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20 May 2010

Questioning The Past Is The Future

by Chris Merriman



A "timely" extra post from me this month.

The latest social network to be making waves (with an explosion in popularity since it's launch in November 2009) is

The premise is simple - simpler than most sites. "Ask Me Anything"

To get the full benefit of the service, you need to register and follow your friends, however, even registered members have the option to ask their questions anonymously.

Whilst the service has raised a number of privacy issues, leading to a hypocriphal tale of a New York teenager who allegedly committed suicide as a result of anonymous cyber-bullying via the service, there is no real evidence that it is more or less succeptable to misuse than, say, Twitter.

At its most positive (and the reason for posting today) is its use in viral marketing. The much hyped "final ever" episode of BBC1's cops-in-a-timewarp drama "Ashes To Ashes" has seen an ingenious example of the service, not only used for good, but for engaging viewers and raising hype to fever pitch.

Users following "poshmouthytart" can ask questions directly to lead character DCI Alex Drake, or her colleague DI Chris Skelton "superskelton" (the characters are also on Twitter, along with @genehunt and @jimkeats).

"But... if the action takes place in 1983, how are the characters supposed to use Social Networks?"

Apparently, they're using a Telex Machine to communicate - have no clue they are in a TV series or that "we" are in 2010.

For example, asking "Alex":

"Surely you should know what happens as the last episode was filmed months ago."

...garners the reply:

"Last episode of what? I'm not in the television business, I'm a detective inspector. It's a bloody big difference."

If Ashes To Ashes is a "brand" then this campaign is the perfect example of Digital Brand Engagement. Imagine, for example, if your customers could ask you ANYTHING about your product. You, by return, can ask users what THEY think of your product, how they use it, any funny stories they have about it... pretty much anything. Because in order to really understand the client, and for them to understand you - asking the right questions is key.

As for Friday, who knows how it's going to end, but the excitement about the A2A brand has reached fever pitch because, in the 6 days of waiting, instead of asking yourself the questions, you can go straight from the stakeholders' mouths. So to speak.

If this sounds like something that would work for your brand, or you would like to know more, give us a call on 020 7183 4999.

Fire up the Quattro and ask us anything.



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