Tag Archives: Twitter

The Tensions Surrounding Negative Aspects In The Evolution Of Social Media

We’ve all benefitted in some form or another from the advances in technology made by industries that are all about destruction.  One simple example is the proliferation of navigation systems in our cars and mobile phones – made possible due to the military’s development of the satellites and the underlying technology. But, it can be alarming and scary if we look at how social networking technologies and platforms may be fueling the players of destruction. Such an example of this is going on right now in the tensions surrounding Gaza – with both sides utilizing Twitter for building awareness and fear.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas are both sharing text and imagery via Twitter that range from threats to eliminated targets to missile launches.  I would imagine that these purposes were never thought of as use patterns for Twitter or any other social network when the founding developers were starting out.

Many around the world praised the capabilities of social networks in bringing the Arab Spring to reality – but those sentiments were all about the joy of re/building and connections.  The underlying thread of the Arab Spring was destruction of the status quo and the oppressive powers, so we could look at some of those posts filled with destructive notes and threatening natures as bad.  But, the general take on them was of positivity.

Can we do the same while evaluating the use of social networks by Hamas and the IDF while embroiled in a form of war?  So far, it is all about marketing/publicity/propaganda for each of these sides. In what I’ve read, it is hard to tell whether the posts are meant more as tactical communications of events or inflammatory railings meant to incite more support for either side.  The mere act of threats, taunts and destructive actions from organized military has got to be a major concern for Twitter’s legal team who developed the platform’s Terms & Conditions as a form of protection among individuals. I can’t imagine they ever thought this could have happened, or could they have?

As quickly as Twitter exploded onto the scene, marketers were trying to figure out how they could harness its power.   In parallel, the T&Cs have been steadily augmented ever since their first version upon launch as use has evolved. Without getting into the details of the conflicts in the Middle East, the reality is that the conflict has evolved over the decades (centuries, millennium) so that perception (or marketing) is key.  While bombs can be volleyed from one side to the next, the spin or marketing has become as important – if not more.

This development of marketing in the conflict is the one that is truly concerning. In war, the facts of the battle are often lost in the marketing of it.  We used to only be swayed by the victor after the battle has long been won and the victors have written the “history.”  Now, we have social networks that can shape that same history on a real-time basis.

We have become numbed by the images and tag lines that flicker across our devices 24/7 with there being very little difference between the image of a military commander who has been assassinated and the latest contestant to be voted off of American Idol or Survivor.

When real battles are being fought and lives are at stake, the comparisons to marketing – and its inherent luxuries – should come to an end. Twitter and similar platforms have quite a dilemma to resolve when evaluating whether these types of destructive and incited uses of their product should be allowed.  The answer is not as easy as a “Yes” or “No” because social has become such a large part of society and communications are not so easily removed once they’re out there. And, there is no discounting how much of an impact – positive and negative – social networking has made in our world.

As a community, we were too slow to respond to hatred and bullying by individuals via social networks. Now, we are moving into a much more official use of social networks for inciting fear. Before we know it, the line will be blurred beyond comprehension in relation to how social media changed our world in positive ways versus negative.

As a community, we need to move to make sure that the lines are drawn quite clearly. Perhaps it is a natural advance in evolution, but we should be pushing for positive use… If the difference between positive and negative is even that clear…

Can Unilever and NBCU Deliver the Best Integrated Campaign Ever?

Unilever and NBC Universal timed their announcement of what may turn out to be the biggest integrated marketing program we’ve seen tied to television to launch Unilever’s new hair-care product, Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy.  Unilever has hit some transmedia home runs before as seen with their Dove “campaign for Real Beauty” and this partnership with NBCUniversal’s Integrated Media and Creative Partnerships and Innovation (CP&I) Groups could be the one that set’s a new standard.  The program began yesterday with the airing of a teaser for a series of videos that start on-air and then continue online – where users get to influence the story. In theory, everything is lining up to showcase what a media company with many outlets can do when partnered with a huge company like Unilever. While the campaign revolves around the Best Night Ever, over the next few weeks, we’ll see if they were able to deliver on the promises of one of the Best Campaigns Ever.

There is so much going for this campaign – the involvement of NBCU’s talent across their multiple networks, the fun interactive ability to control the characters’ experiences beyond the velvet rope and a launch coinciding with television’s May Sweeps – it is surprising that there seems to already be some quirky issues arising.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m not being a hater and wanting to point out issues because I want this to fail. I actually want this to succeed because I know how hard it is to pull off and it could point to even bigger opportunities for the future.

Utilizing NBCU talent, including Jane Krakowski, Andy Cohen, Giuliana Rancic, and Tim Meadows, the narrative will focus on how healthy hair is essential to having a great night out. The interesting thing is that it seems the 15 second teaser for the campaign is all that will actually run during the Sweeps period. We’ll see how they use the talent to drive the narrative – it’s not clear whether they’ll be actively part of it or just presenters.  It seems like we will be following one girl and one guy through their “night out” experiences.  All of the pieces will run across NBC, Style, Oxygen, E!, Bravo, NBC.com, MyStyle.com, Oxygen.com, Eonline.com, Bravotv.com, and DailyCandy.  The acquisition of these properties were made with this type of cross-platform promotion in mind. How smooth and integrated the program and its narrative are across all of those teams will be the test.  It will be interesting to see whether they go safe with simple executions or really rev it up with bespoke “accents” depending on the platform or publisher.

Their choice for the campaign to be themed Best Night Ever is a tricky one.  It makes sense for the narrative of their clips, but there’s a LOT of established content out there with that moniker.  Doing a quick search, I found a lot of stuff about the television show, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. And, unless they are looking for people to share their own Best Night Ever, the use of that hash-tag on Twitter might lead in completely different directions.  Speaking of Twitter, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a Twitter account disclaimer that stated the management of a brand-specific account is being done by the outside agency – in this case, Webber Shandwick.

NBCU and Unilever are using a technology from Interlude to enable users to interact and determine how the action should branch in order to make it the best night ever.  This could be in the form of choosing which character to follow, which music to listen to, and other choices that will supposedly affect the content of subsequent on-air and online videos. I would love to know how many people actually interact with the story, its characters and more. The learnings alone from such an integrated program could be huge.  What relative percentage converted from on-air to online? How deep into the experience did people interact?  How many times did they come back? Though I doubt we’ll see those hard numbers, they would be fascinating.

One concern that I have is that the 15 second teaser cannot be seen online on youtube.com, and you need to Like the Clear Hair Facebook page to see what’s there. I can understand wanting people to like you in order to get free samples, but putting a gate up there before people can find out more doesn’t make sense.  Additionally, none of the sites that will be hosting parts of the program have anything about this on their home pages.  Again, I can understand that it’s still early.  This could just be an example of how tough it is to launch a campaign like this. They probably would have been well served to even have just a minimal mention of the program on their sites. And, I would have definitely posted the video on YouTube. As for Facebook, I get wanting to be able to have your videos go out to the world in many people’s timelines, but how many people will allow that just to sample your new product.  If it was an established brand, I can see more people wanting to share the joy.  I’m worried that the gate is too high for people to find out more about the product on Facebook.

Ultimately, This type of campaign is what we used to dream of when I was at ABC.com. There were too many obstacles that have since been removed, but it is still incredibly complex. While we may never see the stats, we’ll get a good sense of whether it was a success if we see more of these types of integrated programs in the future. For the benefit of all the media we do, fingers are crossed that it is a resounding one and leads to many more opportunities in the future. Hopefully, the Best Night Ever will lead to the opportunities for even more Best Integrated Campaigns Ever…

Coachella Fix Served by YouTube and State Farm

There is the saying that nothing beats the real thing, but sometimes what you have to settle for ain’t to shabby. This was the case with the Coachella Live site on YouTube. For those who were not lucky enough to get tickets nor able enough to take off for a weekend of all the crazy things that happen over the course of the weekend on a Polo field, this presentation sponsored by State Farm insurance was fantastic.  Sporting three live streams on a dashboard that included thumbnails of what you’re not watching, Facebook/Twitter/Google+ and a schedule of what’s to come, there was no lack of exploration and enjoyment possible. YouTube really showcased a phenomenal product and Coachella was able to serve the fix of a much larger audience to celebrate the music exploration and wonder that is Coachella.

There were a number of elements that really made this content great:

  • The interface was simple, clean and clear;
  • The production quality was strong throughout. The on-site direction and coverage was comprehensive and, in some instances, rivaled that of a well produced concert video.
  • The streaming quality was better than I had expected. In most cases, both the small and full screen versions were very clear. Sometimes, the images were getting pixellated, but there was no rhyme or reason that I could make out. When the image quality was good, it was great and when it wasn’t, it wasn’t that bad.
  • The sound quality was clear and consistent throughout – even when the picture was not.
  • The Chat was extremely active with very little delay.  Unlike previous versions of this type of thing that I’ve seen, you could see songs, comments or lyrics presented on stage referenced almost immediately in the feed. The fact that three major social networks were incorporated  for ease of entry and use seems like a no-brainer. It’s surprising how many feeds choose not to use more than Facebook and Twitter…
  • State Farm’s sponsorship was persistent, tasteful and refined while not interfering with the content.  Meaning, they didn’t pause sets to show a graphic in-stream – or some other annoying ad mechanic.

Though there was mention of the live streaming on YouTube and the Coachella site, I didn’t see any wide mentions or promotion for the feature.  Perhaps I missed it and imagine there could have been some artist relationship elements to consider.  Ultimately, the people who were most interested were able to find it – either by searching it out or finding it organically through friends’ social activity.

Talking about artists relations, I was impressed that the artists allowed it – and even more impressed about some of the artists that participated. With the point of the weekend(s) being music and the exploration of new music, the site makes perfect sense.  I was able to check out a solid mix of acts I knew and had even seen live before with a healthy dose of new acts.  I know that the experience is not the same as being there, but I am sure that Coachella Live viewers were able to jump from stage to stage much more quickly and easily than anyone who was physically there. The fact that I could jump from a great view of Miike Snow to the pit of Radiohead without leaving my chair was awesome.

On a personal note, My commute home after Radiohead’s late set on Saturday and Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg’s star-studded show to close it all on Sunday night was much more comfortable than driving home from Indio.  And, the fact that I already have State Farm insurance made me feel that I wasn’t just being a freeloader – I might even feel a little bit more loyalty to them because of it.

Hopefully, this becomes a trend for more live events as it really extends the community and the technology has come about to enable that like never before. The technology upgrades has made the experience drastically different from when I spent hours in front of the television watching Live Aid as a kid.  Who would have thought then that we could control what we were watching without having to suffer through commercials and annoying MTV VJ commentary?

Props to Coachella and its partners for taking the festival to the next level by making the experience extend beyond the 180,000 people who actually get to go to the two weekends in the desert.  The fact that YouTube is now hosting some of the full sets, it really extends beyond the desert. And, you get a chance to see some freaky cool things like the holographic Tupac performing. Thanks for providing the opportunity for many more people in many countries to get their fix…

JCDecaux Really Providing the OOH in Ooh-La-La

I have always been on the lookout for ways to not only connect with audiences in bustling cities, but also to enhance the social experience.  JCDecaux recently announced a series of “Intelligent Street Furniture” that is being placed in Paris that really excites me. We have obviously seen bus shelters with signage and even video and interactivity, but JCDecaux’ new concepts go beyond that and provide opportunities for enrichment in real-time. It’s unfortunate that I can’t yet find images of more than just one of these new products, but I am hopeful that the Out Of Home executions will not only provide some Ooh-La-La factor, but also make its way to more installations around the world.

Briefly, the city of Paris is testing some new forms of advertising and service products and they selected a number of JCDecaux products to test.  A couple of them – like the Digital Totem and Concept-Bus Shelter – are simple solutions with a twist.  The Digital Totem offers  real-time information, Tweets, and historical facts. The Concept-Bus Shelter adds free wi-fi connectivity and mobile phone chargers (beyond additional comfort benefits).

But what really gets me excited is their Digital Harbour.  I really can’t wait to see it because I imagine it will really look great, due to the involvement of designer Mathieu Lehanneur. But again, my real excitement is about what the Digital Harbour will actually do. From the way it is presented, it will provide a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, “a 100% connected area with internet access and space for discussions for people who want to work, rest or access information.” I hope it won’t just be a space made just for solitude – it will be a space for sharing.  With the wi-fi connectivity (and the requisite advertising opportunities), the space will be conducive to connecting literally and figuratively. I would gladly be subjected to advertising if the pay-off is the ability to step out of the busy flow to either take a break or have a conversation (or even a meeting!) with an associate.

Far too often, our lives exist in our offices or in the scuffle to and from them. Innovations like these might be just the thing to compel us to step outside or angle for the in-between. I definitely wouldn’t want these to take the place of parks or other beautiful open spaces, but if they actually entice people to either take a break or see things from a different perspective – even with a healthy dose of advertising – I’m all for it.

The only thing I would be pushing more for is the enticement to share and not isolate.  If these come across as something to rest and shut out the world, then I don’t think it works as well as it could.  It will be interesting to see how they balance the need to place advertising amidst the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.

As an advertiser, I would even play into it by not doing the hard sell (in print or video) at these locations. I would have fun and “sponsor” the moment of peace or sharing you can enjoy in these Digital Harbours.

Too often, the concerns about out of home advertising relate to noise and interference with no social benefit in return.  Features like these could help to turn that tide and make things even a little bit better.  I’m glad that JCDecaux is not resting on its laurels and is continuing to innovate. Hopefully, brand and advertisers buy into the innovation to bring the “Wow!” or “Ooh-La-La!”


Steve Martin and the Tao of Twitter

When Twitter first started coming on, it seemed like it was yet another opportunity for people that feel their every action needs to be shared with the world to share every little action with the word.  Thankfully, people are limited to 140 characters so that there is some sort of art to writing the tweets. To be honest, I don’t use Twitter the way I should – and I know it. The thing is, there are many major corporations paying good money to people to run their Twitter accounts who don’t know that they don’t use it the way they should. This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition, Comedian-Actor-Author-Musician-Tweeter Steve Martin presented a microcosm of what’s wrong with corporate tweets and what right about Tweeting.

While on a promotional tour for his newest book  (above) that actually contains his tweets and responses to them from his fans, Martin recounts how he first thought that tweeting was not the thing to do.  Yet, when questioning the promotional struggles he was having by going on a TV show that reach 4 million viewers to reach 400 people who were interested, he figured he could reach even more people who were interested by having a following of 100,000. He joked that he found that it turned out only four people were interested of those 100K.

After collecting 2.4M followers, Martin surmises that “tweeting is really only good for one thing — it’s just good for tweeting … It is rewarding, because it’s just its own reward. It’s sort of like heaven.” But the reality is that Tweeting is great for him as a brand because it enables a consistent connection with his audience.  he does it right by injecting his own way of thinking into every tweet – even if it is really short.  He rarely conjectures or posts a half thought with a link to something outside of Twitter.

Celebrities have taken advantage of Twitter to make some extra money through sponsored tweets, but Steve Martin’s celebrity on Twitter is not about making money in and of itself.  He uses it properly as a brand extension and corporate brand managers should take note.

Without calling out specific companies, there are far too many that feel Twitter is  for announcing press releases of product updates.  In reality, they should look to use Twitter in a more conversational tone.  The best brands don’t automatically provide links out of the system. I know that I am guilty of this every single time, but I don’t consider myself a brand – I’m just trying to publicize my posts on this blog at @JTavss.

But the reality is that Twitter is best used as constant relevant communication in a way that strengthens the connection with the consumer/audience. Steve Martin has it all right- even though he says he doesn’t. In honor of this blog, I will not be sending a tweet to advertise it.  Check out the interview to see if you agree.