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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Meet Melvin: The Social Media Savvy Machine

I stumbled upon (not that StumbleUpon) an article about Melvin the Machine a little bit ago and I’m hooked. Rube Goldberg machines are fascinating on their own…but one that ties directly into social media? Awesome.

Melvin is the result of the creative minds at HEYHEYHEY, an agency based in Holland. The agency was approached by art space MU to design their show for Holland’s major design event – Dutch Design Week. They were given complete control with one requirement: “Mu gave us complete freedom on one condition: the show wasn’t to be a show of new products, but it should rather be a moment.”

HEYHEYHEY brilliantly designed a machine with a complete identity: he (Melvin) was able to update his blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter account by himself, via certain actions performed during his performance. Was this it? Of course not: “…we wanted Melvin to reach out physically too. During a run Melvin released balloons filled with Helium outside the building with a card attached to them asking the finder to return the card (sadly none of them were returned). As a means of promotion Melvin also printed his own posters and created his own t-shirts and totebags. Most of them were sold before they even had time to dry.”

So here’s a summary of what is going on: Melvin is a machine that can create promotional swag, update his social media profiles and blog on his own, and he also took pictures and videos of spectators during his performance. Spectators weren’t just watching him, he was watching spectators. The video below doesn’t do the best job at showing all of these features because, they explain here in greater detail, that they wanted to show the full run as best as possible, and not have to keep cutting to Twitter and Facebook, etc.

Watch the full run below to be fully impressed. And go to Melvin’s website to learn all about him.

Scoutmob’s #revelmob Party: Huge Success, Huge Mustaches

On the night of Saturday, June 25, 2011 history was made. Scoutmob’s first ever #revelmob occurred and it was a rousing success. If that’s all you want to know, don’t bother with the rest of this. If you want details, please read on.

On Friday, June 24th I wrote a blog post about my thoughts of the upcoming event in a shameless attempt to get an invite…and it worked! I got an DM on Twitter from Scoutmob saying that I was in, along with a plus-one, as long as I RSVP’d in time, and to stay tuned for “final instructions.” Final instructions included dress code, location, time, the usual…except they still hadn’t explained what to expect; the mystery continued. I went to the party with two DIG team members, Kaitlyn (@kaitlyndennihy) and Rene (@reenazoid), along with new friend Evan (@evcon).

Held at Paris on Ponce, an antique shop with an incredible event space in the back dubbed Le Maison Rouge. After getting let in, and getting our (almost) permanent stamps, we were escorted to the back of the shop to the event space…while walking through something out of a horror film. Mysterious figures dressed as old crippled, creepy clowns, faceless statues, figures shouting nonsense words and phrases, and a woman following us singing “it’s teaaa timeee…it’s teaaa timeee…it’s teaaa timeee” were our escorts. Add in the old, dust-covered antiques and feelings of confusion and bewilderment and you get the picture. We then entered opened a door marked “Lounge” to see this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first couple hours of the event were for taking in the atmosphere, networking and gathering around the spread from the Good Food Truck or indulging in a treat from King of Pops. It was great to see such a large crowd of people passionate about Scoutmob, Revel, and social media. Altogether the atmosphere was exactly what you would expect from a company who has a such a quirky and eclectic personality, and has a mustache for a mascot.

I could go on and on about the event but to sum the rest of it up here is all you need to know:

  • There was a burlesque show from the ladies at Minette Magnifique. A crowd pleasure judging from the catcalls, whistles, and whoops from those attendance.
  • The served Revel signature cocktails such as the Mustache Mule and the Mobhattan (I personally recommend the Mustache Mule – a mixture of ginger beer, vodka, and lime).
  • The headliner of the night, Little Tybee, came on to the the delight of everyone there. I am from the north and had no idea who Little Tybee was before this event, but they definitely have talent and put on a good show.
  • What I am presuming is the real life version of the Mustache Mule (see pic below), and the inspiration for the beverage, was running around all night with an assortment of sombreros and a ‘stache (get it?) of mastaches to give to everyone to ‘mobify the guests.

You only have to read the tweets to get an idea of how adept at throwing a party Scoutmob is. Of course, the point of the party was to introduce Revel to the masses (a very select list of people = the masses). Revel, in a nutshell, is a hyper-local version of Scoutmob that isn’t going to cater to just anyone. It’s about finding places that aren’t just restaurants wanting more business; where are the hole-in-the-walls, the dive bars, the little-known venues that only those who have an “in” know about? Revel will show those lucky enough to be in on it the real secret gems of the city.

Oh, and one last reason this event was such a success…the hype that built up for it was extraordinary, and it totally lived up to the hype. I know I’m not the only person still talking about it, and everyone not at the event still followed the Twitter stream. What do you think people are going to be willing to do to get an invitation to the next event? There are going to be many more of these, says the Scoutmob team, and you can be sure each of them are going to be highly anticipated. I know that I wrote a blog post to get an invitation, but the true requirements are only rumors. Revel has proven to be an instant hype machine that already has thousands of people wondering “what comes next” and “how the hell do I get involved?”

After such an awesome event, and one that I was lucky enough to even go to, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll get to go to the next one. For those of you that went, what’d you think? And for those who didn’t get the chance, what would you do to get onto the guest list for the next #revelmob?

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Here are some more pictures from the night:

The signature drinks

Little Tybee doing their thing!

The Mustache Mule!

Cirque du Soleil girl twirling around in the air next to our table

The Scoutmob team welcoming us and explaining Revel

Quora Is A Toothless Shark

Almost a year ago, when I started blogging, I wrote an article about Quora, comparing it to Wikipedia and saying that it could be the next big thing. I’ve followed Quora since its early days and always thought it had great potential, but it never seems to tap into it.

I recently came across a tweet expressing disbelief in that Quora was included on a list of 10 Over-Hyped Startups That Fell Off The Face Of The Earth. While Quora certainly hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth (it’s numbers are still growing), it hasn’t exactly been front-page news for the last six months. Half a year away from the game in social media might as well be a lifetime. Companies form and fall apart in less than six months in this industry, so it’s a testament to Quora’s bravado that it is still around and able to grow.

Quora = Clark

I like to think of Quora as a toothless shark. When you’re swimming in the ocean you will inevitably think about sharks at least once and, following that thought, always have it stored in the back of your brain. Quora is like a shark, swimming below the surface unnoticed, but has the potential for something that will, in the shark’s case, quite literally grab you. However, Quora has no teeth. It surfaces occasionally, creating a lot of buzz and attention, but then disappears. This shark has no teeth. For people, like myself, who it attempted to grab (which it did, but briefly), it wasn’t able to hold on. Why does it have trouble digging in and becoming a consistent service? Here’s what I think:

  • Quora is cluttered and disorganized. It wasn’t a problem in the early days of Quora because there weren’t as many people, topics, and questions. But the main feed is filled with miscellaneous topic symbols, a jumble of questions, and your notifications.
  • The ranking system is rendered moot because so many people answer the same questions. When there are fifty-seven different answers to a question like “What’s easier to learn, snowboarding or skiing?” It becomes impossible to try to get your answer voted up or thanked. In the social media world people want to SAY what they (think they) know, not read other people’s answers and vote them up.
  • The credibility of answers is never truly known. The feature of being able to add your own title (Community Manager) or a question specific one (my career involves dealing with Facebook every day) is a great one with the intention of allowing people answering the question the ability to add their own credibility to their answer. The problem is that unless these people are celebrities or industry leaders there is absolutely no way to know if these people are legitimate. There are no links to other accounts the user may have (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) from what I can see, and this needs to be available. I can say “I’ve worked for Facebook for the last five years” on a question and get immediate credibility that isn’t deserved.
  • The Twitter feed style of the homepage is not the right style for Quora. An updating vertical feed is great for Twitter because the service is about quick relays of information and content, with added abilities to have quick conversations with anyone and everyone. Quora has even tried to copy this with their @mentions and profile layout. The problem with Quora is that it’s not a site designed for quick, sharp comments, observations, and links like Twitter is. The site is about Q&A. That is it. People go to the site to find answers and ask questions. It needs to be optimized to allow quick search (beyond just a search bar) for questions and topics.
  • In the end, users don’t need to stay on the site for long. Q&A sites aren’t sites that people will spend hours on. It doesn’t have the ADD-inducing qualities of Wikipedia, the intimacy of Facebook, or the 140 character attitude of Twitter. For the same reason people aren’t spending loads of time on Yahoo! Answers (as entertaining as it is), people simply don’t need to spend time on Quora.

I want to make clear that I think Quora has a lot of potential, I said it before and I’m saying it now. It deserved the hype it had a few months ago, but it failed to latch onto that hype and blow itself out of the water like it could have. They have tried to capitalize on it’s media buzz with things like the Quora button, but obviously it never panned out.

I believe Quora will be around for awhile, but it needs a few things: a site redesign focusing on what the user came to the site for (to find answers to questions, and to ask questions), a more organized homepage that is Quora’s own and not a copy of Twitter, and a remodeled ranking system. Do that and Quora should be able to succeed and be more attractive to new users.

What do you think? Does Quora have what it takes to become a major player in the Q&A market, or are they hanging on the edge of a cliff barely holding on?

Scoutmob’s #Revelmob Party Is A Genius Idea

This post is part praise, part a shameless attempt at a blog post getting seen by Scoutmob so I can get an invitation to the #Revelmob event this week. I just want to get that out there quickly and directly. Anyways…

Scoutmob is a unique deals site in that, unlike the Groupon’s and LivingSocials of the world, you don’t buy a Scoutmob deal ahead of time. The deals are always (or a vast, vast majority of the time) 50% off at a certain establishment. The deals don’t expire a day or two from when they go live either, they last for months. I can’t say how many times I’ve found a new restaurant because of Scoutmob…and loved every single one of them. Frequently, many of the establishments also have return deals for a percentage off your next bill for your second trip back.

So Scoutmob is a great company, with a great mobile app and website, and great mustaches…and now they are great at building, and riding the hype train apparently.


In the last couple of months they sent emails out to their users about a new VIP-type service called Revel that will have invite-only secret events, special deals, etc. It just so happens that first such deal in Atlanta is this weekend, best known as the #Revelmob Party.

Since I am on the outside looking in I know very little about the event, only that it’s supposed to be super cool. The Scoutmob team has put together the perfect formula of secrecy, emerging trends, and the right niche group to create a maelstrom of awesome that everyone wants to go to, but nobody seems to know where or when it is.

What happens when you tell a child that they can’t have that ONE toy? They will do anything to get it. What happens when you tell social-savvy, tech-savvy people that there’s a secret party that they can’t know anything about and won’t be able to go to? They will do anything to get an invite. Welcome to the game Revel. You’re winning it already.

Does anybody have details on this event and/or an invite they’d let me be the +1 for?

Facebook Adds Klout, Hands Brands Some Serious Marketing Firepower

Facebook’s newest addition to its repertoire of ways for brands to connect to consumers on their site involves a little website called Klout. For those who don’t know:

“Klout isn’t about figuring out who is on the “A-list.” We believe that every person who creates content has influence. Our mission is to help every individual understand and leverage their influence.”

Klout ranks your activity online (right now on Facebook, Twitter, and  LinkedIn) and awards a score based on said activity. It’s a clever concept that has become a measuring stick for those who rely on social for their careers to measure how they are performing.

The Facebook integration of Klout opens some new doors for brands to have some fun with their pages, and award consumers content dependent on their Klout scores; the higher the Klout score, the better/more content, deals, and/or offers one, presumably, receives.

The new system is a product of the geniuses at involver, and it is one doozy of a way for brands to encourage their fans to start being more active in social media. The process is fairly simple, as shown here via the Audi USA Facebook page:

Step 1: Get your Klout score by authorizing your account.

 

Step 2: View your score and see what you’ve gained access to.

 

Step 3: Reap the rewards of being socially awesome!

 

The key takeaway from brands on Facebook: You now have a direct way to reward the greatest influencers on the internet. Paid versions of the program allow customization to reward different levels of Klout scores different prizes. Give the low-cost coupons and deals to those with a decent Klout score, then reward those with massive influence with incredible prizes and experiences. If I am unexpectedly given an awesome experience or prize from a brand that I like I am going to blog about it, post pictures, tell all of my friends (both online and offline), and make a huge deal out of it. If I am a celebrity or public figure that has a lot of influence, what kind of effect do you think this can have for your brand?

As you can see in the screenshot above, I have a Klout score of 44…nothing to cry home about, but I did get a cool wallpaper out of it. For those of you with more Klout, try out the Audi USA thing and post what you were given in the comments! What do you think of the Klout integration, is it a great new marketing platform, or just another crazy integration?

Facebook Lost Users In May – And It’s A Good Thing

Facebook-zilla taking a hit?

The social networking giant’s first “bad” news since the privacy issues arose may not be so bad after all. Recent reports have shown that Facebook lost users in significant amounts in the US and Canada, while also losing users in the UK, Norway, and Russia. Does Facebook have anything to worry about? Of course not.

The company is still on track to hit 700 million users in the next couple of months (probably in less than two), and losing users in the countries that were early adopters is the natural order of things, a cutting out the fat type of thing. Thing is, when you grow exponentially as Facebook as done in the last 2-3 years you are expected to get a lot of fake/spam accounts as well as people who are just trying it out because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Once the fake/spam accounts get deleted, and the “just trying” users realize Facebook isn’t their thing, they duck out and aren’t heard from again. This leaves the people that really matter, who use the product.

In my experiences dealing with Facebook, and running Facebook pages for brands, there is a difficult balance a page must achieve: you want to gain fans and increase your numbers as much as possible, while also making sure the people on your page are getting your content and listening to it. The most common problem I see with pages is that the primary goal is gaining fans; instead pages should be gaining fans. This type of mentality can be applied to Facebook as a whole. It’s great to be able to say you have 700 million users; that would be the third largest country in the world, and roughly 10-15% of the world’s population all on one website. But then if you read statistics like 50% of active users log onto Facebook in any given day, well, where is the other 50%? A good number of that other half is complete trash; utterly useless beyond them being a stat booster.

So what’s my point? It is that Facebook losing users in the oldest markets (oldest in terms of how long ago Facebook was available) means that the accounts that Facebook doesn’t need, or at least shouldn’t want, are being deleted. Would you rather have 200 million people in the US on Facebook, with a quarter of that being people who are inactive and bringing you little value, or have 100 million solid user who are on Facebook for hours every week engaging with each other, your brands, and your advertisers? I don’t think I have to answer that for you.

I, for one, will be happy to see the spammers and inactive accounts leave Facebook. As a community manager it means that when a page I run gains new users it means that there is a higher chance of those users being people I want on my page, rather than a simple statistic.

What do you make of Facebook’s decrease in users in these major markets? Is this a good thing, or is the beginning of the next MySpace fallout?

Group-Buying Sites Losing The Group Mentality

Where did this mentality go?

In the wake of the news that Groupon, the massive group-buying deal site, has filed for a $750 million IPO I figured I’d write about an observation that’s perplexed me for months, as Groupon and it’s countless competitors (LivingSocial, DealSwarm, etc.) have seemingly lost the ‘group’ mentality that they are supposed to utilize.

Quick background for beginners: These sites release daily deals for 50-90% off products at stores, restaurants and venues in different cities across the country. In order for these deals to become accessible a certain number of people must buy this deal. If you purchase a deal that doesn’t reach the required number of people needed to unlock it, you aren’t charged for the deal.

Great concept right? Use the social space to promote sharing to get people to get their friends to purchase deals so that everyone can access them. It’s free advertising for the places running the deals, free advertising for the sites hosting the deal, and a great way to get consumers to involve their peers in what they are doing (the point of social media).

Here’s the problem: I chose three random deals on Groupon’s site just now and the required number of people needed to unlock the deal was no higher than 25…25! This is way too low for them to even advertise this “unlocking” feature. The point of trying to unlock something is to give it an air of exclusivity or importance that holds the risk of it NOT being available. I live in Atlanta, GA, a city of over 5 million people. The chances of there not being 25 people who are willing to, say, pay $10 for $20 worth of apparel at Old Navy are as close to zero as there can be. As of right now there is a little more than 7.5 hours left to purchase this deal and over 5,300 people have purchased it already. I ask again, what is the point of this deal being “unlocked” when thousands are obviously going to purchase it and the tipping point is 25 people?

This is my problem with these websites…there are millions of people seeing these deals every day, and they need to realize this. What happens when you tell a child who is mildly interested in a toy that he or she can’t ever have it? They want it more than anything else in the world. Well, the same psychology applies here. Throw an attractive deal (like the Old Navy deal) at people,  and set the tipping point at a high number and they will be sure to share it with people to make sure it gets unlocked.

Remember Groupon’s nationwide GAP deal? Well you KNOW tens of thousands of people are going to want a deal like this. It’s a major brand, with good product, and people shop there A LOT. Make them earn this deal…a sense of accomplishment will come with the deal being unlocked, making it more memorable. Keep in mind that his deal hit 441,000 deals purchased. That’s one hell of a group, and did any of them care? Of course not. The deal needed only 600 people to unlock it.

This has become less of a GROUP-buying industry and now is just an extreme digital coupon industry. Anybody can hand out coupons with these same deals…but what makes these unique? The group part. The guarantee that a certain number of people will buy the product. Retailers should step it up and require more people to buy it for the deal to be unlocked. It will benefit everybody and make the deals a more serious matter, one that requires the group to put in effort to get the deal.

I think these deals are fantastic, but need to live up for their “group-buying” label. Do you agree?