Evoke Real Change. Conduct Social Post Mortems.

In early 2010 the World Bank Institute (WBI) debuted Evoke, an innovative social game on a mission to foster global change through open collaboration. Now, six months after launching the platform, Jane McGonigal and company are breaking new ground yet again by conducting a social post mortem (which, in an inspired act of rebranding, they’ve dubbed a “post-vita”).

More than just a clever tactic that aligns with Evoke’s core philosophy, the social post mortem has great potential for organizations looking to encourage participation, collect insight from and share learnings with its community. We hope the effort turns out to be as productive as it is innovative.

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Liar Liar Jeans on Fire

From the looks of it, cross-country trips are hot like fire this summer. Both Sears and Levi’s have launched grassroots campaigns that follow a journey across America — one by tractor, the other on foot.

The two campaigns have a lot in common. Both narratives revolve around a young, rugged-looking dude. Each campaign used Google Maps and YouTube to help set the scene. And if you were to guess that the marketing strategies for both campaigns involve telling a story about honest, hardworking, all-American products that can endure even the most rigorous wear-and-tear, you’d be right.

Sort of. Turns out only one of these campaigns is the straight story. In a PR stunt that would make Mad Men proud, Levi’s talked the talk but apparently didn’t walk the walk. Still, the end result is a brilliantly crafted campaign — one that arguably outshines Sears’ effort. Which goes to show that sometimes a lie travels faster than the truth in advertising, even if it doesn’t hold up as well over the long haul.

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Let It Burn

Coke Europe is using short, stylized films and other niche content to introduce Burn to its target audience of young hipsters. From winged competitors like Red Bull to fleet-footed fighters like Converse to 10,000-lb. heavyweights like Dell, big brands have been wielding microgenres in the battle for the attention of tastemakers for years. And the success of tactfully branded collaborations like The Creators Project suggests that the approach may be working.

Now, whether people actually share the content socially or not is another matter. Here, success seems to rely on two main variables: entertainment value and the credibility factor. In other words, influencers are always among the first to show cool stuff to their following. If a piece of content is too heavily branded, that implies not only the absence of freshness but the presence of a massive built-in audience who already knows what’s up. Makes sense, right? Certainly there are plenty of exceptions to this rule (Nike, Adidas, et al.), but one way to help influencers them keep their cred intact is to burn most of the evidence of your brand within your content.

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What’s Your Function, Perfunkt?

A new branded social network, Perfunkt engages gourmands and world-class chefs around original niche content. While Perfunkt seems to align with its audience’s minimalist tastes and plugs into Facebook’s Open Graph nicely, the site itself seems a little…well…perfunctory compared to Epicurious and the myriad of other foodie communities out there.

So what do you think? Is Perfunkt niche marketing cooked to perfection or just another half-baked corporate attempt to concoct a community?

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Will Facebook Credits Make the World Go ‘Round?

With over 500 million users, Facebook is on top of the world. Which raises a good question: how can The Social Network avoid the MySpace conundrum?

Minting the world’s first global currency is one option — hence Facebook Credits. The idea makes sense from a logistical standpoint, given Facebook’s vast walled garden. But are we ready for a global treasurer/creditor who:

  • Knows what we did last night
  • Shares that info with whomever it pleases
  • Laughs like this

So yes, Facebook Credits are right around the corner. Facebook First International Trust, on the other hand, may take a while to get here.

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Shop Shop ‘til You Drop. Shop Shop Never Stop.


Stitch together select swatches of Habbo, Farmville and Second Life and you have PopSugar’s Retail Therapy. A new social fashion game, Retail Therapy allows users to create online boutiques where they can sell virtual goods to their friends from real brands like Topshop and Diane Von Furstenberg. While the monetization potential for participating brands is substantial, we’ll see whether this gaming model splits at the seam or holds up over the long haul

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Tumblr Is Officially the Mack of Microblogs

About two hours ago, Tumblr joined the ranks of Quantcast’s top 50 U.S. sites — another win in a string of victories the microblog platform has had this year alone. So why is Tumblr on fire? Maybe it’s because that’s where big media’s been setting up shop. Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that they attract top talent. Our guess is that it has something to do with how easy it is to share the love through likes and reblogs. But whatever the reason, we’ve got a feeling the best is yet to come for David Karp and company.

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Ben & Jerry’s Nixes Email from Its eCRM Recipe

Ben & Jerry’s has always been a free-spirited brand. But hippie businessfolk don’t play when it comes to connecting with their communities. So when the savvy Vermont-based company announced its plans to replace email with social media in its eCRM program, the question became not “What were they smoking?” but “Where can I score some?” Decisions like this make sense for visionary brands like Ben & Jerry’s, who already have millions of engaged fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. After all, you see things a little differently when you have Moo Vision.

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Fry It Up and Eat It Down

You know and love those Old Spice commercials. But did you know The Man Your Man Could Look Like will return your Twitter love on YouTube? As far as cross-promotion goes, this Wieden + Kennedy beast is half horse, half swan and all sorts of awesome — and it just keeps getting better. Fingers crossed it doesn’t jump the shark like some other wildly popular, character-driven campaigns we know.

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The Economist Gets a Facelift

Apparently big media is betting elective surgery can help it cope with its identity crisis, and the new face of news has begun to emerge from underneath the bandages. In fact, between Bloomberg’s reboot, The Times’s digital mitosis, and the BBC news revamp (among others), we’re seeing the industry’s major players up the ante with each new bid for digital relevance.

The Economist's recent makeover (which launched today) serves as a good example of the mixed results we're seeing from this approach. While the site’s enhancements give it a cleaner UI as well as a crisp look and feel, the new Economist.com home page fails to leverage the power of social media in any meaningful way. And oversights of that magnitude can turn even the freshest faces into sourpusses overnight.

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