FIR Interview: JerryGarcia.com developers Mark Silverman and Amy Haiar from Critical Mass

JerryGarcia.com desktop and mobile

The websites of most musicians adhere to a highly predictable template. There’s a bio, a page hosting some music, another with photos and video, a tour schedule, and a merchandise store.

In developing the recently-launched Jerry Garcia website, the team at global digital agency Critical Mass were anxious not only to explode the traditional artist’s site, but also to take the website experience to a whole new level.

The site is a wonderland of content for fans of the iconic Grateful Dead front man, as well as a place to share their own experiences and content, and connect with friends – all within the site without reliance on third-party social networks. The concept is transferable to any brand that has a history, a lot of fans and a lot of content.

The site has earned high praise. When the site launched early this year (without the Parking Lot, where fans can share their own content), Rolling Stone’s Mike Ayers wrote that the site features:

…a massive set of archival material for fans to explore, including 15,000 hours of recorded music and 3,450 shows, as well as timelines and information about 26 of Jerry’s bands and 77 of his musical collaborators. Fans will also be able to ‘follow’ 10 different tours undertaken by Garcia’s bands. …Garcia’s family provided the site with a wealth of unseen photos, concert material, ticket stubs and even Garcia’s own artwork to augment the experience. Currently, there are no plans to charge fans for access to the site’s material and the experience has been optimized for mobile devices as well.

From MusicTimes:

The sheer amount of recordings available isn’t even the best part of the deal. Fans will be able to trace ten of the tours Garcia embarked on with various bands throughout his career. For example, you could follow the entirety of the ’77 Grateful Dead tour, listening to every concert set included. Nine of the included tours are from the Dead, but the ’93 Jerry Garcia Band tour is included as well.

In this FIR interview, co-host Shel Holtz speaks with Mark Silverman and Amy Haiar, who headed up the Critical Mass team that developed the site after Silverman’s outreach upon discovering the sorry state of the domain. (A big shoutout to original Inside PR co-host David Jones for letting us know about the work Critical Mass was doing on the site.)

Listen Now:

Get this podcast:

About our Conversation Partners

Mark SilvermanMark Silverman, Planning Director – A culture-loving, creative problem solver, Mark is a user experience strategist focused on delivering extraordinary, results-driven, digital experiences for some of the worlds biggest brands.

With a background in science and technology, sociology, social psychology, and cultural studies, Mark joined the Critical Mass team in 2008. He is inspired by the ever-changing digital landscape and all things geeky.

Mark has covered various roles during his tenure at Critical Mass, including UX strategy, brand planning, analytics, content analysis, and account management.

Amy HaiarAmy Haiar, Creative Director – With over 15 years of interactive experience, Amy has delivered thought leadership and award-winning experiences for brands like Harley-Davidson, Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Vail Resorts, USAA, and United Airlines.

She also led the creative effort for the first ever fully responsive, fully accessible heath care website for Humana.

With an eye for innovation and pixel perfection, Amy believes craftsmanship is critical to the art of web design, and lives by the overarching philosophy: make beautifully simple work.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

Check the FIR website for information about other FIR podcasts. To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed.

This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: www.ragan.com.

Podsafe music – On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Twitter eight years on

Public. Real-Time. Conversational. Distributed.

Today marks the eighth anniversary of Twitter, the communication platform that is globally ubiquitous today, the eleventh most-visited website in the world.

From co-founder Jack Dorsey‘s first tweet on this day, March 21, in 2006, the number of active users of the service now exceed 240 million per month worldwide who tweet in more than 35 languages, with over three-quarters of people now using Twitter on a mobile device. Users range from the average Joe to celebrities, big brands, the mainstream media, presidents and PRs.

Who would have imagined Twitter would become such an integral part of the way in which a lot of people connect with others and with things that interest them?

Twitter monthly active users

The platform (for that is what Twitter is) has changed in these eight years from the cosy curiosity of public and private text messaging between geeky early adopters in a little social network out of San Francisco to a sophisticated service from a publicly-listed company that reported annual revenues of over $660 million in 2013, and that now lets you record and share short videos and lets governments and other organizations alert you to emergencies.

I first heard about Twitter in early summer of 2006 and joined in December 2006, mainly because I wanted to see for myself what others I knew were increasingly talking about. The service really began to take off after SXSW Interactive in March 2007.

From the communicator’s perspective, there’s no doubting the value of this tool today as a method of listening to what people are talking about – a foundational step in communication planning, something you do before you start talking. It also offers you terrific opportunities to engage with others once you do start talking.

In my view, there’s no right or wrong way to use Twitter from the business communication perspective, only effective or ineffective ways. And like all online communication tools and channels, Twitter is a mirror on the behaviours of people, reflecting what they say and do.

Just like the real world.

To mark this milestone, Twitter posted #FirstTweet, a nifty tool that lets you find your first tweet.

#FirstTweet

Mark your milestone.

Changing the game with native advertising

'Sponsor Generated Content'

Does “native advertising” bother you?

When I was first asked that question, my response was the inevitable “It depends…” And that primarily means: It depends on how open and transparent the advertiser and the publisher are about the native ad.

Just what is “native advertising”? you may ask.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.

In other words, it’s an ad that looks like the editorial content of the publication in which it appears – similar typeface, perhaps, certainly a similar presentation so it blends in – but clearly noted somewhere that it is content provided by an advertiser and not by the medium in which it appears.

It’ll be variously described as ‘sponsored content,’ ‘featured content,’ ‘brought to you by…,’ ‘in association with…,’ or such like.

It’s not the same as an “advertorial,” a long-practised advertising method that is largely falling out of favour among many advertisers as media evolves – more publications are appearing especially online, many covering unique niches, and mostly published by people who aren’t traditional media publishers – budgets tighten and more bang is required from that ad buck where methods of yore don’t do so well any more.

And consumer behaviour is radically changing where the number of eyeballs on a mass medium ad increasingly has little to questionable relevance compared to the engagement possibilities through a more intelligent approach to advertising that reflects a greater respect for an intelligent consumer who expects more than just to be “advertised at” and, instead, can (and often wants) to do more with the advertiser’s content.

(For a depth perspective of the new advertising/content marketing/consumer behaviour landscape and the role of native advertising, read Danny Brown’s insightful assessment.)

A report in AdAge.com yesterday is the prompt for this post, about the Wall Street Journal’s entry into the native advertising game.

AdAge sets the scene thus:

[...] Marketers want to work with publishers on native advertising partly because it gets their messages closer to the editorial content readers have arrived to consume. And publishers are not just offering it up; they’re carving out new departments to produce the content, whether they’re text articles, infographics or videos.

That piqued my interest in what the Journal is doing, and how they’re doing it:

Starting Tuesday, a box with headlines, subhead text and thumbnail images teasing content produced on behalf of the data and storage firm Brocade will appear in the middle column of WSJ.com and on the technology front page, situated between editorial headlines. Wall Street Journal’s custom content division, part of the business side of the operation, produced the ads, which will exist in a separate section of the website.

The ads will be labeled as “Sponsor Generated Content.”

And here’s what that looks like; I’ve highlighted the Brocade ad in a red box:

'Sponsor Generated Content'

If you click on the ad – or tap it if you’re reading the paper on a tablet – you get a new page on the WSJ.com website with expanded content about Brocade’s offering presented in a similar fashion to a news story or feature:

Brocade

 

Note these interesting characteristics about what you see:

  1. The browser tab at top of the image shows just the description “Sponsor Generated Content” rather than the title of the web page or article as would be more common.
  2. The lengthy web page address, the URL, in the browser address bar contains codes to enable metrics analysis from clicks and is clearly identified as a Wall Street Journal address.
  3. Next to the legend ‘Sponsor Generated Content’ in capitals above the article headline is a link saying ‘What’s This?’ Hovering your mouse over it produces a pop-out containing this text: “This content was paid for by an advertiser and created by The Wall Street Journal Advertising Department. The Wall Street Journal news organization was not involved in the creation of this content.”
  4. There is a byline which says “Narratives by WSJ Custom Studios for Brocade.”

A clear separation of church and state, as it were.

This looks to me as an intelligent approach to transparency, with little chance of anyone concluding that there is any kind of subterfuge or deception about an ad dressed up as editorial. There is no deception.

I see it simply – if an advertiser offers content that a reader will find of use or value in some way; that isn’t simple a “buy me!” approach that is characteristic of much advertising; that assumes the reader is intelligent and has a mind of his or her own; and is offered honestly and transparently, then this approach to native advertising probably has a good chance of success.

If the reader then acts upon what he or she has read – share it online among his or her community, at the very least – then you have achieved a measurable goal of engagement.

It’s a good game!

(Via AdAge.com)

Getty Images ups its game in the collaborative economy

A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. For anyone publishing content online, an image is becoming ever more valuable as an inclusive element in story-telling that can enrich your story and help it get attention.

Did the picture you see above get your attention?

It’s embedded from the Getty Images website under a new deal from Getty that enables anyone – from a website publisher, editor and writer like me running this WordPress blog to a mainstream medium employing thousands of professional editors, journalists and photographers – to use some of the photos and other images that have traditionally been available only under a restrictive licensing agreement and for payment of a usage fee.

Now, Getty will let you embed certain images for free when used for non-commercial purposes. You can choose from 35 million images in Getty’s overall image collection

The picture above – of a Boxer dog looking out from its kennel on the first day of the 2014 Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham – is one of the many news, entertainment and events photos available under this new deal that Getty announced on March 6.

As for why Getty is doing this, BBC News reports that Getty made the move after realising thousands of its images were being used without attribution.

“Our content was everywhere already,” said Craig Peters, a business development executive at the Seattle-based company.

“If you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply,” he added.

“The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that’s what’s happening.”

It’s interesting how media reports like the BBC’s view this as a defeat for Getty:

[...] In essence, [Getty] is admitting defeat. By offering the ability to embed photos, Getty is saying it cannot effectively police the use of its images in every nook and cranny of the internet.

I’d see it differently.

While the factual aspect of what the BBC says is true – undoubtedly, no one can exert control in “every nook and cranny of the internet” – it presents Getty with a great opportunity to extend its reach across the social web by enabling anyone to legitimately use images, that include links to Getty’s website.

It’s also clearly aimed at encouraging responsible use of digital content, attribution and linking.

But it’s also likely that it will open doors to more random sharing of content that you can’t control – for instance, look what you might see if you hover your mouse over the Getty embedded image above: a Pinterest ‘pin it’ button that lets you add that image directly from this website to Pinterest. No link to Getty, no control – but further exposure. That button is automatically shown if you have the Pinterest extension in your browser.

Still, it looks to me that Getty Images are embracing the embryonic collaborative economy with this move as a parallel model to its traditional licensing business. And remember, this open sharing only applies to non-commercial use – if you want a Getty image for your corporate brochure, website, TV station or what have you, you have to pay. See also what Getty did a while ago with images on Flickr.

How do you use a Getty image under this new embed deal?

Once you’ve opened an account at Getty – there’s no cost – the steps are simple:

  1. Click an image’s embed icon (</>) from the search results or image detail page.
  2. In the embed window, copy the embed code.
  3. Paste the HTML code you copied into the source code of a website or blog where you want this image to appear.
  4. Publish and share!

gettyembededimages

(Via The Verge)

See also:

Getty Images blows the web’s mind by setting 35 million photos free (with conditions, of course) – a good assessment by Joshua Benton of Nieman Journalism Lab. Of note:

[...] What does Getty get from the embed? Better branding, for one – the Getty name all over the web. Better sharing, for another – if you click the Twitter or Tumblr buttons under the photos, the link goes to Getty, not to the publisher’s site. But there are two other things Getty gets, according to the terms:

“Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.”

Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement – detailed description by Olivier Laurent of the British Journal of Photography, with quoted explanations from Getty. Of note:

“What we’ve decided to do is to provide through the embed player the capability to use this imagery, but there’s a value for Getty Images and the content owners,” says [Craig] Peters, [senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images]. “And that value is in three parts. First, there will be attribution around that image, and since we’re serving the image, we’re actually going to make sure there’s proper attribution. Second, all of the images will link back to our site and directly to the image’s details page. So anybody that has a valid commercial need for that image will be able to license that imagery from our website. Third, since all the images are served by Getty Images, we’ll have access to the information on who and how that image is being used and viewed, and we’ll reserve the right to utilise that data to the benefit of our business.”

New research shows what drives consumers in the collaborative economy

The world of sharing

If you want to know about the collaborative economy and what it may mean for businesses large and small, the man to pay close attention to is Jeremiah Owyang.

The collaborative economy – also variously referred to as the sharing economy, the maker movement, and co-innovation – is a concept that is gaining attention as a viable business method to be considered seriously.

In its simplest form, the collaborative economy is about a consumer using a good or service rather than owning it: you buy access to the good or service for the time when you need it. When you don’t, others make use of it.

Of course, there is far more to the collaborative economy than such a simplistic description, as Owyang makes clear in Sharing Is The New Buying, a new report published today that offers a wealth of credible perspectives on the rise of the collaborative economy in the US, Canada and the UK from 90,000 people questioned to find out how they partake in digital sharing services related to goods, services, transportation, space and money.

The report contains the following sections:

  • Introduction and Executive Summary
  • Breakdown of the three groups of sharing customers
  • Market adoption rates, forecast and growth rates
  • Taxonomy of the market
  • Breakdown by demographic: age, location, political party, marriage status and more
  • Satisfaction rates of sharing services
  • Forecast of future behaviours
  • Recommendations for corporations: market opportunities, and specific departmental impacts

An ex-Forrester and -Altimeter analyst, now founder of and Chief Catalyst at Crowd Companies, Owyang says his latest research has uncovered three distinct types of people who participate in the collaborative economy:

  1. Re-sharers: Those who buy and/or sell pre-owned goods online (for example, on Craigslist or eBay), but have not yet ventured into other kinds of sharing.
  2. Neo-sharers: People who use the newer generation of sharing sites and apps, like Etsy, TaskRabbit, Uber, Airbnb and KickStarter.
  3. Non-sharers: People who have yet to engage in the collaborative economy, although many of these non-sharers intend to try sharing services (in particular, re-sharing sites like eBay) in the next twelve months.

In a world where people can get what they need from each other, how can big brands survive and succeed?

Owyang believes that is the question every business should be asking as the collaborative economy becomes more established and is set to grow, as evidenced in the report.

Like social media before it, Owyang says, sharing will be rapidly adopted because the same technologies that make it easy to share also make it easy to spread the word about the benefits of sharing.

The Collaborative Economy at a glance

While the collaborative economy could disrupt many industries – and, says Owyang, is poised to do so – there is little data available on how many people participate in sharing, who they are, and, most importantly, why they do it.

This report – produced in collaboration with Vision Critical – fills a significant gap in knowledge leading to understanding, offering a picture of the sharers in the collaborative economy and provides important recommendations for businesses that want to win in this new economy.

Sharing Is the New Buying, a 31-page PDF, is available on free download: read it at Slideshare or in the embed below.

Instagramming NYFW

New York Fashion Week via The Verge

A frequent topic over the past year on the FIR podcast that my co-host Shel Holtz and I have pondered and discussed is the rise of visual communication.

A key reference point for us was the interview we did in August 2012 with Brian McNely on Instagram as a medium for image-power and his research with case histories on what brands do with Instagram.

Today, video has come up alongside static images with tools like Vine and Instagram’s video feature that make it incredibly easy and simple for anyone to capture six or fifteen seconds respectively of action on a smartphone and instantly share it with a small group – or the world – online.

This theme grabbed my attention this week when I saw what was happening on and from the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.

Take a look at a short video by brusselssprout_in_manhattan who says:

For New York Fashion Week, @tommyhilfiger introduced the first ever runway show InstaMeet. I was happy to be one of the 20 Instagrammers chosen to attend & document the event.

Check out the video:

As The Verge noted in its report:

[...] No one should come away surprised; fashion tends to bring the amateur photographer out in people, and the runways are by now no stranger to the blue glow of smartphone screens. Official attendees needed only to guide where those photos went to try to make them more meaningful.

Bold text is my emphasis.

There’s no better example of that guidance The Verge speaks of than this video report by retail, and shopping obsessive Racked in its video report, All Hail the Screens: How Instagram Has Shaped NYFW:

Screens, whether on phones or pads, have become ubiquitous in the front row at New York Fashion Week, especially since Instagram’s launch in 2010. Faced with a wall of screens at every show, Racked journeyed to Hilfiger’s NYFW ‘InstaMeet’, went backstage at Kenneth Cole and spoke with industry longtimer Mickey Boardman of Paper Magazine to see how the industry is reacting to the glut of social media, and how sharing sites might be changing fashion week for the better.

Imagination applied. Along with a great deal of structure and guidance.