Monday, November 28, 2011

House of Harlow 1960 (wishlist)

For those of you who are not familiar with House of Harlow 1960, let me introduce you.

The brand launched in 2009 with Nicole Richie as it's creative force. You'd be forgiven for thinking that here was yet another rich, famous fashionista who on a whim decided to create a fashion brand, but that's where you'd be wrong. Like Victoria Beckham and the Olsen twins (with The Row), Nicole had long established herself as a firm favourite on the best-dressed pages and with Designers alike before proving that she could be a natural force behind the driving seat of her very own fashion brand too.

Nicole's love and influence of costume dressing and finding inspiration in the exotic and bohemian has always shown through her personal style choices, and with House of Harlow 1960, her style stamp is all over her collections.

In particular I have fallen head over heels (pardon the pun) for HoH 1960's AW11 shoes. As a patriot of black and anything a bit scruffy or rocky, black killer heels and bondage straps (refer to any AW11 checklist) are naturally a thing that appeal to me. But so too are the leopard print heels which wouldn't usually be my first point of call but in small doses are quite fantastic. Certainly they are in this case; those leopard print platforms and wedges have the ability to take a casual lbd or skinny jeans and transform them into an outfit fit for the life of a Hollywood glamazon!
I have selected my most coveted AW11 shoes from the collection as well as a fabulous McQueen-esque bag and some select jewellery because they are just so unbelievably wonderful! Each item you can imagine Nicole wearing herself, and the collection as a whole is trend driven and considered, yet individual and sends a bold message: that Nicole Richie has come a long way since the days of the Simple Life and the proof is in the collection.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

YouTube social media revamp

After Business Review USA recently leaked intended Youtube redesigns, YouTube has taken matters into its own hands with a design roll-out that shows a Social Network (and predominantly Google+) inspired revamp.

YouTube is allowing users to preview the intended redesigned site which shows a distinct move towards integrating Google+ and Facebook, with sharing tabs on a prominent profile sidebar. The inclusion of Google+ is unsurprising given that YouTube is Google owned, however the Facebook link-up might be seen as a tactical move on Google’s part. The Facebook tab will allow users to link their Facebook profiles to YouTube, personally recommending videos to those in their friend networks and more importantly, exposing Facebook’s mammoth community to YouTube’s integration with Google+. The move is something that viewers, marketers and advertisers alike will ultimately see huge benefits from with personalised trending videos appearing on the YouTube homepage, and Google+ undoubtedly sees the opportunity in using YouTube as a platform to encroach upon Facebook’s 800 million active users.

The redesigns also come at a time when YouTube has made some significant deals with both big-name brands - most notably allowing the streaming of Disney movies - and also users: The company recently announced it’s participation in a revenue-sharing deal with users who post popular viral videos. Having developed an algorithm which it believes will predict which videos will go viral, the scheme will see YouTube contacting its posters with advertising opportunities for their page.

As officially the second largest search engine in the world (after Google itself), these moves by YouTube point towards an even more engaging and enhanced social media experience whilst aiming to propel Google+ further into Facebook’s market. As with the recent addition of its Google+ Business Pages, Google seem set on using all their assets – including YouTube - to provide a worthy contender against Facebook to the Social Media throne.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Steps forward in Social Media consumer engagement

Perhaps a mile-stone in Social Media, today marks the first time that TV media behemoth the X Factor (USA) has given its public voters an alternative to calling or texting for their favourite musical act on the show: After an initial reluctant approach towards Twitter, media mogul and X Factor producer Simon Cowell has since declared, “the only powerful people on TV are the people on Twitter and Facebook.”

Twitter has invested in this new technological advancement (which sees voters submitting vote via Direct Messaging) and at this stage is reluctant to reveal whether the move is likely to be profitable. The hope however, is that the financial benefits in the future are worth the initial investment.

But what does the X Factor USA aim to achieve through a partnership with Twitter? As Mr Cowell professed himself, “it’s like having millions of producers working with you” in regards to the immediate feedback the show constantly receives, searchable via the Twitter’s own search function. The method could also be a way of obtaining more meaningful information around voters. From Twitter’s perspective, the move signifies a change “from focusing just on engagement” to getting into the creative fabric of shows, letting the audience help change the outcome.

So what does this mean for the future of social media within the infrastructure of brands? Recent research by Constant Contact has found that consumers who engage with brands on Twitter and Facebook are year-on-year increasingly more likely to invest in that brands products, and it’s not just media companies and retailers – social media is influencing everything from politics to the way our services are provided. Companies have to reassess how they communicate now that their customers have a voice: a voice that can ultimately make or break them.

It was recently revealed that US President Barack Obama will be returning to the use of social media channels for his 2012 presidential campaign. Obama famously embraced the power of Facebook and Twitter throughout his 2008 campaign, which ultimately saw him being voted president. This time free blogging site Tumblr has been harnessed with an aim at encouraging voters to interact and share campaign stories. Time will tell if his previous campaign’s success can be repeated, but Obama’s digital marketing strategy of the 2008 election famously spawned many other international politicians into following in his footsteps.

Yet despite social media’s continued success stories and more companies than ever apparently embracing the digital age, there is still a worrying lack of response to the individual customer. Information in social media travels fast, and it is crucial that companies don’t attempt to attempt to overly-control communication in a social media context. Similarly, simply issuing content isn’t enough anymore: Customers are looking to be heard and acknowledged.

Socialbakers is a company who measure and analyse company responses within social media and its findings worryingly show that on Facebook, companies respond to just 5% of customer enquiries on average. More media focused brands however seem to be continuing to pioneer the new way of engaging with customers in an effort to achieve valuable and compelling customer experiences.

Coca Cola have recently made the bold move to no longer rely on traditional ad agencies for their creative ideas. Instead, the global soft drinks brand will be adopting a “crowd-sourcing” approach whereby their feedback and ideas all come via their Facebook and Twitter fans. (Incidentally Coca Cola’s Facebook page is now ran by two genuine brand fans who decided they could do a better job at representing Coca Cola than Coca Cola itself. Coca Cola agreed.)

In an effort to shape the creativity of its portfolio of brands, Coca Cola has realised the potential in allowing consumers to produce the content they want to see, giving the customer a voice and actually listening to what their fans and followers have to say.