Content comparison: @ThreeUK vs @O2, which is better?

I’m after your opinion folks, so get ready to hit that ‘Leave a Reply’ section at the bottom of this post.
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This week I received a cake* in the post.

A cake with my face on it.

IMAG0550

— yes, that is my actual face, on a cake —

This is piece of co-marketing material from both Three and Nokia pushing the unique selling point (USP) of the Lumia 925: the awesome low-light camera. The angle?

YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO. CARROTS DO NOT HELP YOU SEE IN THE DARK.
THE LUMIA 925 HOWEVER, DOES.

Why a cake? Well, it’s a carrot cake. Geddit…?

Anyway, the video that the leaflet directs you too is below, take a look –

OK, let’s park that right there.

Next up, we have this effort from O2. Their phone of choice is the Huawei Ascend P6. The USP? The super-slimness of the device. The angle?

MODERN DAY PHONES LOOK TERRIBLE IN YOUR POCKET.
THESE ‘VISIBLE MOBILE LINES’ OR ‘VML’ NEED TO BE NO GONE.

Check out the video below –

Strategically, the two briefs for these could be almost identical –

Drive conversation and engagement around the DEVICE NAME by creating a funny and shareable piece of social media content that will stay true to [the] OPERATOR’s existing online tone of voice, while also highlighting the USP of our hero device.

The execution is obviously very different (plus the former had the additional push of some ‘influencer engagement’ in the shape of aforementioned baked product) but, the question to you, dear reader, is – which one do you prefer and why?

Both are funny in thei rown right, both pushing the USP of a hero device, both deliver the same message but in a very different way. I’m intrigued on your take on it so please, leave a reply below and let me know.

 

 

*I also received a hand-carved carrot featuring the Nokia and 3 logo. No, really. I didn’t eat that, nor did I get a photo (EDIT: photo uploaded as requested by carrot-carving fans), however the cake was really quite nice, so thanks for that. Why was my face on it again? 

Blogging about @O2 and #O2Refresh

So, this is interesting.

O2 Refresh

Last Monday night I was invited along to the launch of the new ‘Refresh’ tariff from O2. Not since Orange launched their animal range (remember them?) has anyone actually gone to any length to launch a [yawn] phone tariff before but, when you dig a little deeper on this one, you can kind of see why it’s such a big deal.

The killer pitch of O2 Refresh is that you can upgrade your phone whenever you like. So we’re clear on this, what that means is:

YOU CAN UPGRADE YOUR PHONE WHENEVER YOU LIKE.

Got that? Good.

‘But how?!’ you all cry. Well, it’s achingly simple. So simple in fact that it’s stunning that no one else has ever done it before. O2 Refresh is a 24mth tariff that separates your airtime bill from your handset bill, meaning that you get absolute clarity on what money is being spent where. On a £37pcm contract? £20 of that goes on the phone, £17 on the airtime (that £17 by the way gets you unlimited minutes, text messages, and a gig of data).

To quote directly from their press release:

‘For those customers who want a new handset before the end of their contract term, O2 Refresh enables them to pay off the remainder of their Phone Plan and end their Airtime Plan with no termination fee. To make it even more affordable to get the latest smartphone, customers can trade in their old mobile for cash using O2 Recycle, getting up to £260 to put towards their new phone.’

Magic.

Speaking of which, there was magic on show on the night too –

James & Oliver

Mr Oliver B (on the right, above – clearly), was a fantastic entertainer and, amongst other things, managed to swap my HTC One for a Sony Xperia Z (both of which are funnily enough, available on Refresh) right before my very eyes*.

Amazing.

Thanks very much to O2 for inviting me along to their event and congratulations to them too for actually attempting to innovate in one of the most staid and boring areas of the entire mobile industry.

O2, I salute you.

 

*Oliver B will be out and about in London town tomorrow doing more of the same, so keep an eye out on the @O2 Twitter account if you want to know where you can see him in action.

 

1000heads: Ticketmaster: Social Ticketing

This morning, Mashable is reporting the launch of Ticketmaster‘s latest layer of Facebook integration, a move that allows users to see exactly where their Facebook friends will be sitting at various different events and gigs across the globe.

Live on over 9000 events across the Ticketmaster website, the new interactive map enables seat tagging, which will post to your Facebook wall requesting (or nudging) your friends to do the same.

Got that? No? Try watching this 80 second explanation –

Social ticketing is something we’ve talked about before here at the ‘heads, but that was more around using social media to reward regular attendees with loyalty points and bonuses. What Ticketmaster have done here – really quite well – is taken the Facebook social graph API and applied it to their own site.

In a similar way that Trip Advisor change the structure of what you’re looking at depending on your friends’ purchasing decisions after their experiences, Ticketmaster has taken a step forward by showing the purchasing decision before the experience. Enabling friends to buy tickets whenever they want instead of waiting and waiting until they’re able to get their tickets at the same time.

I’m reminded of something that o2’s Head of Social Media, Alex Pearmain, said at the Social Media Influence conference back in June –

“How much are we seeing of social brought into commerce rather commerce being brought into social?”

Setting up shop in a Facebook tab is [relatively] easy by comparison, so why not consider changing your customers’ web experience based upon their Facebook preferences as they travel around your website? 

To top it off, Ticketmaster’s research suggests that every time a ticket purchase is shared through social, that converts to an extra five dollars in additional ticket sales. Social media integration moving the sales needle? Perfection. Definitely something to keep an eye on in the future.

Irrespective of your feelings around the Ticketmaster brand, this new feature is smart, useful and ultimately beneficial to the end customer. Well done.

A Dongle Discovery

I write this to you from somewhere in the Caribbean while I complete the fifth and final Lucozade Challenge. Yesterday, Ben wrote about one of his new favourite pieces of kit – the Mi-Fi.

I write this to you from somewhere in the Caribbean while I complete the fifth and final Lucozade Challenge. Yesterday, Ben wrote about one of his new favourite pieces of kit – the Mi-Fi.

Gratuitous Holiday Snap FTW
Gratuitous Holiday Snap FTW

The Mi-Fi, for those of you who missed Mr Smith’s write up, is a nifty little gadget that creates an instant wi-fi hotspot wherever you are. Unlocked out of the box, all you need is a data SIM and you’re away… However, the device/service that Ben is currently reviewing is the 3 service and it would seem that this particular device is locked to their network.

Crapsticks.

As I’ve mentioned before though, I don’t think that these super-connected wonders are for everyone. I personally always carry around a data dongle for my MacBook Pro and when that doesn’t work, I have the rather fantastic, Joikuspot.

Coming back to the dongle part of my story, I spent most of last weekend playing around with all the various pieces of mobile tech (as well as their respective SIM cards) that I thought I might take away with me for my next trip.

Crashing through the cupboards full of old 3310s and old school Nokia chargers I happened upon an old o2 dongle that I used to have to use in a previous life. The end was missing and it still had it’s old (and now defunct) o2 SIM inside it and yet, I had a sneaky feeling that it might still work.

So at this point, you could be thinking:

“Awesome, all I have to now is go out and get a cheap o2 data bundle and hurrah! We’re away!”

o2 or vodafone - which should it be?
o2 or vodafone - which should it be?

Not so fast.

Turns out that that isn’t necessary. It turns out that an o2 SIM isn’t needed at ALL in fact. You see, when Lucozade asked me what essential piece(s) of kit that I needed for the Energy Challenges, along with my N86, I requested a super-reliable Vodafone data SIM. Something that could keep me online and in touch, wherever I was in the world.

I popped said SIM into said dongle, placed the dongle into the side of my mac and voila! It worked immediately! I thought I might have to install some kind of Vodafone specific software or at least have to add in the necessary information, but nope. The Sierra Wireless Watcher that was already onboard the mac found the SIM, downloaded the settings and within seconds I was up, running and online.

Awesomeness.

I’d wondered for sometime now if the networks went so far as to lock their own dongles, I can’t speak for any others but I can tell you now that the o2 one works fine.

Give it a go, would love to know how you get on..

MIR: A tech evangelist’s perspective on the o2/CPW saga

Please note: It must be pointed out for reasons that will soon become clear that the following is my own personal opinion and not necessarily those of my employer, SpinVox.

Hello folks,

If you haven?t read Ben Jennings? excellent post on his view of how to deal with the iPhone debacle, then go and do that now.

This post is related.

How?

…I’ll tell you.

It was with great interest that I read Ben?s three step proposal for dealing with said horrifying iPhone badness. All three steps were interesting but for me, it was step two that really made me sit up and pay attention?

For those of you that missed yesterday’s piece ? here?s the part I?m referring to:
?Step 2: Hire an Evangelist.

Ben writes:
This only needs to be one person. Heck, they could even be a student, as long as they have the right information. Maybe they could run the information page [in step 1] too. This person?s role would be to engage with the customers on the O2 forums. Wouldn?t it be fantastic if CPW had forums too? Are CPW even aware that they are being talked about on O2?s forums just because there is nowhere else for this conversation to take place? The evangelist would be an invaluable tool to act as a barometer of what are the specific hot issues. The evangelist would also make the customers feel like they were being listened to, rather than ignored. They could even Twitter updates to gain that Web 2.0 cool.?

Why am I interested in this?

Well this actually makes up a part of what I do for SpinVox and, hand on heart, I honestly have NO IDEA why other companies/brands, big and small aren?t following suit.

There really is NO EXCUSE for not at least listening to the web to find out what people are saying about you, your products, you level of customer service, your shops… Basically, if anyone out there is saying ANYTHING about you, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re saying it online.

“Well that’s lovely James, well done. But CPW is everso slightly different from SpinVox…” I hear you cry.

Yes… and no.

Admittedly, not every company is like SpinVox and I do not pretend for one second to have a single clue about the inner workings of Carphone Warehouse, however what I do have is a certain amount of knowledge about being a Product Evangelist.

And rule number one? LISTEN!

OK, so it would seem that someone out there at O2/CPW is obviously ?listening? to the web, (or maybe just to Ewan), or else I doubt very much Dan Lane would have his iPhone activated right now, (which he does by the way ? in case you were worried).

But knowing how to engage with your community once the listening period has begun can be a fantastic way to circumnavigate these kinds of troubles and tribulations.

I cannot imagine for a second that someone, somewhere along the line at O2 and/or CPW didn?t put their hand up in THAT meeting and say:

?Err? But what if it all goes wrong??

What IF it all goes wrong? It DID all go wrong!

Fair enough, it?s going to take some balls for someone to say:
?Well it?s alright, we?ve got an Evangelist, it’ll be fine!?

But by having one as part of an over-arching customer service team (aligned with the PR and the Tech Teams) can and will make all the difference. Hell, why not make it part and parcel of the lead up to launch?

At least those savvy enough to know about said person/representative will know they have someone to turn to who isn?t bound by a single ?Failed Security Check? message.

Like Ben says, an evangelist can help the customers feel like they are being listened to rather than be ignored.

Having sales folk in-store? Standard.

What about on the end of your customer service line? Yep. Got that.

Ok, so how about ONLINE?

….Anyone? Hello?!

Having a reputation manager, product evangelist, community manager, customer champion, social media manager or just ANY kind of digital representative that can talk to your customers for you can and WILL make SO MUCH difference to your online reputation!

If CPW had their own forums then they could?ve redirected their complaints to the static info page that Ben laid out in Step 1, (see post referenced at the beginning of this one). If they had their own representatives on those forums then they could feed back live information.

Hell, it doesn?t even to be their forums. They could trawl the o2 ones!

Also, being an evangelist isn?t just about talking up your stuff all over the place (online and off), it?s about being a trusted face and a trusted place. The first port of call not just should anything go wrong, but also for potential customers, partners or even just for those who are looking for information about you.

(A recent SV example from a day or so ago can be found here, on Twitter).

Sticking with the point – if the CPW website is broken? Get to X.

Oh, not happy with the CPW customer service? You should drop a note to X.

Having trouble with that thing you bought from CPW? You should follow X, (s)he’ll help.

These are all examples where an evangelist would help your brand reputation.

Something, ANYTHING to calm those folk down who think they?ve been misled, cheated, defrauded, messed around, screwed over? (do I need to go on?) ?by CPW (and/or O2).

This isn’t rocket science folks and I am most certainly not revealing nuclear codes here –
A simple Google Alert will tell you who?s talking about you RIGHT NOW.

“It can’t be that simple James!” – No really.

It is THAT SIMPLE.

I just set one up for Carphone Warehouse, (set to ‘as-it-happens’) and within minutes I got a ping?

The first link points to the second link, the second link look something like this:

Familiar story huh?

Well how about hiring an evangelist to monitor this stuff?

To reach out to these disgruntled bloggers and say something like:
?Hi Tom
Look, we messed up. Big. We are REALLY sorry. In equal measure we also REALLY want you to get your iPhone. I honestly do not know when we will be shipping your iPhone 3G out to you, but if you?d like to email me your details I will do my best to find out what the current state of play is regarding your account.
Yours,

John Smith
CPW Evangelist?

Reasonably simple; make it personal, reach out to your critics and let them know they are being heard.

Help them understand that you are here to help and yes, even humans mess up sometimes.
Fingers crossed, Tom?s account details would be passed back, a rapport would build, information would be shared and the next thing you know you might even have a fan who?s happy to tell the world that actually, yeah CPW got it wrong.. but y’know what, they ARE trying to get things done.

CPW, if you’re listneing, engage your online community and ignore them at your peril.

And if you want to tack a bit of science on the end of that just to really hammer it home:
Recent studies show that the internet is the most influential medium when it comes to consumers purchasing decisions; twice as strong as that of Television and almost eight times the influence of traditional printed media.

Source – http://pov.fleishman.com/blogs/fhsocialnetwork/2008/06/new_research_reveals_the_impac.php

Here endeth the lesson.

MIR: I CANNOT BELIEVE o2!

Right.

Today I was going to publish my third and final part of ‘The Joy of Ku’.

What with Jaiku’s recent announcement that YES they are re-opening registrations and that NO Google are not turning out the lights on our beloved life-streaming app.

What announcement am I talking about? Well here’s this from Jaiku’s own Jaikido blog:

“We’ve been working quietly for a while to port Jaiku to Google infrastructure. Today we’re taking off our welding goggles to announce Jaiku will be one of the first apps to run on the new Google App Engine.

The Google App Engine enables applications to leverage powerful Google technologies and scale up to millions of users without infrastructure headaches.

Jaiku will be fully deployed on the Google App Engine in the near future. Andy & co. are working hard to ensure the port is a success and we will make a further announcement once the port has been completed.”

Fantastic news!

Jyri was quoted on Jaiku later on that day as saying:

“If all you notice is an increase in speed & reliability & re-opening of registrations, we’ve been successful.”

Brilliant.

However today I will not be finalising my Jaiku opus. Something has reached my shores this morning that NEEDS to be blogged. I could NOT believe it when I read it. Could NOT!

The reason why I’m so annoyed about this is that I’ve been kicking around an article for while that reviews the quite frankly, fantastic Nokia N82. At the moment the Nokia N82 is (in the UK anyway) an o2 exclusive – the piece was going to end something like:

“On o2? Get an N82. Not on o2? Move Networks and get an N82”.

However, that will no longer happen.

No Sirree bob.

News has come to me this morning from Vero Pepperrell, Chief Blog Mistress at Taptu, that The Register is reporting that o2 3G customers are being capped/throttled/limited to speeds of 128Kb/s.

128Kb/s!!!

A quick 3G speed test on my Vodafone N95 8GB hits me with slap bang on 300Kb/s.

That’s 3G only (not 3.5G aka HSDPA).

Fwd: Whatley Wednesday... (o2 the f*ckers)

That’s more than double what o2 offer! And that’s before we even think about leaping onto 3.5G!

According to Vero, some smart chap over at 3G.co.uk did a speed test on the o2 network and here are the results:

GPRS 44kbit/sec
EDGE 145kbit/sec
3G 112kbit/sec
HSDPA 124kbit/sec

WOW. I am amazed.

iPhone owners on o2 using the EDGE network are getting FASTER connections than anyone on their 3G network!

*gasp*

I don’t really have much else to add to be honest.

My N82 review is still in the pipeline (as is my final part of the Joy of Ku), but I really must say RIGHT NOW that if you’re considering getting a new handset and you want to experience the wonders of the Mobile Web (over your network) then DO NOT go to o2.

I just needed to get that out of my system.

The FULL story is here on The Register – including updates and quotes from o2

And again, huge props to Vero at Taptu for waving this in my face first thing this morning.