Stop playing with your food! Sound familiar? Well the word’s been going round today that there’s a new app in town that brings gamification to a sector of the UK economy that’s not best known for its technological innovation: the food industry.
If you keep up with your tech news you may have guessed I’m talking about GBK, an unassuming little iPhone app from Gourmet Burger Kitchen that aims to revolutionise customer loyalty. Let me talk you through the experience:
You sign up and get given a unique customer ID number which you present to the GBK staff when you place your order. The homescreen displays your total visits to the burger chain, visits this month, and your rank. The latter is part of a series of game mechanics that are aimed to engage users.
Flip across to the next tab and you’ve got your notifications panel where I’m immediately congratulated for having completed the worthy challenge of signing up. With this I’ve unlocked a badge and consequently a voucher: next time I go for a fix of burger fuel I get a free homemade dipping sauce. How about that! Other rewards include free cheese on your burger and the ‘Fireface’ badge, which gives you extra jalapenos. Ouch.
The other tabs include a branch locator which shows you the nearest Gourmet Burger Kitchen to you and a menu with their vast array of – by the looks of things – damn tasty burgers. (They’ll even do you a five dollar shake).
And although there’s clearly room for improvement (no social login option on sign-up, no ability to order food from within the app, and an oddly located refresh button), what we’re seeing here is pretty significant for the marketing world. It marks a shift we’ve been seeing for a while now, from physical loyalty cards to virtual ones that are used in conjunction with a technology framework that simply allows for a lot more. With an app you can quickly create new and different incentives to appeal to each of your different consumer groups, not to mention all the data that an app like this can feed back to GBK, allowing them to gain insights into who their customers are, along with customer behaviour.
So despite its UI shortcomings this app is really quite exciting and shows that trends originating in the US like gamification and loyalty apps are in fact trickling into the UK, which as a self confessed tech junky I find comforting.
We’ve yet to see how much traction it will achieve with GBK customers – gamification isn’t the answer for every business – but from what I’ve seen so far it’s definitely a space to watch.
If you’re interested in gamification and want to know more, I also run a gamification community at gamifeye.com. Check it out!
One of the biggest challenges in social media comes when someone or other posts vehemently abusive comments or tweets about your company.
This is what happened some weeks ago when link shortening tool Bit.ly changed their website to the confusion and outrage of most of their users.
It’s in these moments, when you see a Community Manager trying to put out the bonfire one droplet at a time, that you realise what social media is about. You realise it’s not all sunshine and rainbows like many tweeters might have you believe and you start to do away with some of the myths surrounding social.
So what are these myths? Well, there are many, and doubtless you’ll have plently more to add, but here are some of the deceptive ideas that come around most often:
The more followers and likes you have, the bigger your reputation. Really? Does that mean that @LadyGaga, with 26m Twitter followers is more highly renowned than @BarackObama, who lags behind with 16m? Clearly not. Apart from the fact that followers can be bought fairly easily using services like intertwitter.com (1000 followers for $12!), the number of followers that a user has is usually just down to the amount of time they devote to their account, the controversy of their content or the fact that they went on Big Brother once. It seldom has any relation to your professional reputation.
Social Media is free. This is a myth that is almost universally held by those new to social media and one that causes the most frustration. No activity that you do for your business will ever be free. Let’s get that straight. The platforms themselves are indeed free, or very cheap, but your time and the resources you’ll need to spend to create a useful social media strategy will not be free. Unless you invest sufficient time – and probably money too – in your strategy you’ll most likely never see many of the potential benefits.
If you have social network profiles you don’t need a company website. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Does this mean that if Facebook or Twitter get hacked you take the day off work and wait until they’ve sorted out the problem? Though it’s useful, social media it can seldom be a replacement for a business site or online shop, mainly just because you don’t own them. Any day they could change or remove some functionality or other and scupper your whole activity. Remember that you and your business mean nothing to the big dogs who control the networks.
You should transfer your whole budget from offline activities to online ones. Don’t think social networks are a replacement for old forms of marketing and publicity. Though revolutionary in many ways, it’s more helpful to consider social media as an evolution of old strategies. So don’t do away with your business card just yet, and do keep putting effort into having top notch promotional leaflets and information to hand out at networking and business events.
Everything is easily measurable in social media. This is something you hear a lot in social media, and though it isn’t strictly inaccurate, measuring the return on your social media activity is something most people never crack. As a general rule you should think about investing 10% of your money and time in your analytics tools and the other 90% in the person who interprets the data. The data is out there, but making sense of it and putting it to good use is another matter that takes specialised skill.
Like in many areas of life it’s by far the easier option to believe fairy tales than just to get down to work. It’s always nicer to believe the person who tells you that with social media you’ll double your sales in a month than the person who tells you that to succeed you must devote all your time to producing quality content, analysing the data behind your results and conveying a sense of transparency through all your social media channels. But if you take the advice of the realist you’ll be living the dream a lot sooner than if you listen to the dreamer!
If you’ve got any thoughts to add let us know in the comments below
Recently I was asked by a friend whether I agreed with the idea of censorship in social media. My reaction was quick and decisive: why should conversation online be censored any more than the conversation that might be abuzz in any bar on a Friday night? The freedom to express our opinions and beliefs is one of the founding principles of the western world and so far it’s never caused us any problems, right?
But then I started to think a bit about what makes social media different to the average talk in a bar, and the more I thought about it the clearer it became that we’re talking about two entirely different social phenomena and that censorship rules must be updated to content with the rise of big communication. Two main things seem to set social media apart from traditional communication.
Social media is bigger
For the purposes of this discussion let’s ignore the more marginal networks like Tagged or Pinterest and focus on the main players. According to recent figures released by the social media strategist company Hasai, Facebook now has base of 850m users across the globe and Twitter has 300m. That’s a total of 1.15 billion people.
It’s not so much the conversational dynamics that differ between bar talk and online talk; it’s more a question of scale. Imagine a bar the size of Europe and you’ll get the picture. But while on the surface the dynamics of social media communication seem roughly similar to those in offline communication, social media possesses one main strength that makes it considerably more powerful.
Social media is quicker
Imagine a football match. The crowd’s chanting and shouting, people are clapping and stamping their feet, and in short it would take a long time for any message to spread through the tens of thousands of people. And if any message could be spread, by the time it got round the stadium it would be changed, if not ruined, by a Chinese whispers effect. But now, with social media, ideas can be grouped easily and efficiently into trending topics and shared among not thousands, but millions of people in seconds, without being changed beyond recognition along the way.
Trending topics are an immensely powerful tool. Twitter uses them to great effect and Google+ also incorporates them into its newsfeed. This feature has the potential to be much more than just a rundown of the main topics circulating on the site and just needs the right circumstances to flourish into a tool that allows masses of people to organise themselves. This is precisely what we saw in August 2011 in the riots that brought chaos to the streets of Tottenham, London. Hashtags were used to group tweets together and some people even posted things that weren’t true just to stir up the situation.
And the discussion certainly didn’t end with the crises in 2011 in Egypt and London. Recently the question of freedom of speech has surfaced again in the press due to the ongoing Leveson Enquiry taking place in the UK. The enquiry was launched in response to the News International phone-hacking scandal and according to its official website it will make recommendations on the “future of press regulation and governance” that are consistent with maintaining freedom of the press.
But the big issue regarding social media is the way and the extent to which it’ll be censored. I see two broad options for censorship of sites such as Twitter.
Either we can regulate what is said
or we can regulate where things are said.
If we regulate what is said:
Our freedom of speech will inevitably suffer, as we saw this week with the release of China’s points system for the Chinese version of Twitter. According to Mashable, users will start off with 80 points and they will lose some of these every time they post anything that harms the ‘unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity of the nation‘.
Now this seems like a harsh line to take and I can’t see any such system being adopted any time soon by democratic countries, but if you imagine such censorship being employed in times of emergency on social media channels, it could be one way of preventing things from getting out of hand. Of course, to prevent the system from being abused the situations under which such restrictions could be imposed would have to be defined very clearly.
If we regulate where things are said:
Freedom of speech will remain largely in tact. People will be able to say what they like, but authorities would be able to cut off conversation on social media in specific locations where extreme situations could potentially arise. A recent anti-government demonstration by the 15M movement in Madrid shows how this tactic contains a situation while still allowing people total freedom of speech.
The crowds began gathering around 2pm and by 8pm, when crowds in excess of 30,000 converged on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, mobile phone coverage went down. Whether this was an intentional outage or whether the networks were simply overloaded within a radius of about a mile is unclear, but the effect was the same. The crowds still felt able to participate in the demonstration, to voice their demands and express their discontent. The only thing they were prevented from doing due to the outage was gathering on social networks where ideas and sentiments would be able to spread like wildfire and where they’d potentially be able to organize themselves.
To me the second option seems by far the most appealing of the two. Regulating where things are said functions in much the same way as breaking up large gatherings of people in public places, which is totally legal and necessary to prevent outbreaks of violence. Having such a large concentration of people in one small area with access to online tools that facilitate communication and organisation could after all be highly dangerous.
I don’t think many would disagree that freedom of speech is a defining factor of western society and one that most are very proud of, and opting for a method of regulation that still preserves our freedom to express our beliefs seems both sensible and advisable. One thing is clear, though, and that is that the rules surrounding the press need to be updated to accommodate the scale that social media is taking on.
The system we have in place is designed for newspapers, radio and television, not for the internet.
The censorship of social media is obviously a huge topic with wide implications and can be viewed from many different angles. Obviously the one I have taken here is just one of many; but the geographical regulation of social media under extreme circumstances seems a reasonable measure to take, and one that provides a favourable ratio of civil protection to loss of libery.
But one opinion really isn’t enough, so let’s open the discussion up to the floor.
Couldn’t help showing off some of my incredible iPad writing skills
It’s time for another round-up of the best brands in social media. Along with old favorites Facebook and Twitter, this time I’m looking at Pinterest, now the third-most popular social network in America, and Google+, which is finally gaining traction among brands. Who’s the best – and why? Read on.
Pinterest – Michael Kors With 23 boards and more than 750 pins,
Social Media Marketing is the new kid on the block when it comes to advertising and, like many spotty new boys, it is, sadly, often mis-understood and badly treated. So here are a few of my persional thoughts on triumphing in the new frontier of Social Media Marketing. Enjoy!
It's Social, Stupid! If you bombard your clients with straight adverts on any social media platform, you're on a hiding to nothing.