Webinar 17th Feb 2011 - Social media and financial services (with BrightTalk)

At 3pm GMT on 17th Feburary, Charlie Osmond will be giving a webinar about social media and the financial services sector.

Hosted by Val-Pierre Genton from BrightTALK, Charlie will speak about developing a social media strategy and will give tips and advice on measuring and tracking ROI.

If you would like to attend the webinar visit this blog post and click on the “Attend” button at 3pm GMT on 17th Feb.

Online PR and reputation management

shutterstock_43532716In today’s world, online PR isn’t just about coverage from professional magazines and media sources. Brands also get coverage from the user-generated content that exists on blogs, forums, online communities and by using the other social media tools that are at their disposal.

This increase in online content can help with search engine rankings, website traffic and the spread of word-of-mouth. It can also help businesses get a better understanding about what their customers are saying, be it positive or negative. In fact, the online conversation should be monitored closely so that if any negativity occurs it can be detected,  qualified and responded to in the appropriate manner to ensure the reputation of a brand is not damaged.

But just how do you manage a brand when people are talking on multiple online platforms all around the world? And how do you use the social web to increase your visibility and coverage?

In June we’re sponsoring an Online PR seminar which will help you learn how to use social media as part of your online PR strategy.

Organised by B2B Marketing , the seminar will teach you how to:

  • Develop a ‘push’ strategy so you can better manage your brand’s reputation and influence market opinion.
  • Monitor online conversations so you can engage your audience and develop strategies to manage your reputation online.
  • Increase your visibility on search engines so you can drive more relevant and better quality traffic to your website.
  • Understand how to use social media monitoring monitoring tools to track media coverage and measure ROI.

One of our directors, Charlie Osmond, will cover how to develop a social media strategy to support PR activity. He’ll also cover how to use social media monitoring tools to track media coverage and help maintain your reputation online.

Other speakers at the seminar include Melanie Seasons and Charley Hayes from Online Fire and Sam Dorney from IAS B2B Marketing.

Book your place here or call +44 (0)20 7438 1379.

Social Gaming – SXSW panel

image from shutterstock

image from shutterstock

Social gaming is a hot topic here at SXSW. The industry has been growing at an incredible rate and traditional gaming companies have been caught unaware by a flurry of new market entrants.

Playfish was one of the 2009 success stories. Within two years of starting the company, they are attracting 60 million monthly players and are selling 90million items a day (virtual goods and unlockable gameplay). It’s also been a huge personal success for the founders, who sold the business for £240 million last year.

I noticed that Sebastien de Halleux, one of the co-founders of Playfish, was speaking on a panel this morning so I went along. It has been one of my SXSW highlights so far. Here are a few notes (NB comments are paraphrased).

How are social games different to what’s gone before?

SdH: The design of the games is the main difference. Rather than an immersive story-telling experience designed for gamers it’s a social experience designed for non-gamers.

ET: Story’s have endings so are not as scalable or well suited to social gaming platforms.

OA: It’s like going back to how we used to play board games with friends. From faceless gaming back to connecting with real people. There’s also a massive shift for the gaming industry; the economics of gaming is driving business model changes.

JD: Social has brought gaming to the masses. Facebook has also had a profound effect on what people are prepared to share online. People are open about their identity and that’s helped drive the big shift.

ET: The difference is that games can now transmit themselves through invites and gifting. So the opportunity is for a game to pass through recommendation not through marketing. As a result you don’t have to be a big brand or established business to have success. Just focus on creating good games.

Lessons you have learnt and surprises

ET: It’s useless to predict what will work in the future (social gaming) from the past (traditional gaming). For example, who would have thought a game about farming would be a runaway hit. You have to try a wide variety of things. Find a success and then drive hard into it.

SdH: Speed of the industry has evolved. Don’t even think about a change from time cycle in years to months to weeks. We think in evolutionary cycles – EA has published 17 versions of FIFA in 17 years, and our Pet society game has already been through hundreds of evolutions. It is constantly evolving with continuous feedback into each step.

JD: We’ve learnt that social games are living, breathing services. They are not stand-alone games or products. If you launch one, you are committed to it. The volume  of feedback, and the emotion behind it, is incredible.

ET: We’ve learnt that gameplay is there as a delivery mechanism for the content, or as a facilitator for social interaction. It’s not the reason for being

SdH: Launch early. We launch at a 10% completion milestone. We launch unfinished products and that’s fine as early feedback helps you get the game right.

Monetisation of social games

SdH: In-game micro-transactions are key. The game is free and we create emotional incentives that make people want more of the game. Audiences are ready to pay for good games, but in small chunks. Just don’t get fooled into believing that you need large ticket transactions. Try not to think in terms of a business plan based on: Price x Quantity. Instead, think about Distribution x Engagement x Lifetime User Value.

ET: we’ve found that there are two things that can have a disproportionate impact on profitability:

  • Creativity / self-expression - allowing people to be creators makes them care more and increases their life time value.
  • Competition - player vs. player conflict drives a willingness to pay for competitive advantage.

What’s the place for gaming brands in social?

There was some disagreement on this one.

OA: brands will take over this space. For an example, look at the success of Dante’s Inferno, an average game that got traction thanks to the brand.

SdH: The value of brands in a retail world was huge. It helped them fight for shelf-space and increased trust at the point-of-purchase. But there is no shelf space in social games [not sure I agree with this as we all look at the “top 25”]

Social gaming is driven by invitations from your friends. Direct emails into your inbox from people you know, alleviate the need for brands as a purveyor of trust.

But brands will be have a role especially in their ability to make you care more about a game by mixing offline with online. E.g. FIFA. There is a huge opportunity to innovate here as we move towards games with 1Bn players.

When it comes to other brands taking part (e.g. Coke) advergames do not work well as people see through them. However it is possible to create engagement models where brands add to the experience.

How will mobile gaming integrate with social gaming?

SdH: mobile is difficult to integrate. There are so many issues to balance if someone starts a game on the web then wants to continue playing on a different platform like iphone.

We are running a service. Running a service on the iphone is hard as they are built for application download. There are workarounds, but microtransactions in games are difficult (iphone does not allow individual item purchase, nor do they allow gifting). The factors that drive success on the web are difficult to replicate on mobile.

ET: The trick of getting social mobile to work will be hitting the union (think Venn diagrams) not the intersection of iphone and Facebook. There needs to be a synergy of multi-platform, not just a replacement.

Mobile is more like a way of making money out of what we already have.

Then it got controversial.

OA: we want Xbox and Facebook fully connected. Games will become fully transferable between the web, mobile and your TV screen.

ET and SdH: this has been forecast for years, but will not happen.

Things to watch

  • The frictionless monetisation of Facebook credits is exceptionally powerful
  • Location aware games like Gowalla and Foursquare.

Abbreviations:
SdH Sebastien de Halleux – Playfish co-founder
ET - Eric Todd, Playdom
OA - Omar Abdelwahed, Ubisoft
JD - Jon David, PopCap Games
GD - Gareth Davis, Facebook (moderator)

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SXSW 10 session notes: Crowd sourcing innovative social change

Another day at SXSW, and a good seminar on crowd sourcing and not-for-profits. The ‘Crowd sourcing innovative social change’ session saw Amy Sample Ward, Beth Kanter and others talking about how to use crowd sourcing in a not-for-profit environment, not for fund raising or marketing, but for service and programme delivery. One interesting distinction was between a ‘crowd’ and a ‘community’ and how this impacts the model you use.

As with other SXSW sessions, rather than reproduce the conversations after the event, here are the hand-drawn notes taken during the session itself.

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SXSW: Crowd sourcing innovative social change session notes

You can also see Amy’s presentation from the session here:

Crowdsourcing for Social Change
View more presentations from Amy Sample Ward.

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SXSW 10 session notes: Can the real-time web be realized?

Day Two of SXSW and one of the most interesting sessions we’ve been to so far was ‘Can the Real-Time Web Be Realized?’ including Brett Slatkin from Google, Dare Obasanjo from Microsoft and Scott Raymond from Gowalla among others.

Rather than regurgitate the content of the session, we’ve included our low-tech hand-drawn notes from the session below.

SXSW: Real-time web session notes

SXSW: Real-time web session notes

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