Time for Parents to Step Up as Digital Role Models

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Working in digital and social media means you are often drawn into quite personal conversations with people. And by “conversations” I don’t just mean “discussions” or “chats” – but one way broadcasts where your only interaction may be to virtually “nod” (via a “Like”), acknowledge or amplify a situation (via sharing or a retweet). For while social media allows us to “engage” or interact with others, the vast majority don’t. Most of us are “lurkers”.

Lurkers are the 90% of people who use social media to observe. Watch. Listen in. It’s only 1% who create this content. We call this the 90-9-1 rule – or the “1 percenters”.

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You may only be “Friends on Facebook”, but this can expose you to a vast insight into a person’s life. For example, lurking you will learn about:

  • Private details – birthdays, relationships status, holidays, workplace, friends and networks
  • Lifestyle – favourite restaurants, foods, cafes, sports, hobbies, games
  • Travel – holiday destinations, desires, interests.

Social media reveals the pattern of your life

Now it all sounds innocuous enough, but think about all these pieces of information put together. What does it reveal? It reveals the pattern of your life. Every item that you post, share, click, promote and comment on can be found in your own feed. Perusing a Facebook profile page essentially provides a glimpse into your private world. For while you may feel that you are just sharing an inspirational quote with your loved ones, it generally means that you are sharing that quote with the friends of your friends. And in isolation you can easily ask – does this tell the “story of me” – and do I feel comfortable with strangers thinking that?

In fact, researcher Sam Gosling and author of Snoop – what your stuff says about you, uses his psychological framework, observation and analysis to explain how our small objects and personal spaces reveal a great deal about ourselves. While his research methodology centres on the analysis of personal bathrooms – his OCEAN framework has also been deployed as a Facebook technology to generate insights from Facebook profiles.

So when you see that 50 people have Liked one of your posts, the 1 Percenters rule suggests that more than 10x that number have “seen” it. And while this doesn’t mean that your update or profile has gone “viral”, it is far from private.

Think of the children

As an adult, this is not that frightening, right? But think of the role modelling that is taking place here. Especially for those who are parents – or who have high levels of interaction with children.

Telstra’s Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time Survey asked 1348 Australian parents of children aged 3-17 about their own use of devices. They also surveyed these parents on their children’s use of technology. The research revealed:

  • 65% of parents don’t think they’re good role models when it comes to device usage
  • 77% of parents considered putting controls on the device but 33% didn’t know what is available or HOW to implement it

It is that second bullet point that concerns me the most. Telstra provides Cyber Safety information available via their website, including links to:

  • eSmart – a cyber safety behaviour-change initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, aimed at schools and libraries
  • Smart Controls for customer mobile accounts that can create restrictions on devices
  • Online Security – tools for broadband customers designed to keep your family safe

In the survey, when children were asked about perceptions of their parents’ device usage, 12 per cent said the amount of time their parent spends on their device impacts how well they look after their family, and a further nine per cent say the amount of time their parents spend on their device takes away from their family time.

Telstra’s Cyber Safety Manager, Shelly Gorr, said:

The results are a reminder to parents that they’re a key influencer on their children’s online behaviour.

Moving beyond screen time

There are plenty of additional insights coming from the survey – especially around the often vexed subject of screen time. How much is too much? How do you manage it? Why should you? Most of this is subjective – and dependent upon your own style of parenting. And while there is a real risk related to screen time – there is also much hype, conflicted and skewed research supporting both more and less screen time for kids. But surely this is not  a question of technology – but a question of “what kind of family” and “what kind of adults” are you preparing for the world.

If it is time for parents to step up as digital role models, there’s also a need for support for those parents. We are currently putting together a simple online course for parents interested in protecting their family online – and managing the effects of screen time. If you are interested in this, sign up below and we’ll let you know when it is available.

Register your interest in cyber safety course



Look at Me-When Screen Time Changes Lives

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Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
— Val Doonican

In my childhood home we listened to both kinds of music – country and western. There was none of this “modern” country – it was heavily loaded with Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride and Waylon Jennings. There was a smattering of Willie Nelson, albums of Dolly Parton before 9 to 5, and even some Elvis. Of course, there was Slim Dusty. But one of my Nan’s favourites was Val Doonican’s Walk Tall. She would say it was more than a song – it was a handbook for life.

The concept of looking the “world right in the eye” is deeply ingrained in us. Certainly in Western culture. So much so that we believe it’s hard to look someone in the eye and lie. This has been debunked as a myth, but its cultural currency remains strong. In 1997, Dr Arthur Aron published a paper that showed simply staring into the eyes of a stranger for four minutes uninterrupted can have a massive impact on the development of “closeness” or “relationships”. Recently, this was charmingly re-enacted (under more open conditions) by Mandy Len Catron and written up in the New York Times.

But what happens if a person you love – a child – your child – won’t look you in the eye? This is the case for many parents of children with autism:

People with an autism have difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships. They do not respond to many of the non-verbal forms of communication that many of us take for granted like like facial expressions, physical gestures and eye contact.

But what if that could be changed? And what if technology could help?

Samsung in Korea worked with universities to create an app that taught autistic kids to look at faces, decypher emotions and understand what is going on with the person they are “communicating” with. The Look At Me app is the result:

The Look at Me app aims to improve an individual’s ability to make eye contact. A multidisciplinary team of clinical psychologists, cognitive psychologists, and psychiatrists have dedicated their participation in developing the app curriculum. The app is currently under clinical testing to verify its effectiveness through research. The app keeps children motivated and highly concentrated by using the camera function of digital devices that often appeal to children’s interests.

And now, following the success of the app in Korea, Samsung Canada is donating 200 tablets preloaded with the Look At Me app to Autism Speaks Canada.

This is technology that really has the potential to change lives. It brings technology, creativity, health and psychology together in an ingenious way. And at least in some households, it will be perfectly acceptable to have plenty of “screen time”. It would be great to see the same kind of program here in Australia.

HT: Digital Buzz Blog

Improve your Business and Your Mind with Slideshare

Point of no return

The idea of continuously learning seems like a “no brainer” to me. Being naturally curious, I have always sought out knowledge – and have been lucky to find it in abundance. But my efforts have never been idle – they have never been for the sake of knowledge alone. For while I love acquiring knowledge, I love – even more – the thought of turning that knowledge into action. Doing. Making.

And now with an abundance of learning opportunities via the web, everywhere I look I see opportunity. There are blogs written by whip smart innovators, thinkers and doers. There are YouTube channels teaming with tips, insights and edutainment. There are the moocs, open learning platforms and iTunesU.

There is so much content to learn that it’s literally impossible to consume it all. So that means being selective.

So if you are looking for some great, simple and effective ways to improve your business and your mind, take a look at Slideshare’s Must-Read Decks from 2014. There are dozens of recommendations that you can dip in and out of, bookmark and revisit. What are you waiting for? Just get started below!

Imagens Evangélicas via CompfightPoint of no return Bada Bing via Compfight

Australian Online Retail Grows – But Did You?

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eWAY-holiday-retail-spendingAn interesting report has been released by eWay – the online payments gateway that powers more than 17,000 Australian online stores. Showing a 20 percent year-on-year growth for the mid-November to mid-January period, the results bode well for the struggling retail industry.

The report reveals that with traditional sales kicking in on Boxing Day (26 December), the industry received a much needed boost. Over $35 million was spent not in-store, but from the comfort of our living rooms. But rather than a “holiday spike”, there was a consistency in spending online. “It was very steady. eWAY recorded higher sales and transactions volumes in October than we did in December”, said Matt Bullock, founder and CEO of eWay.

Processing 1 in every 4 dollars spent locally online, eWay have extrapolated their data to reveal a surge in retail over the Christmas/New Year period. Interestingly, this seems to have been mirrored by the retail growth experienced by Harvey Norman. Fairfax media reports that after a surge in its share price, Harvey Norman explained, “The big sales increase was in the December-January period. It’s only a week, and there are 52 weeks in a year, but it’s a positive sign”. And while sales were strong across the board, sales of the FitBit seem to be riding a #BackToFitness trend associated with new year resolutions and holiday over indulgence (yes, guilty as charged).

Unfortunately, the data from Harvey Norman does not reveal a split between online and offline sales. eMarketer, meanwhile, has released estimates claiming that retail ecommerce will grow 14 percent this year, passing $10 billion. This would seem a safe bet given eWay’s calculation that Q4 2014 sales accounted for close to $4.5 billion.

But what does this all mean?

Without a doubt, the retail industry is being disrupted. Consumers are discovering, debating and deciding on products well ahead of reaching out to retailers or visiting stores (with stores often only used for the convenience of immediate delivery). So if you ONLY have a bricks and mortar store, now is the time to being investing in your digital strategy. And if you already have a digital presence, now is the time to build out your customer experience strategy.

Top Social Media Trends for 2015

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In the world of social media and content marketing, we talk about the “Three Bs” of content. You can either:

  • Buy – pay for the creation of content
  • Build – make content yourself
  • Borrow – share the great work of other

And around this time of year, we start seeing blog posts, articles and presentations on the trends for the year ahead. And while I have my own ideas about what is coming and whether (any of it) is important, my former SAP colleague, Natascha Thomson has put together a quick-to-read presentation on the 2015 trends which I thought I’d borrow. Since leaving SAP, Natascha has been running her MarketingXLerator consultancy from San Francisco’s Bay Area. You can contact her via her website.

Celebrate the Stuff You Already Own

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I never wanted to be a businessman. All I wanted was to do my craft … and climb mountains.
Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

Origin stories are vitally important for your business. They are vital for the way that your customers perceive and engage with you and they are vital for your employees. But the reason they are important is because they provide us all with a narrative that speaks to our sense of purpose.

Often when we think of purpose, we think of our “mission” statements – or our “vision”. But purpose goes beyond these often banal statements. Purpose speaks to our hearts not to our heads. If it is not a driving energy, then it’s only words on a page.

The challenge is that our “purpose” is hard to define.

And in many ways, this is why it is so important. It is what marks us out as unique or worthy of attention. It’s both an energy that propels us and a sense of gravity that attracts others.

Watching this video was an interesting experience. It’s not really a documentary about the clothing brand, Patagonia. It’s the story of the business’ owners and customers. It is brand storytelling at its finest. As Mitch Joel explains, this is how your brand should tell a beautiful story. And one of the things the video does well is that it shares Patagonia’s purpose. In doing so, it not only attracts an audience, it brings them into the experience of the story.

And while not all of us have the kind of budget that allows us to produce a 30 minute case study of this quality, every single business has an origin story. And telling that story can transform your business and the relationships you create around it. So I wonder, how are you telling your origin story today?

Six Marketing Visionaries Look to the Future

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The Economist Intelligence Unit has interviewed six marketing visionaries who are sharing their insights of what the future of marketing looks like.  The “Future of Marketing” initiative is sponsored by Marketo, and publishes conversations with Seth Godin, John Hagel, Aditya Joshi, Marc Mathieu, Jim Stengel and myself. It makes for great, and varied reading, with each person taking a particular path to the future:

  • Seth Godin encourages us to make stories worth telling. He argues that marketing is about everything and that today’s marketer must be embedded within what  the company makes, working and pushing towards what the customer wants.
  • John Hagel says that marketing is just experiencing the tip of the iceberg in terms of transformative change. We are going to see more marketers having to work with what he calls the “three As” – attract, assist, affiliate. The “power of pull” means we need to work to attract customers, help pre and post purchase, and find new models to help customers help each other.
  • Gavin Heaton discusses PANDA – a framework for the future of marketing. Tapping into purpose, analytics, networks, digital and art (yes art), marketing will not only remain relevant as a business and consumer facing profession, it will help drive brands and companies to deliver greater value to its stakeholders, customers and networks.
  • Aditya Joshi looks at the skill base at the marketers of the future. And by future, he means now. Clearly we need to be investing in marketing teams to build out strategic thinking, analysis capabilities to derive insights and develop actionable plans and technology abilities to help organisations straddle marketing and IT.
  • Marc Mathieu also speaks of massive change. Technology is infusing how we connect with people, learn from them, connect with entrepreneurs and engage with audiences. But perhaps the most challenging aspect is a central shift in purpose – “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it”.
  • Jim Stengel breaks the future into three components, personalisation, automation and purpose (yes it’s a theme). He also flags storytelling as a mechanism to encompass the whole approach. “You don’t have a story unless you have purpose, have ambition, and are trying to make a difference in the world. More and more, people care about where brands come from”.

Take your time and read one of these interviews per day. There are insights that you don’t need to wait five years for – they are practices that you can embed in your thinking now and prepare for out to 2020. After all, the future is a moving feast. Take your seat at the table.

Why Clients Really Fire Agencies-And other insights from the SoDA Report

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No matter whether there is a change in CMO or marketing director or whether it’s time for a review, agency management can be an emotional challenge. Over years of collaboration, organisations build collaborative ways of working together – processes, systems and tools become intertwined. People become friends. Colleagues. Even partners. So what really happens when a client fires an agency? Darren Woolley has an answer that may surprise you.

As Founder and CEO of TrinityP3, Woolley has a particular view on how and why the client-agency comes undone. “The sum of the parts equal an underlying whole … which is they no longer feel the love and commitment”. The challenge, however, is that this is an emotional response to a situation, but the business focus remains on the work being performed. As a result, the agency may respond to the client’s feedback technically or creatively while not addressing the client’s feelings of dissatisfaction. This is a recipe for disaster.

In his chapter for the SoDA Report on Digital Marketing, Woolley goes into more detail, suggesting that there are four critical junctures for the relationship:

  1. When a new marketing leader is appointed – it’s review time, so the focus on rapid relationship building is essential
  2. Before the honeymoon ends – don’t wait until the goodwill is gone, start proactive account management from day 1
  3. Quiet periods – the challenge is to remain visible, provide value but don’t appear to be wasting time and money
  4. Performance pressure – when the work is underperforming, tensions are bound to arise.

Navigating the professional and emotional tightrope is always challenging. But going that extra mile really never hurt any relationship.

The SoDA Report’s Digital Marketing Outlook is a great snapshot of the industry. Covering topics from the modern marketer to technology, with a couple of handy case studies thrown in, it’s a fantastic resource to inspire your 2015 planning.

Facebook Charts the Course to 2025

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Strong third quarter earnings were posted by Facebook this week, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg set the stage for a year of investment ahead, with a ten year horizon. Facebook’s expenses are expected to grow between 50% and 70% next year, and the company looks set to not only aggressively scale its various app based technologies, but also recruit the best and brightest talent.

With almost 8400 employees, Facebook has grown 44% since last year. As CFO Dave Wehner explained:

… we’re investing where we think there is a great opportunity for long-term growth and that’s going to be really investing and continuing to grow the talent base of the Company. So, we’re investing in the people and that’s a big part of it.

On the user side, Facebook reports that over 1.35 billion people use the social network each month with 64% logging in daily.  On mobile – yes mobile – 703 million people login daily – signalling a massive 40% growth since last year.

Not content to simply keep pace, Facebook are pushing ahead with a substantial technology investment planned. The plan with 3, 5 and 10 year horizons is for Facebook to develop and grow multiple products to scale ahead of monetisation. On that agenda are WhatsApp, Messenger, Search, Video, NewsFeed, Oculus and Instagram.

Interestingly enough, for the majority of its social network users, Facebook is a single, broad product, with an abundance of features spooling kraken-like into our digital experiences. The push to hive off products across the social network platform (like the recently calved Messenger), however, signal a more strategic understanding of both the business opportunity and the audience behaviours.

With a core platform providing a consistency of experience, Facebook is well placed to aggressively invest in a next generation computing platform – based on augmented reality and Oculus. However, there are significant hurdles to overcome, even with a 10 year horizon. And that heavy investment will need to be focused around transforming the ungainly augmented reality hardware that limits the broad appeal of Oculus in order to avoid a fate similar to Google’s ill-conceived Glass.

Leaving that aside, Zuckerberg’s understanding of audience and scale and the commercial approach to technology and monetisation underpins both the investments and the product strategy. Turning his attention to Search and News Feed, he explained:

Some of the things like Search and some of these other products, this may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about a 1 billion people using them. And so for Facebook, we’re there with News Feed and that’s why in the near term our priority is really around continuing to grow and serve that community and making sure that the business around News Feed and those mobile ads fully reach their potential. [my emphasis.]

Throwing these large numbers around seems trite until we break it down. Thinking through platforms at scale – with 1000 million people as a user base for several products at a time – means operating at a scale that few of us can imagine. In Zuckerberg’s own words:

But I do think that this is such a big opportunity ahead of us. I can’t think of that many other companies or products that have multiple lines of products that are on track to reach and connect 1 billion that have a clear path of how we can turn them into a business.

The path to 2025 has been laid out – and it looks like quite a journey ahead. But looking back to 2005 I could hardly imagine the 2015 we have in front of us. I’m guessing Facebook’s investors are consulting their psychics and calling on their resident futurists. And well they might, there’s certainly a lot at stake.

You can read the full transcript of the earnings call on SeekingAlpha.com.

The Surprising Truth about Transforming the Customer Experience with Digital

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Are your employees doing the right thing? Are your teams empowered to make the right decision for your customers? At the Constellation  Research Connected Enterprise conference, moderator, Esteban Kolsky, Board of Advisor, Constellation Research, grilled a panel of customer experience innovators on just how “digital” was transforming the customer experience.

The panel included:

  • Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Officer, Gainsight
  • George Wright, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Thunderhead
  • Howard Tarnoff, Senior Vice President, Ceridian
  • Dave Pennington, Principal, Business Strategy, Microsoft.

It’s a great, short video with a few surprises. Some of my favourite quotes:

  • There’s no such thing as a sales process – there’s only a buying experience
  • It’s time for marketing to shut up
  • What’s the next disruptive thing? It’s engagement
  • The days of the check-in call are over
  • It’s not all about the data
  • Engagement doesn’t mean offer management

The Surprising Truth

But the most interesting thing to me was the focus on culture. We see it over and over again – and it is the most difficult challenge for organisations. While you can buy technology, you can’t buy the hearts, minds and engaged focus of your employees.

And while they may have all the customer data ever needed, without the right focus, support and attitude, you still won’t get the sale.

Need to harmonise your approach? Or bring technology and people together? We can help.