The EMO Social Committee put on a lovely Easter spread this morning at our Highworth and Bristol offices! Here are the remains.
The Easter Egg Hunt also kicked off pre-dawn, and while everyone got their own personally labelled egg, the special Golden Egg was found by this smiley chap.
I’ve been creating fact sheets for the EMO teams (in my spare time) over the last couple of months. The reason for doing this is to help spread some of the knowledge that Studio, Creative and Production teams have to other teams, with the overall aim of getting us all talking the same language.
A particular interest for me and most creatives alike is fonts.
My latest creation is a quick introduction into the anatomy of fonts. The world of fonts is a marvel. For instance we have the long standing hatred of Comic Sans and the obsession with Helvetica. For me fonts have a purpose and situation they can best be used in – and yes that does include Comic Sans! To convey a message with words in the right font can be very effective and the wrong choice can render even the most useful information useless. So a little understanding of the language of typography should help to see the consideration that goes into fonts. Have a look at the fact sheet to see what I mean: EMO_Font of knowledge
I have just read an interesting article about the use of social media for professional firms. The author, who advises accountancy firms on marketing and business development, makes some very valid points – pretty much all of which I agree with. However there seems to be an underlying distrust of marketing agencies and what they can do for his target audience. A part of the article suggests that accountancy firms have invested in social media because they have been told it is the panacea for their declining business by underhand marketing agencies, there are undoubtedly some agencies that pedal this misapprehension to the unsuspecting. However there are many more reputable agencies who would advocate the use of social as a part of the marketing mix and suggest that it helps in brand building but would never suggest that used alone it is a business development solution. If partners at professional firms are naive enough to believe that investing in social media is the silver bullet for business development issues then frankly there is little hope for their businesses in the 21st century.
Frank Rose is the author of soon-to-be-released book ‘The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories‘. He attended the Festival of Ideas at the Bristol Watershed to introduce the concepts in the book.
Frank led with a throw-away comment ‘Stories are to humans like algorithms are to machines‘. We use stories to make sense of our world and share that understanding with others. Our human instinct to find the story means that we’ll find the story even when there isn’t one – he showed us an experiment performed by Fritz Heifer and Marianne Simmel in 1944 where subjects were shown a video involving triangles and a circle, and asked to interpret them. Inevitably, the subjects humanised the shapes and created a narrative for them.
He took us through various examples of immersion – when the original media used isn’t the only place that people can interact with the story. He says that ‘digital’ gives everyone the opportunity to tell stories in many different ways, because the internet can be all types of media – video, text, audio, or all. For example, Lost fans created Lostpedia to help them understand the story, Star Wars merchandising gave fans ways to create new sub-stories including comic books, Nintendo games and even fan movies.
He touched on co-creation too, and gave the example of Apple/Nike’s chipped running shoe where the brands don’t create the story – they give the users the tools to create and share their own.
When asked how immersion is affecting marketing and advertising, he said that the 30 second TV spot is dying and cited ‘rising costs, falling viewership, ever-proliferating ad clutter, and viewers’ TiVo-fueled power to zip through commercials‘ as reasons. But he also said that history shows us that cultures take 20 – 30 years to figure out how to use technology, and that we’re only part-way there. Examples like the Old Spice commercials, where co-creation was embraced to great viral success, and failures such as the Harry Potter Wars (where the studios failed to recognise and utilise/facilitate or allow co-creation attempts on a massive scale) show that we’re still learning, but also that the opportunities are endless.
Frank believes that advertising is another kind of story, and to be effective it should be non-linear, participatory and above all, immersive.
Personally, I found the talk quite hard going but definitely thought-provoking – Frank Rose is clearly a brilliant thinker and writer but the ideas presented were bigger than a 40 minute slot. I’ll be getting the book and adding it to the library once done!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t looked at a local community noticeboard for years, but I do remember a time when the notice board at my local Spar was the best place to find second hand furniture, recommendations for cleaners, and local events. And community noticeboards are the next thing to fall under an entrepreneur’s gaze and go digital.
EveryBlock – @everyblock
In his blog post about the relaunch, founder Adrian Holovaty says ‘The current crop of Web social media tools is focused on people you already know‘. Instead of focusing on existing relationships, EveryBlock connects people with a common interest – a location.
You can look up a postcode down to extreme granularity, or look for suburbs or cities, and ‘follow’ them almost like you’d follow a person on Twitter.
Users in the neighbourhoods can message each other and hold conversations almost like a discussion board or forum. EveryBlock also takes ‘stuff’ from the net and aggregates that ‘stuff’ by location. Yelp reviews, new local photos on Flickr, lost-and-found ads on Craigslist, real estate listings, local Meetups – all based on a location you’ve defined.
In short, EveryBlock amplifies the stuff already out there, just by making it hyper-local and hyper-relevant.
Mashable covered the relaunch as a community site and LostRemote also did a piece on them. It’s not available in the UK yet, and no doubt still has a lot of traction to gain in the US before it hops over to us, but you might as well head over to the homepage and vote via Twitter for London to be their next city.
StickyBoard – @stickyboard
StickyBoard ‘is based on the belief that strong communities make for a better, more fulfilling quality of life’. Users can read news, find local services, check out a calendar of events and post business reviews. Local businesses can advertise in one of several verticals, with Community groups advertising for free.
StickyBoard’s community beliefs are strong, but the website needs to get critical mass from advertisers in order to give the users a reason to be there. Given that it’s launched only a few months ago it’s hardly surprising to see empty news feeds and available advertising spaces. The first burrough was Ealing and you can see a lot more activity in that suburb than let’s say Camden.
So while EveryBlock connects local people and let’s them share community news while aggregating existing local content, StickyBoard connects local people to local businesses and events and is a platform for advertising. Both interesting, both local, both innovative.
Having a managed and curated presence on Google Maps is essential for any business. Marissa Mayer, Google Search Products VP reported at SXSW that Google Maps has over 150 billion users – 40% of those users were mobile users and therefore likely to be making decisions on the move – and quickly. While Ms Mayer appears to have fallen from grace there’s no doubt that the world loves Google Maps and if your business isn’t there, you’re missing out. Not only do you need a presence, you also need to make the content is relevant and helpful and optimised for search queries.
That’s is all well and good for one business with one Place to set up. It’s easy – it takes a few minutes, and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to do it. But if you’ve a network of local presences, you’re going to choose between crowdsourcing the task (getting each location to set up the Place account and hoping for consistency) or centralising it.
If you centralise it and have more than a few locations, you should know that managing local presences on Google Maps is an onerous task. We were posed with the question last week, and were happy to discover that Google has made it easier for brands to manage their Google Maps entries with their Maps bulk uploader.
Google have a great guide to use but here’s our quick summary a la EMO.
Step 1: Create a Google account
- Don’t use your own Gmail account or create a Google account that doesn’t match the domain of the company.
- Request an email address that matches closely to the name of the Maps entries and create a specific account to manage all Google maps for that client going forward. Either ask the client to forward these emails to you or get a specific email address to be set up that automatically forwards to you.
Step 2: Get and organise the data
- Put the data into this format and follow the directions carefully
- The file must be in format .csv, .txt, .xls, .tsv, .xlsx, and .ods
- You can select up to 5 categories for the listings so use them wisely – look at keyword recommendations to guide your choices
Step 3: Upload the spreadsheet
- Upload the spreadsheet here
Step 4: Check for errors
- After you’ve uploaded the file, you’ll be given a page of errors to correct either on the spreadsheet or on the screen
- Evaluate for missed information: Some entries will need additional information added like ‘area serviced’, which is not done in the bulk upload. Check that all information is created
Step 5: Request verification
You’ve now created the Google Places entries, but Google needs to verify them to ensure you have ongoing control over the content on the page.
- Ask Google to verify the entries by filling out the bulk verification form linked from your account.
As great believers in the power of experiential, we’ve long championed the cause of real-time brand interaction. We all know that people engaging directly with brands is a sure way to big impact. But what if we step sideways for a moment and watch someone else not just engaging but becoming the brand?
St John Ambulance are built on making a difference, and anyone who can administer first aid, is that difference. The other day I came across this film, created for St John Ambulance by BBH. It’s from back in November and there was some buzz around it at the time, so chances are you might have seen it. But in the event that you haven’t… watch it here:
The first time I saw it, I had a little cry. Not full-blown sobbing, but definite glassy eyed, dry of throat territory. Admittedly I’m an easy easy crowd, but since then I’ve been thinking on its power.
For me – it’s because what happens is so darn unexpected. When the woman stands up and heads towards the screen, I genuinely had no idea what would happen next. I practically joined in with the spontaneous applause that erupts, when she reappears. Because I knew I’d witnessed something really quite original. And originality will always elicit an emotional response.
Answer this – how often do we have a brand experience where we not only wonder what will happen next, but have no idea where the medium will take us? We’re used to unexpected things happening in the cinema – but they’re usually limited to the screen. Any interaction with fellow cinema go-ers is usually of the sharing laughter, or swapping scowls at too loud m&m munching or pop slurping variety. To watch the action unfold here, not even amongst the handful of people that were there for the event, but much later through YouTube, is to be launched into new territory.
What does this leave me thinking? Not just that the agency that created it are jolly clever, but that no medium can ever be considered ‘done,’ something that’s worth remembering as we ever look to better engage people at a local level. Having the wit and wisdom to inject new energy into received formats is an exciting challenge for those who choose to accept it. And it doesn’t necessarily take big budget either. It takes bravery. Not quite the kind of bravery that saves lives, but the kind that makes life more interesting for all of us.
An oldie (gosh, was this really only 9 months ago?) but a goodie. The Wilderness Downtown is a collaboration between Google Chrome and Arcade Fire that personalises (read: localises) the music video to the place you grew up.
Here’s TechCrunch’s explanation for the technical bits. What I love most is the connection – online to offline. The Wilderness Machine was created to physically reproduce the postcards users wrote to themselves online in The Wilderness Experience. If you plant the postcard, it will compost and liberate birch tree seeds from which a tree could grow.
You were encouraged to install Google Chrome for it to work. 24.1% of users now use Chrome, as opposed to 15.9% at launch of this experiment. There doesn’t appear to have been a significant spike in browser usage though!
I’d love to know if Google have mapped the addresses entered and gotten a heat map of fans’ hometowns. Not altogether useful as it’s inevitably at least 20 year old data with a lot of non-fans playing with it due to the viral effect, but come on Google, let’s review!
How important is it to get your Google Places page searching well?
See this heat map, how this eye tracking study shows the focus of the viewers view and length of view on the local listings held next to the map. What I’d like to see, if anyone can find it is some research to show how long people look at the search results page, and what percentage of users ‘just click’ the first link irrespective of what else is being served. For those of you involved in advising dealers/branches/services make sure that not only they have claimed their Google Places page but that they have optimised it by putting it in the right categories (they can be in more than one) and that their titling and support content help drive the right sort of traffic.