Let ReSporter talk about your interests
All that blarney yesterday was by way of introducing our latest social media app. There was too much background to the project (which we’ve called ReSporter) to just jump straight in.
Thinking about stuff is what we do.
Let’s try an analogy here.
Think of social media as a party. You are going alone. Don’t worry though, there will be around 100 million other people at the party. You’re bound to find someone interesting. Eventually. And if not, there’s always that Kardashian woman. Or Justin Bieber.
Now imagine if, as soon as you walk in, there were a bunch of people with a placard which read “We like what you like, talk to us.”
That would make life a whole lot easier, wouldn’t it?
This is where our thinking got us. We saw a need for a technology which really did let people focus on their interests first, regardless of where those interests were being played out. They could be on Twitter, Facebook, hell, they might even be on mySpace (cue canned laughter track).
It was about the interests.
We call the system, ReSporter. That’s because we’re going to focus on sports. For now.
And we’ve built the first App which plugs into this system. That’s called ReSporter: Football. For our UK viewers, let me clarify something: we’re talking NFL not Premiership here.
ReSporter: Football is out now and is at version one. It’s a pretty cool way of accessing what your favourite NFL players are saying. It’s a perfect, and focussed, way of getting ready for the Superbowl.
Pick your team and away you go. ReSporter: Football takes it from there. If you read something you respect or agree with, you can nominate that person to be a ReSporter. This will happen A LOT when you access the app during a game because there are A LOT of people wanting their say on things. The ReSporters with the most votes will appear more prominently.
Who knows, you might end up being a ReSporter too with people wanting to know what YOU think.
And as we’ve seen on Twitter, careers can be forged that way.
ReSporter: Football is available NOW on the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch for GBP £0.69/ USD $0.99 /€0.99. Additional theme packs are available through an in-app purchase priced GBP £0.69/ USD $0.99 /€0.99.
Let’s talk about what interests you
Steven Moffat may not like it, but when every show advertises a hashtag in order to encourage viewers to participate in Twitter discussions during shows then you know that he’s pining for days gone by.
Many shows are ripe for hearty, heat-of-the-moment discussions and it can be as much fun to follow the #masterchef tweets of (say) Mic Wright or Greg Stekelman as it is to watch the programme. Worrying about missing out on the nuanced narrative of such telly isn’t a major issue.
The reality is, whereas once we relished the chance to discuss our favourite shows around the water cooler now we don’t have to wait. Social media commentators are regularly being quoted by the mainstream media and reputations are being made. Book deals or commissions can follow from such popularity.
Even before social media made this process easily accessible, people flocked to online chat rooms to “follow their interests”. And before that there were the bulletin boards. Life was simple, if you could manage to navigate the sign-up process and deal with a 14.4k baud rate and your mum telling you to get off the damn phone.
Twitter and Facebook finally made the rest of us sit up, take notice and take part in the social conversation and we now share squintillions of messages on what we love and hate about every aspect of our daily lives. But I think that maybe we’ve lost a little of the focus which older systems afforded. I first noticed this after we released Super Twario (a mad, fun bit of self-promotion). The vast majority of users were drawn to the app not by the fact that it was a Twitter app, but because it seemed* like it was focussed on gaming. Over the year or so since its release, I have spoken with many of the users and discussed their Twitter stats. It’s quite a revealing story. Many people start using Super Twario following nobody and by having no followers. At first this behaviour puzzled me. Then it worried me. Such people would be visiting an app that was meant to make viewing their Twitter feed that little bit different. It wasn’t designed to be a serious reader but to get something from it, you did need a feed to create the little platforms for our tiny hero to jump upon. Take this away and I think you would be puzzled.
But what it did show, was the role interests (or hobbies) play in social behaviour. People were flocking to something not because of the technology involved or the fact that they knew there was a powerful online meeting room, but because they had an interest.
And they wanted to talk about that interest.
Understanding that made me look at all the people I’d introduced to Twitter and I went back and questioned them. Rigorously. I found I could split them into two camps: power users and casual users. Power users are well catered for in the social media world. Services exist by the bucket which enable them to view millions of feeds, measure interest, analyse influence and send abuse in multiple languages.
But the casual users all reported a period of bewilderment when faced with signing up.
Who did they add to their lists? How did they know who was genuine and who wasn’t? And then, with maybe a dozen or so people in their pocket, how did they focus on what brought them here in the first place: their interests?
Which brought me back to #masterchef and realising, when 1,351 people are all chattering about a dozen different things, that sometimes I wish I’d the time to set up filters for my social feed.
More importantly, it led to a bunch of us sitting down and having a what-if discussion about social media apps.
But more of that tomorrow.
*On a sort of related note: I wish we had the time to develop Super Twario more. We still get calls for it to have this feature or that and there are many ways it could go that would be of benefit to the right brand. Maybe one day we will get a week or two to have a really good look at it again.
Resident Evil short-listed for award
See that hedgehog? Come March, it may get flattened by our angry car but for now we are pleased to see its smiling face and neat buzz-cut as it shows that our work for our Resident Evil: Mercenaries social campaign.
Under the big idea of ‘The War On Horror’ Head First created a damn fine campaign to promote Capcom’s first Resident Evil game for the Nintendo 3DS (wow, SEO overload for you there folks). From packaging to advertising by way of video and apps (with hard-core programming by Worship Digital) this was a campaign that tested new waters.
And, gosh, it was a success too. Our video saw over 80,000 views in just a few weeks and the War On Horror Facebook app we designed was played over 40,000 times in the same period. The campaign boosted the official page by 160,000 (and maybe more).
Frank West talks up a good game
As part of our campaign (which has pushed the Facebook.com/deadrising page from 15,000 to almost 100,000), we got to create a whole load of fun stuff from images of the lead character killing zombies to videos of him.. well… killing zombies.
There’s more to come too but one item I wanted to share was Frank’s radio show. Mainly because it drew some pretty nice comments (although to be fair, one commenter thought he was an asshole). You can watch the show over HERE for part one and HERE for part two.
It’s sort of leading me to think about what interests folk through social media and also why we even want to interest them. Is interactivity important in social media or do people prefer passive experiences (such as viewing or listening), leaving social media as a mainly distributive mechanism? And how important are genuine conversations (I’d have thought that was probably the most important aspect of a campaign but mostly I tend to see broadcast campaigns). All that’s food for an article on another day, I think, because games are a very different beast when it comes to advertising.
For now, take a look at some of the nice comments:
In addition to campaigns, both advertising and social, Head First is asked to flex a whole set of artistic muscles to produce some rather nifty imagery.
Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat series is getting great reviews and, actually, it’s no surprise. When briefed on what was going to make it special, we were even more determined than usual not to be the weak link when it came to promotion.
I think we do some rather good work here at Head First. We really do.
What comes after innovation?
The new iPhone is crap. It’s not called ‘iPhone 5′. It only has a dual processor. It doesn’t have wings.
Apple’s announcement can be said to have underwhelmed the talking heads. Coming on the heels of Amazon’s Kindle it felt a little like they were standing still.
It was inevitable.
When a company releases a breakthrough product, everything after it is a case of enhancement. Innovation is the gunshot which makes us take notice.
And yet we still want to focus on that gunshot when in fact we should be focussing on the effect it has had.
Look at it another way and we see that there are two sides to product development: the solution and the marketing.
The solution is where the innovation occurs. You take a ‘problem’ and find a solution. It’s what led to the iPod, the iPhone, to Google, to Twitter, the Dyson and to all the other technologies that have become ubiquitous in our lives.
Marketing is how it reaches the public. Key messages inform as to what that technology, what that solution, can do for us. Will it let me talk to my family in Australia? Does it enable me to write tragic poetry whilst standing on cliff-tops? Can I use it to find my way to that secret club where we dress up? These are the benefits which innovation can bestow upon me, the humble user.
There comes a point, however, when the majority of people are just quite content with how their benefits are delivered. Whilst some might care about how pin sharp their photos are, more will be happy just to flick through the blurry images they fired off on holiday. Others might want 1080p in order to fully appreciate the bright colours of the shaky handcam film they downloaded. More will be content with the fact that all it took was two simple actions to start watching the latest Tim Allen christmas movie.
In other words, there comes a time when the physical phone no longer matters. How fast a piece of technology is is only relevant when it hinders the benefits it promised to deliver.
Amazon know this. Their innovation is in the ecosystem; in the delivery of benefits. So too is Apple’s. They just didn’t focus on that. If they made any mistakes with their announcement of the 4s, it was in allowing their usual secrecy to complicate their very simple message in a way that never happens with their routine upgrading of the desktop and laptop hardware.
Innovation happens once in a product’s lifetime. After that it’s a question of showing people what it can do for them.
SPiN Galactic is a ping-pong game for iPhone that is light-years ahead of everything else. It’s fast, stylish and built for the gamer who wants more than just a simulation. It’s awesome and we love it.
Head First worked with VivusNet and SPiN New York to emulate the über-cool vibe of Susan Sarandon’s nightclubs complete with their celebrity verve. The result is a game that will test the skill of ping-pong enthusiasts whilst catering to the quick-fingered reflexes of the old-skool gamer through a series of special attacks and defenses.
SPiN Galactic is the start of an epic voyage.
For brand engagement, stop questioning your audience
Social engagement is down 22% according to Syncapse. Maybe the veneer of social media is wearing thin, maybe we’ve had enough of flaming popular brands or maybe the content is no longer worth talking about.
Whatever the reasons, what is interesting is the fact that we have come to associate ‘engagement’ with conversations.
A cacophony of voices urge brands to use social media to start conversations with their customers.
It’s a case of ‘do it because you can’.
Few people challenge this instruction and in doing so, start their brand down a course of engaging in the most ridiculous “conversations”.
Brands check their bibles for any pretext upon which to strike up conversations.
We produce hair products, they observe, so let’s ask women how they feel about their hair.
We make glasses. So let’s try and get people to talk about poor eyesight.
Sometimes these conversations have the potential to unlock interesting, human stories (though rarely because to do so properly generally means allowing people more space than Facebook tends to encourage).
Mostly, however, they feel stretched, over-polite at best as customers contribute just to get at a deal.
Are these the conversations a customer really wants to have?
Or are they beginning to wonder whether they want their Facebook feed littered with references to 2 for 1 offers?
If you’ve ever wandered down a high street and avoided the clipboards then you will understand the issue currently facing social media now that it’s all becoming a bit ‘normal’.
Because thirty years ago, when clipboards were new, shoppers flocked to them in a rush to be questioned on calorie intakes, sexual preference and whether or not they thought fluoride toothpaste was a good idea.
Ok, maybe not.
But compare that to a crowd around a busker and you’ll see that being social isn’t about demanding something from a customer – even in return for marvellous coupons or the opportunity to look like a celebrity next to Cat Deeley.
Social Media, Take A Number
When it comes to advertising, everyone wants the big numbers. It seems to be the first demand made on creative – “we want this to go viral”.
It’s led to an environment where we tend to look down on the low numbers and pity them.
At least, I do.
I read this article on Brand Republic and quickly found myself drawn to the work by Tom Ridgewell for The University of Lincoln. It’s funny, to the point and, as a result, highly impactful. I know this because his stats back him up. Over a million views is impressive.
The rest of the article showcases how other universities handle their promotion work. It’s predictable, dry stuff for the most part. Information about courses, interviews with students and lecturers – not the kind of promotions that tend to get you noticed by the Press. Their numbers are less impressive.
Following on from Tom’s work they appear ineffectual; reinforcing a dry and dusty image of study.
Let’s be honest, they do reinforce a dry and dusty image of study.
But is that a bad thing?
Numbers may be the thing to chase when it comes to selling product. A social media campaign that results in a million extra units being sold is a wonderful thing (with the proviso that the cost to get those extra million justified the investment).
A million extra applicants to a university though?
I can imagine the secretary looking at a desk full of of letters.
Social media is good at reaching large numbers of people but a good campaign should reach the right people, not the right numbers.
Numbers aren’t everything.
Much as I love them and work with them on a daily basis, even I have to admit that zombies aren’t everything either.
Frank West goes social
Those of you with an interest in video games and zombies may have heard of a man called Frank West. He’s the tough talking, hard hitting photographer (who’s covered wars, y’know) from Dead Rising – a game that set Capcom leading the (and this is going to sound strange if you have NO interest in video games) zombie killing, mayhem spreading, action genre.
The original game was great. It did well and a sequel was commissioned. Which also did well but which didn’t star Frank.
But that’s ok because now Capcom are back with a game which DOES star Mr West and it brings with it the whole smart mouthed attitude and ludicrous fun you’d expect.
Our campaign for the game is going great guns (and chainsaws and lazer powered helmets). Under the banner of “Journalism With Guts”, we have launched into Facebook, YouTube (and somewhere which will be announced soon) with a series of fun videos, copy, images and activities.
In just two weeks, our approach has boosted the Facebook page to over 45,000 users (that’s from a base of under 15,000). Our initial video (over on YouTube) has had 21,000 views so why not treat yourself to a look at that before heading over to Facebook and seeing what we are up to there?