Archive for the 'Social Networking' Category

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Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin Americans’

Virgin Airlines have turned some of the most well-known and subscribed to bloggers into cartoon characters for a series of cartoons entitled ‘Virgin Americans’.

Cartoon illustrating the features of flying Virgin Airlines.
Virgin Americans Flickr gallery

A blog review from David Winer.
Another blog review.
BoingBoing review

All 3 are powerful word-of-mouth recommendations.

BoingBoing have signed an exclusive deal to supply Virgin Airlines with their content. Nice fit.

All good stuff and does what it set out to. Domestic air travel in the US is now in a huge fare war as a result.

This has been a really well executed digital PR strategy from Virgin America.

Also similar in strategy is O2 Cocoon’s blog – Very interesting to see where O2 chose to install the blog – within O2 Blueroom and on its own domain – rather than on the domain. This way I guess they enable the bloggers and guest writers the ability to write opinionated reviews and comments which spark conversation rather than just decimating other news in a bland way. Talk radio DJs are opinionated on purpose in order to get people to pick up the phone, the same is true online.

What will be interesting to see will be the way in which O2 Cocoon’s blog sows ‘seeds of conversation’ that dovetail in with other campaign activity over the coming months. It’s also a little surprising that there’s no Facebook group, sponsored or otherwise, which would drive people to the blog.

Update: O2 now have a Facebook group, either I missed it (very likely given the numbers it’s generated!) or it’s one of the fastest growing groups on Facebook! Love the scoreboard.

France Telecom 1st major Telco to support OpenID

What’s OpenID?
1st major Telcom to support OpenID
Reaction on Techcrunch.

What France Telecom (and Orange) needs more than anything is a consumer-focused marketing strategy as to why OpenID is useful/beneficial. Right now it just yells ‘so what’, but with its customer base of 40million users, all of whom can be verified as real people, France Telecom is going to have quality OpenIDs, with billing addresses, likes and dislikes and spending patterns.

niche social networks :

Ning will cross a sizeable milestone this weekend: 100,000 user created social networks
on the platform. That’s up from just 30,000 in February when they launched a new version of the service. The company is also saying that page views have been growing 40% month over month over the summer.

One of their featured communities is We Love Etsy, a social network for people who love is “Your place to buy & sell all things handmade.”

What I find really inspiring about what’s happening within the WeLoveEtsy community is the experimentation.

Ning is a free service. Anyone can create a network using Ning. What’s really difficult is creating a community.

Etsy have managed to create a community of 1,300+ by listening, reacting and experimenting.

Etsy is in the business of buying and selling handmade products. There’s a natural desire by the people involved to come together and discuss improving the marketplace in which they make their money. Having a community site set up in which to do this makes complete sense. But it doesn’t make Etsy unique. All forward thinking brands should be doing the same and experimenting.

On WeLoveEtsy there is a news section, they’ve got a blog which aggregates every users own blog (just like the news feed feature on Facebook, but with steriods), over 90 groups have been formed within the WeLoveEtsy network and they have an incredibly active forum. Over 10,000 pictures and 36 videos have been uploaded by members.

When you create a profile on Ning you get a very basic profile page and you can view your messages and friend requests.

What’s cool about Ning is that each network you join offers you a unique profile for that network. On WeLoveEtsy’s community profile page each member gets:

  • A unique profile image for that community
  • The opportunity to edit your page’s theme
  • To add a blog post
  • The ability to invite friends
  • Your own comment wall

Sellers are encouraged to enhance their profile with their products. Kenneth Rougeau is one of the most active members of WeLoveEtsy, but there are many other active participants.

Etsy haven’t limited themselves to just Ning either. It has 51 groups, 18 events and 2 apps on Facebook, but nowhere else does it have anything like the presence it has on Ning.

For what it’s worth, the Etsy Facebook apps are a great way to show your handmade goods to a wider audience:

Esty shop which lets sellers show their most recently listed items on their profile page and MyEtsy – a great way to show off handmade goods from Etsy to the Facebook community. These can either be your shop or your personal favourites.

Etsy have also created a widget, EtsyMini, enabling sellers to place their items on their own blogs and sites, outside of any social networks.

It’s clear that Etsy is a very forward thinking company and is using social networking the way it should be used, as a laboratory and platform to offer improved services and functionality to its core community of users.

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armchairgm logo
“ArmchairGM is a community for passionate sports fans. Read, write, and talk about sports. Meet other fans of your favorite teams. Rate players, teams, and sporting events. Earn points and receive gifts.”

ArmchairGM is a company that has been bought by Wikia, a for profit wiki site created by the founder of Wikipedia. It combines the best parts of open source wiki software with social networking features such as adding friends, building a profile, creating groups and meeting people. It also offers users the ability to add ‘foes’ in addition to friends, since so much sport centres on rivalries.


This is something that sports brands should pay attention to and start to take part in. These are the fans, the die hards.

Here’s a screen grab of Didier Drogba’s page:

Didier Drogba

There’s some serious potential for sports brands and manufacturers to begin cross selling their own promotions, features and competitions on sites like these which will be seen by advocates (and rivals) of that athlete, team or sport.

I can see huge potential here…

Facebook applications: google’s social search widget

Google has launched a search widget for Facebook that lets you search the web and share the results with your friends. Sadly, it has errors on the first page on launch. Expect more mainstream features to be ported to Facebook and for it to sit on top of the social engine.

Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang

Facebook’s targeted ads

Facebook can segment some ads by gender and city, not even Google Ad Sense can be this accurate. Mashable wonders if this is clever or evil? I say clever, and if deployed correctly, the ads may be more relevant to the user –and less disruptive. Imagine if ads became so intelligently contextual that they are as valuable as news items on a feedreader.

Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang

On a side note, threebillion* released a video of some stats they’ve pieced together:

“32% of British 11-20 year olds said they would be happy to recieve advertising messages to their mobiles…71% said they would be happy to recieve advertising messages targeted to their particular interests”.

*3 billion is the size of the world’s population under 25yrs

Facebook 3 months on

This article gives some great stats about the activity, feeds, applications, advertising, and other information happening on the Facebook platform. Most interestingly enough, I believe we’re still at the start of something –orders of magnitude to come.

Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang

Social Networks all over the world

The August edition of Business 2.0 lists out other types of Facebook Social Networks: China’s Xiaoneiwang, France’s Skyrock, Germany’s StudiVZ, India’s Minglebox, Israel’s Mekusharim, Mexico’s Vostu, Netherlands’ Hyves, Russia’s V Kontakte, and Turkey’s Qiraz.

Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang

Facebook case study : Cadburys Wispa campaign

Cadburys Wispa

On a different note, the Cadbury Wispa will be revived this autumn thanks to the petitions of 14,000 people across dozens of different Facebook user groups. Manufacturer Cadbury Schweppes said it was the first time “that the power of the Internet played such an intrinsic role in the return of a Cadbury brand.”

If this is truly a grassroots, nostalgia-driven effort (Cadbury insists it is), then the company has a unique opportunity to parlay that revival interest into strong customer ownership: hand over levels of brand management to a dedicated Facebook community.

But make Publicis the ring-leader and here.

The bottom line is that what Cadbury’s and Publicis have done well is Listen. Facebook is the new and trendy Social Media tool at the moment, just as blogs were before it. The rules of success are still the same though. Listen to the Conversation and then Engage in the discussions.

Facebook case study: walmart

Previously Walmart built a MySpace clone on the corporate website which was pathetically closed after a mere 10 weeks. Having learned their lesson to consider joining existing communities before building their own they’ve saddled up for more social networking. Today, Wal-Mart’s sponsored group in Facebook is aimed at dorm-bound students who need to pimp out their pads –sadly, after 2 weeks in, there’s little to brag about – just read some of the Wall posts…

Is this program salvageable? Absolutely.

The battering of the brand continues on for the next 100 wall posts, and it will likely continue, this is expected. I’ve analyzed all the comments and there’s only a few students and a handful of folks that admit to actually shopping there –they’ve not reached the college segment.

This sponsored group doesn’t have discussion forums, I’d recommend they turn those on, and try to segment the conversations about going back to school, and even consider keeping folks on topic. Continue to allow critics (you can’t stop it anyways) but try to use the forums to guide a discussion about school. I’m not sure why Wal-Mart has not chosen to turn on it’s marketing engines and point people here from their corporate site, using a cross-promotion tactic would certainly drive more folks over to the group.

What’s the great thing about all this? Wal-Mart’s still here, was bold enough to try it again, and hasn’t pulled the site down. I highly recommend that Wal-Mart consider trying a community strategy using a transparent and authentic blog or video blog series that addresses the very brand issues that they are getting slammed on. I took at look online for a “Walmart blog” and didn’t see any from the company, why is this? It’s going to be very difficult to try a community marketing strategy with eCommerce hooks without first addressing the brand detractors.

What Walmart desperately need is an evangelist and a blogging platform on which to counter the comments being made.

More here:
Can Wal-Mart’s Facebook campaign survive transparency?
Sponsored Wal-Mart page on Facebook creates “Enlightning Conversation” amongst members

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