Amnesia Razorfish: sexy, social and successful

Recently Australia-based Amnesia Razorfish (part of the Razorfish global network) won the Adnews interactive agency of the year for the third consecutive year. As a Razorfish employee, I’m happy for my colleagues at Amnesia Razorfish (and of course for our clients, as the award is a reflection on them, too).  But I’m equally interested in knowing what the award says about successful marketing in the digital age.  What does it take for marketers and agencies working together to succeed year after year?  After getting some input from Michael Buckley, Terry Carney, and Iain McDonald of Amnesia Razorfish, I see these ingredients for success emerging:

  • Make Social Influence Marketing part of your marketing game plan.  Social Influence Marketing is a third dimension of marketing alongside direct response and branding.  It is here to stay.  You don’t need to make an about-face to succeed through social — but you do need employ it intelligently.  Example: the Cancer Council Australia is working with Amnesia Razorfish to raise money for the treatment of male cancer.  Amnesia Razorfish conceived of Daredallion, a week where people perform dares to raise donations.  The effort includes various forms of Social Influence Marketing, including Twitter and a site where you can dare your friends to to perform stunts.  Another example: Amnesia Razorfish helped Smirnoff employ Social Influence Marketing to build buzz for the Smirnoff Experience Party. The only way to get tickets to Australia’s biggest free party of 2008 was to go digital.  Smirnoff conducted a treasure hunt to give away tickets.  To find free tickets distributed across Australia, you had to find clues released through a blog and a Facebook group.  The campaign attracted global attention and helped Smirnoff pull off a huge promotional coup.  Amnesia Razorfish now employs a full-time Social Influence Marketing staff to help its clients figure out how to embed social into their digital experiences.

Daredallion

  • Get your hands dirty.  An agency must be an active participant in the social world in order to help its clients succeed with Social Influence Marketing.  Amnesia Razorfish certainly lives the social values.  Its blog is a top-ranked agency blog in Australia, attracting hundreds of thousands of unique views in 2008.  Amnesia staff have participated in the Daredallion project cited here and created experimental Twitter applications.  Everyone on the senior staff can be found on Twitter.  But Amnesia Razorfish is getting its hands dirty in other ways.  Amnesia Razorfish wrote Australia’s first Surface application, which recognizes individual business cards when placed on a table and then streams personal social media information from Twitter, Flickr, and other digital properties directly on to the table to be exchanged with someone else (sounds like a new way to exchange phone numbers in a bar).  Amnesia Razorfish also built its own in-house video wall purely for the fun of experimentation.  Dual projectors stream social content on to the wall, which tracks one’s physical movements.

  • Be accountable.  Amnesia Razorfish measures every single click that end users make.  The company uses analytics to be fully accountable for every interaction a person has with a client online.  Sometimes improving the consumer experience means more effectively optimizing the performance of a website, not designing a new one.  Using optimization tools, Amnesia Razorfish has increased sales by as much as 300 percent for ecommerce clients and increased time spent on clients’ sites by as much as 450 percent.  Amnesia Razorfish is also playing with a new tool developed by Razorfish U.S., the Generational Tag, to measure social influence.

  • Design experiences, not advertisements.  What’s the difference?  Ads are one-way messages — often great for the analog world, but not sufficient for digital.  Experiences engage audiences through interaction. Example: Lynx, produced by Unilever, is a line of male personal care products such as body wash.  (In the United States, Lynx is known as Axe.)  Amnesia Razorfish won a Webby for helping Unilever build awareness for Lynx through The Lynx Effect.  The target audience consists of young men, and the Axe/Lynx brand employs an in-your-face risque approach to connect with them.  The Lynx Effect is no exception.  Basically the message is this: guys, Lynx will make you more attractive to women.  But in the digital world, we convey that message through the experience.  To even navigate the site to learn about Lynx products, you select from a choice of provocative looking women.  Once inside, you can play amusing games, participate in polls, and download content on to your desktop.  (Now we know what “engagement” means Down Under.)

The Lynx Effect

  • Challenge your clients with ideas that build their businesses.  Lipton wanted to build awareness for an amino acid ingredient in Lipton tea — theanine — that stimulates alpha brain waves.  The proposition sounded like an educational campaign.  But Amnesia Razorfish came up with the idea of imagining Lipton’s product and benefits as a game.  Hence, the launch of Brain Train, a series of online games that test one’s mental alertness with subtle brand messaging from Lipton about the power of theanine.  Amnesia Razorfish also conceived of an integrated roll-out with radio, print, and outdoor.

Innovation rooted in the big idea is what will spur an economic recovery from the global recession, not better analytics or user experiences (although those things are important, too).  In April, leaders of Amnesia Razorfish will join executives from the Razorfish global network to discuss how we can more effectively take big ideas to our clients.  We’ve been conducting these summits, which we dub “A Seat at the Table,” since 2007, and each meeting gets better as more participants from outside the United States attend.  I can’t wait to see what we’ll learn from each other — better yet, I cannot wait to learn how our clients are benefiting.

Congratulations to Amnesia Razorfish for setting the gold standard.

Think Social Influence Marketing and innovation during the recession

According to a new survey by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 77 percent of marketers will reduce their advertising campaign media budgets.

The ANA isn’t the only organization forecasting bad news for the marketing industry.  Forrester Research recently predicted that marketing budgets will see typical decreases of 15-to-25 percent as enterprises decrease their spend on information technology goods and services.  Basically the message to marketers and their agency partners (like my employer Razorfish) is this: we’re in a recession — deal with it.  In this blog post, I’m going to answer three crucial questions on the minds of marketers and agencies as we deal with the recession.

1. Are we witnessing an industry implosion a la 2001-02?

Times are tough, to be sure.  But we’re not experiencing the digital marketing sector meltdown of 2001-02. Back then, the industry was bloated with digital services firms, and, what’s more, they concentrated too much client work on risky dot-coms.  When the dot-coms imploded, we saw a natural winnowing out.  Today, the players are more stable, and so are their clients.  I don’t think we’re going to see a wave of business collapses as we did during the dot-com implosion.  Rather, as Razorfish Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lanctot recently stated, we can expect big players like Razorfish to continue to grow via targeted, smallish acquisitions around the world.

2. What happens to social media during a recession?

Social media used to be perceived as the marketer’s nemesis.  Now suddenly social media is the marketer’s best friend.  Why?  Because marketers realize that amid an economic downturn, it’s a lot more cost-effective to use social media channels like Twitter to build awareness among influencers.

But that doesn’t mean marketers will take a smart approach to social media.  In fact, I believe that social media will separate the savvy marketers from the followers during the recession.  The followers will settle for remedial, poorly formulated applications of social media in the name of saving money (“Let’s just post a video of our new product on YouTube, link our company announcement on Twitter, and call it a day”). But savvy marketers will take a more systematic approach to employing social influencers and media to achieve their marketing and business objectives — a strategy that my colleague Shiv Singh identified as Social Influence Marketing in 2007.

Savvy marketers will emerge from the recession more effective for having embraced Social Influence Marketing.  They will move beyond the role of strategic counselor to the enterprise (although that role is important) and become active participants in Social Influence Marketing (e.g., by blogging and joining communities that matter to their clients).  Savvy marketers will figure out how to make their company brands more authentic and true to their cultural values by listening to their own employees’ blogs and Twitter posts.  They will stop worrying about employees “subverting their brand” through the proliferation of blogs and instead learn from their own brand ambassadors.

This journey is starting now as the recession forces marketers to take a closer look at deploying social media as a cost-effective way to build their brands.

3. What’s the best way to market ourselves in a recession?

Conventional wisdom says that during down times, you place more focus on ways you can help marketers achieve efficencies and measure ROI — like the Razorfish RIAx offering, which tracks the performance of rich media.  But a recession is also a time to innovate (especially if your competitors are not) so that you’re ready to flourish when a turnaround arrives.  In the December 2008 Wired, Daniel Roth asserts, “When the economy is in turmoil, the time is ripe for ambitious innovation.”  He cites numerous examples of companies like Siebel that took advantage of slack times to generate new ideas that helped them leapfrog competitors who were wallowing in cost cutting.

Moreover, when Intel announced its new Core i7 chip as the recession became more evident last year, Don Clark of The Wall Street Journal noted that the new product roll-out was “the latest sign that development cycles run counter to business cycles at high-tech companies.”  (Razorfish helped Intel with the effort through our involvement in the Intel Digital Drag Race, which generated buzz for the Core i7 among creative designers and games.)

So why innovate during slack times?  As Sean Maloney of Intel said in The Wall Street Journal, “You recover from a recession with tomorrow’s products, not today’s.”  And according to Daniel Roth during lean times, materials and labor required to experiment can be found for less money than during boom times.

At Razorfish, we’re using the down time to experiment with new ideas, too, like the Generational Tags we developed to measure consumer behavior on social media sites.  At our 9th Annual Client Summit April 21-23 in Las Vegas, “Art of the Idea,” we’ll examine the relationship between innovation and ROI.

How are you dealing with the recession?

Razorfish, CafeMom study digital moms

If marketers want to understand today’s mom, we had better get in touch with her digital side.  CafeMom and my employer Razorfish have published a report, Digital Mom, to help.  Digital Mom analyzes the purchasing behavior and media consumption habits of the increasingly digital savvy and powerful mom consumer.  As indicated in a February 2 press release, Razorfish and CafeMom have narrowed the focus of our research on moms who are active users of digital and who regularly research and purchase goods online.  Key findings:

  • The gap is closing between TV and digital channels in terms of creating awareness and affecting purchase decisions, and social influence channels are increasingly important.  TV still has the most impact on creating initial awareness for a product.  But social influence channels such as online consumer reviews and blogs are highly influential in the consideration stage.  These findings indicate how important it is for marketers to pinpoint the right channel (especially social) to influence moms through the purchase decision-making process.
  • Moms with children 12 and older are motivated to adopt new technologies to stay in tune with their children.  Of those who use social networks and blogs, almost half monitor their children.  Likewise, digital moms of children 12 and older, versus moms with children under 12, are more likely to watch online video, game, read online consumer reviews, and watch or listen to podcasts.  The findings suggest that marketers need to become more sophisticated in reaching out to moms at different stages of their parenting.
  • A mom’s media consumption habits reflect the many roles she plays: mom, wife, daughter, friend, powerful consumer, and adviser.  More moms show interest in clothing/fashion and food than in parenting information, with the exception of moms with children under 6 years of age.  Marketers need to respect the rich and diverse nature of her interest.

A Flash and PDF version of Digital Mom are available here.  Charts and graphs are available here.  In coming months, look for more significant Razorfish thought leadership, including our annual Digital Outlook Report and research into Social Influence Marketing.

Avenue A | Razorfish, Pluck to develop social media offering

At AD:TECH Chicago August 5, Wendy Aldrich of Disney Parks and Resorts mentioned how Disney uses digital media to engage consumers wherever they they are. Her comments provide a fitting pretext for an August 6 announcement from my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Pluck Corp., to develop a new hybrid digital marketing and social media offering that will help marketers better engage with consumers across the digital world.

The offering, code-named AdLife, will inject social media features like customer comments and user-generated content into digital advertisements such as banner ads or microsites – in effect, turning mainstream ads into social media opportunities distributed across the digital world.

For instance, let’s say you’re Disney Parks & Resorts, and you want to promote a new attraction at a theme park. With AdLife, Disney could launch a banner advertisement that enables consumers to review the new attraction itself by clicking on the ad, as well as read feedback from other vacationers, without ever leaving the point of display for the advertisement. Disney then might use AdLife to link that ad (plus user-generated content) to its own branded microsite, the Disney YouTube channel, or other properties where Disney consumers play.

AdLife is not a substitute for the cool experiences that Wendy shared, like the contest on YouTube where you can upload your favorite Disney park memories. What AdLife does is give Disney a way to combine mainstream and social media properties to engage consumers — and help them engage with each other — across the digital landscape.

The next step is for Avenue A | Razorfish and Pluck to work with marketers to do beta testing before making AdLife available. Meantime today’s news is a sign of how social media and advertising are converging. The enterprise has a rightful claim to employing social media and influencers to achieve its marketing and business objectives (what Avenue A | Razorfish calls Social Influence Marketing™). AdLife will help them do that.

For more information, feel free to contact me or my colleague Shiv Singh.

Avenue A | Razorfish, Pluck to develop social media offering

At AD:TECH Chicago August 5, Wendy Aldrich of Disney Parks and Resorts mentioned how Disney uses digital media to engage consumers wherever they they are. Her comments provide a fitting pretext for an August 6 announcement from my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Pluck Corp., to develop a new hybrid digital marketing and social media offering that will help marketers better engage with consumers across the digital world.

The offering, code-named AdLife, will inject social media features like customer comments and user-generated content into digital advertisements such as banner ads or microsites – in effect, turning mainstream ads into social media opportunities distributed across the digital world.

For instance, let’s say you’re Disney Parks & Resorts, and you want to promote a new attraction at a theme park. With AdLife, Disney could launch a banner advertisement that enables consumers to review the new attraction itself by clicking on the ad, as well as read feedback from other vacationers, without ever leaving the point of display for the advertisement. Disney then might use AdLife to link that ad (plus user-generated content) to its own branded microsite, the Disney YouTube channel, or other properties where Disney consumers play.

AdLife is not a substitute for the cool experiences that Wendy shared, like the contest on YouTube where you can upload your favorite Disney park memories. What AdLife does is give Disney a way to combine mainstream and social media properties to engage consumers — and help them engage with each other — across the digital landscape.

The next step is for Avenue A | Razorfish and Pluck to work with marketers to do beta testing before making AdLife available. Meantime today’s news is a sign of how social media and advertising are converging. The enterprise has a rightful claim to employing social media and influencers to achieve its marketing and business objectives (what Avenue A | Razorfish calls Social Influence Marketing™). AdLife will help them do that.

For more information, feel free to contact me or my colleague Shiv Singh.

Best Buy launches Summer Hub

How does a retailer like Best Buy build build awareness in the digital world for consumer products like cameras and GPS devices? It’s not like you can test a camera on a website.

Enter the Best Buy Summer Hub.

Built with my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish, the Best Buy Summer Hub employs rich media, snappy graphics, and a Facebook application to help consumers learn how consumer electronics devices can make summer more fun. The hub provide vacation tips relevant to six primary categories that people enjoy during summer: the beach, hiking and camping, the backyard, travel, sports and activities, and the road trip.

For example, in the “backyard” section, a brief video clip explains how you can create an outdoor theater in your backyard by using a bedsheet for a screen and a video projector with a built-in DVD player. I like how the tip is shared, too. A member of the iconic Best Buy “blue shirt nation” team quickly shares the tip accompanied by an image of the type of projector that would work best. She doesn’t perform a hard sell, either — she suggests you can borrow this equipment from your office, not just buy it.

(One suggestion: I realize it’s probably too expensive to do, but I’d love to hear some authentic songs of summer playing in the background as I visit the site, like “Soak up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow or the classic “Summer” by War.)

I think the digital trip journal is pretty cool, too:

Just click on the icon running at the top of the Summer Hub screen, and you are taken to Facebook, where you can load this application on your profile. From there, you can create a customized journal of a vacation and invite your fellow Facebook friends to keep track of your experience.

Of course, you can upload digital photos, too, which sounds like standard operating procedure at first blush. But think about it for a moment: instead of trying to sell you a digital camera, Best Buy creates a fun reason for you to want to own one and use it.

I actually just started a digital journal. Trust me: if I can do it, anyone can.

So why should you care about the Summer Hub? Because it’s one example of where marketing is headed: not pushing a message or a product at consumers but providing a captivating experience, usually one with emotional appeal.

We live in a world where consumers suffer from a massive case of ADD. We skim content briefly all over the digital world, snacking on small morsels of information and entertainment from digital video, blogs, websites, and portals. And we multi-task, too. (In fact, I’m toggling between email and a video while I write this bog.) How can even the most smartly crafted 30-second message reach us anymore? So ironically marketers are going in the opposite direction by creating entertaining and fun destinations where we won’t mind spending time with their brands.

That’s where experiences like the Summer Hub come into play: they’re not about overt messaging. The company branding is more subtle. Best Buy is banking on the chance that we’ll be engaged enough to spend some serious dwell time with the Best Buy brand and eventually buy a product online or in-store. Sure beats getting beat over the head with a loud banner ad.

Best Buy launches Summer Hub

How does a retailer like Best Buy build build awareness in the digital world for consumer products like cameras and GPS devices? It’s not like you can test a camera on a website.

Enter the Best Buy Summer Hub.

Built with my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish, the Best Buy Summer Hub employs rich media, snappy graphics, and a Facebook application to help consumers learn how consumer electronics devices can make summer more fun. The hub provide vacation tips relevant to six primary categories that people enjoy during summer: the beach, hiking and camping, the backyard, travel, sports and activities, and the road trip.

For example, in the “backyard” section, a brief video clip explains how you can create an outdoor theater in your backyard by using a bedsheet for a screen and a video projector with a built-in DVD player. I like how the tip is shared, too. A member of the iconic Best Buy “blue shirt nation” team quickly shares the tip accompanied by an image of the type of projector that would work best. She doesn’t perform a hard sell, either — she suggests you can borrow this equipment from your office, not just buy it.

(One suggestion: I realize it’s probably too expensive to do, but I’d love to hear some authentic songs of summer playing in the background as I visit the site, like “Soak up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow or the classic “Summer” by War.)

I think the digital trip journal is pretty cool, too:

Just click on the icon running at the top of the Summer Hub screen, and you are taken to Facebook, where you can load this application on your profile. From there, you can create a customized journal of a vacation and invite your fellow Facebook friends to keep track of your experience.

Of course, you can upload digital photos, too, which sounds like standard operating procedure at first blush. But think about it for a moment: instead of trying to sell you a digital camera, Best Buy creates a fun reason for you to want to own one and use it.

I actually just started a digital journal. Trust me: if I can do it, anyone can.

So why should you care about the Summer Hub? Because it’s one example of where marketing is headed: not pushing a message or a product at consumers but providing a captivating experience, usually one with emotional appeal.

We live in a world where consumers suffer from a massive case of ADD. We skim content briefly all over the digital world, snacking on small morsels of information and entertainment from digital video, blogs, websites, and portals. And we multi-task, too. (In fact, I’m toggling between email and a video while I write this bog.) How can even the most smartly crafted 30-second message reach us anymore? So ironically marketers are going in the opposite direction by creating entertaining and fun destinations where we won’t mind spending time with their brands.

That’s where experiences like the Summer Hub come into play: they’re not about overt messaging. The company branding is more subtle. Best Buy is banking on the chance that we’ll be engaged enough to spend some serious dwell time with the Best Buy brand and eventually buy a product online or in-store. Sure beats getting beat over the head with a loud banner ad.

Smirnoff, Nike, and Lynx embrace Social Influence Marketing

What do a liquor company, sports brand, and a body deodorant have in common?

Smirnoff, Nike, and Lynx are all examples of brands in Asia/Pacific that are working with my employer Avenue A | Razorfish to embrace Social Influence Marketing, or employing social media and social influencers to achieve one’s marketing and business objectives. I recently gathered these and more examples for some research here at Avenue A | Razorfish. The experience opened my eyes to the international phenomenon of Social Influence Marketing. I hope these examples help you think more globally about marketing:

Smirnoff

The Avenue A | Razorfish Sydney office — known in Australia as Amnesia Group — is helping Smirnoff employ social media to build buzz for the Smirnoff Experience Secret Party. According to the Amnesia Group blog, Smirnoff is conducting a “treasure hunt to give away tickets to the Smirnoff Experience Secret Party 2008. Clues are released on a blog to tickets hidden across Australia. There is also a Facebook group which gives help and exclusive clues to ticket hunters. If that’s not enough cyber-fun, there’s also a GPS ticket tracker, which his switched on from time to time.” Want to read more? Check it out here.

Nike

The Avenue A | Razorfish Hong Kong office — known in China as e-Crusadeworked with Nike to create a mobile game that promotes the Nike Air Force One. You can experience more of that here. Two things stand out for me on this one: 1) use of mobile devices and 2) integration with offline.

Nike Women “This Is Love” Facebook Premiere Show Ticket Application

e-Crusade built this application to promote the Nike Women movie, Find Love. Facebookers were encouraged to send Premiere Show Tickets to their friends and show their love for them. The effective use of social media brought more than 4,000 Facebookers to watch the movie online. More details here.

Lynx

Lynx is the name in Australia for the Axe brand of male personal care products manufactured by Unilever. The target audience is the Gen Y male. If you know anything about the Axe/Lynx brand, you know that Unilever employs an in-your-face risqué approach to build brand with young men. Lynx is no exception. Basically the message is this: guys, Lynx will make you more attractive to women. I think this comes through in the Lynx MySpace page.

This is an example of linking Social Influence Marketing to other forms of branding. In addition to creating the MySpace page, Amnesia Group also designed the Lynx Effect, which won a Webby award a few weeks ago. Together the Lynx MySpace page and Lynx Effect website show how a firm can take advantage of the engaging nature of digital (and win a Webby for content that, if created for your personal use, would probably prompt a visit from HR).

In both instances, Lynx sends the same message: our product is all about making you more attractive to women. But in the digital world, you can convey that message through an experience, as evidenced by the games, polls, videos, and other content on the site. What’s more, you can take the experience with you on your mobile phone and download content on to your desk top.

ninemsn

To build brand and usage for ninemsn, Amnesia Group launched the Prize Rush campaign, described again on the Amnesia Group blog: The approach: use a trivia game to generate Live Search queries. More than 4,000 Prize Rush members were recruited across MySpace, Facebook, and ninemsn spaces, creating more than 11,000 posts. More than 68 million search queries were generated in a time span of 8 weeks. I like this one because the campaign met objectives for both marketing (build buzz for ninemsn) and business (generate Live Search queries).

Down the road, I will post Social Influence Marketing examples from Europe. Meantime, I welcome your comments and questions.

Smirnoff, Nike, and Lynx embrace Social Influence Marketing

What do a liquor company, sports brand, and a body deodorant have in common?

Smirnoff, Nike, and Lynx are all examples of brands in Asia/Pacific that are working with my employer Avenue A | Razorfish to embrace Social Influence Marketing, or employing social media and social influencers to achieve one’s marketing and business objectives. I recently gathered these and more examples for some research here at Avenue A | Razorfish. The experience opened my eyes to the international phenomenon of Social Influence Marketing. I hope these examples help you think more globally about marketing:

Smirnoff

The Avenue A | Razorfish Sydney office — known in Australia as Amnesia Group — is helping Smirnoff employ social media to build buzz for the Smirnoff Experience Secret Party. According to the Amnesia Group blog, Smirnoff is conducting a “treasure hunt to give away tickets to the Smirnoff Experience Secret Party 2008. Clues are released on a blog to tickets hidden across Australia. There is also a Facebook group which gives help and exclusive clues to ticket hunters. If that’s not enough cyber-fun, there’s also a GPS ticket tracker, which his switched on from time to time.” Want to read more? Check it out here.

Nike

The Avenue A | Razorfish Hong Kong office — known in China as e-Crusadeworked with Nike to create a mobile game that promotes the Nike Air Force One. You can experience more of that here. Two things stand out for me on this one: 1) use of mobile devices and 2) integration with offline.

Nike Women “This Is Love” Facebook Premiere Show Ticket Application

e-Crusade built this application to promote the Nike Women movie, Find Love. Facebookers were encouraged to send Premiere Show Tickets to their friends and show their love for them. The effective use of social media brought more than 4,000 Facebookers to watch the movie online. More details here.

Lynx

Lynx is the name in Australia for the Axe brand of male personal care products manufactured by Unilever. The target audience is the Gen Y male. If you know anything about the Axe/Lynx brand, you know that Unilever employs an in-your-face risqué approach to build brand with young men. Lynx is no exception. Basically the message is this: guys, Lynx will make you more attractive to women. I think this comes through in the Lynx MySpace page.

This is an example of linking Social Influence Marketing to other forms of branding. In addition to creating the MySpace page, Amnesia Group also designed the Lynx Effect, which won a Webby award a few weeks ago. Together the Lynx MySpace page and Lynx Effect website show how a firm can take advantage of the engaging nature of digital (and win a Webby for content that, if created for your personal use, would probably prompt a visit from HR).

In both instances, Lynx sends the same message: our product is all about making you more attractive to women. But in the digital world, you can convey that message through an experience, as evidenced by the games, polls, videos, and other content on the site. What’s more, you can take the experience with you on your mobile phone and download content on to your desk top.

ninemsn

To build brand and usage for ninemsn, Amnesia Group launched the Prize Rush campaign, described again on the Amnesia Group blog: The approach: use a trivia game to generate Live Search queries. More than 4,000 Prize Rush members were recruited across MySpace, Facebook, and ninemsn spaces, creating more than 11,000 posts. More than 68 million search queries were generated in a time span of 8 weeks. I like this one because the campaign met objectives for both marketing (build buzz for ninemsn) and business (generate Live Search queries).

Down the road, I will post Social Influence Marketing examples from Europe. Meantime, I welcome your comments and questions.

Web 2.0: A reality check

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Have you ever wanted to get grounded in some basic web 2.0 concepts but were afraid to ask? On June 10, my Avenue A | Razorfish colleague Dave Friedman provided some answers in his presentation “Web 2.0: A Reality Check” at the Internet Retailer 2008 Conference. I have posted his presentation for your benefit, and here are some highlights:

It’s not about the technology

Web 2.0 is not a technology. It’s a technology wedded to a culture of collaboration and creativity on the web. Most importantly, it’s about consumers using digital to collaborate with each other. (Dave actually cited the Wikipedia defintion of web 2.0. Although I enjoy Wikipedia, the defintion seemed verbose and vague.) Example: 84 percent of affluent consumers surveyed by the Luxury Institute use ratings and services before making a purchase.

The driving principle behind web 2.0 – collaboration among people – is not new. People have been relying on each other for information about products and services for as long as merchants have existed. But web 2.0 technologies have turbocharged that experience. (Fortunately Dave resisted the urge to say “Web 2.0 is collaboration on steroids” or else I would have heckled him.)

The web 2.0 tool that matters most to retailers

Retailers usually understand the collaboration part of web 2.0. But they are mystified by the proliferation of web 2.0 media and tools, all of which have quickly formed their own argot: blogs, wikis, widgets, and so on.

Rather than attempt an exhaustive overview of most web 2.0 tools, Dave then focused on the most powerful one for retailers to understand: ratings and reviews, which allow customers to rate products and services and share their ratings with others. Ratings and reviews are a central part of the shopping process now. According to Forrester Research, half of people who shop online first do product research on Amazon.com because of the availability of reviews posted by their peers. Implication: having a rating and review section is not optional. Your customers expect it.

Social shopping

Dave also discussed how web 2.0 has fueled the social shopping phenomenon, or people relying on others to help them shop. The web has always been an effective place to do “surgical shopping,” or using price-comparison and search tools to find the right place at the right time to find a particular product you have in mind. But the problem with surgical shopping is that it’s not fun. Although there will always be a place for surgical shopping, digital can make the process more of an engaging experience by giving consumers the ability to explore different brands and involve your peers in the decision-making process. For example, on Kaboodle.com, consumers can find other people with similar interest in a product or category and share their passion for (or disgust with) their experience.

How retailers can embrace web 2.0

Finally, Dave discussed four ways retailers can embrace web 2.0:

1. Support multi-dimensional product comparisons. Give your customers access to product reviews and ratings even if you sell them through another channel. But make it possible to compare product, features, and styles.

2. Build places to make it easy for customers to play. Make it possible for customers to connect with other people. For instance, the Behr online paint store addresses the typically collaborative process of home design. At behr.com, you can upload photos and create possible designs based on lifestyle and color palette. After you create the ideas, you can share them with friends and family.

3. Engage in the conversation. Customers do want to hear from you – but they want to have a conversation. For example, Overstock.com includes a user forum and product rating function. You can even tell Overstock.com when you find lower prices elsewhere – which gives Overstock.com valuable input from the marketplace in addition to providing a voice for consumers.

4. Give people the ability to take your content and use it in other places. Your customer does not wake up every morning with a burning desire to visit online retailing websites. So make it possible for them to share information about you with their friends via“share with a friend” features. Clothing retailer Karma Loop turns customers into representatives for its brand by making it possible for you to download and design your own widget and post on your Facebook page.

Dave’s concluding point: if you’re still not sure what to do next, use your own network of trusted colleagues to get ideas – in other words, apply a little web 2.0-style collaboration to learn. That’s how Dave wrote the presentation you see on this blog post.

Meantime, check out these reactions in the blogosphere:

Tim Parry, Multichannel Merchant

Phil Windley’s Technometria

I welcome your feedback, too.