Web 2.0

<3 Your Brand

Posted on November 11, 2008. Filed under: advertising, consumer marketing, Social Media, Social Network, Twitter, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , |

I’m reading an article in Fast Company Magazine (Oct. 08 – yes I still like print especially with nice paper covers) about thanking companies you appreciate (I Love You. Now What – Heath & Heath). The gist is that while companies have sunk millions into call centers to smooth the ruffled feathers or complaining customers, there is virtually no way to thank them. They go on to show the positive impact it has on employees of the company, if marketing shares the compliments.

While I could spend the rest of my ride on the T talking about ways that social media could be the medium to share the good will, no one is going to pay me for it, and with a recent layoff, I’m feeling much less gracious with my free marketing advice. The holidays are coming though and we should all be looking at what we’re grateful for, even if we need the Large Hadron Collider to test the theory of the existence of something to be grateful for. With the coming rush of holiday consumerism and travel I thought we should consider Paying it Forward to some of the companies we appreciate. Perhaps @GoodWill and @Karma will get the Tweet and our holiday season won’t be tarnished with bad company-customer interaction. Perhaps customers will be a bit more patient and understanding, and corporate employees will be extra diligent and helpful in their job execution.

So I’m asking readers to think of a company whose products or service they admire or have had a positive interaction with, and give them a shout out. A simple “hey, nice job” is enough. If you want be more expressive, feel free. Use whatever medium you feel comfortable with; post a video to YouTube, write a letter, call the service center, start a Facebook Fan page, post a Tweet (#iLuvBrandX), hug a stockboy!

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Web2.0 Becomes America2.0: How the Social Movement to Take Back Control Jumped from the Web to the White House

Posted on November 5, 2008. Filed under: Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , |

Moments after CNN has called the Presidential Election I can’t help but think that the campaign that became a movement is a direct extension of the movement that is now referred to as web2.0. The Internet was long a place for corporations to broadcast their message and to prop up their brand. Over the last couple of years technology has given regular people a voice and a choice. The Obama campaign, backed by millions of supporters, leveraging that same technology, has been swept into the White House.

As a numb-thumbed Twitter user I saw supporters not only outnumber other candidates, but leverage the tools of social media to outemail, outblog, outTweet, and generally outshout supporters of other candidates. The Obama campaign, unlike most corporations, went where users congregated online, talked to them in their own language and empowered them to reshape the Obama brand into something that represented their voice and encouraged them to spread it. And did they!

Citizens, sick of accepting what they were given as the “presumed” candidate, decided with their blogs, their wallets, and their votes, not to except what they were given, but to demand a better candidate. The candidate himself has said that he listened to his supporters to help shape his candidacy.

We can only hope that all of the hard work, hopes and dreams of Obama’s supporters is met with the same care, transparency and two-way communication as the campaign has shown. At no time have so many people been do engaged to make things happen in this country. If the Obama Administration resembles the Obama Campaign, historians will call this one of the most pivotal episodes in the history of the United States, to be compared with the Revolution and Civil War.

Yes We Did! Yes We Can!

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Twitterers For Obama

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Social Media, Social Network, Twitter, viral marketing, Web 2.0 | Tags: , |

Twitterers For Obama

Twitterers For Obama

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Mobile Internet World

Posted on October 22, 2008. Filed under: cell phones, iPhone, new media, Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , |

I just left Mobile Internet World, braving frigid temps on my way to the Red Line. I would have liked to stay longer but client’s deadlines can’t be ignored. There were many more sessions I would have enjoyed.
The conference is primarily target toward the mobile industries software and hardware manufacturers and developers. Peppered among all the talk of Android’s kernels were a few great sessions about mobile marketing and a few companies showing off goodies. Among them was Intel, showing off the latest sub-laptops. These mini touch and stylus driven machines were pretty impressive. There were some odd user interface and user interaction issues with the touch screens. Sorry guys, the iPhone just set the level soooo high!
I don’t have alot of info on any of them but I do have some fuzzy pictures, thanks to my iPhone’s sub-par camera.
Feel free to forward me manufacturer info if you have it.

ClarionMIND

ClarionMIND @ Mobile Internet World

aigo at Mobile Internet World

aigo at Mobile Internet World

beno at Mobile Internet World

beno at Mobile Internet World

Sharp at Mobile Internet World

Sharp at Mobile Internet World

Fujitsu Lifebook at Mobile Internet World

Fujitsu Lifebook at Mobile Internet World

Compal at Mobile Internet World

Compal at Mobile Internet World

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How Being a Social Network Butterfly Can Help You Land a Job and Improve Your Career

Posted on October 20, 2008. Filed under: blog, BlogSpot, Facebook, Google, Heroes, iPhone, MySpace, Obama, Red Sox, Social Network, Star Trek, Twitter, TypePad, Web 2.0, WordPress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This article was originally written as a 3-part piece for Talent Zoo. I got enough positive feedback (and found it slowly getting buried beneath new blog posts), that I thought I’d re-post it here in it’s entirety. Since this was written alot has happened with Social Media, social networks and the job market. This has not effected the overall message in the blog post, as a matter of fact, it has made it even more important to get involved in social networks.

It’s no secret that Social Networking is huge. It’s also obvious that it is continuously changing. Friendster gave way to MySpace, which is fighting to retain users that are quickly immigrating to Facebook, all the while; many of us have snuck off to Twitter and FriendFeed. If these are the only sites you know, you only know about 1/10000th of what makes up the social network universe. Don’t feel bad, few can wrap their head around the breadth and depth of SoNets, and no one is omniscient enough to have even heard of most of them.

SoNets are a fact of life and business. If you’re reading this, you’re on Talent Zoo, which means you’re looking for a job or an employee. Businesses can feel free to hire me to consult with them about SoNets and Social Media (SoMe), this one is for the job hunters.

So you’ve got your resume perfect, it gives a brilliant overview of your skills, talent, and experience. You’re already a step ahead of me! You’ve briefed your references so they talk about your strengths and not what you did at the last company outing. If you’re a creative, you’ve got your portfolio book, site, or iPod full of your best work. That should do it right? Not exactly. What happens when your future employer’s HR staff Googles you? They’ll get to know you really well or not. They may find nothing, not a big deal; unless you’re a creative, marketer, advertiser, programmer, you get it. If you’re in the business you’d better be online. ‘Why’ should be obvious, we’ll get to ‘where’ later. Let’s talk about ‘how’.

How you present yourself online, in SoNets or otherwise is as important as how you present yourself in person. Even more so since this may be your first impression to potential employers, and you know what they say about first impressions. This goes not just for job hunters involved in advertising or interactive, but for everyone. Most savvy employers won’t hold your MySpace pictures against you, some may. The Internet is public domain. Everyone can see anything you’ve posted online. So those party pictures, blogs about Star Trek and forum rants are just a click away for anyone who wants them. If you want be treated as a professional, take care to establish a professional persona online. Keep your comments, blogs, etc. professional. This isn’t to say you can’t be yourself online. On the contrary, be as personal and wacky as you want. Just do it with a non- related screen name that you only share with friends. Speaking of which, if you’re on Facebook, get two accounts. One for friends that’s private and one for professionals. Don’t let friends or non-business contacts friend you. You’d be surprised how inappropriate your college buddies or that girl you just met might be on your Wall! (update: soon you’ll be able to use Gathr.me, so you won’t need multiple accounts. Just one account and multiple public pages)

For those thinking, ‘this is such a pain, why bother’, remember that first impression I mentioned? By presenting a skilled and experienced face on social networks, you can get a jump on the competition. By getting involved in professional forums you can position yourself as an eager learner, a helpful pro, even as an expert in your field.

You can get much more from social networks than just a chance to show your mettle. SoNets are a great source of education. Other users can help you solve problems, point you to tutorials and other resources, turn you on to industry news and events, even hook you up with contacts.

“Okay, I get it, give a little, get a little, put my best face forward. But where?” There is no right answer. If I was talking just to 3D artists, I’d suggest niche sites like CGTalk.com. You’ll have to spend a little time Googling to find the best niche networks to get involved with. For SoNets that aren’t so niche, a good place to start is our old friend Facebook. FB has a great many groups, some as random as My Name Is Durwin (of which I am a member of course), or as obvious as Design & Typography. Professional groups aren’t just on Facebook though, MySpace and others have some worth joining. There are a bunch of great sites dedicated to professionals only, chief among them, LinkedIn. If you don’t have an account here, you’re, quite frankly, nuts. Talent Zoo is a great site for job searching. Not only does it offer great articles (feel free to agree below) and job boards, but also gives you a chance to interact with colleagues and potential employers.

If you have a unique interest, alot to say, or ADD (all of which I’m very proud of), consider subscribing to or starting a blog. There is no end to the number of general and niche industry blogs, from technology to job hunting, advertising to life hacking. Got something on your mind? For free you can create as many blogs as you like with sites like WordPress, Blogspot (which somehow became Blogger when I wasn’t looking), to name a few. It’s as easy as using Word. Much more than an online diary, it’s a great way to discuss your ideas and get feedback from readers. If you want to develop a larger social network, consider using Ning to launch a blog that can turn into a fill-fledges, multi-member social network. D.C. Insider Ariana Huffington turned her blog into a multi-author, political blog network worth millions.

Of course, everyone is talking about Twitter now. It has actually become my #2 news source, after CNN and tied with the Huffington Post. I’ve made tremendous contacts and learned an enormous amount of helpful and professional facts, as well as a tremendous amount of inane and personal facts! “Isn’t that where geeks go to talk about their latest podcast and what happened on Heroes?” Of course it is. But it’s much more. There is nowhere that the conversation is more raw and to the point than Twitter. In 140 characters, you’ll get everything from Red Sox plays to the latest on the McCain and Obama campaigns, behind-the-scenes images and commentary from industry events. You’ll also get help with technical problems, employee referrals, heads-up on new products, new sites and new jobs. There is a fun movie on Twitter.com that explains the service. Your best bet would be to begin by following some people whose user name you know (like mine) and see who they’re talking to. Pick the ones having interesting conversations and follow them, then see who they are following. It’s as exponential as it is experiential. Twitter isn’t just for online chat. I’ve met dozens of the people I converse with everyday at industry events. As a matter of fact, that’s how I found out about the event in the first place. Even out-of-town Tweeps come into town; they get treated to a Boston Tweet-up!

Twitter is not a place to join and start begging for jobs, or beating people over the head with your CV. LinkedIn is not the place to start Friending everyone at a company you’ve never worked at in hopes of getting an inside referral. In any social network, just like when visiting a foreign country, get to know the local customs. See how people interact, what they are interested in. You may find it’s not the right place for you. But, don’t worry, there are so many social networks, you’ll very easily find one that suits you whether you are job hunting, trying to change careers, or looking to hire.

If, like me, you find it difficult to focus on several disparate social networks, or find time to run or keep up with a blog, you may want consider microblogs. Twitter us the best known, but Pownce and Jaiku offer similar services. Twitter’s limited 2 140 characters, so u need 2 learn 2 Twitter shorthand + b concise w your comments 2 fit them in2 1 microblog submission. Everyone using these services is restricted to the same limit, but despite, or perhaps because, of this, you can very quickly pick up some gems. Just this evening I learned: of new OpenSource training videos, that Twitterers rather than major media first broke the news about the LA earthquake, and found a colleague in need of traditional and online branding experts to write for her new site. Looks like I’m going to be spending more late nights typing away at the virtual keyboard of my iPhone while watching man-movies on Spike (Jaws 2 finished, I’m on to The World Is Not Enough)! Like any SoNet, there is great deal of irrelevant junk, but, thanks to Twitters newly purchased search engine and third party sites like TwitterPacks, you can search for subjects and people of interest and Follow (subscribe) to that person’s feed. Who knows, you may gain your own Followers. I’m following 170 people ranging from CNN to Digg’s Kevin Rose and Robert Scoble and am being followed by 184. Just remember, even in microblogging, keep it professional or at least make sure you don’t say anything you’ll regret.

Everything I’ve mentioned will work to increase your search engine visibility, your networking possibilities and your name recognition. Kind of like building a brand isn’t it? Brand YOU. Brand “you need a job”, brand “you are an asset”. Use these channels to promote yourself but don’t spread yourself too thin. Some networks are a great place to

just sign up and post your resume and contact info. Some are full of colleagues and friends that will overrun your inbox. Decide which require minimum effort and stay on top of the ones that require more. Above all, make sure you keep your contact info and resume up to date.

There will be a lot to manage at first but you’ll get the hang of it. Don’t worry, relief is on the way. There are a few people, including myself, that are working on ways to aggregate, or bring together many of these social networks into one manageable tool.

Remember:

Don’t mix business with pleasure – keep your private-self jus that, private, and make your professional-self public.

Find the way to interact online that best suits you – join a SoNet, subscribe or start a blog, Twitter away.

Be easy to find, be up to date – Spread yourself around to as many SoNets as possible without spreading yourself too thin.

Always put your best face forward – be professional, don’t say anything you’ll regret.

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Social Network: Users Not Welcome

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Boston, Michael Durwin, Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’ve recently discovered that I will soon be a father. I was recently a husband and previous to that a fiancee. At the beginning of this category-changing trip, I, along with my fiancee, decided to sign up for theKnot.com. It’s a great site, we found alot of helpful info there from photographers, to the ceremony site, to etiquette hints. I signed up partly to help my wife plan and make announcements, see links, etc. and partly out of curiosity as a creative director that does quite a bit of social network strategy development.

Once married we found that we had graduated to a sister site called theNest.com. Having lived in sin for so many years, it wasn’t the helpful to us. When we found out recently that we were expecting, I thought of theNest and decided to see what they had about new families. I discovered that theNest had a section called theNestBaby, soon to be theBump.com. What a brilliant business plan, a social network for every major step in your life.

So I started using theNestBaby to post our due date and to see what we could be expecting. No offense to the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but it doesn’t have a search engine! Today I visited theNestBaby to find that theBump.com had launched. I clicked on the link and found myself on the new site. It hadn’t changed from it’s previous incarnation except for one thing: I was no longer logged in. Ah, cookies, gotta love ’em right? Wrong.

I wasn’t logged in, simple enough, I’d log back in. Hmm… I couldn’t remember my password, of course. So I typed in my email and went over to my account to get my password. Oh yeah, that’s right. Returning to the site, I typed in my email and password: Your account is not active. Huh? I tried it again, and again. Same thing. Crap. How could it not be active if they just sent me my password? Well, maybe they’re not porting over login info. Excvept that it clearly says “Already a member of theKnot or theNest? Log in using your existing membership information.” Interesting, but not helpful.

So now I have to login all over again, assuming that they f@#$d up and lost some of theNest’s user info. What a site registration is. Name, email, password, okay. Address required? Really? “Deals, Events, Inside Scoop” Yeah! So much for hoping on to check off something on our checklist:

My email is already in use. No shit. But it’s not active. WTF!?

How is that going to get users in? Not only have they already lost my users info, but now I have to wait until tomorrow night to do anything? This is a use case scenario that I talk to my clients about all the time. They want tons of info, they want to approve every entry, they want to tie registration to advertising, even if it’s in the form of a “reward”, usually a percentage discount if you buy with a specific advertiser.

So, my first trip into the daddy-to-be social network did not come out so well. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow night when I can sign in, unless I’ve already found the nursery furniture I wanted to see elsewhere, or found another site with a pregnancy checklist that doesn’t make me wait like I’m buying a handgun.

Well, in the meantime, I’m on to make next daddy-to-be adventure. I was thinking today that pregnancy often excludes soon to be fathers. We don’t get any attention, gifts, days off, and justifiably so. We’re not pushing a screaming bag of sugar out any of our orifices! I was trying to think of ways to still be involved, even helpfully so. A quick online search didn’t find too much. TheBump certainly didn’t have a section for fathers. So, I’ve decided to start a small site dedicated to helping fathers through pregnancy. I’ve bveen thinking of links content to include:

Links to helpful info
Recipes even a clumsy guy can easily make (I did bruchetta this evening and will post that recipe – 10 minutes!)
Smart home repairs to get out of the way
A forum for guys to ask advice dealing with cranky wives during the hot days of summe
Building baby furniture

Anything I can think of or that anyone wants to share is welcome. Reply to this blog, I’ll post a link to a new Ning site as soon as I have it set up.

Cheers, the wife is calling!

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Social Networks Show Users are Not Designers. And That’s Okay.

Posted on July 16, 2008. Filed under: blog, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, Facebook, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, Twitter, Web 2.0, WordPress |

I recently came across fellow Twitter-buddy Bokardo’s blog on designing for social networks:

Ugliness, Social Design, and the MySpace Lesson

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.

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Twitter Spam. It Had to Happen Sooner or L8r.

Posted on July 12, 2008. Filed under: blog, Google, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, SXSW, User Generated Content, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , |

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:

Valerie434
Jasmin534
Sarah717
Stella214
Bethann35
Lisa1961
Tammy1961
Rhonda1989
Jessica1986
Angelina1986
amymlmer
bethbaker

I’d love to hear from other Twitteratti on this. Is it just me?

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Successful Update of my iPhone Firmware and Playing Super Monkey Ball

Posted on July 11, 2008. Filed under: blog, Boston, Michael Durwin, Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I could go back months, where the history of the update began. That would be the announcement of Apps and games. But let’s just stick to the technical stuff shall we?

The story of the successful update of my Gen 1 iPhone began Thursday afternoon around 2pm. I was on Twitter as usual and someone (I believe Kevin Rose, but I could be wrong, my bad) mentioned that Apps were available on iTunes. I did a bit of digging and this was confirmed on MacRumors.com. By searching for a specific App (I used MacRumors suggestion of searching for AIM Application) I was able to access a sub menu and back out to the main Apps directory. I spent gleeful minutes perusing the selection; from the much-anticipated Super Monkey Ball (simply called Monkey Ballz around the office) to the eReader and iPhone Lightsaber. Many ranged in price from $.99 to $39.99 and many more were free. So, I thought, what happens when I try to download one?

iTunes would not allow a download without first updating the software to iTunes 7.7. I tried to update the software through it’s own software update menu to no avail. A little bit of research led me to a link for the download of iTunes 7.7. Once that had been downloaded to my office iMac, unpacked and installed, I was able to doenload any number of free Apps.

Unfortunately my iPhone is synched to my home machine (an ancient, 3-year old G5 dual). The first thing I did when I got home (actually second after I took the pooch out to piddle and poop) was to download iTunes 7.7. I followed the same procedure as in the office and downloaded all of the free Apps that piqued my interest. I also purchased (aaaaaaahhhhhhhh) Super Monkey Ball. I did encounter a few problems here. I couldn’t use my iTunes gift certificate so I opted for a credit card. After several trials and failures I found that it wouldn’t recognize my zip code as being in Brighton, MA where I live but worked fine for Boston. While technically Brighton, Brookline, and Allston (all within a 3 block radius of each other: yuppies, rockers and richies) are all part of greater Boston and my mail to my zip code using Boston still gets through, it is not the address my credit card company has on file. I anticipated this to throw another glitch, butto my releif it did not.

This takes us to about 8pm last night. I wrapped it up and joined my wife to watch So You Think You Can Dance (Joshua blew me away again).

(you can follow this next part as it happened on my Twitter, starting here)

First thing this morning, for me about 7:53 am, I blindly stumbled into my office and plugged in my iPhone. From then to about 10 after 8 I tried to upgrade the firmware, to no avail. Acting on a hunch, and the fact that MacRumors claimed the software was in fact live, I unplugged my soon-to-be happy device, closed iTunes and downloaded v7.7 AGAIN.

This time it took. With 7.7 installed it automatically found the new firmware update and proceeded to update my iPhone. 1 hour later to the minute it was done. At 8:12am I started the update, ran to the shower, got my lunch together, got dressed (for those visualizing, I actually dressed before getting my lunch together. I’m sure me nude fighting with Tupperware is not that attractive to many), and came back. To sit. And wait. For an hour.

I will admit that I have quite a few movies and songs on my iPhone. I’m a motion graphics artist among other things so I keep most of my better work on my phone, making it a handy, mobile portfolio. 23 movies and 390 songs later. 15 free and 1 paid App later. 121 images later. My iPhone update was complete. “Mark the time nurse, 09:12 am.”

While I was a little late for work (which I’m sure I’ll be staying to make up), the process was only mildly frustrating. I think back to getting the iPhone. I left work at noon, arrived at the mall at 1 and 5 hours and 15 minute later I had my iPhone. 10 minutes later, back home, I spent about 10 minutes setting it up for use and was out the door. While this process took less time, but more than it should, I feel bad for those waiting in line for hours with crashed systems and being told to go home. Where, by the way, new members of the iPhone Army STILL can’t set up their phones. Even some with Gen 1 iPhones have bricked Gen 1 phones and non-functioning new phones!

One of my designers took time off this morning to get his very first cell phone, an iPhone. We expected him back by noon. We’ve had some good laughs at the idea of Steve, in line for hours, being told that the system is down. Worse yet, finding that the store is sold out, as I heard from Twitter buddy Matt in San Francisco. It’s 2:54 here in Boston and Steve is not back. We’ve been discussing the possibilities:

A) He’s 5 people from the store, swearing non-stop, waiting for the machines to come back online

B) He was sent home to finish activation where he is
1) Swearing non-stop because he had to go home and is on his way into work anticipating the crap we’re going to give him.
2) Swearing non-stop because iTunes STILL won’t activate his new iPhone

C) Swearing non-stop because he’s been arrested for assaulting an Apple Store employee upon finding out that
1) The iPhone is sold out
2) iTunes won’t allow activation and he’s holding a $300 non-functioning piece of metal, plastic, and glass.

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BMW Shoots Viral Piece, Does it Hit or Miss?

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BMW movie The Ramp

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)!

Links:
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

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