We are social animals.

Interesting talk on the impact of loneliness on society by Tessy Britton, as part of the RSA 2Gether series which I recommend highly. The need for people to participate in society fulfils a very basic human need
Oh marketers, advertisers, ignore this at your peril. There’s probably something to be said about making social currency from brand conversation too.

Alex Bogusky seems to agree with me

“The question for creative agencies is whether they can wake up, react to what’s going on, engage the crowd, and make themselves a part of the new reality.” So says Jon Winsor (Crispin Porter’s innovation guy) in Business Week, and Alex Bogusky on his blog this last week. Crowdsourcing is on the increase, but it’s no longer a fashionable or trendy business idea. It’s a real model for customer engagement. And the pressure is on creative industries to work out how to manage it.

The oft quoted Dell IdeasStorm and My Starbucks Idea are great examples of endeavour to gain customer approval, but how many of the ideas suggested actually got produced or implemented? Not very many, is the answer. And the reason? It’s pretty tough to review 7000 ideas. The next wave of crowdsource business model will see crowdsourcing gatekeepers emerge.Watch this space people. Participation marketing is a reality.

Digital Britain Unconference now online

digital britain unconference report

digital britain unconference report

Over the past couple of weeks the Digital Britain Unconference has been gaining momentum with report from across the country being edited and compiled into a single document submitted to BERR this week. Here’s my comment as signatory (and erstwhile London Unconference editor) of this superb example of people coming together through a combination of interactive technologies and meetups for the greater good of the nation.

This report is not an example of ‘citizen journalism’. Nor is it just ‘user generated content’. It is a solid and co-ordinated effort by a considerable number of smart and committed people, living by the keystroke, connecting as individuals, with concrete belief that Britain has to be a successful and leading country in all aspects of the digital world.

To package such a wide variety of knowledgeable opinion and recommendation in a short space of time is a terrific example of how Digital Britain can be far more than the sum of its parts. I am delighted put my name to the report.

Alastair Duncan
London N16

The full report can be read here Digital Britain Unconference Report

Congratulations are due to Kathryn Corrick, Bill Thompson and Tom de Grunwald who pulled this whole thing together along with all the Unconference organisers around the country. BERR are now reading the report ‘with interest’. Likewise.

ä½ å¥½æˆ‘çš„ç‘žå…¸æœ‹å‹ (Hello my Swedish Friends)


For those of you that haven’t seen Jack Black’s latest movie romp Be Kind Rewind I can recommend it for two reasons. It’s a highly amusing take on amateur filmmaking (what we now call User Generated Content) and introduces the term sweded into the filmgoer’s vocabulary. Sweded refers to the film remakes knocked up by the low rent crew of a video store when the whole shop stock is accidentally deleted. It’s a term that could also be applied to the internet services firms of the late 90s that expanded rapidly, expended vast sums of investors’ money, and then went bust. Some of you will remember this little boom, predicated on the fact that Swedes used the internet more than any other nation at the time, Swedish business philosophers were fashionable and the Nordic markets represented a microcosm of how it would be in other countries soon.

Funnily enough, things have come full circle. This time it’s not a remake, but a business reborn. We’ve just taken the step to invest in a business in Sweden to extend our operation there, as demand for internet savvy marketing continues apace. This brings our regional presence, for those that are interested in these things, to a decent number and probably makes us the largest interactive agency in Europe (with perhaps one or two exceptions). We do a good deal of international work – developing strategy and campaigns that run in several markets – so it’s always good to be able to get some decent insight from the ground up about what will be effective, what’s a good practice in digital marketing and what we can learn for our own market. I look forward to seeing some interesting stuff from Stockholm soon.

Where I’ve been? To the bank, obviously.

So this is worth $3 million, then?

Facebook. We’ve been talking about it for months. Our friends are talking about it. Our clients are talking about it. This is my second post in a row about it.

Agencies all over the world have been trying to get their clients to do a Facebook app. “We need to be one of the first in there,” they say. Ehm, sorry to break the news, but you’re a tad late. There are now over 7,500 apps since the Facebook Platform was launched less than 3 months ago. So if you’re not the first, is it really worth jumping on the bandwagon?

Absolutely! Novelty should never be the primary reason to do anything anyway.

An interesting decision by Trip Advisor seems to hammer home the actual value of this kind of activity. They already had a Facebook app called ‘Cities I’ve Visited’ with about 1 million users. Not bad! But a rival app called ‘Where I’ve Been’ from a lone developer had an amazing 2.4 million users. The rumourmill is saying that they’ve just bought out this other application for an incredible $3 million. They are willing to pay big money to reach a larger audience. Lucky developer!

I think this shows a pretty healthy turning point for Facebook apps. The novelty factor is wearing off and reality is setting in. After all, the only reason to do any marketing activity is to reach as many people as possible with a brand message and hopefully make a good return on your investment. So, if this figure of $3 million is true, are Trip Advisor over-estimating the value of a larger audience? And how will the 2.4 million users of ‘Where I’ve been’ feel about having a brand splashed all over their previously unbranded app? And it certainly opens a debate about whether it’s best to attempt to create an audience or buy one that already exists.

Facebook’s default fault

Freddi Staur I got a Facebook account a few months ago. When I signed up, I didn’t know anyone on it except my girlfriend and one of her colleagues. It was a lonely place. I was just about to give it up as yet another rubbish web-fad when the bug caught on at work. Within days most people in the office had signed up. It started to get interesting. A few people even got addicted. Then a number of old acquaintances signed up and tracked me down. Suddenly I was deluged with friends. I felt popular for the first time in my life (of course, I was deluded because nobody gave a damn about me – they just wanted to list more friends than anyone else). I then started to get friend requests from people I barely knew. I’d crossed paths with them briefly some time in a foggy past. But I accepted their offer gracefully. Then I was contacted by people I’d never heard of. I saw that we had friends in common, so I thought what the heck and added them to the pack. And then I got friend requests from people I’d never heard of and had no friends in common with. I didn’t respond for a few days while I considered their invitation. But I thought they must know me somehow. Maybe it was just my bad memory. Should I accept them as a friend? What harm would it do? In the end, after a lot of active procrastination, I decided to reject their requests. I wanted to keep my friends as friends. Or, at the very least, tenuous acquaintances.

But it seems that not everyone is as discerning.

A recent study by Sophos, a security software company, shows how trusting people are. Which, in this case, isn’t a good trait. They created a Facebook profile for the fictional character, Freddi Staur (spot the little hint at ‘fraudster’?). They sent friend requests to 200 random people and an amazing 42% accepted. Of those trusting dumbasses, 72% showed their email address and 23% gave away their phone number. This is a real fraudster’s dream.

The other thing that came to light is how many people just give away information to anyone that looks for it. The default privacy settings for Facebook are pretty lax and only 20% of users bother to change them. I am now part of that smart minority. Come and join me. And do what your mother says: don’t talk to strangers.

Turbo capitalism, hippies and why work together online…

There was a great article in the press today discussing “turbo capitalism”.

The complaint was against a burger chain. The injured is a Berlin suburb who believe that the lifestyle of their children will be changed “from lunches of sandwiches and apples to less healthy alternatives.”

Its an interesting dynamic – each with their own right-to-sell and right-to-not-buy… The burger chain vs. the community with the highest consumption of organic food in Europe…

“Turbo capitalism” is much less easy for brands online. If we want long-term relationships we need great creative ideas; ideas that delight communities and get them involved in what you believe in (our brands stand for something don’t they? – ED)

Setting-up shop in the right place and turning up the buzz is part of the mix but online communities don’t stick around if you challange their culture.

Gamers are a funny bunch

Hardcore video gamers are using all this technology we’ve been building since the 70s to make their own science fiction.

Anybody that’s played a recent video game on widesceen, wearing headphones, pumping out 125 frames per second at high definition, will full FX switched on, running on a quad-core with DirectX 10 videocard across a 10mbit pipe kind of knows what I am talking about.

The backdrop is as good as any Kubrick movie. People look like people. Everybody walks, runs and even falls over properly. Things are like, well… proper things. And you can be whoever you want to be. Really, anybody.

Gaming is so much fun that it is dominating the lives of millions of men – and a substantial percentage of women. At the last count there were 30 million dedicated gamers living in the UK, France and Germany alone. 1 in 5 takes gaming very seriously.

Gaming is mainstream-underground. It has a culture that is open to millions but keeps its edge by mashing-up the rave scene with hip-hop, skateboading and big dollop of Computer Club.

…and the first rule of Computer Club is? The party is on the Internet.

The problem is the Internet is like the school playgound.

So you need to get in with the cool gang if gamers are going to take you seriously. But being ‘in’ with the cool gang is not the easiest thing to do. Especially if you’re perceived as the specky kid, the greedy kid or worse your dad.

So perhaps the best approach is try to be the sweet shop owner. You’re cool because you have the nicest sweets. Haarah! Now just add a bit of Willy Wonka magic.

What are you waiting for? Want some of the action?

Please be my friend…

 Buy an apple and have more friends  

Apple invades another social networking hit of the moment… FACEBOOK.  In predictable style, Apple re-enforces that buying one of their shiny ‘puders is more than a just purchasing an average lapdog - Apple now gives you lots of iFriends…  come on kids, join the Apple Community - a social movement that makes you cooler than wearing Lynx or Impulse ever could. 400K students can’t be wrong… you can even have some free tracks for your iPod and your lifestyle statement is complete.

H & M will ask Kylie if she'll go out with you If you’re not convinced with that and perhaps wearing some cheap (but ethical) clothes from Hennes is how you define yourself; you can be their friend too… and you never know you might get to be friends with Kylie’s bum. 

Redbull does CMBEven Redbull is in on the act… who’s for a game of CMB? … I can hear Charlie Brooker laughing from here. 

I’m addicted but I liked it more when it was just The Idiots who’d entered the building.