Twitter, the micro-blogging site, the lazy man’s social media or the quick thinkers tool has now been converted into power? Yes, power! The Mercedes Benz tweet race consisted of four teams ‘fuelled’ by positive tweets and hash tags, racing across the USA towards the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in 2011 for the Superbowl. Celebrity coaches such as Pete Wentz, Serena Williams and the Rev Run of Run DMC helped launch the campaign. The engines of these Mercedes were responsive to tweets and more than 150,000 were posted over the course of the race.
TweetmyMac, TweetmyPC and TwitControl are just some of the basic programs available at the moment to use tweets as a remote control for computers and laptops. The options and controls are basic, however a downside is that you might find that your laptop suddenly has a mind of its own, in fact, it is actually being externally controlled by your friend who naturally thinks that they are funny.
But why stop there? If you could tell your computer what to do via a little tweet, then why not your thermostat, or your toaster, turn on your lights or turn off the boiler. The possibilities are endless. Power your entire household with a simple tweet. Home automation through social media could lift the stigma attached to hooking up your home. The benefits of being able to unlock your doors when you lose your keys or turn off the oven if you leave without checking are endless, free, simple and ensures that you do not feel guilty about placing a segway at the top of your shopping list.
Of course you can punch holes in the idea, with almost a quarter of adults just here in the UK reported to be obese by the NHS, hence maybe it would be better to spend time searching for those keys instead of only typing in a command, but that’s no fun. Then there is the anti social perception of social media, yet surely this combats this, enabling consumers to carry out daily activities faster, efficiently and engage with one another in new and exciting ways, so maybe Twitter is even more of an essential tool than previously thought.
$4 billion is the rumoured amount that Mark ‘Facebook Founder’ Zuckerberg will be handing over to buy out video chat site Skype. Another rumour is that it is not a buyout but a joint venture, another rumour is that Google has a bid on Skype as well. These are a lot of rumours, but what if Facebook is making too many partnerships? What does it mean for Facebook’s future?
The benefit of a partnership with Skype is obvious. Facebook can offer users video conferencing, file-sharing, screen-sharing and SMS. The confirmed partnership with Warner Bros Digital Distribution will bring a rental service to users and give a more grounded product to push their digital currency of credits. These partnerships are not just a money making deal, they connect Facebook with companies that deal in real sustainable products, such as film and video conferencing.
Established in 2003, Facebook has seen its fellow social networking site Myspace dwindle in popularity:
Venturing into online film rental, video chat and file sharing are all methods that will in evidently expand the Facebook brand; however are these all desperate attempts at preventing the inevitable; the fall of Facebook’s popularity? If we take a quick look back at the sites that have risen and fallen during the age of Web 2.0 there have been many causalities and loyalty towards a network does not seem to exist.
The hype around Facebook is stratospheric thanks to Hollywood, users and investments from the likes of Bono’s private-equity firm Elevation Partners at $210 million last year and Goldman Sachs at $450 million this year. The controversial Goldman Sachs Company, who has been accused of misleading some of its investors by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), has been encouraging others to invest within the company. The new ventures and investment for Facebook cannot protect it against its fall from grace. Just look at the lack of success obtained from Rupert Murdoch’s $580 million buyout of Myspace. So will Facebook crash and burn? It certainly looks so.
Students from the Miami Ad School in Europe have recently developed a concept that has pushed the boundaries between real and virtual life. The Russian “Facebook” Roulette App, seems pretty real, enabling consumers the opportunity to gamble there online lives away, against the push of a trigger. Naturally, they are only playing to save their virtual lives, but aren’t these just as valuable in today’s world?
People are becoming increasingly more confident about posting details concerning their lives on the internet. Facebook is a clear example of this. When you browse a friends profile, you can now view up to date information about their activities, feelings, photos, messages, events, friends and even there address and telephone number. Today, if you lose your phone then it is no longer the end of the world, as all of the friends’ contact details can be retrieved online. Even HTC have linked Facebook directly to their phones’ contact list. This arguably shows that your online presence and personality now defines a large majority of who you are, but what about those that spend a greater majority of their lives on a computer?
Second Life and gaming is another example of how consumers are emerging themselves into the virtual world. With second life, one can create an avatar, be whoever they want to be and converse with people around the world confidently without leaving the comfort of your home. One of the most striking features regarding Second Life is the commerciality of its virtual world. Users can buy the Second Life currency, Linden dollars, at the rate of about 280 Linden dollars to one real US dollar. These can be redeemed for food, drink and clothes for the avatar or even to purchase property and land e.g. a price of a 16 acre digital island costs around $1675 real dollars.
Yet, Second Life is becoming increasing too realistic for some users, as several people have been murdered in real life due to online divorces, cheating and murders. Clearly this demonstrates just how important these consumers feel about their virtual lives, maybe even more so than there real ones?
Murder in fact seems to be an increasingly common theme in today’s apps. A new Hitman-Ville app from Zynga allows users the chance to murder anyone on Facebook, starting at the low price of 100 credits. Yet, why would users want to do this? It is because many people actually start to hate their Facebook friends, due to depressing status updates and even more scary, those that actually follow your every move online aka the “Facebook Stalkers.” So how would users cope if their profile was suddenly deleted? Could they function?
I can almost guarantee that they might feel some light relief initially, but give it a week and they would have already have created a new profile, a new persona and regained their friends. This dependence is what advertisers are capitalising on, as digital becomes more prevalent within today’s world. Yet will this last? and if so, for how long?
Simply Better by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan provides a definitive argument regarding the necessity of brands being able to find out exactly what consumers want , rather than simply delivering a solution that is better than its competitors. Surprisingly, it encourages step-by-step innovation, compared to blue sky thinking, but why?
Naturally, radical innovation is more likely to get you noticed; however the longevity of the product or campaign is reliant on the quality of obtainable research, previously conducted by marketing strategists. Hence, this will generally determine how long it will survive before it starts to annoy consumers. This philosophy tends to lend itself more towards incremental rather than radical change, as it is less unpredictable and easier to control.
So is it better off for an advertising agency to be pioneering or responsive? Pioneers, like ClustaLabs and Ogilvy Labs are heavily dependent on research and development, enabling them to become technical leaders within their field, however this proactive approach can sometimes be risky. Responsive companies, who tend to be in-house design teams, deliberately observe the success of existing innovations that have opened up new markets, immediately “jumping on the bandwagon” if they spot the potential.
At ClustaLabs, we realise the important of getting the correct balance between radical and incremental innovation. As the word innovation is being used everywhere today, the lines between these two fields are becoming blurred, as seen at the 2010 Innovation Summit:
Let’s take Phillips and Apple for example, both commonly perceived as true innovators, yet they are much less radical than one may think.
Philips current strategy is to leverage existing technologies to meet newly-identified customer needs, better than their competitors, in regards to lighting. They continually find new and innovative ways of marketing a light bulb; however at the end of the day, it is still an electric light bulb, invented in 1878 by Thomas Edison. The same goes with Apple. Steve Jobs did not invent the MP3 player, it was a German company called Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, but what Apple have done is to innovatively break down the barriers of human-computer interfacing, to invent a more tactile, user-centered experience.
ClustaLabs understand that customers and markets do not always welcome innovation unless the benefits are obvious, which is why we take care with our research and development to understand what they want and what they need. This takes time, a luxury that many advertising agencies don’t have. That is what makes us different; we have the time to creative and time to innovate.
In the beginning there was man and he was a social creature, then with the passing years and the postal service established, newspapers printed and radio shows being broadcasted people were allowed to communicate en masse. Those who were literate, had money and power were able to use these mediums. Any public comments used in radio or television and even letters to the Editor are carefully edited to suit the story.
The internet changed everything; suddenly anyone with a computer and dial-up connection could put their two cents in. Raw unedited thoughts that were not coated in a business agenda were made available to thousands of people faster than ever before. Likes and Ratings have become commonplace, you don’t need expertise in a field to be published or gain a decent following online. Technology that is only in its infancy already allows us to share our location (Foursquare), our thoughts (Twitter), our photos (Tumblr), our voices (audioboo), our ideas (Posterous), our music (soundcloud) and so on. According to Google those with internet access worldwide is at 1,832,779,800. This number will only continue to grow. The British government alone is financing an initiative to provide citizens without internet access the chance buy refurbished computers at £98 and as part of Race Online 2012. Three will be offering internet access at approximately £9 per month. Already we can see the beginning of what the future has to offer.
Integration is an obvious step forward for all social media platforms; in the same way that a Windows smart phone allows the owner to view their Twitter, Facebook, Behance and so on simultaneously could become the norm for browsers. Click on a friend’s profile and you will suddenly see real-time information on their location, sites they’ve visited and what they are doing at that moment. The personal nature of social media will allow marketing to become more targeted; the power of the individual consumer will be paramount with real-time information like user reviews, ratings and tweets being pushed to the front of Google Social Search. The voice of the individual will have more influence in the future than ever before.