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  • When Social Went Global

    3rd April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in mobile, social media

    A repost of one of our monthly tech columns for Marketing Magazine, this one on the globalisation of social media and what it means for, well, all of us. This article first appeared on 04.03.14. It sets the scene for a regular round-up here on technology in China and Asia Pacific by Carol Ong (based on her own newsletter), the first one of which is here.

    Via nasa.gov, the recreation of "Earthrise"

    Via nasa.gov, the recreation of “Earthrise”

    The comforting phrase “social is local” has echoed through marketing departments for a while now. Comforting because it suggests it’s enough to have experienced, tech-savvy people representing the brand on the ground who know their own community backyard. No question, local intelligence is vitally important. But as this year unfolds, I think we’re going to see some shifts in how social media marketing operates around the globe. Call it a new form of ‘social migration’ that global marketers in particular should pay attention to.

    I say this for a few reasons:

    1. The growth of the largest social networks now depends on new geographic territories

    If you’re Facebook, what do you do once you have 1.23 billion monthly active users on your platform (813 million of which are on mobile, 60% of whom are returning daily)? You take your now mobile-first platform, commit to making it more efficient so that it uses less bandwidth in  markets where that really matters and simultaneously set about putting the technological infrastructure on the ground to accelerate providing Internet connectivity “for the next 5 billion”; which is exactly what Zuckerberg is doing via Internet.org, announced last year. This is clearly a philanthropic and a commercial move: two thirds of the world without access to the Internet represents a giant growth opportunity. And Facebook aren’t alone in turning their attention to the rest of the world. Aside from Facebook’s partners in Internet.org (Samsung, MediaTek, Ericsson, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm), Twitter’s IPO last year revealed it was targetting Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia and South Africa for faster growth than the United States.

    2. Mobile powers the pace of the shift

    New behaviours often make existing services redundant, but the explosion in mobile penetration and usage worldwide*, creating what the World Economic Forum describes as a “dramatically altered business environment” across Africa for example, has allowed the leading social platforms to continue to grow, despite newer players arriving and scaling at vertigo-inducing pace: China’s WeChat, plus WhatsApp, SnapChat and Instagram being amongst the most salient. With social media, if your service is mobile first, a rising tide really does float all boats.

    3. Cultural importers can export too

    This time last year I was sitting in Beijing, listening to the CMO of Alfred Dunhill, Jason Beckley, speak about bringing a luxury British brand to the world. His words were refreshingly open-minded:

    “Our market is in migration,” he summised, “…and we’d be naive if we thought luxury will always be an imported idea.”

    The same is true of technology. If you want to predict the future of social and mobile, you’d do worse than watch China. It’s not just about the giant data pool. Historically dismissed for copycat innovation, the market is now home to some trail-blazing companies like the mobile company XiaoMi, with their eyes set on a global marketplace. By way of another example, take WeChat’s early rebranding for global rollout and their omnivorous approach to development (originally a messaging service, they added photo sharing & filters, games and now taxi bookings, with deeper mcommerce on the near horizon). Burberry announced a ‘digital innovation partnership’ with WeChat in February.

    In short, I’d suggest we get used to the idea of ‘guanxi’, a Chinese term meaning both personal and business networks or connections, extending into Europe and the US this year. Taobao, Jack Ma’s equivalent of eBay but several times’ the size, recently shared a list of the hottest shopping keywords used in 2013. You may think it’s too early to get excited about keeping up with the rise of tuhao, buying yellow ducks and avoiding peng ci, but as technology businesses go about smashing geographic barriers and consumption get more collaborative, I wouldn’t bet on it.

    *According to the content marketing service, Percolate, ‘pull to refresh’ is the most used gesture in the world – for more stats and analysis, check out their excellent The State of Content Marketing piece last year and more recently ‘Weibo, WeChat and the Future of Chinese Social Media‘.

    Update: check out more on XiaoMi’s international expansion roadmap here, (via Benedict Evans).

  • Thinky.done – early learnings

    10th March 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Experiments

    We’ve closed the garage door on our first experiment of 2014 over at thinky.do and there’s a post about what we learnt about bitcoin from our Open Wallet Experiment there. A few weeks ago we went public about our rebooted approach to experimentation, so what have we learnt about learning one month on?

    First off, constraints are both good and bad, or, more accurately, helpful and limiting. We set ourselves the goal of thinking up and launching an experiment, in public, in a 4 week period. And, Yay us, we got it out of the door. Just. We might have had a better conceived, better executed experiment if we’d given ourselves more time, but we might also still be in idea generation phase, filling up whiteboards with hypotheticals and possibilities instead of results and learnings. We did it, it’s done, onto the next doing.

    Second, the subject of the experiment. The extended Labs team were absolutely certain that Bitcoin was the right subject for our first foray. Everyone was talking about it, none of us understood it properly, this was our chance to learn. And learn we did. We now know how to buy it, look after it and spend it. We’ve also learnt that bitcoin is a hard thing to think about and a difficult tool to use for experimental purposes. Getting to grips with bitcoin took time and the technical restraints meant several ‘pivots’ before the Open Wallet Experiment got out there. And while we’re not bitcoin billionaires, we’re in a better position to talk to clients about the benefits and drawbacks of cryptocurrencies than we were in January.

    And lastly, how we work. We couldn’t have done anything without help from a number of people. Colleagues in BBH, partners outside (particular thanks to the guys at MediaMonks for talking us through bitcoin practicalities), people who emailed and commented on the blog and our G+ page, all helped tremendously.

    And so, on to Experiment No2. Trying to remember what we’ve learnt already, and not forget that each month we’re starting over, all over again.

     

  • Letting Companies Share Great Ideas

    10th March 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Start ups

    In his new book on creativity Sir John Hegarty cautions the creative industry to not become enthralled with technology, but instead allow technology to liberate great ideas. This is the idea behind Pie, a tool for modern teams to save and share inspiring finds and ideas.

    Pie originated in the BBH ZAG bakery and we spoke with Pieter Walraven, formerly Product Director of BBH ZAG Asia, about the things he learned during his journey from an idea to a funded startup.

    So what is Pie and how did you get the idea?

    Pie is a link-sharing tool that helps teams share and organize the zillion things they see at work every day. At BBH me and Thijs Jacobs (former BBH Asia Pacific Head of Creative Technology) noticed that people are constantly sharing and discussing inspiring things over email. We loved the culture of sharing, but we saw that sharing ideas over email is broken. It clutters inboxes and relevant finds easily get buried. After talking to other companies and clients about this issue we learned that they have the same problem. This is when started thinking about a technology enabling an open culture of sharing with the bigger vision of liberating great ideas.

    When you say you ‘started thinking about a technology’ what does that mean, how did you translate your idea into an actual product?

    What we did early on was look at the current relevant software offerings out there such as Yammer and Sharepoint and didn’t really like what we saw – who decided that enterprise software has to be dull?! So we shifted our focus to consumer apps as they’re much better at creating a great user experience.

    Obviously, we liked the visual aspect of Pinterest and found that boards are a great way to organize things. We’ve used elements from Pinterest and other popular consumer applications to design our first MVP and tested 2 hypotheses:  ‘do people want to use this?’ and ‘will people be drawn in by the visual consumer-like design?’.

    (An early iteration of the Pie MVP)

    So you tested your assumptions, what was the next step? When did you actually set up Pie as a company?

    To maximise our chances of building a successful global SaaS company we knew we had to raise external funding and attract top talent. Most high-profile strategic investors only invest in strong and autonomous founding teams so shortly after we’ve completed testing our MVP we set up Pie as a separate company with myself and Thijs as founders and major shareholders.

    As we both have prior experience of tech startups our pitch deck was mainly focused on the founding team. It also included the positive market outlook – “Adoption of Social Enterprise is Booming” – and the findings of our MVP which consisted of both usage data and the interest of potential clients.

    (Pie pitch deck: market opportunity slide)

    For structuring our financing we used a model called convertible notes. A convertible note is basically a loan that converts into shares of preferred stock upon the closing of a the next round – Series A – round of financing. Here’s a great TechCrunch article on convertible notes with all the pros and cons.

    After a few hectic and uncertain months we managed to raise our target of $800K from a list of notable investors including BBH Asia Pacific’s former ECD, Steve Elrick, a U.S.-based VC, Siemer Ventures, and Peng Tsin Ong, founder of Match.com and widely considered one of Asia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs.

    So tell us a bit about your daily routine at Pie, what keeps you busy?

    It might sound obvious, but I underestimated the amount of time I have to spend on hiring. Our culture is our most valuable asset and it takes time to carefully select people that match the rest of the team. Of course it doesn’t help that these kind of people already have a great job! Basically hiring great people takes time, but luckily it gets easier as Pie’s exposure grows and we gain more international traction.

    (Pie’s stream where you can see what coworkers are collecting and sharing)

    Other than hiring me and the rest of the Pie team are 100% focused on growth. Everything we do is directly or indirectly related to growing our user base. We’re constantly iterating on Pie to improve either the user engagement or the virality. We’ve also been writing and seeding content for our target audience to attract users and have had some success with this – we’ve been live for 1.5 months and over 700 companies are on Pie ranging from Spotify to Shell. We’re seeing companies saving and sharing industry news, innovations, market data, trends, but also funny videos. Companies such as Edelman and IDEO use Pie to keep track of market trends and collaborate around certain topics. Besides internal sharing they also use Pie to share inspiration and links to relevant articles with clients.

    Proximity (BBDO) uses Pie to collect and organize UX best practices. They create boards with finds that can be used for later use. Before Pie was introduced people were storing things in email drafts or spreadsheets invisible for their coworkers to see. By collecting things on boards knowledge that was previously hidden in silos now gets exposed to the rest of the team.

    (A library of posts collected by a team on a ‘collaborative board’)

    Lastly, we regularly post interesting reads on work hacks for modern teams on our Facebook page and on Twitter and have recently released a chrome extension allowing direct posting from any website.

     

  • BBH Zag are recruiting a Brand Strategist

    27th February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in People

    Author: Aran Potkin, Senior Brand Strategist, Zag

    BBH Zag is the ‘branding agency that ventures’ within the BBH group. At Zag, we work with both large blue chip brands and exciting start-ups, offering our clients brand strategy, visual identity and user experience design.

    We are looking for a strategist to join our small senior team. Working within the strategy team you will have the opportunity to lead projects from the outset, working closely with senior team members and managing junior strategists. This is the perfect opportunity for an ambitious, entrepreneurial agency strategist looking to accelerate their career.

    The role:

    A Zag Strategist is a hybrid – an agency professional who can lead strategy while also managing the client and account. They will lead branding and innovation projects and create solid, differentiated brands for everything from start-ups to global businesses. They will oversee the entire consultancy project, working with the Zag design studio to bring those brands to life and writing marketing and communications strategies for launch. The strategist should have a creative, entrepreneurial spirit with a good knowledge of strategic models and processes but the ability to push the envelope and generate new ways of working and approaching briefs. We are looking for an innovative thinker with bags of energy and ambition.

    Specific experience & responsibilities:

    • 3+ years in strategy at a brand consultancy or design agency
    • Demonstrated experience with and in-depth knowledge of digital strategy, UI and UX
    • Ability to lead teams and manage projects as account/project manager
    • Comfortable with clients and confident to manage the day-to-day relationship
    • Experience planning, commissioning and leading consumer research (both qual and quant)
    • Understanding of and appreciation for the design process – able to write clear briefs for design and work closely with designers through creative development

    Who we’re looking for:

    • Someone with a passion for brands and branding, bags of energy and ambition
    • Entrepreneurial spirit – ready to pitch in at any level
    • Creative thinker and problem-solver
    • Energetic with a positive, can-do attitude
    • Clear, articulate communicator
    • Commercial awareness and interest
    • Ability to work collaboratively within a team
    • Digital fluency – many of the start ups we work with have strong digital DNA

     If this sounds like you, send a cover email and your cv/resume to lydia.crudge@bbh.co.uk.

  • The Open Wallet Experiment is live

    26th February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Experiments

    bitcoin-challenge-dollar-currency2.si

    A few weeks ago we blogged about our recommitment to Labs experiments and our new ‘hit-and-run’ approach to experimentation. And now we’re pleased to say that our first experiment is now live, though there were, of course, some hurdles and hiccups on the way.

    If you’ve been following the progress of this experiment on thinky.do you’ll know that we decided to make bitcoin the subject of our first field test. This subject came with certain technical and epistemological issues – it’s not all that easy to get hold of bitcoins even assuming you’ve understood what they are for and what you can do with them.

    But we are interested in whether the very nature of cryptocurrency transactions – anonymous, underground, based on algorithmic trust rather than human relationships – leads to behaviours that can be best described as, er, shady. Or whether given the chance, perhaps the bitcoin community will prove itself as wholesome as a troop of Boy Scouts.

    So we’ve set up bitcoin wallet (address and QR code below) into which anyone can make a payment.. We’re going to leave this wallet up and open until midday on sunday (assuming that all goes well!) and at the end of that time, everything in the wallet will be converted into ‘real money’ and donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee.

    Wallet address - 19xnfvdAHitNErAGEhVnfkeBSTL8VVv8yV

    Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.52.24

    But we’re also going to do something possibly very ill advised and release the key for this wallet into the wild, meaning that anyone with the wallet address (ie anyone) and the key (ie anyone!) can both donate and withdraw money to and from the wallet. No-one should try this at home!

    We’ll be posting frequent stats on activity in the wallet and while we can’t identify individuals, we can identify wallet addresses. So we’ll see how many donations are coming in, how many are leaving and we’ll be able to hero addresses giving generously and identify those wallet addresses taking advantage of this open experiment.

    Bitcoin wallet key - 2G6uK7QwKRPntaS7drFSUVsUf24ZVmEaK8gET2K2Uj4w

    So, let’s go – the wallet is open and so is the key. We’re not sure what’s going to happen next, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

    UPDATE: This post went live at 16.24 and we tweeted about it at 16.27. It took less than 30mins for the 0.01 bitcoin (just over $5) to be withdrawn by a user with the wallet address 1NYR7RF4pdc1i923qGhnkkakCqDLL9dd45. Thanks for taking part :-/

  • Winners, Losers & Learnings – the first truly social Brit Awards

    21st February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Social

    Author: Alex Walker-Sage, Social Engagement Director, BBH London

    Big. Noisy. Full of celebs. LIVE! Music and Entertainment together, in harmony. With the potential for stuff to go wrong. And including a new Twitter vote mechanic half-way through the show. Wednesday night’s new, improved, social 2014 Brit Awards had all the ingredients necessary to provide the perfect opportunity to take a look at the social media landscape and see where we’re at. This is the sort of big, one-off event moment that the twitterati love right?

    Well, overall, yeah. The picture’s a pretty glossy and impressive one. For one, Twitter revealed on Thursday that the event was the most-tweeted about TV show in the UK ever, with the live TV broadcast attracting 2.17m posts about the show, and a further c.2m messages sent in relation to the social vote.

    It, as you might expect, smashed the social stats of all other the other shows that aired to smithereens:

    Verdict: The Brits won.

    And the social vote? That, predictably – due to the number of their teen fans heavily-reliant on their social channels for day-to-day survival – was won by One Direction, with their fanatical fan-base ensuring they took home the gong for Best British Video.

    Verdict: 1D won.

    The introduction of a live and transparent voting element via Twitter was a pretty obvious ploy to encourage involvement from the audience and ensure the event impacted those on other platforms who may not have been watching, or frankly even care it was on. And, whilst an obvious next step in award-voting terms, there’s something pretty exciting here about a live, commercial event brand, with global reach, handing the power over to its audience for chunk of it’s output. Ok, there was pretty much no risk involved, but the fact the power dynamic was shifted for a small window of time into the audiences’ hands is to be applauded. The immediacy of social should see this type of moment become common-place across all types of different pieces of traditional ‘broadcast’ output.

    Verdict: Twitter won.

    We all know then that social is at it’s best when allowing transparency and a bit of a shift of power to the masses to deliver powerful, cumulative results that can, ideally, make big stuff happen. The Brit Award sponsors MasterCard know this, their PR agency apparently did not, sending out emails to journalists asking that they guarantee coverage of their client in event write-ups in exchange for their attendance. Cue much discontent. Cue twitter rebellion.

    A rebellion that led to their paid-for Twitter trend pointing people to an article dissecting the whole sorry social mess in the greatest of detail.

    A quick analysis of social sentiment for MasterCard (the entire brand, not just that specific to the Brits debacle) across Twitter from Wednesday to today is as follows:

    Positive: 3%

    Neutral: 71%

    Negative: 26%

    Verdict: MasterCard lost.

    Clearly there’s a whole load of things that are wrong with this approach but the number one and two take-outs should be about knowing your audience and maintaining transparency. Then there are loads of other learnings around having amazing ideas, being consistent with them, ensuring they match up across all media, and are executed perfectly and in a timely fashion. For all of these (and much, much more) come talk to us.

    As a final point, and because I love Daft Punk, it’s worth touching on how successful brands can be when they get their involvement in events like this just right. On brand, irreverent, and perfectly pitched for the media it played out in, this effort from Paddy Power doesn’t really require much more explanation:

     

    A similar Twitter sentiment analysis to that described above shows the following:

    Positive: 36%

    Neutral: 57%

    Negative: 7%

    Verdict: Paddy Power won.

    Learnings

    • Twitter, enabling real-time interaction and engagement that can effect real change in live content output in particular, is only going to grow in importance, and it’s vital that brands navigate their way through the noise to achieve real cut-through whilst maintaining transparency

    • Whilst MasterCard was everywhere in the few weeks leading into the awards, as well as on the night itself, Paddy Power proved it’s not necessarily about ‘owning’ the event (and all the associated costs that come with that), but more about cutting through the noise at the right time with a strong creative idea, well-executed. 1D fans did it by all coming together at a single point in time. The Brits and Twitter did it through enabling audience involvement, offering a single point of interaction in what could otherwise be a traditional broadcast event. In the right hands, social can and should deliver a powerful perspective.

     

  • Life in the streets: a TIE project

    21st February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Creativityforgood

    For a few years now, BBH has supported The International Exchange, “a leadership development programme that combines the expertise of corporate communications and the needs of NGOs to create positive sustainable change.” BBH signed up in 2010, you can too. For more background, check out our interview back in 2010 with TIE’s founder, Philippa White, here. This year’s BBH candidate for TIE was Nicolas Jayr, whose fundraising efforts were something of a phenomenon – you may remember this and this. This is the story of how he put those funds to good use.

    Author: Nicolas Jayr, @nicolasjayr, BBH London

    The coastal city of Recife in Brazil is home to 1.5 million people and is soon to become a World Cup host city. It is also home to hundreds of homeless children living on the streets, who are exposed to drugs, gangs, prostitution and violence.

    However help is at hand. Grupo Ruas e Praças is a Recife based NGO fighting to help children and adolescents on a daily basis. Using tailored arts and cultural projects, they infuse the children of Recife with a sense of self-determination to help them build positive lives off the streets.

    Together with Klaus Thymann, a Great Guns film director and photographer, I travelled to Recife via the T.I.E. initiative (The International Exchange) in November 2013. Working with local creative agency Melhor Communicação we developed a communication strategy to give NGO Grupo Ruas e Praças the voice it deserves to raise awareness of the reality in the streets of Brazil.

    The campaign #TEMVIDANASRUAS (‘There is life in the streets’), shot over 4 days with actual street kids working with the NGO, paints a picture of hope by showing what Grupo Ruas e Praças does in giving the children the attention and support they need. The campaign, featuring a short-documentary, visually striking posters and a new site developed locally, gives the audience a chance to see Recife’s street children in a different light – capturing their courage, talents and genuine dreams. 

    A lot of people who read this blog contributed their time and money, so we wanted to say a giant public thank you to all of you and our partners by sharing the work here that you helped make possible.

    2013_GrupasRuasEPracas_2885

    The project was part of The International Exchange (T.I.E.) program, a social enterprise that brings together the world of communications and NGO in developing countries, to which BBH partners since 2010, and was funded through the City of Good (www.cityofgood.me) initiative that Nicolas created to raise money for the project at BBH. Production was supplied pro-bono by Great Guns and Glassworks and renowned American producer Diplo, who has strong ties to Brazil and its favelas through his ‘Favela on Blast’ projects, and who provided the genius soundtrack.

    2013_GrupasRuasEPracas_4599

    2013_GrupasRuasEPracas_4816-1

    DSC_0981

    DSC_0584

    Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 17.24.17

  • Digital Digest, Asia Pacific – February edition

    17th February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in technology

    We’ve enjoyed our friend Carol Ong’s digital digest out of BBH China for a good while now and it feels long overdue to share it. She has kindly agreed to cross-publish a monthly round-up of the best digital and technology stories coming out of China and Asia Pacific that she gathers at her blog. More on some broader implications to follow next month. For now, the February edition.

    Author: Carol Ong, Associate Creative Director, BBH China (@cbongga)

    Hi everyone,

    I started a Digital Digest email group last year to curate some cool stuff I find in the digital space, particularly in China and Asia. A personal project originally intended for colleagues and clients, it got good feedback, and when other people asked to be in the mailing list…. I decided to post the newer Digital Digest to a more public space, on my personal blog (warning, lots of baby pictures!).

    Mel also asked me to do a “Best of Digital Digest” on a monthly basis for BBH Labs. So here it is for this month. Happy Chinese New Year!

    Just tap this link to go directly to the Digital Digests.

    A peek into what the Chinease technology industry is like

    Last year, upcoming Chinese mobile XiaoMi made the global tech geeks sit up and notice when Android star Hugo Barra joined them. He made a presentation in Paris on the amazing potential of China. Such as: disposable income triples in the last 8 years. 122+ billionaires and lots of them in the their 40s and 50s. Ecommerce, mcommerce, mobile social media and China’s version of Pay Pal are much bigger and better than their US counterparts.

    Inline images 3

    Have you tried hailing cabs in China and none would stop even if they’re all empty? Taxi booking apps exploded in 2013. People started “bidding” for cabs, by guaranteeing tips. The biggest ones, Kuaide and Didi, are backed by Alibaba and Tencent respectively.  In 2014, you can now use WeChat to book, bid, and pay Didi!

    Inline images 2

    With the rise of mobile came the rise of GIFs. But it’s so hard to search for the right GIFs, isn’t it? Not anymore. Enter frame Giphy (pronounced as Jiffy). It’s the search engine for GIFs. Try it, search “puppies”. You’re welcome.
    Inline images 2Inline images 3
    Very good tips for online films and TVCs.

    Wechat evolves faster than a newborn baby! I believe this is the Chinese social platform with the most potential to become global (not Sina Weibo). Wechat’s reached 270million active users last November 2013, and 600 registered users. It’s the new marketing favorite and the uses seems endless. Here are some interesting ways brands used Wechat.

    See all public Digital Digests:  http://trevorxfiles.com/category/digital-digest/

    That’s all folks! See you next month!

    Carol
  • Introducing thinky.do

    11th February 14

    Posted by Agathe Guerrier

    Posted in Experiments

     

    As Jeremy hinted at last week, we want to make more experiments this year. One of the key things we took away from Robotify is the need for a more modest approach that genuinely allows for speed, failure, mess … experimentation, really.

    thinkydologo_black

    So for this year, we’ve baked lightness and pace into the process itself in order, we hope, to accelerate learning, but also to have more fun.

    Our ambition is to create and release 10 experiments in 2014. We will do this by adopting a ‘hit and run’ approach to the exercise. Each month we’ll pose a new question, and we’ll run a live session to generate and prototype answers. We’ll force ourselves to ship something within 25 days and with a tiny budget – the month’s experiment needs to have sailed before we agree on the next brief.

    We might end up with 10 failures, but we’re certainly hoping for 10 pieces of learning, 10 horizons broached, many more new people met and at the very least, to have done something fun with something new, every month for a year.

    This new framework means our focus will be on people before machines, behaviours before builds and live development, not drawn out processes. Inspiration might come from platforms, from partners or from people’s imaginative uses of technologies and the web. It could come from anywhere really, as long as it gives us an opportunity to learn.

    As well as more experiments, we’re also looking for more involvement from more people. So we’re going to be inviting the whole of BBH and our partner MediaMonks to experiment with us, and a bit later this year, look at how we can go even more open source. For now, we’ll post the question up on the blog before we run the working session and welcome comments and insight. And, as we did with robotify.me, we’ll make the learning process itself transparent, with briefs, ideas, and development being posted in (almost) real time on our new experiments platform.

    This new home for Labs experiments is thinky.do. From now on, this is where anyone interested can follow the erratic ballads of Labs experiments, though of course we will point at new thinky.do activities from here and from our twitter every now and again.

     If you head there now, you’ll see that we’ve put up our question for the first experiment of the year. It’s all to do with crypto currencies and the creation of value. We’re holding our first live session this afternoon at BBH in London, so expect to hear more very soon.

    We’re excited about switching up a gear in experimentation and we’re definitely curious to see what happens. If you’d be interested in joining us for the ride, please drop a note to collaborators@bbh-labs.com, leave a comment here or at thinky.do.

  • Learning Bit by Bot

    7th February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in robotify.me

    Tyrell: Would you … like to be upgraded?

    Batty: I had in mind something a little more radical.

    Tyrell: What … what seems to be the problem?

    Batty: Death.

    Blade Runner, 1982

    Robotify.me – what we did, what we learned and what we’re doing now

    In December 2012 we launched robotify.me, an experiment to test our hypothesis that seeing social media behaviour visualized could actually influence and change those behaviours. Perhaps, we asked ourselves, data visualisation might reveal surprising nuances of social media behaviour which might otherwise be overlooked?

    robo1

    How would it feel to compare activity – likes, links, retweets, checkins, photos – with the rest of the group’s data? Would the transparency of the visualisation cause any changes in social behaviour? Would inveterate retweeters be shamed into posting more original content? Could we encourage more checking in, more posting of photographs, more liking by visualising the effect that it had on the robot?

    Robotify.me was also another opportunity to learn and experiment with process. Could we create a service rather than a campaign? Could we work fast and lean and create a mvp? Could we create a product without a brief, without a client?

    robo2

    A little over a year on, the answers to some of these questions are in. The first thing to say is thanks. Thanks to the team who worked so hard (and gave their time so generously) on robotify.me and thanks to everyone who took part in this project. Thousands of you created robots and we loved seeing the project come to life, reading the tweets, hearing your thoughts and feedback on this thing we’d made.

    Much of what we learned is displayed in the infographics accompanying this post and some of our early learnings were incorporated into changes we made live on the robotify site in the early go-live days and weeks. Perhaps our major learning was to do with storytelling – if we wanted people to learn a little about themselves we should, perhaps, have shown more, and told more explicitly. Knowing when to intrigue and when to explain is something we will take with us in the future.

    robo3

    We also learned that when you have a team with demanding day jobs it’s impossible to schedule daily scrums and the focus and scheduling required for an iterative workflow are not easily applied to side projects. When we plan future Labs experiments (and more on that very, very soon) we’ll definitely be thinking about the sorts of projects that lend themselves to a leaner approach. Stretch is good, but restraints will help define scope from the very beginning.

    So, we’re going to be pulling down the shutters on this particular garage and disassembling the robotifier, cleaning down the work surfaces and wiping down the whiteboard in preparation for a new swathe of Labs experiments, robotify learnings fresh in our minds. We’ll be keeping the service up in it’s current form for another month, so you can still create a new robot, revisit your robot mirror-self or download and print out your robots for your digital files.

    Finally, thanks again for supporting our Robotify.me experiment.

    Bleep. And out.

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