Archive for June, 2011

5 Truly Creative Uses Of Social Media

Posted: June 7, 2011 by FMstereo in Social Media

The biggest news in the world of social media over the last few weeks has been the IPO of LinkedIn, the upcoming Groupon IPO, and the slew of floatations these two are likely to herald. And, of course, underpinning all of this has been the simple question of whether the valuations these companies are receiving mean that we are in a bubble.

Whilst I’m in no way qualified to answer that (though I tend to agree with the analysis by multi-media consultancy Broadsight that all of this activity suggest that we definitely are in a bubble), what I can say is that nearly all of these companies rely on marketing, if not direct advertising dollars, for their business models.

This worries me because at present all of them seem to be enabling, if not actively encouraging, incredibly uncreative communication strategies. As a colleague of mine, who had his doubts about social, once said to me, “Are there any great social marketing campaigns that don’t rely on bribing the user”. And, when you think about it, there aren’t that many.

Groupon is built on bribing, or buying, your customer’s attention (with all the dangers that brings of investing in acquisition with absolutely no guarantee of retention), whilst many other ‘famous’ campaigns are built on similar models: vouchers, competitions, etc…

If Facebook, Twitter and the like really want to meet their valuations they need to win TV budgets, and that means that agencies and marketers need to get much better at using social platforms and technologies to build lasting relationships with consumers, without resorting to financial rewards, and start creating truly innovative strategies.

So, rather than just rant about this, I thought it would be useful to give examples of brands that are doing exactly that, in the (almost certainly vein) hope that this might encourage others to do the same.

5 Examples Of Excellent Social Media Campaigns

1. Intel – Museum of Me

This was the campaign that made me decide to write this post. A stunningly simple mechanic (pulling data from people’s social graphs using Facebook’s API is hardly original).

But done in a truly beautiful way, that actually made me stop what I was doing and give my full attention to what was unfolding in front of me. And, in doing all of this, it subtly, but very definitely, hammers home the overarching brand message. This should win awards. Lots of them.

2. First Direct – Live

Marketers often dismiss social, saying that it only works for cool brands, ones where people will want to get involved. So it would be impossible to use it for, say, a bank, right? Well, First Direct, to highlight the fact that unlike most other UK banks, were trusted by their customers, used social technology to surface consumer opinion, and then published it, on their own site, and broadcast it, in offline marketing. Again, an old tricks (it’s what movie studios have always done) but given an innovative twist, that won awards, and hit business targets.

3. Heineken – Star Player

Sponsoring major sporting events is an expensive business, yet so many brands go no further than slapping their logos on the bilboards and the ads around the games. Heineken went one better, and created an app that not only appeals to the target audience (football/soccer fans), but is truly engaging and, creates and facilitates live conversations.

4. Metropolitan Police – Choose A Different Ending

If you can’t use social for boring sectors, surely it can’t make a serious point? Well, the (London) Metropolitan Police proved otherwise with this interactive video narrative that allows youngsters to see the dangers of carrying a knife through a ‘choose your own adventure’ style YouTube platform. Gripping, engaging and perfect for the target audience. Truly creative, and true social work.

5. Burberry – Art Of The Trench

Another industry that has, for the most part, steered clear of social, and indeed digital in general, is the luxury sector. But fashion brand Burberry decided to grasp it with both hands, and the result was the highly successful Art Of The Trench, which has been followed with the world’s first 3D livecast of a catwalk show, with real-time Facebook & Twitter commenting.

It actually took me a while to come up with these, as so many, admittedly creative uses of social, rely on giving something physical back to consumers, whether in the forms of discounts or competition prizes.

So, help me out. Help me prove my colleague wrong. Help us prove that social media can be used creatively, without recourse to competitions, vouchers and give-aways, by giving your own examples in the comments.

* Heineken & First Direct are both Mindshare clients, though Mindshare was not involved in the creation of the Star Player app. I have tried to use non-US examples on purpose, to prove that great work does exist outside of America.

Originally published on Jun 7, 2011 at 9:30am ET by Ciarán Norris in Search Engine Land.

button

As expected, Google is now offering +1 buttons that can be placed on any web page via a short code snippet. The code/button is supported in 44 languages, but +1 activity continues to show only on English-language search results on Google.com. (Google says it’s working to expand +1 worldwide.)

Webmasters can use Google’s self-serve code generator to customize the size and language of the button, along with a few other advanced options.

plus-one-code-generator

There’s more about the advanced options here, and be sure to read the FAQs at the bottom where you’ll learn, among other things, that Google recommends using the +1 button in conjunction with the “rel=canonical” tag.

Postscript, 12:00 pm PST: If you’re trying to install the button on your site, it may only show up if you and your visitors are logged in to your Google accounts. Google tells us this is temporary and due to the fact that the button is still being rolled out. In a “matter of hours,” the buttons should be visible to all, whether logged in or not.

The button looks and acts, of course, much like the existing social buttons that you see regularly on all kinds of websites — but make no mistake that this is Google’s most direct attempt yet to compete with Facebook’s nearly ubiquitous “Like” button, which has practically become the default way we share content online. Google has repeatedly said that it would like access to Facebook’s data to improve search results, but the two sides have been unable to work out anything along those lines.

Analytics For +1 Users?

Google has previously shown screenshots of what a +1 dashboard will look like in Google Webmaster Tools:

But there’s no mention on any of Google’s blog posts about this feature, and my own Webmaster Tools account has nothing new related to +1.

+1 Button & SEO Impact

When +1 launched in March on Google’s organic and paid listings, Google said it would look at +1 click data “as a potential signal to improve search quality.”

A new +1 button FAQ explains this in more detail:
Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1′s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.
That FAQ page also explains another SEO impact: The +1 button might get a page crawled or re-crawled:
Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.

Where Does +1 Activity Show Up Online?

The +1 activity of your network (as Google defines it) shows up visually in Google’s search results and that will now include when your network clicks on the new +1 button on websites, not just when they “+1″ a Google search result.

If you allow it in your Google Account settings, your +1 activity may also show up on websites that use the +1 button — very similar to how you see messaging on web pages that “John Doe liked this on Facebook.” This Google Account page shows how it looks and lets you choose to share your +1 activity or not.

plus-one-other-sites

Your +1 activity — both in Google’s search results and on websites using the new button — will also show up on your Google profile if you choose to allow it.

We’ll be testing and using the +1 button ourselves, and asking Google questions about it — and the analytics feature — so stay tuned for more in the near future.

Originally published on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:41pm ET by Matt McGee in Search Engine Land.