Location is everywhere
One of the areas that fascinates us at RAAK is the intersection of location, mobile and social. This week there are two new services on the block that both build on the big boys. Facebook, you may know, recently launched Facebook Places and Groups. But there's a snag reports RRW:
The only problem, however, is Places really only appears on the iPhone app and mobile website, while Groups can only be accessed from the full, non-mobile site.
But Groups and Places belong together. While you might not mind friending your parents on Facebook, sharing your location can be a more private thing. Something you might want to restrict to a Group.
Mappr solves that problem. It's an iPhone app that allows you to set up a private Facebook group with which you can share your location privately. Smart.
Another location based app that caught our eye is Group Tabs. It allows local retailers to offer specials based on check-ins, but only when a certain number of people have checked into a venue. It is Groupon meets location. Oh, and it's built on top of Foursquare.
Procter & Gamble values your click
Here's an example of a big brand using Social Media to support its Corporate Social Responsability program.
As part of Procter & Gamble's Changent campaign, they are creating a widget that people can integrate into their blogs. For each click, P&G will donate a day's worth of clean drinking water to people in need. Neat.
Data journalism and logs of war
Data journalism: it's a new buzz word doing the rounds. Journalism that gathers, interprets and uses data. And one of the best examples to date was last week's release by Wikileaks of Iraq War logs. Newspapers from around the globe competed to build the best data representation to make sense of it all. See The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and Swedish TV.
In other fascinating news, Sony is planning on launching a Playstation phone, and it's rumored to run Google's Android operating system.
Have you Yammered yet?
Another interesting service to check out. Yammer is a platform that allows you to build a social network for your business, something between Facebook and your intranet.
Despite strong competition they have signed up 90,000 companies in less than 2 years, including 80% of the Fortune 500.
If Warhol had an iPad
At yesterday's 'The Future Of Mobile' lecture, mobile guru Christian Lindholm stated that the iPad will make sure our mobile phones become phones again. You know, the things you make calls with.
Or you can use them as plug-ins to the iPad, if you feel a bit more creative. Inspired by Andy Warhol drawing Debbie Harry on an Amiga back in 1985, Remote Palette is a dual device app that shows off the possibilities of connectivity between 2 machines. You can use the iPhone to mix your colour and then lovingly stroke your iPad to fingerpaint the Debbie Harry of the 21st century.
Creative of the week – Brooke Roberts
We're oh so fashionable here at RAAK. So this week's creative tip comes from an East London fashion designer who does great things with knitwear.
Tech insight of the week – Products that Tweet
Imagine using Twitter as the communications backbone of a new, easy to use, protocol, similar to SNMP. Something that could link Twitter to the consumer appliances and electronics market. Read More »
We’ve decided to dedicate this week’s tech insight post to a topic that’s been keeping us awake at night with excitement for the past few months. We want to put the idea to post to get some comments on it, and some collaboration on the possible applications of it. The more use cases we get, the better we will understand it.
The idea is to develop cheap hardware, possibly an Integrated Circuit (chip), that will enable manufacturers of appliances and consumer electronics to enable relatively cheap devices to Tweet and be Tweeted.
One of my favorite components in the IP Suite is a protocol called SNMP. It’s a very handy protocol that allows remote monitoring and management of devices on a network. Often used to query firewall stats remotely (for instance, how many packets were dropped, etc), it is one of a range of tools that help a sysadmin do their job from the comfort of their desk (or game chair) at home.
SNMP has never quite made it mainstream, though, and is today unbeknownst to all but the most hard core server room techies and network engineers, and a few good firewall salesmen.
As a further result of its obscurity, SNMP never quite made it onto the Internet in a big way, since most firewalls block it, unless they have a very good reason for allowing it.
Imagine now, using Twitter as the communications backbone of a new, easy to use, protocol, bringing something similar to SNMP to the consumer appliances and electronics market.
Let’s look at a few possible use cases, and this is where I hope you will add more in the comments.
Tweet and Shine
The idea here is to add Tweetability to an alarm clock. The alarm clock, when configured to do so, will Tweet when you get up in the morning, possibly with a custom message that you enter when you set the alarm. Maybe you could even set the alarm (and corresponding tweet message) by Tweeting?
Tweet a Watt
This is not our idea. We saw it here. These devices measure the power consumption of power sockets and Tweet it periodically. If this idea is extended, it could become the backbone of power saving incentives driven by social networking, funded by Electricity Providers. It could even work the other way round, and receive Tweets to, for instance, control water heater cycles centrally to help dampen periods of peak power consumption.
How about a device located in the frame of your bicycle, using part of the frame as a GPS and 3G antenna, Tweeting the location of your bicycle every few minutes? This could help in relocating stolen bikes and automatically publish exercise routines.
This is not a use case, but rather a necessity to make all these use cases work.
Many of these ideas open up the concept of using Twitter as a communications platform to control devices or getting status and logging data. This needs a cryptography to be applied to the Twitter messages, to ensure that only an authorized sender and receiver can read or send these Tweets. Enter Twitter Hush Tweet, a hypothetical Twitter encryption service, driven by PKI.
Rather than heading off on a tangent with dozens of similar use cases, we’d like to hear what you think. Please comment:
UPDATE: Just as we finished this post, we stumbled upon Akiduki Pulse Box. What a beauty!
As often in life and marketing, it is not what you do, but how you do it. This also seems to be the case with Gap and their debacle that has been unfolding on and offline over the past weeks. For anyone who either doesn’t care about Gap or logos, GAP had to retract their newly designed identity after thousands of ‘customers’ complained about it in various forums, blogs, Facebook groups, etc.
Was it the logo design itself, the way it was launched or how Gap dealt with the online onslaught that could be up for ‘worse marketing moment 2010 award’?
I will not discuss if the design of the new logo was indeed a ‘good piece of design’. Too many people have done so already, but I am sure it wouldn’t have won any awards for innovative and engaging design. Yes, people get precious about logos, but people also are fickle and forgetful. Although it will never become UK’s most loved identity, the 2012 Olympic logo for London will also not temper Londoner’s enthusiasm for the Games.
It was surely the way how Marka Hansen, Gap’s president for North America, launched and retracted the logo that lacked every sense of confidence or conviction. Even yielding to her ‘passionate customers’ days after the launch by asking for their logo ideas, before a total surrender a week later.
Marka however shouldn’t feel too embarrassed though, as she has joined an established (and growing) ensemble of badly executed rebrands, from Royal Mail to Tropicana.
The new identity could have worked if Gap would have truly believed it was the right thing to do. Did Gap actually need a new logo? If it did for reasons that only Gap would know, than the whole company and its identity launch communication should have spoken with more certitude.
I personally have only bought something at GAP once in my life and this was for my 3-year old nephew. I also have very little admiration for a brand that has as much character as Gordon Brown sitting in a silver Vauxhall Astra drinking tap water. Yet even people I know who are Gap fans say that it isn’t the brand anymore that it used to be in the Sarah Jessica Parker campaign days. If the marketing department at Gap thought it needed a new logo, it was possibly because of that. Are they losing relevance and the connection with people; and would a new identity have solved this problem?
A funny take on corporate logo design
Gap’s marketing department should know that their brand is not just their logo. Just like an ad campaign is not a brand. And if you think it is, then you will end up with the likes as FCUK. Any agency, marketing consultant or brand blogger will tell you that a brand in 21st century is much more expansive. A solid brand survives attacks to a particular equity of their brand, as they will have a host of other equities that will overcome this.
Get your product right (Apple), get your story right (Ben & Jerry’s) and get your tone right (Your M&S). If Gap had these ducks in a row, then a badly redesigned logo wouldn’t have created so much uproar. People will always find a reason to moan, but we are also forgiving when brands get other things right.
You know how fashionable we are at RAAK. So we’re well aware that making knitwear look cool is like doing something interesting with MySpace. Still, Brooke Roberts does just that.
The up-and-coming East London fashion designer has made such an impact with her new collection that none other than über-blogger Susie Bubble took the time to write a major blogpost on Brooke’s work. And when Susie talks, people listen.
Brooke’s background is in radiography and she uses this to create intriguing patterns. Our favourite is the workout outfit below. Fellow RAAKonteur Wessel is already saving up for one.
If you're late to Facebook, you're going to struggle
Are you having a hard time geting noticed on Facebook, while some of your friends are stealing the limelight? The Daily Beast conducted a study and their results matches what we expected. There's a bias against late-comers in the Facebook algorithm.
Following 500 million people into a party means that a lot of the beer and pretzels are already long gone. Poor Phil spent his first week shouting his updates, posted several times a day, yet most of his ready-made "friends" never noticed a peep on their news feeds. His invisibility was especially acute among those with lengthy, well-established lists of friends.
Hat tip to digital strategist Anne-Mette Jensen for this story.
Facebook and Microsoft have teamed up and are in the process of rolling out social search.
Bing will query your friends' Facebook Likes when serving you results. Danny O'Sullivan, the search engine expert, reckons, while it's not enough to threaten Google yet, it will make search a lot more personal.
Skittles, a brand that's been experimenting with Social Media for a while now, did an interesting campaign this week. They challenged their mob of fans to drown the 'endurance artist' David Phoenix in a few million Skittles in 24 hours. People were able to add to the load of candies by visiting the brand's Facebook Page and every 15 minutes the accumulated number would be dropped onto Phoenix.
It felt a bit gimmicky, but we're sure it drove a massive amount of traffic to the Facebook Page. And as you also had to Like the page to take part, their amount of Fans is now up to 1.4 million.
The ROI value of a Social Media 'share'
ROI is a hot topic in Social Media. Weirdly sometimes, because, as someone big in PR once said, you don't measure the ROI of your receptionist, but still you have them.
Still, a recent study based on data from events website Eventbrite has put a price on word of mouth. It tracked the sales that were generated through a share on social networks and turns out that a share on Twitter is worth $0.43 and on LinkedIn $0.90. Unsurprisingly, the value of a Facebook share is much higher at $2.52 and a referral via an "email your friend" application comes to $2.34.
We say unsurprisingly, because even though last week we said that Twitter generates more click-throughs, Facebook recommendations from your closer friends carry more clout.
Klout goes Facebook
Klout, our favourite online influence measurement tool, has stepped it up a notch. Until now, it decided your importance based on your Twitter activity. But now it's also taking into account what happens on your Facebook profile.
We find it odd that Klout doesn't make a seperate score for FB or Twitter, as people use the platforms for different things. But Klout says that incorporating your Facebook data won't bring down your Twitter score.
Crowdsourcing the cuts
Yesterday the UK chancelor George Osborne unveiled an unprecedented £83bn in spending cuts. A number of social media initiatives are trying to make sense of it all. Here is a round up of the best we have found. Including a tool that allows you to play chancellor for yourself.
While there are no figures yet for Facebook Places, Foursquare is steadily increasing its user base. Only 2 months after the location service said hello to user number 3 million, it is now believed they are set to reach 4 million members this week.
Creative of the week – Darren Solomon
This newsletter feature is proving to be so popular that we decided to also publish it on our blog. And the first creative to receive that honour is Darren Solomon, a producer/composer who made an amazing collaborative piece based on YouTube videos.
Tech insight of the week – The more you Tweet, the Twitter you are
Can you become powerful on Twitter merely by Tweeting like a lunatic? Or worse, can you automate Twitter follower accumulation? How much does the content of your Tweets actually matter if your Tweet frequency is high enough?
RAAK put some bots to work and did a test. Read More »
A while ago, while playing with Klout and the Klout API, I noticed how many Twitter users with very high Klout scores Tweet absolute rubbish, but quite a lot of it. It got me started on the topic of how exactly Twitter users accumulate followers.
Can you become powerful on Twitter merely by Tweeting like a lunatic? Or worse, can you automate Twitter follower accumulation? How much does the content of your Tweets actually matter if your Tweet frequency is high enough?
Conventional wisdom has it that you accumulate followers by Tweeting and reTweeting useful information, thus becoming a valuable resource on the Twitter network. Does this always hold, though?
To try and answer these questions (or rather, a small part of it), I created the following experiment:
I wrote four simple Twitter bots that Tweet the output of the fortune Unix command line application. The first bot Tweets every minute, the second every five minutes, the third every fifteen minutes, and the fourth every thirty minutes.
I made sure that these bots never follow any other Twitter users, they have no profile information, no avatars, and their Twitter.com profile pages are completely unstyled.
These bots have been running for just over a month now, and here are our findings:
In the above graph, each bot’s followers are plotted against the total amount of Tweets they have sent. As expected, it looks like the fifteen minute bot has a radically higher follower uptake than the two fast ones. Because of the potential higher nuisance factor of the faster ones, they tend to lose more of their new (and probably valuable) followers. (The fastest one has a nuclear follow cost of 39936.77 milliscobles! Robert beat that!)
Something’s up with the 30 minute bot though. It’s difficult to properly see what, because its graph spans such a small width. Let’s view the data as a function of time, so that all the graphs are the same width:
Now, let’s normalize the data, to make it fair. The 5 minute bot‘s data is multiplied by 5, the 15 minute bot‘s data multiplied by 15, and the 30 minute bot‘s multiplied by 30.
This is based on the assumption that, if the bots will continue tweeting until they have tweeted as many times as the 1 minute bot, their follower number will increase linearly. Not entirely accurate, but this assumption will have to suffice until I have more data (I will continue this experiment for a few months more, unless they’re disabled by Twitter before then.)
With the data at our disposal right now, it looks as if the 15 minute bot is doing comparatively better than the 30 minute one! We’ll need more data to say for sure, but this might be quite meaningful. It might mean that humans (Twitter humans, that is), is most comfortable with input that arrives every 15 minutes (or somewhere else in the 5 – 30 minute band).
Watch this space in another month’s time for more data.
Darren Solomon is a music producer / composer who’s played with the likes of Ray Charles and Barry Manilow. But don’t run away just yet; he’s also made a beautiful online collaborative composation based on YouTube videos, called In B Flat.
Inspired by the fact that you can play multiple YouTube videos at the same time, he put up an open call on his website, asking people to send in a video where they sing or play an instrument in the key of Bb Major.
He compiled the best 20 and amazingly they all work very well together. The result is an intriguing interactive sort-of-composition that allows you to create your own very atmospheric piece of music. In B Flat.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is D-day for the UK. That is when the Chancellor will announce the cuts to the government budget to be phased in the next few years.
Social media is an excellent resource if you want to make sense of it all. So without further ado. RAAK’s guide to the cuts on social media.
In this very helpful blog post Fishburn Hedges explains -
Spending cuts will be phased in – £5bn is being cut out this year, another £18bn will be cut in 2011/12 then another £19bn and £21bn and £20bn in Years 2, 3 and 4 of the Spending Review. Altogether, that’s £83bn lower spending per year by 2014/15. (Labour’s £52bn cuts would have started next year, in stages of £14-11-14-13bn.)
But why so much? Look at the graph below. The UK deficit is only about £100bn this year.
To explain why – Fishburn again:
UK national debt – the total amount owed by the Government – will be around £900bn this year (62% of GDP). The Govt will pay £44bn interest on that debt – more than the £40bn defence budget. National debt will increase to 70% of GDP in 2012/13, and start falling in 2014/15.
So come 2014/15 the government will be spending more than £80bn less – twice the size of the current UK defence budget. AND taxes will be £29bn per year higher than 2009/10. But here’s the thing – the exact details and impact of these cuts won’t be clear tomorrow, and not for years to come.
Today the Guardian’s Datablog released data on the UK budget deficit over the years. And us RAAKonteurs quickly drew the graph above using Google spreadsheets. ( Just to see whether it would be easy to pin the blame on a particular party for past and current profligacy.)
Actually, lets not forget the real reason for the massive spike in the graph above come 2009. The UK tax payer injected more than £70bn directly into the banks.
We are still under-writing these businesses who allegedly plan to pay out £7bn in bonuses this year. For a very provocative but good blog post on the banks, go here.
If your less inclined to point fingers but want to get to the bottom of all the human and systemic failures that got us in this mess, you could do allot worse than this London School of Economics (LSE) podcast.
Crowd sourcing the cuts
You can help report the actual cuts through more than one service. There is this Cuts Google Spreadsheet, and this implentation wherearethecuts.org of Ushahidi, the mapping tool. (Not sure how one would report National cuts on it, but very useful for the very local ones that never make the press).
Being George Osborne
And, just in case you thought it was easy for Mr Osborne, this fantastic interactive tool gives you a chance to make some cuts. Try and see if you can make the books balance without touching VAT.
Forget the sympathy. You’d think that Mr Osborne is rather unpopular in social media at present. Not if Social Mention is to be believed (see image to the left).
Sentiment in the blogosphere, Facebook and Twitter is 2:1 positive towards him.
Or perhaps this is a sure sign that sentiment analysis is still some way off being an exact science. Or perhaps we need to check again tomorrow.
Facebook Groups mean business
Mark Zuckerburg once again showed his subtle nous for all things social when he launched Facebook’s new Groups features. Groups work better when they aren’t too big says Zuckerburg (audio interview with Robert Scoble).
The new Groups functionality includes collaborative document editing and real-time chat with Groups members. Facebook is becoming serious. Google Groups eat our heart out.
Facebook vs Twitter 1 – 1
Facebook is by far the leader in getting people to share stuff, but Twitter has the highest click-through rates, says this fascinating report. Email still drives the most overall clicks but has lower click-through rates than the social networks.
On the subject of Twitter’s popularity, at DevNest in Brighton on Tuesday, Tim Whitlock gave an interesting talk on the implications of Twitter hitting the mainstream.
However, if this report is to be believed, the Twitter founders are still pretty much in the dark as to why and how Twitter users use the platform.
Sing that Tweet
In case you missed it, Orange did a cute and creative little Twitter campaign last week, called the Singing Tweetagram.
They monitored tweets with the hashtag #singingtweetagrams, chose the best ones as they came in and quickly turned them into a jingle-type song with killer-heel-killer-harmonies retro band Rockabellas.
Which turned a tweet like @MayorOfLondon Mr Boris, Mr Mayor, thank you for the bikes. And for the extra exercise we got, on Monday’s tube strike into a cute tune like this.
Advertising and social’s march
According to the IAB, UK online advertising spend reached a new record, but with new drivers (not search). Which confirms our post last week, which said that social might be the saviour of display advertising.
UK online advertising spend increases 10% to nearly £2 billion in first half of 2010. Video and social advertising fuel online display’s return to growth.
Econsultancy in the meanwhile conducted a survey of 800 industry leaders and the news is that 83% of in-house teams plan spending more on social next year, while 89% of agencies expect the same from their clients.
App building for dummies
iPhone apps are sexy and powerful. But they’re also expensive.
With Mobile Roadie that might become simpler. It’s a tool that allows you to build an app through an intuitive interface; for iPhone, Android and soon for other platforms too. No need for complicated Objective-C coding. We popped round their office earlier this week to get a demo and we were pretty impressed.
Kerching! The sound of the FT’s iPad app
The FT has released some numbers about the iPad version of their newspaper service. In the 5 months since its launch, it’s been downloaded 400,000 times.
Decent figures indeed, but more importantly, it now accounts for 10% of the newspaper’s digital subscriptions (remember: the FT has a paywall). And even more importantly, it has generated £1m in advertising revenue.
The need for a Big Society Platform
Twitter Degrees of Seperation
Here’s a good fact for in the pub. Research company Sysomos has shown that the classic Six Degrees Of Seperation theory might just be getting out of date. A study they’ve done with 5.2bn connections shows that on Twitter 78% of the users or only 4 or 5 steps away from anyone else.
Creative of the week – Miss Aniela
Miss Aniela is one of those artists that has used the power of the internet to establish herself completely independently. She’s a self-taught photographer who has gathered a major following on her Flickr page, she blogs regularly to promote her workshops and she’s used Blurb to publish and sell her own photobooks.
But of course all that smart online thinking is backed up by beautiful work that often evolves around self-portraits. And you can go and see her work as part of the Photolounge exhibition this weekend in London’s Truman Brewery.
Tech insight of the week – Twitter Annotations: The art of driving fast without lights
In April, at Chirp, a Twitter Developer’s Conference, Twitter announced a feature called Annotations. This was announced alongside very exciting developments like User Streams and Site Streams, which caused it to not quite get the press it deserves. In this week’s tech insight we explore the potential disruptive power of Twitter Annotations. Read More »
The RAAKonteurs put their heads together. CityCamp London inspired us to come up with a tech solution that would benefit London.
We had a number of ideas, but in the end we settled on an API, not just on a specific service. Enabling citizen developers to build digital tools and services for the public good requires that all the building blocks are in place first.
But the building blocks aren’t there. Below you will see what we mean.
On top of that, many digital civic tools are very dependent on data from the public sector. That is all good and well.
If you think about it, most of the data mash-ups – which don’t have a social element – have very little traction. The kind of tools that excite us are tools that don’t use data but create them – so called user generated content – and tools that are by its nature social. Like Ushahidi.
So we thought that a social and engagement layer was the missing link. A platform that allows services to encourage repeat and hopefully also collective action. An engine for Big Society if you will.
Why an engagement layer? We have built collaboration platforms before and know how hard it can be. Read our previous post – When a Poke becomes a Nudge – on why it is important. But suffice to say it’s a system design challenge to get people to give up their free time to do stuff. There are some intangible things you have to give back to them in return.
So what’s the idea?
The concept is simple.
We want to build a platform, mainly an API, into which the GLA or London Councils can register good social outcomes that they want to encourage.
On the other hand, specific Big Society service providers can then tap into this platform in order to encourage engagement with their services. The platform will allow Londoners to show how much they have contributed to social good and that they’re part of a community. It will show their ‘goodprint’ (as opposed to carbon footprint) so to speak.
Of course the devil – as always – is in the details. But let’s try and explain this further.
For example: Hackney Council wants to encourage the reporting of problems – like broken pipes – in their area. They register the reporting of local problems as a social good (an action) they want to encourage. This might be represented by a particular kind of Badge, for example The Reporter Badge. Then any service provider that facilitates this action can award the Badge to the person who made the report via a website or mobile app. The service provider could be both the Hackney Council’s website, or an independent service like FixMyStreet.
Another example: the GLA registers the use of public transport as a social good they want to encourage. Any user that completes 20 journeys via London public transport gets the ‘Transport 20 Badge’. London Transport taps into the API and when a user completes 20 journeys as measured via their Oyster Card, they are rewarded with the Badge.
Social goods can be registered by London authorities for doing things like:
As well as being at places like:
- Attending the Mayor of London’s Fireworks Show;
- Visiting 5 of London’s Parks;
- Living in a particular London Area like Brixton for more than 10 years.
Passports and Profiles
Each end user of the API gets a London Actionista Passport, which is also exposed as an API and can contain further useful data about them to be used by services (like gender, age, and area of residence, the Badges they have and the actions they did to get them).
While the API is key to the platform, the service also has a website element that acts like a Badge Bank for each participating Londoner. It acts as a profile for each user, which will be very useful for all the services to tap into.
But also for users. They can display the Badges they have earned (Boris Biker) and get widgets and embed codes which they can use to show off their Badges on platforms like Facebook or WordPress.
The services should enable linking to platforms like Facebook and Twitter whenever possible – even for authentication.
Will services buy into this?
We think so. Even the relatively successful FixMyStreet struggles to get users to follow up their reports, which are often made anonymously.
This platform will be a cross-local-government social layer into which new and existing services, social enterprises and mash-ups will be able to tap into, making social services and apps easier to do and cross-pollinating users.
Who is the idea aimed at?
At London local government, social enterprises and any developer that would like to develop and incentivise public action. Probably even commercial companies that have positive benefits for society, like gyms or Streetcar.
What extra help or expertise will RAAK need to help you make this idea a reality?
We need to have at least one big local government body like the GLA buying into the concept and to help flesh out the details of the functional specifications.
We already tried our luck with Nesta. No luck.
Come on guys. You know where to find us.