We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.
China’s Lunar New Year TV show gives away cash through social media
In a twist to the traditional red packets that are given out during Lunar New Year, China’s state TV extravaganza gave away cash to viewers via platforms like WeChat and Weibo. The 5-hour Chinese New Year’s Eve TV show gave away RMB 500million in cash during the broadcast by getting viewers to shake their phone when prompted. This made use of WeChat’s existing Shake feature, usually used to find fellow users of the messaging app nearby. Weibo users went through the more conventional route of clicking links.
Google launched a localised version of its YouTube channel for developers in China
Google is continually opening up its Android platform to mobile developers in China, this time announcing the launch of a Chinese version of its Google Developers YouTube channel. This new channel will help the US firm’s move last November (of allowing Chinese developers to earn money via Android apps, although only from users based outside of China since Google Play still remains blocked there) by increasing access to information resources to developers. However, viewers currently require a VPN connection to access the channel.
Google Capital seeks to move into India
Google Capital, an investment arm of the tech giant that focuses on mid-stage technology companies, has set its sights on India. In the first expansion of its kind outside the US, Google Capital has been interviewing candidates for a position to lead their efforts in India – a country that has recently surpassed the US in terms of number of Internet users.
Facebook brings Internet.org to India
Facebook’s Internet.org is a project that aims to provide basic mobile Internet services for free to the masses in emerging markets such as several African countries and Colombia. It is now extending that initiative to another market, India. Run in partnership with Indian operator Reliance, the initiative has been launched in six initial states: Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana, in its bid to “provide Internet access to more than a billion people in India who aren’t yet connected”.
WeChat adds a fitness tracking feature
Popular messaging app WeChat has released a new feature that allows users to track their fitness activities using motion tracking features on their phone. Besides being able to share their activities with friends, the leaderboard feature also allow users to compare their activities with friends and compete for the top spot daily.
Figure 1 launches in India
Likened to an Instagram for doctors, Figure 1 is a photo-sharing platform for doctors, students, and other health care professionals. Based on the understanding that the medical field is very visual-centric, the platform allows health care professionals to view, share, and discuss medical findings through photos. Its launch in India marks the app’s first entry into Asia.
We joined forces with the Project Reconnect team to explore this topic in more detail, and they’ve been kind enough to let us share our findings here.
Marketing needs to become more democratic
The more people are involved in something, the more they engage with it.
This is true in marketing too, and the organisations that succeed in actively involving their audiences and consumers in the creation and development of their brands are best placed to succeed in the long term.
So what does Participation mean for your brand?
His findings clearly reveal that people place a higher value on things they’ve been involved in making, compared to things of a similar price that they’ve acquired in a completed state:
“[The] experiments demonstrate that self-assembly impacts the evaluation of a product by its consumers; … when people use their own labor to construct a particular product, they value it more than if they didn’t put any effort into its creation, even if it is done poorly.” [source]
He goes on to say that their “results showed that [people are] willing to pay more for furniture they assemble themselves, as opposed to pre-assembled furniture.”
In many ways, Ariely’s findings reinforce the psychoanalytic research conducted by Betty Crocker Foods in the 1950s, when the launch of their instant cake mix product ‘flopped':
“Although the average American housewife very much appreciated the convenience of the cake mix, she felt guilty at deceiving her husband and other guests into thinking she had worked hard for them when, in fact, she had done very little work.
“[Betty Crocker’s] answer: add an egg. Changing the recipe to add an egg to the mixture offered the housewife a way out. By doing more than adding water – by adding a ‘real’ ingredient – she could assuage her guilt. The result: sales soared.” [source]”
Such examples offer clear evidence that actively involving people in the process of value creation – even if that involvement is at a relatively low level – significantly increases people’s subsequent perceptions of value [i.e. the benefits that people feel they have received in return for the price they paid].
It therefore follows that marketers can increase their brand’s value proposition by involving people more actively.
This has its limits of course; many people are still willing to pay more for increased convenience, and most of us would be unable to build complex electronic devices or produce petrol on our own.
However, active involvement need not always require participation in the production or delivery of the final goods and services.
Indeed, the popularity of crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is evidence that offering people a way to invest in the development and launch of a product or brand can deliver equally – if not even more – impressive results.
So how can brands take advantage of this interesting opportunity?
The answer lies in a more democratic definition of marketing: adopting an ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ approach to co-creating mutual value together with audiences and consumers, rather than dictating what people should like or buy.
Chinese cellphone brand Xiaomi’s CEO, Lei Jun, is a vocal proponent of this more democratic approach to marketing and brand building too:
“When Apple develops its iOS, you have no idea what they will do with it before the release. It’s not like that for us. We will first ask what you want. I feel Xiaomi’s most important secret to success is that Xiaomi is not selling a product, but an opportunity to participate.” [source]
Taking this philosophy further, it’s easy to see how brands could evolve to become wholly democratic entities:
- Involve the most savvy and engaged consumers and audiences to help conceptualise a new brand, product or service idea;
- Crowd-fund the R&D and launch of that brand, product or service;
- Actively involve the brand’s consumers in continuous improvement of the product or service;
- Work with the brand’s invested consumers – whether that investment is emotional or financial – to ensure the greatest brand awareness and engagement through word-of-mouth;
- Reward consumers when the brand succeeds, in the same way that conventional companies reward their shareholders.
Of course, people won’t want to become an active participant in every brand they buy, but it’s clear that involving people in at least some aspects of your marketing can deliver better results.
And now that social and digital channels make it so much easier for brands to involve their audiences and consumers in such co-creation of value, this may be the most exciting opportunity for marketing in the next few years.
Taking our own advice though, we’d love to ‘crowd-source’ your thoughts and builds on this opportunity too, so please feel free to share your feedback and ideas on this topic on Twitter via the #projectreconnect hashtag.
Twitter opens new R&D centre in India
With India set to become Twitter’s largest market after the US (with a projected 40 million users by 2018), it comes as no surprise that they have confirmed to open a new R&D centre in Bangalore, Twitter’s first centre outside of the US. It is likely that the Zipdial team, which they recently acquired last month, will form the basis for the new R&D facility, to develop new Twitter products relevant to users in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia.
Chinese Tinder copy Tantan raises $5m
According to Sina Tech, the Beijing-based app Tantan from Yay Media Labs recently raised $5m in series A funding, in a round led by Bertelsmann Asia Investments. It is an exact carbon copy of Tinder (but with stickers); letting users swipe through location-based profiles, match with mutually interested users, and chat with them. Founders Pan Ying and Wang Yu claimed Tantan has made over 15m matches, seen 20m swipes and sent 1m messages every day.
Last Tuesday, Snapchat announced that media companies like CNN, National Geographic, Vice, MTV, ESPN, and The Daily Mail, will be programming content for them.
This content will appear in a new section of their app called “Discover.”
To watch these “snaps”, like all other Snapchat content, you press a button and it plays – as long you keep your finger there. Remove it and – poof! It disappears.
By having to physically keep a video running, you are forced to look – and focus.
How should brands tell video stories on Snapchat?
Pounce from the start
The opening has to grab the viewer’s attention from the very first frame. No build up is required. And then, keep them glued for the entire ride. Narratives would have to be reworked. For brands, they may need to craft their message to fit into the first few seconds.
One take to rule them all
The Copacabana scene from “Goodfellas“. The opening sequence of “Gravity”. The one-shot scene holds our attention because there are no cuts or edits to let our minds “rest”.
Brands are sharing single-take videos on social media.
The Sunday Times’ Icons of Culture.
Airbnb’s train journey.
This “hold-your-breath” approach is similar to how we view content on Snapchat.
Mobile for mobile
Shoot and edit videos on mobile. Smartphones today record in high-definition. The turnaround is faster. And the raw, gritty feel resonates with younger audiences.
Bye-bye widescreen, hello split screen
Snapchat displays content vertically. Take advantage of this framing to give users details and perspectives they would not normally see on a 16:9 aspect ratio. In “Literally Can’t Even”, a new reality series on Snapchat starring Sasha Spielberg, the daughter of Steven Spielberg, split screens are used.
This method allows the creators to show more content and grab viewers’ attention. They also have to plan carefully to see how each screen can play off each other effectively.
Content comes before anything else, and is more important now than ever. Ask, “What’s the story?”
On Wednesday, Instagram updated its app to make its videos loop like those on Vine. It is a double-edged sword. Advertisers and content creators think that their videos get more views, but viewers might get turned off. The challenge is tell stories that are interesting when viewed repeatedly. Fashion brand GAP used an elliptical narrative for their first in a series of 12 episodes on Instagram.
They call it “the weirdest love story ever Instagrammed.”
Storytelling will continue to evolve as mobile apps like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram introduce new features. This presents new opportunities and challenges for media companies and brands. They have to understand each platform well and use it as a framework to craft narratives for mobile.
Wui-Liang Lim recently joined the We Are Social Singapore team as Content Director, and is responsible for helping guide the editorial vision and output of the agency and identify new content opportunities for our clients. Follow Wui-Liang on Twitter @LimWuiLiang.