Social media case study: Kabbee - growing a pool of evangelists from the outset?

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Kabbee is a mobile app-based service on both Android and iOS that allows Londoners (at present, other cities to come soon, as well as black cabs) to book minicabs on their smartphone from wherever they are in the city. It boasts a massive database of over 4000 minicab drivers from 60 fleets, all of who go through a process of being accredited in order to be given access to the users who need transportation, which essentially makes Kabbee a middle-man to get you a minicab that you can trust quickly.

This isn’t, of course, the first time that a minicab service has ventured into the mobile app market. There are similar apps available to people in the USA, and Addison Lee also has a well-known app that allows you access to their (huge) fleet from the comfort of your touch screen.

Kabbee, however, is slightly different to the others. It is a fully serviced suite that allows you (crucially) to pre-load your account with cash so that you can pay for a cab even when you’ve spent all your paper money, as well as compare minicab prices and then rate the journey when you’re done. Not only does it make getting a minicab easier if you’re in a part of London that you don’t know well, but it also introduces an element of healthy competition between the minicab services that was hitherto non existent.

Where’s the ‘social’?

A friend of mine recently asked for some app recommendations for their new iPhone on Twitter, where I then pointed them in the direction of Kabbee. Not too long after this I received the following tweet:

This is impressive for more than one reason; I have used the service to compare prices previously but didn’t actually create an account, so not only have they turned me into a brand evangelist (I really am impressed with their proactive approach here) but they’ve also made me sign up in order to get my reward.

This is a great example of how social media monitoring and small gestures of appreciation to vocal people can grow a pool of evangelists for a brand that is, for all intents and purposes, pretty unknown.

When you’re a new company, this is the kind of work that really helps grow your core audience early on – it’s all about positive word of mouth from the outset.

Social media case study: Ted Baker ‘It’s Rutting Season’

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To celebrate the launch of their new AW11 Collection, Ted Baker recently ran a new social media  campaign entitled ‘It’s Rutting Season’.

Customers were invited to visit the Ted Baker stores in Glasgow, Manchester and London on particular dates in order to have the chance to ‘strut their rutt’ in store. This involved having their photo taken in a magical woodland setting whilst wearing a nicely designed deer mask.

The photos were then uploaded to Ted Baker’s custom-made Facebook app where fans could share them with friends and vote for the “most adorable Doe and dominant Stag from each city’s herd”. The winner was rewarded with a £500 Ted Baker shopping spree.

Successful elements of “It’s Rutting Season” include:

Connecting online with the in-store experience

Ted Baker obviously  put a lot of effort into making sure the “It’s Rutting Season” campaign delivered a fun, in-store experience. The setting, masks and Instagram filters gave customers an easy way to create some highly shareable, magical-looking images.

Creating a dedicated Facebook App

‘It’s Rutting Season’ had its own dedicated tab on the Ted Baker page on Facebook. This made the campaign easy to find, as well as giving  Ted Baker a well-branded space in which to display the photos. Creating their own app also ensured that Ted Baker was operating within Facebook competition guidelines while still giving them the freedom to make the app look and feel on-brand.

Blogger outreach

Any good social media management team will tell you that in order to make a campaign successful you can’t just wait for online coverage to come to you. Ted Baker’s solution to this was to get key fashion bloggers involved by inviting them to be the official in-store photographers for the ‘Rutting Season’ event.

Ted Baker invited  Les Garcon des Glasgow, Sara Luxe and Mademoiselle Robot to participate, which increased their chance of coverage in the fashion blogs. For the London event, Ted Baker invited Mike Kus (who took over Burberry’s Instagram account for London Fashion Week) to take some behind-the-scenes snaps to share with his 124,157 followers on Instagram – a smart move.

So what could have been improved?

Whilst the app was visually attractive and easy to use, it took a long time to load. Participants were invited to claim their photos and share them with their friends in order to generate votes, ensuring a certain amount buzz. However, once in the app, when fans ‘liked’ a photo, this was not shared back into the news feed or ticker on Facebook. This seems like a lost opportunity for reaching a larger audience on Facebook.

After a cursory search on Twitter and various blogs, it would appear that despite their outreach efforts, Ted Baker didn’t achieve an extensive amount of coverage online, so their social media management and outreach programme could probably have been developed further.

Despite these points, this was a fun campaign and it’s great to see brands engaging with online influencers in order to support their social media activity.

Mobile virtual goods revenue to reach $3bn in 2011 and $4.6bn by 2016

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Image courtesy of shutterstock

A new report from Juniper Research has found that an increase in social gaming will push the global market for virtual goods bought from mobile social media services from $3 billion this year to $4.6 billion by 2016.

While this increase is largely attributed to a sharp rise in smartphone adoption, it’s interesting to note is that  sales of virtual goods via mobile platforms are really  flourishing in Japan and China.

This is not really that surprising though, given that  Chinese social gaming companies like  Happy Elements has the ability to raise millions of dollars in funding to not only expand their reach in Asia, but also bring their social games to western markets.

Social gaming can benefit brands in a number of ways and increasing tablet usage is expected to provide further growth in the social gaming market, particularly in the west,  as tablets offer a significantly better user experience for social gaming than smartphones.

However, any brand looking to invest in social virtual goods should be aware of app store payments in the likes of Apple App Store,  Android Market and BlackBerry App World. Any company wishing to sell virtual goods from within their own app risk losing a whopping 30% of the payment value to the app store.

So while virtual goods provide a way of monetising mobile social media and social gaming, brands need to find a way to avoid app stores taking a slice of their revenue.

Other key findings from Juniper’s report include:

  • The spend on advertising targeted at tablets is expected to account for almost half of total mobile social media advertising spend by 2016.
  • The Far East & China will continue to account for the biggest share of mobile social media revenues, followed by North America.

New Facebook mobile changes for iOS

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Iphone screenshot of facebook appOur Park Bench and Scratching Post Facebook apps have gone from strength to strength since their launch earlier this year, with over 7,000 pet owners making their own pet profile.

One of the challenges faced when building Facebook apps in the past has been how to make them accessible to mobile users. Whilst Facebook offers quite a good mobile interface for Pages, using and discovering apps built within Facebook has proven a challenge.

Last week Facebook made some changes to how its platform works for mobile apps, and I wanted to highlight 3 of them which I think are particularly interesting:

A new mobile and web app

Similar to Twitter’s mobile app changes back in May, Facebook has narrowed the gap between their mobile web experience and native apps on iOS (Blackberry/Android presumably coming soon). The Facebook iPad and iPhone apps now perform almost exactly the same as their m.facebook.com experience.

Bookmarks

A familiar part of the Facebook web experience, bookmarks are added on the left hand side of your home page once you’ve authorised an app. Its a handy place to keep track of the apps you use most, along with your Pages, Groups and Events. The new Facebook app and mobile web app now features the same set of information in a pop out.

If you’re a brand who uses a Facebook app to engage with your audience, keeping your app at the forefront of their mind is really important. The bookmarks overlay means you can do this as easily on someone’s mobile as you can on the desktop.

Requests

An extension to the Facebook notification system, requests are a neat way to invite your friends to join an app you’re using. You can share that you’re using an app, or prompt them to take a turn in a game. Requests are a likely to become an important tool when looking to grow the audience for your app - the equivalant of ‘sharing’ a post or image from a page.

Zynga (originally of Farmville fame) are one of the first to take advantage of this, building the Words with Friends on the new mobile platform. If you’ve previously created an account through the (rather addictive) iPhone app and connected to Facebook you’ll be able to play the game on your mobile web browser, and indeed on the Facebook desktop. You’ll get all the notifications you’re used to when someone has taken a turn, and you can start a game on your desktop and continue on your mobile browser.

By making it easier for app developers to build mobile apps within Facebook, and providing some of the social channels we’ve become familiar with on the ‘full’ Facebook experience I think Facebook has started to open its mobile audience up to even more exciting opportunities.


Wired 2011 - Can you use social media to predict the future?

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Predict future with social mediaHumans have tried to predict the future for thousands of years and yet, as Professor Noreena Hertz, (author of The Debt Threat and The Silent Takeover),  argued at the Wired 2011 conference, we’re really not very good at it. However, with the explosion of social media use, and the resultant boom in available data, we may have an opportunity to see not only what is going on, but how social groups may behave in the future.

Make sense from the chatter

Hertz argued that social media produces a cacophony of chatter which is not useful unless it is mined in a meaningful way. Experience has shown that the numbers don’t just speak for themselves. For example, the police have been collecting and processing social media data since the G20 protests, yet in their own words, they were ‘overwhelmed’ by chitter-chatter during the recent London riots, and struggled to identify the key voices involved.

In order to make the data from social media useful, we need to be sure of how to use it. Hertz said that we could potentially use it to understand how buzz relates to sales, how it relates to voting tensions, or negative sentiments to violent actions and so on. The challenge is to understand this social media buzz and to learn how to communicate these insights.

Social Media and the X Factor

Hertz called the X Factor “research gold dust” as not only does it generate a great amount of much social media buzz, but it also involves a public vote. Therefore, it is a fascinating subject for what she terms ‘social media scientists’ as they can test how far social media data can predict who will be voted off that week and gain insight into what X Factor fans think, like and care about.

Understanding social media buzz is more complex than simply identifying ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’. Hertz reminded us that language can have complex meaning, especially when it includes specific audience classifiers such as ‘OMG’ and ‘narked’. Human behaviour is also non-linear - so just because you tweet about something, doesn’t mean you will buy, or vote.

The result? Hertz’s new site, xfactortracker.com. Not only is it a fun way to make sense of X factor related social media buzz, but it also is a potentially influential step towards understanding more about all of the data we have access to.