Thoughts from Blog-ingham

Old Spice, New Media

Posted in marketing, Social Media, Social Networks, Uncategorized, Web 2.0, YouTube by adamellis1985 on July 16, 2010

How many times have you read articles about how big brands are and need to be, embracing Social Media? Twitter is laden with these kind of article links every day from a new report or latest survey etc. Some brands do it badly and don’t really know why they are doing it. Sceptics question the value of the return in quantifiable monetary terms but value can certainly be demonstrated in brand loyalty and customer retention.

There have been some great examples in recent years of how to utilise Social Media in advertising campaigns, to drum up a buzz about a certain product. You might stretch your mind back to how Ikea used one of their branch managers, Gordon Gustavsson, who allowed people to become friends with him so they could tag items of furniture with their names on his photo albums of Ikea catalogue furniture. The first person to tag the picture won that item. That was one of the best approaches I had seen but now there is a new kid on the block.

Enter, Isaiah Mustafa and a cult following. He is the face of a series of Old Spices’ ad’s and despite Old Spice having won awards previously to the latest ad incarnation, it is the latest ad that has gone viral on the Internet.

Few brands have or probably ever will come close to matching the innovative approach that Old Spice, the aftershave producer, used recently in their ad campaign. Old Spice started off by delivering a fantastic ad with prime time slots of US TV for their new fragrance.

Mustafa has become more than the face of Old Spice. Here’s what happened. The ad was interesting, amusing and entertaining and very short. Take a look if you have not seen it.

Unbeknown to everyone else and while they were enjoying the ad, commenting on it on Twitter and Facebook and bookmarking it on Reddit and Delicious, a team of creative, marketers and writers gathered in an undisclosed location in Portland, Oregon and produced 87 short comedic YouTube videos about Old Spice. Iain Tait Global Interactive Creative Director at Wieden, is leading the effort. “In a way there’s nothing magical that we’ve done here, we just brought a character to life using the social channels we all [social media geeks] use every day. But we’ve also taken a loved character and created new episodic content in real time.”

The Old Spice Social Media team didn’t just follow the feedback on Twitter, Facebook fan groups and their YouTube channel. They went one step further. They collated a number of questions and responses to their ad by trawling through numerous Social Media platforms and then used Mustafa, as the personality and face of Old Spice, to respond to them, in character. Mustafa’s personalised reponses have a collective number of hits of over 4 million in just a couple of days.

Mustafa has been reeling off the responses to the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Alyssa Milano and Ellen Degeneres. But he has also responded to the non-famous people who just liked the ad and went to the time to tell their followers on Twitter or comment on it on YouTube. Take a look at a couple of the best ones below…

Old Spice has taken the use of Social Media in marketing to new levels here. They have gone beyond just using Social Media to let people follow the brand and say they like the product, and have entered into a two way dialogue with the character representing the brand. The responses are light hearted and amusing and often a bit of gibberish really but cleverly often manage to get mentions of Old Spice in there. This keeps the interest going, makes you like the brand more and will probably result in a surge in sales. The short episodic videos feel like they are more directed at the viewer than the ad itself, as they have an element of personalisation.

Unfortunately, as Mustafa says himself, all good things must come to an end and here is the closing video response to ‘everyone’, which is a suitably eccentric post. 

A tip of the hat to you Old Spice for one very clever strategy.

For more info on this topic, check out Old Spice’s website

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Facebook: Photos, Tags and Categories – How to Improve the User Experience?

Posted in Current Affairs, facebook, People, Social Networks, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 by adamellis1985 on February 12, 2010

Facebook has been frustrating me recently coming up with rather superficial enhancements to the layout when you log in rather than concentrating of enhancing the core functionality that drew so many users to the platform in the first place. The recent launch of a new layout split into three linear columns of shortcuts on the right hand side, your feed in the middle and suggestions and ad’s on the right, looks nice but it doesn’t make me want to stay with Facebook over another social network. Perhaps the launch of the new layout was to coincide with Googles’ foray in the social networking space with their launch of Buzz this week.

The topic of this blog post is about Facebooks’ core functionality and when I say it frustrates me I am going to talk specifically about its app for photos. Facebook is a great place to store and share photos with your friends who you are connected with. It has a simple interface for uploading albums and a tagging feature to mark your friends are in the photos and then they are alerted that you have uploaded a photo of them. It has been hugely successful having passed 10 billion photos in October 2008

If you’re the number crunching type, here are some other facts and figures from Facebook’s photo vault:

* 2-3 Terabytes of photos are being uploaded to Facebook every day
* They have just over one petabyte of photo storage
* They serve over 15 billion photo images per day
* Photo traffic peaks at over 300,000 images served per second

Source: Stan Schroeder

Photos may be a popular part of the Facebook package but it can still improve. The photos functionality has remained too static and has not progressed to work alongside the sheer volume of photos that some people now have on there. Facebook needs to look to FlickrPhotobucket and Picasa to see how the storage and viewing of photos needs to be made more manageable and accessible.

If I take my Facebook profile as an example of an average twenty-something user; I have 1,330 photos, which I am tagged in on Facebook, 42 albums I have uploaded of approx 50 photos each so roughly 2000 photos on Facebook.

I think Facebook could improve its service in two ways by developing its tagging feature beyond people to categories of the actual photos. Firstly, by allowing users to tag individual photos or whole albums with categories and then browse them and secondly by allowing users who are connected with friends to share tags so they can browse a tagged category of similar photos combined from a number of different connected Facebook users.

Tagging photos and sub-categorising beyond the album structure

As I mentioned the volume of photos on some users’ profile means finding the pictures you want to see can become difficult. I am not proposing this for the Facebook stalkers out there and there are many who would find this service useful. It is quite the opposite. I am proposing it for people who don’t want to flick through hundreds of photos of the same person but want to get to a category where they have a shared interest and/or may appear in some of the photos. There are two features, which cover some of that functionality already. One is the album categorisation where you can upload and label an album with a title and description but albums are too rigid for getting what you want when you are looking for photos. Secondly, Facebook added a very useful, ‘photos and person X and me’ so you can browse them.

But why can’t they extend tagging further to categories? It has worked with tagging individual people in photos so users are happy to manually categorise their photos. For example, I would be interested in tagging some of my photos with #skiing or #football. Then anyone who is interested in where I have been skiing could check those photos out by browsing across different albums through selecting the right tag (as long as I had tagged all the right photos) Secondly, if I play football with someone and they want to check out football photos but nothing else they could work with the #football tag. This would rely on people choosing the right tag. And of course the tagging system for categorising photos would still stick to networks and people who have privilege to see your photos. There is also a second application to the feature of tagging which I think could prove even more useful

Tagging across different connected users’ photos

Once you have the ability to tag individual photos with single or multiple tags building up a catalogue of your photo is categorised not just by an album name, users have the ability to extend that out beyond their own profile. So if a user and a number of friends wanted to use the same tag to share photos which would compile photos from all their albums and make them accessible through a tag then this could be very useful. For example, a number of people like to relive their youth and share photos of when they were at school with their friends. But how they currently do this is not the easiest way. They start by setting up a ‘group’, called ‘Remember the days of School X 1993-1999’ and then they all upload their individual photos for the same topic of when they were at school to the photos section of the group. They could bypass that by having a shared tag of #oldschooldays # school etc and apply it to the whole album they upload to their profile or individual photos. They could then combine their favourite photos of the same topic from as many different Facebook users as necessary to browse them all together. Again privacy settings would prevail.

Open up photos to search

A further piece of functionality this would open up is search. If users embraced the idea of sub categorising their photos beyond static individual albums they could then search to find the photos they want. So a user could go to the photos section of Facebook and select in a tick box or a search box the users they want to search (their 5 best friends for example) or they could search all their 400 (or however many) friends but the results might then be overwhelming. They could then enter in the photo category search box whichever topic they were interested in, be it #nightsout #sport # school # work or #christmas and browse photos in a different more accessible way.

Conclusion

Anyway, just a few thoughts from me as an active Facebook user. I dropped Facebook an email with the suggestion but sure they have already thought of this or someone has!

Why have I started blogging? Seems a good place to start

Posted in People, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 by adamellis1985 on August 29, 2009

Blogging has become a common literary (0r visual) form of communication in today’s world. Blogging is becomming almost as common as writing letters was fifty years ago or emailing is today. But why do people choose to join this new culture of communication when they do? And why do people choose to blog rather than deliver the same messages via other social mediums? These are a couple of questions that have gone through my mind and as this is my first blog post I thought it was a decent place to begin with a little bit of reflection about why I have joined the blogosphere now and why I choose to blog?

Why now?

I have been fascinated by a number of other blogs on the Internet for some time now, including Robert Peston’s BBC Business blog, Mashable, Freakanomics, Confused of Calcutta and Life Hacker. It dawned on me that I had a huge interest in a number of areas demonstrated by the range of the topics in the blogs mentioned and perhaps I could add some opinions and thoughts on topics that I am particularly au fait with. I first started blogging nearly two years ago but in a far more insular, defined space. I wrote a travel blog as I made my way around Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. I chose a blog, as I thought it was the best way to communicate my experiences in South American with the people who were interested enough to hear about it (but I will come back to that later) Since I started working at BT I have become more aware of what social technologies like Twitter and blogging can offer and have become more engaged in them both in the Enterprise and in my personal life. Therefore, this seemed an appropriate time (also it’s raining outside) for me to transfer what I have learnt and observed into a blog.

Why do I blog?

This answer will vary remarkably for each different blogger you ask so my answer is tinged with a little bias from my own viewpoint. I am certain that this question has been laboured over by thousands of other bloggers out there so I will not summarise their thoughts as I have deliberately not read the answers to this question as I wanted to approach it from a fresh perspective.

Firstly, blogging is a method of communication and differs greatly from a letter, an email or Facebook messages direct to you wall or inbox because it offers the wonderful element of choice. One can’t really claim they haven’t seen a friend’s ‘gap year’ weekly message if it is delivered by email or straight to you Facebook Inbox. A blog sits alone on the Internet and the reader seeks to consume the latest blog posts and chooses do this by ‘subscribing’ to new posts. Coming back to my trip to South America, I was loathe to share what a ‘life changing, soul enhancing’ (fortunately I never actually had a blog post with that title anyway) time I was having with my friends back home while they toiled away with the beginning of the recession trying to find jobs after graduating from University or saving their pennies to do a similar trip to myself. Therefore I chose a different medium for sharing my stories and thoughts about South America and in general what I had been up to. I therefore chose to write a travel blog and offer the URL to anyone who was interested enough to what to know what I had been doing in Patagonia or how my trek up Macchu Picchu was and they could take it or leave it.

Secondly, blogging is a form of democratisation on the Internet and can open up debate and the sharing of thoughts and knowledge on specific topics. You only have to think back to the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe, the social media explosion in Iran after Ahmedinajad’s recent ‘re-election’ and the popularity of blogs in Cuba, a country where that is still a dangerous past time to be engaged in. I hope to share my views in this blog in the future on topics I have a certain level of interest and knowledge in and will steer clear of other topics. So blogs are a point of learning.

And finally, blogging offers a totally different form of communication to other social mediums, such as Twitter and Facebook. For me, I am a fan of both Twitter and Facebook and frequently use both. But equally I acknowledge that they both occupy a fairly inane social space in the form of ‘what are you doing?’ Now, I am the first to admit that I like to engage in filling in witty responses or slightly gleeful announcements of where I am going on holiday to that question on Facebook or summarising my weekends’ activities in 140 characters on Twitter. But does anyone except my Mother really care what I have eaten for dinner or where I went on a sunny Saturday afternoon? I think not. Admittedly, Twitter does also serve a more mature purpose as well demonstrated by its current demographic of users, including academics and business leaders.  Therefore, what my blog won’t be is a self indulgent real time report of what I have eaten for breakfast, when I read the paper, which paper it was and when I had lunch. There is nothing wrong with blogs that are like that but mine won’t follow that trend so please feel free to remind me if it ever reverts to that. I will attempt to deliver a blog with some insight and commentary on topics such as Politics and Business, Social Media, Sport, Travel and The Arts (a posh term for music and cinema).