What better way to celebrate our 4.54 billion year old earth than to explore it?
Our Amazing Planet has created an interactive infographic to demonstrate the complexity of earth’s surface from top to bottom (Note: FireFox is the recommended browser for viewing).
The infographic does an excellent job of illustrating our ancient world through the use of a more recent tool, HTML 5. It also poses an important question: how can we continue to share content in fresh, exciting ways?
With emerging web technology like HTML 5, it seems that anything is possible. As creative marketers, we now have the ability to create fun, colorful infographics — and then encourage consumers to interact with them.
CBD’s Director of Interactive Design, Aaron Marx, feels positive about the possibilities as well. “HTML 5 is going to allow marketers to move away from the dying ‘publishing model’ and into the ‘application model’ for online communications,” he said. “This allows for a richer, purposeful experience for users that doesn’t have to be watered down to work on mobile and tablet platforms.”
Technology gives us new ways to look at our world. So this Earth Day, take some time to enjoy the great outdoors — and the World Wide Web.
For the last 40 years, the media has promised us a life assisted by computers. I long for the Star Trek days where the computer patiently awaits my every command and, when I need something, it’s just available.
Well, folks, I think we’re almost there. Follow me to fantasy land for a moment:
- The Dream: I want to buy an Acme DooDad™ Pro 2000 Express Chair, but I am not exactly sure how it’ll fit in my home/office/building/factory. I wish I could have it here without buying it and then returning it.
- The Reality: IKEA incorporated augmented reality into their 2012 catalog. Using a special app, choose an item and a cutout version of it in the color you desire pops up on the screen with your camera activated. You then “place” the chair into the image and imagine it there. Color and all. Share with friends. Bam! Save the universe.
The Dream: I just landed in downtown Anytown, USA, and I am looking for a good restaurant that is paces away. I wish I could see farther than one block in either direction.
- The Reality: The Yelp mobile app includes Monocle, an augmented food snooper. It detects your location and, in conjunction with your camera looking down the street or through buildings, pops up a restaurant within walking distance. You’ll know where it is, what kind of food they serve and how many stars their users give it. Pow! Save the day.
The Dream: What do you give to a client that has everything? Oh! I know! I tree with gifts!!!
- The Reality: If you didn’t see it, our holiday card made a big splash this year. After downloading a free app, you point the camera to our 4×6 postcard and “Voila!” a tree and gifts pops up to delight and surprise you. Boom! Save the season.
The technology is here. So what’s holding it up from being mainstream? Ease of access and use. And for that, Google might have the answer in Project Glass. Google aims to deliver, via a head-mounted display, an augmented experience that is integrated into our existence (translate: without the need for a phone or an app). And they’ve just made the hardware available to a bunch of developers and are supporting it with a multi-day conference. Could it mean that we can all be Tom Cruise in Minority Report someday? Oh yes.
So my son, 16 years old, says to me the other day: “I don’t like having a Facebook page. It keeps everyone at arm’s length. And you might say things you can’t take back…ever.”
Instead of allowing my imagination to run rampant with worry over what he could possibly be referencing in that latter part, I thought instead of that first part–being kept at arm’s length. The question that came up was:
Just what does social media do for our personal and business relationships? And what doesn’t it do?
In a nutshell, it helps us make great personal connections. We can find old friends we lost track of. Upload the pic of the “gourmet” food we made for dinner. Brag about our seriously gifted children. And secretly analyze pictures of our ex-boyfriend’s wives…or so I hear.
When it comes to our role as consumers, we can support our favorite brands by being their ambassadors with ardent ‘likes’ and passionate testimonials.
And as brands, we can reach our consumer base in a playful and interactive way. We can reward them with coupons and incent them with contests and give them more information and hard-driving content than their human hard drives can possibly hold.
But at the end of the day it will never replace a handshake from a business associate or a hug from a friend. And apparently this POV is crystallizing with some pretty savvy MIT inventors.
Say hello to the “Like-A-Hug” Facebook-connected vest. Yup–you can get a squeeze from anyone who likes something you’ve put on your page. Check it out:
So in an age when everything is at once deeply social, yet completely bereft of a real human connection, there’s finally a way to bridge that virtual/physical gap.
My Phase 2 suggestion for these MIT kids? Hugs that differentiate between a good friend and creepy Facebook stalker guy.
It’s one of the most intriguing entrants into retail energy… iPowerPlay. This start-up is purportedly bringing electricity consumer engagement into the realm of social and mobile media through a proprietary technology platform that they will also license to other electricity providers.
[Just in case your next move is to go look for their website, keep in mind that iPowerPlay is also the name of an iTunes app you can purchase for ¢.99, as well as the moniker of an Xbox gamer.]
Based on their website, iPowerPlay seeks to be (yet) another “Power to the People” provider who “Makes Energy Easy.” How they will do this is a bit murky at this point. But it’s early days for this new entrant. This June, iPowerPlay filed for an aggregator’s license in Texas, so we may see a nonmunicipal, bulk energy buying model emerge.
Presently, they are conducting an interesting, limited pilot program in California and Texas. By signing up, and giving iPowerPlay access to their smart meter account, homeowners and businesses in select areas can receive social media, email, text, and app alerts every month about their energy usage, and a cash reward for voluntarily (and manually) turning down their air conditioners during peak periods.
Utilities offer this type of program to customers who have to install a special thermostat and allow the utility to automatically turn their air conditioning up during peak usage periods. In exchange, customers earn bill credits. This “big brother” approach is distasteful to many consumers. iPowerPlay’s take may be a more palatable model; however, it’s unclear how and if iPowerPlay can make it profitable.
What do Starbucks, Coke, Whole Foods and Oreo Cookies have in common? In addition to being iconic American brands, they are each leading the industry in embracing social media in their own highly relevant and completely brand-right ways.
Let’s look at a couple of these beginning with Starbucks, a true social media giant. I found an article dated 2010 highlighting Starbucks’ 30,270 followers on Twitter. Two years later, that following has grown to 2,502,063. Plus an astonishing 30,000,000+ fans/likes on Facebook. Watch their posts on Twitter and be amazed by the volume of one-to-one problem-solving communications in 140 characters – all helping build brand loyalty by being super attentive. Listening, interacting, asking for ideas. Respecting their customers while keeping the hard sell to a bare minimum. The result? A record quarterly profit in Q4 of 2011.
Whole Foods views social media as a chance to educate while working on a hyper local level to bring customers into the store. So in addition to the corporate site (with nearly 3 million Twitter followers), individual locations (often groups of 4 or 5 Whole Foods within a city) have their own social media sites (typically Twitter) to handle local comments and talk about what’s on sale or new at the store. In fact, Whole Foods community managers estimate that only about 10% of their posts are content based, 5% are promotional and a full 85% are responses to customer comments.
Oreo – with 26,000,000 fans on Facebook – is a brand that turned 100 a couple months ago and is having a lot of pure fun and games via social media channels. To commemorate this milestone, they’ve introduced a birthday cake flavor (limited time) and developed a highly integrated birthday celebration campaign with a dedicated website and heavy social media engagement. A component is the “Oreo moments” movement, where people upload video or share tweets about their favorite interactions with Oreos. They’re looking for a “million moments” and are closing in with nearly 800,000 at last count.
Does a good social media program drive sales? Here’s what Coca Cola’s (35 million Facebook fans and 40,000 Twitter followers) senior vice president of integrated marketing has to say. In short, “Fans are twice as likely to consume and 10 times more likely to purchase than non-fans.”
Thus supporting recent studies which have shown that engagement via social media can resurrect food and beverage brands, helping them win the battle vs. private label. Especially amongst younger shoppers, the direct relationship via social media provokes an emotional brand connection that translates into loyalty and purchase.
How is your social media presence evolving?
Some may cringe at the thought of “This e-textbook is brought to you by…” as it connotes academia selling out, or inferred influence on editorial. However there may be appropriate opportunities for marketers’ or advertisers’ presence that actually enhances the learning process and the quality of the e-textbook.
There are three conditions that must occur for this co-existence of academia and marketer, in order:
- The marketer’s product or service must have direct relevance and provide enhancement to the e-textbook subject or course work.
- The marketer’s product or service must have a direct and obvious benefit to the student/reader.
- The marketer must respect the learning environment. No hype.
Let’s explore these conditions a bit further to start some conversation and gain agreement for this seemingly at-odds arrangement.
The properties of the modern e-textbook device includes a wifi connection. As more e-textbooks become more like a web page than a static reproduction of a textbook, more opportunities for embedding, linking and downloading via the internet exist. This was more fully explored as a ContentHub in 2012: The Year for e-Textbooks. The marketers’ participation in this is as subject matter experts lending their proprietary knowledge and expertise through the dynamic content of an e-Textbook. As more marketers provide true thought leadership through research and practice, their data and analysis become real-time, up-to-the minute research or case studies shared as webinars, white papers, videos or live guest-chats.
A mechanical engineering class may benefit through the use of a company’s video demonstration about a product or process they are studying. An online chat with that company’s engineers would supplement the professor’s expert opinion – an online guest lecture of sorts. From a marketing perspective, the student’s one-to-one exposure to a leader in the industry creates a meaningful and lasting impression that could lead to a variety of future actions, including that of supplier, employer, or partner. And in this era of high competition in all business sectors, this gives the participating company an advantage.
Students studying marketing or advertising courses could be exposed to the latest successful case studies inclusive of all media in use: newspaper, magazine, radio. TV, banner ads, outdoor, etc. In an industry that breeds change, the student would see tremendous value with readily available samples, data, videos and links that static e-textbooks could never provide. Agencies providing this information have a huge opportunity to not only advance the industry but also be viewed for their expertise. Those agencies participating by providing unbiased expertise may see a future Chief Marketing Officer select them for future work based on this educational relationship.
Looking to the future, as e-textbooks evolve they will act more like websites, a ContentHub of activity around a topic, and education-savvy marketers will derive direct branding benefits by becoming suppliers to the e-textbook market. Animated demonstrations, white papers, community discussion, expert online chats, archived presentations, webinars and guest lectures. The reference section could be a listing of active links to those information sources cited within the content sections which would provide ongoing value.
And I suppose there may be room for one relevant “ad” that could appear as the last page in an e-textbook. Headline: “Back-up batteries available at…”
Marketers, do you see the opportunity? Weigh in on this and let us know you’re approach.
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