To Be Talked About Online, Be Hyper-real

The french mime Jyjou*

About a million years ago, when I studied theatre and movement, I was fascinated by what appeared “real” on stage and what looked like it was a person slouching across an open space. There was a real difference between an actor who was able to inhabit and own the stage and someone who seemed to shrink within its open space. For some actors, this ability comes naturally but many have to work on it. And it is these techniques that interested me the most.

For a while I studied with Leisa Shelton, a brilliant and patient teacher. We would spend hours in quiet, but intense, routines, learning to stretch our bodies, extend our arms from the shoulder to the fingertip, create difficult but beautiful arcs across our shoulders, and walking with fluidity. One of the core “figures” we’d work on was drinking a glass of water – amazingly technical and challenging to master.

Leisa had, herself, studied for years in Paris, working with Ecole de Mime Corporel Dramatique de Paris-technique Etienne Decroux (1983-89) and was a member of the Meryl Tankard Co (1990-93). As a result, she generously shared not just her abilities and experiences but her stories which brought her theory and theatre practice to life for us all.

But there was one particular story that has stayed with me. It was about the physical proportions of Rodin’s The Thinker. Taking into account the position of the viewer, Rodin had created his famous sculpture larger than “real life” in order for it to appear in-proportion from the audience’s point of view. Parts of the sculpture – especially across the shoulders and back, were significantly larger than they would be in real life. And the lesson for us in this, was to appear “real” on stage, we had to work to extend the appearance of our bodies on stage, not just to be seen, or for aesthetics, but to appear real.

The same principles apply in the digital world. In fact, we are seeing a greater blurring of the distinctions between the on and offline world – they are merging into what we call “life”. This is made ever easier by the five forces impacting the future of business – social media, mobility, big data, unified communications and cloud computing. As consumers we are ever more connected and connectable – and enterprises continue to struggle to keep pace with consumer expectation and business demand.

However, we DON’T need to be in all places at all times. We need to take a lesson from Leisa Shelton and Rodin. We need to be larger than life in the spaces that we do operate. We need to be hyper-real – 10-20% bigger than we are in real life. And now, more than ever, we need to be PRESENT. That means we must be hyper-real and IN LOCATION.

Take a look at this great video promoting the upcoming release of the movie Carrie. It’s 6 million+ views come not just from a great idea, but from brilliant execution. They captured a real world impact and amplified it into our digital lives. They put a physical experience into our consciousness through digital storytelling.

In a world where our experiences dominate our perceptions, businesses, governments and not-for-profits can no longer be satisfied with a DIGITAL ONLY presence. To be talked about online, you have to be remarkable in the real world. You must act with purpose. And serve with intention.

It’s time for leaders to step up and own the space.

The french mime Jyjou*Creative Commons License jyjou via Compfight

Brandwatch Vizia Shakes Up Social Media Command Centers

viziaimages.gif

The concept of social media monitoring seems like a no-brainer. Marketers use keyword driven technology tools to tap into the vast oceans of social media data to reveal mentions of their brand, products and company and then determine how best to respond. It’s a model that replicates the traditional “media monitoring” approaches that have been in existence for decades.

But in the shift to digital, it’s not just advertising that is being overtaken by digital derivatives – news, commentary and analysis is challenging our ability to understand, collate, curate and respond to shifts in community, political and consumer sentiment. New forms of media engagement like social media has further complicated the situation, to the point where some form of digital or social media command center is not just useful but necessary.

Where once the news cycle evolved at a slower pace, this digital transformation has accelerated our need to understand and respond to these challenges. Our monitoring solutions must now be real time, contextual and their insights actionable. And we need to view them not as pretty visualizations to fill out our reports mid- and post-campaign, but as vital business intelligence systems that can inform our decision making. We need to think of these social intelligence systems as an MRI for brands allowing us to understand what resonates with customers, where the blockages are and what has velocity and vitality.

In short, the age of command centers is ending and the need for social intelligence is just beginning. It’s less about a room with big screens and funky graphs – and more about getting that vital information to the right people in your organisation at the right time.

This is where the new Vizia platform from Brandwatch comes into play. Announced today, Vizia combines a spectacular (yes, indeed) user interface with a business model that provides unrestricted access to users across your enterprise. This means that the same data source can be accessed and analysed by Marketing as well as HR, by Customer Service and the Executive Board. It puts data into the hands of the business decision makers at all levels of your organisation – in realtime.

vizia-images

 

You can find out more about the features of Vizia here.

As a next generation command center – or social intelligence platform – Vizia is shaking up the market which has been relatively uneventful for the last couple of years. With market consolidations and jockeying for position there has been little innovation – even amongst the smaller players and new entrants, but Brandwatch’s Vizia with its multi-screen display and generous licensing model is set to reinvigorate the market.

It’s particularly worth investigating where you need:

  • Broad access to social intelligence data and reporting
  • To showcase social initiatives across your business
  • A way to manage online crisis communications
  • To capitalise on real time marketing opportunities

Take a few minutes to watch the explanation video on the Brandwatch blog – it’s worth it to see the software in action.

Telling a Data-Driven Story

Fingerprints

During the last election, I was constantly amazed by the way that politicians of all persuasions bored us to death with FACTS. It was as if they were following a mantra which was to wheel out fact after fact as though they would eventually convince us through the weight of their overburdened arguments alone.

We would hear about HOW many jobs had been created. Or HOW much debt had been accumulated. But hardly, if ever, would anyone dive below the facts to discover anything deeper. Once upon a time, journalists would have done the hard work of contextualising the facts – connecting the dots, explaining the WHYs and WHEREFOREs – and otherwise telling the story that the facts alone never reveal.

But in a world where journalism has been cut to the bone, telling the story or investigating the underlying realities is a luxury that media proprietors cannot afford. And worse, the public has been lulled into accepting the shrill, scant messages that flash across our Twitter streams as though it’s some form of dyslexic gospel. Hashtag #auspol. Hashtag #outrage.

But there is another way – and it requires a more comprehensive strategy than we have seen from our politicians. It’s also far more comprehensive than we have seen from the majority of the businesses vying for our attention and our wallets. It’s a strategy that puts a little joy back into the communications and the storytelling that we share. It reminds us that for all our grievances, aspirations and needs, we remain, resolutely and wonderfully human.

Inspired by another great Leslie Bradshaw presentation:

The data is useful, but only when it tells a story. What ever you do this week, don’t get lost in the digits of digital.

FingerprintsCreative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Digital is Getting More Fragmented Not Less

ConversationPrism2013XLarge.jpg

There was a time when the only “digital” device in your home was likely to be an alarm clock.

These days, we live with a range of internet connected devices from refrigerators to lightbulbs, and CCTV systems to VOIP phones. And that’s before we start counting computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. When network security firm Sophos surveyed gadget users around the world in March 2013, respondents indicated that they carried an average of 2.9 devices with them. Smartphones and laptops were the most popular, with eReaders rounding out the list at 29%.

averageDevices

But these days, “digital” isn’t just about hardware. In fact, it’s not even about software. It’s about BEHAVIOUR.

When we think of digital we are thinking of modes of production and consumption – what we create and what we consume. And since the explosion of the social web, we have seen a massive fragmentation of what can be described (for want of a better word) as “digital channels”. In the early days of the web, the only digital channel you had was email. And then the world wide web came along and began to nip away at the edge of our digital experiences. It promised much but seldom delivered.

When Brian Solis introduced the Conversation Prism in 2008, our digital experience had grown to embrace the fledgling social media platforms like Flickr, LinkedIn, kyte, Zooomr and Facebook. Along for the ride was Ning, Pownce, eventful, WordPress and Twitter (amongst others). Of course, not all survived, but they paved the way for many who followed. And vitally they transformed our digital behaviour, our online body language and set our expectations for online experiences.

Conversation-Prism-2013-XLarge

The latest version of the Conversation Prism has now been released. And you can see that consumers are presented with a vast array of options for both production and consumption of content. There are many more ways to engage online – more platforms, more approaches and more niches. And with each of these comes rules, regulations, terms of service, user etiquette and community cultures. It can be a minefield for users and a battleground for inexperienced marketers. This presents marketers with serious challenges:

  • Strategy is execution: We have to make our peace and realise that the pace of change is never going to slow. We must now view strategy as execution – something that happens in real time with real customers. We need to work with a continuous digital strategy to not only survive but vitally, to remain relevant.
  • Digital skills must be prioritised: This is not to say that traditional marketing skills no longer have a role. Far from it. But digital will continue to grow in prominence. If you have not begun to refresh your skills, start now. Check out cheap and low cost online courses from Coursera, Skillshare and Udemy. For those in Sydney, Vibewire also runs regular skills based workshops that are tremendous value. Also check out what is on offer from ADMA.
  • Automation for marketing at scale: The dream of one-to-one marketing is upon us – but comes with discipline, requires strategic planning and technology investment. Identify those repetitive marketing tasks and investigate the marketing automation solution that is right for you and your business. You’ll be amazed at the revenue impact.

So before you go wading into the sea of digital channels, be sure you’ve got your floaties on – and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Why Social Media Has Failed the Federal Election

imvotingliberal

In the last federal election, social media showed its potential to engage and influence the voting public. We saw some tentative steps into the world of social media – some tweets, Facebook updates and the occasional blog post. And the public – largely ignored in terms of digital citizenry – leapt at the opportunity to not just join the conversation – but enter the debate.

Over time the the #auspol hashtag has become a hot bed of debate, opinion and – in the best tradition of Twitter – trolling. Over the last month alone, the #auspol hashtag has averaged around 20,000 tweets per day from an Australian Twitter population of only 2.1 million. This would indicate a level of intensity worthy of attention – especially given that the next Australian government is likely to be determined not by a popular or even representative vote – but by voters in a handful of marginal electorates.

auspol-tag

In the USA, the Obama campaign set a new standard for the effective use of social media. But while the Obama campaign, with its massive successes, legions of data scientists and programmers, seemed to signal a new way forward for digital citizenry, local efforts have missed the mark, employing immature and simplistic strategies that have failed to either capture the imagination of the public nor engage them in public debate.

In many ways, the social media performance across the election has been almost as lacklustre as the campaigns for the top job itself. As with most failures, the failure of social media to ignite the election has many fathers. Here are a few:

  • Believing that social is like other media: We often say that social media is “conversational”, but this doesn’t stop even experienced marketers from using social media as a form of broadcast media. Take a look, for example, at the following to follower ratio of almost any politician. How many direct conversations take place on their timeline? How engaged are they in conversations that are started by their followers? And how often do they share content that doesn’t directly feature them or their cause? In believing that social is like other media, politicians and their strategists are leaving votes on the table and leaving undecided voters uncared for and unloved.
  • Prioritising celebrity over relevance: While Kevin Rudd has run a largely Presidential style campaign in the media, this is less effective on social media. By contrast, Tony Abbott has presided over a campaign that prioritises a team of stars. But neither of these approaches work online because they tell the story of the team or the leader while ignoring the story of the voter. When you prioritise the celebrity of your participants rather than lionising your constituents, then your digital campaign is bound to fail. (And to be honest, this is a double failure for politicians, because good politicians understand the power of a constituency better than anyone.)
  • Confusing reach with impact: Having a large number of followers does not necessarily translate to votes. Creating reach through social media is just buys you a seat at the table. It allows you to engage in one-on-one conversation at scale. But just as brands learned the hard way, there is very little value in a Like and limited value in an audience you choose not to engage. R “Ray” Wang’s Nine Cs of Engagement should be required reading for any digital strategist – but be warned – it’s an effective framework but it requires considerable creativity and effort to execute.
  • Creating content not context: Sharing links can be useful, but unlikely to generate action unless there’s an acknowledgement of WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Context, however, is vital to providing relevance. Without addressing the context in which politicians operate, they are ignored or deemed irrelevant. This accounts for the significant levels of voter disengagement across the electorate in this election and is reflected well beyond social media in the endless stream of polling and opinion.
  • Preaching to the converted over engaging the convertible: Take a quick look at the last few tweets of your favourite politician. Consider the tone of voice. What is the topic and the language used? Are they pitching to you like they want a job – or are they writing like you know what they are talking about? In short – do they engage you like you’ve made up your mind or not? Almost every social media update has a partisan undertone. There’s a hidden nod or wink that really, you are “one of us”. You are on the team. And all the polling currently indicates that most Australians are fed up with both teams. Social media represents a great opportunity for politicians to “get closer” to the public – yet its execution is pushing voters further away. They’re preaching to the converted rather than seizing the opportunity to engage those who may yet be converted.
  • Facts are boring, engagement is sexy: The emergence of “fact checking” sites and teams has drawn a great deal of attention from the mainstream media. But there has never really been a question around the importance of facts – the question has always revolved around “whose fact is correct” – or can be relied upon. And that comes down to TRUST. In social media, a key determinant of trust is not related to fact but to engagement. And given that the currency of social media is engagement (not the number of “facts” that can be spouted), a great opportunity has been squandered.
  • Data is just data without insight: Much has been made of the use of data science and analytics in the devising of strategy. But there is little evidence that the data is informing or driving the strategy or refining the tactics of the political campaigns. Now, I am a fan of data – but without insight and human analysis – what I call synthalitics – data is not only useless, it’s dangerous and can lead to wrong decisions and worse outcomes.

In many ways, social media had the potential to turn this election on its head. A deeper understanding of the nature of social could, dare I say it, swayed the outcome considerably.

imvotingliberal-topsy

One only has to consider the massive impact that has been achieved through the newsjacking of the @ImVotingLiberal account and hashtag. For an account that has only a few followers, the conversation and engagement has been astounding. Now, imagine if some of the politicians of all persuasions came up with campaigns that engaged voters in this style of creative exchange. Imagine how much more vital, relevant and dare I say FUN would this election have been?

Followup: It seems that the @imvotingliberal account has been suspended.

Marketing Provocations from We Are Social, Singapore

My Chernobyl Adventure part 2: Fallout Danger

The WeAreSocial team in Singapore consistently produce thought provoking research and showcase the powerhouse that is Asia. Their regular reports (available on Slideshare) aggregate data from across the web and make connections between the trends and the reality on the ground. And for those wanting to understand the shifts in marketing in Asia, they provide a great series of primers. (Of course, the best thing to do is to GO.)

The latest presentation by Simon Kemp, shifts this up a level, offering eight provocations on the future of marketing. No matter whether you are  client-side or work for an agency, these provocations offer a powerful challenge to the status quo of the way that we carry on the BUSINESS of MARKETING.

  1. Social equity drives brand value. Think participation rather than broadcast.
  2. Communities have more value than platforms. Think outside-in rather than inside-out.
  3. All marketing must add value – Think why rather than how.
  4. On the go is the way to go – Think mobile only rather than mobile first
  5. From big idea to leitmotivs – Think traction rather than blast
  6. From selective hearing to active listening – Think signal rather than noise
  7. Experiences are the new products – Think benefits rather than features
  8. CSR evolves into civic engagement – Think doing good as the price of doing well

Now, if these indeed are provocations, they are aimed precisely at the way that we marketers do our work, conceptualise it and execute on it. It becomes personal very quickly. So the question we must ask ourselves is – “which of these most impact me, my work and my customers – and what will I do about it”. I would love to know your thoughts!

Kickstart Your Campaign with Video

kickstartervideoinfographic.jpg

The crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, is a fascinating microcosm – it brings together all the elements and challenges of a business often before that business exists. So in many ways, a Kickstarter project is a pre-startup startup – and accordingly it faces many of the same immediate challenges. But where startups sprint towards product, Kickstarter forces a path towards market development. Those who can’t market, don’t win. And like current marketing trends indicate, video plays an increasingly important role in that process.

Research from MWP Digital Media shows that Kickstarter projects that have a video are 85% more likely to achieve their funding goals. This tends to match some of the trends we are seeing in broader marketing circles – with YouTube and Vimeo consumption continuing to rise – impacting not just brand and engagement metrics but also working at crucial junctures in the path to purchase.

Video, however, is a steep learning curve – so there are obvious benefits to outsourcing. But new features in familiar apps/platforms like Instagram and Twitter (via Vine) make it easy to experiment. And I have a feeling that the role of user (or brand) generated video content is only going to accelerate in the next 12-18 months. I have already begun testing this out for myself and with clients.

These days marketing never sleeps. I hope this shift isn’t catching you napping.

kickstarter-video-infographic

Social Recommendation in Action

Jawbone Up

I like marketing and branding, but I have always been more interested in action. In movement. In change. And how we make decisions in a digitally connected world.

I like seeing the way that words, image (and sometimes) music, can set a ball rolling.

And this is precisely why social media is fascinating. Take today for example. I had been thinking recently about my lack of exercise and had been looking for a way to break my own personal deadlock. A random tweet on the subject resulted in a relatively quick outcome – I went from thinking about fitness and a solution like the Nike Fuel Band to the purchase of a Jawbone Up in hours.

How did this happen? Take a look at the Storify below to see.

Now tell me, do you make decisions this way? Are brands listening in? Do you think they care? They should.

Clearing the Marketing Cloud Fog – Adobe Completes Neolane Acquisition

The sunset factory

The sunset factoryWhen I began researching the marketing automation market late last year, it seemed like a crowded market. It seemed clear at the time that the competitive fog produced by the various marketing platforms was obscuring the very real benefits that technology delivers to marketers, and that the end result would be consolidation.

Yesterday, Adobe helped clear some of this fog by completing its acquisition of privately held marketing automation vendor, Neolane. What impact will this have? My news analysis can be found here – and the official release here.

From a platform point of view, Adobe is filling the gaps in marketing technology arsenal, with:

  • Analytics – the data and data crunching at your fingertips
  • Target – personalisation and targeting
  • Social – executing and measuring social marketing programs
  • Experience Manager – cross platform content digital asset management and optimisation
  • Media Optimizer – managing and optimising cross channel campaigns

And with Neolane joining the Marketing Cloud offering, Adobe is aiming to be the marketing technology partner of choice. Expect to see more activity in this crowded market.
Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Adobe Symposium Sydney – Sets the Eagles Amongst the Clouds

Listen__predict__assemble__deliver_-_Adobe_investing_across_tech___adobesymp

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.