Really like this Kit Kat idea, I think it’s been kicking for a while but I only just clocked it here. A simple but elegant way of bringing ‘Have a break…’ to life, and just shows that sticking by a classic line doesn’t have to mean stale ideas.
Like a lot of great ideas it works because it taps into a tension that we can all relate to – it seems particularly pertinent here in Hong Kong, where people are well and truly under the spell of their smartphones…
In digital agencies, we love content personalisation. It makes us look smarter in front of clients and hopefully keeps things a bit more interesting for the people we’re trying to communicate with. But there’s also a downside to excessive personalisation – or at least that’s the message Eli Pariser made in his fascinating TED talk on the ‘filter bubble’ (thanks to Eduardoand Mervyn for sharing this).
Pariser describes how content providers like Google are increasingly personalising the information we see based on how likely we’ve been to click on similar topics in the past. The downside being that over time we see just the lazy stories that we like to read (eg What Justin Bieber thinks about the Royal Wedding), rather than the important events we should be aware of (eg the uprising in Egypt).
Pariser focuses on the impact of personalisation on news, but there’s also an important cultural implication. If what we consume becomes purely based on past behavior, over time we run the risk of creating a positive feedback loop where our tastes and attitudes become increasingly narrow and self-reinforcing. The fact that you’ve never visited a Vietnamese restaurant doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the experience when you stumble on one.
The flipside of this argument is that we’ve always gravitated to information sources that resonate with our own world view – think Fox Sports or the UK’s Daily Mail. Furthermore, where once we only had a handful of TV channels, newspapers and local radio stations to form our opinions from, the internet now offers us access to attitudes we’d never of previously seen or heard about.
But it all comes down to our willingness to look for them. Personalisation has come about because most of us need help in making sense of the paralyzing volume of information available online. And in this way, it often helps us discover things we’d perhaps otherwise not have considered, for example Amazon’s recommendations.
If Google becomes our only frame of reference, there’s no doubt that Pariser’s vision is a chilling one. But ultimately it’s up to us to look beyond a single source of information and keep exploring.
With everyone banging on about ‘being part of the conversation’ it’s easy to forget about the humble banner ad…and let’s face it, a lot of the time banners sit somewhere between pretty forgettable and downright irritating.
Well, here’s a great example of why banners don’t have to boring – it’s an IKEA ad by Hamburg’s Grabarz & Partner that made the finals of the LIAs a while ago.
Briefed with promoting IKEA’s spring sale, the Germs could have banged out some Harvey Norman-style price screamers. Instead they managed to create something that cheekily encapsulates the IKEA philosophy – “assemble it yourself and save money”.
I’m currently planning a trip to Japan and seem to be spending an alarming amount of time on TripAdvisor. As any TripAdvisor addict will attest, trying to choose between hotels can soon result in a state of analysis paralysis.
Everyone has their own criteria when it comes to choosing hotels (a pillow menu isn’t really a deal-breaker for me), however, conventional wisdom dictates that our decisions should be based on whether the positive reviews broadly outweigh the negatives – right?
According to some recent research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, not exactly. While the overall sentiment of reviews is obviously important, our decisions are also being subtly influenced by how specific these comments are.
The study, quoted in Art Markman’s Ulterior Motives blog, highlights that when an experience reinforces a deeply held attitude, we tend to respond by making a general analysis of the brand or product’s overall quality. Conversely, when our experience contradicts our existing view we focus on specific product attributes:
For example, in one study, people try out either Bic pens (which people tend to think of as cheap and low quality) or Parker pens (which people tend to think of as expensive and high quality). The pens were manipulated so that they did not work. Then, they had to pick a statement that best described their feeling about the pen. For the Bic pen, people selected abstract statements (like “This Bic pen is bad”). For the Parker pen, people selected more specific statements (like “This Parker pen would not write”). Art MarkmanJuly 5, 2010
So far, so straightforward – it’s common sense that our existing prejudices would play a role in the way we review products. More interesting in the context of social media is how this phenomenon affects the readers of these comments.
The next phase of the study focused on the influence comments had the purchasing intention of others who read them. It found that positive comments were more likely to motivate others to buy when they were abstract in nature (e.g ‘this pen is great’) as opposed to specific (e.g ‘this pen writes well’). Similarly, negative comments were less damaging to purchasing intention when they were specific in nature (eg ‘this pen writes badly’) than when they were more abstract (eg ‘this pen is awful’).
Just as reviewers do not consciously choose abstract or specific language based on their desire to influence, most of us do not consciously place more emphasis on reviews that are abstract as opposed to specific. However, even if we are oblivious to these nuances, the research suggests that the phrasing of these reviews can be highly influential.
This has implications for way we analyse attitudes to our brands online. Automated sentiment analysis tools – already compromised by their inability to detect sarcasm – fail to take into account the way language choices influence the reader. These findings suggest that by taking a deeper look at the way people phrase their reviews we might be able to gain some interesting insights into their broader attitudes about the brand or category and tailor our response accordingly.
The research is also relevant to the way we encourage people to talk about our brands online. More progressive companies are starting to aggregate social media mentions and reviews on their own sites – even when they these are critical about their products. While brands shouldn’t attempt to manipulate the content of these reviews, this research suggests that the way we frame the debate is worth some thought, particularly given that most decision making is based on minimising risk rather than optimising choice.
When much of the internet seems dedicated to earnest posts detailing ’10 ways to double your blog traffic in five minutes’, it’s refreshing to hear an example of someone whose online popularity was completely accidental.
Gregory Levey’s article on The Nervous Breakdown (thanks to Big C for this) explains how he created a Facebook group to promote his book “Shut Up, I’m Talking”, a memoir about his time as a speechwriter for the Israeli government.
Levey saw his Facebook fans grow from about a hundred friends and family to over 750,000 – significantly more than better known authors such as JK Rowling (95,000) and Dan Brown (499,000).
The source of this new found popularity? Unfortunately for Levey, it wasn’t an explosion of interest in his book. Rather, it was his choice of title:
Even though the fan page shows the book’s cover and its synopsis, and informs visitors that it was published by Simon & Schuster, the vast majority of these supposed “fans” were somehow totally unaware that it was referring to a book at all. They had simply joined because they were fans of the phrase “Shut Up, I’m Talking.”
They were the sort of people, I soon discovered, who were also fans of such inane but popular Facebook fan pages as “Punching Things” and “I hate it when I get fingerprints all over my phone.” But each time one of them would become a fan of Shut Up, I’m Talking, their circle of Facebook friends would blindly do the same – causing its frighteningly viral spread.
If Levey were to message his 750,000 fans via Facebook, he’d surely pick up some extra sales. However, given that few expressed any interest in middle eastern politics, his conversion rate would probably be fairly low.
Levey’s experience is a great example of how, contrary to the claims of viral agencies and e-book peddlers, building a following can be a pretty unpredictable affair. Furthermore, a successful online community has more to do with quality than quantity.
On the plus side, the popularity of Levey’s Facebook group highlights how readily people identify with an insight that rings true – however trivial it might seem. In fact, maybe we’re all missing a trick – sounds like the smart money’s in fingerprint-resistant mobile phone covers…
Dan Ariely’s blog highlights how Google’s autocomplete can be used to reveal some interesting insights about what matters to us most:
“For better or for worse, Google’s obsession with collecting and refining data has given us a window into each other’s fascinating and telling curiosities.”
Ariely’s above example suggests how automplete could be used to identify key concerns around brands or political leaders. But perhaps just as interesting is which of those phrases Ariely was searching on in the first place…
There was a great film on SBS last night called Rip: A Remix Manifesto.
The documentary follows filmaker Brett Gaylor and mash-up producer Girl Talk as they travel the world to fight for their right to party and poke fun at the litigious nature of major record labels. Interestingly, the filmaker has also posted the footage online and is encouraging others to download it, pay whatever they choose (a la Radiohead) and then remix it themsleves.
Gaylor bases his case against copyright around the following four assertions:
Culture always builds on the past
The past always tries to control the future
Our future is becoming less free
To build free societies you must limit the control of the past
The first point is communicated in a particularly engaging and persuasive fashion. Whether it’s a modern adaptation of Shakespeare or sampling the Rolling Stones, reworking established themes is ingrained in cultural progress and often inspires new audiences to discover the original artist.
While I’ve always been a big fan of the remix, sadly at times the film runs the risk of confusing the case for creative sampling with straight-forward copying.
Sure, the record companies missed a huge opportunity around digital distribution and have handled the rise of illegal file sharing badly. But even if many of us have taken advantage of peer-to-peer file sharing, ultimately I think we recognise that artists need to get paid for the music they produce.
Regardless of your views on Britney Spears, prosecuting a 15 year old girl for downloading her music is clearly not the answer. But neither is simply championing our right to download whatever we want for free.
Sustaining a culture of creativity means finding ways to reward those that create. And that means labels and artists embracing a model that offers easier access to music at a fair price, one that reflects the reduced cost of digital distribution. Think Spotify..
Watch the first part of Rip! A Remix Manifesto above, or check out the whole film here.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth checking out Seth Godin’s eBook What Matters Now.
Available as a free download from Seth’s blog, the eBook brings together ideas, predictions and a healthy dose of navel-gazing from 70-odd top bloggers, marketers and entrepreneurial types.
My favourite entry so far is a reality check from Howard Mann. Reactionary? Maybe, but worth bearing in mind nonetheless:
There are tens of thousands of businesses making many millions a year in proﬁts that still haven’t ever heard of twitter, blogs or facebook. Are they all wrong? Have they missed out or is the joke really on us? They do business through personal relationships, by delivering great customer service and it’s working for them. They’re more successful than most of those businesses who spend hours pontiﬁcating about how others lose out by missing social media and the latest wave. And yet they’re doing business. Great business. Not writing about it. Doing it.
I’m continually amazed by the number of people on Twitter and on blogs, and the growth of people (and brands) on facebook. But I’m also amazed by how so many of us are spending our time. The echo chamber we’re building is getting larger and louder. More megaphones don’t equal a better dialogue.
We’ve become slaves to our mobile devices and the glow of our screens. It used to be much more simple and, somewhere, simple turned into slow. We walk the streets with our heads down staring into 3-inch screens while the world whisks by doing the same. And yet we’re convinced we are more connected to each other than ever before. Multi-tasking has become a badge of honor. I want to know why.
I don’t have all the answers to these questions but I ﬁnd myself thinking about them more and more. In between tweets, blog posts and facebook updates.