1000heads: Word of mouth and the internet

Google dropped this blog post last week detailing a recent piece of US research they conducted with the KellerFay group to help understand the impact that the internet has had on offline word of mouth.

To quote the big G themselves:

Everyday in the US, there are currently 3.3 billion brand mentions. 2.4 billion conversations involve a brand each day which equates to approximately 1.4 impressions per conversation.

While the majority of conversations that involve a mention of a brand (WOM conversations) occur offline, the internet is now the primary source of information stimulating such conversations and it is the leading source for consumers to find information during and after a WOM conversation.

In more than 15% of WOM conversations, search engines are used to find additional information. Search websites have also been shown to be the number one place that consumers visit in order to take further action.

Those kind folk have even gone ahead and put together a (naturally rather google-esque) video for us also:

The best thing about this research (for us anyway), is that it was conducted by KellerFay and, as seems only fitting, the world’s leading offline word of mouth research and consulting group just so happen to use our London offices as their UK base of operations.

I grabbed Steve Thomson, MD KellerFay UK, at his desk just now and asked him for some comments about this new research:

“Ah, yes! I wondered when you’d ask me about that. The findings of that report are a stark reminder that buzz is not just about social media; search proved to be a powerful trigger of brand conversations. And brand marketers at some point want conversation to turn into actions, and for many consumers, search is still the go-to place when they’re ready to make a move.

Going forward, as more and more digital activity takes place in a mobile environment, we’ll need to learn better how online and offline conversations and actions interact and stimulate each other; social media and other online activities are not occurring in a vacuum among people holed up in their bedroom or chained to a desk.”

Steve’s right, buzz is not just about social media and search is, commonly, the place where everyone goes to make that move. However, , I’m not sure about the ‘search led’ stat, as in – sure if propensity to purchase is increased when search is referenced, but what content is that person reading once the search is complete? Is it social media? Is it a review site? Is it even an ad?

Either way, the figures in this video (as well as the accompanying study) are hard to ignore and, in the worlds biggest western market, it’s good to see that word of mouth is considered to be an important part of the overall marketing mix.

Hell, one might argue that it is the most important part…

1000heads: Google v Microsoft; a question of ethics

On a recent trip around the web last week, I came across this old post by one Steven Hodgson writing for WinExtra

He poses an interesting question: Why is it that what’s cool for Google is an ethical question for Microsoft?

Quote:

I remember when Google surprised everyone who was attending one of their conferences that had to do with Android with a free smartphone that had the current Android OS installed on it. They did the same thing when the Nexus was launched much to the delight of the attendees.

At no time when this was happening did anyone do anything but cheer Google on for coming up with a great marketing idea and ya it was a great idea.

Yet when Microsoft does the same thing like they did at their E3 event to announce the new Xbox 360 suddenly we have CrunchGear suggesting that there are ethical questions that we should be considering.

At 1000heads we adhere to a strict ethical policy across all engagements; be that through fostering relationships between brands and communities or simply through outreach and / or disruptive product trials – and it’s in this latter section that we come to Google v Microsoft.

I say it again: it’s an interesting dilemma and I consider the two examples to be slightly different; on one side you have a large global search/software company (dressed up as Android) trying to get its (at the time still relatively new) operating system into the homes of developers globally and on the other you’ve got a big gaming brand trying to make the biggest splash at the world’s largest electronic entertainment expo (E3).

Who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong?

Ethics are a constant discussion point here at 1000heads and I’m proud to say that ALL of our staff work hard (and often argue passionately) about what is right and what is wrong.

In the case of Microsoft v Google, where do you stand?

About those velvet ropes

A post about Google Wave.

Back at the turn of the year, Peter Kim launched his ‘social media predictions for 2009‘. The paper, downloadable in PDF format, featured forward thinking insights from such social web luminaries as Jason Falls, Charlene Li and one of my favourite players in this space, Chris Brogan.

The predictions themselves make for interesting reading and I would (even now), recommend going back and taking a look if you have the opportunity. To cut to the chase though, it was the thoughts from Mr Brogan that stood out the most for me, mainly around his notion of the ‘velvet-rope social network’.

“I believe we’ll have more focused velvet-rope social networks in 2009 where the tools and the goals match verticals instead of the general commons of Facebook.”

Nicely put. At the time I remember agreeing with the idea, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the execution. Chris himself has returned to the subject a number of times on his own blog (often with examples). However, the reason this particular thought came back to me recently was in large part, thanks to Google Wave.

Google Wave is currently in private beta and the invites only started pouring out into the web just under a fortnight ago. With them came the promise of a new dawn in co-working, a new way of true collaboration on a global scale…  A brand new vision of the future.

Except that so far, based on at least 99% of my own experiences at least, no one has found any real use for it.

Well that is until I realised exactly what it is.

Ready?

Google Wave is, to my mind at least, one of Brogan’s new velvet roped social networks.

You open your Wave (this is your network) and invite in whoever you like to join you (as long as they are on Wave). This is, of course absolutely by invitation only. One inside you can chat, share and exchange.. basically do anything you would do normally just within the comfort of the Wave.

As Brogan said: “…the tools and the goals match verticals…”

But there’s more.

The answer? They’re both velvet-rope social networks. Why? Allow me to explain.

Not soon after I started thinking about Google Wave, I realised that another service from the big G shares the same commonalities as the velvet-rope social network: Google Reader.

Google Reader is not too dissimilar. The sharing functionality ‘baked in’ to the UI of the RSS service allows me to one-click push the stories that I’m reading out to my buddies on Google Talk (Google’s Instant Messenger service, aka ‘GTalk’). These stories then appear in my contact’s own Greader – sometimes with an added note from me – and that, is my choice.

I like sharing. I also like, occasionally picking and choosing with whom I share.

Is this the way forward?

Maybe. The point is, Google Reader is cool. I like it. I like sharing stories with my friends and I like them sharing with me. It’s closed (to a point) and I know who I’m sharing with.

Google Wave, while being no replacement for email or IM, is actually really quite useful for actually doing some work. Of the 36 ‘waves’ I have going on at the moment; one is for a specific project, a handful of massive group chats – the IM equivalent of an MMORPG (eesh), – and the rest are along the lines of ‘Is this thing on?’, ‘testing’ and my own favourite, ‘is this actually the future?’

It’s closed, for now. If you have an invite, find the people you want to work with and start a new collaborative project.

Treat it right, and you’ll yield results.
Don’t, and you’ll never see the benefit.

Thanks for stopping by.

Additional reading: “What problems does Google Wave solve?” (via Renate Nyborg)

The HTC Magic; 3 steps from perfect

James Whatley, finally gets his arse in gear and review the Vodafone HTC Magic

“Oh oh oh, it’s Magic!”

So sang the great 70’s British pop band, Pilot.

Little did they know that 30 years on, their lyrics would be used in conjuntion with my love for this wonderful device. This, the second of the Android OS handsets to hit the industry as we know it – the Vodafone exclusive HTC Magic – has been a joy to use and has also, shockingly enough, kept me away from my much-loved N95 8GB.

Shes a beauty
She's a beauty

Yes. It really is that good.

However,  just like the aforementioned 1975 chart hit, when you move deeper, you see a different story. The next lyrics in the song being…

“Never believe, it’s not so.”

Sometimes, you spot the wires.
Sometimes, you see the cards slide under just there.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that can shatter the illusion.

You see the Magic gets so many things fantastically bang on the money, so perfectly right, but under closer inspection – cracks begin to form.

Let’s put this into context, some of you may remember when I trialled the first Android device, the T-Mobile G1. I said at the time, quite openly, that I wasn’t a fan.

The hardware was (and still is) very, very basic – you might even say toy-like – and  is extremely creaky. The software was first generation; great if you’re Google-centric, painful if not.

And I quote:

Anyway, the point is, as simple and as (supposedly) easy it is to sign up/in into a G1 phone – if you don’t have a Google-centric life, then this phone is not for you. Think about it. Think about it a lot. Then think about it again.
And on top of all that, the camera’s crap and the phone feels like a fisher-price toy.

One thing I said about the G1 that carries through to this day, in regards to the Android OS at least, is that you get the BEST experience if your communications are Google-centric.
I doubt this will ever change.

But what about the Magic? That’s why you’re here right?

Well, look and feel wise the hardware is a massive improvement over it’s predecessor and overall, not since Nokia released the E71 have I found a phone such a pleasure to hold. The plastic casing belies a smooth, almost seamless finish which slides into the hand effortlessly. This phone implores you to play with it.

Upon switching on the first time you’re greeted with the gushing bright redness of the Vodafone welcome screen, and of course, the now as-standard Android/Google sign-in process. Something that should be pointed out at this moment is that since my first play last year, I’ve moved all my comms over to Google Apps. It’s only something I’ve done recently, but after too many annoyances with Yahoo’s still-born attempts at anything mobile, something had to be done and, if I’m honest, I’m loving it so far.

Being able to sign into the Magic with my Google Apps account makes a world of difference. This is the shape of communications devices of the future, without a doubt.
Google Talk IM integration, Google Maps, push email, OTA sync with contacts and calendar, the list goes on. When it comes to consuming content of any kind; texts, emails, IMs, web pages, this phone truly shines.

Then there is of course Google’s own app store, the  Android Marketplace. The few games and apps I’ve downloaded have proven useful and fun in equal measure. Extra points go to both Robo Defense and Abduction for quenching my Flight Control thirst that I seem to have acquired of late. The paid apps were simple enough to purchase too. I was hoping for operator billing to handle it all on the back end, but instead found that it was all run through Google Checkout. However, I popped my debit card details in once and that’s it, job done. Perhaps Ovi could learn something here, what do you say Ben?

The Magic’s camera is 3.2mp, and even though it lacks flash, the picture quality is surprisingly good.
See below for comparison shots between the Magic and another 3.2mp camera phone, the Nokia 5800.

Can you tell which one’s which?

But when we return to the hardware, we arrive at the drawbacks that make me tug on that invisible string that I’ve secretly attached to my beloved Nokia. The one aspect that lets the Magic down is content creation. Yes, the image above looks great, but the angle required to take the photo annoyed me. The Magic, not having a dedicated camera key, means that the image capture button is actually on the screen. Not a deal breaker admittedly, but it niggled.

Next, the sharing of that image. The default options are Gmail, MMS or Picasa, none of which I’m interested in. This means I had to download and install an app specifically for this function, Pixelpipe to be precise and – ugh – what a terrible, terrible UI. I was unsure of what images were going where and/or how to upload them. This resulted in erroneous Twitpics, un-titled photos and ultimately, a very unhappy Whatley.

Finally, and this one is the deal breaker for me, we get to the one thing that – if done correctly – would put the HTC that little bit closer to being my N95 replacement.

Text. Input.

The Magic comes with Google Android v1.5 – aka ‘Cupcake’ – out of the box. That means it has the on-screen touch keyboard (which is handy, given that unlike the G1 before it, the HTC doesn’t flip out to reveal qwerty-based goodness underneath) which can only be described as infuriating. The keyboard, either in portrait or landscape makes text input such a long drawn out process that it borders on painful. Writing something as simple as a text message, is such an arduous task that it requires a level of concentration that I’m simply not used to when it comes to such a simple undertaking.

Bear in mind that this is coming from someone who can write text messages in his pocket, without looking. You can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating this is for me. So close, so close to being perfect, but let down on something so basic.

I was discussing the Magic online recently when I said:

“Using the HTC Magic is like upgrading to the latest Swiss Army Knife, only to discover that your favourite parts are missing.”

And I stand by that. The Magic is an awesome, awesome phone. It (much to Ben Smith’s annoyance) even comes with Latitude – something that T-Mobile are yet to switch on here in the UK – which is again, more bags of awesome. Not only that but also, the Magic has arrived on my beloved Vodafone; super-fast, super-quick and super-connected.

However, when it comes to picking  a new phone, text entry matters, for me at least and the on screen keyboard trails a paltry third place behind the 5800 and the iPhone.

You’d think that after all that, I’d be back on board with my N95 8GB. But no, the Magic is still going strong. I’m putting up with the niggles and the faults, for now.
I tried to switch back to my Nokia at the weekend, the result? With sadness in my eyes, I looked down upon my 5MP lovely and said outloud:

“This just isn’t fun anymore”

I am under the Android spell… now if only I could put it on my Nokia.

So Jaiku went down…

…for like 24hrs!

To my knowledge, the longest ‘unscheduled’ downtime to date.

So what happened? Well.. on the Jaiku ‘back-end’ side of things, two servers died – See pic ———>

And it was all hands on pumps until she got back up and running again.

On the user side of things the loyal, and some may say fanatical, Jaiku-ers de-camped themselves off to Twitter for the day. Much to the amusement of the Twitterati; here were all these Jaiku-folk trying to emulate their Jaiku conversations over the Twitterverse.

It was hard going – but we needed to go somewhere…! For those of you that don’t know there is a, shall we say, friendly rivalry that goes between Twitter and Jaiku, I’ve blogged before how the two can co-exist but, in this instance, that argument is irrelevant. Yes of course they can co-exist. It’s the users themselves that poke fun at one another…

This is of course, by definition, a bit of fun. There are benefits to both of these micro-blogging platforms, I have always been a Jaiku person at heart but recently have found myself more and more on Twitter contributing to farther reaching conversations as the audience/scope is so much larger. Again, there is no problem in this whatsoever. The problem lies in the Jaiku user base not really knowing what the owners (since being bought by Google) intend to do with it.

All of my thoughts on that I’ll save for another post – I sense a few more Jaiku-themed posts in the future you see… However, if you can’t wait for that then you could do lot worse than read this post by Jonathan Mulholland, fellow Jaiku evangelist and all round intelligent fellow.

Going back to the ‘de-camping’ as I refer to it.. This resulted in a lot things. Twitter’s ‘landscape’ changed for a short while and that in itself resulted in this post, (again – a bit of fun), by a dear friend of mine, Vero Pepperrell – aka thatcanadiangirl.

Vero is cool. I like her. She’s got her head screwed on…

However in her post (I’ll re-publish, save you clicking through) she says:

This evening, looking at the activity on Twitter, I was fascinated to see how quickly the usual Jaiku crowd had migrated. For those who haven’t noticed, Jaiku was showing a big fat 502 Bad Gateway error for a number of hours before it was replaced by the Jaiku birdie telling us that busted hard drives were to blame for the downtime.

Now, Twitter is notoriously flaky and known for going up and down more than a kid’s see-saw in a busy park in midsummer. Yet, everyone flocked over as the default alternative to Jaiku. If it wasn’t Twitter, it would have been something else. Pownce? Facebook? Seesmic?

In a magpie-like fashion, the web 2.0 crowd will look for the next shiny thing. I know. I’m one of them, and I sure as hell am guilty for chronically creating accounts on every new service, just to promptly ditch it and move on.

So what makes a service people come back to? A site that makes it past the 12-18 months best before date? Or are all new web 2.0?ish services destined to peak quickly then die just as fast? Lots more thoughts to add on this, but first, I’m interested to see what everyone else thinks.

As I said, head screwed on. Knows her stuff etc… But… I can only agree in part.

Yes, us early adopters are always looking out for the next new shiny thing to try. Of course we are. That’s what defines us as early adopters. And yet I cannot see the correlation between this and Jaiku’s downtime resulting in Twitter’s ‘uptime’.

The response I put to Vero was as follows:

Dude,

We’re not fickle. We’ve just become accustomed to having our own Micro-blogging service to hand. Fickle we are not. In deed of a quick messaging community we are. If Jaiku, the service of (my) choice, is down. Then of course to Twitter I will head.

Not magpie like, not in search of new shiny things just trying to find a replacement implement that will serve for now while the social tool I prefer is down and out of action.

If this was Jaiku, I’d just post this as a reply. THE FULL POST.

I can’t even reply to your tweet, so I’m forced to reply to this post. I can’t share this response nor can I fit it within 140 characters.

Jaiku is a comfy sofa where the odd spring has sprung. We’re only sitting on the bench of Twitter because we need somewhere to sit. When the sofa’s sorted, we’ll be out of your way.

Each to their own you see. It’s not about chasing shiny things, not when you have something you use every day.
If this was the case then none of us would be using Google… Heaven forbid that would ever go down.. But I’m pretty sure if it did we’d all bugger off to Yahoo pronto.

Anywhoo – my point is – Jaiku went down, so the userbase went to Twitter. Jaiku came up, the userbase went back.

I just wonder how many were left behind…

MIR: How-to: N95 + ShoZu + Geotags + Flickr + GeoRSS + Google Maps = Mash Up Central!

This week Whatley is going all Web 2.0 on your ass. It’s all very well having these magnificent tools at our disposal — but how do you actually get them working? I’ve always liked the concept of geotagging my images — but haven’t quite got round to working out how to do it. It’s actually refreshingly simple. Here’s James with the overview:

– – –

There’s been a lot of buzz online lately about Nokia Beta Labs‘ latest software release – the Nokia Location Tagger.

A quick overview from Nokia:

‘With Nokia Location Tagger, you can automatically tag your location data to your pictures. As you take a picture, your GPS coordinates are saved to the EXIF header of the JPEG file. You can use this data later, for example, to locate your pictures on a map.

That’s a great feature – Fantastic!
(more on the application of this functionality later)

Nokia also go on to say:

‘In the near future, we hope to make location tagging a seamlessly integrated part of your Nokia experience. Until then, Nokia Location Tagger is a small standalone application that gives you a sneak preview. We are not planning to productize this application as such, but we’d love to hear your thoughts already now, so that we have time to take it into account in the mainstream development.

EVEN BETTER!

However, I will not be using this application. I have absolutely no need for it whatsoever. Installing the Nokia Location Tagger onto my handset would be a complete and utter waste of time.

Why? Well, since downloading and installing Share Online 3.0 (another Nokia Beta Labs product) the Web Upload part of my N95 has been rendered useless. I’m told this is probably something to with http protocols on Vodafone; an early Jaiku beta release had similar problems. However the difference is I could uninstall Jaiku. This is not the case with Share Online 3.0. Grr…

So how do I upload media from my N95? Answer: ShoZu.

Yes it does all the cool things like photo/video uploads to all my sharing sites etc but Ricky covered most of that yesterday.

The ‘other’ cool thing that ShoZu does is… *drum roll please* …Geo Tagging!

That’s right. Exactly the same thing that Nokia’s Location Tagger! ShoZu however announced this feature at LAST YEAR’S 3GSM! …nearly a full year ago.

But I’m not here to moan about Nokia playing catch up AGAIN…

I mean, that thing that the iPhone does when you turn it like *that*?
SO cool.
Wouldn’t it be great if the N95 could do that?! If only it had something like a built-in accelerometer…

No wait.
😉

As I said – I’m not here to moan about that – I’m here to show you what this kinda stuff can DO!

Right then.

First you need a GPS enabled phone – an N95 for example.
Then you need ShoZu, (with the GPS tagging switched to ‘on’).

Once you’ve got those two sorted get yourself a Flickr account and enable the two following options:

1. Import EXIF Location Data – http://flickr.com/account/geo/exif/?from=privacy
2. Import Geotagged Photos – http://flickr.com/account/geo/import

All done? Good. Now take a few photos and upload as you like. Got that far? Excellent.

Now go to your Flickr page – here’s mine http://flickr.com/photos/whatleydude

Scroll to the bottom and you should see some feeds – you want the geoFeed.

Image

Right click on that and then ‘copy link location’.

Once you’ve done that – get off to www.google.com/maps and right click, paste into the search box and ‘search maps’.

You SHOULD end up with something like this:

N95 + ShoZu + Geotags + Flickr + GeoRSS + Google Maps = Mash Up Central!

Give it a go and see what you come up with. I was chuffed to bits when I finally got mine together and working correctly. Hence the desire to impart knowledge I guess. Two quick notes before I sign off. First a big thanks to the my Jaiku buddies who inspired me to put this post together and second to point out another great use of ShoZu.

Enjoy!