Cashless Carol Singing

I live in a cashless world…mostly due to a lack of money…but I tend to not carry cash around with me. So the days of loose change, for me, are few and far between. I have posted before about how awful I feel in the supermarket at the weekend and there is a bag pack on and I can’t give any money (coz I jsut use my laser). The same thing is happening me now when I go past people singing Christmas carols – I have no cash so can’t donate.

So I really liked the look of this.  Christmas shoppers in Covent Garden were given pre-paid contactless cards to make a donation. For every time someone donated with a card through the payment system, £5 went to Help a Capital Child.

Ok, so you had to have a card, and you didnt make the donation, but this is the way forward. So we need to think about how this can be rolled out and the impact it will have on you and your organisation (for and not for profits)


Six Social Media Trends for 2012

Ah yes it’s all about the 2012 predictions. I really enjoy reading these pieces so hope you don’t mind me sharing. The good news is, these aren’t my predictions, so probably have some chance of coming through. These are from David Armano EVP, Global Innovation & Integration, at Edelman Digital, posted on Harvard Business Review….so pretty good stuff!


Each year at this time, I look forward and predict trends in social media for the coming year. But first, I look back at mypredictions from last year. How’d I do? Not bad.

Social media continues to move forward toward business integration, a trend that I identified last year. In a joint studyfrom Booz Allen and social platform developer Buddy Media, 57 percent of businesses surveyed plan to increase social media spending, while 38 percent of CEO’s label social as a high priority.

I was also partially accurate in predicting that Google would “strike back” in 2011. They did, with Google Plus, a formidable initiative that acts as Google’s “social layer” to the Web. Part social network and part social search, Google Plus has industry observers scratching their heads, wondering if Facebook will be given a run for their money or if the service evolves into something complimentary in a highly social Web.

I had one big swing-and-miss on Facebook’s intrusion in the location-based services war. While Facebook still supports location tracking in a number of ways, it has not put Foursquare out of business. Foursquare still enjoys a niche audience of highly active participants who enjoy telling the world where they are and post pictures to prove it. It is however worth noting that Facebook recently acquired location based network Gowalla, so continue to watch this space.

So what can we expect in 2012 in a world that seems to grow ever connected by the hour? Here are six predictions to ponder, in no particular order:

Convergence Emergence. For a glimpse into how social will further integrate with “real life,” we can look at what Coca Cola experimented with all the way back in 2010. Coke created an amusement park where participants could “swipe” their RFID-equipped wristbands at kiosks, which posted to their Facebook account what they were doing and where. Also, as part of a marketing campaign, Domino’s Pizza posted feedback — unfiltered feedback — on a large billboard in Times Square, bringing together real opinions from real people pulled from a digital source and displayed in the real world. These types of “trans-media” experiences are likely to define “social” in the year to come.

The Cult of Influence. In much the same way that Google has defined a system that rewards those who produce findable content, there is a race on to develop a system that will reward those who wield the most social influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence. Klout’s attempt to convert digital influence into business value underscores a much bigger movement which we’ll continue to see play out in the next year. To some degree everyone now has some digital influence (not just celebrities, academics, policy makers or those who sway public opinion). But for the next year, the cult of influence becomes less about consumer plays like Klout and more about the tools and techniques professionals use to “score” digital influence and actually harness, scale and measure the results of it.

Gamification Nation. No we’re not taking about video games. Rather, game-like qualities are emerging within a number of social apps in your browser or mobile device. From levels, to leaderboards, to badges or points, rewards for participation abound. It’s likely that the trend will have to evolve given how competition for our time and attention this gaming creates. Primarily, gamification has been used in consumer settings, but look for it in other areas from HR, to government, healthcare and even business management. Perhaps negotiating your next raise will be tied to your position on the company’s digital leaderboard.

Social Sharing. Ideas, opinions, media, status updates are all part of what makes social media a powerful and often disruptive force. The media industry was one of the first to understand this, adding sharing options to content, which led to more page views and better status in search results. What comes next in social sharing is more closely aligned with e-commerce or web transactions. For example, Sears allows a user to share a product or review with their networks directly from the site. Sharing that vacation you just booked, or recommending a product, or service from any site to a social network is where sharing goes next. We probably don’t know what we are willing to share until we see the option to do it.

Social Television. For many of us, watching television is already a social act, whether it’s talking to the person next to you, or texting, tweeting, and calling friends about what you’re watching. But television is about to become a social experience in a bigger and broader sense. The X Factor nowallows voting via Twitter and highlights other social promotions, which encourages viewers to tap social networks while they watch. Another way media consumption is becoming social comes from a network called Get Glue which acts as something of a Foursquare for media. Participants can “check-in” to their favorite shows (or other forms of media) and collect stickers to tell the world what programs they love. Watch for more of this this year as ratings rise for socially integrated shows.

The Micro Economy. Lastly as we roll into 2012, watch for a more social approach to solving business problems through a sort of micro-economy. Kickstarter gives anyone with a project, the opportunity to get that initiative funded by those who choose to (and patrons receive something in return). A crowdsourcing platform for would be inventors called Quirky lets the best product ideas rise to the top and then helps them get produced and sold while the “inventor” takes a cut. Air BnB turns homes into hotels and travelers into guests, providing both parties with an opportunity to make and save money. These examples may point to a new future reality where economic value is directly negotiated and exchanged between individuals over institutions.

These are a few emerging trends which come to mind. As with anything, looking to the past often gives us clues for what may come in the future. Please weigh in with your thoughts: where do you see “social” going in 2012?

Source: Harvard Business Review, Dec 12th, 2011

About David Armano: David Armano is EVP, Global Innovation & Integration, at Edelman Digital, the interactive arm of global communications firm Edelman. You can follow him on Twitter at @armano.

Santa: “I don’t do poor countries”

Shocking to think the most generous man in the world…isn’t all that generous.

This is a spot by UNICEF in Sweden.

I came across it on Ad Week. Im open to being challenged on this, but I like it (with one caveat: it would be broadcast when kids won’t be watching).

The ad is made by by Forsman & Bedenfors. We see a lovely Santa checking out presents and then he comes across a gift of medical supplies and he gets, well, a bit sarky about it.  He insists that he won’t deliver these kinds of gifts.  “I don’t do poor countries,” he says! It ends with a nice line “We go where Santa doesn’t”

Ad Week summarise it nicely:

His brutal honestly may dampen the mood, but that’s the whole point—getting people to remember that Christmas spirit in many ways extends only as far as a family’s economic circumstances allow. The writing could be sharper in the middle, but the spot, which is wonderfully crafted visually, has a universal message that could apply to families in richer countries, too. Santa doesn’t love poor neighborhoods much, either. In the end, it’s a clever way to bring the season’s most elaborate fiction to bear on the realities of poverty around the world. And the donations it brings will be among the greatest gifts of the season.

Take a look and I would love to hear your thoughts:

12 Consumer trends for 2012

In 2012, much as in previous years, some brands may be staring into the abyss, while others will do exuberantly well. And while we can’t offer any help to defaulting nations or bankrupt companies, we do believe that there are more opportunities than ever for creative brands and entrepreneurs to deliver on changing consumer needs. From Canada to Korea. Hence this overview of 12 must-know consumer trends (in random order) for you to run with in the next 12 months. Onwards and upwards:


In 2012, department stores, airlines, hotels, theme parks, museums, if not entire cities and nations around the world will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors, showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect.

Read RED CARPET in full (including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods)


Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies and apps to discreetly and continuously track, manage and be alerted to, any changes in their personal health.

Read DIY HEALTH in full (including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens)


In 2012, not only will consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but they will do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and thus a source of status too.

Read DEALER-CHIC in full (including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan)


Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling (sometimes forced by new legislation), and recycle them responsibly and innovatively.

Read ECO-CYCOLOGY in full (including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier)


Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies.

Read CASH-LESS in full (including examples from Google, PayPal and Square)


The majority of consumers live in cities, yet in much of the world city life is chaotic, cramped and often none too pleasant. However at the same time, the creativity and vibrancy of these aspiring consumers, means that the global opportunities for brands which cater to the hundreds of millions of lower-income CITYSUMERS are unprecedented.

Read BOUP in full (including examples from PepsiCo, NCR and Aakash)


Anything that makes it downright simple- if not completely effortless- for consumers to contribute to something will be more popular than ever in 2012. Unlocked by the spread of ever smarter sensors in mobile phones, people will not only be able but increasingly willing, to broadcast information about where and what they are doing, to help improve products and services.

Read IDLE SOURCING in full (including examples from Street Bump and Waze)


Why to consumers, brands that behave more humanly, including exposing their flaws, will be awesome.

Read FLAWSOME in fullhere.


Thanks to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the ‘cloud’, 2012 will see a SCREEN CULTURE that is not only more pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than ever.

Read SCREEN CULTURE in full (including examples from Sky, 8ta and Huawei)


It’s never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012, ‘trading in’ is the new buying.

Read RECOMMERCE in full (including examples from Decathlon, Amazon and Levi’s)


While cultural differences will continue to shape consumer desires, middle-class and/or younger consumers in almost everymarket will embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to be on the rise in 2012.

Read EMERGING MATURIALISM in full(including examples from Diesel, Johnson & Johnson and Sanitol)


Consumers are used to being able to find out just about anything that’s online or text-based, but 2012 will see instant visualinformation gratification brought into the real and visual world with objects and even people.

Read POINT & KNOW in full (including examples from Starbucks, eBay and Amazon)

Source: One of the world’s leading trend firms, sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide in 9 languages.

Challenging Social Media – but good news for charities!

I have reposted from David Taylor before, so excuse me for doing it again. This article is a good follow up piece to the one I posted previously “Engagement, Fashionable but bankrupt”.

In this piece David challanges the idea that social media is all about conversations for brands. He looks at some of the facts that are there, like people like 9 brands on Facebook and asks questions like – why do you think they will like your brand. If they weren’t talking about you before Social Media, why will they talk about you now?

Really interesting and challenging stuff.

It’s not all bad news of course. Firstly charities come out well as brands people want to like/follow.  Secondly, if you are doing interesting stuff, exciting stuff, entertaining stuff….well then people will want to talk about you. But the fact that they do it on Social Networks is probably secondary.

Well worth a read

Originally posted on the The Brandgym Blog, Novemeber 2011.

Social media: more about communication than conversation?

I did a long post a couple of weeks ago on the lack of hard data proving social media’s effectiveness in building business. One key point I’d like to pick up on again here is the idea that consumers want to “engage”, “participate” and “have conversations” with brands via social media.

The more I think about it, the more I think social media is more about communication than conversation for most brands. At least in terms of brands’ own facebook and twitter sites. This is especially true for FMCG brands, which make up a big part of our client base.

Here’s why.

Is your brand more like Prada, or pasta sauce?

There are lots of lofty claims made about social media, many made of course by sellers of social media services. Take this one from agency We Are Social:People are talking about brands at all hours of every day, in countless forms of social media. These are trusted more than a brand’s own website, and a lot more than advertising. There is a proven link between online conversation and sales.”

Now, let’s leave aside the lack of hard data to back up the claim of a proven link between online conversation and sales. We’ll focus on the bit about people talking about brands.

And ask, which brands?

Now, if you’re lucky enough to work on a sexy fashion brand, TV show or sports team brand, then perhaps people are talking about you “at all hours of every day”. But if you’re flogging pasta sauce, petfood or toilet cleaner, who on earth, if anyone, is talking about your brand like this?! Hopefully not many people, as surely there are more important things to talk about?

Research by Opinion Way for DDB helps shed some light on Facebook. People Like on average on only 9 brands. And these are mainly media, fashion, sport and charities. Check out FMCG, way down at the bottom. What chance of you really got of being 1 of the 9 brands people follow?

Screen Shot 2011-11-09 at 18.10.33

Its a similar story on Twitter, as shown in US research by Chadwick Martin, via Mashable Business. This shows that only 21% of people follow any brands at all. And of these, only 36% follow more than 4. In other words, only 7% of people are following more than 4 brands on Twitter.

There is of course also people using their own social media to talk about brands, rather than following a brands’ facebook page or twitter feed. But again, which brands are people going to talk about? A good way of thinking about this is ask if people were talking about your brand before social media. If yes, then social media will help amplify these converations. If no, then why would people suddenly want to start talking about your toilet roll or mayonnaise brand, just because social media exists? The answer if of course that they won’t.

Question 1: Is your brand more like pasta sauce or Prada? If your brand lacks the sex appeal of Prada or U2, and is more mundane, than I would question how much effort to put into creating your own social media platforms. They are likely to appeal to a small, niche group of brand fans who are buying loads of your stuff already.

If you do have a more sexy brand, like Manchester United soccer club, then social media platforms could play a key role in your mix.

Most people are content consumers, not creators

Even your brand is sexy and/or interesting, most of the people visiting your social media site, such as Facebook and YouTube, are there to consume content, not create it.

This is shown by Futurelab research I posted on here, that looked at 20 of the most-liked celebrities on Facebook. For one of the most popular, Lady Gaga, it found she had 39 million Facebook followers but that each user left only 1.82 comments. And a meagre 1,231 people, or 0.003% of the Facebook likers,   commented more than this average.

Its the same thing with user-created encyclopedia Wikipedia. Active editors make up only 0.02% of the site’s visitors. 99.98% of us go their to consume content, not create it.

Question 2: How can I create compelling content? Given the low levels of interaction, social media platforms seem to be more about content than conversation for the majority. Indeed, the same old rules of communication apply. Create interesting, emotionally involving and useful content that helps make your brand distinctive and top of mind.

When people do talk about your brand, the same old rules apply

The final point is that when people do talk about your brand online, the main reasons are not because of a fancy social media campaign targeted at a niche group of bloggers. The factors driving online conversation about brands are the same as they were in the old days before the internet. Firstly, doing interesting, exciting and entertaining stuff that people want to talk about (e.g. Yeo Valley farmers advert). Second, screwing up on your product or service (e.g. Blackberry’s recent “outage”)

In conclusion, for most brands social media is just another communication channel. Getting beyond this to conversation will happen if your create interesting, exciting marketing.

What do you think?