The Social Explorer: QR codes; the revolution…

14 May

QR codes might be the future…but careful where you put that thing!

QR codes, to me, are one of the more exciting technologies to have arrived in the last year or so. The reason they ‘float my boat’ is because of the combination of platforms and link between channels – physical location > smartphone > QR Code > destination. This sequence is something that can be altered (QR codes at a POS for example) but essentially the use of a physical printed code to take you off to a website it brilliant marketing.

Though I’ve seen a rather odd example of the humble QR code (being used underground – this is confusing and rather pointless!) most end uses have been fairly good and quite standard. A code will take you to a website to explain more about that advertisement you’ve just seen. This is all well and good but if marketeers really think about how this technology can be harnessed and used to their advantage, a whole world of opportunity opens up…

Odd use of a QR code underground…lazy marketing?

So what could be done to bring QR codes to their full potential? Let’s kick off with the look of these things. Though at the moment, the uniform black and white box is best because that’s what people recognise as a QR code (and its new technology) , when the time comes and people are super aware of these little graphics, we can start to change them around. BBC have already done this, inserting their logo into the code and giving a more integrated professional look to the whole thing.

A fine example of a QR code slightly altered...

And this isn’t hard – the whole code doesn’t need to be seen…you can play around with them (it’s a bit trial and error) but colour can be influenced, you can put images, wording etc – all just using a QR code generator such as this one, and good old  Photoshop.

A bit much...for now?

So the exciting prospect is the future – what’s next for QR code integration? My thoughts are that it will, in time, be part of the marketing process almost like a *terms and conditions apply* message, QR codes will go onto all branded communications – I mean, why not? But the clever stuff is still to come. Imagine you’ve just got off of the underground, you want a coffee but you’re not sure where to go. There’s a Café Nero poster opposite you with a QR code, telling you to scan it. Once scanned, you’re taken to a map to the nearest Café Nero and an incentive 10% voucher for your coffee. This is a simple and quick journey, helping to convert someone who may have gone straight to Starbucks for convenience into a new customer for your business. There’s a million and one uses for these gems and I, for one, am very excited to see how clever we can get when integrating these into marketing campaigns.

Have you seen some great examples of QR codes that you love? Link me up in the comments section! 

– The Social Explorer

The Social Explorer: Guerrilla Marketing at its best?

13 May

Guerrillas in the mist…stand out and make your mark with a unique campaign…

I am a big fan of Guerrilla Marketing when it’s done right. It can be inspirational, funny, witty, clever or commercial and if it’s really good then all of the above. The reason these campaigns excite me so much is that they’re all about imagination, creativity and it seems more energy and time is put into the thinking behind the idea (vs. traditional marketing) as well as the application. The other side of this is that it doesn’t revolve around huge budgets so it’s open to anyone with a truly unique and engaging idea.

One of my all time favourite examples of strong Guerrilla Marketing (though it doesn’t hit the humour mark) is Sixt’s European Airport rental campaign. The sheer simplicity of this campaign is what Guerrilla Marketing is all about. They were struggling to make their deals known in the advert heavy airport environment – getting lost in a sea of posters, wall hangings and floor decals (really you can’t look anywhere without being attacked by a brand?!) So…’Solution’ – they plugged in 6 very strong wi-fi routers, changed the names of the routers to explain the deals and made a custom landing page explaining everything for all those who used the network. Laptops, iPhones & Blackberry’s could all use the free wi-fi and were all exposed to this brilliant campaign. Though the results weren’t posted, you can certainly imagine that the ROI on this would have been astronomical given the relatively small set-up costs. Here’s the YouTube video…

And Sixt have continued with their Guerrilla Marketing campaigns, though I’ll leave you to decide if this was a success or simply a bit offensive…(even Sixt are asking themselves same question…!)

What are your thoughts on Guerrilla Marketing? Is it effective & have you spotted a campaign that makes Sixt’s efforts look old hat? Comment away…

– The Social Explorer

The Social Explorer: Failing to plan…

12 May

Failing to plan is planning to fail when it comes to social media strategy…

This is a bit of a sensitive subject, but when we look at a lot of major retailers and their social presence, there’s a scary trend of ignorance towards the consumer. When fan acquisition is the number one task for the in-house social media ‘expert’ or agency, my gut feeling that this is their only step in a short lived social strategy. So you’ve got 500,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and 100,000 ‘followers’ on Twitter…so what? If the strategy behind your social media proposition doesn’t involve talking to and with your fans (rather than just at them), then all you will do is very quickly turn your new best friends into your newest nightmare…

ASOS manage their social spaces fairly well – paying particular attention to Facebook. They seem to reply to most comments though we’ve spotted that they do hide away from negativity. There really isn’t an excuse here – if you’ve got the resource to make a page, open a Twitter account or post videos on YouTube then you must ensure you have the resource to manage these pages and talk to your fans. H&M are a fantastic example of a big company with a HUGE social presence managing their consumers expectations. With over 7,000,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, they reply to 90% of customer queries in a professional and timely manner. So what’s your excuse? The only improvement for me would be to make the approach more personal and less ‘template’ like. But – they do reply and that is key.

H&M on Facebook - 7,000,000 fans and still replying!

So, my suggestion is for retailers who want to be a part of the 21st century social ‘revolution’ to get to grips with Web 2.0 first and plan conversation and dialogue into their social strategy.  If you don’t, customers and other retailers will leave you behind – wishing you’d adopted dialogue much earlier. The way I see retailers who are ignorant to conversation with their social fans is how I see self service tills in Tesco. Yes, we live in an exciting and often clever digital world but lets not take away the personality and communication that humans crave.

– The Social Expolorer

The Social Explorer: The Future of Social Commerce…

11 May

The key to successful social commerce is to remember that ‘Quality is better than quantity’

Working in Social Media & e-commerce and we’re always looking for new ways to drive our Social strategy forward. There are a wealth of agencies, plug-ins, articles and social experts to guide you in the right (and often wrong) direction. So, I thought I’d join the endless list of people who tell you what they think the next big thing is…

1. Social Shopping. If used properly – and it hasn’t happened all too often yet – social shopping can be very effective. This is going beyond the simple ‘Like’ plugin that most companies have adopted, and more towards innovative solutions whereby customers can feel like they are actually shopping together. Away from the likes of Amazon and ebay, there is a big USA player making some interesting steps to integrating social networks to a shopping experience. This is buy.com – logged into Facebook, you can invite your online friends to shop with you on buy.com and chat with them in real-time. Though we may not quite be ready for this step, it feels like we’ll be seeing something very similar in a year or two and wondering why no-one had thought of it before…

Buy.com...2. F-Commerce. It can’t be denied, shopping on Facebook is an attractive proposition for retailers and consumers alike. It means that we can remain on our beloved Facebook for a few minutes longer, and for retailers, shopping becomes truly social and there’ll be more links shared than there are seasons of Big Brother. Now…doing this properly is key. Simply using a mobile feed to push your whole catalogue is not how it should be done (yes, we’re looking at you, ASOS) but the selection should be based on friends birthdays, your likes and other products relating the FB user. The lazy approach looks just that, and we’re looking at the more innovative retailers like Amazon, Levi’s Friend Store and Trip Advisor for tips on how to do this properly.

Amazon on Facebook...3. Group Buying. No we’re not talking crowd buying (Groupon, KGB deals etc etc) but more clubbing together with your Facebook / Twitter connections to purchase a single product or service for someone else. A classic example that comes to mind is the always-awkward leaving present at the office. So, you decide on that perfect oversized calculator for your spreadsheet loving (soon to be ex) colleague and you’ve spotted the perfect website to purchase it on. SO…the difficult part getting the cash to pay for it. What could be easier than sending out a link and letting your colleagues do the rest? Well ebay’s Group Gifts is a great example if what you want is on ebay, or head to somewhere like edivvy if it’s not. There isn’t a huge amount of choice at the moment but to me it’s a no brainer and something that should, and will grow.

Edivvy...

There are many more…and we’ll be giving you some more of our predictions in the coming weeks…

– The Social Explorer

The Social Explorer: Skittles Campaign review…

10 May

Injecting some fun into the world of social media…attempt 2.0 (Skittles)

So I thought I’d kick off this blog with a little post on one of my favourite digital marketing campaigns. I work in social media, and to see something that brings a smile to my face every time I hit the page is no mean feat… Here’s the latest Skittles campaign…

Skittles Facebook Page

I love the humour Skittles has injected into its social media campaign. It’s fully supported on YouTube with their ‘Taste The Rainbow’ viral videos – often a bit gross, usually funny and always random.

Skittles on YoutubeIt appears to be working…with almost 6,000,000 video views on YouTube and over 16,000,000 ‘likes’ on their Facebook page they are flying – in a very competitive market this is a huge success. The campaign’s had some brilliant feedback through its life – all in all the branding for the campaign has been around for more than 10 years (making it one of the longest running campaigns in history) including praise from creative sites such as ‘Creative Criminals‘, Tech savvy sites such as ‘TechCrunch’ and not forgetting the mighty ‘Econsultancy.

Now, we’re not forgetting the slightly trusting efforts they put into user-generated content (putting LIVE tweets on their homepage…oops!) This ended rather badly with TechCrunch testing the water (tweeting a slightly un-tactful Tweet ‘Skittles causes cancer and is the root of all evil in the world’) BUT I think they’ve judged this one much better hence my conclusion that it’s a fab campaign and something I’ll continue to follow.

We done a little more exploration (I lie…Google done this for us, we just typed it in) and spotted that the guys behind Skittles most recent stab at social is San Francisco based agency Evolution Bureau. So a big pat on the back for these guys – and a personal thank you for injecting some fun back into the sometimes over-serious world of social media.

– The Social Explorer