Friday Wrap #7: Twitter smoke alarm, military Reddit, listening centers, games, teens and phones2012-06-29
The weekly review of content that caught my eye for one reason or another.
Ford diversifies into password management
I’ve heard of diversification, but this one is a real eyebrow-raiser. Venture Beat reports that Ford Motor Company (officially known as “that place where Scott Monty works”) might be moving into the password storage business. Ad agency Ogilvy Paris developed a promotional video that spotlights Ford’s efforts to provide users an easier way to log into password-protected websites. The app, called KeyFree Login, works via Bluetooth; just hold your phone to your computer. “The extension detects when a paired device is nearby and automatically logs users in to their accounts,” says VB writer Ricardo Bilton. The article includes a video that explains just how it works. I’m sure there’s a connection to the auto business here—Ford’s vehicles these days are sophisticated computers on four wheels—but what I really wonder is what we’ll hear next.
Celebrities sign on to Smokey Robinson’s “Smoke Alarm”
An industry should have thought of this first, but credit goes to Smokey Robinson. Remember him? And his Miracles? The musician launched “Smoke Alarm” to get the word out quickly on a charitable issue by leveraging a community of like-minded artists. Accordin to CNN, “When an urgent need is identified, Robinson will send out a ‘Smoke Alarm’ tweet that will be retweeted to the millions of twitter followers of the celebrities who join is ‘Cause Swarm’ group.” Jumping on board so far are the likes of James Franco, Eva Longoria, Hilary Duff, Elton John and Daryl Hall. But what about all the communicators who belong to IABC, PRSA and other associations who would be interested in raising awareness around (for instance) the upcoming Senate hearings on government spending on communications? Or the pharma industry wanting to raise awareness of a proposed (and potentially damaging) regulation? Why is business always the last to figure out the most innovative potential applications of new technologies?
The Pentagon also beats business to the punch
You know Reddit, right? The Pentagon (shorthand for the U.S. Department of Defense) is launching its own version aimed at the military community. Dubbed Eureka, it will be a news site where users will vote to determine the socially-surfaced content that bubbles to the top. Those that will float to the top, according to a Wired Danger Room post, are “those that improve training or solve the ‘problems that plague the military and hamper efficiency,’ according to Laren Biron of Defense News.” Eureka will be restricted to military personnel. Which makes me wonder why a large company couldn’t employ the same idea among employees.
Social media command centers gain traction
I got to see Dell’s social media listening command center about 18 months ago while visiting the company’s Texas headquarters. I’d seen pictures and read articles, but seeing it in action adds a whole dimension to grasping just how important these might be. Dell may have been the first to introduce a facility with staff dedicated to listening and acting on intelligence gleaned from social channels, but others have acknowledged the value. Gatorade (part of PepsiCo) launched one two years ago and the American Red Cross opened its facility just this past March. More recently, Clemson University and Edelman Digital have introduced listening command centers. As organizations recognize the importance of getting this near-real-time intelligence into the hands of those in the business best positioned to act on it, more are sure to announce their own listening posts. A Fast Company pice offers some solid insights into the way these work and the benefits your organization can derive from them.
A flock of studies on when to be social
As we continue to accumulate terabytes of data on social media, patterns are emerging that can help communicators and marketers make the most of these channels. For instance, YesMail ran a three month study of 20 major retail brands to arrive at the conclusion that Tuesday is a great day to kick off a social media campaign. According to the VentureBeat story, most social marketing campaigns are deployed on Fridays, but those launched on Tuesdays earn higher levels of engagement. The study also revealed that your customers can succumb to campaign overload. “Fewer but very coordinated campaigns are more successful,” according to YesMail President Michael Fisher. VB’s coverage has a lot more data from the study; be sure to take a look.
Then there’s the study from Buddy Media which “analyzed user engagement from more than 320 Twitter handles of the world’s biggest brands,” according to the company’s own blog. Among the results: tweets from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. get 30% higher engagement than those published at other times; tweets of less than 100 characters got 17% higher engagement than longer tweets; and tweets with hashtags got twice the engagement of those without (although it’s possible to overdo it).
Games in ads, games in to promote other content, games everywhere
I’ve been bullish on games and gamification for a while now. I’ve even gone out on a limb to suggest that most large companies will employ at least one game developer within the next five years or so as games and gamification become more tightly woven into their marketing, advertising, internal communications and PR activities. One example of gaming comes from actor Tom Hanks, whose new animated Web series, “Electric City,” is set to debut next month. An online alternate reality game hosted on Yahoo drew attention to the series. Visitors to the “Tap Joint” site played the game and then blogged about it in order to get insider information about the series. According to a ClickZ piece, visitors got a first-person view of someone sitting at what appears to be an old Morse code transmitter. Using a code that sat beside the machine, they could tap out coded phrases to unlock messages and video, then share their clues with others via their social channels.
Meanwhile, Adweek reports that advertisers are increasingly incorporating social gaming into their ads, a trend “on the uptick as adolescent and adult consumers are trading away their TV time to play digital games like never before.”
Stop worrying about teens’ ability to interact face-to-face
I keep hearing it. I heard it again—twice—at this week’s IABC World Conference in Chicago. Teens and millennials do so much socializing online they won’t know how to do it in the real world. A study from Common Sense Media suggests these concerns are just so much nonsense. While most teens are connected through online social channels and view them positively, they are also aware of the dangers of excessive usage, according to a Mashable article. And a majority say they prefer to chat face-to-face instead of text or tweet. Can we please put this ridiculous stereotype aside and focus instead on what kind of communication works better online and which off? Marketers should spend their time learning the difference between discontinous and continuous communication and less worrying about whether their own kids will know how to handle themselves in a real-world business conversation.
Most US adults browse the Net on their phones
I wish I’d seen this one before presenting my session on mobile communications at the IABC conference in Chicago on Wednesday. A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 55% of US adults who own a cell phone browse the Net on their mobile device. And in case you’re wondering, 88% of American adults own a cell phone. The 55% figure represents a 24% increase over 2009. Even more significant, of that 55%, nearly a third use their mobile device more than any other machine to get online. Do the math: 17% of the US adult cell phone-owning population use their mobile device more than any other device—and that includes tablets—to connect to the Web. Think those numbers won’t grow? Get ready: Mobile will be the primary means of online access in short order.
YouTube connecting video stars and brands
I read recently that YouTube is among the social channels disrupting the Hollywood talent funnel. Stars are emerging via YouTube. (Justin Beiber, after all, got his start on the ubiquitous video channel.) Brands don’t mind capitalizing on the fame of a YouTube star, so now YouTube aims to make those connections easier to establish. Speaking at VidCon yesterday, YouTube VP Shishir Mehrotra announced Video Creation Marketplace, “a platform that will connect content creators on YouSTube with marketers or agencies looking for viral buzz,” according to AdAge Digital. “The marketplace platform will allow partners to set up profiles indicating what they do, their past successes and the demographics or types of brands they are best suited for. Advertisers or agencies will be able to search by parameters, such as content type, target demo and keywords, to find the right YouTube star for their campaign. Then, they can negotiate separately. YouTube will play no part in the negotiation stage.”
By the way, if you’re interested in the long list from which I cull these Friday Wrap items, look no farther than Tumblr. When I find an article I might want to include here—or on my podcast—I use the Tumblr bookmarklet to save it to my Tumblr site. You can see everything I save right here.