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When one hasn’t posted in awhile.

October 23, 2009

One does not know how to re-enter the platform.

If someone were to scream at me right now, at this very moment, I will pay you $500 if you can tell me the last time you posted on Tangelos, I would have to pass. Because I have NO IDEA when I posted last. And Lord knows what I even posted about. Probably the invention of Twitter or something along those lines – that’s how long ago I posted.

It seems pathetic, but I assure you, I have excuses! Lots of them!

I blame Twitter. Glorious, 140 characters or less Twitter. I don’t have to draft my tweets in a Word doc then copy/paste them. Not saying I do that in WordPress, but, well … okay maybe I do. Seriously, though, Twitter has taken over my life. In a good way. It’s where I get my news. It’s where I find out what my friends are up to. (Like I would actually CALL or TEXT them. Yeah, right.) Twitter is where I take my smoke breaks.

I also blame planning my wedding. Unfortunately, any free time I have is dedicated to searching the web for DIY wedding ideas (thanks OnceWed.com – you are freaking amazing), bridesmaid gifts, a guest book, place cards … you get the drift. When I finally get this wedding shenanigan over with – just kidding! – I will have so much free time. Though we did just buy a house, so I am sure my free time will turn into picking out paint colors, furnishing, landscaping …

To our extensive reader base: sorry we have not been keeping up with our posting. We plan to start posting more. At first we were thinking that our blog was no longer the best format to express our thinking. Now, though, we know it’s a focus that we need.

We have a pretty good idea of what that focus will be, so look out for some posts coming your way in the next few weeks. Hopefully we can live up to that expectation.

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T-Pain App Totally Tumbles

October 19, 2009
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In addition to learning how to pass in NHL 10 and trying to figure out how to read the map in Call of Duty to avoid getting cornered, we have another avocation in The Lair. We’re taking a good hard look at mobile and playing the emperor’s fool in meetings. You know, that annoying person who says, “But sir, while you are wise, where is your mobile integration?” I like to follow up that show stopper with a relevant consumer insight on mobile usage, followed by a Shakespearean laugh.

Alex suggested we take a look at I Am T-Pain, a hot app available on iTunes in the app store. We both downloaded it. It’s very engaging. It enables users to record their voice with T-Pain’s signature Auto-Tone voice effect, lay the audio karaoke style over some of his hits or freestyle with the effect for their own amusement.

What’s impressive isn’t the Auto-Tone effect. That ain’t new, no offense to T-Pain.

What’s impressive is how the app tumbles. And picks up data and touchpoints along the way. It starts with the offline buzz. T-Pain, get it, get it, get it, it’s cool by all the talk show hosts. Or, in my case, a planner who is hipper than you. OK. Then you go up in iTunes and cough up $2.99. And then it’s on. You are in a world of T-Pain. His signature effect and hit tracks are NOT just there for your amusement. He’s in this game for real. He wants your data, your friends and more money for more hot digital tracks.

INSIGHTS: You probably like T-Pain. You’re probably stoked. You’re in install mode and feeling generous. You haven’t even played with it yet for goodness sake.

The app asks you to allow it to push notifications, offers and sounds to your phone. Want more Pain? Click allow. The app takes advantage of the honeymoon and new-toy glee to secure ongoing access to a key touchpoint — your mobile phone — with an opt-in. You’re all “T-Pain, text me!” It happens.

INSIGHT: You’re gonna want to share that hot track they just laid down.

Now it’s time to get set to tumble. The app informs you upon registration that you can download widgets to post your opus on Facebook and MySpace. Before you’ve recorded anything they have predisposed you to share and enabled you to share. That is the wicked smart strategic part, levearaging your desire to show off your skills and connect with friends.

INSIGHT: The best social strategy can’t overcome a lame product. The app needs to be killer. It needs to be fun, easy to use and empower creativity.

Guess what. The app is killer. It’s so much fun. And pretty easy to use. You’re a rapper! You’ve got effects to help you sound less awful. You’re living the fantasy, if only for a minute on your couch.

THE TUMBLE:  Your little embarrassing recording has just become one of over six million social objects wrapped in the T-Pain brand. It rolled from your iPhone to your Facebook/MySpace page. Then if you dared to share, your friends heard it.  At that point, the social site’s features take over, with “like” buttons and “share” buttons and it goes downstream from there.

ONGOING ENGAGEMENT: The fun doesn’t stop there. After this first tumbling pass there’s a turnaround. The app is a sales channel for downloads with multiple additional tracks available for purchase within the app. And I expect T-Pain to hit me on my mobile with updates and encouragement to launch another masterpiece upon my social network. I’m in the world of T-Pain until I delete the app on my iPhone. And if I delete the app at that contact point, they can still message me on Facebook until I get around to uninstalling the widget. And guess what? I have listened to a T-Pain song or two. So it works as an awareness vehicle for people who want the utility and hot-new-thing but who don’t know the artist.

This is mobile from the app side done right. And an example of setting up a social object — consumer generated branded songs in this case — to tumble through a network with laser focus and strategic intent.

Blogging on the go

October 16, 2009
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Testing, testing 123. I’m trying out the wordpress iPhone app with this wee post. We’ve been talking about mobile and the need to put it at the center of digital strategies. If everything is in the cloud and the handset is the most immediate medium, what does that mean for content and its creators? The first ads I managed were 2×2 FFRHR NSPR and they were about the size of the screen I’m looking at now. Few speak that shorthand anymore, but the sheer limitations of what can be shown effectively and the need to focus takes me back. While the speed and multimedia propels me forward.

Get Your Game On

October 13, 2009
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I have been trying to get my game on for years. Controllers have confounded me. When the PS3 was announced I sent my dusty PS2 to my little cousins. I won “Cousin of the Year” at the family reunion but still had no skills. I signed up for World of Warcraft last year and couldn’t get my mage past level one. Lone Wolf tried to give me a lesson between focus groups. I apparently was missing a rendezvous in the village or something like that. Never got this far:

Anyway.

You might wonder why a strategist needs to learn how to get her game on anyway. And why I’m telling you with this post that you need to get your game on if you don’t already. Well, it’s about the consumer. It’s about culture. And it’s about the work. If you accept the bleedingly obvious fact that content is king, you must turn your attention to what kind of content engages consumers. News flash people: games are the most immersive, engaging experiences out there. We aren’t game developers, but content is content and expectations are expectations – games are leading the way.

We talk about understanding consumer expectations and helping brands exceed those expectations. These days, consumer expectations are being shaped by gaming experiences. Just a few things that are now “expected” thanks to gameplay:

  • Sick graphics. Animation with glistening skin, facial expressions, shifts in point-of-view …
  • Bio-feedback. If you hit me, I feel it.
  • Chat. And not just chat box features. Full telephony with Skype or similar in the game is not revolutionary. So you can coordinate with your posse and/or trash talk.
  • Networking. Console games interface with the internet and become massive multi-player social experiences
  • Non-linear storytelling. Like an old choose your own adventure novel, games have multiple different outcomes.
  • Never-ending storytelling. And these narratives or competitions can go on for days.
  • Another world. Some of the most involving games don’t just change the setting, they change they social norms and species and laws of physics.
  • Discovery. Every game has its built-in surprises. Whether it’s rewarding skill or curiosity or inside knowledge of underground secrets, the element of discovery and surprise is now expected.
  • Co-creation.  Consumers can impact the game itself. Still learning about this, but it’s more than just making an avatar.
  • Cheating. Consumers expect to be able to take short cuts. They will search these out for games and developers bake them in.
  • Constant updates and accuracy. I’m already annoyed that I can’t download the update to NHL 10 … The game changes to reflect reality. I expect accuracy in a game? Yes.
  • Everyone can play. And with the Wii, now consumers expect social experiences appropriate for the whole family.

That’s just what I’ve come up with. Thoughts on the list of new expectations thanks to gaming?

Since I’m learning the game, I’ve been paying attention to the guys at EA and the work that goes into developing NHL 10. Here’s a short clip that fascinates geeks like me. I wonder what the brief for a game update looks like?

Lone Wolf

September 23, 2009
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LoneWolfOK. So it’s been a while since I’ve posted long form. I’ve been so obsessed with all things Twitter and micro-blogging that I haven’t blogged old skool in a month of Sundays.

But now, friends, I have a mission worthy of Tangelos outreach and crowdsourcing. If you’re reading this, you’re drafted.

A friend of The Lair has declared a desire to sharpen his personal brand. He wants a badass nickname. He’s got it all picked out.

Lone Wolf

Sounds cool and ominous and a bit dangerous.

Before you ask, yes, we’re locked in to the name Lone Wolf. I don’t know the back story of the name and for now I think that’s best.

Please provide your thoughts on what Lone Wolf conveys. A few facts to chew on as you play with the image of Lone Wolf.

  1. He does not have a tattoo of a wolf
  2. He is a World of Warcraft fanatic
  3. He likes math and technology
  4. He is a foodie and a gardener
  5. He can act and sing

Give me some inspirational strategic kibble in the comments people. This brief has to be perfect.

this guy is the shat

August 20, 2009

Our recent coverage of the Blogess vs Shatner story, and the ensuing comment frenzy, really got me thinking about the idea of celebrities as memes – “cultural ideas, symbols or practices, that are transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena” (you can read more about memes in Crystal’s deepdive post). You know; that thing… that’s really funny… that everyone keeps talking about… or referencing… or passing along. That thing, person, phrase, idea, that you love; but you don’t really know why and can’t explain it in words. It’s engrained in pop culture or sub culture. You know  Chuck Norris, “talk to the hand,” LolCats, #followfriday. Memes spread “through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate.” The Bloggess movement is a great example of the power of memes, particularly their power to influence and mutate.

As big of fans as we’ve become of The Bloggess and the bloggess army #ba in the last 72 hours, I thought I’d spend some time thinking about the meme behind the meme. The man himself. The Shat.  William Shatner. Without whom none of this incredible story would have been possible. So, what is it about William Shatner that is so appealing? Is it his acting ability? His looks? His voice? His attitude? Seriously, I’m asking you, because I can’t put my finger on it. To quote George Costanza, “And I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality,” he’s fabulous. Did you see him reading the Sarah Palin resignation speech? FTW.

William Shatner has a certain je ne sais quoi that people find intoxicating. While I can’t pinpoint it, I think his appeal lies in his sense of humor and his aptitude for self-deprecation.  His Priceline.com character, The Negotiator, is so successful because it’s essentially Shatner as a caricature of himself. All of Shatner’s personas have collectively morphed into one. In a lot of people’s eyes he is a real-world version of The Negotiator – a suave, quasi-Chuck Norris-like character who can fix any problem you have by speaking calmly to the beat of bongos. This, I believe, is why The Bloggess begged him to fix her marriage– it seems like something he could do. That’s why I was surprised he blocked her in the first place. In real life, the Shat has to have a great sense of humor. I would have expected him to @reply her and say something like “Be right over with a bottle of pinot noir. Do you have a corkscrew?”

At the end of the day, everything turned out fine. @williamshatner unblocked @TheBloggess on Twitter, the bloggess army’s awesome power is to be harnessed for good, and generations of William Shatner fans (at least the ones on Twitter) can go back to loving the Shat without roasting him too. Just in case Bill’s feelings were hurt in any of this, let’s think of some reasons why we love William Shatner. Feel free to post yours here, or tweet them to @the_lair.

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The Bloggess vs. William Shatner Twitter Showdown

August 17, 2009

Just had to share this fascinating mommy blogger. Warning, she might be crazy. But she’s got a war going with William Shatner that is absolutely hysterical and shows the power of mommy bloggers … and that the ones who are a little bent seem to draw readers in like 2.0 soap operas.

Long story short she has a twitter account @TheBloggess, a mommy blog at The Houston Chronicle and her own blog The Bloggess. Her account of the feud seems accurate from some quick sleuthing.

Long story short: I invited William Shatner to dinner so he could save my marriage, he didn’t respond, I went to send him a link about how much I love him, WILLIAM SHATNER BLOCKED ME, Gawker called me an interesting psycho, MSNBC covered the feud, thousands of people made me laugh hysterically as they rallied around the completely ludicrous cause of getting William Shatner to unblock me on twitter.

The Twitter meme #unblockthebloggess and the associated movement support ribbon still seems to have some support out there, marketed by the high traffic of some dedicated tweeters. The attack on @WilliamShatner just for the fun of it — or, more to the point, for not having a sense of humor about her tweets — is truly fascinating. This shows the power of mommy bloggers, writers with a wicked sense of humor and Twitter memes all in one masterstroke. Or, as the MSNBC piece pointed out, it shows that some “pointless babble” can be hilarious.

Enjoy. This one is pure fun.