After nearly 6 years of absorbing the hustle, bustle, and electric vibe that is Joburg, it’s now official, I’m heading back to my home town – Cape Town.
At the end of July I am going to be leaving BMW South Africa, one of the best places that a digital marketer can wish to work at, to head up client strategy at my previous company Quirk eMarketing.
Before I go any further, I’d like to point any of those interested in being the Interactive Marketing Manager at BMW South Africa to this page: Position: BMW Interactive Marketing Manager.
I’ve learned an incredible amount at BMW. Moving from agency to corporate was a massive culture change which was mush easier to handle than I initially expected. I think it has much to do with the open-minded approach the company has to digital. As a technological innovator, BMW really encourages the culture of innovation to filter through all areas of the business and I felt it.
As the first “emarketing specialist” to be placed in the position, I’m really proud to have pioneered a few changes to the way we use online as a channel to generate leads as well as build communities. A couple things that I focussed on in the last few years:
- Relaunching BMW.co.za in 2007 with completely re-written (initially provided from the international HQ), search optimised source code. This re-write became a pilot for what you see on BMW.com today.
- Being an advisor to BMW HQ in Germany on natural search optimisation.
- Piloting BMW’s “foray” into Facebook with the BMW SA fan page (which incidentally is up to just under 7.5k fans)
- Supporting the launches of the following: 1 Series 3 & 5 door, Coupe, and Convertible, 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, M3, 7 Series, X5, Z4 Coupe, and new Z4 Roadster.
The experience I’ve gained in working on the strategy side for a brand like BMW has been invaluable. To work with a company that has such “brand gravity” as i like to put it, gives you such brilliant opportunities to experiement with smaller little projects. Passionate brand advocates (and there are many of them!) are always quick to adopt and provide honest (and prompt) feedback. The potential for pushing the boundaries from the social marketing/media side is endless.
Whoever takes the reigns is guaranteed to have an amazing experience.
Moving back to the company I joined as a usability/jack of all trades type in 2002 is really exciting. I joined Quirk as the 5th team member and soon disovered that this was a different type of agency. The amount of encouragement to learn and share information is certainly what positioned Quirk as a company that was ahead of the curve in terms of emarketing thinking. I even remember an IM conversation I had with Rob soon after I joined BMW about the fact that I thought that Quirk was perhaps a little too far ahead of the curve, so much so that it would be difficult to sell services to customers for problems (and opportunities) that they didn’t even know they had at the time.
I was wrong.
The dedication to the culture of innovation and education hasn’t died and the company has expanded (both business and staff wise) at an unbelievable rate. I think the quirkstar compliment is nearing 60.
The opportunities in the eMarketing space are incredibly exciting and to (re)join a team that is rocketing upwards and onwards is a fantastic prospect.
So there you have it. My last day will be somewhere near the end of July. We’re hoping to place someone to start in August. So if you or anyone you may know that is truly passionate about driving an amazing brand into the future, please click here (or share the link via: Twitter and/or LinkedIn).
Photo credit: Alastair Mclachlan “Shell 80″ via: flickr (www.intermission.co.za [the best wedding venue ever!]).
Tags: BMW Related · General
Saw these busses driving toward Johannesburg from Durban. The right doors are raised which I presume is for the platforms at various Gautrain stations. There are the normal “lower” doors on the left hand side.
Excuse the photo quality, shooting through a window isn’t ideal!
[Click on pic for larger view]
October 15th, 2008 · 7 Comments
|Bread made at a recent camping trip of ours. Right out of the potjie pot!
I’ve been tagged by Quirk. This time, it’s for something that’s actually got a point, AND a good cause attached to it.
It’s all about bread. Baking a loaf of bread. “The Worldwide Blogger Bake Off“.
From Quirk’s blog:
The Worldwide Blogger Bake Off aims to use these donations in the many sustainable projects which Breadline Africa funds throughout Africa.
So how does this campaign work and what can you do to help Breadline Africa alleviate poverty in Africa? For starters you need to join the campaign in order to participate. Once you have signed up there are various ways for you to participate depending on whether you have joined as a blogger, fundraiser or individual. These are namely:
- Making a donation to Breadline Africa on your own initiative or on behalf of a blogger or fundraiser.
- If you have a blog or website, you will be able to download our widget. You will need to sign up as a blogger or fundraiser first.
- Submitting your own bread recipe.
- Voting for your favourite recipe.
- Baking a loaf of bread and blogging about it.
- Baking many loaves of bread and hosting a bake sale.
- Challenging other bloggers or friends to get involved in the campaign.
I think the idea of the campaign is brilliant. By using various tools available in the social media toolbox, it cuts right through the clutter, and has the potential to spread like
margarine a good viral should.
So to continue the momentum of this del.icio.us idea, i i’d like to tag the following bakeristas:
- Erik Hersman @ whiteafrican.com
- Matt Buckland
- Mike Stopforth
- The team at Ideate (+ their premium YuppieChef kitchen tools)
- Sarah at Babazeka
- The team at foodcrEATions – by Stork
In the meantime, let me just say that I am looking VERY VERY forward to baking my first loaf of bread and sharing the recipe with you!
Let me hear you say “mmmmmmmmmmmmmm….”
Tags: Events · General · Marketing · Social media
While the world waits for Google to launch it’s new browser “Chrome” I figured I’d throw some very random thoughts around relating to today’s launch, the reasons to believe, and the predicted outcomes.
So here it is, some sort of thought explosion:
The phrase “much anticipated” would be a good way to describe the launch of Chrome, except for the fact that the world was only told yesterday. So there’s been almost no room for speculation, perception formation, or hype. That said, Twitter Search‘s trends have moved away from Hurrican Gustav (which dominated the trend topics yesterday morning), to a raging river of mentions of “Google Chrome” and “Chrome“. I’m pretty sure that there’s been few occurrences in the history of the internets where a “Page not found” page (http://www.google.com/chrome) has been refreshed so many times.
I’ve known for about a week that Google was to be launching something huge, my feeling is that the official announcement and launch happening so closely to each other were done so because the product is so different to what we’ve known a web browser to be. Rather than allow people’s minds to speculate and possibly write it off as just another browser, they’ve given us very little time to gather our thoughts and write it off.
- random aside: it’s an interesting contrast to the way Apple builds hype through their announcement dates and apple events.
User acceptance prediction
After seeing comments on twitter such as “just what we need, another browser”, and reading the comprehensive comic book, I think Google might have a tough time convincing users. From what it looks like, we’re going to have to approach Chrome with an open mind. We’ve been surfing the web in pretty much the same way since sometime around 1995. It’s all we know. Now Chrome comes along and wants to change the game? This might be Chrome’s biggest challenge.
Reasons to believe
Right, there you have it. my thoughts on paper. got anything to add?
There’s a time and a place for niched mobile social networks. The time is this weekend, the place is oppikoppi.
After reading about an interesting development by Orange called “Glastonav“, a mobile application for those that attended this year’s Glastonbury festival, I was curious to see what Oppikoppi had up their sleeve following a post on their blog this morning.
Oppikoppi WildCard on your Mobile
Whether you have experienced a Bad Beat or are showing off hiding a Royal Flush, this year’s Oppikoppi “WildCard” Festival from 7-9 August at Northam, has a suit for everyone!
Get the festival info, band line-ups, survival tips, maps and downloads for this year’s festival by visiting the Oppikoppi Wildcard WAP site!
Sms KOPPI to 32424 (sms costs R1) to receive the link on your phone. Alternatively follow these easy steps:
1) Go to m.24.com on your WAP-enabled phone.
2) Click on Entertainment or Downloads
3) Click on Oppikoppi
What is revealed is really just a “brochure” site with listings of who’s playing when and where, a map, and some downloads (which is cool).
I think that there could have been so much more done with a medium like this. Some kind of audience interaction would be the way to go.
I believe one simple addition to the site would make it a better offering – live reports from each stage with the ability for users to comment. This could be done by using a simple blog interface.
Other nice additions could be:
- A bulletin board for the organisers to communicate.
- graffiti wall for festival goers to say what they want.
- friend finder (geolocation dependant) – after adding your friends, you could see where they are.
I’d really like to see a twitter channel too. This would be the easiest thing to run and update. A niched version of Twittersa for oppikoppi would be awesome. Not sure how it would look on a mobile though, presumably the ajax live loading would work.
Ultimately, there’s a really great opportunity for the organisers to pull together a community for the event. Call it a niched social network if you will. One with a limited lifespan – no expectations or requirements to manage the community after the event (although there’s surely scope for a more long term strategy?).
I know the guys at Blueworld are going to be launching some kind of Myspace equivalent / local band platform at oppikoppi this year, but it would be great if they used their existing tech platform and skills to create a space for “temporary” communities such as this.
Don’t get me wrong though, after all is said and done, I know that the guys at Oppikoppi Productions are improving their digital stuff all the time. They’ve built a fantastic site that ticks most of the “best practices” boxes. It’s just a case of taking it to the next level, inexpensively and effectively!
Tags: Music · Social media · Web
A quick idea I thought I’d jot down for Muti, probably South Africa’s most popular social link sharing and voting site.
I imagine that one of the larger problems facing these voting type sites is that once the user has clicked on a link, he’s left Muti and needs to come back to cast his vote.
If I was to put on my emarketer’s hat (one of my more comfortable hats), i see the action of voting to be the equivalent of a conversion. The more votes, the more accurate the relevance. Leaving the page and needing to return to vote is clearly an obstacle in the “conversion funnel”. Why not bring the voting functionality a little closer to the user?
My simple idea:
First, take a look at Modernista’s website (don’t worry, this will launch in another window so you can come back to read the rest..).
Now, what I propose is that when you click to a story from Muti, the next page, has a similar css overlay with a simple up and down (if down voting is allowed) arrows. That way, you’re not required to return to the Muti page until you’ve decided to vote on the content.
This may be seen as a little loss of control on the user’s part, but I think that in the overall scheme of things, it’s more valuable than irritating. also, a little [x] could just be shown to allow you to close the Muti layer should you wish.
Anyway, that’s my idea, down on the virtual napkin.
Tags: Social media · Web
The guys at Cerebra have launched an initiative with one of my favourite shoe labels Converse (incidentally, my reading glasses are also Covnerse).
I think that the idea around pulling the fans together is great. It’s a niche community that could fill a nice gap.
What I find interesting is that there’s not one picture of, or link to any catalogue of the product/shoe. There also doesn’t appear to be a South African web presence of the Converse range either. I would think that it would be an ideal opportunity to harness the value of the incoming link from blog posts like this to the benefit of search engine results which in turn could benefit both the user – finding information on a product he/she is looking for, and Converse – a sales lead (directly – ecommerce or indirectly stockist locator)
It looks like Converse SA have thrown all their internet budget behind the social aspect, which, in my opinion, can be a risky move. From what I’ve learned from previous “pilot projects” in this space, only a fraction of the total visitors to the site are actively taking part in the conversation. And whilst the value of these super-fans cannot be understated, there really needs to be something more for the majority of users.
What that is can differ from product to product. But with a brand like Converse, it’s probably something like some kind of catalogue of what’s available in ZA and where. Maybe some kind of “create your own shoe” (probably expensive). Maybe a facility that allows people to upload photos of their own Converse – nice and visual, and adds a dimension that text and “conversation” cannot replicate.
Anyway, it’s late and i’m not that full of ideas. And I’m secretly disappointed that Man United beat Barcelona.
All I’m trying to say is that the “web 2.0″ phenomenon is very much a playground of the few and that you need to be careful of what percentage of your marketing budget you put behind it (and if it’s 100% that’s also ok!).
Disclaimer: I’ve not seen any other Converse ZA stuff online. Maybe I just missed it.
Tags: Marketing · Media · Social media
[In return for a spare ticket to the New Media Marketing conference 2 weeks ago, I was asked to write a post for the Biz-Community blog. I've republished it below..]
The 2nd Annual New Media Marketing conference, which was held in Johannesburg 25 – 28 March 2008, was a showcase of a few of the top thinkers in the South African new media space presenting their thoughts and experiences on digital and marketing.
Here’s my list of the top five conference “take-outs” as seen through the eyes of the interactive manager at BMW South Africa.
In no particular order, here they are:
1. Social media – Manage expectations.
With the hype surrounding “web 2.0″ and all things social (e.g. social networking, social media, consumer generated content etc) it’s vital to make sure that both yours and your community’s expectations are managed.
Mike Stopforth mentioned quite correctly that social media will lure your brand advocates out of the shadows by the promise of giving them a platform to show just how big a fan they are. But, don’t expect everyone to want to interact; rather expect a quality interaction from the few that do. Most people signed up to a campaign or environment where social interaction is encouraged are going to be a rather inactive group.
To get the most out of the community, you need to ensure there’s something to come back to. Keep content fresh, ensure that you are playing an active role in the discussions taking place (keep your tone as human as possible i.e. no corporate speak!). Also, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding your top advocates with something to show your appreciation.
But as Vincent Maher, Mail & Guardian Online strategist points out, the community that you may have spent years building and nurturing has the “loyalty of a rented snake“. So be sure to treat each member as number 1; each member needs to be the one in control, not you.
Examples: BMW Facebook page; Mad About Twenty20 Bank (fan site built by fans, now closed)
2. The importance of through-the-line.
No online campaign effort should stand alone without any above-the-line or direct support. Through-the-line campaigns not only give your branding a more consistent edge, but the momentum moves in the same direction – forward. A print ad talking about X, a radio ad talking about Y, and an online campaign focusing on Z just means that each medium is fighting for consumer attention. On your print or radio advert, be sure to mention that you can learn more online at www.[INSERT BRAND HERE].co.za.
3. One team to drive through the line campaign.
Following on neatly from point 3, Allan Kent (Head of Saatchi’s AtPlay) spoke about the importance of one team to drive the entire campaign from conception to execution. This can be a challenge, especially when more traditional agencies are trying their arm at “new media”, or when the advertising and digital agencies are two different companies, both trying to impress the client.
At BMW we have been lucky to have two agencies that have been able to work very well together. It is much easier to approve work that has been presented from a team of collaborators than work with different teams each trying to maximise their own interests.
4. Time and attention – the new currency.
Forget cash, the hardest things to get from today’s connected individual is her time and attention. Tyler Reed, MD of Younique, pointed out that the connected youth are known to suffer from “partial attention disorder“. I think that this is certainly not limited to just the youth, but anyone with a mobile phone, TV, and access to the Internet. Treat every second that you engage with someone as your last.
The best way to make each second count is to ensure that your engagement is meaningful. The days of the one-way, top-down communication style are numbered. In order to be meaningful, brands need to do more listening and less jibber jabbering.. simple!
5. Take only what you need.
Paul Jacobson, new media lawyer, discussed various legal aspects that need to be considered when doing things online. I believe that this is an area that will gain more attention as the social web becomes more entrenched into everyone’s lives.
One of the topics discussed that was relevant to one of BMW’s more recent campaigns is that of content licensing. “There’s more than one way to license content”. Creative Commons is a collection of licences that work within the framework of copyright. The traditional copyright is often too restrictive and prohibits any kind of sharing, copying, or changing of the content. If you place your content under one of the Creative Commons licenses you are able to set the “Attribution, share alike, and non-commercial” aspects of the content. This encourages sharing, copying, and mashing (taking the content and mixing / changing) without fear of any kind of legal wrath.
An example would be to place your latest television advert under an attribution, share alike, and non-commercial license. This means that anyone can take your advert and do what they want with it, provided they attribute the work to the original author, and don’t make any commercial gains from the “edited” work. Imagine brand advocates wanting to immerse themselves with your brand to that level… the possibilities are quite exciting!
All in all, I believe that these sorts of conferences are extremely worthwhile. I would, however, suggest to conference organisers that they look at including fewer “preachers” and more “converted” to speak. The impact of an actual case study such as the one presented by Lize Esterhuizen from Stellenbosch University cannot be understated, as it gives conference goers something a bit more tangible and puts all the “preaching” into context.
Scott Gray is the interactive marketing manager at BMW South Africa.
Tags: Conference coverage · Marketing · Social media · Web