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.

Participation football sponsorship

sponsoredbyyou.jpgNationwide Building Society have taken the concept of football sponsorship and developed it into a smart new way to drive customer engagment and to re-enforce brand values.

The idea is that they will take the usual assets you get from football sponsorship (advertising, unique opportunities to meet and interact with the team etc) and instead of using these for themselves will offer them to their customers. By registering on www.sponsoredbyyou.com you get the chance to win one of these unique opportunities which include seeing you name on billboards at the matches, or have your child lead out your favourite team. It’s a brilliant idea. Not only because it encourages participation, but also because as an idea its not just interaction for the sake of interaction. It is grounded in the values and DNA of the Nationwide brand, really bringing to life the core Nationwide proposition of being a mutual building society, owned by its customers not its shareholders.



Democratising creativity

In today’s age of UGC the question always arises of quality. Can the great unwashed really come up with good creative? Well TBWA certainly think so. Using “real people who don’t work in advertising” is now commonplace at TBWA\London, according to its executive creative director, Steve Henry. Briefs have been put on the internet and Henry plans to put some up in the agency’s reception, so that people can walk in from the street to work on them.

And why not. This year’s Super Bowl, coverage of which contains the most-prized TV commercial slots in the US, featured a 30-second ad for the snack brand Doritos that was created via an online competition run on Yahoo!. Of the 2,000-odd entries, the client apparently deemed 22 of sufficient quality to have been shown.

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.