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The Digital Mainstream Needs Engaging Interaction

shapeimage_3-4Try to open your Facebook account and look at the number of applications you have installed on your profile. Some Facebook aficionados may have an average number of 50 applications sitting within their pages, often causing some visitors’ computers to crash. Now, try and write down the amount of them you actually use on a daily basis. I suspect the majority of you might have a number from 0 to 5.

Due to my young age, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to personally experience how every other media has gone through the same process in the past, but time has arrived for our beloved ‘Digital space’ to become as mainstream as the rest.

However, as Lord David Putnam says, there is nothing wrong with being mainstream!

It is all about understanding this environment, taking advantage of the interesting elements surrounding the digital space and creating values for our ideas, developing extraordinary user experiences online.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee once said: “In 1989 one of the main objectives of the Internet was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute”.

Now, in 2008, we still watch TV, we listen to the radio, we read our magazines and, hungry or not, we are constantly ‘fed’ by advertising messages wherever we are. However, we have widgets, blogs, applications and forums where people are being creative, actively interacting with each other, making friends joining communities and sharing interesting information.

The great thing about ‘digital’ was the imminent and satisfying interaction element that came with it and, now more than ever, this is seen as a compulsory element to create successful and valuable ideas.

We cannot listen to a Radio show and talk back to the DJ, if not using email and TXTs; we cannot go through a pile of Marketing magazines to find that great quote by Steve Jobs, but we can use Google to find it and also read what other people think about it. Also, after watching an episode of Skins on Channel4 we cannot get all the fans together to talk about what just happened, however with Facebook not only we can now create such thing but also we can record reactions, evaluate comments, measure interaction and consequently create value for branded initiatives.

So many opportunities have recently risen for brands to take advantage of this Digital space but, always more often, many of them do not seem to get it right, creating a cluttered arena of branded content with not enough thinking behind it.

Very frequently, agencies do seem to have the perfect answer to the toughest brief – be this an outstanding creative idea which can impress ‘the’ client or be this a media strategy employing the ‘coolest’ sites – whatever this is, deploying interaction should always be considered as simply essential if entering the digital space and trying connecting with the right audience.

However, this is not always taken into account…

Digital online advertising was the big revolution when for the first time through a standard ad format brands would measure response and behave accordingly.

This is obviously still happening and, especially with improvements in creative formats and tracking facilities, 21% of the total marketing expenditure online still sits within display advertising.

Although many brands still believe in the power of these formats, with the digital space turning mainstream, they should make themselves fully aware that our audience is bored of being bombarded by advertising messages within an online environment as well.

This is exactly where what I call an ‘Engaging Interaction’ is required

Whenever the interactive element is considered, more than often this is under-estimated!

It is rather simple to generate creative ideas involving an interactive game, an interactive micro-site or an interactive Facebook application, however brands seem to be struggling in considering the ‘engagement’ element when developing such things.

What is the value of an interactive branded game if I am not engaged enough to go back and play with it? The same thing can be said about millions of application on Facebook or on any other social network.

I could make an example here with the Coke Tags Widget.

This widget was developed for users to include their favourite things of all time into a widget branded by Coca Cola to then post on their blogs and social media profiles.

Users would populate this widget and every element would be linked to the correspondent content i.e.. their favourite YouTube videos would click-through to the actual content, their favourite fashion brands listed would click through their official websites and so on…

This is the perfect example of an application which would sits there on your profile without allowing any engagement. What about showing me if other friends love the same fashion brands or are into REM? What about asking me to update the tag for the chance to be connected with more users with the same interests? Or what about including a competition for the best rated Tag owner to win a related price?

It is rather evident that Coke was simply looking for a widget that would sit there on my personal space and be forgotten after a day or two…. I personally created one and never used it again!

This is where many brands are simply making a huge mistake.

Wanting to be part of the Social Media environment and connect with a specific or a mainstream audience does NOT involve creating interactive dull experiences. Users needs to be engaged, they often await for or expect any kind of reward, they want to feel part of the brand through engaging user experiences which ask you to come back for more.

People do and will always talk about things that got them glued to the screen –  and we all know how powerful WOM can be….

I have 89 applications downloaded on my personal Facebook page.

How many do I actually use?

Zero.

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Posted by on November 15, 2008 in Thought Piece

 

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