Archive for the ‘Generation C (ontent)’ Category

Tell The New Delta That Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Earlier this month, I wrote about “The New Delta”. They are running some interesting innovation tests intended to “change the experience”. They are also using employee-generated videos that feature exciting destinations in an attempt to put a human face on the airline and promised to open a customer forum to really engage customers in conversations. In my post, I applauded these moves.

Too bad Delta’s Marketing team didn’t tell the Operations team that they were going to “change the experience”. This week, passenger Robert McKee was stuck on the JFK tarmac for seven hours. After two hours, he started recording the experience and posted the final product on YouTube. His post has these comments:

“Delta Flight 6499 JFK to DFW on June 25 2007 experienced more than just a routine delay.. for seven hours, four children screamed, and we were told by crew that they couldn’t feed us because Delta simply wouldn’t allow it”

The video documents multiple problems and Delta’s failure to address any of them in a truthful way or with respect to their customers. Examples:

  • Passengers were told a new captain “is making his way through the terminal”, when in reality, he was coming in from Newark.
  • Delta told Mr. McKee’s wife that the plane was in the air. This was right after she spoke with him by cellphone and they were still on the ground.

Lots of bloggers are picking up this story this evening and I suspect more will over the coming days. Companies need to take note:

Talk is cheap. Telling customers that you are changing the experience when your actions say otherwise, is more damaging that not promising anything. Your customer’s have the power to create compelling stories about their experiences and social media makes it very easy to have those stories broadcast to a wide audience.

Brand Engagement – LOST

I love ABC’s LOST.  The characters are full of flaws (human) and maybe that’s why its easy to get attached to them.  The show’s production is excellent and the storyline carefully allows the mysteries to age before revealing the truth (which often comes with another mystery).  I’ve written before about the many channels used by the producers to extend the Lost experience and the amazing amount of user-generated content related to the series.  OK, hold that thought.

My daughter will be 13 next week.  As someone who loves to observe marketing and consumers, it’s been fascinating to watch her develop as a consumer.  Like most young girls, Disney princesses were a big part of her young life.  She had the costumes and pretended to be them (Snow White was her favorite).  As she grew up, she moved through other branded entertainment properties, many of which got the same high level of engagement.  She practiced singing Britney Spears and Michelle Branch songs, learned all the lines and songs from Wicked, and with each brand that she became engaged with, her friends usually got engaged too. 

Last year, I got her to watch the LOST series premier on DVD.  After ten minutes, she was hooked and we proceeded to watch the first 2 seasons at a clip of 3-4 shows a night.  This season, LOST is her obsession.  She reads the blogs and Wikis, buys magazines with LOST stories, and has uncovered connections in the plot that I was not aware of.  As with everything in her life, she has shared her obsession with her friends and many of them are now hooked.

A few months ago, she made a movie about the Apple store and I wrote about it here.   Yesterday, she made another movie.  This time its short montage about a character from LOST named Charlie Pace who died in the season finale.  I’m sure that there is a fair amount of parental pride influencing my assessment of her work, but I think it’s really good.  She has mixed music, images, words, and footage from the series together to tell a story about Charlie as if he were a real person.  After she loaded it up to YouTube, I did a search to find it and was astonished to see that there were over 6400 user generated videos tagged with “Charlie Pace”! 

To me this is real brand engagement.  It’s one thing to have original user generated content, but for entertainment brands to have their consumers turning out content about their content, something special is going on.

Is this just me or do you see examples of this too?  If it’s a real phenomenon, what should the entertainment brands be doing with that content and it’s creators?  Can they drive the engagement even higher by interacting with these mavens?  How much could the brand grow if these people were encouraged to be advocates for the brand? 

Brand Engagement – Apple Store

Do you have young teenagers? If so, do they like to go to the mall and hang out at the Apple Store and take goofy pictures of themselves using “Photo Booth”? If so, you are not alone. Young teens share a couple of common traits:

  1. They have time to kill, but not a lot of money
  2. They are hyper-connected and highly social
  3. They like to play with stuff
  4. They love the Apple Store

If you ask them why, they will tell you “It’s Fun!” or “Because the have cool stuff to do there”. Flip that around and ask them why they don’t love to hang out at the the big CE retailers and you probably hear them say “there’s nothing for us to do there.”

How does Apple feel about all the kids always in their store playing with the cool stuff, but not buying anything. They absolutely encourage it. Sure, the kids can be obnoxious and disruptive, but they are also engaging with the brand in a way that most other purchasing segments never will. Apple is smart enough to realize that these kids have a significant say in family technology purchases today, and in a few years, when they become purchasers, Apple will be top of mind for them.

How strong is this brand engagement? I often use my soon-to-be-13-year-old daughter as a barometer. Statistically invalid, but directionally OK. She called me into the family room yesterday because she wanted to show me the cool menu that she had built for a DVD she was making for her friends. It was “cool” and I told her so (egos need lots of strokes at this age), but then the first scene of content began, she really had my atention. It was entitled “The Apple Store”. It’s a simple slideshow set to music. The images are a collection of manipulated Photo Booth pictures taken of her and her friends in the store and e-mailed home over the last year. (Interesting thought as I am writing…. it would have never crossed my mind even five years ago that kids would be creating and publishing their own movies, but I’ll save that for another post).

So this post could be about several things that I like to rant about. The migration of content from Mass to Personal. The consumer technology that makes this easy. The close, hyper-connected relationships that today’s youth have with each other. But the big takeaway for me is that Apple, either by accident or by design, has tapped into the next generation of digital lifestyle consumers and they are totally engaged with the brand. Can you imagine kids making movies about their experiences at Circuit City or Best Buy?

But Apple has figured it out. Whether its the purchasing customer or just the pack of kids passing through on their daily romp through the mall, Apple knows that brand engagement is created not through finding, selecting and purchasing a bundle of products and services. That’s an orthodoxy that they have clearly overturned. They understand it’s created through customer experience, but not just during the in-store transaction. They design the experience around the customer’s (or future customer’s) life.

Another Man’s Voice…

In the interest of providing equal time, and to point out that other CE retailers struggle with delivering a great customer experience, I offer another customer video.  While the filmaker’s work is not as impactful as the Circuit City example, you get to ride along and have the experience first-hand. 

In the end, the same point is made:  Customers are rising up and telling their stories and companies should be listening.  This video, which was made a year ago, has been viewed over 3300 times on Google Video.

Enjoy!

One Man’s Voice…

The power of the internet and personal media tools has forever changed the balance of power in favor of the customer.  One Man’s Voice can be heard by millions.   Here’s a story that I think really drives that point home.

A few months ago, I contributed content to a presentation initiated by David Armano. David is the Creative VP for the marketing firm Digitas. He is also a very influential blogger who is well known for creating simple but powerful graphics to communicate his ideas. The presentation, entitled “2006 in Your Words”, was a collection of insights and opinions about what the year’s big themes were from a marketing and communications standpoint.  To demonstrate the power of Web2.0 collaboration, the presentation contained content from little fish like me as well as some industry heavy hitters.   You can see the presentation here.

“We have been shifting media power to individuals for years now. Perhaps it started with the VCR. The internet shifted control of retail to the customer years ago. Today, individuals have the power to control markets, create and distribute their own content, build and occupy virtual worlds with new opportunities for commerce and entertainment. They don’t have to rely on some corporation to provide the experiences for them. They simply use the new tools, which they are mastering as fast as the tool developers can build them, to build whatever they want, to be whoever they want to be and to let their voice be heard.

Why am I telling you this?  I work for Circuit City Stores and have been helping the organization become more adaptive through the use of social media tools.  Last night I came across a number of user generated videos about Circuit City. Some were commercials, done by associates, which is interesting in itself,

But then I found this

You should watch it all the way to the end. It’s powerful!   As a company, we are determined to become great at providing exceptional customer experiences.   We are making progress towards this goal, but this statement from one man points out how difficult that journey will be and how much harder we need to work to get there.

Corporations need to realize that today’s customer expects perfection and has an increasingly loud voice that can potentially reach very large numbers of people.  They are actively sharing their experiences and feelings to anyone who will listen.  We should be listening to them!

CBS, Sling & SecondLife???

In case you haven’t see this, CBS will be joined by Sling Media and SecondLife in a presentation at CES today.  I’ll update the post after the details are out.

UPDATE:  So the keynote is over and here’s the skinny.  For the past year of so, we’ve all been talking about “The New Media”,  “Generation C(ontent)”,  “Web twodotwhatever” and so on.  We’ve also been saying that traditional media “doesn’t get it” or is no longer relevant. 

Apparently good old CBS isn’t going to go away quitely.  Instead, they have spent the last year developing lots of new partnerships with everyone from social networking sites for lesbians to SecondLife where a virtual replica of the Starship Enterprise (CBS property) will be made available to residents.  Perhaps that’s a bit over the top, but this is afterall the age of “Individual and Interactive”.  There is no niche too small (right longtailers?) and we all want to play a starring role.

In his keynote address, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves showed off quite a few of his new friends to demonstrate that CBS “gets it”.

“The symbiotic relationship (between online and television content) will only tighten,” Moonves said. “What’s a big media company like us to do? We’re embracing it big time. We’re doing just about everything we can to see what’s going to work now and in the future.” That often means bringing in people outside CBS to do so, he said.

The partnership with Sling media involves Sling’s latest technology called Clip + Sling. It allows users to clip content from live or recorded TV and share it with anyone, including non-Slingbox owners. The clip can be sent in an e-mail that plays the video from a hosted portal.   It’s not exactly YouTube, so to cover all the bases, CBS also has a joint venture with Google’s latest toy in the form of a contest in which users submit 15-second videos to YouTube about anything they’d like.  The highest-rated video will be broadcast on CBS during this year’s Superbowl.

The message from Moonves is that “there is no such thing as old media and new media.  There’s just media.” Is this kind of media mash-up going to save the traditional guys from extinction?   What do you think?  While you ponder that, I think I’ll head over the the StarTrek sim in SecondLife.  I hear there’s a helluva dance party going on in the shuttle craft bay 🙂

Z-Meme Me

squidoo1.JPGOK, this may get a little confusing, so pay attention….

A couple of weeks ago, Mack Collier over at The Viral Garden blog decided to try a little experiment.   The idea was to create a meme built around giving link-love to the blogs that deserve it, and hopefully turn Technorati’s system of using a blog’s # of links to determine its ‘authority’, on its ear.  Mack started with a small list of blogs that he links to and asked his readers to pass the list on, adding their favorites to it.  (BTW, Mack’s initial list of 5 blogs included fellow WordPress blogger Becky Carroll’s excellent Customers Rock)

The list grew, and the “Z-listers” began getting the links they deserved.  Then, best selling marketing guru and blogger, Seth Godin got a hold of it and created a Squidoo “Lens” for it.   Mack Collier noted just before Christmas that a number of the “A-List” blogs (like Seth’s) had been added to the lens, thereby moving the list beyond it’s original intention.  This makes sense given the caption that Seth has placed on the page which reads:

Worth a look! There is no A list, so there can’t be a Z list. There’s just good blogs.

Today was the first I had heard of Squidoo, and I’m still not sure I fully understand the concept other than it is a single web page, dedicated to a particular topic that you are passionate about.  It contains content and links to content.  In Seth’s Z-List lens, you can vote for or against a blog on the list to change its rank.

Having a rather obscure blog, I felt compelled to add myself to the list today to see if it would generate any traffic.  And whaddyaknow, it did!!  I’m currently sitting at #74 #127 and the total list is up to 312 340. Of course the spam blogs have also discovered the list and are inserting themselves.  Fortunaltely, people are voting them to the bottom.

So here is the deal (2 parts):

  1. If you read my blog and think it is worth your time, do me a favor and vote for me on the Z-List Lens.  You will need to register on Squidoo in order to vote, but that is painless. 
  2. Check out the current Z-Lister (from Mack Collier) after the jump.  If you are a blogger, you can participate in the experiment.  Simply cut and paste the ENTIRE list below to a post on your blog. That’s it. You’ll get a ton of happy bloggers suddenly coming to YOUR blog to thank you, you’ll get a ton of great new blogs to read, you’ll likely get a ton of links yourself, but most of all, you’ll feel good about making a whole lot of other bloggers feel good about themselves. All by taking a couple of minutes to leave a simple post. Not a bad deal, eh?

    PS: Check out this list of Z-Listers from Christine Kane’s blog. Notice that her list is almost as long as the one below, and at least HALF of them are different!

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2006 In Picture – Follow-Up

2006.JPG

Click here to view the slides on SlideShare
Download printable version (PDF) 

 Last week, I told you about a project that David Armano was launching on his blog,  Logic + Emotion  called “2006 In Picture”.  Yesterday, David posted 2006 In Your Words.  His original question was:

What was the most significant event/aspect of 2006 in regards to marketing, advertising or user experience?

Over 50 responses came in within a couple of days. Some were from bloggers with high readership and some were from relative unknowns like me.  And that, to me, really is the  story:  That anyone can connect and take part in the conversation.  David segmented the responses as follows:

2006: The year of…

  • PC (Power Consumer)
  • Connection
  • 2.0
  • Business + Design
  • Video
  • Creativity
  • People

But his personal observation was that 2006 was about Re-Discovery.  Discovering things about yourself through the connections that you can make within our hyper-connected world.  I couldn’t agree more.  There are some great insights in the slide deck, so do yourself a favor and give it a read. 

P.S. You can find my comment on slide 5.

2006 In Picture

If your interests lie in the areas of Marketing, Design & Creativity, you should immediately add David Armono’s excellent blog – Logic + Emotion – to your favorites.  David always has great observations to share, but he also has the gift of being able to express his ideas in both words and visuals, many of which I have hijacked for posting here and for use in my dayjob.  This week, he asked his readers to comment on this question:

What was the most significant event/aspect of 2006 in regards to marketing, advertising or user experience?

He plans to create “one more visial before the end of the year” using the responses as the source content.  There are already lots of comments, but it’s not too late to add your voice

Here’s what I said:

Wow, I’m a little late to the party. After reading all the great comments, I would have to say that the one biggest thing is that there were so many big things. Old school term: “Critical Mass”; new-school term: “Tipping Point”. Either way, 2006 was the year that the individual took control of the technology in order to become the media.

We have been shifting media power to individuals for years now. Perhaps it started with the VCR. The internet shifted control of retail to the customer years ago. Today, individuals have the power to control markets, create and distribute their own content, build and occupy virtual worlds with new opportunities for commerce and entertainment. They don’t have to rely on some corporation to provide the experiences for them. They simply use the new tools, which they are mastering as fast as the tool developers can build them, to build whatever they want, to be whoever they want to be and to let their voice be heard.

As a response, some corporations are starting to understand that they have no choice but to embrace the new paridigm and the innovators, the risk-takers, the ones with vision understand that co-creation can be a strategic asset.

Second Life is Not Over-hyped…

David Kirkpatrick, Senior editor for Fortune, says that Second Life is not over-hyped: it’s a preview of the future of the Internet.

“That’s because what it really may represent is an alternative vision for how to interact with information and communicate over the Internet….Looking at Second Life makes me realize just how much the Web, wonderful and useful as it is, still mimics a print model.”

This May Be the Future of the Web.
I’ve been evangelizing for a while now that SecondLife offers a great platform for innovation, but I also think Kirkpatrick is on the mark when he says that the Internet of the future is more likely to look like Second Life’s 3D metaverse (my avatar: Horace McFly) where people can interact in real time, than it is to remain the one-dimensional, text-based world we’re used to.  Most of my business colleagues don’t share my enthusiasm for the medium.  They think it is a game where people who have way too much free time waste as much as they can, but as Kirkpartrick (avatar: David Liveoak) explains very well, it really is all about business. 

“We are all lathered up about the success of News Corp.’s (Charts) MySpace. But the social networks of the future will probably be much more than merely a bunch of Web-site-like collections of data, as MySpace is today. MySpace beat Friendster, the previous champion social networking site, by allowing its members much more freedom in how they created their pages.”

“Second Life goes much further. It took a radical approach to design from the beginning. It offered itself as a mere platform for the creations of its occupants. Essentially everything seen inside the software today was created by its users.”

Whether Linden Labs will be able to overcome Second Life’s shortcomings of requiring a software download that corporate servers prohibit, and requiring a level of geekiness way beyond that of most execs, remains to be seen.  But one 3D world or another is likely to achieve the scale of Google or MySpace in the Internet’s not too distant future.  My bet is that it’ll happen within five years.

Google Shares Ad Wealth with Videographers

Google has begun sharing advertising revenue with the makers of a popular video clip. From the article:

“[This] is a groundbreaking deal that could drive up the costs of competing in the fledgling video-sharing sector. The search company has agreed to turn over most advertising revenue generated by the latest video from Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, creators of ‘The Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment,’ according to Peter Chane, a senior product manager for Google Video.”

The Top “Technology Values” for the Future

12_values

“Technology-related products and services will increasingly be shaped by 12 underlying principles, or “technology values.” These values —- such as simplicity, efficiency, and personalization —- represent the characteristics that consumers will look for in products, services, and technologies over the next 10 to 15 years.”

So says Social Technologies, a Washington, DC-based research and consulting firm in a newly released study entitled The 12 Consumer Values to Drive Technology-related Product and Service Innovations. The study makes its conclusions based on today’s trends and change drivers and by looking at emerging technologies were going to help fulfill these needs and desires in the future.

I think this is some really insightful stuff. Businesses that embrace these values early are the ones who will succeed the customer-driven economy. How many of these values are you building into your latest initiatives?  The full list follows.  It’s worth the read!!!

Graphic courtesy of David Armano – Logic+Emotion (also worth the read!)
Top Technology Values—Highlights

User Creativity
Consumers increasingly want to create, augment, or influence design and content, and share these creations with their peers. Supporting user creativity will be increasingly important to consumer technology, and will become more mainstream in coming decades.

Personalization
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that align with their specific personal needs and preferences—whether in the aesthetics of a product or in its functional design. More goods will be created to match individuals’ unique specifications.

Simplicity
Simplicity will have growing value for consumers confronted with information overload, time stress, and technological complexity. Simplicity’s influence is already evident in new, stripped-down devices that offer just a few functions, as well as in minimalist interfaces that conceal breathtaking complexity. The common denominator of all these efforts is that they are human-centered—and thus easy to learn and integrate into busy lives.

Assistance
As consumers are bombarded with more tasks, choices, and information, and as demographic changes such as aging reshape consumer markets, they are looking to assistive technologies for help. Consumers will seek to bolster and extend their natural abilities—with technologies ranging from pharmaceuticals that enhance mental performance to robot aides for the elderly.

Appropriateness
Products and services will need to embrace the principle of appropriateness to ensure that they are suitably designed for users with varying physical needs, resources, cultural characteristics, literacy levels, etc. Appropriateness will aid in the spread of technology products and services to new markets and to diverse user segments.

Convenience
Already well-established in mature markets, demand for convenience will rise as a technology value for consumers all over the world. Consumers will look for technological products and services that give them what they want and need on demand and that reduce effort and relieve time pressure.

Connectedness
Connectedness gives consumers what they want, when they want it, and will grow exponentially with the expanding global information infrastructure. Consumers will look for products and services that seamlessly integrate with this global network.

Efficiency
Efficiency is the ratio of output to input—or, put simply, the ability to do more with less. It will become more important to technology as consumers search for products and services that let them manage emerging resource uncertainties, rising costs, and other pressures.

Intelligence
Intelligence will be enabled by innovations that increasingly shift information and decision-making burdens from the user to the device or service. The demand for greater intelligence will come in response to factors including complexity, aging, and the desire for personalized experiences.

Protection
Protection will be sought by consumers in a world that feels increasingly insecure. Consumers will look for technology-enabled products and services that strengthen their sense of personal security and protect their families, homes, wealth, and privacy.

Health
Consumers will look to technological products and services to maintain and, increasingly, improve their health and wellness. The search for health-enabling solutions will extend beyond traditional health and medical products and services to include more of the things consumers use in their everyday lives, whether at home, work, or play.

Sustainability
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that embrace sustainability—reducing the “human footprint” on the environment while maintaining quality of life. A variety of technologies offer ways to minimize resource use, waste, and pollution while improving human welfare.

Bud.tv – Budweiser To Launch Social Video Entertainment Network (bud tube)

Bud Tv225Karl Long over at Experience Curve has an excellent piece on the Launch of Bud.TV, a major effort by Budweiser to capitalize on the shift away from traditional Television to digital channels which foster social interaction.  Bud commercials have long been a huge draw (singing frogs, Bud Bowl, etc).  With Bud.TV they are really extending the entertainment component of their brand.

From the piece:

“In another nail in the coffin of network television Anheuser-Busch has just announced it will be launching Bud.tv in February ‘07. Bud.tv will be an online entertainment channel that will blend professionally produced content, news, sports and consumer generated content.”

“Bud.TV will engage contemporary adult consumers with a wide array of entertainment options in branded and original proprietary content including new humorous webisodes, sporting events, consumer-generated content, field news reports, celebrity interviews, music downloads and comedian vignettes. The first-of-its-kind initiative is slated to launch in February 2007, and more content providers will be announced in the coming months.”

Music Artists Discover Second Life

MySpace.com started as a place for established and aspiring artists to make themselves heard through Social Networking.  Now that there are literally thousands of acts crowding the pages of Myspace.com, a number of well known veterans like Duran Duran and Suzanne Vega are establishing outposts in Second Life. 

Artists are creating avatars and using the game’s audio-streaming features to play “live” concerts on stages made of polygons. Whether this approach (and Second Life itself for that matter) catches on or just remains a novelty is yet to be seen, but with nearly 400,000 members, Second Life is considered by some record companies to be a good venue to reach fans.

Wired has a fairly detailed article on this evolution here: Second Life Rocks (Literally)

Photo Credit: Virtual U2 in “Second Life”  –  DarkDharma Daguerre

Microsoft Invites You to Create XBOX Games

Microsoft To Enable User-Created Xbox 360 Games<via Gamasutra>

Perhaps its because it costs nearly $40Million to produce a game for Xbox or maybe they are finally understanding the power of Social Media, but Microsoft has made a very interesting announcement about game content creation.  Starting on August 20, Microsoft are making available the tools for people to create videogames for the Xbox 360

XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows XP-based PC, and will provide them with what’s described as “Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development.” In addition, by joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360, as well as access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress.
Microsoft already has 10 US universities, including the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University, who will include XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 development in their curriculum.

Microsoft executive Peter Moore said “It’s our first step of creating a YouTube for videogames.”

In an official statement related to this major announcement, Microsoft suggested that the new product “…will democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers and studios alike to help them bring their creative game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration and sharing that will benefit the entire industry.”

More details on the pregram can be found here

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