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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

SHOPPING THE SOCIAL: BEYOND THE “LIKE” BUTTON

Is it just us, or does the “like” button (despite its recent release into the wild) seem so 2008.  Yeah, that was cute….two years ago.  Yes, “liking” something, even off site, will continue to be popular in a lazy man’s reflexive action kind of way.  The reality is that socially influenced shopping has been around for a long time. Today’s war, however, is shaping up to be about location (as in check-ins) and tomorrow’s war precedes from there to the fussily named – internet of things (whereby we check into our can of Pringles).

What’s interesting about the congregation of all of these closely (annoyingly) related services is how they might integrate to breathe life into the social shopping meme.  “Ha!,” you say, “That’s not interesting at all.” In our line of work and with our types of clients (i.e. retail, fashion, goods you can buy etc.) it could turn out be kind of interesting. With foursquare and Gowalla gaining momentum and facebook on the verge of launching their own location service it’s weird and kind of cool to see how folks have gone from “Twitter, that’s stupid” to “checking in” at every Taqueria and corn field airport.  There’s something about the ease and specificity of broadcasting your location that makes it more frictionless that having to create a 140 character haiku every time.  Its just here I am. And btw I’m at the restaurant you couldn’t get into. In fact, if you’re a mass-market retailer or in the event business you are very quickly going to be missing out on something potentially sticky if you’re not testing a location angle.  This is the first leg of where we think social shopping is actually going – especially if you’re a high volume retailer. It’s not about tweeting your $ spent.  It’s about adding interest value to retail or shopping stops you make all the time.  Right now the only people actually activating this bandwagon seem to be bars and the occasional restaurant.  That’s going to change.

The second sandbox is the Internet of things action.  Bear with us; we’re going to reduce a big, huge mountain of many different opportunities down to the one angle that fits our thesis.  The IOT comes in a few flavors – one is a product that acts (i.e. tweet their location) and interacts with other products; and another is a consumer responding directly to products (versus a fb post about the new Green Tea Smoothie you love, you actually check into that Smoothie as if you’re foursquaring a Starbucks).  I’m sure there are lots of other angles but we’re the kind of people that need to keep things simple.  As a social shopping thought experiment if you combine the social mechanic of checking into a location and then checking into a product you buy at that location – and there’s a reward for that – and then you turbo charge it with a frictionless/seamless payment option.  There’s a game play aspect that’s cool and a new kind of interest added to mundane activity that’s exciting and oh by the way you’re spending real money (meaning more than micro-payments for livestock in Farmville – not that there’s anything wrong with that).

And so that third piece becomes the seamless payment piece. Beyond simply broadcasting a purchase it’s the ability to effortlessly make the purchase as part of the social shopping mechanic.  And then, what the heck, that purchase is broadcast and then your friends can “like” it (it’s not going away) and the world spins madly on J.

Of course, facebook, would like all of that activity to stay in house and they might have a leg up based on low barrier to usage. I currently access: facebook, foursquare, Gowalla, GetGlue and…oh yea, Twitter. It’s not a huge pain but something has got to give to gain widespread and commonplace adoption for the kind of social shopping dynamic described above.  My wife, for instance, is not going through multiple services to do any of that (unless the reward are huge).  Despite their ubiquity its’ not a guarantee that facebook would win that bet,  foursquare with enough consumer acceptance could easily close that distance – they own geography.  Frankly, Apple could win that war (or some combination of these actors), it’s the phone that owns all that activity on the go anyway and with a seamless payment system in place, next stop world domination.

Stay tuned for a follow up post around “the return of the brand community.” Remember that meme? We’re talking shopping here though, and not just Gilt style bargain driven flash mobs. That’s the kind of soil seeding that would really make some of these local social trends catch fire.

Filed under: facebook, Retail, social media, Trend Spotting, , ,

FARMVILLE MUST DIE

crop blight has destroyed everything, time to sell your children

Farmville had over 70 million daily users as of last December.  70 million. That, as famously noted, was (at the time) bigger than Twitter.  Yep, over 70 million folks doing some fake farming And yet, it must die.  Why is the rise of ham fisted social gaming going to end in flames?  Is it the insufferable, overly cute Tokyo-pop graphic style? Is it the inherently limited appeal of a “game” about “farming”? Is it the Second Life style dead end of virtuality? Yes to all of the above.  I suppose Farmville is fine in a web 1.0 kind of way but it falls into an uncanny valley of being both TOO social and NOT social enough. No I don’t care about the sad-eyed Piglet you just found on your farm.  Yes I think a fake farm is a disconnect in a social network based on real world connections (yeah it’s diverging some now that it’s huge but we’re not interacting in some SIM land with purple skin avatars).

My grandfather was a farmer (sharecropper). He got up at the crack of butt every day of his life to wrestle a living out of a hundred acres of crops and two  hundred head of cattle.  Hey, there’s an idea, we’ll launch a competing social game called “Sharecropper” or “Dustbowl!”, with more realistic game play.  Sample updates would include: “Three of your fifteen children just got the bloody flux,” or “Your wife’s foot was just crushed by a plow.” Of course, this wouldn’t solve the real problem with these games (yes I realize they are hugely popular), which is how fundamentally anti-social they actually are.  The facebook platform manager posted recently about how the killer social game app has yet to be launched.  He’s right and whatever kind of game that turns out to be (that gets everyone playing) it will probably involve more real world engagement. Think Fourssquare or Groupon.  The opportunity is for what you do in the world of the game to have an “entertaining” or “meaningful” or “valuable” implication outside of the network. Kind of the Wii-fit premise.

Here’s where I’d bet my money. That the first person/organization to figure out social gaming 3.0 will either be a small fry app-style developer or a big brand (entertainment or product).  A brand could add the kind of value to the interaction that takes social gaming beyond an exchange of cartoon animals. “Rise Humans! Rise!”

UPDATE! Just watched a purposely provocative TED talk on social gaming and how it might be harnessed to address real world issues (hunger, homelessness etc.), and thought it worth an add to  this post.  At a minimum this TED talk tackles the idea of “how do we grow beyond” the sort of dumb and narcissistic type of social gameplay popular now?  Can a social game be about something bigger than just “hey look! I have a new cow!” Is her suggestion that we dramatically increase the amount of online gameplay (oooh! counterintuitive) reek of TED talk point scoring? Yep. But social gaming 2.0 is going to be about exactly this kind of linkage.

Filed under: brands, facebook, supergenius llc, Trend Spotting, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Welcome to the Paradise, “New Media” Slumdogs

 

Child Corn Picker

Child Corn Picker

 

Lost in all the hype about New Media! And The Democratization of the News! And Newspapers are Dying! Is the fact that the information phase of the information revolution we’re in right now kind of blows.

We are working harder than ever before to find cool and interesting stuff. Between Digg and StumbleUpon and Reddit and MetaFilter and Facebook and Twitter, we are the ones who vote on the news, send it to the top, and retweet the hell out of it to make sure it gets massive and unprecedented exposure. It’s a simple system, inarguable for anyone who has faith in democracy.

I no longer have faith in democracy.

Here’s the problem. I don’t want to do this much work to find stuff I want to read. For every interesting take on Google vs. Facebook, or a solid analysis of the Iranian nuclear question, there are about fifty useless posts, either lists or lols or scraped content. My Twitter feed has become a series of Burma-Shave signs, haikus leading down a road to nowhere. I may be able to read anything I want, but I’m doing all this work to find it, and by the time I get it, I’m no longer interested.

Information is out there. But we’re doing all the work.

It’s not enough to have people act as information filters: people like you have to act as filters, or else it’s just not going to satisfy. You need trusted sources with a wide range of access to information. If you just choose your friends, you’re going to end up in an echo chamber, retweeting lol posts. You need independent sources of interesting stories, told in a way that’s compelling, challenging, and informative. We used to have something like this: they were called magazines and newspapers.

That’s why this spasm of eulogizing Ye Olde Media feels a little premature. We’re not going to wake up to find a dead tree on our front doorstep anymore. But if you want trusted, analytical, valued information, you’re not going to hook into the Tehran Twitter feed and watch people misspell words. You’re going to click on the New York Times, or the Economist, or Time. For the time being, media brands still matter. They help us stop digging through veins of information, and gain perspective on what’s true.

Filed under: advertising, consumer choice, facebook, social media, supergenius llc, twitter, , , , , ,

Super Genius launches Facebook brand page and application for client lia sophia.

liasophia_AppADOur agency has just “given birth” to an official Facebook brand presence for lia sophia. Their business is largely driven by referrals and relationships, and social media tools align perfectly with how their Advisors work.  We’ve also created a photo sharing app that brings the lia sophia brand to life – by literally allowing fans to share jewelry on photos of their friends.  The photo sharing app was designed to tap into the sharing functionality Facebook provides.  With a simple call to action of “add lia sophia jewelry to your friends’ photos”, a user can select a photo from their own albums or their friends’ available albums they want to decorate with lia sophia jewelry.   Complete with cropping and rotation features, users can get their touches of jewelry just right before sharing.  Users can save the photos and post their friends’ walls which generate powerful news feeds for awareness.  The app also allows a user save an unlimited amount of images that they have created and sent to friends and any that they have received from friends.

Filed under: facebook, social media, supergenius llc, viral, , , ,

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Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." William Gibson

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