Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chairs Are Not Like Facebook

Thanks, Facebook, for starting my day off with a laugh. As Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle wrote, Facebook hit 1,000,000,000 users and what better way to celebrate than with the social network’s first ever advertisement. Now, I didn’t laugh at this video ad because it’s meant to be funny, I giggled because of all the things they could have compared themselves to, they chose a chair. You read that correctly – a chair. The idea behind it is that Facebook connects us all, and all of us sit on chairs. I’m sitting on an office chair as I write this post, maybe you’re sitting on a chair reading this and kids across the globe may be sitting on chairs in classrooms. Makes a bit more sense now, but they actually spelled out for you  that, “Chairs are like Facebook.”  What a terrible analogy.
I get it – chairs are universal, we all sit on them. Facebook is trying to compare itself to something that is used every day by literally everyone. The title of the video is actually, “Things That Connect.” But I’m sorry, Facebook does not equal chairs. We all have access to chairs, whether it’s in the form of a tree stump that a kid in Africa sits on or your dad’s recliner. Not everyone has access to connect on Facebook, not everyone even has Internet access or a computer. If they were going for buzz, they go it. But were they really expecting this to be a success? Did Zuckerberg watch this video and say, “Yes, chairs are like Facebook, this makes total sense.” It’s meant to be one of those videos that makes you think about the bigger global picture and gets a bit emotional. Maybe if the whole video was focused on the second half of the ad that talks about how people are connecting, it would have had that effect. Unfortunately, I don’t have any emotional connection to chairs. I also think the narrative could have been better, a little less obvious. It really spells it out for you and tells you what’s happening instead of showing you in the ad and letting your come to the conclusion on your own.
Don’t get me started that I think a Facebook ad was completely unnecessary because of all the free publicity they get with every journalist writing on it and almost every small, medium and large business telling consumers to go “Like” their brands on Facebook. Perhaps Facebook should spend a little more time focusing on how to get brands to advertise on Facebook, and less time comparing themselves to boring things like chairs. That’s just my humble opinion, what did you think?
As we tell our clients every day, you need to resonate and connect with your audience. Facebook missed the mark on this ad. As much as I was annoyed with the chair analogy, I can only think about how many times a  day I access Facebook via my mobile device or a laptop where I may be sitting on the couch or a chair. It’s the same as when people shout out and claim “this is the best thing since sliced bread”—you’re missing the connection to your audience and importance of your brand.
Should they have made an ad in the first place? And was comparing the network to chairs a clever analogy or a failed marketing tagline? Check it out here, and let me know your thoughts.
A version of this post originally appeared on prSPEAK, a blog from PAN Communications. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mobile Monday Boston Highlights

Last night I attended any mobile maven’s favorite monthly event in Boston - Mobile Monday Boston. A short walk to Ned Devine’s from our State Street officemy colleague and I head over early to network and prepare for the event. We met interesting people, doing cool stuff in the mobile gaming, mHealth and mobile ad network spaces – pretty much who you’d expect to be at an event like this. One company I met is doing something really cool in mHealth that I’m eager to learn even more about. They’re creating a means for patients to speak with physicians in real-time to talk about health concerns, dietary adjustments, exercise needs, etc. I’m one of those who doesn’t make it to my annual check-up every year, so I can say for certain that I would find value in an app like this, knowing that I’m still on my doctor’s radar even if I don’t make time for a visit as often as I should.
Kicking off the demos for the night was TalkTo - hands down my favorite technology of the night. How often do you call your friends, family or significant other? For a lot of us, it’s probably not as often as you text them. So why shouldn’t we do the same for businesses we connect with? TalkTo provides and app that lets you text any business a question and they’ll respond to you via text. Seems unlikely that every business you interact with would be on board with this technology, right? Then you type in the business, send the text anyway and TalkTo will call the business for you and send you the response via text. Much easier than waiting on hold, or waiting till business hours to get your question answered. Obviously, I had to try this app out, so I downloaded it on the spot. I made up a fake question – sent a text message to our neighbors at the New England  Aquarium to ask what time they open  today, Oct. 2. Sure enough, I got my response back within five minutes (the average TalkTo response time) – they open at 10:00 a.m. I highly recommend you check this app out, I was definitely impressed.
There were definitely other cool technologies there, including gaming apps like Owlchemy Labs and Summer Camp Studios, but TalkTo was certainly my fan pick of the night. Timbre was another favorite 0f mine, considering I love live music. Timbre lets you find all the live music that’s around your current location so you can check out local bands.
What was missing from the night? Industry insights. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing demos of start-ups who are doing innovative things or things that just make business sense. But these people were here to pitch their products. It would have been  interesting to hear more about insights into the industry and where these mobile savvy professionals think the next big thing is. As people interested in mobile, we all have an idea, but I would have been interested in hearing what other people think, even if it was in the form of a debate. The event sponsor Kinvey talked a bit about how difficult it is to build an app, and why they now concentrate on the back-end of apps, but in general there weren’t interesting trends that were discussed. As passionate as I am about mobile, I wish I could see a little more than the latest app and hear what the industry thought leaders are saying. If you are demoing at the next event, be sure to take your presentation into the next level and discuss what you’re seeing in the market and why your app/demo helps to solve a problem. If you’re into mobile start-ups and networking, definitely check out the next monthly event.
If you attended Mobile Monday, what was your favorite technology that was demoed? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet at me @BostonMarki with the hashtag #momoboston.
A version of this post originally appeared on prSPEAK, a blog from PAN Communications.