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Posts from the ‘Social Networking’ Category


Advertising Invades Social Games

Words With FriendsTwo big brands have embraced social games as a means to engage with their intended demographics. They’ve teamed up with two of the most successful game developers in the social game arena.

In the automotive industry, to promote the new 2013 Escape, Ford partnered with Zynga to host the world’s largest Words With Friends game. Fans of Ford’s Facebook page can collectively play Words With Friends against celebrity Jenny McCarthy, who will be at the live event in Los Angeles unveiling the new 2013 Ford Escape.

“By revealing the new Escape through a popular social game like Words With Friends, Ford is able to expand its reach beyond traditional social channels to mobile platforms that engage a broader audience of younger professionals,” said Matt VanDyke, director of U.S. marketing communications for Ford.

Over in the electronics and mobile device sector, Samsung is looking to create buzz in an over-saturated smartphone market for their Galaxy SII. By partnering with Rovio’s Angry Birds, Samsung is able to access over 50 million unique active fans; their target audience.

The collaboration entailed the creation of an elite Galaxy SII level, never before seen images, online videos, contests and bragging rights to the exclusive content, especially the “Golden Egg.” The Golden Egg was critical to the success of the campaign since it was dependent upon going viral.

“The development of an ownable Golden Egg Galaxy level, combined with targeted mobile rich across technology and entertainment environments, delivered an incredible response to the campaign — more than 1.6 million game plays and average of eight minutes of engagement per user,” reports Kristen Kelly, VP global business developer.

Eight minutes of engagement per user? No mobile phone television ad that I’m aware of could ever achieve that. Sure, social games contain ads today, especially the free apps. But that’s peanuts compared to these integrated campaigns. Prepare to see more of it…a whole lot more of it as marketers, advertisers and big brands look for social game partners.


Online Community Brand Tarnished? How many times have you Googled a hotel name and found a TripAdvisor review show up? How many times have you clicked on that link to read the review? How many of those reviews were fake?

Seems the last question is causing quite a stir in the travel industry. TripAdvisor is now under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over concerns that reviews from “travelers” aren’t really from travelers, and aren’t legitimate reviews.

According to the UK’s Daily Mirror, “As many as five million of the most current reviews on the website could be fake,” according to Chris Emmins, co-founder of online reputation management company

5 Star RatingIt’s a rather ironic and unfortunate situation. Online communities, like TripAdvisor mentioned above, rely on its members for trusted reviews, in this case, within the hospitality industry. As these online communities build up a cache of reviews, they themselves become a trusted destination for peer reviews. Now, their reputation is in the balance.

For TripAdvisor’s sake, I hope they can rebound from this PR hiccup. I actually think they have a real opportunity here. If they can work towards a solution of curbing the activity of fake reviewing that goes beyond their terms & conditions and community guidelines, other branded online communities could leverage this best practice to ensure the integrity of their own [products, services] reviews.


An Online Community That Turns Work Into A Game

Task RabbitPaint your bedroom. Hit the grocery store. Assemble a new desk. Do laundry. Pick up prescriptions. Drop off dry cleaning. Vacuum the apartment. Walk the dog [and curb it]. These are small tasks we all do in life. Don’t you ever think to yourself, “Can’t I just pay someone else to do it?” Now you can with the help of TaskRabbit.

That’s right, TaskRabbit is an online community made up of “senders” and “runners.” Senders post a task and name the price they’re willing to pay for the task at hand. Runners then bid on the task. Sounds easy enough, but it gets interesting. Senders are free to choose which bid to accept. Wait, why would anyone accept anything than the lowest bid? It all comes down to reputation each runner has built up within the community. After tasks are completed, senders can rate and review runners. Therefore, highly rated runners who have proven their promptness and reliability can command premiums.

Another thing TaskRabbit is doing well, and that I’m an extreme advocate for, is gamification. They employ most of the gaming mechanics I’ve published in previous posts; leaderboard, points, level rank, average customer rating and progress bar.

What’s particularly impressive to me is the size of the community. TaskRabbit operates in 5 major cities; Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County and accounts for 1,600+ members. You’re probably thinking, well that’s not that large for an online community. You have to remember, a successful online community isn’t about registrations numbers, it’s about how socially engaged your members are with each other and the activity they spur as a result. And with an average of 3,000 tasks being fulfilled each month [an average of 2 tasks per member], it’s clear, at least to me, TaskRabbit is on point to be the auction house for local reliable labor.

See a demo: How TaskRabbit Works!


Map of Online Communities

This map of online communities represents the volume of daily social activity based on data gathered over the Spring and Summer of 2010. (All credit to

Infograhic of the volume of daily social activity

Zoom in

It’s interesting to see this all laid out in one view. I challenge Randall Munroe to create this map every year, but I think we can make some educated guesses on the state of 2011. I’ll cherry-pick some of the easy ones.

With over 750 million active users, Facebook should have its own continent. Twitter and YouTube’s islands double in size. LinkedIn is breaking off from the mainland.  Social games and MMOs will form a union. Will Myspace make a [sexy] comeback? Hopefully with Justin Timberlake at the helm.

For shift and comparison sake, here’s the map of online communities as it was in the Spring of 2007.

Infograhic of the volume of daily social activity

Zoom in

For more infographic fun, check out The State of the Internet 2011.

Who do you think deserves more real estate? Who should be wiped cleaned from the map? This feels like a giant version of the board game Risk.


Gamification of Online Communities – Advanced Edition

As a follow up to Gamification of Online Communities for Beginners, I thought I’d take it a step further and provide a strategy for the more advanced communities that may be looking to keep up the competitive momentum.

Board Game RiskTaking a lesson from fantasy sports, more notably, fantasy football because I’m a [American] football nut; let’s apply the same concept to online communities. Members form teams to compete against other teams within the same community. Using the built-in gaming mechanics of your community platform, the collective points achieved from each activity performed by each team would determine the top leaders week-to-week, month-to-month. Heck, you could even replicate a full season with playoffs and a Super Bowl.  This approach takes the meaning of social collaboration to a whole new level.

The team lineup will depend on the type of community you manage and its strategy. I’ll leave it to your creative minds to dictate, but if you need help, hit me up for feedback.

See also: “Gamification of Online Communities – Head to Head

Photo credit: tambako