Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category


Tweet me in St. Louis

February 17, 2010

My agency just launched STL Tweets, a community website that identifies, collects, and organizes Tweets into a variety of passion verticals. We think this is the ultimate resource for St. Louisians who want to know what the rest of the community is talking about – right now. The site also allows people from the community who are deeply connected to a specific passion area to act as curators. Check it out.


Tweet ‘O8

October 1, 2008

Our agency (Infuz) does a lot of work within the context of social media. And being a curious lot, we recently created a site that allows users to ‘listen’ to conversations of voters via Twitter. An interesting experiment to say the least.


Listen and watch because they talk

June 10, 2008

Pete Blackshaw of Nielsen Online wrote an excellent article for ClickZ summarizing the issues that should be top of mind for CMOs. You’ll notice a few common threads that run through a number of these.

  • It all starts with listening to your consumers
  • Conversation (including CGC and social media) is more important than ever
  • Authenticity matters

The age of steamrolling brand ideas into a consumer’s head with glossy print ads and :30 second spots has come to an end. Brands have to stop pretending to be what they’re not. It’s time to get real.


Social Networking and Brand Affinity

May 23, 2008

Petcentric PlaceAfter a long hiatus I’ve decided to start blogging again, albeit not as frequently as I had previously hoped.

Our agency just completed an ambitious project for Nestle/Purina called Petcentric Place. It’s a social network for pet owners and their pets, with all the features you would typically expect from a social network: profile pages, media galleries, friending, activity feeds, blogs, private messaging, and a robust profile search/filter. The branding of the site is subtle, but provides a foundation for Purina cohorts to offer useful tools and activities to the community without doing so in a instrusive way. The site also cedes content creation to the community – breaking from the Web 1.0 model of brand as publisher.

Stop by, visit, and let me know what you think.



UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part VI

July 17, 2007

Let’s wrap up with a few additional thoughts on how brands can leverage CGC to engage consumers

Make-a-flakeProvide toys and apps that are fun and enable creativity
Not all consumer-generated content needs to result in free-form creation. Online toys are a great way for brands to let user create “content” while entertaining themselves and their friends. Online apps like Line Rider and Make-a-flake are great examples of CGC tools – both succeed because they are simple, fast, and fun.

Apps like the Snakes on a Plane phone call from Samuel L. Jackson require little effort on the part of the consumers but pay off big time in entertainment value.

Not all CGC needs to be shared
The producer and consumer of content can sometimes be one in the same. Branded apps and games can allow users to create their very own, private creations.

Back in 2001 my team re-launched for Edy’s/Dreyer’s Ice Cream. The new site allowed kids to run their very own virtual ice cream factory and create custom flavors for a fictional town. The kids had full control; from selecting ingredients, to naming flavors, to setting prices. A fancy algorithm on the backend determined flavor favorability from the community each day and rewarded our junior CEOs with ConeCash.

Conefactory main viewConefactory ingredients viewConefactory consumer feedback

Jones SodaTap skilled amateurs and semi-pros
As we discussed in an earlier post, skilled amateurs and semi-pros rarely create content just for their love of a brand. But that’s okay. Enlisting semi-pros has virtually no downside so long as the brand is transparent about who is actually creating the content. Also, costs are much lower and the creative can sometimes be better than an agency can produce because semi-pros don’t have to run through bureaucratic minefields. For the marketer, it’s a take it or leave it proposition.

Consumer Generated Products
Consumer generated content is a natural segue to consumer generated produces. Snakes on a Plane (the motion picture) enlisted the public to play co-producer/director/writer and Jones Soda allows it’s consumers to create/name flavors and even design their own labels. Note, the vote for your favorite flavor/color contests don’t really qualify as CGP.

Did I miss something? If I did please feel free to post your ideas on how brand marketers should be using CGC.


UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part V

July 16, 2007

In this post I’ll begin listing my thoughts on how marketers can actually use UGC/CGC. Feel free to join in.

Trip Advisor reviewEven the best agency can’t polish a turd
Marketers often look past the most powerful form of consumer generated content: word of mouth. I have personally spent countless thousands of dollars based entirely on reviews posted on sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor. I have also spent well over six figures on automobiles (both new and used) based on Consumer Reports Used Car guides, where rankings are based primarily on consumer input.

Companies who fail to deliver innovation, quality and top-notch customer service are doomed in an age where CGC/WOM channels play a huge role in driving consideration and conversions.

Rule #1 of CGC is to make sure your product doesn’t suck.

Pillsbury Bake-OffEncourage consumer generated value
When embarking on a marketing program that leverages CGC, design it so the content generated will be of value to other consumers. I’ve seen hundreds of branded contests with the goal on catalyzing CGC, but too often the resulting content provides no value. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is a great example of a CGC program that provides value for both the creator and the brand’s target consumer.

Grab the long-tail – with caution
Blogs, podcasts, and social networks can provide unique opportunities for marketers to engage influencers within a relevant niche. The key word here is “relevant”. If your product isn’t highly relevant to both producers and their audience, don’t waste your time.

Also recognize that social networks, whether explicitly private or not, are personal spaces. You are an uninvited stranger and interruptive marketing doesn’t work here.

As always, provide value and relevance first, engage users later. I have a hunch sponsored widgets will lead the way in providing relevant connections between brands and consumers who use social networks.


UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part III

July 12, 2007

Dance CrewProfessional or amateur, most content is produced with a specific audience in mind. Most UGC is produced for a micro audience; friends, family, and possibly a special interest group. Rarely do amateurs (users) produce content for an audience outside their small sphere of acquaintances. Professionals obviously focus on much larger audiences.

Relevance, quality, and uniqueness/creativity drive content appeal. As each factor increases, so does the potential size of the audience and the degree in which they’re engaged. Most UGC is only relevant to a very small audience. Andrew, you would have no interest in browsing my daughter’s Facebook page, believe me.

Relevance + Quality + Uniqueness/Creativity = Value

Every producer makes a value promise to their audience. Even my wife and kids would have zero interest in our vacation pictures if they were poorly lit and blurry. Fred Rutherford repeatedly failed to deliver his value promise to the Cleavers because his slideshows ran far longer than their interest.

Bob SagetOccasionally UGC will appeal to a large audience due to it’s absurdity or shock value. Television programs like America’s Funniest Home Videos have made a cottage industry of UGC for almost two decades. But rarely does an amateur intentionally design content to appeal to a large audience, and when they do, they usually fail. This is a key point many marketers don’t seem to understand. 

 Add a brand contraint and you really have a tall order. Unlike user generated content, consumer generated content is supposed to say something compelling about a brand. Too often UGC appeals to a large audience because it is pornographic, violent, grotesque, or degrading – exactly the kind of content most brands want nothing to do with. Amateurs, for whatever reason, have great difficulty creating content that is G-rated-funny, inspirational, or creative.

Brands who have attempted to initiate CGC to reach a large or influential audience are often disappointed with the results – but you won’t read this in the trade press.

The idea of CGC appeals to marketers because “authentic content” is thought to make a stronger connection between brands and consumers. CGC is viewed not only as entertainment, but as a testimonial for the brand. A the very least, CGC should say something positive about the brand. Tangerine Toad aptly points out that CGC like the Mentos/Coke videos say nothing positive or negative about either brand.

In part IV I’ll delve into UGC created by skilled amateurs and semi-pros.


UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part II

July 11, 2007

SlideshowBelieve it or not, user generated content isn’t new. Users; “the unwashed masses”, amateurs, and common folk have been creating content since cave paintings. This observation may seem obvious to you but you would never know it if you only listened to the proclamations by pundits and the MSM. Back in the analog age we had Brownies, 8mm, Kodachrome, Etch-a-sketch, Paint-by-numbers, Selectrics, reel-to-reel, Lite-Brite, Spirograph

And consumer generated content? In the ’30s Curly won $50,000 in a radio jingle contest. In the ’40s we had the first Pillbury Bake-Off recipe contest. And in the ’70s Razzles asked consumers to decide once and for all whether Razzles was a candy or gum.

Richard DeaconWhy do we create? To preserve memories, share our joy, win accolades, pass time, challenge ourselves, extend a dialogue, or just plain have fun. This hasn’t changed for centuries. What has changed is the tools we use to create and share content:

  • Creation tools – everything from cameras to software is making content creation easier and more polished. Technology is delivering on the previously unattainable trifecta: Faster, cheaper, and better.
  • Sharing media – the days of huddling around a photo album or being invited to sit through Fred Rutherford’s vacation pics/slideshows are probably over. Today new media allows users to “broadcast” their creations to the world.

Our desire to create and motivations to share haven’t changed much. However, new tools and media have opened the flood gates of content creation and accessability.

In part 3 I will touch on content quality, relevance and value and how they relate to various audiences.