Thursday, 3 March 2011

MTV brand identity: pushing it to the next level

End of February 2011, MTV US launched the US remake of a UK TV series “Skins”. The network began the first 10-episode season on the wings of heavy TV promotion, resulting in high anticipation by its young target audience.

Before launching the first episode in the US end of January 2011, MTV described Skins as “… a wild ride through the lives of a group of high school friends stumbling through the mine field of adolescence…”.
In the past couple of weeks, the show triggered quite some buzz.
Fortunately MTV is no stranger to controversy or provocative series and the buzz around them. TV watchdog group declared that the series may well be the most dangerous television show for children ever seen.

According to a recent article in the New York Times certain MTV producers who remain unnamed claim that ”in recent days” they have become concerned that some scenes “may violate federal child pornography statutes” resulting in even more Buzz. The conversations around the series are quickly becoming an online spectacle: the buzz around the series could not have been better if MTV had indeed planned the media attention for their new show like this.

(Watching the mashed up trailer of the UK and US versions of the show, it’s impossible not to notice how the mobile phone is always near and even if you don’t particularly like the show, it at least provides an interesting view on Generation Y and their perspective on life. Characters talk over one another and crowd the camera, an effective, though subtle, metaphor for today’s digital reality of generation Y.)
Now what does all this mean for the MTV brand?

Using the controversy around the show, MTV adds another level to the company’s brand story while staying true to their core image. Ever since the 1980s the MTV brand shifted away from music clips into more long-form programming in order to capture their audience for longer periods of time. This shifted their brand to become more about the culture surrounding the music. With the introduction of one of the world’s first reality shows “The Real World” set the new standard for a whole wave of reality shows around the globe.

The next level has to be the introduction of talent shows like America’s Best Dance Crew.

With Skins it seems that MTV is moving into more “scripted” shows and less reality TV. With all of the buzz around this show and about where television should “draw the line” the network enables conversations amongst lovers and haters. MTV managed to yet again set a new standard of television while maintaining a close ear to their core target group and staying loyal to their brand identity.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Can I help you? On Twitter, the answer is no.

Whether you want to start mass protests or you would like to manage a brand crisis, Twitter may help you as a platform.

From event activation to issue advocacy, from product promotions to crisis management, the microblogging platform allows businesses many modes of customer communication that can be tailored to match their customers’ preferences.

Today I tried to get my mailing address changed at my drinking water utility company. Without a chance! Both their telephone helpdesk and the internet was not working ! While I spoke with a customer service officer on the phone he could not take note of my question. So I reached out to their Twitter account, only to find out that they use that account for promoting their corporate sustainability initiatives.

Truth is: not all companies who could be interacting on social media for customer experience do so yet. Amazon for example won’t use them to respond to customer queries. Our research showed that 11% of companies never reply to consumer service questions on Twitter. Fortune took 8 companies to the test and compared their customer service efforts via Twitter, on the phone and via internet. Hyatt hotels, Dell, Bank of America and Microsoft are amongst the tested companies.

It’s no secret that we at InSites Consulting are huge fans of Zappos, but in this Fortune test their customer support via @Zappos_Service was somewhat disappointing. The tweeted question was about changing a shipping address on a recently placed order. In a cheerful reply the question was “answered” by forwarding the number to Zappos’ customer service telephone line, asking that official customer service questions be directed through more traditional channels. The other examples also show that in most cases the old-fashioned, often infuriating, customer service hotline was actually the fastest and most thorough means of solving a problem. The reality is that only the simplest questions can be answered in 140-character messages. And even then, you’re not guaranteed to get a response.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

State of the Union vs State of Conversations

Around a year ago, February 1st 2010, President Barack Obama met with Youtube’s News and Political Director, Steve Groves, to answer a number of user submitted questions on the State of the Union. In only a couple of days, over 11,000 questions were submitted to the YouTube channel by users via comment or video, and over 640,000votes poured in to determine which questions would be asked of the President.

This year, the White House added a couple of new features to this year’s State of the Union: the speech was broadcast live on a new White House app for the iPhone as and on the YouTube's CitizenTube channel. Afterward, people could again submit questions via CitizenTube and vote on others. Online some tag clouds of yesterday’s speech can be found. I made one myself, but more interestingly, I made another one of the most popular questions. Compare the two below (and click here the see a zoom of these graphs).
Obama will answer the top-voted questions next week in an interview broadcast on the channel, looking at the graphs above, we’re now able to predict what those questions will be about.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Linking diary research to location based networks

What most intrigue me about the future of market research is the mobile revolution and all the new opportunities this creates. Mobile technology can give us access to people when we traditionally wouldn’t have access, and maybe just as important, gives people access to us when they normally couldn’t!

Give mobile research a minute of your thought and several possible uses easily come to mind:

  • Sending pictures and movies via phones (what’s in your fridge today?)
  • Filling the gaps in the day: asking people to take short surveys while they’re waiting for the train, the general practitioner, the cash register, during breaks, etc.
  • But my favourite of all is location based research (having people respond to a text while they are still at a location or event instead of asking them later through another survey form).

The location based social network Foursquare has published an infographic representing the total number check-ins: 381,576,305. These have come from almost every country in the world (the only exception is North Korea). What strikes me about the graph is the part where they show the check-ins by category throughout the day.

This brings me to a following thought: think about the potential for “mobile diary” usage of mobile devices combined with location based social networks. Among other things, this could be a great way to collect travel patterns information, where people can enter brief updates as they move around throughout the day. It can also be used to track (potential) media exposures (did a person pass by a billboard or not), progress on purchasing decisions or any other behavioural issue without asking!

I think another powerful use may come in the future as more and more phones can identify where you are (as opposed to having to identify your location by a text).

For those in Belgium or around: the Belgian Association for Quantitative & Qualitative Marketing Research (BAQMaR) organises seminar on Mobile Marketing and Research next February 17 (14h-18h) in Antwerp. More information here.

Foursquare’s full infographic can be found here.

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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Activation by combining Facebook’s who and Twitter’s what at Foursquare

While Facebook is all about what’s on people’s minds and Twitter updates tell us what’s happening , for almost 2 years now, Foursquare combines the two telling us who is where and what is happening over there.

Using apps like Foursquare now makes that a mobile phone rapidly becomes the new loyalty card: companies like Pepsico en Heineken are using the location-based social networking site to

PepsiCo are teaming up with Foursquare to reinvent the way grocery store shoppers think about location-based rewards and checkins. As part of the deal, Safeway has integrated Foursquare into its VonsClub loyalty program for a three-month pilot program that kicks off today.

End of last year, Pepsico in the US teamed up with Foursquare in an attempt to reinvent grocery store loyalty programmes. The crux of Pepsico’s Foursquare program is that consumers can link their Foursquare accounts to unlock PepsiCo rewards every time they shop. Shoppers who link their accounts will earn instant Foursquare rewards on PepsiCo products — in the form of coupons printed at the register — at the time of sale. Rewards are also personalized to the user and tied to the types of badges a Foursquare user has already unlocked.
Since last week, Dutch consumers can now earn points for discounts in Heineken’s Dutch e-shop. Foursquare users can link their account to their profile in order to earn 10 points with each check in at a participating bar, cafe or club that sells Heineken.

The points can be redeemed for things like merchandise, tickets to sold-out concerts and VIP tickets to parties.

So if in today’s reality brand relationships are being built by providing meaningful branded experiences, these two examples are here to stay.

Using the location based service; Heineken’s initiative even takes customer experiences to the next level in this initiative by encouraging conversations between friends: those Foursquare users who encourage five of their friends to sign up as well on get a 50 point bonus and those with a Heineken e-card receive double points. And this matters: positive recommendations generate referral value and new users of the loyalty programme as a result.