Been a while since my last update – holidays and life got in the way, but I did finish the London Marathon. It didn’t go to plan, but I managed to cross the line regardless. An absolutely brilliant day with seemingly all of London out to support the runners.
Fast flooding cement: The Victoria Line was suspended this week because, somehow, a control room was flooded with cement. Twitter reacted how it always reacts, with a barrage of quick drying puns, visual gags and other silliness. And as we know, Twitter frickin LOVES a good pun.
@tomparker81 pointed out this beautiful flowchart from @TimeOutLondon on how the engineers were most likely dealing with the situation…
What struck me most about the story though was that it (technically) wasn’t the traditional media that broke the news, but up-and-coming, do-it-for-the-LOLz site @UsVSTh3m (an experiment funded by Trinity Mirror).
A big win for the experiment, and if you haven’t read @MartinBelam‘s take on the who, why and what behind UsVSTh3m, I recommend you do so immediately as it provides a clever and informative take on how traditional media can adapt to t’Interwebs and why it’s so important that the UsVSTh3m team can “write for the web, use Photoshop like a boss, and code”.
Concrete data: Having that amazing exclusive on the Victoria Line pics has added exactly one Google+ follower for @UsVsTh3m
Still, you’ll be glad to know that the Victoria Line is working again. The fix? Sugar, bizarrely. And while I’d like to think it was Fairtrade sugar from Sainsbury’s that sorted out the signalling room, I cannot confirm that.
Grow a spine, Yahoo!: Gmail was down for about 20 minutes on Friday, enough time for brands and organisations to jump in with some real-time marketing.
But then there was Yahoo!, who (I thought) simply tweeted the fact that Gmail was ‘temporarily unavailable’, quoting the Error 500 page. No further judgement or commentary – just a screenshot (although I imagine, behind the scenes, the Yahoo! Mail team was high-fiving and wooping).
The Tweet was quickly deleted and replaced by a confusing, two-tweet apology. It referred to @Yahoo being used by the editorial team to inform about news and events and that the Tweet “reflected bad judgment” (I guess you think twice about dissing your CEO’s ex-employer).
The @Yahoo Twitter handle is used by our editorial team to inform about news and events.
But if you see yourself as a news organisation, should you then not report on the news? There wasn’t any Nelson-esque “HaHa” (albeit implicit), they were simply stating fact. I wonder if they’d have gotten away with the @YahooNews account tweeting it.
Those cheeky chaps at Paddy Power are at it again: After Man Utd lost to Chelsea, the Paddy Power deposited a life-sized wax figure of Sir Alex Ferguson inside a glass box outside Old Trafford. The instructions are simple: “In case of emergency, break glass“. I have a feeling that after the hilariously pathetic penalty shoot-out against equally inept Sunderland this week, the glass might have been shattered. Perhaps by the same distressed fan who was so dismayed by the nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams, he dialled 999, demanding to speak to Ferguson.
Bits and bytes
Businessweek looks at why retailers are increasingly crowdsource their product shots – curating photos photos from social platforms and blogs. Not only is there top quality imagery out there, this imagery is far more authentic than the highly styled marketing imagery produced by brands. Case in point, this mouthwatering list of sandwich ideas on Sainsbury’s Live Well For Less site, sourced from food bloggers
Want your post to go viral? Forget about producing helpful, amusing or informative content. Social proof/blackmail is the trigger you should be going for (note: irony)
Check out the BBC’s Instafax, a new short-form video news service on Instagram. Each post consists of three short clips with a caption, quickly summarising a story. An interesting attempt to reach readers on social media platforms as Creative Review finds
Videos of the week: “You have elbows and you have knees. So touch them. VERY NICE.” Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Gold’s Gym in a dodgy disguise to support after-school sports. I doubt anybody was fooled as to whom they were talking to, but Ahnuld is just one charming dude.
And two wonderfully cheese public service videos from The White House this week. Making the ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’ a virtual reality. And who better to do the promo than The West Wing’s Josh Lyman and Will Bailey!
And then there’s FLOTUS dunking on Lebron James. Oh yeah.
So, you plan for moments where the attention of a large part of the country is focused on one event. You come up with different scenarios. You assemble a team of creatives, copywriters, PRs. Most importantly, you get someone with the authority to give the green light on whatever reactive idea your team comes up with. How else are you going to capitalise on that one moment with a genius bit of content before your competitors do?
Fair enough. But I think this quest to create that perfect piece of viral content is a bit like playing the lottery. You’re likely to play your whole life and never get lucky.
Meanwhile, thousands of opportunities go missing because we’re so focused on getting that one big hit. I think the focus should be on individual people, interactions and everyday conversations that are taking place all the time. Listen to what people are saying to and about you, delight them with genuine messages of support: give them a retweet, comment on their blog, pin their Instagram image or like their Facebook post. Show them you’re listening and reward them for the time (and money!) they’ve spent on you. It takes a second to interact, but for anyone who’s ever been tweeted by a celeb account will know what an exciting feeling it is.
Social Wimbledon: Nadal out in the first, Federer out before a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in a decade, Sharapova dispatched by the 131 seed. Twitter is already in overdrive with more tweets during the Nadal/Darcis match (7,000 tweets per min) than during last year’s final. There’s also a great little social insights page on the Social Wimbledon page, providing visitors with some interesting insight into what people are talking about.
Also, I love that they’re tapping into the great British culture and Wimbledon tradition of queuing by actively promoting the #TheQueue hashtag. After all, isn’t it always more fun to share the pain of waiting with randoms on Twitter?
Oh, and while we’re on Wimbledon: Here are some photos of players in action where their tennis racket has been replaced with something else entirely (possibly NSFW).
Political lunch: George Osborne’s Tweeted a photo of himself this week showing him chowing down on a posh Byron burger. He was predictably mocked for devouring his £7 burger whilst preparing a budget speech. The Daily Mail has a blow-by-blow account of proceedings, here’s the gist of this excellent exchange that followed.
Again, Twitter wasn’t pleased and people were soon posting photoshopped photos of Pickles eating everything from a bucket of KFC to a stuffed pig’s head – the latter coming from Jeremy Vine, ensuring that this went far and wide.
For now though, it looks like Osbourne has had the last laugh:
Photography meets Google Glass: What happens when photojournalist @koci takes Google Glass to the streets? You get possibly the first real reason why wearing these things and looking like a complete tool might actually be worth it. Street photography. Check out Koci_Glass on Instagram for what you can do with the 5mp camera and what I assume is a healthy dose of photo editing on Google+ and Diptic (HT @frischkopp).
“First day on the streets with Google Glass. #throughglass blown away by the sharpness and clarity for only 5MP. The lens is a little to wide for my street style, but I understand why it’s so wide. Not a single person noticed, that I could tell, that’s probably because we don’t look each other in the eyes normally. More to come.”
Twitter are also actively promoting clever Vine’s from advertising agencies – something that I am sure will lead to agencies producing better Vines. The ‘how to’ clips from Lowe’s are particularly brilliant (HT @tonyw).
Video of the week: Did he know or was he really caught by surprise? Whichever way you look at it, Gus Poyet’s live sacking during half-time of the Uruguay vs. Tahiti match in the Confed Cup is brilliant TV. Me? I think he knew. The interview is just too good, he comes across perfectly as the victim and has clearly received some excellent media training. Also, 15 minutes before Gus supposedly found out on air, his son Diego tweeted that there wouldn’t be any more trips to the Amex (Brighton’s stadium). That tweet has since been deleted by @diegopoyet7, further fueling my suspicions.
Hazy marketing: Remember when real-time marketing went mainstream? You know, when Oreo tweeted about being able to dunk an Oreo cookie in the dark after the lights went out at the Superbowl? And everybody loved it and wrote blog posts about how brilliant it was and how since then anybody working in comms has thought about how they can get their own Oreo moment?
Well, even the masters at Oreo don’t always get it right. You may have seen coverage on the BBC yesterday about the haze in Singapore from the forest fires in Indonesia (much like the ones 16 years ago when I was still in high school in Singapore – only much, much worse). The marketing bods decided that this message to their Singaporean fans would be a good idea.
Now, I can’t see the response to the image (the post is only visible to people in Singapore), but personally, I think this is in bad taste and I wouldn’t be surprised if the locals don’t see the funny side.
Bizarrely Adidas posted a similar effort to their Facebook page: offering 152 free gym passes on a day when the Pollutant Standards Index hit 152 at lunchtime.
Now, anything between 100-200 is considered to be unhealthy, so encouraging people to head out in that environment isn’t such a smart thing. In fact, on June 20, the PSI peaked at 371, a level of pollution deemed to be hazardous – but they are still posting similar content (although they’re no longer so keen on matching free gym passes to the PSI levels).
REI Member Stories: Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) make outdoor gear and clothing. Their clientele ranges from skiers, ridiculously inspiring iron-women (like @celia_cole), climbers, trekkers… you get the idea. A great post on PSAMA goes into detail about how REI works closely with their customers to create some stunning user generated content to market their products in intensely engaging clips (HT @jcolman).
Key advice from @Kelly_Ann_Walsh, Digital Equipment Program Manager for REI: “Don’t try to create a new behaviour. Try instead to integrate what your community is already doing.” And some key questions for any company interested in using UGC in their marketing:
What is your community doing and how can you leverage it to provide value to your audience?
What are your objectives for engagement?
How can you leverage current behaviour to create a community or connection?
How can you drive continued engagement?
Do you have the resources to moderate the content and scale?