Burberry king of the luxury brand hill

This week Burberry celebrated having 10 million Facebook users with a slick video, the first luxury brand to reach that level. Interestingly Burberry never responds to users' comments or joins in conversations on their Facebook page. In most posts they only use images and videos. Past successful campaigns on other platforms like Instagram no doubt played a part in the size and activity of their Facebook page. On that note, Twitter plans to launch its own version of brand pages soon.

3 Lessons on how not to do Twitter

This week the Guardian wrote about a couple, where a husband had lost his job while his wife was pregnant. LA fitness, however, would not relent on their gym membership, the couple were being forced to pay for their full contract. When the masses on Twitter got wind of this, they ganged up in righteous indignation. So lesson one – don't be an arse.

Snickers thought it would be a brillant idea to get pin-up Jordan to Tweet out of character (clever commentary about the GDP of China for example). At some point, she then tweeted that she's eating Snickers, and after that she reverted to type, tweeting trivialities. Besides the fact that Snickers is effectively saying eating their bars makes you a little shallow, there's another problem here. It's so ham-fisted. Lesson two – make sure you are not contrived. Not everyone is stupid.

Then there's Macdonald's who thought it a good idea to create a hashtag #McDStories and ask users for their stories. Are they not aware that very few of the world's chattering classes do not have an opinion about their brand, and that it's almost uniformly negative? And that the chattering and Twittering classes overlap? Lesson three, get a dose of reality. If your product or service is not up to scratch, be wary of social media.

iMatchmakers on the Twittersphere

A fascinating study has shown that bots can help people connect on Twitter, by introducing them to each other. Who knew?

A new business model for PR and fashion

Famous Parisian based PR company KCD is breaking the mold with a digital fashion show service. The invite only service will make life easier, they claim, for time-poor reporters and editors. Live-streamed shows will include runway footage, interviews with designers and cost between $150,000 to $300,000.

Apple's incredible highs, but at what cost?

This was a week in which Apple destroyed revenue records. It now makes more than 40 times what Facebook makes, and more than 5 times what Google makes (but only a little more than what the world's largest mobile operators make). At the same time, however, many stories surfaced of the often appalling conditions under which workers in China manufacture. As a side note, the rise in revenue is very much due to the iPhone and iPad, while smartphone sales are also soaring in countries like India, where Apple lags behind. But for how long?

Service roundup

News from the trenches just in. YouTube's reach is now starting to eclipse TV. Spotify is adding 8000 paying subscribers per day, Soundcloud has passed 10 million users, celebrating the fact with a cool web service that allows you to put audio to a slideshow of Instagram pics, called Storywheel. And last but not least we have some demographics data on Pinterest. Its 80% female. No wonder some call it Tumblr for women. Oh, and Tumblr reaches 120 million unique users per month.

Creative of the week – Party

Party is a Japanese creative lab that does all kinds of cool things in all kinds of disciplines. This week they caught people's attention with a music video for the Japanese pop act Androp. Not only is it a nice piece of film-making that taps into the Japanese fascination with toys, but what we found intriguing about it is that they're also experimenting with funding the production. Over the years, budgets for music videos have dropped dramatically, but Party are trying to raise some cash by selling the toys used in the video on Ebay. And they're aiming high: their main character Rocker is yours for a solid $5,000.

Youtube released a set of extremely impressive stats this week. Not only does it serve a staggering 4 billion videos per day, 60 hours of new content is uploaded every minute. This is massive.

Now, let’s have a look at where this leaves the MPAA:

Youtube vs MPAA

The MPAA represents the big content resellers of the 20th century, whose business model used to be valid in a world where content was scarce. That used to be the case in almost the entire 20th century. Clay Shirky explains this quite well in a brilliant Ted Talk on the subject.

The fact that content is not scarce anymore, the MPAA feels, is the Internet’s fault, and this is why they are actively, and desperately trying to break the Internet. In a heartfelt post Jason Calacanis explains that proponents of the Internet should not see this as a threat:

The internet is more powerful than any of us thought — and it’s getting more powerful every day. Hollywood brings a lot to the party and while it can be misguided at times, it’s not productive to say we’re going to kill it.

Silicon Valley’s job is to empower Hollywood and make it appreciate what we’ve built. In the same way it makes us appreciate its products — even garbage like “Transformers” 1, 2 and 3 which, sadly, most of us have wasted money on.

If that sentiment will be reciprocal remains to be seen, however.

The only product the MPAA have is a channel. A channel to market and distribute content on. And they are still using that same old channel. They are still showing you advertisements for their next movies before the movie you’re trying to watch.

Now, this very channel of theirs, has been replaced. By the Internet.

This is why the MPAA is spending millions of dollars to actively break the Internet.

Twitter made a shock announcement early this morning that they now have the ability to block tweets on a per country basis. We think that this will have unintended consequences. And that the worst effects will be felt in democracies.

We made a Storify of Tweets exploring the issue on Twitter. See the full Storify here. Or click the slides below.

The bots are taking our jobs – with our help

It’s an age-old sci-fi prediction: robots will take our jobs. Well, it has not quite worked out that way. Instead of losing manual labour to machines, we are meeting them half way, consuming virtual goods that are easy for machines to produce. Not only that. We are increasingly consuming what we ourselves produce (using machines, of course) – like social media. But we do that – for free. The result? The middle classes are getting poorer.

Apple out to smash textbook publishing


Yesterday Apple announced two new services that are going to have a massive impact. First, there’s iTunes U, which will help teachers create full online courses. But what excites us in particular is iBooks Author, a tool that’s going to give the book publishing industry another reason to be very worried. It allows you to easily publish to existing templates and drag and drop images, video, audio and other content like 3-D models to your book. And yes, it can contain links, HTML5 and javascript, so it will be interactivity-ready. And here is the kicker: It’s free.

In a truly eye opening post, Trey Ratcliff gives a fascinating account into the life of an ebook-publisher. Two things stand out in particular. First: he reckons the consumption and market size of ebooks will be much bigger than books. Secondly: social media is a marketing multiplier.

“The best way to successfully market something is to have true believers with big followings talk about it on the Internet. Since we have many authors who are socially popular, a multiplier effect begins to take place.”

A thought experiment for you

A blog post about new considerations in SEO (after Google Plus) shines light on a can of worms. Should you hire a person that’s absolutely clueless about SEO, but in hundreds of people’s Circles – maybe a celebrity, like Russell Brand? Celebrity or SEO expert? Remember that if the celebrity Plus One‘s a page it will jump in Search Engine Rankings for anybody that has them in their Circles.

A big Audience is cool, until you have one

All prolific Twitter users seem to want to grow their audiences as large as possible, right? But do we ever think what life will be like when it happens? What made Ashton Kutcher want to stop using Twitter? And Stephen Fry? Gina Trapani shares her experience of passing 200,000 followers on Twitter, and what it does to the way you use Social Media. Hair-raising stuff!

The strength of weak ties

It’s uncanny how social networking theory, a sub discipline of sociology, has found validation in modern day social networking services. This week another example surfaced when Facebook published research. It showed that although we are more prone to share content from close friends (strong ties), we are more likely to find new content from people we only know tangentially (weak ties). Facebook’s whole user experience is designed for strong ties. No wonder they have introduced new features to make it more Twitter like – a network around interests rather than relations. This will make it better as a source of useful new information.

Facebook quietly incentivises linking back to Facebook

In recent research by TBG, they have found that linking Facebook ads back to Facebook costs 45% less than linking the same ad to a page outside of Facebook. To be clear, this is not an organic cost variation – this is a decision by Facebook. It makes sense, in a way. Facebook hasn’t quite convinced people that Facebook pages are a good place to send people to. We have yet to see FB-commerce kicking off properly, and there is no way to monetise content on Facebook through ads. So, maybe a little bribery will work for them?

On that note – Facebook is about to launch actions. Once it’s launched, we’ll check it out in detail, so you don’t have to – watch this space!

Twitter, now an early indicator for Scientific progress

Previously we’ve pointed to articles on Twitter’s correlation to the stock markets, and Twitter’s ability to predict epidemics. Add to that, the ability to predict the citation of scientific articles. In a study done by the Journal of Medical Internet Research on three years’ worth of articles, it was found that highly tweeted articles were 11 times more likely to be cited than others. This phenomenon even has a name now – The Twimpact Factor

Now Twimpact this: Twitter is currently adding 11 accounts per second, and will likely pass the 500 million user mark in February. Staggering!

Instagram: the Masses start flocking in

Instagram hit 16 million users at the end of last year, making it one of the best success stories of 2011. Since then, top brands seem to be flocking to it like … well, like brands to a hot new social network. Two things make Instagram especially interesting:

  • It still only runs on Apple mobile devices. No desktop, no Android, no Windows phones. This makes their growth so much more remarkable.
  • Instagram’s consistent photo aspect ratios and photo filters makes it a very interesting platform for visual campaigns. Have a look, for instance, at this campaign we built, with the Guided Collective, for Ted Baker last year. The visual consistency of the Instagram content made this kind of thing possible.

For the sociological viewpoint, The Wall blog has a very interesting post by Dirk Singer, analysing the subcultures on Instagram.

Creative of the Week – Andrew Emond


Oh yes, we do love Instagram here at RAAK HQ. And all of its offshoots. Take Mastergram for instance. Photographer and multimedia designer Andrew Emond has created a Tumblr where he ‘re-mixes’ classic photographs from the likes of Diane Arbus, Cartier-Bresson and Andreas Gursky by running them through an Instagram filter. Simple and beautiful, but as Emond says, it’s interesting to see how these amendments alter our perception.

Digital plates shift with Google's Search Plus your World

We want to start the year with an admission. Silly us predicted that Google Plus could grow to over 100 million users this year. It's going to do much better than that, even if Google faces law suits because of it. The main reason? If you're interested in having your site rank optimally in Google Search, Google Plus is now a critical tool. That it would be key was already apparent before this weeks announcement of Google Search Plus your World. Now it is simply a must. Twitter is mad as hell, and as Danny Sullivan points out, Google is indeed favouring Google Plus over Relevancy. As Jeff Jarvis pointed out this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Twitter could be more open themselves.

Social media builds brand awareness, purchasing intent

miista cheaper with a tweet

A new study not only claims that exposure to social media boost brands, but that the effect also lasts. Very good. Just this week Facebook's PR agency Burson-Marstellar claimed our campaign was a brilliant example of bribing customers to be brand advocates. In case you missed it, we built a campaign for Miista, where products were discounted based on Klout weighted Tweets. In the same category perhaps, there's a new service called GoodBuzz. It encourages companies not to spend their marketing on ads, but rather to pay social media users to spread the message.

The networked computer in your pocket – that's where it's at

Last week keen mobile watcher Tomi Ahonen wrote an in-depth post on how everything is converging on mobile. It is far bigger than broadcast media (television and radio combined) and far bigger than the computer and IT industry. It's also far bigger than music, movies, videogaming, the print industry etc etc. Mobile accounts for "about 2% of the total GDP of the planet, and sits with a rare few other giant global industries like the automobile industry, housing/construction, food, military spending, banking etc". Yip. This chimes with what Martin Sorrel, head of media giant WPP said at CES this week. Media spend on digital is only about 17% while it should sit at 30%, but of that spend only 1% is going to mobile at present, while it should sit around 7%.

Kickstarter kicks up some dust

This week, DIY funding platform Kickstarter released some very, very impressive stats. Not only did they grow threefold from 2010 to 2011, but in that same period their project success rate went up by 3%! Given their growth, the project success rate should actually have dropped, so they are definitely doing something right. That's not all though … Robert Scoble points out that 99.999% of the products he's seen at this year's CES (which I'm sure, equates to zero), is not as useful as the clip-on iPad keyboard he's using – funded by Kickstarter. And to top this, three films – funded by Kickstarter - made it to Academy Awards short lists, and two Kickstarter films are short-listed for the Oscars. There can be no doubt that Kickstarter should be a serious consideration for first round funding.

QR – a debutant no more?

qr code in glamour magazine

If you got a 25% response to a Tweet, status update, newsletter, let alone a banner add, you'd be pretty chuffed with yourself, right? How 'bout this: Glamour Magazine got that with QR codes placed inside their magazine! A trial within its 'social edition' produced 512,339 engagements among a circulation of 2m readers. Editorial explained that readers could 'Like' advertisers via QR codes, and that this could make them eligible for discounts. Voila!

On comments and why a little doubt is a great persuader

Is there a trend developing where websites switch off their comments due to the effort of managing them? Apparently sites with high traffic in particular are having trouble keeping up. Is this the best course of action? With comment technology evolving we do think this is the wrong course of action. But having no comments is better than not paying attention to them.

In a study about whether brands need to reply to questions put to them via social media it was found that only 11% said it did not make a negative impression if they came across an unanswered question.

All good is not err… all that good. Just like a shaky camera conveys authenticity, the odd negative remark can be reassuring. A study shows that consumers simply don't trust product reviews that are 100% effusive. Similarly, during the Arab Spring, reporter Andy Carvin mentioned that when re-tweeting, he gave precedence to users whose accounts were less emphatic.

Revenge is better served cold

It was bound to happen, a Facebook app that posts one or more scheduled status updates after you die.


Helping your customers take action

Another innovative social media effort – this time from a bank. Members of CitiBank's reward scheme can combine their points on Facebook to make a charitable donation. Users can promote the reward pool through their Facebook page or by inviting other Citibank customers to donate.

Everybody is talking about

We'd be remiss not to mention that there are two new hot social services out there that everybody is talking about. Firstly, Pinterest – kind of like Tumblr, organised around specific topics, and one sexy interface. Secondly, Path, the social net for your closest friends. We've mentioned Path before, but it's made a serious comeback. Since the launch of its newest version the growth has been impressive, and it has to be said, the mobile only social network has one of the slickest UX's in the business. Read @scobleizer's thoughts on why Path is nailing it.

Creative of the Week – Bruno Zamborlin

Banging your own drum may soon mean something a little different, because with Zamborlin's Mogees project that could happen quite literally. Mogees is a technology that turns any surface into a musical soundboard. How? Zamborlin and his team have developed gesture recognition techniques that enable a contact microphone to associate each of your gestures with different sounds. Which means you can play 'percussion' on a tree or a mirror or a balloon. The team are currently working on developing a live Mogees performance.


Miista campaign klout Twitter
How to turn the customary fashion sales period into a marketing opportunity? That was the challenge we had from our long standing client, Miista, a new independent fashion brand.

Solution: Discount products by getting customers to Tweet them, with the size of the discount dependent on the customers’ Klout scores.

Klout is one of many services that purport to measure influence online. It’s hardly flawless, but it’s a far better and more sophisticated measure than simply counting Twitter followers, which can be gamed very easily.

Importantly we wanted to avoid the elitist way many Klout campaigns have been implemented, where only users with high scores get access to perks. Miista’s brand values is very much at odds with treating their customers differently depending on status. We wanted to turn Klout into a good for everybody. So the behaviour we designed for was to get users with higher influence to Tweet, as they could make the price drop faster for everybody.

Miista Klout tweets

We came up with an exponential discount drop, to reflect Klout’s exponential nature. It is much easier to move from 10 to 40 on Klout, than from 50 to 60 for example. And from there on upwards, it only gets harder.

So how did it go?

We got our exponential graph wrong at first. On the Tuesday when we launched we learned a few valuable lessons … like, how quickly people would catch on to it. Even though Miista is a small independent brand, this really took off faster than we had thought it would.

Many mid sized fashion bloggers with Klout scores of 40 to 50 had a big impact. And since customers were only limited to one Tweet per product, they quickly teamed up and moved from product to product to create sizable price drops.

Klout based Tweet discount

So we did two things:

  • We adapted the discount algorithm on day two, as per this chart. It does not look like a huge change, but it moved the percentage drops further down the line. There are not that many people with Klout scores above 55 and people that typically have these scores have much larger audiences.
  • We limited users to one Tweet overall. This had exactly the desired effect. Twitter users started asking their followers to help them, thereby bringing new customers to Miista.

Some stats so far.

We could easily count the potential reach of all the people who Tweeted and produce stratospheric numbers. But what really matters is who visited the Miista site. Miista has increased its unique users per day more than ten fold since the campaign, with 62% of the visitors never having visited the site before. Average time on the site has gone from over 3 minutes to over 8 minutes. Pages per visit is up from 2.5 to 5.2.

They have received coverage in the UK’s two premier digital marketing blogs, The Wall and The Drum. And many more in Fashion blogs. Many top fashion bloggers Tweeted the campaign, including 5 Inch and Up, Suzie Bubble, Cocorosa, What Katie Wore, Garbage Dress, Song of Style, Studded Hearts, Late Afternoon, Lulu and Your Mom, and Kingdom of Style. Drapers – the leading UK industry magazine in the fashion industry is doing a story. And we even had a Tweet from a celebrity, Paloma Faith.

Bribing customers to be brand advocates

This Tweet, by Facebook’s PR Burson-Marsteller was one of the funnier ones about the campaign. That’s one way of putting it:

Full disclosure. Miista was founded by my partner Laura Villasesnin.

Many websites have tried to integrate their Twitter feeds and display them on their site. It’s a great way to show what you are currently talking about, and what matters to your business. It also has the added advantage that it’s much quicker to update than other parts of a site.

Twitter Pulse

We have such an integration ourselves on our front page and elsewhere on our site. We display a few of the latest Tweets from our feed on the right of this page.

But what if you want to have something a bit more graphically inviting combining the Twitter feeds of several accounts. That was exactly what Nirvana CPH was looking for when we built them a Twitter Pulse page.

One of the key challenges when building this page was identifying images that could be displayed along with Tweets. To do this we wanted to extract any images on pages these Tweets links to. (Tweets themselves by default do not have any images).

The challenge is, most webpages have at least dozens of images, many of which have no relevance to the main topic of the page, like images for decorative or advertising purposes. You don’t want to display a banner add, background gradient, or a graphical placeholder as a featured image inside a Tweet.

So we had to make assumptions about the size and the aspect ratio of the typical featured image found on blogs, magazine, newspapers and other sites – basically the image that goes with the story. If we find an image on a page that does not accord, we skip it. If it does match, we suck it from that page, and reformat it for our Twitter Pulse. Nice work.

Read more about our project for Nirvana.