Five Insights into the Psychology of Twitter

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Statistics and sampling are an amazing thing. Even if, like me, you have a healthy scepticism about the way that data is analysed and interpreted, it is difficult – if not foolhardy – to downplay the inevitability of data. Just look at the various disputes around the veracity of climate change – where statistically irrelevant interpretations have derailed important decisions, changes and commitments. Eventually, even the hardiest data curmudgeon will need to yield to the truth of the climate science data – perhaps only as their seaside apartment is swept into the arms of the sea. For though there may be outliers and anomalies in the data, sampling – where carried out correctly – can yield tremendously accurate insight. As Margaret Rouse explains on the TechTarget website:

Sampling allows data scientists, predictive modelers and other data analysts to work with a small, manageable amount of data in order to build and run analytical models more quickly, while still producing accurate findings. Sampling can be particularly useful with data sets that are too large to efficiently analyze in full — for example, in big data analytics applications.

And it is sampling that makes Twitter one of the more fascinating social networks and big data stores of our time. While Facebook grows its membership into the billions, its underlying data store, its connection and interaction architecture and its focus on first tier networks also limits its capacity to operate efficiently as a news source and distribution network. Twitter on the other hand, with its 200+ million members, provides a different and more expansive member engagement model.

During our recent forum presentations on the voice of the customer, Twitter’s Fred Funke explained the view that Twitter was “the pulse of the planet”. Using tools as simple as Twitter search or Trending Topics, Twitter users can quickly identify topics that important to them – or to the broader local, regional and global communities. And, of course, with the new IBM-Twitter partnership, there are a raft of tools that allow businesses to go much deeper into these trends and topics.

In doing so, however, we have to ask. What are we looking for? What information will create a new insight? Which data points will reveal a behaviour? And how can this be framed in a way that is useful?

Five Buyer Insights that Drive Engagement

Just because interactions are taking place online doesn’t mean that they occur in isolation. In fact, our online and offline personalities are intricately linked. And as the majority of our digital interactions take place via text, linguistic analysis will reveal not only the meaning of our words but also our intention. Some things to look out for and understand include:

  1. Buying is an impulse: As much as the economists would like to believe we act logically, we know that buyers are emotional creatures. We buy on whim. On appeal. On impulse. And there is no greater impulse these days to share an experience (good or bad) via Twitter. Look particularly at the stream for comments tagged with #fail. It is full of opportunity for the responsive marketer keen to pick up a churning customer having a bad customer experience.
  2. The customer journey is visible: While we are researching our next purchase, digital consumers leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that can be spotted using analytics software. For example, we may tweet out links of videos that we are viewing on YouTube, share blog posts related to our pre-purchase research and even ask directly whether a particular product lives up to the hype. Just take a look at the #lazyweb stream around the topic of Windows10.
  3. Understand the pain to optimise the opportunity: When engaging via social media, it is important to understand the challenges or “pain points” that your customers (or potential customers) are facing. Rather than spruiking the benefits of your own products, focusing on an empathetic understanding of your customer’s needs more quickly builds trust and is grounded in a sense of reality. The opportunity with social media is to guide the journey, not short cut it.
  4. Case studies build vital social proof: No one wants to be the first to try your new product. Showing that the path to customer satisfaction is well worn is vital. Use case studies to pave the way.
  5. We buy in herds: Mark Earls was right. Not only do we want social proof, we prefer that proof to reflect on our own sense of belonging to a group or movement. Remember that we go where the other cows go, and structure your social media interactions accordingly.

The folks over at eLearners.com have put together this infographic on the psychology of Twitter. They suggest that we tweet for love, affection and belonging. It may be true, but sometimes we just also want to vent. And every vent is a market opportunity.

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How to Make a Privacy Complaint

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When Disruptor’s Handbook and Constellation Research hosted an evening meetup recently for the Australian launch of Ray Wang’s Disrupting Digital Business book, we were hoping to get some conversation going amongst the audience. We talked all manner of disruption – from innovation to technology, big data to marketing – and everywhere in between. But it wasn’t until we hit the topic of Privacy that debate really kicked off.

It was all in. Twenty or thirty of Australia’s leading business innovators held forth in open debate. And after an hour or so, we realised we’d only scratched the surface. There was plenty more work to be done.

And while there were contrasting views and concerns, one thing was clear. We are all now subject to much greater openness – and therefore at risk of some part of our privacy being compromised. So what are we to do?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has created a great video to explain.

Your Input Requested: IoT Design Manifesto

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You know that an industry is starting to get serious about business standards and models when it starts to corral people. And the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is no different.

When Elizabeth Eisenstein investigated the invention of the printing press, she identified five impacts of new media:

  • Experts coming under pressure from new voices who are early adopters of new technology
  • New organisations emerging to deal with the social, cultural and political changes
  • There is a struggle to revise the social and legal norms — especially in relation to intellectual property — and the concepts of identity and community are transformed
  • New forms of language come into being
  • Educators are pressured to prepare their students for the newly emerging world.

And with the IoT Design Manifesto, we’re now seeing a line in the sand. Initially drafted by a team of design professionals, the aim is to draw feedback from the community of professionals involved in the IoT field. You can sign the manifesto, download or simply read and share. But the question is – what’s missing? What can be strengthened? And perhaps most interesting of all – where to next; which of the five impacts will you work or collaborate on?

The manifesto thus far:

  1. We don’t believe the hype
  2. We design useful things
  3. We aim for the win-win-win
  4. We keep everyone and every thing secure
  5. We build and promote a culture of privacy
  6. We are deliberate about what data we collect
  7. We make the parties associated with an IoT product explicit
  8. We empower users to be the masters of their own domain
  9. We design things for their lifetime
  10. In the end, we are human beings.

Surprising differences between B2B and B2C marketing

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The Econsultancy and Adobe report on  “B2B Digital Trends 2015” is based on a survey of more than 800 global B2B digital marketing professionals. Seeking to understand the key priorities, trends and challenges for B2B digital marketing, it contrasts the B2C focus to reveal  similar priorities – but with a couple of key differences.

First up, the “no surprises”:

  • B2B marketers focusing on content marketing and customer experience
  • B2C marketers are excited by mobile (at 16% they’re way ahead of their B2C counterparts at 7%)
  • Personalisation and big data battling it out for 3rd spot.

There are, however, some interesting aspects relating to B2C content marketing and mobile:

  • B2C marketing differentiates experience through personalisation not content. With a limited focus on the customer journey, B2C marketers are choosing personalisation and big data to differentiate their offerings from their competitors. In my view, B2C content marketing still provides great value but needs to be rethought and reimagined (ie it’s simply not good enough to “digitise” media).
  • Mobile is hot for B2C. Not unexpected. BUT just as B2C marketers need to improve their understanding of content marketing, B2B marketers could learn a great deal from B2C mobile strategy. “Future ways of working” initiatives are transforming today’s businesses. Built on a platform of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), mobility is obviously a key pillar of this transformation. Expect to see more traction than the research would suggest.

Finally, some surprises:

  • B2C need greater focus on marketing automation: These days, marketing at scale requires automation. It also requires strong analytics and customer journey mapping. Not paying attention to these areas actually opens the door to market disruption by faster moving competitors.
  • Location based services scrapes the bottom of the barrel. In last place, I wonder whether marketers simply don’t understand the promise and opportunity of location based services. Considering customer experience ranks as the second most important category, there appears to be a disconnect between what customer experience can be and its method of delivery. Location services bring these together via a range of devices including smartphones, beacons, wifi and analytics. As marketers build more practical digital experience, I expect to see these figures improve.

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Fulfilling the Promise of Digital Marketing

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From my first line of HTML I fell in love. Like almost everybody, I started with two simple words loaded into a browser. “hello world”. And with that I was hooked. I could sense, right here beneath my fingertips, that the world was shifting.

And again, years later, working with “Koz Community” at IBM – a system that was way ahead of its time – I could tell that those amorphous “audiences” out there were coming together. Connecting with each other and with me. Us. There was a fusing around passions and interests that was closer to performance art than marketing.

Social media turned the screw yet again. Turning the commonplace into uniqueness, transforming text into experience, image into storytelling. It put the levers of the imagination into the hands of everyday people – you and I. And we loved it. We loved the freedom of expression. The connection. The gritty humanity of it all shone through with every update.

But digital marketing – for the most part – has remained lacklustre. But it’s not for want of trying. Having been on judging panels for various awards, I can see that great work is being done. Interesting, challenging, pushing-the-envelope-type work. But the work that is possible and the expectations of clients are out of sync:

  • Client led: Where the client is leading the innovation – looking for ever-newer approaches
  • Agency led: Where the agency works to educate, engage, sell-in and deliver the “new”.

The problem is that we continue to look towards “one-offs”. We think that “strategy” is to do with plans on paper. Or Powerpoint. Or Keynote. We don’t think of it as “getting closer to our customers”. We don’t envision strategy as a process of solving problems. And we don’t see “digital marketing” as a fundamental way to transform the customer relationship.

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Take a look at the video below. Think about the way that social, mobile, cloud (and ultimately analytics) – the SMAC – are combining to create a transformative customer experience. See how paid, owned and earned media are coming together. But what is most exciting about this is the way that “art” or an artistic sensibility – creativity – is coming into the execution. It’s the “A” in my PANDA framework for visionary marketing.

I have said it before and will say it again – experience is the currency of your brand.

And until we understand this, we won’t fulfil the promise of digital marketing.

Five Lessons from a Year of Disruption

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When you are head down working on projects, developing new business and just keeping it all together, it’s easy to miss business milestones – like your first year in business.

The initial idea for Disruptor’s Handbook came from a lunchtime meeting with my former colleagues at PwC. We were talking about the concept of “disruption” and how it could be managed. Used for innovation. Simon Gibbard suggested that we write a handbook – a disruptor’s handbook. Tim Lovitt and I had topic ideas and thought we could pull together a blog. Or an ebook. Or something.

Of course, it never happened. We were busy with projects and with life.

When my PwC contract ended, I launched Disruptor’s Handbook with the view that there was something to the concept. There were plenty of lessons from the world of startups that could be applied to corporates, and vice versa. I had also worked with communities and business networks and knew there was value in collaboration. The plan was to bring these things together – to help corporates, smaller businesses with the appetite for change, and innovative NFPs:

  • Reduce the risk of innovation
  • Innovate quickly by adopting proven frameworks
  • Be supported by experienced executives, mentors and teams.

The Three Principles

So I began with three principles that applied not only to collaborators but also to clients:

  • Intention: When working with clients and with collaborators, I needed to understand their intention. Did they truly, deeply have an intention to work together? Or was it a “lipstick on a pig” project designed to give the appearance of innovation?
  • Commitment: Was there a commitment to make a difference with innovation? Would clients and collaborators commit to a problem, wrestle with politics, budgets and organisational apathy?
  • Gavin is not always right: I can be passionate and easily convinced of the power of my own ideas, but I challenged myself to be open to alternatives of all kinds.

Five Lessons from Disruption

Like any fledgling business, there’s a lot required to build, learn and grow. You need work. Case studies. Cash flow. But these are the same for any business. What follows, however, are the more hidden lessons that I have taken out of the last 12 months:

  1. Your greatest strength is speed – but only if you use it. There is plenty of competition out there. But being a small business means that you can change the way you DO business quickly. But you have to commit to doing so. If you take a week to change your website, you’re too late. If you need to delay a project you may lose it. The challenge is to actually use your nimbleness to respond to project, client or market changes faster than everyone else.
  2. You aren’t what you sell. After creating a dozen or more disruptor’s handbooks on various topics from “using the lean canvas” to “how to run a hackathon”, I realised that I needed to bring things together. Potential clients could see the value but not the offer. I needed to quickly change the way that I explained Disruptor’s Handbook to make it more tangible. Remember to sell the sizzle as well as the steak.
  3. What you have isn’t necessarily what clients want. This is a hard one. Sometimes people “want” disruption but they’re not “ready” for it (yet). Like most innovation, it’s a journey. You’ve got to both educate your clients and lead them on a journey. You’ve got to support them in selling the concepts into their own teams and management. It may be that your offerings are too early for the market. In which case, it’s time for Lesson 4.
  4. Ditch your beautiful ideas. Ideas in your disruptive business are worth nothing. What counts is traction. If a proposal is successful, analyse it for what worked. Keep refining it. But if you proposals are not succeeding, you need to move on quickly (see Lesson 1). No one will love your idea more than you, and that’s what makes it hard to let go. Be honest with yourself, ask for feedback and figure out where to go next. After all, you need to eat.
  5. Ride the horse all the way to “yes”. In our minds we are often saying yes but our words, presentations, proposals and actions indicate “no”. Keep practising saying “yes” out loud so that your clients and collaborators can hear it. Be open (as per Principle 3 above) as a project can often veer into unexpected and exciting territory. It may start out simply but can become truly disruptive and exciting. Ride that horse all the way to yes.
  6. A note of thanks. I know this is Lesson 6 … but it’s also important to be thankful. In the first year I have been fortunate to work with and learn from many people. We’ve done some great work together – from the innovative Qantas Hackathon to StudyNSW digital strategy. We’ve run workshops, spoken at conferences, mentored startups and incubated a few new businesses that are yet to launch (more to come). Every project took commitment and intention from the business and the business sponsors. And I was not always right. But I am truly thankful for the opportunity and experience.

With one year down, I’m excited to be looking further ahead. Plans are being considered. Collaborators cultivated. If you have a project you like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to be a collaborator, hit me up.

“Receiving the knowledge” and other youthful fancies

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I recently met with an old colleague to catch up after many years apart. While we settled very quickly into an easy conversation – almost like the time had never passed – it also gave me cause to reflect. It made me think about my business behaviour and some of the decisions I made on the way to achieving various things. It made me think about my own expectations and approaches – the things I wanted and how I thought my future might play out.

For example, I thought that at some point that I would:

  • “Receive the knowledge” – that sense of understanding of how the world works and why
  • Work less and earn more – I know. I can hear you laughing from here
  • Work on more meaningful projects – sometimes you strike it lucky, but I look to my work with Vibewire for this
  • Know what I’m doing – the truth is, I’m constantly creating new knowledge and new ways of working. And I think you should too.

The interesting thing, is that I am not alone in these youthful delusions. It seems that the much more self-aware Ann Handley rowed that same boat. Here are five things that she thought she knew at 22 that turned out to be totally wrong. Of course, it doesn’t make her any less awesome.

Forget Big Data, It’s Time for Big Narratives

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It is easy to get excited about big data. After all, it’s lots of small pieces of data woven together into a patchwork that stretches our imaginative capacity. Just think, we’re creating more data every two days than was produced from the dawn of civilisation up to 2003 (or so Google’s Eric Schmidt claims). That means that every photo, status update, movie, podcast, purchase, share and any other form of interaction that we make on a digital forum – PLUS all the metadata of that interaction – is adding to a massive pool of data that sits like a great digital artesian basin underneath our digital experience.

The question about all this data, however, is what do we do with this big data? Sure we can mine it, connect internal and external data. We can use it for retargeting. Or forecasting. Or analysis. We can put it into charts and infographics and in doing so, add our own efforts to the big data explosion. But it feels like we are just scraping the surface. It feels like we are in our digital infancy when it comes to big data.

But there are a few companies who are innovating on the edge and taking a different approach. For these companies, big data is just a means to an end. The real value is not in the data but in the capacity to tell stories with that data. It’s the realm of big narratives – and it is as exciting as it is terrifying.

The team at Narrative Science have been focusing on machine learning and linguistics for some time. Their natural language generation platform takes big data and applies artificial intelligence to it in such a way that reports are not just visual but contextual. That is, there is the result and the reasoning all-in-one report.

I have written about QuillEngage previously, the platform that turns your Google Analytics data into a summarised report email. So I was interested to see what would come out of their new Twitter report.

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Based on an analysis of my Twitter traffic and the traffic of my recent followers, Quill examined around 13,000 tweets to produce the report. Most interesting to me was the analysis of my own tweets and the topics that “my community” engage in. While my follower numbers and ratio put me in the “99th percentile of Twitter users measured by followers”, the report provides little in terms of suggestions for growth / improvement. But it does confirm what I suspected. And in most cases, that’s how many marketers are using big data at present – as a sense check. A validation.

But as technologies like this get better, more automated and programmatic, there’ll be less sense checking. Less validation. And more action. It’s just that that action won’t be taken by you or I.

Retail Disrupted-Consumers Get Smarter says IBM Study

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I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. Actually, when I think about it, I quite like shopping as an experience. What I don’t like the way retail transforms that experience. You see, retail shopping is filled with frustration:

  • There’s no or limited stock
  • Loyalty programs are more of a burden than a benefit
  • The digital experience is out-of-kilter with the in-store experience
  • Customer service is an after thought.

And it seems I am not alone. The 2015 IBM Smarter Consumer Study: Shoppers Disrupted gauged global sentiment about consumers’ shopping behaviour. The extensive survey of 28,500 online respondents across 15 countries saw more than 1,800 Australians respond to the survey.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Australian shoppers are less loyal than ever – 10% act as advocates while 37% act as antagonists
  • 38% of 20-39 year olds prefer to shop online
  • Online shopping is up across all categories (esp consumer electronics)
  • Shoppers prefer to be in control – and that means a mobile experience.

You can register and download the full report here.

Now, much of this is not new. I have been analysing the structural, technological and strategic problems with retail for years. But Australian retail, in particular, has been slow to respond to the challenges (and opportunities) of digital disruption. And when they do respond, they often do so with the blinkered vision of incumbency. Does this leave the door open for nimble competition or does is just breed consumer mistrust and apathy? I’d love your thoughts.

The big question, of course, is when will retailers fix these problems? Those that do will reap the reward of an increasingly digitally-savvy customer base. Those that twiddle their thumbs will see their customers switch allegiances – or worse – become antagonists.

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The Best Case Study Music in the World

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I have written case studies, I have submitted case studies for awards. And I have judged awards. But they can often be an unemotional slog.

By their nature, case studies tend toward the factual. They’re often devoid of “feelings” – and struggle to tell story of impact. But what if there was the case study equivalent of the Tenacious D song “Best Band in the World”? What if there was a way to tell a case study as a Tribute? What would that mean? And would it change things?

The good folks at ADMA have taken on this challenge – producing a song that can be readily inserted into the background of your case study video.

It’s going to turn problems, solutions and results into gold, silver and bronze trophies,” said ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster. “The air freight bill back from Cannes next year is going to be astronomical.”

But what goes into creating the best case study music in the world? Here’s a quick video of the process, featuring many of the Australia’s leading agencies and creatives in a surprising surge of collaborative spirit.

The Case Study Song of the Year can be purchased with lifetime rights and comes with a complimentary ticket to ADMA’s Creative Fuel event, Thursday August 6 at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. It’s a chance to not only hear the live premiere of this creative masterpiece – you can also hear from some of the best creative thinkers around.