This Weekend, Join Me in Twitter Poetry

Yürüyelim Seninle İstanbul'da

I was excited to receive a message this morning from Beth Wellington that more and more poets are starting to use Twitter.

This article, published in The Independent, talks about the way Twitter is allowing poets of all shapes and sizes, find new audiences and test out new technology at the same time.

Back in 2007 I setup an account called @TwitterPoetry where you could login and contribute a line to a collaborative poem. The last entry seems to have been 2010 – but perhaps it’s time to be collaboratively creative again. Here is how:

  1. Log into the TwitterPoetry account: Use the username TwitterPoetry and password wr1tetwitterpoetry and contribute a line to the growing poem (note there is a 1 in the password).
  2. Follow TwitterPoetry: Become a “follower” of TwitterPoetry and see how the poem grows as and when someone else contributes to it.

To see the whole poem, go here.

Let your creative juices flow … I look forward to reading your/our work!

Yürüyelim Seninle İstanbul'da Adnan via Compfight

Social Media & Content Marketing in 2012

At the end of each year, we look behind us at the year that was and ahead to the year that will be. Now, I am not a huge fan of predictions – they are statements bravely made and rarely revisited. But I am ALWAYS interested in connecting the dots – in the broader trends that help us understand our behaviour a little better.

Crowdsourcing is an excellent way doing this.By focusing on the opinions of people with knowledge and expertise in a particular topic, you effectively create a prediction market. And prediction markets can be surprisingly accurate.

Each year, Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute crowdsource ideas for content marketing in the year ahead. As a prediction market of ideas it can be a very useful way of generating ideas for your 2012 planning. Just make sure you cross-check with your own knowledge and business expertise. After all, the Future is a notoriously unpredictable place.

Crowdsourcing the Election – Vibewire and YouTube Combine with electionWIRE to Show How it’s Done

The Australian Election for 2010 has, thus far, been a fairly lack lustre affair. The politicians have kept to tightly scripted, rehearsed announcements designed to appeal to minutely targeted swinging voters in marginal electorates. It’s policy without vision and politics without conviction. And it’s largely why non-issues such as the “real Julia Gillard” and the deposing of former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, have generated broad coverage.

Interestingly, given the success of the grass roots, social media activation of the David Cameron and Obama campaigns, the local strategists have largely ignored social media – and the web in almost all its incarnations. As Stephen Collins suggests, it’s not the social media election we were looking for.

But one of the more interesting efforts around the election is coming from an unexpected quarter. Vibewire, the innovative, non-profit youth organisation (disclaimer: I'm a board member) have teamed up with YouTube to cover, debate and shape the political conversation over the next four weeks. They have recruited and trained young, graduate reporters from across the country and are also crowd sourcing comment and commentary through a dedicated electionWIRE channel. Back at the “Vibewire Hub” an editorial team is managing, vetting and promoting the coverage as it comes to hand.

Anyone can get involved. You can submit a video or suggest a story. And judging by the quality of the coverage and perspective already coming through, it seems that Vibewire’s mandate to showcase the skills and expertise of young media professionals is more than delivering for reporters such as Megan Weymes and Elise Worthington, it’s providing insight and new perspectives on an otherwise dull election. Be sure to check it out! 

Marketing Briefs and Designing for Collective Action

Often, when it comes to advertising and broader marketing, social media is bolted onto the side of existing programs. There’ll be a request for a “Facebook”, expectations of a Twitter account and maybe even a blog. But if you are serious about creating a successful BUSINESS program, then integration is the way to go.

“Integrated marketing” has been one of the great promises for years – but is notoriously difficult to achieve. There are different silos (and often different agencies) responsible – and budgets are often spread thinly across the campaign architecture. Unfortunately, one agency’s view of the client’s business objective is often different to another’s – and even where there is alignment, the specialty of each silo or agency will dictate a preference for approach, channel and budget.

Creating a collective view of the problem – and a shared commitment to solving it is the end game. That’s partly why I love this great presentation by Mike Arauz. On the one hand, you can read it as-is – a great investigation into the mechanisms behind collective action. So as you are going about the business of building your strategies, think about how you design for the outcome you want to achieve, and consider how the network will play a role in that.

On the other hand, think about collective action from your business or agency management point of view. How do you create the change you need to support your program? What can be designed and orchestrated to transform behaviour? And how do you use the collective intelligence genome (see slides below) to drive this all forward?

Facebook Bait and Switched My Life

Today is Quit Facebook Day – and I am in two minds. On the one hand, Facebook has been great, I have been able to easily connect to people all over the world, keeping in touch with their daily updates, their photos, the changes in their lives and the things they are reading, watching and thinking about. And it is not that I can’t do this in other ways, it’s that Facebook made it so easy for me (and for them).

But on the other hand, I have been a marketer and a technologist for over 20 years, and when I look at Facebook, I see a goldmine. I can see millions of people logging on, interacting, sharing their interests, their behaviours, their likes and dislikes not just with their “networks” but also with Facebook. And maybe even with Facebook’s partners. It is this latter form of sharing that concerns me.

The Age of unPrivacy

Anyone you speak with will have a view of privacy. Governments create legislation to enforce minimum standards on businesses, individuals join “do not call registers” to maintain some distance from brands and marketers and all the while, commentators announce the “death of privacy”.

Clearly as we shift more of our behaviour to the web, it becomes searchable – the great Google web spiders reaching out and collating the minutiae of our lives like the all-seeing eye of Sauron. If the Devil is in the details, then the scattered breadcrumbs of our online lives provide more than just a glimpse into our behaviours – they can be aggregated into patterns, codified and predicted.

This is even more pronounced in the walled garden of Facebook where our tastes and interests can be fed back to us – by Facebook ads, recommendations and suggestions. Take a look for yourself – create your own Facebook ad and you’ll see how minutely targeted your personal advertising campaign can be.

What Facebook are doing is pushing its members to allow ever more public access to our private information. It is doing so, not out of some grander view of the shifting nature of “privacy” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have us believe – there is real money to be made. As Chris Saad points out:

Most of Facebook's very mainstream users, however, still just want a private place to keep up with their friends and family. In short, the economic interests of the service are not in line with the interests of its users. Despite this, Facebook has been forced to smashed big cracks in its privacy blanket and started forcing its users, en mass, to adopt more transparent and public online personas.

Forrester analyst, Josh Bernoff suggests that Zuckerberg may well be right – that privacy isn’t a cultural norm anymore. But my view is that those active in their concern over these changes at Facebook are well ahead of the mainstream – that the issues presented won’t impact the early technology adopters in a significant way (after all, the Reclaim Privacy site has been doing a roaring trade for weeks). It’s the other 99% of Facebook’s 500 million members who are either confused by the changes, unaware of what the impact will be or simply don’t engage with these types of issues.

The Bait and Switch

At the end of Simon Mainwaring’s article on this subject he asks the question – “do you believe Facebook is to blame for a bait and switch?”. To that, I’d say yes. What was on offer has now materially changed.

For most of us, joining Facebook meant entering a social compact – we’d share the content, context and contacts of our lives – and we’d do so using Facebook’s social networking platform. We’d be able to control who had access to what we share and Facebook could monetize this in ways that worked in good faith. Accordingly, we (the public) joined en-masse. We tagged ourselves. We made Facebook the #1 photo sharing site on the web. We made it the largest social network in the world. And we helped it to transform from a bit player in the crowded social networking space to it’s leader.

Changing this compact now is difficult – and has not been communicated well. Rather than being transparent about their intentions, Facebook have opted to spin the changes, suggesting that the world has changed and that Facebook is moving to accommodate this.

As Bruce Nussbaum suggests, Facebook’s challenge is not to do with the purchase or products or services, but the exchange of value in what has become a cultural product.

Ownership in the social media world of networks is different from selling products and services in the traditional marketplace. Understanding the underlying cultural context of "free," "gift," and "creation" is important to businesses, including and perhaps especially high tech companies. It is not impossible to monetize that which is free. Apple did that with 99 cent songs on iTunes. But it is difficult.

I am always amazed to see that social networking sites such as Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Twitter) undervalue or misunderstand the importance of trust and transparency in the prosecution of their businesses. The TRUST that once existed between Facebook and at least some members of its user base has been seriously damaged in recent weeks – and the Quit Facebook Day is yet another milestone that will be marked.

So, Will You Delete Your Account?

I have a feeling that the Quit Facebook Day will come and go without a great deal of impact. At least initially. But for me, it is a turning point. It is the day on which Facebook reached its zenith – and from here the long, slow slide from prominence will begin. It happened with MySpace (which of course is still around). It happened with Friendster. And it will also happen with Facebook.

And now, I am off to delete my account. It will be replaced with a business account to manage aspects of my work – but the connections, the flavour and the personality will disappear. It’s time to find a new way to share.

What’s Mine is Yours – Collaborative Consumption

If you’re connected, you’ve seen the symptoms. Reputations are being built on the good will, personal standing and generosity exhibited by individuals, not because they want something, but because they have something TO GIVE. To share. And as these people come together – for a cause, for a moment or to make a lasting impact – they are at the same time, transforming the notion of collectivity. Gone are the happy-hippy communities of the 60s. These uber-connected communities are imaginatively grappling with the very notion of economics, of consumption – and innovation.

These communities are forming almost moment-by-moment, sustaining themselves on principles not rules. They say much about where we belong. And who we belong WITH.

In the coming months, you’ll be hearing a whole lot about collaborative consumption – the new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. In What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, the two authors track the rise of personal reputation and the way that trust between strangers is enabling new forms of commerce, consumption and collaboration.

Check out the video below for a taste of what’s to come. Maybe you’ve seen it already. Maybe you’re part of it. But without a doubt, you’ll want to read it and find out more.

Collaborative Consumption Groundswell Video from rachel botsman on Vimeo.

Performing Ourselves: Why Social Media is 25% Larger than Life

I have always been drawn to acoustic performance. I love the authentic, stripped back timbre of a singer’s voice. I like the fact that you can’t hide behind the volume or be disguised by the electronic mixing. Perhaps this is why I ended up studying theatre for years.

And my study of theatre took me to unexpected places. I went from the mainstream deep into the avante garde of the early 20th Century – spending time immersed in the dark, imaginative worlds of Frank Wedekind, Antonin Artaud and Heiner Muller. I emerged, later, in the powerfully vibrant theatres of Howard Barker, Penny Arcade and Robert Wilson – where words, identity and action burned the scripts, bounced off the walls and scarred or transformed not just the audiences, but the performers too.

I learned over the years the difference between intuition and imagination, between intelligence and understanding, and that was is written is not always what is performed. The gap between text and performance excited me. Why, for example, is one performer’s version better or worse than another’s? No matter the song, it can only be a matter of words, right?

But there is an intangible sense that comes with performance. It’s about purpose and intent, and the need to step beyond what we say. We need to inhabit the very limits of who we are – physically and emotionally. In the theatre, Etienne Decroux – a physical theatre practitioner – created a grammar for the bodily articulation of movement. He discovered that to appear REAL to an audience, performers had to appear 25 percent larger than they are. Yes, they needed to be larger than life.

In social media we see this everyday. A predominantly text based form, social media in various guises requires that we write ourselves into existence. It requires us to write as a performance. And those participants who appear REAL are larger than the words that they use, their ideas magnified through the lens of Twitter, Facebook or blogs. Look at any one of the individuals you are drawn to in social media and ask yourself how much of this person do you know? How much is real and how much is performance? Are they 25% larger than life?

In the social media world of micro-celebrity, there is much we can learn from “real” celebrities – from performers who have mastered the art of celebrity as performance.

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing my thoughts on various performers and what we can learn from them as social media participants – and what it means for brands and businesses wanting beginning or already engaged in their social media performance.

Holidays Are a Time for Free eBooks

August 29, 2009Around this time of year we often see the announcement of new books being published, new music being released and new films arriving in the cinemas – all in time for the holiday season. It’s the marketer’s year end rush – our attempt to stake our claim for your attention and your wallet. But this year, there are some differences – with a number of free alternatives bypassing their claim over our hard-earned income, hoping instead to capture our imagination.

Top of my reading list this holiday season are:

Valeria Maltoni is also pulling together a year-end, crowdsourced collection just in time for the holidays. Keep your eyes out for this – it’s due any day now!

With publishing tools now readily available, I am surprised that more brands don’t pull together some sort of publication for their customers at year end. Agencies too. It is a GREAT alternative to the staid Christmas card. And while I know that the last weeks of December are fraught with activity, going that extra step to provide your business stakeholders with an unexpected, branded gift such as an eBook shows that you understand that the new currency is not FREE but all about VALUE.

Can Curating the Crowd Work?

george 002Having worked on two, and heading into the third Age of Conversation book (bringing together hundreds of thought leaders in a single, crowdsourced book), not to mention our recent efforts around The Perfect Gift for a Man (30 crowdsourced stories reinventing manhood), I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on crowdsourcing and its potential.

But can it work for advertising? Will it work for agencies? And, perhaps, most importantly, will it work for the communities which emerge almost spontaneously to become part of a crowdsourcing project?

Unilever are putting this to the test. Via Idea Bounty, the Peperami brand are tapping the wisdom (and creativity) of the crowd to ideate their next integrated marketing campaign. Those creating the winning idea will receive a $10,000 payment and see their concept be turned into a global campaign.

But this is not a one-off – The Guardian reports, “Unilever said it has no plans to retain a full-time ad agency for the Peperami account in future.” So clearly, we are seeing the beginning of a shift – the Brand (Peperami) are moving ideation away from the agency world and reaching out directly to their customers. In response, over 1000 submissions were received.

Amelia Torode airs her concerns around crowdsourcing advertising – and the energy with which it has been taken up – raising some interesting points in the process. For example:

  • Is the $10,000 prize a rip-off? After all Unilever is one of the world’s largest consumer companies
  • Turning ideas into something more substantial takes real skill, expertise and commitment
  • Have agencies been “over-paid, over-precious, over-protective”

The comments to the post make for great reading. The debate moves from the role of creatives and interns (and whether they are ripped off by the agency business) to the process followed by Idea Bounty.

But the question that concerns me is – “is this sustainable?” Crowdsourcing is hard work. Not all ideas have legs – or can be extended across different channels and cultures. There is a real overhead – which I presume will be taken up by Idea Bounty – and it may simply be that we shift the budget from the ideation stage to the curation of those ideas. And if that is the case, have we really achieved anything? Will the ideas be better? Will the sales increase? Will the brand be more loved by its consumers?

There are many more questions … but I will leave you with this – if your customers really do become the creator of your brand, and if they are successful, do you share the spoils of the success with your community? You see, for me, crowdsourcing is not one way – and while a one-off “prize” may satisfy at first, it could easily leave a bad taste in the mouth long after the first bite. And is ANY brand ready for the kind of backlash this could generate? Are you?

The Perfect Gift for a Young Man

passageAs I made that awkward transition into adulthood, I felt like I spent years pretending to be a man. Assuming the space and stance of a man. Answering (sometimes) to the name “Mr Heaton”. But I was rarely comfortable.

It was only some years later when I felt like I stopped the pretence. But the thing is … it wasn’t a conscious decision – the facade simply fell away. I just realised one day that the energy I was investing in my own creation was now focused somewhere else. It seemed to focus into myself, rather than outwards towards others.

And from that point onwards I felt comfortable in my own skin – as if I was filling out the clothes that I had been wearing since my teens. I felt I could breathe the shape of the world and hold it in my chest. It was a revelation.

The thing is, we all come to this sense of being in our own time. And the greatest surprise is that this well of understanding is always-already deep within us. Look quietly. You’ll find it there.

——

Every man has a story – no matter his age or experience. If you know someone whose story should be told, share it with us here. Each of these stories will be published in a special publication in time for Father’s Day in September 2009.