Social Media

Creativing :: Facebook, the accelerating mediascape, and some fantastic short short films

Posted by Doug Schumacher on May 30th, 2009 at 12:00 am

About: "Creativing" is my weekly summary of the latest industry developments affecting new media creatives, strategists, and producers. It covers issues like the latest technologies, new campaigns, and industry trends. The content is primarily culled from Creativing.com, a social bookmarking site covering new media marketing.

With the holiday, it was a short week, although the people creating industry news apparently didn't get the word, as it seems this week had more interesting developments than usual.

Surprise. Facebook is in the news.

Facebook is roaring back from the backlash earlier this year. The cover story of BusinessWeek is not to be missed. There are some good figures about the tightness of friend networks. As expected, there's quite a gap between our Facebook friends and our "real-life" friends. While we may have a lot of Facebook friends, we really on stay in close communication with less than 5% of them.

But I think the article over-emphasizes the closeness of communication among friends. The broader network of people you stay in little touch with reminds me of Malcom Gladwell's Outliers, in which he states its often the people in the farthest reaches of your network that lead to impacting connections. And that's the big opportunity for brands on socnets. I already know a lot of the brands my closest friends use. But it's the outliers that can really introduce me to new products.

Dave Knox of P&G breaks the article down into several key points, including the study of "Paths of Influence".

This study of social mapping is going to be massive, and should part a lot of the clouds around the value of these friends. BusinessWeek revisited this this topic in follow-up article to their cover story.

Don't cry for paid media just yet

The social media buzz has extended well beyond it's present impact, though. Paid media is still far and away where the bulk of spending is going. Let's face it, most companies aren't ready to toss out the sudden results of paid media traffic for longer-term word-of-mouth growth just yet.

So the current issue seems to be less about how social media is killing paid media, and more about how the two can be used in sync.

A recent study reiterates a theme that's been building since the cross-media studies done by the IAB in the early 00's: That media channels work far better when used together in a coordinated way. It's a call for team work in a big way. So while the IAB demonstrated that online and print were more effective than just print, we now see that search and display are better when used together. The next logical step is the need for paid and social to get locked in. And my guess is that when they nail it down to numbers, the findings will blow away the previous studies. Just a hunch.

The growing need for speed

It's no secret there's a growing need for quicker response times in this business. This has been coming up again and again, from different directions.

Some of this is mandated by crisis management, like the recent Dominos video.

But most of it is simply the need to keep pace with the rapidly changing mediascape. Somewhere in the middle of Web 2.0, Internet technology finally went from geek chic to mainstream cool. Girls writing fashion blogs aren't afraid to dive in and hack through a little WordPress code. Many of what we would consider normal consumers have looked behind the technology curtain, and embraced what they found.

Of course, businesses follow consumers. The challenge is that consumers are setting a pace you'd need an Indy car to keep up with. This was all summarized pointedly by Simon Clift, CMO of Unilever, when he said "We may be ahead of some of our competitors. But we're most definitely behind consumers." And keep in mind he's at Unilever, one of the most forward-thinking marketing departments in the US.

It's not surprising then that there are technological solutions springing up to address this need to keep up. Wildfire is one example worth noting. In short, it's a way to set up a contest or promotion across a number of socnets with as little footwork as possible. No real coding involved. Fill in some forms, push a few buttons, and up goes the campaign.

Another brand that's been around a few years but is getting more buzz lately is Ning, sort of a community in a box. I was surprised to see their monthly uniques at 4.7 million. Their distinction from other socnets was laid out in the interview with their CEO. When asked 'How is Ning different from other social networking sites'?, she replied, "Most social networks are built around friendships, but Ning is built around interests." Thus for marketers willing to forgo owning the community data, an admitted issue for many, they can utilize tools like Ning and WetPaint to go live more quickly. Again, without coding.

Although potential levelers, my opinion is that these types of solutions are good for agencies. They move the emphasis away from technical implementation, and (hopefully) place it on strategy, messaging, design, and optimization. The creative and insightful parts of the business. 

It does smooth the path for clients to take things in-house. And that's certainly going to be a concern for a lot of agencies, as Max Kalehoff delved into this week. But what I keep coming back to is, the ad business has never been about production. It's always been about ideas. And reducing production requirements shouldn't take that away from them. If anything, it emphasises what they're good at.

Creative works worth checking out

Old Navy's $1 Flip Flop Memorial Weekend Sale
This just seems simple and smart. Take a loss leader like flip flops, which they probably buy for about what the sale price is anyway, and practically give them away to make news. This story was all over the fashion blogs that weekend.I can't imagine what they generated in press coverage -- all of it reinforcing the message that Old Navy is a place for great value. In a bad economy, no less. Here, the promotion concept is the big idea. And of course, right next to those $1 flips are some more expensive shirts, shorts and shoes, which a lot of the customers will grab on their way to the cash register.

Twitter the TV Series
Somewhere between obvious and inevitable. The announcement was about as informative as Warner Bros. announding they're going to make movies next year. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Del Monte Using Community for New Product Ideas
I've stated that creative is primed for a rennaissance. I think research is on the same path. There's so much conversation out there, it's almost impossible NOT to have it impact product development. Del Monte set up a community for 300 of the most avid pet owners, and in what seems like a fairly quick process, came across a product idea that probably would have been laughed out of a marketing department brainstorming session. Dog food based around a bacon and egg breakfast.

Last Day Dream
Just watch this. It's about 1.5 minutes and worth every second. A great demonstration of simple cinematography and short clips creating a powerful story line.

Sorry I'm Late
Just when you think stop motion has been done every which way. The camera position and resulting background is brilliant. Stay tuned till the credits roll for a breakdown of the production process. Another example of production that could have been done in the living room of a nice house, with a bunch of props from Ikea.

That's my news for this week. As always, very open to any input on the format of Creativing.

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