Incentivising the WoM model: possible?

Let’s be honest, promotion is a slog. Anyone who has tried to stay smiley for 10 hours whilst peddling their chosen set of goods to a load of disinterested shoppers will definitely agree that no matter how well thought out a promotional offer is, you need true blood, sweat and tears to get that desired uplift in sales.

So Dubit appear to have hit gold with their new spin on brand advocacy – get children to do it for you. Calling themselves a “youth research” agency, the company offers rewards for youngsters who are willing to push the brands that they believe in. Unsurprisingly this approach has been been met with extreme skepticism; David Mitchell satirised the scheme, referring to it as “investing in the future of British espionage” whilst the press team at Dubit have had to respond to allegations that they “pay people aged 12 to “say stuff online about sweets”. (www.dubitinsider.com)

Children’s loyalty is easily won – how much value does a child’s positive comment about barbie really count towards the overall marketing effort when the kid in question has just been thrown a barbie themed tea party? So I don’t see this type of research replacing traditional focus groups. Yet the logic behind the promotions arm of Dubit is interesting; is it now worth it for companies to pay for ordinary people to endorse their brands rather than creating an expensive headache for themselves by plumping for the more traditional celebrity endorsement deal (who wants to be the marketing manager at Gilette at the moment?)

Now that Joe Bloggs can literally blog, tweet or fill forums with his thoughts about his favourite brands or products it’s probably worth far more investing in gaining the loyalty of him and his friends than shelling out millions for a celebrity endorsement that may only end in front page press disasters.

So how do brands negotiate the fine line between incentivising endorsement and engaging in bribery? I don’t know if there is an adult version of Dubit but some brands are already beginning to use some clever strategies to generate endorsement online which I will look at later in this series. I think the challenge for this year is how do you generate tweets advertising your product without undermining their value? Is there a way of taking the online version of word of mouth forward without crushing the very attributes that give this medium its potential? Let me know what you think.

Using twiter to get yourself to the top of Google

A short post as I’m just about to go to bed but for some reason I did a search for my name this evening on google and was shocked to see my twitter profile as the fourth result.

Considering that I have a celebrity facialist (Sarah Chapman) and the alleged of mother of P Diddy’s love child (Sara Chapman of ATL) to content with, I don’t think that’s bad going. Out of interest I checked out searches for some of my colleagues and their twitter profiles also came out in the top 5 results.

There must be some reason for this that the SEO experts of this world know – is it that Twitter acts like a directory and all the @replies are links to your profile page, meaning that Google sees you as suddenly more important because people are @replying you? Or is it something else?

Answers on a comment please… Would love to know more.

Map-mash: frustrating in its potential

Now that Twitter search has really taken off, trend topics are really coming into their own. What’s interesting is that across the world people have been talking about many of the same things; this week Jay-Z has been a trend topic across so many different countries.

The people at Map Mash had the great idea of showing tweets on this week’s trends over a google map.


Looks great but it’s actually quite hard to use; when I tried to use the search bar nothing happened and if you try to load regional tweets it takes too long to hold my attention. There’s also no text to explain the link between the trend topics on the sidebar and the points marked on the map.

Much better is Happin.in, a site that tells you the top trending topics by city. Tonight the top trending topic in London is ‘unon chapel’ a tiny gig venue that happens to be hosting the Cinematic Orchestra. To me Happin.in seems to have far more relevance; it really shows what people are doing and talking about in your city. Fromlooking at Happn.in’s standard format I caught what people were saying about the gig whilst they were there:

happn.in london

From a marketing perspective this could be a great buzz monitoring tool – if you reach the top spot on Happin.in after a big promotional event or if people tweet about your event whillst it’s going on then you know you’ve made it. It also has applications for those interested in citizen journalism – what news is more accurate than that people are talkinf about? As always there is the problem that it is only a proportion of the population who are on Twitter but it feels as if there’s so much potential here. They just need to work out a way to explain their concept and how it works – if I was told what everything on the page meant then I feel like the user-experience would be far more satisfying. At the moment it just feels as if there is a lot of potential on the page that I can’t quite get to work. Once they’ve sorted this out Happn.in just need to work out how to integrate all the great ideas they’ve got into one package. If they can manage that then this is definitely a tool to watch.

Tweet Stats

How it works
Tweet stats provides you with easy to read graphs on your Twitter. Type in your username and then wait about a minute and all your stats pop up in a range of graphs.

What you get

  • Tweet timeline – see which months you tweeted most
  • Daily Tweets – what days you tweet most on
  • Distribution of Tweets by hour
  • People you reply to and retweet
  • Cloud of topics you are tweeting about
  • Preview

    tweets per day

    Is it useful?

    If you are a marketeer looking to plan a Twitter campaign then this is not the tool for you. On a personal level it’s interesting to see the times in your day in which you drift towards Twitter and gives you some idea of the kind of things that catch your attention. It could also be useful if you are running a Twitter campaign and want to check that your distribution of Tweets matches your plan and contains all the keywords that you wish to target.

    Where can I find it?

    Twitter followers: a high school popularity contest?

    It seems like every day brings a new wave of spam schemes on Twitter. When I originally started using Twitter I set my feed to autofollow people who followed me, the logic being that if they were interested in the topics I was tweeting about then I would probably be interested in their tweets too. For a while this worked, (bar the wave of insurance people who followed me after I tweeted about my bad knee) but then I suddenly found myself getting lots of DM’s with links in them and spending loads of time every day removing people with awful names like ‘twittercash’ and ‘makemoneyfast’ (these are example names I made up rather than exact profiles). Today igorhelpsyousucceed blogged a great example of how clumsy and ill thought out these advertising campaigns can truly be.

    I’m not idealistic enough to expect Twitter to be without spammers, but what really annoys me is the way in which people go around collecting followers without any logic at all. Through an annoying affiliate tweet I read today, I stumbled on http://www.tweeterfollow.com a tool that gave one woman ‘100 followers in a day’. The rules of this scheme (which incidentally you only read if you are savvy enough to check out what you are signing up for) are as follows:


    So someone has worked out that they can get Twitterers to pay to get followers whilst also raking in cash from advertisers to blast out ads via their database of users.

    But what value does 100 followers have if the only link you have to them is that you both signed up to the same follower tool? Absolutely none. At our agency we are always trying to get marketing professionals to understand that Twitter is about engaging communities and that blasting out messages any old how is unlikely to have any result whatsoever. The flipside of this however is that blasting people will twitter ads is not so far away from the traditional advertising models that we use for television and outdoor advertising; whilst you can target ads using this medium there is a high level of wastage in terms of people reached and people who will actually be interested in the product. So in a way it’s not really surprising that Twitter has developed this way.

    The other thing to think about is how Facebook developed in its early days; when people first started using Facebook one of the key things that people wanted was to get enough Facebook friends to look at least slightly popular. Now however, people seem to be a bit more discerning about the people they add on Facebook and the amount of information they are willing to give away to friends (an invitation from my Dad? Limited profile? Yes please!) The bits of Facebook that are developing however, are concepts like the fan pages and apps where people find out more about and interact with the brands they are interested in. Twitter tried to start out at this point and now is going back to the popularity contests similar to those we had in the early days of Facebook. Perhaps this has to happen for a media type to become established? Perhaps it will be a short lived fad before people start working out that they don’t get anything from a load of unexcited, random followers; no good content if you are a social user and no sales if you are a brand. How long it will take to get to this point? Let’s hope it happens soon.

    Evian babies: Digital can do emotion

    In campaign’s Digital essays some bright spark asked “When was the last time a piece of digital creative brought a lump to your throat?” I immediately began to mentally flick through all the websites I could think of to find an example.

    I drew a blank.

    And then the Evian viral appeared in my inbox. It’s upbeat, it’s cute, you know who it’s for; it’s proof that digital content can be emotional and effective.

    But whenever you try to sell in this work to clients they are always a bit retisent. “What does it do?” might be the overwhelming thought of a client who is not immediately presented an ROI figure based on click through calculations. But why is it that we are tied to this measurability? Why is it that digital marketeers fee that they must always justify the reason for creating their work when tv campaigns can be commissioned purely on their ideological merit?

    Perhaps the way to create an engaging campaign is to focus on making exciting, rich media and branded content and then look at how best to get this online – rather than focusing on creaing a space on the internet that a brand will own, (which is what a website is in a way – a tiny part of the net you own and control) we should be creating great content and finding all the places it will fit into online. By placing your brand alongside other similar brands you give it a context which may actually benefit it in the same way that a painting benefits from being placed in an art exhibtion.

    In a way we have ourselves to blame for the fact digital campaigns are restricted to these logic, ROI based terms – we taught clients to think click throughs, to appreciate how measurable new technology made everything. However, the increasing importance of social media means we are moving away from this results driven idea of online into a concept far more about engagement and interaction with consumers. The question is, how do we now show that the boundaries of what we can do are changing, that a successful campaign may not make you ‘book online’ but it may just result in a smile or a memory of the brand, and that this can be just as effective as any campaign based on click throughs.