Technology That’s Raising “The Bar”

A bar is a place for drinking and having fun and socializing and dancing.
It’s usually not a place you’d expect to find some innovative technology.
Until now.
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We’ve all seen it before.

A group of people sitting together in a pub.  But they’re not looking at each other, and they’re not talking to each other either.

They’re all on their phones.

What are they doing with their lives?

phones

Technology is awesome and everything, don’t get me wrong.  I tweet constantly, and enjoy being able to call my sister in DC while I’m hundreds of miles away in Boston.  But I firmly believe there’s a time and place for everything.  And when you’re out with friends, it’s not the time or the place to check your Facebook newsfeed or make a Vine video.  And sometimes, it prevents you from experiencing things IRL (in real life).

But what’s the solution to the problem of overusing technology?

A small beer brand in Brazil came up with the answer by using… you guessed it, technology!

polar

Polar beer wanted to make drinking beer with friends a social event.  So, they designed a high-tech beer cooler that blocks the signal of cell phones within a 5-foot radius.  That means that no one at the table will get a chance to be on their phones. And without phones, people are more encouraged to interact and laugh and joke and sing and be with their friends.  To live in the moment and enjoy it.

Check out how this innovative technology encouraged other people to ditch their own technology.

This is such a simple idea, and a great way to have people associate Polar beer with sharing fun, loving moments with friends.

Another beer company also decided to bring technology to a bar too!

buddy cup

Budweiser designed the innovative Buddy Cup in 2013 that encouraged people who met in bars to connect with each other on social media.  With the simple clank of two glasses together, strangers who shared awesome conversations would automatically add each other as friends on Facebook and be able to stay connected long after the bar closes for the night.

What’s really unique about both of these ideas is that these brands are both using something common and simple (a beer cooler, or a glass) and making it part of an experience.

They’re not creating high-tech glasses and coolers.  They’re starting a movement that involves connecting with people and living in the moment.  Both of these campaigns are examples of how technology is transforming not only the messages that brands are trying to send to consumers, but also the behavioral changes that brands are trying to create.  Technology isn’t just relevant in billboards and advertisements and online banner ads.  It can be used to start a conversation or create experiences.

Let’s drink to that!

Pay With Posts: The Future of Social Currency

Forget paper money and credit cards!

That’s what Marc Jacobs said last weekend when they opened up the doors to the Daisy Perfume Pop Up Shop in New York City. Consumers could leave their wallets behind because the store was accepting a new type of payment.  Customers exchanged posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain in exchange for branded products like perfume, jewelry, and even handbags.

MarcJacobs_PopUp_Tweet-11

The store (on 462 West Broadway) was only open to the public from Friday, Feb. 7 to Sunday, Feb. 9, which fittingly coincided with New York Fashion Week.  The opening event including a stellar guest list, with stars like  Anna Kendrick (Actress, Pitch Perfect), Meghan Markel (Actress, Suits), and Jamie Chung (Actress, Believe), to name a few.

Daisy is one of Marc Jacobs’ most popular lines, and the brand is very active on Facebook and Twitter.  Check out how they promoted the pop-up shop on the streets of NYC.

But, why would a brand give away so much product for free?  Well, by using social currency, the brand is gaining something that is extraordinarily valuable: word of mouth (WOM.)  It’s such a crucial part of maintaining a successful brand that, in fact, 2 out of 3 marketers say it is actually more effective than traditional marketing.  Marc Jacobs could have produced some commercials, put some print advertisements in a magazine, but instead, they created these pop-up shops that improved their social media impressions and garnered media attention from sites like Mashable, Forbes, and more. 

This idea of social currency, however, is not entirely new.

Kellogg’s opened up a Tweet Shop in London back in 2012 during Social Media Week, where consumers exchanged tweets for 100-calorie snacks!  This gave consumers the chance to actually get their hands on the product and encouraged them to share their thoughts on the brand with family and friends.

poptweetshop

But even before that, the book “Oh My God What Happened and What Should I Do” had the idea to start a campaign called “free-for-a-share,”where they gave free downloads to individuals who tweeted about the book.  The idea earned them a CyberLion at Cannes and you can still go to the website to download a free copy of the digital marketing book (only if you tweet about it though!)

freeforashare

So, what is the future of social currency?

While social currency is awesome, don’t expect it to replace actual money.  After all, businesses need to make a profit.

The examples here show that, for brands to try to use social currency to gain social media impression, they need to be well-established with loyal customers and a strong social media/online presence.  The items that are given away need to be small and low-price, yet significant, and should only be available for a tweet for a limited amount of time, in order to spark a sense of exclusivity and urgency.

I expect we’ll see more of these one-time, short-term “free-for-a-share” campaigns from brands in the upcoming years.

Thoughts?