Monday, April 21, 2008

Avatar Wrap Party

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Cathy Taylor’s experiment with the Burn Alter Ego campaign in Europe. She wrapped it up on Friday and I wanted to close the loop. Her participants identified three major problems; probably some of you—like me—just took a look at the Facebook page and said either, “Not me,” or “Too much trouble,” so the reactions of the people who played along are instructive. However, most of us aren’t part of the target market, and we’ve got to be careful about that. According to Stanford Green of Coke Europe, Burn is a drink for people who haven’t yet launched their professional careers. He says that, “Burn is a nightlife drink.” Yep, that’s not me.

The three problems identified were:
•Technical—the slow loading interface. Apparently anything faster would have seriously pixilated the image.
•Interactivity—some of the participants didn’t like the fact that the night life experiences were “prepackaged,” not of their own choosing.
•Blatant Salesmanship—avatars explicitly promote Burn in various ways.

One young professional—Ellen Kelly of Peculiar Productions—gave it high marks:

"I loved that you could completely customize the avatar, environment, and so on. And the random stories people came up with… hilarious! I think there are a few tweaks that need to be ironed out, but overall it's an interesting application. My coworkers loved it too, especially the designers."

One of the comments on the Social Media Insider blog gave a link to a post “10 Facebook Applications that Don’t Suck.” It’s well worth looking at to see the kinds of fairly practical, “useful-in-my-daily-life” sort of applications referenced. It’s also instructive that most of them don’t have a huge number of daily users. But that’s probably not the right issue. Presumably it should not be just the number, but how well users reflect the target audience for the sponsoring brand, how often they use the app, whether there is any brand conversion, and whether use of the app affects brand image. We probably have to get past sheer numbers to understand the usefulness of Facebook apps and other widgets and that’s going to take continuing thoughtful development of metrics.

But it was a great experiment! More of us ought to take part in some of these things, even if we feel a bit out of place, and try to develop a deeper understanding of what’s going on in social media space.
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