BMW doesn't get User Generated Content

User generated content is all the rage these days, and every company wants a piece of the action. Some companies understand this concept and act on it fabulously well, but others fail miserably at understanding the basic ethos of UGC.

A mutually beneficial UGC campaign will…

  • Give the company access to a vast creative resource pool composed of hundreds, thousands or millions of users
  • Give the user credit where due for the content creation through backlinks, social recognition and general whuffie
  • Enable the company and the user to build a closer relationship, a stronger brand link and, hopefully, nurture the user’s passion for the product/service

Put simply, it should be a win-win situation. But today, a friend of mine received a message via Flickr from the agency in charge of promoting BMW USA, praising one of the photos of his 3 Series.

“We are contacting you on behalf of BMWUSA.com to inform you that BMW is developing a website that showcases the photography and videos of BMW customers and fans on BMWUSA.com. Your photos were found on flickr and identified as possible photos that could be used on this site. These will be displayed anonymously and your name will not be associated with them. If you agree to give us permission to use your material, we will need your signature on a Photo Release Form. We are only interested in your images of the 3 Series. 

Please see below for a link to download this Release Form online. 
Please fill out the form [PDF here] and send it back to xxxxxxx@dotglu.com or fax to 212-XXX-XXXX. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Thank you very much, and we look forward to showcasing your material on BMWUSA.com.”

So to reiterate:

  • The photos will be posted anonymously, giving the photographer no recognition by name, backlinks or otherwise
  • BMW gets unlimited permission to use the photos in whatever marketing or promotion they wish

Ahem, did I miss something here? It’s a pretty crap deal for the photographer who is, and has been, for years, a faithful BMW owner and promoter. Yet BMW doesn’t give him anything in return for his undying love. This company has pretty deep pockets and a huge following, so it’s bound to be able to offer something exciting in return, no? A backlink to the source doesn’t cost a penny.

I’m sure this agency means well and may get UGC one day but, at this point in time, I advised my friend against entering this one-way succubus relationship and let BMW know that he was keeping the rights to his pictures, thank you very much.

Trust by Positive Brand Association

A few moments ago, I subscribed to the 4mations “Keep me updated” mailing list, out of curiosity of what it’ll turn out to be (how did I get there anyway?!)

Campaign MonitorI’ve got a past in email marketing so even though that subscribing should, in theory, be fine, I hesitated. I’m aware of how dodgy or how careless/naive some senders can be – recently, it took me a battle with an agency that shall remain nameless before they acknowledged that I’d requested repeatedly to be unsubscribed, so things like that peeve me off.

But I subscribed. And it was immediately followed by the familiar green tick mark from Campaign Monitor confirming I was subscribed.

And you know what? I definitely had a fuzzy feeling inside thinking “yup, I can trust this sender. Even if they write total rubbish, I’m confident I can unsubscribe, should there be a need.” I bet you I would’ve bypassed the hesitation had the subscribe field been accompanied by the Campaign Monitor tick. Think that could help increase subscriptions or give users confidence?

What brands do that for you? What logos give you the confidence to hand over money, personal details or your precious time?

Why Twitter is so unbelievably awesome

Anyone who’s witnessed a typical weekday for me will have noticed my slight addiction to Twitter, a service that simply can’t be explained and has to be experienced.

But in my attempt to justify the thousands of updates I’ve posted on it, I’ll highlight a few amazing ways Twitter has helped me and those around me this week.

  • It helped me discover how other bloggers felt about being accosted by PR agency, resulting in an article for The Blog Medic called “Marketing Ethics: Ten ways to piss off a blogger”.
  • An ad hoc conversation led to a friend getting a job offer, and the entire conversation up to scheduling an interview call happened over Twitter.
  • It allowed me to find a couple of new contracts for Pepsmedia redesigning blog templates & site launches.
  • Since SXSW, I’ve managed to stay in touch with many of the lovely people I met there without going through the usual “ok I’ll reply to that email later”, where later becomes never. By keeping it bite-sized, Twitter makes it easy to stay in touch.
  • I’ve found amazing support for the idea of SocialMediaCamp in London in July through fellow Twitter users who are interested and can provide skills and contacts I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
  • A few people offered sound advice with regards to the process to setting up a limited company, again calling on the experience of others.
  • It was the fastest channel through which I heard about Russell’s decision to stop developing Mowser on Monday night.
  • It’s a great way to swap kitty photos with Mel Kirk 🙂

So there you go, it’s a business resource like no other, a great communication tool and an entertaining place to have water cooler conversations with like-minded people.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Tech World 2008 = Hip Hop 1985

Gary Vaynerchuk, for those who don’t yet know him, is the guy behind, in front and all around Wine Library TV. He’s a raving looney, a totally loveable geek but most of all, a rough diamond of community relations amongst the world of overly polished marketing bullshit. He says things as they are and has marked me enough during SXSWi this year that I’ve got a couple of things he’s said up on my board of inspirational quotes in the office. (Thank you Gary, genuinely!)

He also agreed with me that making your own wine is a bad idea, mmmkay dad?

PS – I want my own WLTV sweatband bracelet thinger!

Ofcom says yes on more TV ads

I’m disgusted to find out that Ofcom is about to allow more advertising on commercial television channels in the UK. Somehow, in response to people using more personal video recorders like Sky Plus, Ofcom’s been fooled in believing that the answer is to slap on some more ad minutes into every show.

The geekier masses have migrated towards online sources for entertainment, and I’ve got a feeling that if UK television is heading the same way as American shows, crammed with obnoxious and imposing ads, more Brits will start relying on Joost, Bittorrent, iTunes podcasts and other services.

The advertising industry is so sick, all the way to the core, I don’t think it’ll ever recover. If you agree that this new suggested ruling, allowing more ad breaks, should be stopped, please let your comments be heard by Ofcom, do it now, and pass it on to others around you!

SXSWi 2008: "Self-Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing" panel notes

For this panel, I ditched the laptop and only used pen and paper so my notes are less than clear. In fact, I’m lucky if I can read my own handwriting, but the highlights for me were finally meeting the lovely Tara Hunt, a fellow Canadian expat and inspirational blogger.

My notes might be a bit garbled but sue me, I was too busy listening.

“Self-Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing” panel notes
Panel: Deborah Schultz, Chris Heuer, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh McLeod, David Parmet
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Want to write for Innocent Drinks?

Dan Germain blogged about the ultimate job at Innocent Drinks, one of creative writer.

Innocent DrinksAnyone who knows the Innocent brand and loves it as much as I do will agree that these are big shoes to fill. The writing is one of the assets that make the (somewhat overpriced) smoothies seem so much more appealing than their less expensive, but not so adorable, supermarket’s-own alternative.

They’ve created a new benchmark for fun, cute and downright comical writing, so if you feel that you’re suited for the job, give ’em a ring on the bananaphone or apply for the job!

[Via Gapingvoid on Twitter]

CragHoppers Customer Service: A shock to the system

Today, I’m getting out of the way and giving the blog limelight to my old work colleague and fantastic friend Tom Crinson. He’s the nicest guy I could have ever worked with, but he’s also completely bonkers and going on a life-changing trek up the Kilimanjaro in a few days. Here’s his interesting customer care story…

I am going on a walk. A very big frickin’ walk, up a very big frickin’ hill (Kilimanjaro). I am scared. However, I am about as well prepared as I can possibly be, I have decent kit which has cost a small fortune, I have been training a lot, which has hurt. However the biggest shock of it all so far has come from a customer services experience. This is what happened:

The trek is only a few days away and I am getting my kit together to run through final checklists etc. and I suddenly remember that after the trek I am going on a safari as well! As girly as it sounds, I have nothing to wear! I have been so focussed on the trek I had forgotten about it. Literally nothing I have would be good enough for the African savannah, and I start to panic. Mainly as I don’t have a day free to go shopping on to get kit, and it’s the middle of winter here, no shops are going to be pimping their summer wares just yet!

So panic sets in, I reach for the magical box which contains the internet (it is shiny and silver and has an apple on the front) and type in “Safari clothing”, up pop lots of results. Clicking about I find some shirts that look like they are up to scratch for 40 or so of your english pounds. £40! For a frickin beige shirt?? Holy jesus mary mother of poo no way am I paying that. Remembering that some of my walking trousers are from a company called CragHoppers I thought I would give them a go. Perfect. Good quality shirts with UV(blah) protection and stuff. £15. Now were talking. Ordered two of those and two pairs of walking trousers that zip off to form shorts for a measly £70. A-mazing. Value and quality I know I can trust.

Confirmation email time. Oh yes, this gem: “Please note: We are currently experiencing some delay in the dispatch of orders. Therefore your order may take slightly longer to arrive. Please be patient and bear with us at this busy time.” Appears in it! Not a single mention of this on the site, only after my money has been taken do they mention this. So I call them up….“Err.. WTF?” to hear an amazingly friendly voice which belongs to a nice lady called Dawn at the other end of CragHoppers’ customer services line.

She explains to me how their system went down over Christmas and that they are going mental trying to get the back orders through. “But I’m off on friday!” I say, “Fear not” says she, and about an hour and a half later, the wonderful wonderful woman has somehow managed to get their warehouse to dispatch my order that day. Literally ordered Sunday night, panicked Monday, goods arrived Tuesday. Brilliant.

I don’t think I have been so amazed by a customer services department before. She could have just told me to go away there was nothing she could do, but she went out of her way to help me and for that I am unbelievably grateful.

Thank you thank you thank you! I am now a teeny bit less stressed!

Links of the week: Media, marketing & brand in today's world

In the past few days, I’ve read some genuinely interesting articles which I’ve been meaning to blog, but to avoid stale blog entries in my drafts, I’ll just share the links and let you read on.

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