Stop Talking at Me, No one is Listening-Slides from the DiG Festival

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I have just returned (and recovered) from Newcastle’s DiG Festival. I had expected it to be an Australian SXSW and I was not disappointed.

Newcastle in NSW’s Hunter Region, turned on the weather and the charm, playing host to hundreds of festival participants, local businesses and a swarm of innovators keen to connect. The festival itself was a tightly run, but eclectic mix of topics, speakers, academic research and workshops. Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank and with backing from the University of Newcastle, PwC and local startup accelerator, Slingshot, the festival brought together the research, business, startup and innovation communities in a unique format over two days.

There were various streams all happening at the same time – with talks in the main hall, workshops close by, networking out by the bar, and an open innovation team challenge upstairs. People were constantly weaving between the spaces – dropping into workshop sessions, popping out to network and share information, heading out for in-depth discussions over coffee or settling in for the meaty topics in the main hall. There was a real buzz and energy that was backed by some serious, high-powered speakers.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Nick Aronson got everyone fired up around the “future of payments” on day 1, and Jeff Julian rounded out the day with a jaw-dropping demonstration of his creative prowess. The day 2 keynote from Pandora’s Jane Huxley had everyone tapping their feet to the music and IBM’s Catherine Caruana-McManus dazzled at day’s end with a vision for a smarter, more sustainable cities. Topping and tailing the festival this way provided a strong focus to an inaugural event and demonstrated the way that businesses and communities are collaborating in innovative new ways.

But it wasn’t just the keynotes that showed the quality of the festival. Many of the attendees could also have presented on-stage – there were thought leaders, business and community leaders and startup entrepreneurs with dozens of ideas and projects well underway.

I presented “Stop Talking at Me. No one is Listening: The New Physics of the Consumerverse” – and had a great time in front of a great audience. I was followed by the powerhouse insight of retail guru, Nancy Georges. I believe all of the presentations were recorded and will be made available online in the near future. Be sure to check out the DiG Festival website for updates.

And in the meantime, pencil DiG Festival into your 2014 schedule. This was just the beginning, and it’s only going to get better from here.

DiG Festival – Finally a SXSW for Australia

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When the South by SouthWest (SXSW) Festival burst onto the scene in 1987, the music and media conference in Austin, Texas attracted just 700 participants. By 1992, when one of my favourite alt-country acts, Michelle Shocked keynoted (and caused all kinds of controversy), there were 3000 registrants. By 1994, film and multimedia was included in the burgeoning festival and the man in black, Johnny Cash, keynoted. Veruca Salt and Presidents of the United States of America rocked the local establishments.

By 2002 when innovation guru, Lawrence Lessig spoke on the importance of a robust public domain and explained the concept of the Creative Commons, the Interactive part of the festival had been running for five years. There were 6300 participants, over 1000 acts/presenters, and Courtney Love drew the biggest ever non-keynote audience.

In 2010, the Interactive festival attendance out-gunned the music festival – attracting over 14,000 participants. danah boyd keynoted along with Ev Williams from Twitter and the eponymous Umair Haque.

Over the last 25 years, SXSW has transformed contemporary culture’s relationship with art, music, film and interactive/digital media. The Festival has launched or reinvigorated the careers of many of the digital world’s biggest names – and SXSWi continues to be the preferred conference for launching new products and platforms – or for amplifying the presence of new technology with the most influential influencers in the digital domain. Just some of examples include:

  • Twitter – not launched, but amplified into our consciousness at SXSW 2007
  • Foursquare – the location based social network launched at SXSW in 2009 and successfully completed a funding round six months later
  • Tim Ferris – the now famous author who only works four hours a week (yeah sure) launched his book at SXSW in 2007. I bet he worked more than four hours that week.

Over the years, the festival has not just transformed the lives of entrepreneurs, the prospects of startups and many of those who attend. It has also transformed Austin too.

For years I have been surprised that no Australian equivalent has appeared.

Enter DiG Festival in Newcastle

I can recall speaking some years ago with Craig Wilson, managing director of leading digital agency Sticky, about how a “local SXSW” would  transform the local digital and startup ecosystem. But not content to sit back and wait for such a conference to magically appear, Craig who is also founder of InsiderJobs.com.au and NLYZR.com along with Steph Hinds, founder of Growthwise Accountants and Eclipse Media, Events and PR – a well-respected Exhibition and Event Management organisation have banded together to create the DiG Festival.

Focusing on design, interactive and Green-tech, the “Australasian DiG Festival and Conference will feature a series of Keynote Presentations, Panels, Performances and Workshops lead by international, national and local industry leaders. There will be a strong emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and ethical business”.

To be held 2-5 October – it’s a great chance to immerse yourself in the world of digital thought leadership, design, innovation and startup culture. There is a strong and inspiring line-up of speakers, workshops and events – and the glorious Newcastle beaches and thriving food and cafe scene is a short walk from most of the venues. You can even experience, first hand, the amazing creativity that is part of the Renew Newcastle project which has transformed vacant city shop spaces into vital cafe, craft and art spaces across Newcastle.

And just as SXSW has become a by-word for geek-cool, DiG Festival is aiming to tread the same path. Will you be able to tell your colleagues and friends that you were there for the FIRST DiG? Clearly the Commonwealth Bank see the opportunity, having come on as a sponsor. Registration is open – I hope to see you there!

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Are You Ready to Race to the Future?

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Palm Zire - Hotsync no more!Do you remember the Palm Pilot? Billed as a “PDA” – a personal digital assistant, it was a phone with an address book, could read your writing and translate it into text and it could even do basic emailing if you worked it hard enough. In many ways it was ahead of its time.

Since that time I have had all kinds of phones – from functional mobile phones to various BlackBerry devices and iPhones. And each device has been a marked improvement on its predecessor. These devices are not just add-ons to the way we live anymore – they are part and parcel of our lives. And when we leave them behind, lose them or find ourselves out of coverage, it’s as though we have lost a limb. A really useful, vital limb.

But the most amazing thing about these devices is not the technology. It’s the changes in behaviour that have seeped into our lives driven by the technology. Think about it:

When we discover a new place for a weekend away, we …

We don’t just absorb the ambience, take a moment to write a letter or postcard to send to family and friends and open a celebratory bottle of sparkling. We check-in or claim the space on Foursquare and Facebook. We take a photo of the view, capture the latitude and longitude on our GPS and share the image via Instagram. That then gets pushed to Twitter. We make an update via social networks, take another snap of that cold glass of sparkling wine and let our friends know that we wish they were with us. Then we wait for responses – Likes, tips from other friends who have checked-in nearby and suggestions for delicious nearby takeaway. Meanwhile the sun sets (more photos, skyburn this time, you know you love it), another glass is poured and we feel warm knowing that even when we’re on the edge of civilisation that we are still connected. Sometimes, shock horror, the wifi drops out causing a moment of anguish (hashtag #firstworldproblems). But a quick router reset puts the world to right.

The thing is, that we are not only always-connected, it is almost a precondition for pleasure. Our personal compass has become gamified, socialised and part of a connected, data-driven personal empire. It’s like slide night at Aunty Pat’s – just on a grand scale. The question is how far can you go? How close can we get to the edge of a digital network. And if we step beyond, is our authentic experience real if it is not reported?

We race ever faster towards the future, but are we prepared for it? Have we thought our participation through – from an environmental, economic and ethical point of view? Have we considered the energy required to power this lifestyle? And what education do we need and what should be delivered to the coming generations? And what role does entrepreneurship play?

These “Six Es” form the theme of the Creative Innovation 2013 Asia Pacific conference. Held in Melbourne, 27-29 November, it features over 40 global leaders, innovators and thinkers. It’s your chance to join big and small business, entrepreneurs, educators, creative and government leaders,
emerging talent and leading thinkers from around the World, Asia and Australia.

Book any early bird tickets for Ci2013 before 15 September and save up to $615. And be sure to use the code E6 to secure a further 10% discount.

Palm Zire - Hotsync no more!Creative Commons License Ian Lamont via Compfight

Get Along to the ADMA Global Forum

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These days with the rapid changes in technology, new thinking in digital and social media and constant experimentation with both, every week seems to be a “big week”. But this week, the ADMA Global Forum is running – bringing marketers and technologists face to face.

There are some interesting masterclasses on branding, creativity, data/analytics and engagement strategy from some of the world’s leading marketers. There’s also a raft of local and international speakers bound to provide plenty of provocative juice to your 2014 marketing plans. Personally I am looking forward to the Ted Rubin keynote and Aden Forrest’s session on marketing automation.

There is also the “Innovation Zone” – a showcase of marketing and tech vendors, the Innovation Zone Party, breakfasts on big data and international leadership – and my favourite – Grill the Honcho – a chance for up-and-coming young marketers to get in front of CEOs, CMOs and GMs to ask the big career questions.

Let me know if you are going – it’d be great to catch up.

Vibewire’s #fastBREAK – Take Action

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On the last Friday of every month, Vibewire in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, hosts fastBREAK. Now in its third year, fastBREAK has become an essential part of the Australian creative industries scene – providing a vital showcase for young innovators, artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. The event attracts an eclectic audience, with artists mixing with business people, ballerinas rubbing shoulders with bankers and social entrepreneurs sharing breakfast with venture capitalists and investors. And most importantly of all, it is an event that encourages cross-generational conversations – where people of all ages are inspired to network and engage, fuelled by powerful ideas, great coffee and a creative breakfast from the Black Star Pastry.

Join us for fastBREAK: Technicolour

The next event is scheduled for 26 July and will have the theme “technicolour”. It promises to be provocative and stimulating:

Since the invention of Technicolor in 1916, the world of cinema and television have been brought to life with vivid contrasts and saturated colours, infusing both life and character into the film reel and captivating the imaginations of both adults and children around the world.

By injecting their own character and perspective into real life scenarios, some have been able to bring more colour into the lives of others. Now, that same passion and imagination is being brought back to life through the efforts of this month’s fastBREAK speakers.

You can pick up your tickets here – it’s the best $10 you’ll spend in Sydney.

Adobe Symposium Sydney – Sets the Eagles Amongst the Clouds

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Over the last few years, Adobe has been quietly acquiring companies, building and extending their enterprise focused suite of products and – to some surprise – integrating and consolidating their marketing software into a powerful “marketing cloud”.

At today’s digital marketing symposium, Adobe showcased much of this hard work – with products that are focused around their four pillars:

  • Listen
  • Predict
  • Assemble
  • Deliver

They have done the hard work of consolidating the various platforms into a cohesive and comprehensive offering built around marketing roles and functions. But of course, recent acquisitions like marketing automation platform Neolane takes all this to a new level. I fully expect to see a new pillar – “automate” – being added to the pillars in the next 12-18 months.

I will look to take a deeper dive into each of the aspects of the marketing cloud, but this Storify captures the events of the conference – from presentations to case studies and demos. I even tried out Vine as a way of capturing some of the demos.

But one thing is clear in amongst all the hype of the day and the power of the presentations – Adobe’s marketing cloud takes enterprise software to a new UI level. And the promise of the integrated offerings will have traditional marketers wanting to go digital and digital marketers needing to know more about traditional approaches.

The Participatory Revolution

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As part of the Vivid Ideas Festival, innovator, Michelle Williams (founder of Ideaction) curated a knock out event designed to transform the thinking of business, creative and innovation professionals. The resulting one day conference brought together an eclectic mix of speakers, audience members and yes, active participants. If you were like me and could not make it in person, this Storify stream is the next best thing. And Michelle promises a video stream some time in the future.

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SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference

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Content Marketing in Australia Needs a Wakeup Call

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The Content Marketing Institute’s new report on Content Marketing in Australia is timed nicely for the upcoming Content Marketing Conference (4-6 March 2013). The report contrasts the content marketing approaches taken by marketers in Australia vs the USA and reinforces much that we already know:

  • Over 60% of marketers expect to increase or significantly increase their expenditure on content marketing in 2013
  • Australian B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn as a social channel while B2C prefer Facebook
  • B2B marketers allocate higher proportions of their budget to content marketing activities than their B2C counterparts
  • A large proportion of marketers outsource content creation (B2C 74% // B2B 54%)

These findings, however, should raise alarm bells for CMOs across Australia.

  • Poor digital capabilities inhibit success. While 96% of Australian marketers use content marketing, the tactical choices favour traditional marketing channels with much lower levels of investment in experimentation and digital engagement. Marketers should set aside greater levels of budget to experiment and innovate around digital and social media. Training and workshop/conference attendance  should be provided to help more traditional marketers to transition their skills.
  • Weak digital strategy delivers weak outcomes. Weakness in digital strategy is seeing a misalignment between content marketing objectives/focus and measures of success. Marketers should draw upon skilled digital practitioners beyond their organisation (and even their industry), to begin to correctly align their business and marketing strategies.
  • Conservative channel choice cripples engagement. Marketers the world over are challenged to create engaging content, yet continue to focus on non-digital channels which produce high-levels of engagement. Again, experimentation is vital. Also, look to pure-play agencies to bolster internal skills for particular marketing programs – for example, work with a social media agency on a social media project, bring in a digital experience expert to reinvigorate the online customer experience.
  • Lack of effectiveness is undermining confidence. Content marketing effectiveness levels remain abysmally low, undermining confidence in marketers and the work produced by their agencies and suppliers. After correctly aligning strategy (as noted above), marketers should build metrics and analytics dashboards to report on effectiveness. Investigate options from companies like Anametrix.
  • Executive buy-in to content marketing needs to be revitalised: Connecting results with effort will give marketers the tools to gain buy-in from their Boards and from senior executives. Investments in analytics and reporting software that aggregates multi-channel data should be prioritised.

The detailed report appears below.  Remember to check out the Content Marketing Conference, using the code CMI200 will save you $200 when registering.

Event Report: ConnectingUp.org’s Social Media Forum

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Connecting Up is a not for profit organisation that provides vital products, resources and programs designed to make the Australian not for profit and community sector stronger and more resilient. As part of this charter, Connecting Up recently held a social media forum in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, showcasing the work of local organisations and sharing approaches and best practices.

In each of the locations I delivered a keynote address designed to set the scene – “Signs on the Road Ahead”. Rather than covering the basics of digital strategy and planning, many not for profits have moved beyond the social media basics and are looking for more targeted information. The aim was to provide communicators with a heads up on some of the trends and disruptions taking place in the world of digital communications. From this starting point, the participants then heard case studies from innovators working with not for profit organisations based in each city – rounding out a fantastic day with Q+A and an inspirational wrap up from Connecting Up’s Ben Teoh.

Adelaide – the hotbed of social media innovation

I am always amazed at the vibrance and innovation that emanates from the social media scene in Adelaide. The evening before the forum I was able to spend some time with some of the speakers and some of the energetic people who drive much of the online creativity coming out of Adelaide. It was clear that social media is maturing as a business discipline and Adelaide businesses are fortunate to be able to call upon professionals like Michelle Prak and Mal Chia.

During the presentation from Ben Osborne (University of Adelaide), many around the room were hastily taking notes and jotting down tips for handling challenging and sometimes volatile communities. His communications and crisis management flow chart was a huge hit and showed just how much planning and thought had gone into not only handling issues, but generating engagement and activating students across the campus.

Petra Durvocinova from RiAus sent all the geeks in the audience into paroxysms of bliss talking about science, story telling and community building. Linking curiosity, emotion, imagination and research together, Petra explained how storytelling can help audiences discover the wonders of science. The use of Livestreaming was a great opportunity to test and learn for RiAus, but the identification and nurturing of those passionate science communicators within the community was seen as essential to the long term success of their social media efforts.

Noriko Wynn from Conservation Council SA shared an in-depth dive into the world of Facebook ads and campaigns. Working not only in social media but across a range of communications and media, Noriko explained that the challenge was that sometimes there was too much to say. Social can accordingly, plan an important role in creating relevant and target communications.

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Sydney – the niche and the scale

I was still a little jetlagged for the Sydney event, but a jolt of strong coffee soon had me ready for a full audience.

Rafi Cooper from WSPA delved into the narrative structure of digital storytelling. Using public narrative to focus and drive change and action (self->us->now), Rafi showed how WSPA campaigns were able to achieve impact at scale via social media. He did hint that WSPA have an advantage thanks to plenty of good stories and cute images of animals.

Yves Calamette from ACON shared a great – but niche case study on the power of social media to engage men on the topic of HIV prevention. While there was a niche focus for the campaign, Yves was able to show specific impact, ROI and best practices that are now being extended for an upcoming campaign.

Dae Levine from Republic of Everyone showcased how social media can help connect policy, planning and persuasion, presenting a case study on the Say Yes campaign. Integrated planning and digital strategy, events, installations, social proof and widespread educative communications were all used to influence the public debate around climate change and carbon pricing. While not all not for profit organisations can work on such a scale, Dae explained how various elements slotted together to create an overall impact. (And yes, the campaign was successful – with a carbon tax now in effect in Australia)

Treassa Joseph hit to podium like a dynamo. Armed with data analytics and a geek’s passion for statistics, Treassa introduced the audience to Twitter, Tweetups and Twitter festivals and showed how social media can mobilise a community to come together and take action around a cause. Expect to see more non profit tweetups in the near future!

Melbourne – from grass root to the oak tree

Cate Lawrence talked through the Green Renters experience – cultivating a niche community with style and grace on a shoestring budget. Many in the room marvelled at Cate’s grasp of social media and the impact that a very small team (see the presentation) can have when focused on the most important channels.

Chris Roberts from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence provided a great case study on how social media can be integrated into advocacy programs. Their efforts focused on a dental care initiative – and required audience education, influencer management, leveraging of existing marketing and integration of all channels towards very specific objectives. Again, this campaign was considered a success with dental now covered as part of the government’s Medicare scheme.

Daniel Lewis-Toakley from the Oaktree Foundation stepped through the Live Below the Line campaign that challenged Australians to live on $2 a day and share their experience via social media. The approach again followed the public narrative storytelling arc to create champions, engage a community and track engagement towards success. Another great not for profit success, the campaign showed the power of enabling a community not just corralling it.

Richenda Vermuelen from ntegrity provided a deep dive into the social media activation of a blogger program for World Vision. From the detailed selection process, storytelling approaches and on-the-ground management, Richenda stepped through the pitfalls and benefits that come from working with bloggers. It was a great presentation for any not for profit wanting to tap into the social media space.