Archive for the ‘Social media diary’ Category.

Social media diary 27/2/2009 - UK National Museums

Nine museums in the UK launch Creative Spaces

This week in the UK saw the beta launch of Creative Spaces. An online community and federated search project across nine National Museums, part of the National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) and involving the Tate, V&A, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, Royal Armouries, Wallace Collection and Sir John Soanes’ Museum. The core idea is to provide a way for people to find, discuss and be inspired by the collections of all these museums.

Creative Spaces Promo from Creative Spaces on Vimeo.

The project really has two components:

  1. A federated search, allowing users to search and explore the collections across all nine museums in one place, online.
  2. An online community, allowing people to create notebooks (their own collections combining objects from the museums with their own content), create and join groups and review and add comments to objects that they like (or otherwise, of course).

It’s been an ambitious project, running for a number of years and the outcomes are exciting. The ability to search across and explore the collections is of huge value. But the social elements of the site allow individuals to essentially curate their own experience. Bringing objects from the different museums together with their own content, annotating them and making their own notebook - an exhibition for others to view and comment on.

So what can we learn from this?

This is a great example of using social media and online communities in a museums context. But it is also a great example of When thinking about how to use social media and online communities, it is important for brands and organisations to explore what it is they can uniquely offer. What do they have that they can share with people, and why would people come to a site that they were running to interact.

With Creative Spaces, I think these nine museums have got it right. They have not just launched an online community, asking people to talk about art - there are many places you can do that. What these organisations can offer that is different is access to their catalogues, and by coming together to make Creative Spaces they are offering something even more unique - the ability to search the collective catalogues of some of the leading museums in the UK. They have something unique and of value that they can offer to people with this search, and also with the online community they have built to support this.

One problem with some online communities is that they focus too much on forums and verbal communication. Other media can sometimes be a more effective way of communicating: video can be a great way to engage some people, others want to express themselves with images or objects. In a museums context this becomes even more important. I may not want to discuss my reaction to an object, but I might want to upload an image of my own as a reaction to it. Creative Spaces lets you do this, and indeed let’s you curate your own collection (they call it a notebook) with objects from the collections alongside your own content or content you’ve got from elsewhere. This is clever, allowing people to react and respond in whatever medium is most appropriate to them.

Creative Spaces is a great idea, it brings social media to a museums context and creates a social experience online that centres on the unique content these museums have - their own collections. It’s easy to set up a site and expect people to come and engage there, but this rarely happens. You need to build a site that meets a need and offers something new, leveraging your own position to give a real reason for people to come and engage on your site rather than elsewhere.

If you decide to join up, feel free to add me as a contact: Matt Rhodes.

(In interest of open disclosure, I should say that FreshNetworks has done some strategy work with the NMOLP to help them launch and grow Creative Spaces. But it would always have been a great example of social media!)

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  • Museum lovers’ social networking (

Social media diary 13/2/2009 - Agent Provocateur

Image via Wikipedia

Agent Provocateur engages women consumers across multiple platform

Appropriately for the day before Valentine’s Day, this week saw lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur, launch a social media campaign to promote its HelloAgentProvocateur blog. As you might expect from a lingerie brand, the blog includes a range of posts from the relatively tame advice on relationships and dating, to the more provocative (appropriately enough). One recent post, for example, included a post featuring a chart of exciting and mood-killing things to say during sex.

Alongside the blog post, they’ve launched a Facebook page and also a Twitter stream allowing micro blogging from MsProvocateur. The idea, according to Scott Goodson, CEO of StrawberryFrog, the agency working on the project,

…is the first time a luxury fashion brand has launched a provocative social media campaign tying together their various data-linked platforms, like a multi-entry daily blog, Twitter feed and Facebook

With a launch tied into a new ad campaign (itself designed to coincide with Valentine’s Day), this looks like a real attempt for a co-ordinated marketing approach. Using traditional and social media and then tying together online activities with a central micro blog.

So what can we learn from this?

We wrote earlier this week about the continued growth of social networks in 2008, and in particular the tremendous growth for both Facebook and Twitter. What Agent Provocateur appear to be doing is to use the different social network tools and online community platforms to engage people in different ways.

  • The blog is being used for regular posts that discuss issues of relationships, dating, and Agent Provocateur’s products in some depth. They run news and features alongside it and this really capitalises on the role that a blog can play as a content-rich information source.
  • Facebook is being used to showcase content and ideas from the blog and the campaign, and to gather friends. It capitalises upon the networking aspect of Facebook by encouraging people to connect with it. This is much softer than some of the activities that take place on the blog and reflects the difficulty that brands have marketing directly in Facebook (and other social networks).
  • The use of Twitter allows Agent Provocateur to bring together all of this activity and to broadcast what they are doing and saying on a regular basis. They can capture contacts in a way similar to in Facebook, but Twitter offers something really different. It’s not just a medium for releasing content (as is the case with the blog) nor on for accumulating friends and showcasing the best of what’s going on (as is the case with Facebook). Twitter allows them to actually engage.

It is rewarding to see that even with only 351 followers on Twitter, MsProvocateur is starting to engage and respond to people directly. When one follower tweated about the gifts their boyfriend had bought them, MsProvocateur responded with some thoughts on gifts that are good to buy in return.

The real value of Twitter is both in acting as a central portal to bring together and point to all social media activity, and also a true engagement tool. In fact, when brands use Twitter, it really is a case of the more you put in the more you will get out. It is worth finding people who are talking about your brand or the topics and subjects you discuss and following them. Do respond to people, give advice and  suggestions. And make this not just an overt marketing message. Really engage people and you will then reap the benefits of this activity in sales.

It’s not the use of Twitter that we like of Agent Provocateur’s campaign (although it is good), nor the topical nature of the subject. Rather it is that they are using a range of social media tools to engage people in different ways. A sensible approach.

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  • Facebook Determined To Make Twice As Much On Gifts This Valentine’s Day (
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Social media diary 16/1/2009 - London 2012

Official Logo of the 2012 Olympic Games

Image via Wikipedia

London announces social media strategy for 2012 Olympic Games

This week came the first announcements of the social media strategy that will accompany London’s 2012 Olympic Games. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will work with the sponsors of the Games to launch a social media campaign in the run-up to the games in three years time as part of it’s campaign to get younger people to get involved in both the Games and sport more generally.

They are currently negotiating the involvement of the various official sponsors, and Adidas will be the first to launch a project as part of the campaign. Their involvement will include what is called an “online sports activation project”, a set of online social media activities, and presence in social networks, that will sit alongside a campaign offering free gyms to London schools and communities.

According to Alex Balfour, head of new media at LOCOG:

“The main driver for it will be around social values. It will be focused less on the people who are already active in sport or aspire to be lead sports people and more on those who have some interest but don’t see the social rewards in it.”

So what can we learn from this?

The announcements to date seem to be focusing on ways to engage younger audiences, through online communities and social networks. They appear to be building social media elements into their broader projects to encourage mass participation in sport and hope that this will help their drive to get young people involved.

This is undoubtedly a laudable effort. It is great to use the focus that the Olympic games provide to encourage and promote sport; and especially to motivate younger people to get involved. Social media undoubtedly has a significant role to play in any activities like this and I look forward to what I hope are well-planned and well-executed activities online. The Olympics is a big deal, and it deserves great and innovative use of social media.

Of course, I really hope that London 2012′s social media strategy goes much further than what we have seen announced so far. Whilst it is great to try to engage young people in this way, I hope they will try to engage the rest of us too! As we wrote earlier this year, the Olympics should be the perfect social media event. As we wrote at the time:

…if there were ever a perfect candidate for coverage in social networks, online communities and social media, then the Olympics surely must be it.

From my experience with clients, the aspects that are common in successful online communities typically include:

  1. A shared or common interest or goal
  2. The subject may be broad but allows interest groups to form
  3. A subject people are or can be passionate about
  4. Enthusiasts and leaders who will help to shape the community
  5. An experience that is or can be inherently social, that people want to share with others
  6. A subject that can create strong opinions and passionate views
  7. Regularly changing and updated content
  8. Media and varying content types so different people can interact in different ways
  9. You can be more interested in the issues as you are in the people you are discussing them with
  10. An ability for the online experience to be supplemented with offline experience

A full social media strategy should look at ways to engage and involve people before, during and after the Olympic games. If Beijing this year was the first time people have been able to use social media to report on events, London in three years’ time should be the first games to fully integrate social media into the Olympic experience. That’s why I’m looking forward  to watching LOCOG’s social media strategy develop and to more elements of it being revealed. By 2012, social media will use tools we don’t even have yet in ways we can’t imagine. I hope London is ready to make the most of them.

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  • London 2012 will be mobile
  • Olympic Games: Halfway to the opening ceremony, London 2012′s progress report

Social media diary 9/1/2009 - Sony

Sony Corporation ソニー株式会社

Sony crowd-sources name for new online community

Sony this week launched a beta version of it’s new online community this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The site combines company blogs with videos, photos and polls as well as allowing users to create profiles; it’s a site for users to engage with Sony as a brand and as a company. They’re using the site at the Show both to report on product launches but also to allow people to engage with their bloggers and content. From the perspective of launching an online community, many of the usual criteria appear to be met. The community is missing just one thing: a name.

Sony are looking to co-create the name for their online community, working with those people who are first to use and try the site both to get feedback on the content and the interactions, but also to suggest a name for the community. As their chief blogger and senior vice president of corporate communications, Rick Clancy, says:

We want to get feedback from users and also we thought it would be great to reach out to users for suggestions on a name for the site. My favorite so far is ‘Sony No Baloney,’ which I used for the very first blog post, but some of my colleagues disagree. Hopefully, the community members themselves can suggest something more clever.

So what can we learn from this?

There are many things right about how Sony are launching their online community. Getting the strategy and launch right can really help to maximise the chances of success, including:

  • seeding the community with content and members even before the beta launch
  • bringing together the ways the company interacts - making the user experience simple and not making them do work to find out where to interact
  • launching  alongside an event - capitalising upon the PR the event will bring and also establishing the clear relationship between the online and offline community of consumers - they are the same people after all, just engaging in different ways
  • using the first members to help you finalise and develop the community

By working with these first members to co-create the name for the online community itself, Sony is allowing them to have real input into a significant part of the community member experience - what the community is actually called. There are many ways to engage community members and confer a feeling of ownership of the community too them, but I particularly like the idea of getting them to name the site. Naming conventions in society are important - those who help to name something feel ownership of and responsibility for it. By getting these first community members to work together to name the site they will create a set of people who feel responsibility for the success of the site and who want to work to make it a success.

Understanding the social dynamics at play in online communities is important, and if you capitalise upon them you can really help maximise the potential for success at launch and whilst you grow and develop your site.

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  • Sony’s 2009 CES Press Conference In HD
  • Live from Sony’s (first) CES 2009 press event
  • Sony bolsters Web presence with social networking site
  • Sony Electronics Launches Community Site
  • Sony’s Social Networking Site Needs a Name
  • Consumer Electronics Show: Myspace social networking site to be available through TV sets

Social media diary 19/12/2008 - Skype

Skype Limited

Skype launches video cards in Facebook

Just in time, perhaps, for those of us who haven’t yet sent all our Christmas cards, Skype this week launched Skype Video Cards, as both an application in Facebook and also as a standalone feature at

The concept is quite simple and it works well as a Facebook application. You choose a basic card, record your video message and send this to your friends. They receive a personalised flash video message from you (and with Skype branding!). It’s a nice application, and out with good timing as we enter the festive season with a force. It’s simple to use (in four clicks you can create a card), creates a personal message and sends a flash video card which means it can be viewed directly from a web browser.

So what can we learn from this?

One question that this application raises is why is Skype doing this? As some people have noted, the video card tool doesn’t make use of any Skype technology, it doesn’t even integrate with your Skype contacts list to send to your friends.

For me this doesn’t matter, especially not for the Facebook application. If this were only a standalone feature, then it would be odd that it didn’t actually showcase the product whose brand it carried. But in Facebook, and indeed in other social networks, it is not so easy to market and product-place in this way.

As we’ve written about before, it can be very difficult to advertise in social networks. Primarily because social networks are social environments with social rules. People are there for their own, personal reasons - to upload their photos, network with their friends, plan their events and talk about issues that are of interest to them. It’s a ‘me’ space and when brands enter this they need to be fully aware of the social rules they must abide by. It’s not that easy to just place your product in front of people or pump your marketing message to them.

This is why the Skype Video Card application works for me. Rather than trying to integrate their actual product and develop an application that people will use and forward to their friends. Instead they opted for the solution of creating an application that creates real value for the users (especially those who have forgotten to send holiday greetings already) and allows the Skype brand to be associated with this.

Facebook and other social networks can be scary places for brands, and difficult places for them to succeed in. My advice: think first how you can add value to the users experience and then put your brand on it. You have a great chance of being successful, and of getting that brand forwarded round the internet faster than you could hope for.

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  • Brands, social, clutter and the sundae
  • Social Media Isn’t Anti-Social
  • Flash Skype Video cards = Flash Skype Client in the Near Future?
  • There Are No Dancing Elves. But Skype’s Got A Video Greeting Card App For The Holidays
  • Skype video cards: holiday cheer with a side of humbug