How to ‘Do The Internet’ with Little Boots and Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap - Tour Shenanigans (part 1)

There’s lots that us try-hard webby / advertising folk can learn from these young ladies about how to ‘do’ social networks and audience engagement.

I hate myself for even writing about this stuff in ‘those’ terms. The words ‘audience engagement’ give me a strange bile-y sensation in the back of my throat. In both of these cases I’d chow down on a family bucket of Kentucky Fried Hat if someone had set out with a cyncial objective of how to engage audiences. What makes this stuff good is that you can tell this is what they enjoy doing. It’s what they love. You get the sense they’d be doing it whether they were flogging 10 records or 10 million records.

And that’s the stuff you can’t fake. Well not without expensive directors and decent actors and catering trucks and heavy editing.

Both of them have amazing videos on YouTube. They both feel totally natural. They don’t give a hoot that their clips aren’t 100% perfect. And they feel like we’ve been given a real window into their musical world. Their videos have got music and talent at the core, but the edges are the bits that give you personality, quirkiness and ultimately likability.

I’ll start with Little Boots, because she’s got a Tenori-On and can play it better than anyone else I’ve ever seen, check this Hot Chip cover, make sure you wait for the vocals to start.

It feels so accessible (like she’s used the same kind of camera, computer and mic that lots of us have) yet the talent and quality shine through.

She takes suggestions for her Funtime cover versions via MySpace (or YouTube). And manages to go far and wide with what she delivers. Including her take on Happy Hardcore anthem ‘Heart of Gold’

I’m also a big fan of the fact that she uses the supporting YouTube text really well. So many people hardly even bother. And it makes a difference. It properly helps to cement the whole story and rams it home that this isn’t a YouTube channel that’s being looked after by a label-monkey. For example:

this is a song i’d long forgotten about till recently… i’ve been getting back to my blackpool roots a bit lately, spent much of my teen years listening to bonkers compilations 1 through 5 so here is a classic… heart of gold… such a sad song when you think about it!!! i’m not sure how well know it is to the rest of the world but anyways…. sorry the tenorion isn’t loud enough but didn’t wanna wake my housemates up! my fav bit is where it rhymes ‘just’ with ‘justify’ in the same line. genius.

Admitting listening to the Bonkers Compilations is about as ‘real’ as you can get ;-)

There’s some more text that expertly disses a twatty comment on the same clip. It’s a wee bit rude so I’ve not copied it here.

And she’s got a website with a blog and a Facebook page which includes a seemingly exclusive Facebook exclusive – a Tenori-On version of Stuck on Repeat which is an amazing track (the Fake Blood mix is especially good music fans). EDIT: And I just spotted it’s also the FREE single of the week on the UK iTunes Store.

And furthermore if you sign up for her mailing list you can get a rather smashing free mixtape. It’s like Christmas all over again!

Enough Little Boots hype. On to Imogen Heap. Her vBlog as she calls it, is totally different. She rambles on and on and on and comes across as totally loopy most of the time. But through all the insanity you can’t help but smell brilliance and a sincere passion for the music and what she does.

I’ve got a feeling she’s the kind of person who might annoy some people with her slightly dithery-middle-class-niceness. But I find it quite charming, in 10 minute chunks at least.

What I especially like about is that she’s been leaking out bits and bobs of her new album. But it’s literally playing fragments of songs as they’re in development (when you get to about 3 mins in you’ll see what I mean), so there’s no way that pirates can rip it off, but it gets the work out there in a really nice way. And from looking at all the comments you can see how much anticipation the clips are managing to build.

And she gives Etsy a mention too, which is nice.

And there’s a website, a Facebook, a MySpace. And they all do their individual jobs well.

So what are the things we should learn from them:

  • Keep it real – be yourself. There is no template for this stuff so don’t try and create the thing that you’re ‘supposed to do’ on YouTube.
  • Get the audience involved in what you’re doing
  • Imperfection is OK (actually much better than OK, it’s good, it’s human, it’s real)
  • Use all the tools out there – and use them with each other, use them for things they’re good at
  • Post regularly
  • Give away free stuff when you ask people to sign up for something

All things we’ve all heard before. But nice to see a couple of decent ‘case studies’ out there. Yuk. There goes the bile-y taste again. They’re not bloody case studies, they’re people doing awesome stuff. Well done ladies. Sorry for tainting your good names with marketing gobshite.

The 7th Deadly Sin – We Have a Winner!

7 deadly sins winner

I’m absolutely flabbergasted at how many comments the 7 Deadly Sins of Digital has had. It’s up to 85 comments and still growing! But I figured it was time to pick my winner for the 7th Deadly Sin.

Trouble is, there are so many great ones in there. It’s really tough to pick just one. I could rename the whole thing “The 85 deadly sins of digital” but somehow it loses a certain ring.

Rupert’s comment holds particularly true (and it made me laugh):

I think a new website which includes the features discussed above could do quite well in a retro sort of way. Shouldn’t be hard to find a client anyway.

But for me my winner has to be this:

It’s a Flash movie but for it to start you need to put in your name and then you watch the movie and at the end there’s your name written somewhere IN THE MOVIE!

I can’t remember when I last laughed at a use of capital letters. But I genuinely did at these. I think the caps (and the !) just helped me to visualise the enthusiasm with which someone might present such an idea. There’s no way it’s the worst sin on the list, it’s just my favourite. Nice one Christian – I’ll be in touch about your prize!

A close second is Joe who didn’t leave a URL for me to link to:

Presenting the recently finished TV spot as the brief for the digital campaign.

Honestly it has happened once or twice. Really!

Other notable sins from the comments include: Huge loading times, inappropriate games, bad blogging, pdfs, sound you can’t turn off, me-tooism, social networks, send-to-a-friend, moving / rotating menu items, enter buttons, virtual changing rooms, and more.

Thank you everyone who commented. You’ve kept me amused and entertained over the last couple of weeks. Thank you.

10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising – Number 10

Of course there are brilliant people in advertising who ‘get it’ too. And blatantly you don’t have to be a web-obsessed geek to come up with interesting interactive ideas. But naturally it becomes easier to consider this world if you spend some time in it. So, at the very least, you understand a few of its basic rules.

It helps to appreciate what makes a great game. Or be able to feel the difference between a good application and a lousy one. To understand how important online relationships are to people. To have lived a day in Second Life before recommending it as the solution to a problem. To be a user who generates content and not a marketeer who just hypothesises about it. The list goes on…

I read an interesting quote recently, I forget where. But the point was that almost anyone could have a go at coming up with TV advertising ideas – we’ve all sat through so many commercials in our lives the techniques and language of TV ads are part of mainstream culture (I’ve got no doubt at all that they’d be second rate rubbish, but there’s something in the thought).

On the flipside, your average teenager with MySpace/Bebo/Facebook pages is way more qualified to come up with ideas around social networks than most boardrooms full of marketeers.

I think you get the point.

From what I can see, lots of the people who really live and love this stuff have taken refuge in small digital agencies. They wouldn’t survive in a place where their Internet access was subject to WPP Group firewalls (although they’d probably hack a way around it). They need to be allowed to run instant messenger and install applications on their own machines. They’re also more comfortable knowing that they can survive being just a little bit nerdy and their obscure cybercultural references will be understood by most people, not just the IT work experience guy.

Of course this will change, and I’ve got no idea where the talented young creatives who’ve lived their whole lives with this stuff will gravitate towards over the next few years. I’m guessing they’ll head for the places where they feel understood and the places with the best opportunities. Who knows whether these will be the same places?

If you’re excited by the possibilities of digital, there’s nothing like having a team around you who are all connected, online people. People who share an enjoyment of constant change and upheaval instead of fearing it.

Digital is fun.