It’s Not Risk. It’s Gaining Trust


We often (still) hear stories of businesses and individuals fearing social media. And if you listen closely to what is being said, you will hear the fear. You will hear anxiety.

And when you hear about those folks who brave social media – who push the envelope within their organisation, you will hear them talk about managing risk. Engaging stakeholders. Dealing with the randomness.

But this great TED Talk by Amanda Palmer reveals a new way of thinking about this.

What if, rather than managing risk, we were to think about “gaining trust”. What would that mean for the way we approach our customers, audiences, stakeholders and employees?

And how would it change what we do.

IMG_9400 bluedance via Compfight

Free Your Instagram Photos with FreeThePhotos


Remember when Flickr was cool? It has the no-brainer business model of $25 per year, in-built community functions like sets, groups and connections, and it helped manage copyright through various licensing arrangements. And the open API meant we could do cool things like

But then it lost its way.

Yahoo! stopped telling us about what they were doing and why. The diehards continued to post their images to Flickr but many others, attracted by easy-to-use apps, newly emerging and vibrant communities and a hipster ethic switched to Instagram, or Path or even to Twitter to share their photos.

When National Geographic suspended their Instagram account, it got serious

Over the lasts couple of days, I have written a couple of pieces analysing Instagram’s change of terms. It would be naive to think that Instagram did not expect a backlash of some sort, but by dumping the early adopters, they are opening the door to a more mainstream audience. The backlash then becomes a form of earned media, creating a social media news story that jumps into mainstream news consciousness.

National Geographic suspends Instagram account Of course, the beatup around photo ownership is actually not about intellectual property – but about the influence we each hold within our social networks. Social judgement’s a vital and highly prized element in a digital campaign, and the change in terms from Instagram opens the door to a level of granular automation that perfectly compliments the shift to real time bidding and automated digital ad targeting via systems like Facebook Exchange.

But when big brands who have made a significant investment in building communities within Instagram take a stand, it’s time for the rest of us to take note. National Geographic’s single image announcement boldly features on their Instagram page – making it clear that the terms of use scheduled to take effect in January were not to their liking.

Next step – migration – Google+ or Flickr?

Now at this time of year, we can expect people to be taking MORE not less photos. And we will be wanting to SHARE them with our friends, families and random social network connections more than ever! So what is one to do? The obvious suggestion is to migrate photos to another service, close your Instagram account and find a new network for your photos.

Google+ has been recommended by some, with its Picasa-based system. But Google has yet to crack the non-tech feel to most of its systems and this is a major barrier to entry for the average non-tech Geek. My choice would be Flickr – and as I have a long standing account, it’s really a non-contest.

Free your photos

If you want to follow me over to Flickr, you can do so using this great new site – free your photos. It takes the pain out of the download and upload process.

  1. Visit
  2. Visit and login
  3. Visit and login (these steps make it easier)
  4. Login and authorise your Instagram account
  5. Login and authorise your Flickr account
  6. Click the Free Your Photos button

freeThePhotos2It takes a while, but you can set the site to email you when the process is complete. Then it’s just a matter of using the bulk management tools on Flickr to sort through and arrange the images.

But is there a replacement for my Instagram app?

And of course, if you are looking for an alternative iPhone app to Instagram – one with filters and auto uploading etc, Flickr have just released one for iPhone and one for Android. There are also dozens of community sourced Flickr apps for Android available here.

Marissa Mayer will be loving Instagram’s early Christmas bonus

Judging by the number of new connection requests coming through from Flickr, it would appear that there is some shift already taking place amongst my network. Our natural inclination is to establish trusted connections within a new network early. So not only does Flickr benefit from new members, those members are bringing their community strength with them.

Instagram may have unwittingly delivered an early Christmas present to Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! But let’s see what the new year brings.

HT @JohnHaydon

Instagram Dumps Early Adopters for a Shot at the Mainstream


1344924671 When Instagram burst onto the scene with its mobile only platform and funky photo filters it came armed with a secret. It wasn’t just about the photos.

Sure, the vast range of photo filters were appealing. They provided a layer of nostalgia for the Gen Xers raised on Kodak round edged photos and soft focus pastels from the 70s. Some filters created a more edgy feel, displacing the photo border and accentuating the top end of the colour spectrum. They made the amateur photographer feel empowered, even if the filters sometimes degraded the photo quality. What we lost in quality we made up for in consistency of image, framing and in the ease of digital cropping.

Community was the secret sauce of Instagram

But Instagram was more than just a fun way to take photos. For many social network early adopters, it was a sanctuary from the noise of Facebook and Twitter. It allowed people to curate small communities of like minds, where networks of dozens, hundreds and in some cases, thousands, of people could share photos, tips and engage in in-the-moment sharing, collaboration and discussion.

And as the platform was engineered around mobility, it had built-in location awareness and sharing, so that closed networks of connections could create a sense of context around the digital interaction. Moreover, with push awareness, users could be updated on any interactions with their own images, comments, likes, loves and so on. It brought a human dimension to the digital experience. It was a sense of community and all the goodness that comes with that sense of belonging.

Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition changed the Instagram game

When Facebook purchased Instagram back in April 2012 for about $1 billion, it was only a matter of time before something changed. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg focused on synergies, announcing:

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family … Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

But throughout 2012, Facebook has also been under pressure to prove its IPO valuation. And Instagram was a canny move, because it brings a ready made market.

Changing Instagram’s terms of use

Facebook are well-known for pushing the limits of user privacy. They started with the now failed Beacon. Then they stepped back and made a claim over all user generated content published on the social network. After a series of protests, Facebook modified their claims, but still succeeded in shifting the boundaries on user privacy and content ownership.

Taking a leaf out of the Facebook guide to user engagement, Instagram have now updated their terms of use which are due to come into effect on January 16, 2013. Buried within the Instagram site, these terms provide for the following “rights”:


Saying goodbye to the early adopters, welcoming the mainstream

In making this move, Instagram is sounding its own death knell. It is signalling the end of the relationship to those who care about (and understand) the complex nature of web privacy. These “early adopters” were the founders of the Instagram community and fuelled its growth.

According to the diffusion of innovations, early adopters are vital in bringing new technology to the mainstream audience. Without the support of the early adopters, new innovations fall into the “chasm” and never reach wide acceptance within a community.


But the early adopters have done their job now and as Instagram says goodbye to them, it is opening its arms to the mainstream. The early adopters have bridged the chasm and are shifting their focus away from community building to monetisation.

Facebook’s lucrative double whammy

Facebook’s billion dollar investment has not only eliminated a competitor, it has opened a lucrative new revenue stream. Extending the existing Facebook photo sharing functionality (for which it was already a global leader) by integrating the Instagram capabilities will help drive further online usage.

The change in the terms of use will provide new revenue by allowing Instagram to license your photographs, name and images to content hungry third parties.

The shift from users to customers

Many have suggested that Instagram, as an alternative, should charge to download their app. But this would change the nature of the relationship. At present, Instagram has a strong community of “users”, but charging would make those users “customers” – and that in turn would compromise the business model.

As it currently stands, Instagram’s “customers” will be those “third parties” – brands and businesses who are interested in the vast quantities of content being produced by Instagram’s users.

Instagram may re-jig the terms of use with slightly more generous concessions based on user protest, but users should expect that the direction to be maintained.

So what happens to the early adopters?

They’ll move to a new service. They’ll rediscover Path or re-evaluate the new Flickr app. Perhaps they’ll warily move to the new mobile Twitter app with in-built filters.

But saying goodbye to the early adopters is not the end of the world. It’s the start of a new mainstream story. And many of us will only care when we see our own images splashed, out of context, in some other place on the web. But by then, that will be too late.

For many, privacy and “intellectual property rights” over our own image is happily traded for the benefits offered by social networks. But the choice is individual – and the challenge we all face is to be informed. And it’s bound to become more challenging in 2013.

Trust is Up for Financial Services’ Connected Consumers

Trust is Up for Financial Services

While the retail sector continues to flounder, the Financial Services industry seems to finally have cottoned on to the digital business opportunity presented by social media.  A new report published by ING shows that frequent social media users (ie that lucrative and market-making early adopter segment) view social media as being as reliable as other online media.

Moreover, social media goes beyond simple information dissemination. The report indicates that “financial information posted on social media changes opinions, preferences or behaviour more often”. Clearly, as we have noted previously, our connected consumers are discovering, debating and deciding what to purchase and when independently of our marketing funnel.

Financial services leaders will increasingly need to develop and execute strategies that reach, engage and transform their relationships with their connected consumers. The impact has been felt in 2012, but the power will grow through 2013. Is your company ready?


Driving Retail from Digital to Destination

  • The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy
  • Marketers must respond to the shift to digital with the 5 Ds of consumer engagement
  • Analytics is essential to understand the path to conversion

For decades, Australian retailers have under-invested in technology and online innovation. After all there was no “burning platform.” People still bought goods – especially appliances and larger items in stores, and “online” was considered risky, unreliable, and difficult to navigate when it came to returns, warranties and customer service.

But then consumers connected. Reviews helped identify quality products. Reputation management allowed online merchants to demonstrate their credibility. And web experiences improved. Prices were better.

People talked.

And kept talking.

Those conversations shifted from sites to platforms. They happened in places far away from the brand police and customer service teams. They proliferated on sites like Twitter, Get Satisfaction and Facebook.

But just as the connected consumer shifts digital channels in the blink of an eye, taking the conversation with them, so too can brands follow this consumer lead. Those with a considered and well executed strategy can connect the dots and drive retail from digital to destination.

Marketers should develop three practices to drive retail from digital to destination:

  1. Understand the 5 Ds of Consumer Engagement: The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy. It’s time to understand the buyer’s journey from the outside-in. Following the 5 Ds allows marketers to understand, map and engage their connected consumers at key stations on the buyers journey
  2. When it comes to content and channels, don’t think ONLY think AND: It’s time to break down the silos. Based on the 5 Ds, marketers must begin to work with strategic omni-channel (or multi-channel) formats. This means understanding how content, interactions and engagement work at each station – and where digital can extend or augment an experience (digital or non-digital)
  3. Know and measure your path to conversion: Don’t fool yourself that all conversion must happen in-store. Make it easy to purchase anywhere – after all, mobile is the ultimate impulse device. But understand that in-store is now about controlling the brand experience. Ensure that the destination experience is worth the journey in. Use omni-channel analytics to measure and understand the path to conversion.

Now, take a moment to view this (now finished) campaign from Adidas NEO. What’s the customer experience? What’s the journey? And what’s the engagement strategy at play?

Now, how would you play this out with your brand? Be creative.


Report – CMOs: Time to Re-Cast the Marketing Funnel

It is often said that companies only have two functions – marketing and innovation. Despite this, most corporate marketing practices are based on century old theories and frameworks that no longer adequately accommodate the complexities faced by today's CMO. Rather than the inside-out view offered by the traditional marketing funnel, marketers need to develop a view of the customer journey that takes into account the challenges and opportunities presented by digital and social technologies.

To be released tomorrow this "big picture" report provides an outside-in view of the “connected customer” and key stages in next generation customer experience. The report provides a vital framework for marketing leaders seeking to move from a transactional relationship with their customers to one based on what I am calling the “5 Ds of Customer Engagement”.

But wait! There’s more!

You can go beyond the report and join me for a webinar on this topic to understand:

1. Six trends driving change in digital marketing
2. How the 5 Ds of customer engagement reflect the new realities in customer engagement and marketing
3. Key recommendations for marketers seeking strategic approaches rather than simply digitizing "business as usual"

And the best thing to remember about a webinar is that they are recorded. If you can’t join live, register and watch in your own time and tweet me with any questions.

A Palpable Dis-Ease – Graham Brown’s Mobile Youth

We don’t have to look far to see that we are living in a digital world. On my desk sits half a dozen connected devices, wifi enabled, flashing, beeping, spewing updates from sites, friends and acquaintances thousands of miles away. But for me, this is a world that I have chosen to participate. For many in the Gen X and Baby Boomer demographics, adoption of technology has been a conscious choice. We grapple with this changing world for work or for pleasure – sometimes for both … but always with the knowledge that the off button is only a short distance away.

But for succeeding generations – the always connected Gen Y and Gen Z groups, there has never been a time of “non-connection”. A battery or wifi failure is not just a technical issue. It’s an existential crisis.

In May 2012, when young Chinese student, Xiao Zheng, sold his kidney in order to buy an iPad2, the headlines around the world amplified the outrage. From the outside it’s easy to point a finger and call out the insatiable materialistic desires of a morally bankrupt generation. But surely there is something deeper going on.

Graham Brown’s new book The Mobile Youth digs below the surface to reveal a compelling story of dis-ease. Peppered with statistics, insight – and most importantly – an anthropologist-cum-storytellers eye for observation, Graham reveals a hard truth that we all share in:

The rise of technology isn’t undermining the social fabric of society. Technology’s rise is a response to our loss of a meaningful social world.

As a reader of a lot of business communication (books, blogs, papers, presentations), I am often disappointed that the power of the writing doesn’t match the power of the ideas. This book is the opposite. It’s a business book written in the style of a page-turning blockbuster. For anyone interested in the changes taking place in our society and the collision of generations, culture and communication, it makes for compelling reading.

But most importantly, it provides an insight into the seemingly disconnected nature of our ever-more connected lives. Download your copy of The Mobile Youth and let me know what you think. I found it fascinating.

Trust and the Marketer

Consumers have always suspected marketers. Of something.

But this “something” has always been elusive. Hard to pin down.

In the back of the mind of most consumers, there is a small voice – a remnant of our evolutionary instinct – that warns us of a potential risk, a trap. The limbic system is part of our pre-verbal brain that we commonly refer to as “gut instinct”. And because it works without language, we are often challenged to put these feelings into words. As a result, we are left with a sense of mistrust. Something vague. Indiscernible.

But the limbic brain is also the space of creativity. It is the place of imagination and symbolism. And it is the essential playground of the marketer.

Each day, as consumers are bombarded with 3000+ messages, it is the limbic brain that acts as a first level of defence. Most droll pieces of advertising or communication are discarded – with only the most creative and most relevant breaking through.

These days, marketers have to work even harder to cut through the noise and confusion. It’s not just about creativity. It’s also about psychology, human behaviour (change) and analytics. We need to cover all four.

Over the last few years, Australian TV show, Gruen Planet, has peeled back the layers of the mysterious advertising onion. It has laid bare the role of planning and strategy, creative, copy, image and production. Blogs like Adam Ferrier’s Consumer Psychologist provide insight and analysis into what people buy and why they do so.

Infographics like the one below, provide a neat way of understanding some of the techniques used in advertising – but my limbic brain also tells me that we need a different approach now. Sure these approaches will continue to work – but we need to go further. We need to build a different kind of marketing – one that does not set off the limbic alarm bells. We need to address the deficit of trust experienced by consumers.

What if we could create marketing with a purpose (not marketing with a cause). Imagine what that would mean for our customers. Imagine what it would mean for our employees.

And imagine what it would mean for the marketing industry.

Sound dangerous? Don’t worry, it’s just your limbic system acting up.


Trust is the Gateway to App Sales Success


When we search on the internet we are investing a small amount of trust in the speed, responsiveness and accuracy of the search engine that we are using. After all, the future of your brand is micro. We trust that Google or Bing is reliably trawling the web for the latest information, indexing knowledge to the deepest level and connecting the dots between what we need to know and where it can be found.

Both Google and Microsoft invest significant resources in improvements to their search engines. But it’s not just about the information source – it’s vitally about relevance. This is the scary truth about search – that the search engines already connect a vast amount of information about us and make it available to the public – to people, brands and businesses.

But this fantastic chart from Silicon Alley Insider reveals that when it comes to recommendation – specifically for app discovery – social referral accounts for almost as much as search. The research carried out by Nielsen indicated that 63% of Android and iOS users use search to discover new apps in the various app stores – only slightly in front of personal recommendation from family or friends at 61%.

But the thing that drives both of these figures is trust. We trust search and we trust our friends and family. We trust search and social. And together they can be a powerful driver of sales – for whether we like it or not – we are all retailers now.

The Social Power of YouTube Search

Creating a YouTube channel for your brand is a no-brainer. As the second largest search engine – and especially influential with younger audiences – YouTube can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your digital strategy.

But just as we must optimise our blog posts and website pages to achieve decent ranking on Google’s search engine, we also also optimise our videos for effective search results on YouTube.

The interesting thing for me, however, is the focus and importance that is placed on the social dimension of the YouTube search algorithm.

Take a look at this great infographic from Martin Missfeldt – showing how it’s not just about the number of views or keyword relevance that are important. Other elements that impact your ranking include:

  • Sharing – through social sites like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Google+, as well as the number of sites that embed and link to your videos
  • Reactions – the number, type and style of interactions have a massive impact – including votes, responses, playlist additions, comments, reactions and so on
  • Audience retention – how to your videos rate competitively, do they hold your viewers throughout the clip?

This social dimension means that – when combined with the overall strength of your YouTube channel (authority, trust, subscribers etc) – your success with video is largely reliant on your ability to create a vibrant community rather than casual video viewers. And that means really understanding your audience – not just uploading a ready-made TVC. And it makes me wonder whether this is Google carrying A/B testing on their search engine … because for ages I have thought that the future of search is social. This may be one of the early steps.