All posts tagged Web

  • Brand Memory, Addendum

    Brand marketing lesson: it’s just as quick and easy to disappoint your fans as it is to satisfy them.

    In this case, it’s as quick and easy as an errant article appearing at the top of a news feed.

    My previous post discussing RHUM‘s great personal touch is now overshadowed by the first sentence I read upon loading their site today.

    Screenshot of RHUM homepage, 14 Feb 2009 (click to enlarge)

    Screenshot of RHUM homepage, 14 Feb 2009 (click to enlarge)

    See it?

    Headline: “Girls I’ve Had Sex With“.

    Great! If I were visiting with Penthouse Confessions in mind, or Tucker Max, or the zillion other smut repositories online.

    Awful! If I were visiting the site for some well-written critique on Australian youth culture. You know, music, the arts, film.

    That’s why I visited the site. For good, relevant content. Not for the infantile scrawl of some punk who wants to share his sexcapades under a pseudonym.

    RHUM is an Australian web publication targeting creative youths. Their mission statement:

    RHUM – Rabbit Hole Urban Media – is a non for profit arts-media organisation. RHUM works together with musicians, writers, visual artists and all sorts of other like-minded creatives as well as events, gigs and festivals Australia wide; connecting the peeps with all that is worth a read, ramble and a bit of showing off too.

    RHUM, ball = dropped.

    Sure, there’s a place for that kind of content within the guidelines stated above (“..a bit of showing off too”).

    But – front page?

    First item?

    Is this the kind of image you want to portray?

  • Content Analysis:


    • Why do all of the footer links direct me to email the company?
    • Why can’t I find any details about the company?
    • When they were founded?
    • Who is their managing director?
    • How many comprise their team?
    • Why don’t all of their examples link through to the developed website or live concept?
    • If you can’t link to a real-world example of a concept, then why advertise it?
    • Why can I only click on the tiniest section of the main menu?
    • Why do I feel like leaving the site ten seconds after entering?
    • Why do I feel no connection to a company who presents static images of their work without explanation?
  • Brand Memory

    I received an email newsletter from RHUM events & media, which directed me to their site.

    They had some good content that I wanted to follow. But at the time, they didn’t have any RSS subscription feature enabled.

    I emailed on December 9 suggesting its inclusion.

    A timely personal response:

    Yes absolutely, it’s on my mile long to do list don’t you worry. We will send out a subscriber notification and email when this function has been activated.

    Kind Regards,

    Nick Hutchins
    Group Operations Manager
    Rabbit Hole Urban Music events & media

    And then, on February 4, an unexpected personal response:

    Hi Andrew,

    Just wanted to let you know that RHUM has now released RSS feed capabilities to, content applications and content applications.

    Sorry about the wait for that and thanks for your patience as we sorted out some technical glitches preventing earlier release.

    Kind Regards,

    RHUM Admin
    Rabbit Hole Urban Music events & media

    In an era of diminishing attention spans, brand memory is crucial. If you remember me, I’ll remember you.

    Easy, right? So why am I still surprised that a company cared enough to follow-up my cursory feedback, six months later?

  • The Next MySpace for Musicians

    I’ve stopped logging on to MySpace. The only reason I’d continued to check it was to read bulletins posted by bands I enjoy.

    But then the noise became deafening.

    Too much effort for too little reward.

    Processor-intensive Flash ads swarmed my homepage.

    And instead of including bulletin pagination, to allow me to view 25 or 50 or 100 bulletins on a page, they kept with the original model of dividing bulletins into groups of 10. Each page yielded a new set of flashing ads. Awesome.

    But that’s in the past. Bye, MySpace.

    So if you’re a band I listen to or a band who thinks that I might like to listen to you, there’s a question you should be asking yourself. How are you going to connect with me, now?

    How are you going to coerce me to join your tribe?

    Or, more importantly: where is your tribe going to converge?

    I don’t friend bands on Facebook, because Facebook is for human friendships.

    I rarely visit band websites, as I’ve discussed.

    If I don’t visit your Facebook profile or your website, it’s going to be tough to convince me to join your mailing list. And mailing lists aren’t the ideal method for artists to broadcast from, as it’s one-to-one. Not one-to-many like the sense of community you felt when browsing a band’s MySpace profile.

    MySpace succeeded for several years because it provided the tools for musicians to share their craft and assemble a community in a central location.

    But if the community is dispersing, where are they going to meet next?

    Where is the next MySpace for musicians?

    Finding a suitable answer for this question is as important for me, the music fan and critic, as it is for the artists who want me to hear their music.

    I want a central hub to connect with hundreds of artists I admire and enjoy. I want to listen, to follow, to gain an insight into their recording process and international tours and personalities.

    MySpace is no longer the answer. It’s old tech.

    I don’t care about exclusive album streams. I don’t care about digital music store partnerships.

    I just want to know when my favourite artists have recorded new music. When they’re touring. What other people think of their music.

    Twitter is not the answer. Too shallow. When it comes to musicians, it’s a case of too little data spread too thin. I’ll happily read essays on subjects that I’m interested in.

    If you’re a musician, I don’t particularly want to know what you’re doing all day, every day. Just the important stuff. Specific, anticipated, relevant. New music, tours, reviews, videos.

    Again, these kinds of periodic updates could be delivered via mailing list. But I’m not going to go around visiting band websites and joining lists.

    Like I said, this is as important a question for me, the music fan, as it is for the artists and labels.

    Build something remarkable. Something worth sharing. Somewhere worth returning to. And I’ll be there.

  • Effective Tribe Management: 200 Nipples

    200 Nipples is an online t-shirt store with a twist:

    That’s how many nipples we assume will be covered by any single run of our high-quality shirts. (We’ll have the third-nippled buyer in there occasionally, but we didn’t want to count on it when naming the company; this is serious business, after all.) 

    One hundred shirts per month, individually numbered. Shirt prices range from US$1 to US$100 inclusive. First in, best dressed.

    I’ve had my eye on them for a few months, since they were mentioned on Seth‘s blog. Funnily enough, I can’t find the post where he initially linked to them.

    I received notification this morning, Brisbane time, that a new shirt was due to go onsale later that afternoon. I set a reminder in my calendar and went about my business for the rest of the day.

    At 4pm, I logged onto the site and found that their 100-item cart showed that no shirts had been bought. Weird. I proceeded to checkout and received order confirmation of my longsleeve shirt, which cost US$11 including postage. Sweet.

    Except that their shopping cart and database broke, and 76 users thought they’d snapped up shirts for a dollar or two. Whoops.

    This potentially painful ordeal was handled brilliantly by Wade, 200 Nipples’ founder. He replaced the storefront with a temporary ‘out of order’ page and kept hundreds of repeatedly-refreshing users in the loop by updating two blog posts.

    A couple of dozen users chatted amongst ourselves in the comments sections until Wade initiated a ‘do over’at 4.30pm. Best of all, Wade defused the fiscal situation by creating and publishing a 33%-off coupon, which was valid for an hour. 

    Shirts 1-30 were snapped up in minutes, but I snagged #11 for US$11.


    This year, Seth’s all about tribes. He posits – bolding mine:

    Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.

    It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

    It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

    At a guess, Wade’s tribe numbers in the low hundreds right now. His tribe was brought closer together today, by sharing a disruptive experience that was elegantly and openly managed. 

    We ended up taking a $150+ hit on the coupon code, but that’s OK. Above all else, we always want to deliver a good experience to you, the users of the site. The overwhelming majority of our customers were very cool about it. Thanks so much for your understanding.

    Perfect. This is the kind of experience that gives Wade’s tribe a story to tell and something to talk about. You can bet I’m going to tell this story to everyone who asks about my long-sleeved shirt.. which mightn’t be worn for months, since it’s almost summertime in Australia.


    Tribes is a great concept and a book that I look forward to reading. 200 Nipples is an example of gathering a tribe around a niche concept – attractive, limited, (potentially) cheap shirts – and today, a great example of masterful tribe management.

  • Always-On

    Seth describes a world whose eyes and ears are synchronised via technology:

    So, very soon, you will own a cell phone that has a very good camera and knows where you are within ten or fifteen feet. And the web will know who you are and who your friends are…. This is going to happen. The only question is whether you are one of the people who will make it happen. I guess there’s an even bigger question: will we do it right?

    Complete connectivity is difficult to imagine. I understand the principles of the notion, but my thoughts remain firmly grounded by its logistics.

    Speaking locally, the biggest barrier to overcome when discussing an always-on world is the price of data transmission.

    I can’t see this barrier being lowered in the near future. It’s unfortunate. Australia has always been behind in terms of broadband cost and speed. ISP policy has traditionally placed harsh restrictions on bandwidth, too.

    The effect that these data limitations have had on Australia’s web economy are obvious. It’s frustrating to read about US-based technological advancements while using an internet infrastructure that’s at least five years behind.

    Phone-streaming services like Qik are financially unfeasible in the current data climate. My recent research into internet plans for a phone upgrade confirms this. Until the price of data transmission lowers, there’s little point in such an investment. The always-on notion is admirable, but out of Australian grasp for the foreseeable future.

  • Openness

    While writing about the new architecture of news, I came across Upendra Shardanand’s blog.

    I found his writing on the subject enlightening and enjoyable. I went to subscribe, but there was no subscribe link.

    I went to email him about this omission, but there was no content in his about section.

    His blog linked to his Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, though. The latter reveals that he’s worked for AOL Time Warner and Microsoft. He’s the founder and CEO of Daylife.

    My initial goal was to subscribe to his blog. Though he didn’t assist with this process, my goal was easily achieved through manual entry into my reader. That’s not my point.

    If you’ve got a captive and willing audience, why make them jump through a bunch of hoops to achieve their desired outcome?

    Conversation and interaction are achieved through making these two outcomes easily achievable by your audience. I desire both, which is why my contact details and subscription link are immediately visible to visitors.

    Of course, Upendra might have chosen to omit these outcomes. If that’s the case, I’d like to know why he’s opposed to openness.

  • The New Architecture Of News

    Jeff Jarvis writes about the idea of link layers within news stories, based upon blog etiquette:

    …a new Golden Rule of Links in journalism — link unto others’ good stuff as you would have them link unto your good stuff.

    I check ABC News often, wherever I am online. I consider their reporting the most credible and objective of the mainstream Australian news media. They tend to cut the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter succinctly. Few words are wasted.

    It’s foolish to imagine that all of their reporters investigate and write original copy, though.

    The only barriers between the present situation and superior navigation to news are habit and an unwillingness to adapt.

    I’d happily embrace in-text linking to external sources. If news companies think that this would look tacky, they’re wrong. A link would save me the inevitable ctrl+T; ctrl+E; enter query. Furthermore, it’d show respect for their news-consuming audience.

    To pretend that your news organisation is the sole carrier of a story is more than deceptive – it’s disrespectful to the intelligence of web users. The goal of web-based news services isn’t – well, shouldn’t be – to keep the user on their site. Initial content should provide a brief overview of the news story. Links should propel the user further down the rabbit hole of knowledge, if they so desire.

    In an attention economy, taking my attention is stealing my money. That message, taken from a Bubblegeneration comment, is worth remembering.

    When discussing online news, Jarvis is authoritative:

    Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.

  • What don’t you know?

    While chatting with a friend using MSN Messenger, I found myself about to ask a simple, specific question about an upcoming event. I stopped myself, because I realised that the answer was almost right in front of me.

    All that I had to do was alt-tab; ctrl+E; enter query.

    I’m embarrassed that I only just noticed this tendency of denying myself instant knowledge. Of relying on others to supply information that’s easily within my grasp. While I regularly use Google to define unfamiliar terms when reading, I’ve never consciously acknowledged this selfish habit when interacting with others.

    This is less about creating an all-knowing facade than it is about about a desire to save time. By taking the initiative and informing myself of an unfamiliar term, I’m saving my friend the time it’d take them to explain. It’s futile to wish for this desire to be mutual: I’ve already realised that you should never hold others to your own standards.

    This discussion presents an interesting dichotomy: increasingly, the question is changing from “what do you know?“, to “what don’t you know?”.

    In an economy where information is free and search engine algorithms are constantly being refined, knowledge barriers are almost non-existent. This means that age is no longer an issue. It’s entirely possible that a dedicated 15 year-old – hell, a 12 year-old – could become one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the world in a particular topic; though, this notion has limitations in fields that require practical experience.

    It’s heartening to see that some are realising the value of encouraging students to engage with social media. True world-changers are already engaging.

  • The Cost of Interaction

    I haven’t experienced a more concrete example of the low cost of interaction on the web than two responses I received from people that I recently wrote about. Ryan Holiday and Gary Vaynerchuk both replied soon after I published my posts. I shouldn’t be amazed by this, but I am.

    An orthodox branding approach, when considering your name as a brand, is to create a blog and only interact with those who visit. This is the blogging equivalent of spawn camping. This is also a poor marketing tactic if your goal is to create and interact with a readership.

    Unorthodox branding is to monitor mentions of your name across the web. It’s to pursue and engage those who have taken the time to share their thoughts about you. It’s recognising that this is word-of-mouth marketing in action.

    We all have the opportunity to appear benevolent, and invested in the success of our personal branding. It’s acknowledging that you’re being spoken about online, and maintaining a dialogue with these people. It doesn’t matter whether they’re speaking positively or negatively about you. That you’re willing to take the time to engage, to create a dialogue, signals your investment in personal impression management. Few achieve notoriety for being an asshole – and even he’s embracing openness now.

    I experienced some negative personal feedback earlier in the month. I wrote a review about an Alchemist show that I attended. Within a few days, it was picked up by the local metal community. The discussion made a few small waves before I became aware of it. You can read about it here. My response was concise, accurate and timely.

    You could argue that it’s only a bunch of metalheads – who cares? That response momentarily crossed my mind as I read through the initial discussion. However – I care. It’s my name. It’s my brand, far beyond my responsibilities as a music critic. I will outgrow that role: my name will endure.

    Nobody is more invested in the creation and maintenance of your brand than you are. If you’re not going to market yourself, it’s rare that others will do it for you. You’re your best marketer.