It’s Gruen for Innovation – That Startup Show

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What is a startup? How is it different from a small business? And what role does innovation and/or technology play in a startup?

These are some of the first topics addressed by the new “entertainment startup” web-cast show, That Startup Show. Hosted by Dan Ilic and streamed live, the show takes a leaf out of ABC’s The Gruen Transfer – a smart, funny and insightful panel drilling into focused topics interspersed with clips and live pitch sessions.

Panelists Bronwen Clune, Alan Noble and Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, provide an industry perspective and Dan Ilic does a great job of keeping the conversation flowing. They take live tweet questions from the crowd and cover a vast range of topics in a very short time.

This first episode marks an important innovation in the development of the Australian startup ecosystem. It’s “StartupAus” beginning to tell its own stories at scale. And that can only be a good thing. Looking forward to Episode 2.

Influence: Be the First to Give

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In the digital world we are fascinated by influence. We want to know who has influence and we want to know who is influenced by whom. We strive for influence in our personal and professional lives and we reject the overt nature of influence that impacts us through advertising and messaging (even though it still affects us).

Robert Cialdini’s book on Influence is a must-read for marketers. His six principles of influence work together to connect intention and action and are vital to the success of any marketing activity. However, in digital and social marketing, the focus tends to rely on just two elements – social proof and liking. It’s partly why we often feel marketers and brands are “yelling” at us online. There is a simple antidote to this:

Be the first to give.

In this infographic from Everreach, summarising the six principles, they call out that proactive use of reciprocity as a “weapon of influence”. Working this way creates a faster and more immediate bond between brands and their customers. More importantly, it sets the scene for the remaining elements. So, next time – before you ask someone to buy, think about what it is that you can give.

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Disrupt Your Strategy – Planning for Audiences not Generations

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I have never been a fan of demographic profiling. Sure, this information, at scale, can reveal certain things about a population – and this can be useful to understand whether there might be a connection between our age and (for example) our propensity to over-eat. Or contract disease. Or buy new cars every four years.

But populations don’t interest me. They feel like a dead weight around my sense of, and interest in, humanity. Instead, I prefer audiences – which is perhaps why I studied theatre rather than statistics.

It’s also why I am continually fascinated by digital technology and transformation – and it is why social media continues to attract the attention of people, corporations and governments. For digital transformation is not just about bringing the non-digital world online – it’s challenging the very nature of what we consider “our selves” to be.

As marketers, we are constantly drawn to the idea of demographics – the cashed up profiling of the Baby Boomers, the anxious, try-harder Gen X-ers and the slacker Gen Ys. But like any generalisation, these labels are easily unpicked. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who are slackers and plenty of cashed up, power wielding Gen X-ers. And Gen Y are just starting to flex their creative, financial and intellectual powers – and there is more goodness to come. Rather than simply relying on this style of profiling, we should be working harder to understand these audiences. We need to map their behaviours, attitudes and interests, not just their age, sex and location.

This is why I quite like the work that marketing automation firm, Marketo, has done on Generation Z. And while, yes, they have started out with the age-focused label, the research carried out by agency, Sparks and Honey, reveals the patterns of behaviour, interests, attitudes and insights that can help build a deeper understanding of this audience. While the data reflects a US-based audience, there are cultural parallels that are useful indicators such as:

  • Do-Gooders – an interest in making a difference in the world
  • Shift FROM Facebook – Facebook lost its allure when the parents arrived. Gen Z are embracing newer platforms like snapchat, secret and whisper
  • Creation trumps sharing – Gen Z embrace the prosumer ethic of digital media creativity.

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But to really understand this “Gen Z” audience, I would go further. I wouldn’t stop at the age of 19. I would ask:

  • Why would my brand be relevant to audiences exhibiting these behaviours
  • Why would these audiences choose to purchase my product/service/thing
  • Which values embodied by my brand augments the life, behaviour, experience or purpose of this audience
  • How do these behavioural profiles help me understand my customers regardless of age / demographics

And when it comes to planning, insight and future proofing your brand, I’d look to opportunities to self-disrupt your strategy. Ditch the path of lazy profiling, put the work in to really understand your audiences, and then invite them into the process of creating a brand that has a purpose. Start by delving into the data behind the Sparks and Honey research (below) – and then work on your own business by starting with the audiences you rely upon.

More Waves of Digital Disruption: From DoubleClick to Twitter via Facebook

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FB-adcreation When DoubleClick launched their self-service advertising network it was a revelation. It provided marketers with a powerful sense of control over their advertising, its placement and spend. At the same time, it caused a level of disintermediation – with marketers taking on the media planning that was once the domain of agencies. Technology was, in effect, causing an in-sourcing within marketing departments – by providing the tools, techniques and education to succeed, DoubleClick was putting the power and knowledge in the hands of marketers who began to understand the intricate power and relationships between data, planning and budgets. DoubleClick represented a wave of digital disruption that we are still feeling today.

It was a no-brainer for Google to acquire DoubleClick in 2007 and roll its advertising network into its product line. And as they leveraged their massive advantage in search to bring additional context, targeting and data insights to bear, this advertising network became available (and useful) to smaller advertisers – to small business owners and startups – monetising the “long tail” of the internet and generating another wave of disruptive innovation in the marketing world.

And while Google has done wonders with its AdSense product, the DoubleClick heritage and its clunky user interface left it open to disruption. Into this gap stepped Facebook with its billion strong, socially connected audience, offering a slick, audience oriented interface.

With Facebook advertising, there was none of the legacy media planning/buying jargon or process dominating the interface. It was about creating very limited (or should I say “constrained”) styles of ad units and then targeting them by a range of data points – from the standard demographics (age, sex, location), to the more sophisticated  targeting of interests, connections and combinations thereof. Facebook took its cues from the disruptive trend that began with DoubleClick and pushed it further, generating a massive business in the process. Recent results showed that Facebook’s revenue rose 61% to $2.91 billion in the second quarter of 2014. This more than doubles Facebook’s profit year-on-year, up from $333 million to $791 million.

Recently, Facebook streamlined their ad creation process by following good user-experience design – focusing on the desired outcome rather than the process of advertising. By asking “what kind of results to you want for your adverts?”, Facebook were able to help novice advertisers improve their advertising. It didn’t require education or training. And it certainly did not require some certification. They used their knowledge, insight gleaned from the data generated by millions of ads and design expertise to help their advertisers make better ads.

Sure there is the more advanced ad building tools, but for many, this is good enough – and a vast improvement on the previous toolset.

And now, Twitter are also upping their game. I suspect they are hoping to disrupt the markets that DoubleClick created, Google grew and Facebook co-opted. Taking a similar approach to Facebook, Twitter now offer objective based campaigns – again, turning their big data to the advantage of their advertisers, customising workflows and creating niche outcomes like “app installs” or “leads”.

It’s an advertising product that is still being rolled out across Twitter’s global client base. It will be interesting to see how it performs when it starts being trialled by local Australian clients. But one thing is for certain – it won’t be the last wave of disruption in the digital marketing sphere. Learn more about the new Twitter offerings in the video below.

Who Do You Think You Are? Coming face to face with your ancestors in a world of big data

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LeslieHeaton JuneRowe GavinHeaton I have been working on a family tree for some years. It’s a project that progresses in fits and starts. And like many things in my life, it began because it was easy to start doing it online.

In the early days I had multiple accounts on various websites. I was using Ancestry.com for their data and loving Geni for the user interface. There were free sites, blogs and a range of other resources available which were brilliant. I scoured the online records of NSW Births Deaths and Marriages, dug into the Heaton family archives, bought self-published books, and visited local libraries.

I was excited to learn that the Heaton family tree was relatively well documented, going back over 850 years. I readily filled in details, transcribing from one website to another, validating where I could and making notes where it felt unclear. My tree grew and grew – and pretty soon I understood more about the lives of my dark, distant relatives than my second cousins. I found out that Heatons all come from the same place – a town called Heaton in Lancashire. It was described in 1870 as follows:

HEATON, a township in Deane parish, Lancashire; on the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, 2 miles WNW of Bolton. Acres, 1, 630. Real property, £4, 542; of which £109 are in mines and £250 in quarries. Pop. in 1851, 826; in 1861, 955. Houses, 180. The manor belonged to the Heaton family in the time of Edward III. Coal, building stone, and slate flags abound.

As my efforts grew, I realised I needed to commit to a single online record. I had hundreds of names and facts in my trees and it was becoming time consuming to keep all trees updated. To make matters more complicated, the owners of various records were making exclusive arrangements with one or other of the main genealogy websites which meant that you could have facts and sources competing with each other depending on which website you were using. For example, a parish record may indicate a christening 1 May 1887 – while a compilation report will show only the quarter and year (eg April-June 1887).

Eventually my separate trees began to diverge.

Not everyone has this problem. Because the Heaton line was relatively easy to follow, my tree grew quickly. But I soon found that following other paths through the tree – that those of humbler lives – rarely leave records. Sure, there are events like a birth, wedding or death – and maybe even a residence. But what of the stuff of life? What of their loves and struggles? Much of this is lost to time.

In the end I needed to use an online service that would help reveal as much of these forgotten lives as I could. I bit the bullet and I chose Ancestry.com to house all my records. There were a couple of important considerations:

  • It has a broad and growing number of digitised records and images from Colonial Australian times
  • The integration of older genealogy message boards under the one umbrella while clunky is a treasure trove of information
  • Comparing and contrasting member records helps you tap into the collective knowledge of your far-flung family members

Now, while the technology is interesting, the underlying data that the Ancestry site contains is compelling. And sure, they could do with some work on their data store – but for most people interested in family history, it’s an easy way to get started. But the most amazing thing about this big data site is the fact that it helps us tell the story of our own histories. It brings you face to face with your ancestors in a way that has never been possible before.

I am now embarking on a more micro-focused family history project that centres on Thomas Francis, my fifth great-grandfather and the first of my ancestors to arrive in Australia. He was not anyone special, really, but he was special to me and all my family. After all, like all ancestors, we wouldn’t exist without them.

But working on a family tree shows you not the importance of a name, but the equal importance of all those genetic influences. Each day I wonder what has been handed down to me from my ancestors – tastes, interests, body shapes, diseases, strengths, attitudes. Even the way I stand. Walk. Greet the world.

Who do you think you are? I’m hoping to find out a little more. And who knows, maybe we are related. And maybe, I will document it as we go so that my descendants have an easier time of it.

BTW – that’s me in the photo in between my grandparents. Now I know where I got my body shape from.

Creating a sustainable food culture with @OzHarvest for #ThinkEatSave

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In 2013, OzHarvest set themselves the goal to “feed the 5000” using rescued food. And after that first successful initiative, in 2014, the aim was to grow the one-day event significantly. For ThinkEatSave, OzHarvest partnered with with the United Nations to tackle the issues of food and nutrition security and sustainable food systems.

Some of the nation’s top chefs, politicians and celebrities united at events held across Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Newcastle to take a stance against food waste, and serve thousands of members of the public a free, delicious and hearty hot meal made from surplus produce that would have otherwise ended up as landfill.

Amazingly, food waste is currently costing Australians up to $10 billion each year, while two million people still rely on food relief – with global food loss + waste reaches 1.3 billion tonnes (yes, billion).

Here are some of the social media highlights from an amazing day

Challenges Facing the Digital Economy #SMWsyd

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As part of the planning and advisory work that I am doing with Social Media Week, Sydney, we took a few moments out recently to share our thinking on the challenges that are facing Australia’s digital economy. This video captures the hot topics according to Tiphereth Gloria, Joanne Jacobs, Katie Chatfield, Ross Dawson, Jeff Bullas and myself.

It’s shaping up to be an excellent conference. Hope you can make it.

Speak Up About Mental Health

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Thorpe-and-ParkinsonYears ago when Mark Pollard and I were working on The Perfect Gift for a Man, we felt like we were doing something important – encouraging people, men in particular – to speak up, write and share their stories. And it wasn’t just the fact that young men commit suicide at more than three times the rate of women of the same age – nor even the severe impact that depression is having on young people – that was staggering. It was the way that people and stories came out of the woodwork once we asked.

Stories are a powerful way of connecting – but they do need to find a space in which to be told. Vibewire’s recent “Serial Issue” on Mental Wellbeing unearthed some great stories, showcased some new technologies and revealed surprising statistics about mental health in Australia.

And Ian Thorpe’s interview with Michael Parkinson last night was a great step forward in the conversation about mental health. As Jonathan Nicholas, CEO of ReachOut.com says, “The positive impact that will result from Ian’s eloquent discussion of his struggles will be felt by young people right around the country today.”

But making sure this impact continues to build momentum, there are some things that you can do:

  1. Share this ReachOut.com fact sheet on coming out
  2. Post this information about self-help for Depression
  3. Email these stress strategies to young people you know
  4. Talk about bullying with your family tonight
  5. Call at least 1 young person you know today and remind them that they’re loved

In addition, if there are young people you know going through tough times, please let them know that help exists:

  1. For a safe and anonymous online service there’s ReachOut.com
  2. For face to face counselling there’s headspace
  3. For telephone support there’s Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 & Lifeline 13 11 14

And remember, speak up about mental health. It’s hard for it to stay hidden when it’s discussed in the light of day.

Going Viral for all the Wrong Reasons

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Every time someone reads, clicks or shares a link or piece of content that we have created, it sends a small dose of dopamine into our brain. This release provides us with a sense or reward, pleasure – and encouragement. It’s why (for the marketer) digital marketing or social media can be addictive. It is also why those who don’t use social media fail to understand the way that participation can become contagious – or how content can go “viral”.

Unfortunately, the concept of “virality” has positive and negative connotations. And while the highs that come with a viral “hit” can be dwarfed by the lows that come with a viral “miss”. Where once we held that there was no such thing as bad PR, we now know that there IS such a thing as bad social media – and there are very real impacts on our reputation (personal and corporate) and even downsides for our corporation’s share price.

For those who have one eye on the audience and another on your corporate reputation, Sprinklr’s recent whitepaper on crisis management will be a must-read. Covering the five essentials for crisis preparation, it includes a handy score card to help you assess when a crisis is likely to move from medium to critical, and even includes a sample flowchart which you can adapt to your own organisation.

The whitepaper by Rick Reed (Intel), Melissa Agnes (Agnes + Day) and Sprinklr’s Ali Ardalan and Uyen Nguyen is a handy document to model your own crisis plan on. And it might just be your saviour should you find yourself “going viral” for all the wrong reasons. Download your copy here (registration required).

Tales of the One in Ten

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Disadvantage can shape an entire life. This short, animated film by The Smith Family called, David & the Big Heavy, follows the true story of a young boy struggling to cope with issues at home and school as his family adjusts to life in a new country.

But then something happens that he could never have imagined.

Watch and share and help change someone else’s story.