Sunday, April 12, 2009

We as social creatures are self-aggregating ourselves

That which allows us to become more social online - mobile, software, web services and communities - is also allowing us to self-aggregate in ways that define us based on our affinities and abilities. It has to do less about the technology itself and more about the connections we make.

The experiences we create as a result of those connections are just as important as the experiences that brands are trying to create for us. It wouldn't hurt marketers once in a while to embrace our own self-created experiences and do all that they can to facilitate certain aspects of our user-created conversation and participation given their resources.

flickr photo by notsogoodphotograhy

Friday, April 10, 2009

To brands serving up lemons: "We aren't interested in lemonade."

Especially in this economy, everyone with a product or service offering is doing all they can to grab out attention, with less means of doing so. However, at this point where life is throwing many of us lemons, I ask, should we get used to drinking lemonade, or are we thirsting for something that's actually desirable?

Every so often though, something good pop us to treat us during hard times, whether it's entertaining, useful, thoughtful, funny, or just plain weird, so long as it's not boring or annoying.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes we ourselves as consumers, users, evaluators, and participants can be sour. Take the example of Facebook's new redesign, which groups of over 2.6 million have now gathered on the social network to talk about how much of a lemon the site's look and feel has become.

How about some good examples? Dunkin Donuts has certainly caught my attention, beating out Starbucks since the beginning of the year by serving up coffee that many of us can now afford (or at least not feel bad about spending on). The company's site provides a laugh or two which we could all use right now, and we can certainly appreciate someone giving us a positive nudge by saying "You Kin Do It."

What did Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have to say about all this? His response was merely "Are you going to say to your friend, 'Lets go meet at Dunkin' Donuts'? Are you going to say that?"

C'mon, really? Since when did the green apron-wearing people start serving up a grande cup of bitter lemonade? It now appears to be on the menu...

Flickr photo by accipitereye

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not one, nor many conversations, but many communities

To marketers and their brands: He who creates conversations within the most communities wins.  This is certainly true of audiences who now exist across multiple areas of the web.

While many of us always seem to say that its not just enough to join or participate with users on the web as brands, it really isn't enough to create one, or many conversations, but to do so within many communities.

Nike is a prime example of how it does this well. In the U.S., while Nike's display ad spending is alot smaller compared to other premier brands, the shoe company certainly spends time providing content to niche communities and create conversation around sub brands such as Jordan, 6.0, and NikeID. Whether its leaking the location of where the next pair of limited edition Dunks are going to drop, or releasing a bootleg of the Nike Skate video, the brand understands that this content will create buzz that will ring from one community to the next, until it reaches the mainstream and other conversational channels such as Twitter, which is becoming the echo chamber of choice.

Helge Tenno and Mark Earls are some really smart folk who've said similar things with regards to igniting conversation and starting lots of small fires on the web.

Flick photo by wonderlane.

What is media, and is it all created equal?

Great article by Jean Pascal Mathieu in OMMA Magazine. I'll briefly steal/paraphrase here...

What do we consider to be media, and how do we as individuals define it?

Media is generally defined as "tools that store and deliver information or data." However this can still mean different things depending on who you are and what you are talking about.

For instance, to marketers, media is vehicles for places to run ads that will by target audiences.

For the general public, media is usually seen as major brands and broadcast channels providing news and entertainment over the air or within print.

For those surfing the Web, media can mean online and other digital destinations that deliver information, entertainment or opinions produced by their peers.

What's more, the emergence of blogs, social media networks and mico-blogging communities have pretty much blurred the lines of distinction between these definitions, which again begs the question: Are all media really equal?

Nurun's VP of Strategy Jean Pascal Mathieu outlined the following factors that help shape our perceptions of what "real" media are:
  1. A clear editorial mission, usually aimed at a particular niche audience or political position.
  2. The ability to produce original content sufficient to keep the property alive and interesting to the audience.
  3. Responsibility for the quality and value of the content delivered, as well as adherence to a professional code of ethics.
  4. The ability to ensure a level of distribution and visibility congruent with what the public expects of media: presence on newsstands, on the street, in a cable package, on the air, or in a Web news aggregator.
  5. Regular or continuous delivery of "hot" information, as defined by the distribution channel and the media type.
His underlying premise is that a media property that exhibits most or all of these features will have a strong identity. I also agree with what he states regarding how social media has made is possible for orginary people to publish their opinions in what he calls the middle ages of media.
"But what is interesting now, in these "middle ages" of media, is the mix; on the, bloggers and readers opine alongside journalists, although each plays a different role. A lot of the content that finds its way onto the Web property would never have been considered "Fit to Print" by America's traditional newspaper of record. The result is a media hybrid, perhaps, but it's a rich and more relevant media mix."
All really good points to think about as the web brings our change in media consumption and behavior.

The Magical Land of Twitter

For all those Twitter addicts who are "twuoting" all over the place...