Thursday 23 December 2010

The beginning of the end of the UK Coalition Government

In reply to James Cleverly's article being nice to the LibDems, these are my thoughts.
In my humble opinion, for good or for bad, there is just no way I can see this coalition lasting the distance. Regardless of the press' tactics, alienation is clearly entrenched already right to the (very?) top of the LibDems (and no doubt ...within the Tories too, they just haven't been exposed yet) and so it seems to be an uneasy and unnatural alliance, between a bully and the bullied, quickly defended by those who benefit most from the decentralisation and redistribution of power (yet they don't like the redistribution of power via wealth, hmmmm) but plainly obvious to the rest of us with enough objectivity to critically asses the harsh political reality from outside.

Both the Tories & the LibDems are losing control of their fringes and as Yeats wisely said:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

And nor will this coalition hold. So, we shall have, I predict, another election late 2011 or early 2012, Labour will be stronger, the Lib Dems will be weaker, and ironically, it may ultimately be AV that dumps the Tories out for the then more statistically popular Labour party, who given the impending impact of the cuts will be seriously strengthened.

The storm has just begun for the coalition. And already its fraying at the edges. This ship will sink. Not if, but when.

Regardless of what I personally want to happen. That's my analysis. Thoughts?

Sunday 10 October 2010

What 101010 means to me

People thinking today as 101010 is significant does not make it so, outside of the personal subjective attribution of significance. Today has no more or less meaning than yesterday or tomorrow other than to shed light on why humans seek meaning and our wondrous ability to find meaning, even when there is none.

Today is 42 in binary but also xxx in roman is ultimately no more significant regarding the meaning of life than it is a day to celebrate all triple x rated content ;)

We find the meaning we seek and ultimately it is how, why and what we seek that remains more significant and likely to evolve our true understanding of our place in the universe.

"Know thyself!" Every day!

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Whoever invents a fun gym wins

I hate going to the gym. It's hard work, I get the whole 'reward relationship' thing but why can't it be fun. If it's fun it's not working you will be told. Well, to get in to the habit of going to the gym to be able to do punishing workouts you have to make the gym a place you want to go. Otherwise, and stop me if this sounds familiar, you'll go a few times and hate it and then stop going.

So, here's my tip: Just go to the gym three times a week for 45 minutes for 4 weeks. When you get there, forget about plans, just use what you want to use. Go where you want to go. Stay active and get sweaty but let yourself play and enjoy the environment. When you've got used to going you can then start to kick your ass in the knowledge that you like going and so will be more motivated to tough it out through the 'I hate the gym' phase before the rewards kick in.

Trust me, I've been there. No pain, no gain maybe right, but equally and even more right is: no train, no pain, no gain.

You've got to be in it to win it...the gym that is! So get down to the gym and have some fun. bet you never heard that before!

Wednesday 14 July 2010

First rule of influence? Don't talk about influence!

I just had a moment of clarity that connected four relatively unrelated themes. I tweeted that moment thus:
ooh, a blog post was just born in my brain, writing it now... #fightclub #fastcompany #influence #oldspice
Let me explain. FastCompany recently launched their influence project. Frankly, it sounded naff and very gameable. It did not engage me. It did not fire my ego. FastCompany as a brand aged in my mind. From what I could see it was panned at the start on twitter, surely the undisputable home of early adoption and social influence, and if the tweeters weren't buying an influence project then who the hell would? Like the Times Online, I suspect no-one of any influence is buying it. Nice try but ultimately it's a big fat #fail imho.

Today, out of absolutely nowhere, an old brand engaged brilliantly and resulted in an awesome explosion of brand conversation. FastCompany and the rest of us should be able to learn a lot from it.

I have not thought about Old Spice for maybe two decades since my dad last wore it. The brand became younger and more relevant to me today. Complete positive reconnection. I will now almost certainly try it next time I'm near a shop. Job done! I bet I buy a bottle. I bet I feel like this guy...

The secret? Talk about the product, the audience, the humour, the flaws, the usp's, anything but not about the conversation itself. And that's where FastCompany went wrong. They should have focused on the product. Instead they focused on the conversation. And everybody knows the first rule of Fightclub is that NOBODY talks about Fightclub!

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Why relevant ads are free content's saviour

An interesting evolution is gaining pace in advertising thanks to targeting and I predict the result will be increasing ad revenues & rising CPMs due to better ad targeting. This will resolve the free v paid content debate in favour of free content. Why would a publisher choose to put up pay walls and limit marketing potential for smaller safer revenues if free content delivered the holy grail of both good marketing AND revenue potential? I don't believe they would. I believe free would be a valuable competitive edge ultimately. Content is changing from being a product to being a service. That future means content will be free not paid.

I am seeing more relevant ads that hold my gaze and show me things I am likely to be interested in on Facebook. Their ads seem more targeted for my activity than the ads I see during search.

Google needs to address this strategic pothole as their AdWords model is predicated on search terms actively typed in by the searcher. Whereas Facebook relies on my social activity to determine what ads to serve me.

Both are relevant. But whilst Google serves me what I need at the time, Facebook serves me what I want ALL the time. Google requires me to actively search whilst Facebook requires me just to be me.

And with the current rumours of Google Me set to launch to challenge Facebook's social network dominance the fight seems to be moving in that direction. Plus with Google beta testing results from one's Social Circle the potential to outflank Facebook by blending social AND search could be a move to make even Sun Tzu blush with pride.

One final aside, Yahoo and Microsoft really missed the boat on both social and search.

Monday 26 April 2010

A very British revolution: Let it hang!

Please don't let the Tories & Labour scare you into voting for either of them just to avoid a hung parliament.

The Tories & Labour stand to lose most from a hung parliament. They say it's bad for Britain and the economy, that nothing will get done. Is this because:

a) Their MPs are so egotistical as to be unable to work with each other?
b) Their MPs are incapable of putting country before party? or
c) Their MPs could not agree compromises regarding the issues that matter?

Please vote for the party that matches your policies, even if they cannot win, even if others tell you it's a wasted vote. Even better, join that party and donate to it to help it reach more people.

NOTE: Do join the You're It! Facebook group by the way or search on Twitter for #youreit

Thursday 22 April 2010

Why Google should fear Facebook's World Wide Like

Social media watchers now know that Facebook are extending the ability to any website owner to allow their visitors to 'like' any webpage or site beyond the boundaries of the Facebook site. Tweetstats is the first site I've seen using it. We already enjoy being able to share from any webpage or site but like makes it a whole new ball game. Google should be terrified and this is why.

As Techcrunch indicate in their post (see link above) Facebook will essentially be enabling the web to measure itself. Currently Google famously measures the entire web using machines and formulae with a relatively small amount of human intervention. Facebook will get the web to essentially index and rank itself. There can only be one winner in that fight. Crowds beat machines every time. Perhaps Google will step up and roll buzz out further to combat that Facebook expansion? I can't see another solution...Google may have user reach but Facebook has relationship depth. And the required immense traction to go for it.

If Google don't combat Facebook effectively then the end result could be a brand new search interface from Facebook that brings back results based on LikeRank as opposed to Pagerank. A sort of Yahoo (& Delicious') MyRank come good? That idea was just too early and used the wrong tool but it was the right idea.

Ultimately the reason why only Facebook can win this fight with Google is that no matter how smart the Google algorithm is, there is no substitute for the human mind, the human hive and the viral unpredictable qualities of humanity. As Frank Zappa once said:
The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.
You like?

Saturday 6 February 2010

Viral marketing has to make people feel

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is 'viral' - how did the RATM campaign work? Why did Alex Tew & MillionDollarHomepage have a hit?

In my previous 'Want to go viral? Learn from Alex Tew & Charlie Simpson' post I discuss how narrative is important. But it occurs to me that narrative is what ALL marketing is at its core. There is always a message. So what differentiation is there between those messages and campaigns that succeed and those that fail?

Well, I think it has to do with the campaign message's ability to speak to people at the level of their hearts. If the message does not arouse passion, anger, emotion it will not propogate. It might be a noble cause but if emotion is not roused, it will fail. Unless you throw money at it of course. But thats expensive and cheating. The message has to make people feel. Anything. Something. The stronger the better.

In the case of the Bravia ads they take colour and make it emotional by intertwining the colour with time. They realised that what makes colour special is not the colour itself but the movement of colour.

In the case of the Barclaycard ads they take the dull timeline of an average days transactions and invoke feeling by superimposing that timeline into adrenaline-fueled opposite timelines.

The results for both brands are stunning.

Now not everyone goes out or online right after watching and gets a Barclaycard or a Bravia but those ads serve to elevate the product to the level of the heart. But more importantly, the value of the entertainment through which the brand and product were delivered takes on value. They give the entertainment great emotional pull itself.

So whether we buy it or not, we talk about it, we share it, we swap it, and generally we do the marketing for them, and so it becomes viral.

So, to give an example of my own. A normal ad for salt might focus on the USPs to do with taste, health, the beauty of the container and so on. An M&S ad perhaps. This is not just any salt, this is M&S salt. Lots of close-ups of the salt. You get the picture.

But if Sony or Barclaycard sold salt the ad might be more about the journey of the grain of salt from its perspective. The vibrancy, the energy, the intertwining with the food. The salt would be positioned as synonymous with the food. You would appreciate life from the grain of salt's point of view. The salt experience would become something aspirational. You would identify with the salt. You may not eat more salt as a result, but we'd all be talking about that ad. And sales of salt would go up overall.


The ROI of Social Media: The Water Cooler Gambit

I am quite bored of people asking to be shown the actual monetary ROI of Social Media. Not that I get asked but it seems a persistent topic of discussion on the web and through business & consumer media in general.

'What is the value of twitter/facebook etc to our business?'. When the person being asked predictably struggles to satisfy their cynical inquisitor, said inquisitor jumps in and rejects wholsale the very idea of Social Media as a fad etc.

Social Media is something they usually don't understand and so under the guise of 'well, it has no measurable value' they feel happy to claim it is a waste of time.

But that's just an excuse. They are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

If I asked most MDs if they could calculate for me the ROI of their phone system, or their water cooler, or their carpets, or any of the other functional utilities their business depends on they would struggle in exactly the same way as we all struggle to establish the actual ROI of Social Media to an organisation.

So the next time someone asks you to show them the Social Media money just tell them you will as soon as they show you the ROI of their water cooler.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Want to go viral? Learn from Alex Tew & Charlie Simpson

Ah, the secret of viral success. Snake Oil 2.0 for sure. However, I am 100% sure that the following is a key factor.

I saw it happen before in 2005 when Alex Tew successfully created the Million Dollar Homepage.

I've seen it beautifully replicated five years later when little Charlie Simpson wanted to raise £500 for Haiti and so far has hit £160,000+.

The secret (well, one of) to viral success, or indeed any success online, is...narrative!

To capture the imagination you need to tell a good story. You need a great hook and the more universal that story or hook the better your chances of hitting the motherload.

Alex Tew needed to raise money to go to university...

Little Charlie Simpson just wanted to raise money for Haiti...

Never before has the power of a good editor or story teller been so valuable. Without winning hearts those campaigns would have gone nowhere. By winning hearts they have been given 5, 6, and even possibly in Alex's case, 7 figure PR budgets...absolutely free.

So want to go viral? How are you going to make people care like Alex & Charlie?

NB: Ironic isn't it that whilst people predicted that the coming of the internet would hasten the death of the book that the oral tradition seems to be making a comeback.

Sunday 10 January 2010

My Top 4 ways to deal with Telemarketers

This morning, a Sunday morning I might add, fellow tweeter and digital guru Marshall Manson received an unsolicited telemarketing call. He tweeted thus:
Just received an unsolicited telemarketing call on my home line. Telemarketing on weekend mornings? Inappropriate and shameless. Go away. @MarshallManson
I feel his pain. However I totally love these calls. You see, I can be a bit of a phone prankster on occasion (blame it on The Jerky Boys) so I use these calls to play games back. We are on an unlisted number so if I get a home call at any time, let alone on a Sunday morning, I like to let rip with one of these beauties. Feel free to add your own suggestions below.

My Top 4 ways to deal with Telemarketers

#4 Safe but boring: How did you get my number, please remove me yada yada yada.

#3 The Mirror: Simply repeat everything they say until they hang up - requires a bit of time but very satisfying when they give in, and they will.

#2 Say yes to everything: like #3 requires time but the extra bonus of leading them on, on top of wasting their time gives an extra burst of happiness.

The all-time, fast, painless, effortless, 'making my point whilst ruining your day and scoring one for the good guys' is:

#1 The Jerry: Nuff said!

Got any to add?