The Digital Tool Landscape

DigitalTools

DigitalTools

For years, I have been collecting tools that help me get things done. Some of them run on my computer or on a web platform. Some of them have become obsolete or were closed down when the startup money ran out. But almost always, digital tools have some value to the marketer – even if it is just to stimulate our thinking about the way that consumers engage and participate online.

As the market has matured – and as we have found more business focused benefits that come from digital engagement – categories of use have begun to emerge. We can now find various use cases for digital technology, white papers, research and even case studies. But often we still struggle with determining which tool to use when. For example, we may look at crowdsourcing for insight rather than ideation, or collaborative platforms for brainstorming rather than development.

Now, rather than just applying trial and error, this great interactive tool from strategy+business can help you choose the right tool for the right job. Now, you can spend more time doing and less time trying to figure out how. No more excuses!

We Are Smarter Than TV

1963 ... television eyeglasses

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

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.


The Participatory Revolution

Zen (Version 3)

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.

Zen (Version 3) Little Zoker via Compfight

Note to Brands: Make Things People Want

Evening

Have you ever wondered why marketing and advertising is such hard work?

We are constantly trying to change the way that people behave and think – positioning brands and businesses in the centre of a relationship that is only ever on the peripheral of our customers’ worlds. And while for us – for the business owner, brand manager or agency – there is a real centrality to our relationship with the brand, it is simply not the case for the vast majority of the people that we want to talk to.

ifyoutalkedtopeople-thumb

As Hugh MacLeod explained back in 2006, “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face”.

And while social media awareness has become widespread, many businesses still struggle with it. Where’s the ROI they ask. Where’s the relevance? How will it drive sales? And while these are important questions, they are important questions for a mature channel. Very few businesses have the knowledge, expertise and capability to determine the answers – let alone the capacity to integrate these answers into a comprehensive brand and engagement framework. The channel has matured but our organisational understanding of it continues to lag.

But there is another way.

Rather than making people want things – spending our precious resources creating awareness, inspiring interest and stimulating desire in our customer base, what if we just made things that people want?

What of we went further – and understood our customer’s journey from the outside-in? So, rather than pushing messages out designed to interrupt and stimulate – what if we could participate and engage? What if we provided so much incentive, surprise and delight that this engagement prompted purchase, created a business relationship or turned a “detractor” into an advocate?

What if what we did made someone’s life better?

John Willshare argues exactly this – that brands are fracking the social web – and missing the real opportunity presented by digital and social media.

But what can you do? Practically? Why don’t you start:

  • Small: Rather than thinking of the vision that will change the world, what is your vision that will change one person’s experience of what you do. Have the big vision in your back pocket, but start as small as you can bear.
  • Quick: Stop thinking about doing and start acting. Raid the petty cash tin and think about what you can do with a budget you can hold in one hand.
  • Inclusive: Don’t sit in a room planning – go talk to your customers. Engage with them on social media. Bring them into your process

And I bet that within a week you’ll have a deeper understanding of the problems your customers want you to solve than you have resources to deliver. And that’s the whole point, surely.

EveningCreative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

Pitch the Future–Young Social Innovators in Action

Social_good_ftw__ptfuture

You know what it’s like when inspiration hits … an idea galvanises in your mind like a bolt of electricity, sending your pulse racing. And the more you think on it, the more you feel your nerve fibres tingling.

But what happens when you tell someone about your idea? Your mouth dries. The words tumble out one on top of the other … you get tongue tied, excited and afraid. What happens if someone steals your brilliance? What if your idea is no good?

Now imagine, that you are taking your idea and pitching it to a room of strangers. Imagine that this idea is a deep seated passion and could have a real social impact if successful. And then imagine pitching your idea against four other people just as passionate about their idea as you are about yours.

Pitch the Future event at the Vivid Ideas Festival last night. Check out the story as it unfolded below. And who won? You’ll have to follow along to find out!

SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference

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It’s Not Charity: It’s Social Enterprise-investing in the future

It's not charity, it's social enterprise

When I give money to charity, I look closely at the aims of the organisation. I listen to the story and look for the downstream impact. And I look at the finances. I am keen to know how much of the money that is donated goes to programs and how much goes to administration.

Over the years my giving has changed. I noticed that I became more focused on this programs/administration split. I would stop supporting organisations as the admin component grew. In frustration, I eventually shifted my entire focus away from larger organisations to Kiva and to Vibewire – a youth arts and media not-for-profit. Through Kiva I have funded almost 100 loans now and continuously roll them over – I see them less as charity and more as social enterprise. In fact, that is what they are.

The same can be said for Vibewire which is entirely focused on providing a launchpad for young change makers.

But through my work with Vibewire, where I also serve as President, I have also learned about the need for administrative – or core – funding. Sure it is important to support programs and to impact individuals, but not-for-profits run on passion, enthusiasm and commitment. The money simply keeps the doors open. In general, NFPs stretch every last cent out of their available funds. On the surface, this is great. But in doing so, they find themselves with very little capacity to innovate.

As a result, the impact of change is more like a ripple than a tidal wave.

And yet, when we give to charity, we want and EXPECT to see that massive, transformational change. As Dan Palotta explains in the video below, charities are rewarded for how little they spend, rather than on the results that they achieve. Surely this should be the other way around.

So next time you are giving to charity, think about your actions and expectations. What happens when you think of your giving not as a GIFT but as an INVESTMENT in the future?

That’s the way I think of Vibewire (which is easier since it works specifically with young people). See what happens when you change the way you think about charity. What impact do you want to see and how can you make it happen – beyond the transaction of donating/giving? Take an additional step. Contribute skills. Expertise. Get involved. After all, it’s your future too.

What’s in Your Startup DNA

Christmas DNA

There’s plenty of hype around startups – and around the founders of those startups. We buy books (books, really? Yes!) written by startup entrepreneurs, attend talks, download podcasts and go to  conferences. Sometimes it can feel like meeting a rockstar rather than a business person.

But for every startup, there are countless others, often behind the scenes, who have helped drive those startup successes and the failures that they are built on.

This great presentation by Yevgeniy Brikman is the view from the front row. It talks about the nitty gritty of startups. It’s not the big ideas or the grand plans. It’s the stuff that makes the business tick. And it makes you think … what’s in your startup DNA – and how deep does that go.

Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Vibewire’s 6 Under 26 – Australia’s Hottest Young Innovators

6U26_FeatureCollage

When we think and talk about innovation our attention naturally tends towards a vision for the future.

But more often than not, that vision of the future is being set by middle aged women and men. Leaders of political parties, “captains of industry”, and community leaders of every size and shape tend to achieve their status not only through their commitment and enterprise but also due to their age. And often, I wonder, where is the voice of youth? Where is the perspective of those young people who will have to live with the decisions made now?

That’s why I am excited to share the great work of Sydney, Australia-based not-for-profit, Vibewire. Today they have announced the 6 under 26 – Australia’s hottest young innovators to watch in the year ahead.

The young innovators tipped to make the world a better place come from a broad range of backgrounds, from indigenous youth empowerment initiatives, sustainable food movements to programs that foster social entrepreneurship in high schools to organisations that encourage young women to take up engineering and technology.

Over the last 12 years, Vibewire has helped launch over 90 startups and kickstarted the careers of hundreds of young people. But this type of innovation does not occur in a vacuum. It requires incubation and support.

You can help Vibewire support more young change makers by joining this crowdfunding campaign. With a one-off donation from as little as $10, you will be contributing to a vision of the future that young people have a hand in creating. Support this great organisation here.