I’m sorry – did you miss me?

My bad.

I cannot believe that after spending years preaching to so many about the importance of keeping up with their blogs and online ‘voice’ I have managed to neglect my own for SO LONG! In that time, my demanding role as Global Marketing Strategist with Lionbridge, and even more demanding family, has seen a marked decrease in the time I used to allocate to onlineSoul. However, something interesting happened this week which has made me rethink how I managed my time so that I can dedicate more to blogging once more:

  1. I looked at the statistics,Ā  and strangely – with no promotion or activity AT ALL – they are increasing! It seems that what I wrote about 3 years ago still very much resonates with people…
  2. I received a lovely comment on one of my posts, which inspired me to return. I like being liked – don’t we all!šŸ™‚

So, I’m back! Let me know what you want to hear about, and I’ll happily add it to the mix.

Shocking demonstration of influencer marketing from Volkswagen UK

We’ve all heard of influencer marketing, right? You find out who the key influencers are within your target market and use them as a vehicle to get to the people you are aiming at. Great in theory, but not many companies are really doing it right (if they are attempting it at all!).

To begin with, you need to understand the difference between an influencer and a brand advocate, as was expertly described by Aaron Lee recently in his iStrategy blog post. Whilst I don’t agree with his overall point that the brand advocate is ‘always’ more valuable (I think that really depends on how you interact with them – as per the Volkswagen example I will discuss later), his infographic does illustrate how each could be used, and where the strengths are in building on these relationships:

Influencers versus AdvocatesIn my experience, the real difference lies in how you choose to engage them. Writing a piece on how great your company or your product is and then farming out to the influencer – no matter how relevant their audience is – is not the best way to execute what could be a very valuable ongoing relationship. You need to work with them, understand their motivations and plans for the future. In the case of bloggers, what are their future plans for content and growth? What are they motivated by? Is it about volume of content, or about the quality and relevance? Just how influential are they really – are they interacting with their audience and really helping to steer people towards a solution?

In most cases influencers will be crying out for help with regards creating brilliant and relevant content – it’s not an easy thing to generate on a regular basis – and if you take the time to understand them and find out how you could fit in with their plans in a mutually beneficial way, you will end up with a much more effective influencer marketing strategy.

Having said all that, Volkswagen have just done something completely different with an influencer, but which I also think is great……šŸ™‚

In the UK it seems that around 500kĀ  people have accidents every year due to applying make-up whilst driving. Yes. It’s true – there are that many people desperate enough to top up their foundation and lipstick that they will do so whilst driving and therefore put themselves and others lives at risk! As part of their social responsibility charter (and no doubt secondary brand message around their own vehicle safety levels!) Volkswagen looked to where people who are most interested in make-up tips go – YouTube.

Working with NikkiTutorials, a young woman who has been offering video make-up tips for several years and has built up quite a following,Ā  they filmed this great video which really brings the message home:

This is going to hit people who would not actively select a ‘warning video’ – arguably, just the people they needed to get the message to. Creating a video for their own YouTube channel just could not have done this.

Now, with my ‘Global Marketing’ hat on – think about how you could roll this type of strategy out internationally? Not an easy task!

Febreze launch Global ‘Breathe Happy’ campaign

The latest integrated campaign by Proctor & Gambles $billion air freshener brand, Febreze, kick started last month in the US and is due to launch in the UK next week.

Following a (resurrected) current trend of using ‘real people’ video evidence to show how great a product is, the brand set up several ‘social experiments’ – such as bringing smelly fish, goats and sweaty bodybuilders into rooms with unsuspecting volunteers, or blindfolding people and leaving them in places which have been set up to resemble the aftermath of a nuclear war. Of course, Febreze was used to mask the pong and the people were asked to describe what they could smell and what it reminded them of.

No surprise that they smell the beautiful floral fragrance of Febreze, and not the smeg that it is masking, and that there are lots of dramatic gasps when they take off their blindfold to find themselves staring into the armpit of a bodybuilder, or face-to-face with a dead fish, and not in the middle of a beautiful meadow.

What is this telling us? That the smell of Febreze is so strong it can cover up anything? Actually, it is telling us that the team behind Febreze are starting to do some real joined-up thinking, and have developed a great campaign which will not only work well globally, but will also work across all of their marketing platforms.

The US have kick started the global campaign well, using a dedicated area of their main brand website, as well as active Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels. There is also a competition encouraging people to share their ‘breathe happy’ stories for the chance to win free product and/or money. It’s a shame they didn’t take this concept just a little further and allow people to recreate the experiments and then share the videos. Opening up the votes would have helped to make the campaign more interactive too.

Lets hope that the UK and other countries involved use the same formula as the US, although they will need to do a little work on the online brand consistency between the main websites in order to share the collateral and microsite design already developed. I always tell my clients to sort out global brand consistency asap – if the online branding is consistent, the cost savings when rolling out campaigns can be significant.

Ariel Facebook campaign linked with an offline ‘squirt’

Saatchi & Saatchi came up with a fab idea for Proctor & Gambles latest Ariel Active campaign in Scandinavia recently. Running for a week between 29th August – 3rd September, they created a robot arm which could be powered via users on Facebook to squirt clothing with jam, chocolate, and other things which would usually be tough to wash out.

The whole thing was housed within a large glass container in the middle of the main train station in Stockholm. Anyone living in Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Finland was able to sign up via the dedicated Facebook page, in order to direct the robot arm. If they made a direct hit on any of the clothing, it was washed there and then and sent to them in order to prove that Ariel had removed the ‘stain’.

Although this campaign has obviously received a lot of PR due to its originality, it doesn’t look like it achieved much in the way of user commitment by way of ‘likes’ to their page. They should have perhaps considered including some incentives, such as money-off vouchers, as well as additional interactive content (this easily lends itself to an online game) in order to secure any extra ‘traffic’ it created, if this was their aim. They could certainly have made more of it on their website too. For something which could have had a ton of mileage, they don’t seem to have taken it past the first few hundred yards, which is a real shame.

11.11.11: World Remembers using Twitter

This year saw the launch of the World’s first Twitter remembrance service.

Marking the momentous 11.11.11 date, several countries – including the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are doing more than ever before to help everyone remember those brave souls who lost their lives and fought for the life and freedom we have now. As Twitter has proved an instrumental tool for the ‘Freedom of Speech’ over the past few years, it seems even more fitting to make it central to the event.

In the UK, a group organised the first ever Twitter remembrance service of its kind via @poppy_tweet, with a feed that featured readings, prayers, hymns and music (linked to YouTube). The main activity took place on the 11th, but also on the following Sunday, and largely took on a religious slant (as it was led by The Methodist Church).

As a non-religious person myself, I am wondering if that is why it had so few followers (around 1600 at the time of writing)? I totally respect everyone’s right to worship, but remembrance day is not about religion in my mind, it is about recognition, thanks and reflection. However, something which raises awareness, recognises the main social tools of today, and helps to encourage donations for charities such as The British Legion, cannot be a bad thing.

Elsewhere on Twitter, the #2minutesilence hashtag encouraged people to silence themselves on Twitter and Facebook during this time in a mark of respect, and was retweeted by thousands. In Canada they launched a @wearethedead Twitter account on the 11th which began listing all those who had lost their lives during battle and will take 13 years in total to complete, posting 1 name per hour. Really makes you think doesn’t it……

This weeks digital campaign chatter #20

1. Dr Pepper – How do YOU drink Dr Pepper? (with deviantART)

Those of you familiar with deviantART will know it as a US founded peer-to-peer social network for roughly 18 million members, who upload and share their original artwork. Sift through the 80% of rubbish and you can usually find some real nuggets of artistic talent, ranging from the more traditional stuff, to films, digital, pixel and street art. So, where better for a brand who wants to be associated with being unique, fun and ‘different,’ to host a competition in order to crowdsource a mural design?

The contest ran over the summer, with the winner (above) recently being announced, and winning a trip to Brooklyn (USA) to see their mural for real, $3000, an iPad and some deviantART ‘perks’.

Over the three-week period 2105 entries were submitted, and entrants pushed their ideas via Facebook, Twitter etc. to the tune of around 15.9 million total impressions. Pretty good from a branding perspective for a relatively low-cost campaign! Also a great example of how going to where your target customers are already, as opposed to trying to create new online communities, is often the wisest route.

2. KLM – Live reply

I have said on several occasions how much I love how KLM have been using social platforms for marketing, branding, and customer services over the past couple of years. From their recent ‘design a tile’ campaign, to the ‘social experiment’ they did in 2010 which involved tracking down people who were tweeting whilst waiting for a KLM flight, and rewarding them before they boarded the flight with gifts, they just seem to understand the power of engagement and importance of understanding customers.

So, it’s nice to see that they are doing some ‘shouting out’ about their extraordinary knack of using social networks as effective customer service touch-points.Ā  They already promise to reply to any message or tweet within an hour, but with their latest campaign, ‘live tweet’, they have taken things a step further!

Over the past couple of days they’ve replaced normal Facebook and Twitter responses with live video of 140 of their employees holding letters up and spelling out the responses! Not an easy task, but relatively cheap to do and a great PR stunt.

If you have not done so already, you should really check out their Facebook page for a perfect example of how brands SHOULD be using that platform as a customer service option. I really do love KLM!

3. Innocent – Tweet and Eat

The UK brand, Innocent, best known for their smoothies (and great marketing campaigns!), have developed a fab product launch idea, which incorporates Twitter and money-saving coupons available from their website.

The concept is simple but really nicely done. No doubt taking the lead from Groupon, and the power of the consumer, Innocent are offering money off their new Veg Pots, which will increase depending on how many people tweet about it using #tweetandeat: the more tweets, the bigger the discount. Simple genius!

You can sign up in order to be notified when the money off voucher is increased, and so stay a part of the campaign right the way through to the ‘free product’ option which they have set as the ultimate goal.

I would be really interested to see the figures on this campaign once it is complete. Is the cost of this approach worth it in respect of the amount of PR and WOM attention it gets, compared to the obvious losses incurred during product sales? Did they set a limit in order to keep control of the situation? Lots of questions around this approach, but at the end of the day, unless you try something like this you will never know the answers!

One thing they might want to consider if they are developing products outside of their usual smoothies however, is a change in their Twitter name: @innocentdrinks

This weeks digital campaign chatter #19

1. Coca Cola Israel – Summer LoveLove it or hate it, it’s interesting to see how the marketing world adapts to Facebook’s latest intrusions on their users private lives as they happen. This campaign by Publicis Israel for Coca Cola is a great example of making the most out of their new additions – although this ones not quite so new anymore!

A few weeks back Coke used a tie in with Face.com in order to help promote their run of concerts during a ‘Summer Love’ promotion. Party goers were able to log in to their Facebook accounts at special ‘pods’ using only their faces as identification. Think about how Facebooks facial recognition feature ‘suggests’Ā which of your friendsĀ Ā to tag when you upload pictures these days – that’s basically the inspiration behind the idea.

As people needed to sign up for the event online anyway, they included the registration for thisĀ service in the process, making it quicker and easier to sign inĀ once you were actually at the concert.

Why sign in to Facebook when you are at a concert you may ask?Ā  To tell everyone how great the concert is and how fantabulous Coca Cola are of course! Nice.

2. TopshopĀ – Scvngr

In a bid to become the most digitally-savvy retailer in the UK, Topshop are at it again!Ā  This time they have partnered with the successful US mobile gaming platform, Scvnger, in order to bring some fun and interaction opportunitiesĀ to students as they head to/back to University.

Starting on 5th September, participants can download a bespoke Topshop/scvnger app which will allow them to take part in games and challenges in order to accumulate points and therefore win prizes. Tasks will include things like taking pictures of their favourite Topshop outfits, and finding items which match particular trends. Hopefully they will be using this product intelligence to feed future campaigns both online and offline – it would be a real shame if not!

Mary Homer, Topshop MD said:

Following the popularity of SCVNGR in the US we wanted to offer our student customers the ability to interact with our brand, on and off-line in a more fun and engaging way.

They’ve already planned for updated challenges to be launched in October with a view to keeping things fresh and interesting. Lets hope it works out for them. Certainly sounds like a great idea and a fun way to interact with customers. However, if you’ve got the posts left on Scvnger’s Facebook wall from irate business partners to go off,Ā Topshop are going to have to be careful how they manage that relationship!

For more info on scvngr, check out this interesting interview with 21yrĀ old founder Seth Prebatsch:

3. Volkswagen – Bluemotion Roulette

This fantastic integrated campaign by Volkswagen Norway shows how cross-platform done well can drive engagement and value. In this caseĀ Volkswagen wanted to emphasise the low fuel consumption of their new Golf Bluemotion car by making it less ‘abstract’ to consumers,Ā and creating a memorable campaign which would not only drill home their key message, but would do it in an interactive and engaging way.

They used a TV ad to let people know about a game of roulette whereby you could go online and guess where the car would run out of fuel whilst driving a specific route. The E6 road in Norway was split into car-length chunks using google mapsĀ that people couldĀ select from on the website, and the event could then be viewed live online as it happened. Of course, the person who guessed right got the car.

It turns out that people really did their research on the car in order to gain best advantage from their one and only guess, which is great! I love this campaign! I’m guessing that it could have worked really well without the costly TV slots also, although probably not have driven as many people to the game as quickly. It would be great to see them follow things up with some online only games or competitions perhaps? I also wonder if this will be taken up by other countries? (i.e. I want a go!!!)