Vacation time is over. I had a fantastic trip along the west coast of the US and throughout several national parks. You can find lots of photos on my flickr stream.
Anyway, back to the daily routine. The first link I found scanning the 2.000+ unread feeds is leading to
Peter Kim’s list of Social Media practises. It’s a very long list of very many different Social Media projects that are best practise, some practise, and sometimes only „practise“. Nevertheless, a good resource, when looking for cases for any type of industry.
Over at the One Degree blog, there is a coverage of a panel from the SXSW interactive festival, during which the panelists were asked to vote on the worst social media campaigns in 2007. Amongst the panelists were bloggers like Jeff Jarvis and Steve Hall. I have to admit, I didn’t hear about all of these campaigns, but some of the bigger blunders (Walmart, Coke/Mentos and Sony) I did hear about, of course. I wonder what will be next for this year? You would assume, that (we) marketers learn…
There is a standard joke around online advertising managers about the fear of those „chinese villages“ taking over one of your ad campaigns so that you receive the clicks you paid for, only all of them come from one and the same family (in China or India, or Eastern Europe or Antigua, etc. it doesn’t really matter).
But you don’t need to go very far away. Your next door neighbor might be part of a „click farm“. Even though he most likely never realised what he got himself into.
Just the other day I took a look at a site called OnlineTVRecorder.com (don’t want to give them any link credit). On that site you can record TV programms of any German TV Channel – most of which I wouldn’t even be able to access in this area of the country. You first record them, and then download and decode them. But you can only decode those that you „recorded“ in advance. This makes it similar to any VCR/DVD recorder and hence (I guess) a legal way of recording shows via the web.
So far so good. However, the system only works for you, when you pay per download with so called „good will points“. If you haven’t got enough points, you can’t download or decode any files.
And how do you get these points? There are two ways. Either you donate money, or you click on some of their ads. Yes, that’s right: you can click on the ads to receive good will points! You get points for clicks that advertisers pay a lot of money for (on aggregate).
I guess most users on this site aren’t fully aware of the fact that each of their clicks contributes to ripping of advertisers. Note: I am not saying „poor advertisers“ here! I am just saying that advertisers don’t get what they pay for when they signed the contract with these mediasites: intentional attention.
Clickworking is an interesting and positive trend, since it uses the minimal individual productivity of large crowds to achieve a large complex goal.
Clickfarming seems to be a dark side equivalent. Utilize the small contributions of a large crowd’s individuals who might not even (want to) realize that their few clicks are contributing to a large system of fraud.
I wonder how many other sites of this kind are out there? How much dubious content is paid for in this way? How many advertising campaigns bought on a pay-per-click basis have been corrupted by clickfarms like these?
If I was an advertiser and I saw one of my banners on one of those sites, I would ask my media agency or the publisher for my money back. And may be sue them.
Is the tipping point toast? This is the title of a rather interesting article on fastcompany magazine.
There is a lot of thinking and research going on in order to find out, what will trigger a viral (marketing) explosion of any sort. Is it the people, the context or the actual idea? Or would it be a mixture of all? Most people will have read Malcolm Gladwells „Tipping Point“ or similar literature. In his book, all three are important, yet most marketers have started to focus too narrowly on the people part of the equation.
Now Gareth points me to an article to that article on fast company magazine. And it seems from this work that the ‚who‘ is not really what matters; instead it’s the context and, most importantly, the idea itself that matters the most when it comes to the spread of new things. Like in a forrest fire, where nobody would expect the person causing it to be highly influential or the match extremely flammable. Instead it is crystal clear that the forrest was ready for it…
„If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one–and if it isn’t, then almost no one can,“ Watts concludes. To succeed with a new product, it’s less a matter of finding the perfect hipster to infect and more a matter of gauging the public’s mood. Sure, there’ll always be a first mover in a trend. But since she generally stumbles into that role by chance, she is, in Watts’s terminology, an „accidental Influential.“
Perhaps the problem with viral marketing is that the disease metaphor is misleading. Watts thinks trends are more like forest fires: There are thousands a year, but only a few become roaring monsters. That’s because in those rare situations, the landscape was ripe: sparse rain, dry woods, badly equipped fire departments. If these conditions exist, any old match will do. „And nobody,“ Watts says wryly, „will go around talking about the exceptional properties of the spark that started the fire.“
Duncan Watts, the originator of this not really new, yet still untrendy thought (I guess the context still isn’t right), calculated this with computer models:
That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but last year, Watts decided to put the whole idea to the test by building another Sims-like computer simulation. He programmed a group of 10,000 people, all governed by a few simple interpersonal rules. Each was able to communicate with anyone nearby. With every contact, each had a small probability of „infecting“ another. And each person also paid attention to what was happening around him: If lots of other people were adopting a trend, he would be more likely to join, and vice versa. The „people“ in the virtual society had varying amounts of sociability–some were more connected than others. Watts designated the top 10% most-connected as Influentials; they could affect four times as many people as the average Joe. In essence, it was a virtual society
So, a computer model, a rather static even, I would assume, is behind this? Not sure if I want to really believe in the validity of this approach. But hey, I am a marketer – and it says in the article that us marketers are amongst the heaviest doubters of this research.
Mind you, Watts does agree that some people are more instrumental than others. He simply doesn’t think it’s possible to will a trend into existence by recruiting highly social people. The network effects in society, he argues, are too complex–too weird and unpredictable–to work that way. If it were just a matter of tipping the crucial first adopters, why can’t most companies do it reliably?
True, damn it, very true. I wish there would be a reliable mechanism, of course I do. We do try to design built viral campaigns along the learnings of past campaigns, because that is the only thing we have.
As Watts points out, viral thinkers analyze trends after they’ve broken out. „They start with an existing trend, like Hush Puppies, and they go backward until they’ve identified the people who did it first, and then they go, ‚Okay, these are the Influentials!'“ But who’s to say those aren’t just Watts’s accidental Influentials, random smokers who walked, unwittingly, into a dry forest? East Village hipsters were wearing lots of cool things in the fall of 1994. But, as Watts wondered, why did only Hush Puppies take off? Why didn’t their other clothing choices reach a tipping point too?
What you can do, and that is part of the conclusion of that article, is to offer a mechanism to spread your ideas to every single person who might actually be able to send it on to at least one other person. Doesn’t sound like a great strategy, but if your goal is maximum spread, why focus only on so called influencers – i.e. focus too narrow. Spread to everyone, as far and wide as your own resources allow you to. Start with the people you consider influencers, granted – you have to start somewhere, but once you’re done with those, include everyone else, too.
The Wallstreet Journal published a list of the best and worst ad campaigns of 2007. Amongst the best were the ad campaigns of Dove, the Simpsons Movie, Cadbury. Some of the worst were bud.tv, General Motors, Snickers and Chrysler.
Interesting fact: while I have seen/read about all of the good ones, I know none of the bad ones. So even while being over here in Germany, I know (about) the good ads. And I did see / learn about them through traditional media. Get it?