No words come close to the horror and sadness the events in France this week. I don’t have an explanation for it. However, I do think that what the team at Charlie Hebdo and other satirists around the world do is important. They hold up a mirror to ourselves and force us to look at us from a different perspective. As horrible as the events this week in France were, it is heartening and inspiring to see how the French and international community reacted to these acts of terrorism.
From the marches of solidarity, to people holding up pens and the now ubiquitous ‘Je suis Charlie’ posters – to the millions of Tweets voicing their support and condemnation.
Brandopolis: I came across this spectacular in-depth investigation of content strategy at top brands by @lydialaurenson: this epic, four part report covers everything from content strategy basics, how this obsession with content came about, to the hyper contextual future this trend of ‘all brands are publishers’ is heading towards. Chock full with case studies from some of the world’s biggest brands, I’d rate this as one of the best pieces of writing on digital content strategy I’ve come across.
If nothing else (and for you TL;DR fans) scroll down to the conclusions – best four bullet points you’ll read all year.
I’ve had a quick look at some Sysomos data and the Q&A session from this week did put up some solid numbers: over 1,800 mentions, generating more than 4 million impressions. Interestingly, 72% of the audience was male – which, going by one of the first Tweets that MOL put out during the Q&A, doesn’t surprise me:
Gifpop! Everyone loves an animated gif. Well, I do. They’re particularly perfect for communicating specific emotions such as apoplectic rage, disgust or joy – often using scenes from films, TV shows or popular YouTube clips. Sites like the brilliant London Grumblr wouldn’t exist without them and online communities such as Reddit, 4Chan or Imgur – heck, the Internet – wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
And no, it’s not just silliness.
Have a look at Zack Dougherty’s beautifully trippy gif art.
Problem of course is that these mesmerising, animated, forever looping, wonderful gifs only exists on digital screens.
Not for long though, as a Kickstarter project by @rachelbinx and @shashashasha that uses lenticular printing to bring gifs to life. Called Gifpop!, the service has already crushed its funding target of $5,000 less than 24 hours of going online – with over 400 backers donating over $15,000 (The Atlantic has more about how it all came about).
Jonathan Perelman from Buzzfeed doesn’t like banner ads: Or, to quote him: “You’re more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.” From the Guardian’s take on Perelman’s speech at the the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2013 – it sounded like many other people in the room agreed with his view that banner ads are (on the way) out.
He goes on to talk about ‘native advertising‘ – that dangerous amalgamation of content and advertising – an area that Buzzfeed excels in and has earned them 85 million unique visitors a month.
Mobile or beer? Amstel, the Dutch Brewery company, has developed a clever little app that rewards you with free beer – if you don’t touch your phone for 8 hours. Called ‘Amstel‘, the app simply tracks how long you haven’t touched your phone.
Fast Company has more on the campaign – meanwhile, the question remains: could you go eight hours without touching your phone? (Or could you just turn it on when you go to bed and wake up to a free Amstel?).
Videos of the week: “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?” So begins the interview on Newsnight between Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand and my word is it good. That Brand is one eloquent customer.
Never not, part 2 – a beautiful 50 minute short film by Nike featuring some of the world’s top snowboarders, tricks, flips and a hell of a lot of snow.
A fantastic animation by Blank on Blank of an interview with Kurt Cobain on identity.
Social media insight: Social Media Week was on this week. I didn’t go to any events but I refer to @Garyvee‘s marvellous manifesto that pretty much covers the insight you can hope to garner from these events. Unlike these selections.
Budget Tweets, Part 1: This week, Ryanair Chief Exec Michael O’Leary announced at their AGM that the company would look to reform it’s abrupt culture and things that unnecessarily annoy passengers: “I am very happy to take the blame or responsibility if we have a macho or abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal character deformities.”
Did this new found humility and focus on customer service prompt Europe’s biggest budget Airline to launch their own Twitter account? I don’t know. Their first Tweet was promising, showing some of that don’t-give-a-sh*t tone-of-voice they’re so (in)famous for.
#Ryanair has joined Twitter! Follow our official account for the latest Ryanair news & special offers. PS There's no charge for following us
By that logic, you haven’t quite grasped this whole social media thing and many other companies shouldn’t be on Twitter either. Do have a look at the responses to that Tweet – it’s telling to see what people expect from brands who come to Twitter.
I suspect that Ryanair won’t care too much about it… at least until they find a way for passengers to pay for the privilege of receiving Tweets?
Budget Tweets, Part 2: Meanwhile, Europe’s other budget airline also had a turbulent week on Twitter. EasyJet landed in some hot water when they stopped The Drum’s tech law columnist Mark Leiser from boarding a flight because he’d criticised the airline on Twitter.
Tweetliner vs. Dreamliner: Completing the aeronautical Twitter theme this week is a rather nifty retweet competition from @BritishAirways, who pitted a Dreamliner and an Airbus A380 against a flight powered by Tweets tagged with #RaceThePlane. The competition was live for the actual duration of the actual flights (suspect they made sure they’d leave on time) and participants who tweeted using the hashtag had a chance to win free flights.
I’ve no idea how many tweets equate to a mile (the official microsite doesn’t seem to provide that info), but in both cases the Tweetliner beat its real-life competitor. The competition generated around 24,000 mentions of #RaceThePlane; the first flight peaked at a little over 8,000 and the second a week later at around 14,000. Reach, according to Sysomos, was around 132 million impressions generated from about 13,000 Twitter users. Not bad for the world’s first Twitter powered flight!
I share, therefore I am? A hypnotic animation from Simi Cohen about how today’s über-connected society could in fact lead to loneliness – even though the illusion of all our social media friends and followers would have us believe otherwise.
Lyric videos: Remember, in the olden days, when you bought a CD and popped it in your Discman, and listened to your favourite band’s new album (Def Leppard, baby!), and then read the lyrics as the song was playing in the booklet (Pour Some Sugar On Me. They don’t write ’em like that no more)?
Since then, the mp3 has killed the album and all we have are massive playlists of individual songs – and no idea what people are singing about.
The Internet looks to have come to the rescue with ‘Lyrics Videos’ – a bizarre, home-made sub-genre where fans combine the music and lyrics from their favourite song with their own footage. And according to the NYT, this trend is now so popular on Youtube, that artists like Maroon 5 and Katy Perry are producing their own lyric videos – often before their official music video is released to get interest in a new single going.
iDamp: Sad proof this week that some Apple fans aren’t terribly bright, when the online community 4Chan generated nine different fake Apple iOS 7 ads claiming the newly released mobile operating system would make iDevices waterproof.
4Chan members took to Twitter to spread the word of this breakthrough new feature and troll Apple fans.
Imgur beats Reddit: While we’re on slightly more left-field online communities, Buzzfeed reports that the image hosting service Imgur (built to support the online community and ‘front page to the Internet’ Reddit, because it didn’t provide its own image hosting service), now has more users than the community it was built to support. Even better: it doesn’t rely on venture capital and is profitable – unlike Reddit.
Correction of the year? From the Evening Standard.
Christmas in July: Yup, hottest days of the year and the @SainsburysPR team spends them in a beautifully made up basement in Covent Garden to show off Sainsbury’s gorgeous Christmas collection, from fantastic festive food and drink to classy home and clothing ranges and even floral!
Our Twitter Wall was back, encouraging the assembled press and bloggers to tweet their impressions using #SainsburysChristmas. In turn we posted photos and tasty Vines (shot and directed by our very own @a_little_wine) to show off the crimbo collection that will be coming to a store near you this Christmas.
Sum Ting Wong: Not long ago, an Asiana Airlines flight crash landed in San Francisco. In one of those ‘I can’t believe this actually happened’ moments, KTVU, a local news station, announced that the pilots of the Asiana flight had been named:
Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow
I kid you not.
Soon after – and unsurprisingly – KTVU issued an on air apology, saying that the names were “not accurate, despite a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesperson confirming them”.
Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.
The summer intern has since been fired, but I’d suggest the NTSB revisit their crisis comms procedures. Something is clearly not quite right there…
Above the cloud advertising: Staying with air travel for a bit longer – Ryanair has decided that sticking ads on every conceivable surface inside their planes and annoying passengers with ads blasted at full-volume on the PA system isn’t enough. After all, the whole outside area of the plane is still pretty much blank! It’ll only cost you £20,000 a year to get your creative on a Ryanair’s plane, for example the tips of the wings and the main body of the plane. Doubt BA or Easyjet will take them up on it.
Facebook fangate: You know the bit you get on some Facebook brand pages where you have to “like” the page first before you can see the content? That’s a fangate. With Real Life Connect you can now set up a real-life fangate that uses RFID technology to identify your Facebook fans as and when they come into your stores and reward them with real life perks. The example in the clip below of showering customers with confetti and kisses is somewhat cheeseball, but you get the idea (HT @mike_mcgrail).
A nifty way then of breaking down those barriers between your Facebook and bricks and mortar stores. Although the key will be to come up with an in-store/real-life perk for the customer (discounts, free stuff, or even just the recognition) that balance with a benefit for the retailer (increased loyalty, personal connections).
The link between off and online will need to be seamless and automatic. Even with something as simple as Foursquare mayorships, which provide much the same mechanic and opportunites as Real Life Connect’s RFID approach, this approach to rewarding loyalty have found little pick up. Not once have I been rewarded for being the Mayor of a cafe or restaurant – and I’ve looked!
Combine this with existing loyalty schemes or apps however, and you might be on to something!
Tweet and thou shall be saved: In terms of rewarding fans for following a brand on Twitter, the Vatican may be on to the ultimate incentive – absolving Catholics of their sins. The Pope this week announced that anyone who follows his World Youth Day service on TV, radio or via Twitter will receive plenary indulgences.
When bylines go wrong: The heat might be getting to the subs at the Sunday Mirror. They carried a nib about a bridge funding scandal; and where you’d usually find the name of the journo that had written the piece, there was a rather colourful snippet of a sentence (HT @tabloidtroll).
How to use hashtags on Twitter: A great little 2-minute-guide to how you should use hashtags on Twitter by @garyvee. Instead of trying to make your own hashtags trend (as Gary notes, only The Bieber has that kind of power, infuriatingly), you’ll be much better off listening to what is already popular and then adding to those conversations and trends where you have the authority/content/right to play.
Videos of the week: Johannesburg Zoo were keen to get in on the social media action, but rather than hire a social media team, they decided to promote from within. Their resident honey badger “BG” got the gig (HT Alex Crouch).
A spectacular ad for Johnnie Walker starring none other than martial arts über-legend Bruce Lee. It took nine months to produce, with every shot, every detail was painstakingly assembled, animated and rendered through CGI. As the director puts it – a sculpture in a different medium (HT @KaiFischer).
A great little clip from Arsenal Football Club from the pre-season tour through Vietnam (not signing anyone or winning any titles, don’t be silly). A fan runs alongside the team coach for a good five miles, the bus finally stops and he climbs aboard. Dream come true (HT @stangreenan).