Sunday, 29 July 2007

Post Sydney Tweetup Thoughts

The first Sydney Twitter Meetup was held last Wednesday at Pier 26 Bar. Thanks to Cathy Edwards from the Telstra Chief Technology Office for co-organising the Sydney event with me. She had organised a couple of tweetups in Melbourne previously, so it was good to have her encouragement to help this one happen.

It was a good turnout of about 30 people at Pier 26, and I think the Sydney twitterati had a good time. We also had a few people from out of town which was great. Jared Madden and Adam Purcell, who are organising the first PodCamp Australia attended, and Dave King from St Edmonds Lab in Melbourne came along as well. Thanks to those guys for making the effort.

From my point of view, it was really great to finally meet some of my local Twitter friends in the flesh. I also met some people who weren't yet my Twitter friends but are now. I had fun contacting people through Twitter and Facebook beforehand to encourage them to attend. It was all an interesting social media experiment, which seemed to work out pretty well.

If I had one negative comment to make, it would be that there weren't enough women there. As I've mentioned before, this seems to be a fairly common occurrence in interactive, especially on the development and creative sides, and in senior roles. Personally, I really would like to see that change. I wouldn't like to see that continue into this new area of social media either, should it develop into a growth industry in itself (which it already seems to be).

A big thanks to Happener for sponsoring the drinks on the night, and to Nick Hodge from Microsoft for supplying a copy of Windows Vista for the 'best tweet on the night' prize.

Thanks to Tim Buesing and Dave King from Netx and St Edmonds Lab at Netx for recording and podcasting a few interviews on the night. The interviews can be found on the St Edmonds Lab blog here.

Quite a few photos were also taken. In true social media style, a lot of them (including mine) can be found on flickr, here

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Is Facebook Going To Be Useful for Business?

Over the past few months the use of Facebook has exploded in Australia. I don't know about you but just about everybody in my current workplace seems to be using it now. Admittedly, it's an interactive agency so you'd expect people to be using different online social media tools on a regular basis. I'd be surprised and disappointed if people weren't. I think social media is going to become increasingly important to many campaigns in one form or another, so it will be essential for people to know how it operates.

The high uptake of Facebook here has now started to attract the attention of the traditional mass media. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend (Better than the real thing: virtual freindships thrive despite bans, Weekend Edition July 21-22) focused on reports that Facebook is being banned in some workplaces during work hours. The article also mentions that there has been an 850% rise in membership since the end of last year, going from 24,000 to 200,000 Australian users in less than 9 months.

The question is: how can Facebook be used effectively in interactive marketing and business communications. It seems to me that banner ads might be one of the least interesting and effective methods of marketing within networks such as Facebook. There are already many Facebook groups based around businesses, and people are also using Facebook to organise various social, business and networking events.

It strikes me that there might be some really great opportunities for brands to engage and converse with people in meaningful and unintrusive ways. Let me be clear, I'm NOT suggesting that brands go in and try to add as many 'friends' as possible, or use fake profiles and fake comments to try and gain positive results - they won't.

It remains to be seen how Facebook will evolve, but it's going to be an interesting ride. Have you seen any effective uses for Facebook recently, beyond turning people into zombies, vampires and virtual food fighting?

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The First Sydney Tweetup Has A Location

Further to my previous post, the upcoming Sydney Twitter Meetup now has a time and place.

Place: Pier 26 Bar, Darling Harbour
Time: 6pm Wednesday 25th July
Sign up here for the event.

A big thanks goes out to our first sponsor for the evening Happener Recruitment

If you are going to be in Sydney on the 25th, we would love to see you there. It should be a fun and interesting night.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Is The iPhone A Game Changer?

So I've been thinking about the iPhone a little more since my first post about it, The Apple (2G) iPhone Hype.

It hasn't been released in Australia yet of course, and God (Steve Jobs) only knows when it will be, but from what I've been reading and hearing, iPhones seem to be selling like hotcakes in the U.S. What's more, the iPhone also seems to be living up to all the hype. Apart from a few activation problems, people seem to be loving their new iPhones.

I'm thinking that if I had an iPhone now, among other things I'd most probably be using PocketTweets for Twitter on my iPhone. I'd be visiting social networking sites like Facebook regularly, and I'd be downloading and listening to my favourite podcasts. I'm thinking that if I want to do things like this, many others do too.

I was listening to Mitch Joel's latest episode (#59) of his Six Pixels of Separation podcast the other day. He pointed out that from a marketing perspective, because iPhones are selling like hotcakes and because around one hundred million iPods have already been sold, this is going to be a game changer, and we need to be paying attention to it.

I think Mitch is absolutely correct. A lot of people are starting to listen to podcasts (including video) about everything under the sun. A lot of people are using social networking sites. A lot of people are beginning to use services like Twitter, which can be updated from mobile phones, web or IM...and now, a lot of people are starting to buy iPhones.

I'm sure I don't need to point out that large numbers of people will now be be able to do all these things and more with one device. In addition, I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before we see a mobile based social network really take off. Things are starting to get really interesting in the mobile space.

What do you think? Is this a game changer, or do you think it won't make much of an impact?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Sydney Meetup Is On

CathyE and I have taken it upon ourselves to organise a Sydney Twitter Meetup. Cathy has already been involved in organising a couple of them in Melbourne. Those Melbourne people are on the ball!

I'm not sure how it will go, but my attitude is - let's just do it and see what happens! It should be a good chance for like minded people to get together face-to-face. Nobody really knows where this whole social media phenomenon is going, but it's clear that something really interesting is happening all over the place - Twittering, podcasting, PodCamps, meetups, social networking sites, blogging, virtual worlds. Let's just run with it and see where it leads, as long as it's fun! It's a whole new interactive world we are building, so let's get together and support each other.

If you will be in Sydney on the Wednesday 25 July and are interested in coming along , follow our twitters to get the details as they come to hand. Feel free to direct message me via Twitter or send me an email about the event as well.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Does The Dove Evolution Success Mean Agency Evolution As Well?

I just want to say a few words about the fact that the Dove Evolution viral video has won both the Cyber and Film Grand Prix awards in Cannes this year (that's the advertising awards, not the film festival awards). I know this was a few weeks ago now, but I was on an unconnected holiday when the news broke.

I think this marks a significant turning point for the industry, and not just because it's a viral video that has achieved acceptance and success at Cannes. After all, Droga5 won the Grand Prix in the Cyber category last year with their Still Free viral campaign, so two years in a row could be considered to be a trend.

Much of the discussion, even in new marketing circles, seems to have been centered around the fact that this is a breakthrough piece mostly because it is not a traditional 30 sec tv spot. True to form, author of Life After the 30 Second Spot Joseph Jaffe provocatively commented on his blog:

"Dove's Evolution wins both Cyber and Film Grand Prix. Consider this the first day of the new era of creativity. Ding Dong traditional creatives, you are well and truly dead."

However, what is just as significant (if not more so) is the concept itself, which is so markedly different from anything else out there in the beauty products category. When have you ever seen an ad in this category actually attempt to make women feel good about their own body image by acknowledging the constructed nature of images in popular media?

Now let me illustrate the clear impact of this success story within the industry by sharing an experience with you. I have been in a number of group situations in which this video has been shown to agency professionals as part of a general showcase of new work, and also informally in day-to-day agency situations.

The fact that this video has been shown and discussed is a good thing, but from the various comments and discussions it became clear that many of the men in the room just did not 'get it'. This includes many of the creatives who deal with pop cultural ideas on a daily basis. Many of the men just didn't understand why this campaign has been so popular with women, and just didn't think it was a great campaign, or didn't want to acknowledge that it was. Most of the women in the room had a very different view. It is telling that in this country at least, in many agencies (both traditional and digital) around 80%-90% of creatives are still men. It's hard to believe in this day and age I know, but there it is.

Although both the writer and art directors for the Evolution campaign were men (UPDATE: please see the comments for a correction to this), there was clearly a healthy new approach at play here, and a very successful one. It's great that the Cannes jury has been quick to acknowledge and reward this different approach. There is nothing that starts to change old school, boys' club agency thinking faster than the lure of big awards - sad but true.

Since the awards, a few questions have been asked about the quality of digital work in this country, as there was only one bronze award given out in the Cyber category this year. Many reasons have been cited for this turn of events, from the current digital skills shortage, to inadequate broadband infrastructure, to conservative clients still thinking interactive is just an 'add on' to more traditional work. While there may be truth to these assertions, could it be that old school attitudes and conceptual thinking are also playing a major role in the lack of recent success as well?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

PodCamp Is Coming To Australia

...but which city will host the first PodCamp Australia?

Jared Madden and Adam Purcell have taken it upon themselves to bring the PodCamp concept to Australia. The first PodCamp was held in Boston only last year, so this is still a very new concept. Jared and Adam have launched a stake your interest website, so go ahead and cast your vote for your favoured host city. At the time of writing, Perth was well in the lead as the post popular place to host the event. I voted for Sydney.

On a side note, I've noticed on Twitter that people have been having a few problems with their confirmation emails ending up in spam folders. This happened to me as well, so when you register, watch out for that. The subject line is "Welcome to the podcamp notification service".

Please note, Podcamp is not just for podcasters, it's also for podcast listeners, bloggers, marketing professionals, and anyone interested or curious about New Media. See you there, it should be a lot of fun.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Are You Powncing?

Well, this is my inevitable post about the new social network Pownce. As many of you may know, I'm quite a big fan of Twitter. I've avoided using Jaiku for some reason, but I seem to have dived straight into Pownce.

I've only been using if since Sunday, and I like it so far. I'm not sure how much I'll use it yet (social media overload and all that), but as a social networking tool, it seems to be off to a flying start. It's very easy to build up Pownce friends – I woke up this morning with a bunch of new invites from interesting people (quite a few were from Twitter mind you).

On Pownce you can send files, messages, links and events. You are able to communicate through the site or via a desktop application. Unlike Twitter, at the moment there is no SMS fuctionality, but I dare say that might be added in time. There is already a Pownce Facebook application.

Apparently Pownce was conceived by Leah Culver, Daniel Burka, Kevin Rose (founder of digg) and Shawn Allen, in that order according to the site.

Like Gmail and Joost before it, Pownce is cunningly working on an invite-only system at the moment, which has created a bit of mystery and an I don't want to be left out mentality amongst social media junkies. People want what they can't have.

Oh, and If you are looking for an invite, sorry, I don't have any left. When you are invited to join, you get 6 invites to give others. I asked my Twitter friends if anyone had one to give me and was inundated with invites. In turn, I gave mine away on a first–come–first–served basis on Twitter.

It's not surprising that invitations are currently spreading like wildfire though online social media channels - everyone seems to be talking about it and asking for invites.

Are you using Pownce already? If you are, what do you think of it so far. How does it compare to Twitter or Jaiku for you? If you want an invite and are not sure how to get one, I suggest you leave comments on a few blogs and ask around. Do a search and follow the trial, invites are not that difficult to come by.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

iPhone And Surface Multi-Smudge Technology

Here are a couple of healthy spoofs about the Apple iPhone and Microsoft Surface, with their much hpyed multi-touch technology.

I like a joke as much as the next person, but really, I'm keen to give both products a try. On the face of it, they both seem to offer some great possibilities for the future.

On a side note, it's good to see that the first iPhone sold (bought by Johnny Vulkan and Spike Lee) is currently being auctioned for charity.

via Diablogue