First and foremost, I think I can safely speak for the rest of the gang at BooneOakley when saying we have been blown away by the response our new site has received. We knew it would be talked about and we hoped some people might even like it. However, no one within our parallelogramed walls (yes, really) believed we would have close to 100,000 home page views, well over a hundred blog posts/embeds, close to two thousand twitter mentions and other impressive stats less than a week after launch.
I suppose the Modernista! comparisons – and in some cases, trash talk – were inevitable but as far as I can tell one of the few things the two sites have in common is that they are very different from other agency sites. Conceptually speaking, though, they are miles apart from each other.
As they describe it on their home page, the M! site allows you to view them through the eyes of the web. They spread their content across the internet on commonly used sites like Flickr. They even relinquished some control by allowing Wikipedia, Netvibes and Google Blog Search to do a bit of the talking for them. The navigation is somewhat messy and disjointed – just like the web itself. Their brilliance was not in the fact that they used YouTube and other sites to showcase their client work. Rather, it was the concept behind it: the attempt to utilize the nearly infinite, fractured landscape of the web to tell to their story.
In contrast, our site is quite different. Aside from harnessing the expanded functionality offered by YouTube annotations and links, which was already being used to create simple games and such, we simply created a compelling, entertaining story about ourselves and wrapped it up in an easily-shared package.
Jim Robbins and Ryan Holland, one of our copywriter/art director teams, initially brought us the idea of using a series of linked YouTube videos as replacement for our site. Then they showed us a rough video. After recovering from the sting left by laughing Dr. Pepper out through my nose, I was most interested in the built-in potential for others to share it via their personal social networks. In my opinion this highlights the biggest conceptual difference between the two sites. Our friends at M! developed a sort of content aggregator about themselves and invited others in. We produced a story about ourselves and gave others the option to send it out. Put another way: they developed a mashup created in conjunction with the rest of the web, whereas we created content and offered syndication rights to anyone interesting in sharing it.
Despite their differences both sites are risky departures from the norm, which is something worth celebrating. In that respect, we welcome the comparison. Oh, and for the record, whether they meant to or not Skittles did completely rip off the M! site concept.
“In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008.”
He goes on to explain the reasons why this will happen and what the implications are for marketers; a very interesting read. That being said, his opening statistic about the sheer amount of data we now generate reminded me of something I’ve been pondering for a while now: how soon is it before people become so inundated with status updates, RSS feeds and Tweets that we will see some kind of digital information backlash? As an information junkie who feels moderately out of sorts when I stray too far from an internet connection, even I have felt the urge to unplug growing stronger as of late.
If this backlash does happen, it will most likely of the ‘tempest in a teapot’ variety, brought about by some random occurrence like the rise of a new social disorder that prevents people from being able to actually talk to one another in person. It will be written about in trend reports and talking heads will blather endlessly on about it across the 24-hour news networks. Traditional media companies will smugly proclaim they were right all along. And even though the world will move on, it won’t ever be the same.
Here’s why: social media is still in its infancy. There’s a lot of hype and perhaps the level of utility doesn’t live up to that hype – yet. However, there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact social media will eventually become more ubiquitous and less noticeable as it evolves. Services like Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect already allow you to embed social networking capabilities in websites. Other tools like the Flock browser enhance the social web experience, while you can now easily share files on Twitter thanks to Filetwt. As things evolve, standalone brands like Twitter and Facebook will most likely disappear while their functionality lives on as social media becomes a lot like indoor plumbing – we’ll use it all the time and take it completely for granted unless it doesn’t work.
Until then, we’ll have to endure being barraged with useless information like what so-and-so had for breakfast this morning and What Muppet Character I Would Be. And for our sanity’s sake we should perhaps occasionally unplug for as long as we can stand it. But personally, I believe it will all be worth it in order to see the amazing things that will come next.