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.

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.

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.

Disrupting Work: 2015 is here. Are you ready?

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Some years ago, while working at SAP, I was involved in a global workforce enablement program. Our challenge was to look ahead to 2015 (yes, we are now almost there), model the future demand for software, services and skills and put in place programs that would ensure there were enough skilled and experienced SAP practitioners available to deliver to the expected demands of our customers.

What we realised was that learning could no longer be seen as a single event. It was not good enough to rely on a stream of barely qualified candidates streaming out of universities. To achieve sustainable, professional outcomes for customers we needed to encourage life long learning and professional employee development. Moreover, we needed to be flexible enough in our thinking and education delivery to create competencies which were not yet in demand. So this meant innovation in education delivery – so we designed our programs with formal courses and partnerships with universities, put in pace informal mentoring and collaborative systems and ensured that self-directed learning was available as broadly as possible.

Some of the areas of expertise we focused on included Analytics, Cloud and Mobility, and social media.

In a recently released study, Oxford Economics, sponsored by SAP, reveals that this challenge continues. Looking ahead again, out towards 2018, there are skill predictions including:

  • Analytics – a current skill gap of 21% will grow by 131% over the next three years
  • Cloud – currently experiencing a 15% gap, this will almost double to 30% by 2018
  • Mobile – the skill gap is expected to grow from 16% to 27%
  • Social media – already at 24%, this is expected to reach 38% in three years time.

How is your company preparing your workforce for the future?

We are already facing a skills shortfall. And as the Baby Boomer generation continues to move into retirement, we will face not just a skills challenge but an experience crisis. How well is your company prepared for this challenge? How will you thrive through change?

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Disruption is the Future of Work: The All Consuming Employee

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It’s not hard to see the future of work. In fact, it’s right there in front of our faces. It is happening under our noses. At the desks, in the hallways and foyers of our organisations. It is even happening in the homes of our staff, executives and customers.  And it is changing even what we consider “work” to be.

A quick search on LinkedIn revealed almost 40,00 Australians with “freelance” in their title, and almost 100,000 Australians working in a self-employed or contractor capacity. For these people, the idea of a “9-to-5” job is anathema – either through choice (they prefer to work beyond the walls of a single employer) or through circumstances (full time working conditions cannot be accommodated for a variety of reasons, from health to age, experience to opportunity).

Furthermore, statistics on telework and the business use of information technology from the ABS (from 2012), revealed that more that a third of micro businesses use the internet to allow staff to work from home, while this more than doubled for larger businesses, with 75% providing facilities for staff to work from home via technology.

And when we add to this the number of individuals who take on side projects in their spare time for cash via sites like oDesk or Freelancer or even those willing to work for a fiverr, it becomes clear that “work” is quite a different beast than it was in the Twentieth Century.

The challenge of course, is that the future of work involves a disruption of work itself. And this pushes staff, executives and HR departments into new territory. Or does it?

Katie Chatfield and Jon Paul Potts from Jack Morton have provided a quick refresher on why CEOs should care about employee engagement. Take a read and then take a look around you. How’s the future from your point of view?

Young people put their mark on the future at Vivid Sydney

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On the last Friday of every month, Vibewire in conjunction with The Powerhouse Museum, host fastBREAK, a rapid fire event showcasing young innovators. Starting at 8am, five speakers are given five minutes to tell the story of their innovation – and why it chose them (or why they chose it). But this month the format has changed. It’s bigger and bolder. And it’s on this Sunday as part of Vivid Sydney.

With the theme SAVE THE WORLD, this fastBREAK will feature 5-minute talks by:

  • Senator Scott Ludlam, outspoken Greens Senator for WA
  • Tom Tilley, triple j’s Hack’s man about town
  • Jess Scully, the creative powerhouse behind Sydney’s Vivid Ideas festival
  • Urthboy, music innovator, entrepreneur and performer
  • Dan Ilic, comedian and driving force behind A Rational Fear
  • Ella Weisbrot, social justice and climate change campaigner with AYCC
  • Alex Greenwich, the independent Member of Parliament for Sydney

vw-fastbreal Jess Scully, festival director of Vivid Ideas and returning fastBREAK headliner said, “Creative people can – and will – save the world. We’ve got the skills, the passion, the radical point of view. When you empower young, creative people to use those skills they’re pretty much unstoppable – because they bring the vital elements of energy and optimism to the mix.”

Since launching in 2010, fastBREAK’s five minute format has showcased over a hundred creative changemakers and provided the inspiration for many more.

At fastBREAK – Save the World – in addition to the speakers, there are also two workshops and a band. And the world famous (ok, locally famous) breakfast courtesy of Black Star Pastry, and visual installations and storytelling courtesy of Sydney Digital Publishing (SDP).

When: Sunday 25 May, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Where: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, 2007

Tickets: vibewire.org/events/save-the-world

Food for Thought Friday: A Manifesto for a Deeper Future

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Increasingly our public discourse is dominated by three word slogans, catch phrases and sound bites. We suffer from an attention deficit – are time poor, over worked and under valued. We’re overwhelmed by technology, choices and our inbox.

And we think that the answer it to skim closer to the surface. To read the tweets rather than the articles.

To look at the infographics rather than the data behind it.

But in a culture of superficiality, our competitive advantage … our ethical advantage … and our creative advantage lies not in the shallows but in the depths of our imagination.

I think it is time that we went deeper …

Five points on a deeper future:

We need to:

  1. THINK more about ideas and what needs to happen to make them RESONATE within our cultures
  2. ACT like ideas MATTER and can CHANGE lives
  3. HELP articulate possible FUTURES because there’s always more than ONE
  4. WORK to make the first step of that future TANGIBLE because it sets the agenda
  5. INCLUDE others because FEAR is the first response to the NEW

Inspired by this awesome presentation from Critical Mass on the Cultural Impact on Digital Design.

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

We Are Smarter Than TV

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Back in 2007, Drew McLellan and I embarked on a journey of crowdsourcing discovery. Inspired by the We Are Smarter Than Me collaborative writing project, we wanted to see whether the collective intelligence of marketers across the globe could make sense of the emerging social media landscape. Three months later, the first edition of The Age of Conversation was published. It brought together over 100 writers from 22 countries and captured the mood of the time.

Three editions and six years later, working on these collaborative publishing projects has made me a firm believer in the power and insight that comes from focused communities. In fact, working on the latest edition – Age of Conversation 4 – is again reminding me of the breadth and depth of insight that comes from a diverse – yet focused – group of professionals.

The one consistent theme through all of the four editions, however, is the role of inclusiveness. From a brand perspective, we tend to think of this as a “loss of control”, but through the lens of the consumer, it’s a different story. Rather than seeing this transformation in terms of a shift of power, we should view it as a fundamental mark of mutual respect. And rather than thinking about limitation and even copyright, we should think of generosity and awareness. Effectively this shift means a transformation of what we consider the “marketing funnel” with “conversion” being less about sales and more about shifting our customer relationships away from transactions and closer to longer term engagement. This in turn requires an understanding of customer lifetime value.

The publishing industry has faced this transformation for decades and continues to struggle. The music industry is now making a much better fist of the challenge, but TV seems resolutely trapped in the quagmire of industrialised thinking. This makes the entire industry ripe for disruption. And platforms like Netflix and Hulu are well placed to deliver this kind of broad disruption. And as Oscar winner and artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London recently said, it’s time for TV to learn from other industries. It’s time for them to learn from the crowd. After all, we are smarter than TV.

1963 ... television eyeglassesCreative Commons License James Vaughan via Compfight

Mid-Year Digital Marketing Trends 2013

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Report-2013trendsAs we begin to ramp up our efforts for the second half of 2013, it’s always worth taking a moment to reflect on what has emerged, what is emerging and the gaps that are becoming obvious in our marketing strategy and tactics.

For me, one of the things that has solidified is the notion that consumers are not only king, but the entire universe. As such they have become the centre of gravity around which brands now orbit.

Understanding and navigating this new “consumerverse” is a core requirement for any marketer.

My snapshot report on Succeeding in the New Consumerverse reveals four strategies to help marketers win in a state of disruption as usual:

  • The shift from participating to serving with purpose
  • Becoming connected and connectable
  • Realising that channels are dead
  • Embracing tech sector innovation

Register and download the report from the Constellation Research Inc website.

And if you would like to learn more about how this connects to real businesses, some of the interesting proof points that are emerging and how businesses can embrace disruption as a business imperative, take a look at my interview with Which-50’s Andrew Birmingham.