Archive for February, 2011
25 February


Muppets x LCD Soundsystem

Anyone remember the U2 video The Streets Have No Name? There were two major problems with that video, the first of course being U2 and the second the lack of muppets. Both of these problems have been rectified in this unofficial video for the LCD Soundsystem track Dance Yrself Clean.

Michael Moore’s High School Newspaper

“In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make things better or to question what is going on—and often these thoughts and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong—and will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students themselves?”

Mike’s High School Newspaper will give students an uncensored voice. While it’s a great project, you have to wonder how much ownership they can have on something called Mike’s High School Newspaper.

Spotify RFID Player (via Wired)

Although currently only a concept, this cool little device, from student Jordi Parra, allows users to take their digital playlists and make them physical again.

“Each RFID tag has a unique ID [and] there’s no music in the tag itself. The prototype checks what music the current tag is pointing to on a database and starts playing it.” – Jordi Parra

Continuum by Mary Huang

“The future of fashion, and the future of consumer products in general, lies not only in more advanced technologies and materials, but also in reevaluating the very infrastructure of design, manufacture, and retail. By blending rapid fabrication, interactive software, and the accessibility of the web, we can let individuals participate directly in the design and production process.”

Watch the video to see what it’s all about. Try it online at

“We Are The Future”

For better or worse, this was by far the most talked about thing in the office this week. From the look of the comments, we weren’t the only ones talking, but we’ll let you make up your own minds.

and here’s a parody…

Check this out
posted by Rob at 17:57   _comments (0)
22 February

Don’t TweetLouder, TweetBetter

By Tony, Social Media Manager

This week I tried out a new Twitter tool, TweetLouder, which analyses your iTunes and playlists to provide you with a list of your favourite artists that use Twitter.

As a big music fan, I was drawn in and within a few minutes had followed over 20 of my favourite recording artists. Which was followed by an evening of un-following as it quickly became apparent that what makes a great songwriter doesn’t necessarily equate to an interesting tweet stream.

Whilst Twitter is great for reading the ramblings of extrovert rappers and opinionated songwriters, it’s not so attractive to serious musos who would rather dust off their rare B-sides than discover what their favourite artist is having for breakfast. (“Steak & eggs and a belgium waffle w berries and whipped cream….goodnight….” – cheers for that @asherroth)

This is indicative of a brand’s need to consider the appropriateness and direction of their social media activity. Different personalities, services and products require different channels, tones and frequencies. What makes a great washing up liquid doesn’t necessarily make for an entertaining friend you want daily updates from.

How many examples do you see each day of brands who are inappropriately using social media channels? Do you think their fan base is really after a regular, deep and meaningful relationship with their hoover or lawn mower, or are they really just there for the freebies?

This is by no means to say that brands shouldn’t use social media, a lot of brands use social media effectively. There is a place for the majority of product categories and services across social media in some shape or form. But as the murmurs from the boardroom increase in volume to “do social media”, it’s essential that someone, somewhere asks the question “why?” at every decision point. If someone, and often it should be the experts (i.e. us), doesn’t question in this way, a brand can end up with a Facebook wall, blog and/or Twitter stream drenched purely in outward noise, little interaction and lots of miffed faces come project review time.

Here’s some of the better follows resulting from my TweetLouder experience:

@rootsmanuva This pioneer of UK rap is as reliable for tweeting links to frequent U-Stream DJ sets or new releases on his Banana Klan album as your nearest student union is for playing Witness The Fitness tonight.

@Dolly_Parton The queen of country music hits the Twitter frequency as impressively as those high notes on stage with just the one tweet per day, be it her famous philosophical musings or glittery tour updates.

@SalaamRemi is the lesser known (and far superior) producer behind Amy Winehouse’s global success. He’s also helped the likes of The Fugees and Nas along their ways. Whilst he packs a good dose of tweeting into his day, you’ll get humorous jokes, relevant rap re-tweets and video links to his brand new material.

@carlbaratmusic is a must for fans of the Libertine who pops up once in a while to announce a new gig or release, share a photo or just to let his following know he’s still standing.

@ChemBros is a resourceful stream of information, be it news of The Chemical Brothers’ forthcoming releases and gigs, or simply the set they’re about to, or have just played.

Check this out
posted by Tony at 11:03   _comments (2)
21 February

ROI for Customer Service in Social Media

I was recently asked to contribute to a piece on customer service and social media measurement for the IAB Social Media Handbook. As usual my piece went way beyond the 500 word limit so you can see the abridged version here or the full one below.

The Customer Service ‘Iceberg’

IcebergConsumers are using social media to share, complain, praise and recommend on a daily basis. The vast majority of customer service issues occur and are dealt with via “closed” channels such as the phone, email, etc. These issues are below the water line where the wider public and media can’t see them, and this is where companies currently fix their gaze and resources. This is natural and correct. Who wouldn’t put most of their resources where the majority of the activity is taking place?

However, there is a large opportunity for companies wanting to tackle the above the water line (tip of the iceberg) issues that occur in the “open” channels of social media (Twitter, message boards, blogs etc.)

Publicly helping consumers with issues not only serves the individual, but the positive viral effect to their network and beyond can be tremendous. Most companies, however, are some way behind their consumers’ behaviour. There are several intertwined reasons for this disparity:

  1. The plethora of social media channels where a consumer might express an opinion means companies require a tool to capture this conversation and an understanding of each of the media to enable them to converse effectively with customers.
  2. Even with an understanding of the breadth of media, getting people to work across departments and tying new customer interaction data in with existing legacy systems still poses significant hurdles.
  3. The vast majority of the interaction between the consumer and company happens in the public domain. The enforced transparency and openness of communication forces company cultures to be customer-centric rather than simply say they are. Cultural change takes time to permeate.
  4. Customer service as a function has long established metrics and can be input/output driven. For some reason, people are letting social media muddy the waters. Return On Investment (ROI) in this instance is actually fairly simple.

When answering consumers via social media it’s key to remember the dual audience you are playing to. The primary audience is the person with the issue that needs to be addressed. The secondary audience is the network of the person with the issue. With mainstream news consistently using social media for content, this network extends beyond their immediate friends and can be vast in size and impact.

Setting Appropriate KPI’s and Benchmarks

Customer service is not always about handling complaints. Each interaction with a customer is an opportunity for the company to engage and influence, so the objectives of the activity can be varied.

All KPI’s should ideally start with a business objective; something requiring change that intrinsically affects the company’s performance in some way. Without this it will be difficult to make the activity relevant to the wider company.

Below I have placed some typical objectives in relation to customer service in social media, common associated metrics and some ideas on possible benchmarks, these being the key to making the data meaningful within a company, especially within social media. This is not supposed to be an exhaustive list but it should provide a framework to relate your own experience to.

Objective Typical Metric Possible Benchmark
Customer Retention Number of complaints resolved.

Number of consumers stopped from leaving or thinking about leaving.

Compare the customer lifetime value of those served via social media to other customer service channels – email, phone, etc.
Advocacy Number of shares.

Reach of shares

Compare shares (number, reach and %) to shares via other media.

Compare to NPS, customer referral value, etc.

Increased Revenue Amount of incremental revenue created by the interaction with the consumer (i.e. upsell of other products). Compare with the incremental revenue derived from contact via other channels.
Cost Reduction Number of customers served via social media.

Time taken to resolution.

Cost of resolution.

Compare costs of resolution to other media.

Assigning a value to each peer induced resolution on an owned property to give a nominal value to the property.

Innovation Number of suggestions to products, processes etc.

Number of suggestions put into operation.

Money saved (better processes, products) or revenue created as a result of the suggestion.

Compare to the number and value of innovation from other channels.
Brand reputation Volume of brand mentions.

Reach / influence of brand mentions.

Reach of brand mentions.

Make direct comparison to competitor brands or products.

When reporting on any activity it pays to remember who the report is going to and what their frame of reference is. Senior management will want to see the business effect of what you are doing, whilst the PR Manager may be more inclined to see the narrative of conversations. Jeremiah Owyang does a great job of explaining this here.

Customers increasingly prefer to rely on their own networks for advice and recommendation. Instant answers from people they trust being infinitely preferable to a telephone call to a scripted, non-empowered environment. This is a trend exacerbated by the interconnectedness that social media propagates. The key for the company is to replicate this helpful, friendly, open and empathetic approach to their customer service whilst proving its worth in hard financial terms.

Check this out
posted by Ronnie at 15:52   _comments (3)
18 February


Red Bull Street Art View

There’s few brands in the world that can boast their own F1 team and air race. Their latest offering uses Google Street View to create a catalogue of street art around the world. As long as you can find it on Street View you can tag it. Needs a little more playing around with but the Flickr feature, which links images to the street view, could be interesting to provide a history of particular graffiti spots.

New Radiohead Album

They tried to sneak it out, but within minutes of it being released it hit our office stereo. Great new video too, Thom Yorke’s gone a bit David Byrne on us (see Talking Heads – Once in A Lifetime).


A jukebox consisting of 22 playlists of different genres, each playlist filled with 22 tracks, selected by specialized DJs from Amsterdam. 22tracks provides a quick overview of the latest music, promotes new artists and lets you discover new genres. Slick interface and the music is genuinely really good.


The first step on their journey to world domination is winning the quiz show, Jeopardy! (apparently).  Everyone seems to be hailing this computer’s win on Jeopardy! as the beginning of the end for humankind. We’re not worried… ask it the answer to life, the universe and everything and we bet you’ll still get the answer 42.


We’ve always been big fans of the online fashion stalking site,, and we love Uniqlo’s take on the theme with their new site, Uniqlooks, where customers show off their on-brand style skills.

Check this out
posted by Rob at 17:56   _comments (0)
15 February

Taco Bell vs the World

How do you want your beans and flour arranged?
by Welton

First up, this isn’t a statement on the quality of the food. Bill Hicks’ damning set on Taco Bell will always be gospel in my opinion; “Why does Taco Bell even have a menu?” This is, instead, about responding to a crisis using social media.

Recently, a lawsuit was taken out against Taco Bell regarding its advertising. Apparently their beef doesn’t meet requirements in the US to even be called beef.

Bad press without question and there’s no doubt that the PR and marketing teams at the fast food brand must’ve freaked upon learning the news.

But let’s give some credit where credit is due. In a world where news travels so fast, Taco Bell were on top form and were in no mood to be bashed left, right and centre without getting their guard up.

Social media can be unforgiving and does not allow for much leeway on responding in a crisis. Inaction is suicide.

For Taco Bell, they went on the offensive and in a typically bold move, shared the news and their response to the lawsuit with their followers on Facebook. They shared a video of their CEO on The Colbert Report discussing the matter – obviously far more fun than some objective news story. They also used ads to draw in people who were trying to find out more about the story (ingenious!)

Why bother keeping schtum on an issue so many of your followers will have been reading about? Users see Facebook as a forum more and more, a place where they can expect an official reply to their queries, and Taco Bell knew its 5+ million fans might want to know what’s going on.

But really, you’ve got to imagine that not all their fans care in the slightest. Does the food taste good? Is it cheap? Fine. Super Size Me didn’t kill McDonald’s.

But what we’re seeing is an approach that has energised and celebrated its community on Facebook. Taco Bell has managed to create an “us vs them” kind of attitude (“Thanks for suing us”) and if shouting about how much they love their fans wasn’t enough, they also gave away a whopping 10 million free tacos!

Form an orderly queue everyone!

This isn’t about trying to influence the outcome of the lawsuit like some have suggested. This is about spotting an opportunity to create an even stronger bond with customers despite all the bad press. Undoubtedly, battle plans are already being drawn up no matter what the result is in court. We’ll be watching intently if they lose… will they continue to front up? Perhaps 20 million free tacos are being made as we speak!

Check this out
posted by Welton at 11:49   _comments (1)
11 February


FWD is our new weekly feature of the five best things circulating round the Outside Line office this week.

The Streets’ Interactive Film
Like Create Your Own Adventure books of the past, this YouTube experience lets users choose their own journey through the story while enjoying Mike Skinner’s new single.

The Urban Ministries of Durham got the office talking with this simple and informative online game to show the challenges facing those who find themselves homeless and the constant struggles to try and get off the streets.

*Toy* Division
We’re trying to ignore what Ian Curtis would actually think of this by concentrating on how cool it is… Joy Division as Play Mobil

Infographic CVs
The need to stand out is ever present in the job market. Surely an innovative Infographic CV can catch a potential employer’s gaze?!

The Foursquare Film Noir
A film noir for the geo-location generation. Using social media, will our detective be able to solve a murder?

Check this out
posted by Rob at 18:21   _comments (0)
11 February

Transmediale, Berlin

Last weekend, Social Media Manager, Gemma headed over to Berlin for Transmediale, an annual festival for art and digital culture…

This year’s theme centred on open systems, collaborative technologies and aimed to address the way we live online. At a time when the distinction between our ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ life become increasingly blurred.

“Having become a central stage for the unfolding of our public and private lives, we must ask not only how this experience of online-liveness affects and transforms our bodies and subjectivities but also, importantly, what responsibilities and possibilities this engenders for participating in the continuous process of its evolution,” Transmediale.11 – RESPONSE:ABILITY

Having followed the festival’s projects for the last few years, I decided to use this year’s as an excuse to spend a long weekend in Berlin and get myself a day ticket for Saturday’s workshops and discussions.

The first project that caught my attention, Wanted and For Sale, offered people the opportunity to exchange knowledge, services and tools with other attendees of the festival. The collection of sale/wanted ads varied, from going for a walk in Berlin with a friendly chap named Simon, to exchanging food for coding. I offered to interpret someone else’s life story through photography, wanting to explore the differences between someone’s interpretation of an event and how it’s described.

After getting my bearings and offering my photographic services, I made it down to the “HacKaWay Zone”. Here, I was presented with artwork that questioned the way in which we experience technology and the impact it has on all aspects of our daily lives. The workshop I really wanted to take part in, BodyHack, was fully booked but luckily I could still watch from a distance.

The workshop gave participants the opportunity to “hack” each others’ faces. Interestingly, despite being able to control a person’s facial expressions through technology and wires, we are unable to produce a genuine smile on someone’s face without evoking genuine emotion. Manabe Teruoka, and his collaborator Daito Manabe, created the Face Visualizer; an instrument allowing you to move a person’s face artificially in sync with music through electroshocks produced with the Max/MSP programming platform. You can see a live performance from the workshop below.

After leaving the “HacKaWay Zone”, I went on the hunt for some of the Facebook projects I had been reading up on. With the current discourse around Facebook’s valuation, its future direction and Time Magazine selecting the young Zuckerberg as their person of the year, the Facebook backlash is beginning to fester and the longevity of the platform has been a huge point of discussion between many of my colleagues and friends. I was keen to see what type of projects this has influenced.

Seppukoo encourages us to question the difference between our real and virtual selves. They also raise the question as to whether it is right that our online identities and relationships are exploited and sold as a product. Seppuko provides a service for users who want to commit “Facebook suicide”, setting up a memorial page in their honour. It’s about liberating the digital body from any identity constriction, in order to help people discover what happens after their virtual life. It aims to help people rediscover the importance of being an individual, rather than pretending to be someone.

The second project,, “scraped” 250,000 Facebook profiles and used the data collected to build a huge, fake dating site. They took publicly accessible data and with technology like facial recognition they filled in the gaps, resulting in a complete picture of its “members” by providing their gender, nationality, interests and even characters.

Finally, The Facebook Resistance was a workshop held on Friday and presented back on Saturday evening. Run by Tobias Leingrube from Free. Art. Technology (F.A.T) the workshop aimed to challenge the status quo of Facebook and its dominant social identity management system, researching ways to change its rules and functionality using browser extensions to locally modify Below are some of the hacks they worked on:

A gender slider

FB Resistance

Selecting a background colour for your page

FB Resistance

Using graffiti to write on your wall

FB Resistance

The Facebook Resistance now has a Twitter account and Facebook group (the irony isn’t lost on us) which anyone can add their ideas to. Tobias is aiming to release the browser extension later this year, offering everyone an opportunity to go back to the earlier days of the Web and take back the control of their online identity. I’m intrigued to see how this will develop and if it will ever receive mainstream adoption, in my experience the reason people preferred Facebook and moved away from Myspace was because of the streamlined fields and the enforced design. I’m looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.

For more info about Transmediale and related projects, visit their site or follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on future projects and festival news.

Check this out
posted by Gemma at 10:35   _comments (0)
10 February

The Battle of Location Based Services

The digital world is going crazy for location based services, us included, but who’s the front-runner in the competition? Facebook and Foursquare seem to be the biggest contenders, but is that simply due to notoriety? Below we’ve outlined some of our favourites:

Facebook Deals

Only recently introduced to the UK, Facebook Deals is set to crush the competition. Facebook has the benefit of a massive user base. It also has the easiest mechanic – once you check-in a message will be displayed, revealing your redeemable code.

Deals was most famously used by Gap, who gave away free jeans to the first 10,000 people to check-in.

With Deals you can choose one of four options:
- Individual Deals: check in and you get a deal
- Friend Deals: you and a friend check-in and you get joint deals
- Loyalty Deals: check in so many times and you get the deal
- Charity Deals: check-in and the brand donate to a specific charity

The good stuff:
- Ease of use
- Numbers – Facebook has a huge population to work with
- Good for brands without a specific location
- Charity Deals are unique to Facebook and result in positive PR


Foursquare gives an experience somewhere between Facebook Deals and a social gaming platform.

With 6 million users, Foursquare is the current giant of location based services. Offering deals but with a secondary social element of showing you where your friends have checked in and also awards badges like the much coveted Mayor’s badge.

Pepsi and Safeway got together recently to add a new twist. Users could link their VonsClub Card (like a Safeway version of a Nectar Card) to their Foursquare account to unlock PepsiCo rewards – differing depending on the Foursquare badges obtained.

The good stuff:
- Ease of use – really easy to find deals from your current area
- Its experience with branded campaigns
- Already well established
- Good for brands without a specific location


In their words: “Keep up with your friends, share the places you go, and discover the extraordinary in the world around you”.

Before the launch of Facebook Deals this was considered Foursquare’s biggest contender. It was the first major app to offer a social gaming element.

Towards the end of last year, Disneyland Resort teamed up with Gowalla to make the Disneyland experience ‘even more magical’. When checking-in to different areas of the resort, users get a digital passport stamp (below), giving users a virtual scrapbook.

The good stuff:

- Slick user interface
- Fun and ideal for targeting younger users
- Already well established


In their words: “SCVNGR is part awesome location-based mobile game, part really powerful mobile gaming platform”.

SCVNGR presents a fun alternative to location based service. The app lets people unlock rewards for completing challenges.

Coke recently ran a campaign using SCVNGR in the US. In ten malls across the country, shoppers were greeted with a poster (below) inviting them to take part in challenges by searching for hidden experiences involving check-ins and taking photos to earn rewards, which in turn can be converted into items such as AmEx gift cards.

Good for:
- It’s fun; to target younger people a check-in is dull and to a population with a disposable income vouchers aren’t always enough of an incentive
- Content – by challenging participants to take photos you build a pool of content useable on your websites
- As opposed to other social gaming apps there’s still a reward/voucher element

Other notable mentions:

Goldrun: a combined location based service/augmented reality service – see Airwalk’s Invisible Pop-Up Shop.

Chromarama: Not strictly location based but close! Using your Oyster Card, Chromarama sets you challenges and awards points based on where you touch in.

Check this out
posted by Rob at 19:03   _comments (0)