NileGuide adds Events

Screen shot 2010-07-26 at 13.35.41

 

A few days ago, NileGuide
announced their new ‘events’ functionality for their already great
website.  I test drove the
NileGuide website before here.

As soon as I was on the site I immediately felt ‘at home’.  Although I haven’t used the site a lot,
my experiences so far have been good and there’s something nice about coming
back to a place where you had a good time last time you were there.  Flowery language you may think, but I’m
a strong believer (as some of you may know) of things and places having the
potential to make me smile and feel good and websites are certainly no
exception.

The events are quickly accessed from another tab that sits
logically alongside tabs such as ‘restaurants’ and ‘nightlife’.  Initially I hadn’t signed in and I was
presented with an interactive map and various search criteria.   Interestingly, one of the event ‘types’
was ‘Dangerous Festivals’.  It
immediate caught my attention and an event I am attending in September falls
into this category and is descried on NileGuide as: ‘…event is not for the feeble-hearted. More than 30,000 participants
purchase a ticket. …Understandably, tempers are short, and foul language and
nudity are very much a part of the experience.’
 Can you guess where I’m going?  You can be sure that I will blog about it!

Anyway, back to NileGuide.  I decided to focus on Singapore as a reference point to get
a feel for what I could find.  The
list of events was impressive.  It
covered a wide-range of things including exhibitions, sports events and religious
festivals.  I’d logged in by this
point and so was able to add them to ‘my list’ using the excellent core
functionality of the NileGuide site where one can create one’s own trip around
choices of hotel, restaurants and places to visit.  I could sort the list of events by start date and
proximity.  I liked the ‘proximity
sort’ option allowing me to sort with respect to a place of my choosing – my
hotel for example or the airport. 
This made very good sense. 
There were also some search filters including criteria like ‘kids
friendly’, ‘outdoors’ and ‘active’ etc. 
These too make sense but I look forward to the day when the web and its websites
and applications know me as an individual a little better and I don’t have to
filter and make choices based on others’ segmentation and differentiation however
well informed and intentioned.  (This is only around the next corner I think)

A click on a specific event brings up all the details you
might need – all contact details, a brief description and a map location.  It’s also shown on the page’s own map
as are all the events when looking at the whole list so proximity is easy to
gauge.  This is all integrated, as
I said, with the already great website and adds depth, context and richness to
the whole experience of planning a trip and working out what to do when
there. 

As I was viewing Singapore events, it occurred to me that
I could use this aspect of the website simply as a local ‘what’s on’ guide for
me.  I would certainly recommend
the folks at NileGuide to see how they could re-skin their existing content for
this purpose.

Creating Magic Moments

Magic_moments

Have you ever had a birthday or Christmas or other occasion
when someone has given you a gift and you’ve thought, ‘that’s just what I
wanted’?  I do hope that it’s
happened to you. Do you remember how nice it felt?

There are many reasons, of course, why that particular gift
might have hit the spot.  Perhaps
it was the latest book by an author you particularly like or the latest CD from
your favorite band.  It may of
course have had some more specific contextual relevance for you pertaining to where
you were ‘at’ in your life at that time. 
You may have been planning a trip and someone gave you a travel guide
for your destination. Or you may have simply renovated your kitchen and a kind
and thoughtful person saw some lovely crockery thinking it would look resplendent
in your new beautiful cupboards.  It’s
these sorts of gifts that can feel a lot more special than those that, whilst
no less generous, just don’t seem to have much thought behind them.

Whilst it seems like rather cold and odd language to use, these
cases of great gift giving are examples where one person had demonstrated an
understanding of the recipient.  It’s a cold way of speaking about a lovely moment, I know,
but I did warn you. 

The reason I am breaking it down to this level is that I feel
that companies and brands also have a real opportunity to create these special
moments – Magic Moments – as I’ve seen them called, by simply doing exactly the
same thing – by simply demonstrating to their customer that they understand
them – that they have made the extra bit of effort to get to know them. 

And whilst there are many ways of being very clever about
this (I’m thinking about rigorous data mining algorithms employed to churn
through millions of point of sales transactions as popularized by people like
Tesco in the UK with their Club Card) it’s often some very basic thinking along
with the simplest of customer insights that can, if acted upon, bring a smile
to the face of the customer. 

I’ve recently started using the products of two companies
with whom I have had little or no interaction before.  And, in some ways, there is a gaping chasm between the
experience I’ve had with one compared to that which I’ve had with the
other. 

I recently signed up with a cable TV provider here in
Singapore – Singtel and their MioTV package.  I should say at this point that they have generally been
very good in coming to my house when they said they would and the guys have
been helpful and pleasant in setting up the kit and helping me out.  But using the set top box is like
suddenly being asked to man one of those workstations you think of when you
visualize NASA’s Mission Control replete with Ed Harris pacing impatiently
right behind you.  Ok, I exaggerate
a bit, but I’m a very tech adaptive person (I just made that phrase up) but I
find navigating my way around this particular cable TV menu system a complete
nightmare. I’m almost always the one helping others find their way around
computers and other devices so I really wonder how some people I know would even
begin to understand what I find a real struggle.  As I side note, I should say that, despite the intense
frustration over the menu system, I am eternally grateful to Singtel for giving
me the opportunity to now watch F1 in glorious high definition. 

Contrast that experience with the one I have with an iPhone
application I recently downloaded called Walkmeter from Abvio. Walkmeter measures the time of your walk
and fully exploits the GPS functionality on my iPhone to give me distance,
average speeds, comparisons with the last time I did the same route and
overlays the route on Google Maps. 
It’s a joy to use.  And
what’s key here is that it took me no time to get used to using it and that was
without using any instruction manual. 
What was particularly engaging for me – what really put a smile on my
face – was that the application almost seemed to anticipate what I’d like to
see it do.  As I explored it for
the first time there were a couple of moments when I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be
cool if it…’ and almost before I could finish the thought the application was
doing exactly what I wanted. 
Brilliant.  What a feeling –
these guys were thinking of me when they designed this.  The application seemed to know what I
wanted and, it also seemed to know I’d like things that I didn’t know that I’d
like.  Without sounding too
Rumsfeld – like, it delivered twice – firstly by anticipating what I already
wanted from it and then by delivering great functionality I hadn’t even
realized I wanted. 

Now whilst my experience of these two products is hugely
different, I can’t help thinking that it would only have taken some basic customer
centric research or observation techniques to enable Singtel (or whoever does
their remote control user interface design) to make a better UI and ultimately
a better experience.  It wouldn’t
have taken much to ensure that I had some Magic Moments as I enjoyed with the
Walkmeter application.

We just need to ask some basic questions when thinking about
these points of engagements with our customers to create our own Magic Moments
for them.  What is it they actually want to do at this moment?  What else might they doing at this
moment?  Where are they at this
moment (physically and also with reference to the rest of their day of their product / service journey with the
brand)? 

Make me smile and surprise me – give me magic Moments – and
I’ll be back.  Oh, and I’ll also
tell loads of people about you. 

Social Media Day and Social Media Strategy

Social-media-strategy-vs-social-media-campaign

June 30th was Social Media day.  It was actually Global Social Media day as declared by Mashable. It was also a day when I went to
discuss Social Media strategy with a large company based here in
Singapore.  Our Social Media Day event
at Zsofi in the evening was great fun,
and a chance to meet some great new people as well as catch up with old friends
and to also meet some more virtual acquaintances in the flesh for the first
time.

 

Something kept getting said on that day and it was this: people
kept talking about Social Media strategy as a ‘resource’ – as a person.  They were implying, I think, that one
view of what constitutes a Social Media strategy is having a person sit all day
on Twitter or Facebook responding to people’s
complaints or questions.  And,
indeed, for some brands in Singapore and elsewhere, it appears that their doing
exactly this seems to be a large component, if not the entirety, of their
strategy.

 

This doesn’t feel like a strategy to me.  In fact, what it looks like is the kind
of conversations usually reserved for Customer Support Staff (probably on the
phone or via some support email address) happening on a Facebook page or via a
Twitter conversation.  I should
point out, however, that being responsive to a customer’s query on Facebook or
Twitter is, I think, at least for now, a necessary component of being in the
space.  I hasten to call it a
component of the strategy per se because responding to customers’ queries does
not feel strategic to me – it feels just like something we should do
anyway.  I’m not going to dwell on
how brands will need to deal with this obligation at the moment.  It feels like a bit of a problem and
I’m not sure how it will resolve itself. 

 

At the moment, opening your brand up on Facebook leads, in
some cases, to a lot of niggly little conversations happening.  A typical exchange I see (on a brand
fan page) opens with the brand saying ‘Hi’ to all its Facebook page fans and
then the announcement of the day’s special offer. There will then be a bunch of
comments about the offer interspersed with complaints and moaning.  So, what the visitors to that brand fan
page are actually seeing is some essentially one-way brand marketing
communications followed by publically visible customer service issue
conversations.  All in all pretty
dull, uninspiring and boring. 
There’s an inevitability to having to respond to queries as I said, but
the sooner we don’t all have to look at it, the better.  I put it down, in part, to the ‘brands
on Facebook’ still being a model in its infancy.  I have my own ideas about how this could be managed but
that’s for another time.  Back to
strategy.

 

Putting a product offer on Facebook that you may have put in
the newspaper a couple of years ago isn’t good Social Media Strategy.  There’s some immediacy to be gained
from it I suppose and there’s no doubting that your target audience are
probably hanging out on Facebook. But re-purposing collateral and messaging for
another medium without looking at and embracing the nuances and opportunities
offered by that new medium is rarely compelling for the customer. 

 

Social media is about people coming together around your brand
– it’s about a shared experience, about storytelling and, ideally, about
content creation and sharing.  One-way
brand messaging and planning to administer your dirty laundry in the open won’t
get you where you think you might want to go.  Integrating the unique collaborative and shared experience
of what social media offers and integrating this with an event, a competition
or another (more traditional) component of your marketing and branding strategy
whilst facilitating brand advocacy might just.