Good points all around. An important thing to keep in mind is Form Follows Function. In other words, first it has to work, then it can be made to look pretty. Well, like it or not, MySpace works, despite the fact that it is not pretty. But pretty is a subjective term, while working is not. In order to work, in the realm of social networking and personalization, the user must be presented with the ability to make their site their own. That means supplying the function and letting them supply the form. If the MySpace example tells us anything it’s that most users have no taste! Any designer could tell you that! It takes skill, talent and education to know good design when you see it, much less create good design. If users were all capable of creating good design, we designers would be out of a job. MySpace decided that stopping at Function suited them just fine. With their user base and cash flow, who could argue with that?
Facebook, on the other hand, has taken a different point of view. They are providing the Function and 99% of the form. The only personalization there is your apps, your friends and your pictures.
Twitter and WordPress are in the middle. Twitter (who is obviously still working on their Function) allows a bit of form to be handled by their users, but not alot. Twitter allows users to add a picture as an icon and change their background and colors. Both merely complement the user interface. With WordPress, if you’re using their hosted version, you can choose from a variety of templates to change your layout, or you can design or have someone else design a WordPress template for you. This last is not easy for a layman, so it is often someone with design skills who does it. At worst, a WordPress design can be boring, but at least it’s not as hideous as what some MySpace users are doing.
So, allowing the Form portion of your social network’s user interface to fall into the hands of it’s users may not be pretty, but that’s what social networks are all about, What the User Wants. The user has become the designer, for better or worse, of their own experience. Who knows if this will be a continuing trend? Well, maybe we have a hint already. Users in droves have been flocking to Facebook over the last year or so, which offers much less freedom of expression, at least visually. What I’ve heard over and over from those that have abandoned MySpace for Facebook, besides that it’s for stalkers and spammers (thanks Big Media), is that Facebook looks better. Maybe users are smartening up, and realizing that they enjoy elegant design, maybe, with all the different aspects of their real and online lives, they are too busy to design their experience and prefer to have one handed to them.
We will see how it shakes out over the coming year.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Posted on July 12, 2008. Filed under: blog, Google, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, SXSW, User Generated Content, Web 2.0 | Tags: Kevin Rose, Robert Scoble, spam, tweeps, tweople, Twitter, twitteratti |
I was introduced to Twitter back on March of 2007. Everyone at SXSW jumped on it. I dropped it for awhile as only a few people I met at SXSW were using it. Since then a ton of folks have jumped on board. It’s become a very important part of my social media, technology and all around cool stuff networking. I use Twitter for a variety of things; to communicate with friends, to engage in discussions with others of similar interest, to find out what others are interested in, to share my interests or thoughts with others and to learn. This last one is key for me. There is so much going on in this web2.0 world that no one can stay on top of it all. Luckily, so many others are keeping up on it, collectively we can stay on top of it all, by searching, learning and sharing.
I don’t follow a huge amount of people, only those I’ve mentioned above, friends, acquaintances, and a few of the Twitteratti (big shots like Kevin Rose and Robert Scoble). I follow about 50 folks, and about 60 follow me. I’m always flattered when someone decides to follow me. After all, they must thing what I’m Twitting is interesting right? Recently I began to receive a few follows that got me curious. Usually someone uses a Twitter handle (mine is mdurwin, I use it everywhere, just Google it!), their name, nickname, combination of first and last name or initials, etc. I’ve seen very few Tweeps (or Tweople, or whatever us Twitter geeks come up with next) using first names and numbers, a common practice with AOL chat and other IM services.
Lately I’ve been getting follows from users with names like Valerie434, or Stella214. I just excepted them and moved on. Then, in one day, I received follows from Lisa1961, Tammy1961, Jessica1986, Angelina1986 and a few more. Twitter spam had caught up with me. Most of these users had a personal page with a link, most to bizrotator.com and a picture that looked like it was either stolen from a MySpace college girl or a Russian bride site.
So, it’s here, Twitter spam. Luckily the most they can do is follow you and hope you click on their link. Only if you follow them will you allow them to push anything on you. The lesson learned: you know it’s gone mainstream when spammers start using it. Here’s a complete list of my spam followers so far:
I’d love to hear from other Twitteratti on this. Is it just me?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: advertising, blog, Boston, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, DVD, Facebook, iPhone, Michael Durwin, movies, MySpace, new media, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Web 2.0, YouTube | Tags: Ang Lee, Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla campaign, BMW, BMW 1 Series, BMW Films, Chevy Yukon YouTube promotion, Clive Owen, demographics, Digg, Forest Whitakker, GM, Guy Ritchie, Jack Pitney, John Frankenheimer, John Woo, Madonna, Mickey Rourke, New York Times, Oberpfaffelbachen, psychographics, Rampenfest, The Ramp, Time magazine, Tony Scott |
Earlier this year BMW launched a viral video to promote the launch of it’s new model in the U.S. The video was released as a documentary following the stories of a small Bavarian town named Oberpfaffelbachen. The town’s citizens include a stunt driver, over zealous police chief, event promoter and mayor, trying to save the town from hard financial times. They devise a promotion in which they will launch a 300 horse power BMW 1 Series from a 454 meter (1486.5 feet) ramp from Bavaria, across the Atlantic to the U.S. The town has created an entire festival around the event called Rampenfest. Towns folk are turning their houses into gift shops, town managers are tearing down forests for parking. I won’t give away the ending, but obviously something goes wrong. Not as dramatically as I’d hoped unfortunately.
The quality of the video is excellent, the acting, direction and effects (as subtle as the ramp, as obvious as the teeth) as good as a movie. The video has been seen by millions which can give BMW the opportunity to claim a positive impact, especially considering that it was shot overseas and cost far less than a U.S. 30 second spot. Was it successful? It’s hard to say.
As with any viral, guerilla or virtual advertising, it is hard to judge success. Many still talk about the negative impact of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla stunt, requiring a payout of 2 million to the city of Boston to cover lawsuits and the cost of our crack bomb squad (who apparently can’t tell the difference between a bomb and a light brite!). The press loves to bring up the GM (Chevy) Yukon promotion run on YouTube. Many people made anti-SUV ads from the audio and video clips GM posted in the make-you-own commercial promotion. This brings us to what determines success.
The GM promotion was considered a failure because of the thousands of ads that were created that shed a positive light on the Yukon, there were a few that were negative. But, is that a bad thing? Most people learn by making mistakes or being told they’re wrong. Negative feedback is just as important, if not more important than positive feedback. How will you know how to improve your product unless people tell you what they DON’T like about it? GM learned that there are alot of people that consider their giant SUV bad for the environment and a gas guzzler. If this prompts them to make eco-friendly, gas-conscious improvements to their vehicles, is that a bad thing for the company or the consumer?
And let’s not forget that with the launch of the BMW campaign, the GM promotion was brought up as a failure again. Really? The Chevy Yukon is mentioned in the press for another car manufacturer’s promotion and that’s a bad thing? Sounds like free press to me. Even when a guerilla or viral campaign can’t be measured in sales or doesn’t have quite the immediate impact a company would hope, there is always the fact that it will continue to keep the brand in the public’s conscience for months and years to come.
Brand visibility is the best way to consider whether or not your viral or guerilla campaign is effective. You can’t often track sales back to a campaign like this or even sign-ups. You may get a solid number of visits to your microsite, but when visitors pull down your video, or assets, or talk about it in their blog, it can be difficult to track especially since those co-opted branding placements end up living for months out of your control.
So, how successful will the BMW campaign be? Well, they millions of viewers at the moment. Add on a few million views of the video once people (like me) download the clip to their iPod/iPhone and show it around, upload it to their YouTube, MySpace, Facebook or blog accounts, hundreds of discussions of it in marketing or news related blogs (where I found it) and then it’s recurring mention every time another automaker or major corporation does a viral or guerilla campaign and it sounds like a success to me.
But BMW knows this. They were arguably one of the first to use viral video not just as a tool to sell cars but a way to engage consumers with their brand, and to redefine their brand as cool. I still have a DVD copy of the BMW Movies from the promotion in 2001. The shorts were directed by Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie, John Woo, Tony Scott, John Frankenheimer and featured Forest Whitakker, Madonna, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke and others. It received rave reviews at Cannes, from the New York Times, and Time magazine. They very successfully hit their middle-age, married, 150k/yr target.
The new spot however, at least in the words of Marketing VP Jack Pitney, was, rather than target a demographic, to target a psychographic. While most companies want to stick to categorizing their demographics by generation, age and finances, BMW is smart enough to know that they can pull an 8 year old boy and an 58 year old woman into their brand halo just by virtue of the fact that they may share common interests, like flashy cars, or mockumentaries.
Despite my feeling that this viral video may be a bit long for most viewers (35 minutes), I’m fairly certain that the folks at BMW will be pleased with the outcome. And I’m happy to help them broadcast their brand (even though I drive the “other” german car)!
Official Film Site
BMW Films Wikipedia
BMW Films Site (no videos here)
BMW Film “Star” (you can find the rest of the films here as well)
Digg submission where I first found out about the promotion
Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, BlogSpot, Boston, Consumer Generated Content, Facebook, Google, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, TypePad, User Generated Content, Web 2.0, WordPress |
This blog is a response to this blog:
I think that what’s hot or not can be misleading or misunderstood as a vague announcement. MySpace may not be where the hippest users flock or the site that gets the most cool press, but with over 24 million users, I’d say it’s far from being a ghost town. Fads stop being fads as soon as it has permiated the general public. So what makes it hot? Press? Hipsters? Users base? Features? Buyouts?
I think that social networking is in the beginning phase of a shakedown in which each will capture it’s audience, similar to the browser wars of the 90s. Alot of users and developers jumped back and forth with each release until they settled down with their favorite with a content sigh.
For those on the cutting edge that are bouncing over to Virb, there are thousands of 30-60 somethings every day discovering that they can put up pictures of their kids and their modl train sets on MySpace, thousands more every day flocking to Facebook because their business decided they needed to “get into” web 2.0.
Blogs are doing the same. While there are a few of us who maintain presences on Blogspot, WordPress, TypePad, etc., most bloggers find one their like and stick to it. This can be based on user interface, widgets, target audience, friend recommendations, visibility, etc. Like most media, site usage is as fractured as consumer markets. Goggle is in Beta-mode for Blog Search that spiders all blogs presumably.
Social networks are here to say, duh. 47% of all internet users in the U.S. are visiting social networks. I think they will become more narrowly defined environments for sure. The public has been given the power of choice and they are anxious to swing their weight around.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )