Archive for the ‘engagement’ Category

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May the Force (of old media) be with you

21 February, 2009

I’m sitting here with a copy of Brad Howard’s article in Digital Media entitled “Print Strikes Back”, about how digital is taking a very long time to kill of the print industry. I do think that the death of newspapers at the hands of online was always a tad exaggerated. I think that even more when tucked up in bed of a Saturday morning with Herald and a cup of tea.

But I still think that too much value is placed on heritage media format, and sadly, often by other forms of legacy media. Is that a kind of ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch your’ I wonder.

Brad’s article (worth the read) talks about the 10% rule – newspaper circulation accounts for about 10% of readership, but online activities account for only about 10% of revenue (hat tip: Scott Karp). That said, it seems that old media still has the credibility and, as I’ve blogged before, is definitely seen as where the money is…

I’ve got a couple of particular cases I am grappling with right now, which I won’t got into, but I am struggling with how to get people to let go of traditional media- and take the plunge. In one case, a major brand is thinking of a beautifully targeted reality TV series. Talent is organised, audience (nicely niche) is assured – but they want free-to-air TV and not subscriber TV. In reality, 35,000 dedicated viewers who will shop in their store is a lot better than being shown to 120,000 uninterested people – but they want the ‘reach’ of FTA (who, sadly, aren’t interested because it is too niche!).

Another: when going after a target market of 35+, would you rather a three page spread in a magazine in a Saturday paper (circulation figures are 600,000+ – if you can trust them); or front page mentions, full page coverage and links from all over one of Australia’s most popular celebrity/lifestyle portals (Unique Viewers more double that of the print publication). Sadly – the online coverage is second to the legacy coverage, even if the right audience is more likely to be online.

There is a great chart I found on an Amnesia presentation which highlights this from an attention angle really well. I don’t have their permission (sorry, boys), but am hoping the liberal mentioning of their names will make them go gentle on me:

Media consumption across Australian's online (ht: Amnesia)

Media consumption across Australian's online (ht: Amnesia)

What it basically says is that we spend 18.7 hours on average on the internet, and only 3.7 reading print media. In the target market of 35+, online is still 17.7 hours versus 3.65.

I love old media. New media would be so boring without it – but isn’t it time we really started to think about where our audience is (and how we might reach them)?

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Who the Tweet are you?

21 January, 2009

I was told I had a new follower by Twitter today (I’m JenWilsonSydney if you weren’t across this).

 In the good manners of reciprocal social, I clicked on their link to see who they were so I could chose what I would do. Generally, if I’m being followed by a real person, who has any shared interests with me or who has shared friends with me, or who has some interesting posts (even if a newbie) – I’ll follow them. If they are a marketing scam, spam or zealot of any persuasion – I will block them (so they can’t follow me any longer). If they are in between – such as a blog update I am not sure I want, a newbie who doesn’t yet step up to the mark or a product – I will often ignore them (and hopefully review this status later). My particular gripe is with people who sign up to Twitter, start looking for people to follow, but don’t both to tell me who they are by leaving the description field blank.

 This morning, I had two new followers who were heading for the ‘ignore’ category. One was what looked like an application or service wanting to following me (what? So I’ll follow back and get spammed by product updates?) and the other was someone with about 20 followers, but absolutely zero description of who they were or where they lived.

 In the case of the product – it was interesting enough for me to head to the blog site listed as part of their description (an excellent start) and check them out. It was an interesting product and the blog was broader than just product updates – including a post on them trying to get Twitter to deliver more for them. (Yes, dear reader, I did leave a constructive comment – setting the brain cells off and leading to this post). So I am now following Mapanui.

 In the case of the individual, I was about to ignore them when I noticed, in their Tweet stream, a reply to someone I follow. So, mutual friends criteria met – I followed this newbie (five posts to date). But it did really bring up the importance of the description we supply to these states.

 Laurel Papworth rightly (and obliquely) criticised me a while ago for using Digg, but not using Digg. Basically, I went there at Laurel’s prompting to help Digg something she has written which was rocking up the ranks, but when Laurel went there and checked out who was supporting her – she found no description, no image and no activity from me. (I’ve since fixed that – but as confess, as minimally as possible.) My only excuse was that Delicious and StumbleUpon are more home to me that Digg, for some reason. But consistency says that if I am going to use social media (even to advance a friend), I need to play fully.

 So, if any of you are thinking about signing up to Twitter or extending your online identities to any other social forums – please, please, please make sure that you take the time to identify yourself a little, to say why we should be interested in you and provide something about the individual behind the handle.

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Social networking: Collaboration, Aggregation or Disintermediation?

6 January, 2009

This last year has been a year for the rise of the social network aggregator, or, if not a tool, the rise of aggregation through collaboration. I discovered this to my own horror when I realised that my Twitter posts were appearing as Facebook status updates. I had done this so that I could appear more active in places where I wasn’t (really). Cheating, I know, and a lesson that I learnt. When I was Twittering a conference I was at in early December with about 45 updates over the course of an hour, my Facebook friends were spammed with status updates from me including hash tags that meant nothing to them, about something that wasn’t of interest. I am still in the process of disconnecting all these networks from each other.

So – lesson one – don’t take the short cut on allowing one social media service to update another without thought. The audiences are different, the purpose is different, and in the end, what I realised is that that Facebook is for friends and Twitter is for followers – and they aren’t the same group of people.

Now, thinking about Aggregation and Disintermediation. Disintermediation is one of those great words that are always a contender for “what does that really mean”. It means taking out the intermediary (the middle man) – in this case the social network service itself. But first, aggregation.

We’ve seen a huge number of social media/network aggregation services arise. These are aimed at allowing us to keep tabs on what our various friends are up to on the various networks that they might play in. In theory – through a single interface, we can follow what people are doing/saying on Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Facebook, Twine, MySpace, Bebo, Qik, Mashable etc. Many of these also work on mobile phones – so in theory we have a single site/application that allows us to keep in touch with all of our networks all of the time. Some examples: Plaxo Pulse (nice one), Friendfeed (from ex-Google peeps), Xumii (on mobile), Flock (browser based), Profilactic (one of the first) and a range of others. For a good overview/review, see Fabric of Folly’s great review at http://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/03/review-of-social-aggregators.html.

So, in 2008, there were a few sites that heralded social aggregators as the big thing of the year. I wonder if 2009 will be the year of social disintermediation rather than aggregation. We are seeing this in a few sites already – often, to me, incorrectly named as aggregation. I’ve written about this before – the concept of social network as ‘feature’ not ‘function’. Yahoo integrated this last year, and there are a host of sites that are coming up that include some form of social media/network within them.

My experience in with collaboration really brought home the idea that there are different networks for different purposes for good reason. What I want to do is often determined by where I am, and what I am doing. So, when I am loading pictures in Flickr – I’m interested in what my friends have been up to in Flickr and would love for Flickr to tell me what my friends have done there recently. When I’m reading the news online, I would love it if I could see what my friends had be commenting on, rating or tagging on that news site; when I’m in iTunes – that same – what are my friends buying, listening to etc. To my mind, this is exactly what I think Facebook does. When I am in Facebook, I am interested in what my friends have been doing – so all their updates are relevant to me at this time.

I suppose that what I really would like is context with my social aggregation. I want to be able to see what my friends have been doing online that is relevant, wherever I am at the time. I want to see the footprints they leave as they travel across the net, so I can walk down some of those same paths. I also don’t want to have to go somewhere special to see this (the aggregator) but want it bought to me where I am right now and where they actions in this space are relevant to what I looking at/listening to/doing.

In summary, I guess what I want is contextually relevant social media that is given to me where I am, rather than making me go and find it.

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Buying an iPhone? Don’t buy it from Apple

13 November, 2008

My first generation iPhone recently turned up its heels (but that is another story… and one Apple seems reluctant to comment upon). So, into the glorious glass and customer service edifice that is the Apple Store, Sydney.

I made an appointment to tell someone the product was broken (don’t see why I needed to do so, but did…). They confirmed said malfunction, and told me I’d need to fly to the US to get the phone replaced (and proposed Hawaii as good this time of year). Rather than pay the airfare, I figured I would buy a new (3G Australian approved) phone.

Ok, I figured, I’ll go to Telstra and buy it from there, but when I suggested this they told me I was better off buying it from them as they would set it up correctly for me (definitely implying that Teltra wouldn’t. Experience led me to beleive this was possibly correct!). So, I said, I was to buy a phone now. This is where the fun started.

“You need to make an appointment.”
“To buy a phone I need to make an appointment?”
“Yes, that’s right. we can fit you in tomorrow.”

 Suffice to say that I started to go ugly at this (I’m trying to be a paying customer, remember! and they’d just convinced me I should buy from them) and so they found me a sales person. Magic.

Pleasant. Got me phone. Pulled up my Telstra customer record (which was at least 9 months old, but she didn’t seem to mind that) and off we went. Of all the things I was most concerned about – I wanted to make sure that i didn’t lose my Memo service (Telstra takes messages for you and sends you and SMS) and that the phone was set up correctly. I was reassured at least three times that the Memo service would be untouched. Even when I pointed out that form said “Vidoe Voicemail” I was reassured that thsi was for video calls only and my memo service would be fine. A few minutes later – ‘bingo’ she says, all done.

I decided to access the Apps Store and – what do I find – my login is only valid for the Australian Apps Store and yet for some reason, my phone has connected me to somewhere else! Apple person not in the least worried, tell sme to go home and synch and all will be fine. Somewhat suspicious, I do so.

After some false starts and a complete reboot of the PC, I synch my phone. Only to discover that it has not be ‘set up correctly’ at all:

  • timezone still Cupertino (all appointments out by a good few hours!)
  • software not updated to latest version
  • internet setting not set up correctly for carrier

and then, the worst thing! I got a message saying I had VOICEMAIL!!! I don’t do voicemail. At all. Ever.

So, back to Apple (yes, I made ANOTHER appointment so they could do what they hadn’t done right the first time). And, after a bit of a wait, get told a) sorry we didn’t set that up right b) oh, well you can do that at home c) well, it’s working now atht you’ve fixed it up isn’t it. As to the memo vs voicemail – got politely told that was nothing to do with them and I’d need to go to Telstra.

Long story short – I did. Telstra took their usual half hour and 2 supervisors to explain what memo is to the salesperson and I am back happy there. Went home and upgraded the software myself and now I think I can say ‘bingo’ – I have a properly working Aussie legal Telstra connected 3G phone.

If you’re thinking of buying and iPhone – can I strongly highly and forcefully recommend that you get it from you carrier? It might not have been set up correctly for me (which I ended up doing myself anyway), but at least one bunch of setting (carrier related) wouldn’t have been screwed up. I confess, I should have realised that something might not be the way it should when Apple’s carrier records were almost a year old.

Apple – you need better care and attention to this! How about:

  1. no appointments for people buying a replacement product because you can’t fix/replace the broken one
  2. don’t promise to set up my new product correctly and then completely fail to do so
  3. don’t be complacent when I point out that it isn’t set up correctly
  4. don’t reassure me about settings that you cannot control or don’t know about
  5. don’t give me ‘genius’ staff who have to get other people to help on the product that I booked for (one genius clearly was not iPhone savvy)
  6. do something more than look superior when you stuff up
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Can I have some context with that please?

21 October, 2008

I’m getting more and more of the view that ‘context’ is the missing ingredient in some many services that are designed, both online and on mobile. 

I’ve talked about soft personalisation, and the idea that people will happily just through hoops to tell you about themselves if you give them a good reason (like improving their experience, finding the content they like, telling them about places that are open now, or serve the fool they like best). But most of the time, I think we find it far too easy to build a ‘one-size-fits-all’ offering and just let the consumers do all the hard work.

Context is different to personalisation. Context is thinking about the ‘where’ and ‘how’ and ‘what before this’ that people have done that should influence what you do next with them. Yes, it’s about making some assumptions that are designed to improve their experience, but it isn’t about limiting what they can do, just structuring it better. And no, I don’t mean rearranging the options on a menu – that’s far too confusing for people!

So, some examples:

It’s 10am on Friday morning. You access an online gig guide. What are you really interested in? Most likely – what is on this weekend, particularly Saturday and Sunday. So let’s put the weekend highlights up the top, then give you the ‘what’s on’ in date order.

Let’s compare that with the same access made at 6pm on a Friday night. What are they looking for now? Likely what is on tonight, maybe near here, maybe soon. So let’s put tonight’s highlights up the top and then provide the recommendations for the rest of the weekend.

Could we be wrong? Of course! But we’ve not removed anything, just picked a different feature to highlight.

Another example. I am looking for a car. On Tuesday at 2pm, from my computer, I start a search. I am likely checking out what is available, reviewing my options, seeing what’s in the market. But if I access that exact same site from my mobile phone at 11am on a Saturday – there is a really good chance that I am standing in front of a car and want to know how this one stacks up against other similar ones. Same site, different device, different context.

But apply the right rules:

  • no changes of menu options (we learn those, so be consistent)
  • tailor the results to likely context, but don’t limit my options to chose differently
  • if you konw things about me that can help (like the shortlist of cars I made on Tuesday, or the music I usually like to go and see) – use this to make it even easier

This is even more important on mobile. I keep seeing sites where people think getting an internet site on a mobile phone is rocket science. It isn’t. It’s dumb unless you do something smart with it.

Like put it in context.

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Anyone want to buy a (slightly) used iPhone?

10 September, 2008

This is being written on an iPhone. I have a relationship with my iPhone which is starting to change my relationshipo with my Internet-connected laptop. But it has also slightly changed my mobile phone behaviour – and in ways that I can feel I am starting to rail against.

Love the interface? Yes, but…
Love the interconnection between apps? Yes, but….
Love the large display? Yes, but….

I recently asked a group of about 60 GenC’s whether they wanted an iPhone or not. About nine of them did – a respectable 15%, not bad. I was curious as to how the rest felt, and asked who had no interest or intention of getting an iPhone. I confess, i expected similar numbers, but I was wrong.

40% of them did not want an iPhone. In a couple of cases, it was anti-Apple sentiment, but even ignoring that… Some had tried it and rejected it. One had received and iPhone and gave it away after a week, one had gone into the Apple Store to try it out with the intention of buying it – but ended up walking away and is still looking for a new handset. For almost all of the 40 of didn’t want it – they saw the iPhone as a neat little browsing device, but a substandard mobile phone.

Why? They didn’t like the soft keypad – they preferred the numeric keypad for text entry as they could type without looking at the keys.

They wanted MMS so they could share photos. They wanted flash, they felt cheated by a far less than fully-featured GPS. And most of them already had a music player they loved (often an iPod), so they didn’t need a duplicate for this.

But close behind the (in)ability to text at 60 words a minute blindfold, and send and receive photos, was the lack of decent Bluetooth support – how are they meant to share with their friends without it?

I remember my frustration with journalists who never understood what MySpace was, get all frenzied over FaceBook. At the time, and still, I think this is in part because they never gotMySpace (it was for a younger, less structured and more creative demographic) whereas the more formal structure of FaceBook and the slightly elitists sense of community they found there appealed to them – so we had a year of journalists talking up FaceBook and heralding the death of MySpace. I have a feeling we’re seeing a bit of this now – Apple has always been a phenomenal marketing company (even if not a great technology company) and their concentration on user interface and experience cannot be denied. So now we’ve got a raft of journalists who suddenly getthe mobile internet – because they’ve got a real internet device in their pocket, even if it is not a great mobile phone.

For the mobile Internet (and the Internet will go everywhere) – the iPhone can’t be beat. But as a really mobile connection device – there are some pretty fundamental flaws. I might be fine about the changes to my internet behaviour, but I’m not happy about the loss of some really mobile tools I was used to. And certainly, according to one random sample of GenC – the iPhone just doesn’t cut it as The Most Desirable Device (which admittedly, most of them are still waiting for).

Apple’s Kool Aid sure tastes great, but maybe we need to slow down our drinking.

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Mobile Engagement

26 February, 2008

Just done a presentation on Mobile Engagement at the Laboratory for Advanced Media Production (LAMP), which is a cross-media lab project from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). I’ve done a few LAMP projects now – they are immersive residentials where we spend a week expanding a variety of projects (this week, seven), making them consider immersion, Second Life, narrative, social networks, interactive TV, engagement and, of course, mobile.

I usually talk about Social Networking (and touch on mobile and Gen C) but this week Laurel Papworth is the social networking guru, so I’ve concentrated on mobile and some Gen C stuff. As a result, I’ve redone my presentation on Mobile Engagement for a (even if I say so) pretty good 30 min preso that really covers my thoughts in this area.

 Of course, I lean all over the ‘radio with picture’ frustration with mobile internet, and start to think about what the next steps might be. Here is the slide that I showed for this:

Mobile Engagement

Following on from this (and the whole presentation can be yours if you ask), I’ve come across a whole bunch of blogs that talk about mobile social networks (one dedicated to that elite community of iPhone owners – Fon11), the use of bluetooth (oh, if only the handset manufacturers would implement it fully within the USERS control!!) and, this morning, one on how the mobile application is now dead(long live the mobile internet).

I do believe in the mobile internet – I just don’t think it is everything. I also continue to believe in mobile applications, but not the humongous, complex ones. If we are going to engage with consumers – we’re going to do it through good experiences, not just clever devices. So anything that helps make a better experience (that personal aesthetic) has got to be part of the equation.