears to be a concerted digital PR campaign targeting blogs and digital influencers and using  its inherent  widget -portability or share-ability  , it appears to be making some traction. Readily downloadable from the  main site  Croquons la vie  its easily  transferable to Netvibes  or iGoogle where you can make a number of choices on where and how you want to display the widget.

When it comes to looking at CRM practices this widget doesn’t disappoint from the marketer’s,  and more importantly, the consumer’s standpoint. Loaded with a rich content offering of  monthly recipe videos, recipe links , and  coupons , this widget provides the “value add”  that consumers expect from relationship marketing programs.   As well, it also adds the  possible concept of social marketing and content distribution into the CRM mix  as it extends the digital marketing ecosystem beyond  websites into the desktop world and potentially into mobile phones overtime. 

What is clear about using widgets  is that  you can extend the CRM based  services and value added content , personalize it , and use them as your own private  brand driven media channel  , pushing content or marketing communications to the widgets, where ever they may be. By simply adding the widget the consumer has actively subscribed to the brand communications , placing  themselves very clearly in control of the content they will  view as it changes over time. The relationship is nurtured through a constant evolution of  digital content offerings and the promise of discounts via coupons that can be claimed directly through the site.  What  will become apparent over time   is that  as  the install base for the widget  expands dramatically,  so does its propensity to become a media conduit for other brand communications . Content could even extend to  retail partnerships  as a  way of  subtly  extending the shopper  communications that may link consumers back to instore promotions or e commerce applications.    

What is also clear  is that in the coming year through consumer uptake of  iPhone an or smartphones and the development of  Google’s Android ( Open Handset Alliance Project)  in 2009/2010, is that the mobile phones will become “widget compatible” . The consumers use of smartphone or  Androïd platform, will not be bound to simple static applications but open to a diverse range of content services  that can be streamed onto the phone , although for the time being the support of Adobe’s Flash file format  seems hard to accomplish on phones.  

As Bruno Walther  , CEO of OgilvyOne Paris  says “The more time passes, the more I am certain that the widget is the future of the client relationship (CRM). ” , and  on this note I can only agree  with him wholeheartedly. Pick the widget up from Netvibes 

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Hi5- the other social network to watch

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 6, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Click for full-size image.

You may not know it but Hi5 is the third largest social network in the world  polling into position behind Facebook and MySpace.  What make its different from the other two is clearly its audience. It has around 60 million  unique visitors  per month , 40% of whom come from Spanish speaking countries. This makes it the largest Latin American or Hispanic social network . While virtually unheard of in the United States the UK or some of Europe  there are reasons to believe that this could change.  The key information to be aware of  is that more and more people in the U.S. are discovering the site, a trend line that will likely keep bending upward in the next 12 months. What would be interesting to track is whether this  new US  based  audience is  ethnically and demographically  the young Hispanic and creates a parallel spanish speaking social network the covers the Americas and Spain . As of mid-2007 the Hispanic community  in the US, the largest  minority group , accounted for 15.1% of the total U.S. population and also since 2000  have accounted for more than half (50.5%) of the overall population growth in the United States 

Hi5′ s music and video applications rival those of other, more popular social networks, and Hi5′s mobile app is first rate.

Hi5 won’t be bigger than Facebook  by the end of the year, but it will have grown significantly, and it will have given many people  an attractive alternative to try out

What will be interesting to observe in the near future is whether the identities of one social network can or will be able cross register with the other using the concept of Open ID.

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Branded Content – Social Marketing deal : Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 22, 2009 in Branded content, Social Media Marketing, User experience, Viral Marketing

Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum deal

groove-armada1

There are “No Rules”  anymore when it comes to the music industry and how band or musical acts market themselves in the digital age. To underscore the changing ways of doing business and the ability of an act taking control of its music and image outside of the “record deal”  -  traditionally label based system, Groove Armada’s deal with Barcardi Rum is unprecedented. Its a pure play “Branded Content”  deal.  The UK based , world renowned DJ  and dance music act Groove Armada, has signed an exclusive one year  recording, DJing and promotional deal with Barcardi.  And it  has the music industry pundits questioning whether its a  ”Sell Out” or another wake call in the ever evolving era of media portability and its impact on all traditional  entertainment media. 

In the 21st Century music scene, with music sales down and the internet transferring power to the artists, their options are wide open. In what could be called a symbiotic exchange or  promotional deal, Groove Armada gets to be promoted and play to new audiences worldwide under the marketing flagship of Barcardi. It is what could be called a branded content  viral or social marketing deal too.  Bacardi is  the facilitator of content or  music sharing, is  associated to a “hip act ” and right in touch with core audience and their media and social habits.  A  four-track EP – the only music to be released under the contract  -  was launched by Tom and Andy Cato at the Midem international music convention in Cannes yesterday.  

The Branded Content – Social marketing deal 

The EP will be delivered through an innovative sharing mechanic called Bacardi B-LIVE Share; a pioneering online application encouraging and rewarding consumers who share Groove Armada’s music from the EP with their own online communities.  Andy Cato says of the model -
“Sharing music has always gone on. It’s giving music away that’s the problem. We wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what we used to do with cassette tapes. When you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.” 

The first track  has just been released  as a free  download for free from http://www.bliveshare.com , Baracardi’s brand spanking  new music / promotional sharing platform. 

In what is surely  an experiment in Social Media and Viral marketing , to get the other three tunes, fans must share the first with their friends, who share it with their friends, who share it with their friends.

To get the second track, the fans and their network of friends must spread the first 20 times through the website. To get the third, the network must share it 200 times. And for the fourth, the first MP3 must be shared 2,000 times in total.  The originator or ancestor  being able track their spread of music through their social network with a window of six weeks to spread it, after which time all four songs will go on sale through normal digital stores.

The site includes social sharing applications with Facebook , MySpace , blogs , websites , and a call to social  email campaigning.  

 So download your  exclusive Groove Armada track “Go” from me :)  

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Web 2.0 : The basics of the Open and social web

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 14, 2009 in General, User experience

“An emerging network- centric platform to support distributed,  collaborative and cumulative creation by its users.” 

- John Hagel 

Web 2.0  is such an amorphous terms that defies a hard definition. In the many years that  have been talking about and working in in web development and interactive marketing I would often describe the evolution of the web as  generational,  heralding each leap in concept  from media, content,  browsers, systems and platforms  as contributing generational stepping stones to where we are today. The hyperbolic change that occurred in the early internet years seemed to have generational change each successive year with competing technologies, media companies and battling it out for a controlling position. When the dot com bubble finally burt in 2001  there was a  turning point in the web. The point where after a shakeout the ascendent technologies began to differentiate themselves from the raft of “frothy flotsam ” washed up in wake of the the crash. Perhaps the corporate agendas of owning  or controlling the web , the antithesis of its organic and free form, had failed. What was apparent at this time was that new sites and technologies kept on revitalizing the digital space in an open and collaborative way. 

While the boom was definitively over the web just kept evolving in open way and the  transition to  Web 2.0 was enabled by the emergence of platforms such as blogging, social networks, and free image and video uploading, that collectively  allowed extremely easy content creation, access and sharing by anyone who had a computer and a connection. The barrier to entry of web publishing or content creation was over and the social voice of the digital consumer  had begun its transformative ride over traditional media. 

 If you think Web 2.0  as simply social networking or just about the technical or geek jargon…. you really need to think again. Every aspect of Web 2.0 is driven by consumer participation, from content, its voice, browser development, technology platforms, and an ever evolving digital life.  The most definitive trend and primary direction of Web 2.0 is for users to control  the content they create, the data captured about their web activities and their identity and their willingness to participate and socialize collectively. The gradual opening or advances in  digital standards  have allowed for a common interfaces and integration across content and applications allowing a less constrained environment then had previously existed before.  Decentralized in its architecture, participation, and usage, Web 2.0′s  real  power and flexibility emerges  from distributing applications and content over many points rather than having them locked down on centralized or controlled systems. Its is truly becoming a  plugin and play open environment for digital interplay between content and devices where the consumer experience  of  media or content mobility is quintessential. 

What is very clear is that the Web 2.0  is not a trend or fad, it is not going way or will disappear, its here to stay. What is even more interesting is that the internet development chatter is about the next evolution , Web 3.0 or the semantic web, an intelligent web based on  behavioural understanding of the consumers digital actions.  What’s going to be  interesting about Web 3.0  and will define just how far it can go will be the consumer privacy laws. There’s potentially an imminent consumer back lash looming in the near future concerning the use of known and personal data points surrounding behaviours.  web-20-framework

There are a small number main characteristics that help define web 2. 0 In the marketers world there are a few we should be aware of as these have become  part of the mainstream  marketing language: 

New Media Marketing: a term to describe the building and managing of social networks and online or virtual communities, and extend the reach of marketing to the low-frequency, low-intensity consumer in a cost effective way.

Buzz Marketing: The strategic use of word of mouth, the transmission of commercial information from person to person in an online or real-world environment.

Viral Marketing: The intentional spreading of marketing messages using social networks, with an emphasis of the casual, non-intentional and low cost.

Collective Intelligence or Collaborative Filtering : Essentially what this means is that “users” contributions greatly help build and make the foundation stronger and more popular by adding their content, such as links, comments, forum posts, reviews, rating others, an aggregation of the best work of thousands, then millions of web users (example: YouTube – more comments, more “thumbs-up” the more popularity), and any content contribution really. Without the end “user” the sites popularity goes down – if there is no interactivity for the end user, it’s not collective “anything.” So in short – the site grows organically in response to user activity.

Users Add Value: The architecture of your software development relies on “public” users to add their own data thus adding more value to your application. FireFox, Mozilla , Red Hat Linux WordPress ,(possibly the most used blogging software in the world ) grow in functionality through a network of contributing developers.  

“Some” Rights Reserved: Expanding the range of creative works accessible for others to legally build upon and share. The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to just that. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one selected, restrict only particular rights (or none) of the work instead of customary copyright, which is more restraining.

The constant Beta: Sites like, Frappr, CafePress, Flickr, FeedBurner…etc. rely on a services evolution or constant improvements and enhancements , New features  are  packaged up into massive releases, but instead added them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. 

Rich User Experience:  Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. 

web-apps

When it comes to the driving  Web 2.0  technologies  we should also aware of: 

Aggregation: Bringing multiple content sources together into one interface or application. 

AJAX : (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) A combination of technologies that  enables highly interactive web applications. 

API : (Application Programming Interface) A defined interface to a computer  application or database that allows access by other applications. 

Embedding: Integrating content or an application into a web page, while the original format is maintained. 

Folksonomy: Rich categorization of information that is collectively created  by users, through tagging and other actions. (cf. taxonomy) 

Mashups: Combination of different types of content or data, usually  from different sources, to create something new.

Remixing: Extracting and combining samples of content to create a  new output. The term was originally used in music but is  now also applied to video and other content. 

RSS : (Really Simple Syndication) A group of formats to publish  (syndicate) content on the internet so that users or  applications automatically receive any updates.

Ruby on Rails: An open source web application framework that  is frequently used in Web 2.0 website development. 

Tag cloud: A visual depiction of tags that have been used to describe a  piece of content, with higher frequency tags emphasized to assist  content comprehension and navigation. 

Tagging: Attaching descriptions to information or content. 

Virtual architecture :The creation of avatars (alternative representations of people), buildings, objects, and other artefacts inside virtual spaces. 

Widget: Small, portable web application that can be embedded into any web page. 

XML : (eXtensible Markup Language) An open standard for describing data, which  enables easy exchange of information between applications and organizations. 

Open web: The entire space of the World Wide Web open to anyone to access and participate. This has been the initial domain in which Web 2.0 technologies, applications, and attitudes have developed. 

 

 

  Suggested reading Future Exploration network

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