Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Power of People

My friend Joakim from Norway put together a nifty slideshare presentation called The Power of People and was so kind as to quote me in it :o

The Newest Meme of Digital: Design Strategy

There's currently a new meme circulating the web around the concept of "Design Strategy." This film comes from a design agency called Continuum.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Doing what we love, anywhere we want

I just heard a new catchy song, "Daylight" by Matt and Kim which aired on the new Bacardi commercial. The video itself is interesting, as it depicts the duo playing music where one usually wouldn't expect.

This got me to think that doing what we love, anywhere we want to, is a concept that is being embraced by those building great services and applications.  Being able to do what we love and then having the ability to share that with others is what creates great digital services, applications, design, and experiences.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

We as social creatures are self-aggregating ourselves

That which allows us to become more social online - mobile, software, web services and communities - is also allowing us to self-aggregate in ways that define us based on our affinities and abilities. It has to do less about the technology itself and more about the connections we make.

The experiences we create as a result of those connections are just as important as the experiences that brands are trying to create for us. It wouldn't hurt marketers once in a while to embrace our own self-created experiences and do all that they can to facilitate certain aspects of our user-created conversation and participation given their resources.

flickr photo by notsogoodphotograhy

Friday, April 10, 2009

To brands serving up lemons: "We aren't interested in lemonade."

Especially in this economy, everyone with a product or service offering is doing all they can to grab out attention, with less means of doing so. However, at this point where life is throwing many of us lemons, I ask, should we get used to drinking lemonade, or are we thirsting for something that's actually desirable?

Every so often though, something good pop us to treat us during hard times, whether it's entertaining, useful, thoughtful, funny, or just plain weird, so long as it's not boring or annoying.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes we ourselves as consumers, users, evaluators, and participants can be sour. Take the example of Facebook's new redesign, which groups of over 2.6 million have now gathered on the social network to talk about how much of a lemon the site's look and feel has become.

How about some good examples? Dunkin Donuts has certainly caught my attention, beating out Starbucks since the beginning of the year by serving up coffee that many of us can now afford (or at least not feel bad about spending on). The company's DunkinBeatStarbucks.com site provides a laugh or two which we could all use right now, and we can certainly appreciate someone giving us a positive nudge by saying "You Kin Do It."

What did Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have to say about all this? His response was merely "Are you going to say to your friend, 'Lets go meet at Dunkin' Donuts'? Are you going to say that?"

C'mon, really? Since when did the green apron-wearing people start serving up a grande cup of bitter lemonade? It now appears to be on the menu...

Flickr photo by accipitereye

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not one, nor many conversations, but many communities

To marketers and their brands: He who creates conversations within the most communities wins.  This is certainly true of audiences who now exist across multiple areas of the web.

While many of us always seem to say that its not just enough to join or participate with users on the web as brands, it really isn't enough to create one, or many conversations, but to do so within many communities.

Nike is a prime example of how it does this well. In the U.S., while Nike's display ad spending is alot smaller compared to other premier brands, the shoe company certainly spends time providing content to niche communities and create conversation around sub brands such as Jordan, 6.0, and NikeID. Whether its leaking the location of where the next pair of limited edition Dunks are going to drop, or releasing a bootleg of the Nike Skate video, the brand understands that this content will create buzz that will ring from one community to the next, until it reaches the mainstream and other conversational channels such as Twitter, which is becoming the echo chamber of choice.

Helge Tenno and Mark Earls are some really smart folk who've said similar things with regards to igniting conversation and starting lots of small fires on the web.

Flick photo by wonderlane.

What is media, and is it all created equal?

Great article by Jean Pascal Mathieu in OMMA Magazine. I'll briefly steal/paraphrase here...

What do we consider to be media, and how do we as individuals define it?

Media is generally defined as "tools that store and deliver information or data." However this can still mean different things depending on who you are and what you are talking about.

For instance, to marketers, media is vehicles for places to run ads that will by target audiences.

For the general public, media is usually seen as major brands and broadcast channels providing news and entertainment over the air or within print.

For those surfing the Web, media can mean online and other digital destinations that deliver information, entertainment or opinions produced by their peers.

What's more, the emergence of blogs, social media networks and mico-blogging communities have pretty much blurred the lines of distinction between these definitions, which again begs the question: Are all media really equal?

Nurun's VP of Strategy Jean Pascal Mathieu outlined the following factors that help shape our perceptions of what "real" media are:
  1. A clear editorial mission, usually aimed at a particular niche audience or political position.
  2. The ability to produce original content sufficient to keep the property alive and interesting to the audience.
  3. Responsibility for the quality and value of the content delivered, as well as adherence to a professional code of ethics.
  4. The ability to ensure a level of distribution and visibility congruent with what the public expects of media: presence on newsstands, on the street, in a cable package, on the air, or in a Web news aggregator.
  5. Regular or continuous delivery of "hot" information, as defined by the distribution channel and the media type.
His underlying premise is that a media property that exhibits most or all of these features will have a strong identity. I also agree with what he states regarding how social media has made is possible for orginary people to publish their opinions in what he calls the middle ages of media.
"But what is interesting now, in these "middle ages" of media, is the mix; on the nytimes.com, bloggers and readers opine alongside journalists, although each plays a different role. A lot of the content that finds its way onto the Web property would never have been considered "Fit to Print" by America's traditional newspaper of record. The result is a media hybrid, perhaps, but it's a rich and more relevant media mix."
All really good points to think about as the web brings our change in media consumption and behavior.

The Magical Land of Twitter

For all those Twitter addicts who are "twuoting" all over the place...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Great Discriminator

I've recently picked up John Zogby's The Way We'll Be again, after a long pause due to some arduous work over the last couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I'm impressed by that extensive knowlege that Zogby has as a pollster, especially when it comes to identify trends among the
connect class and their digital behaviors.

In talking about millennials and how they are global, networked and inclusive of just anything, Zogby described how the Internet plays a part in the lives of this group of digital immigrants and natives, which he defines as the First Globals:

While i've never really thought of travel in the sense of the manifestation of the exploration or "travel" that happens on the Web, it makes sense. Many of the tweets and status updates I view on a daily basis regarding my social circles are directly linked to travel. Whether it's "on vacation," or "attending a conference," travel seems to be a growing topic that many of us choose to share with others. Even if I can't find myself going away for a couple of days, or able to attend a conference or industry panel discussion, I often find myself watching such events virtually through video and presentations (lagged of course after they've ended).

Where will you travel today, either online or in the physical world? When will there no longer be a difference?

Great presos on Context, Convergence, Participation, Accessibility, and Digital Abilities

I wanted to make sure and spread this around. Helge does an amazing job at stating things so eloquently with regards to pretty much anything digital. If you haven't followed his blog, or viewed any of his slideshows, i suggest starting with two of the most recent below.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids and Teens Abandoning Social Networking Profiles for Blogs and Video?

Certantly nothing too new about the greying social networks and community websites, but it is interesting to see the numbers behind it.

What fascinates me more is that the number of users on community and social networks has decreased among the 2-17 age group according to new Nielsen data. Even as this group is mostl likely making up the majority of users on communities like Bebo, AOL Red, SocialVide, Habbo, or even within gaming areas such as MapleStory, I ask myself: if those 9% are really no longer interested in community websites, where then are they going?

According to comScore, traffic to YouTube rose 37% from Feb ‘08 to Feb 2009, compared to 27% for the U.S. total audience. Usage of blog platforms such as Blogger increased 42% over the same time period, which is significantly higher than 16% of the total U.S. population online.

Are teens abandoning their social profiles and updates and focusing on blogs and video more, or have they always? At the end of the day, people are still hungry for interesting content, wherever that may be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't Just Talk to, Talk WIth

Something that's been on my mind has been participation within community, specifically bloggers. While I do enjoy sharing my thoughts with those i've come to know, I'm always hopeful that I can grow new friendships with those visiting this space. And while I wish there were more comments (either positive or negative), I realize that I myself should comment more.

Why do we choose to comment? And why do we most certainly comment in our minds as we read content, but almost never do? It takes time to reply and post your opinion around a topic, which of course takes more commitment to do than simply visiting a blog or an RSS aggregator.

But I'm convinced that commenting is a habit that is to be formed, just as any other habit, even blogging. Most of my comments end up on Twitter or Facebook, which make the commenting process easier. I can comment by actually writing something, I can vote or "like" content and/or other comments. I can share (which is really a form of commenting that says "this is good and worth sharing), and even commenting on status updates just seems like fun if anything else.

So I'm challenging myself to comment more around the content I see and read, and hope to share that experience. If you're reading this because I commented on your blog and somehow ended here, great. :o

Because, at the end of the day, is commenting just as fulfilling as posting content? I'll let you know :o

Care to take the challenge with me and create conversation? Tweet me a holla.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10 Ways to Spread Stuff: New Distribution Strategies for 2009

How digital touch points have evolved over the last couple of years has brought about new meaning to what Web 2.0 really means. Specifically, the explosive growth of social content, and broadcasting both branded and user-generated stuff has pushed us all to coming up with new ways of distributing that very same content.

As a result, I've been pondering and thinking about new forms of distribution and areas for engagement across the web, as a part of extending the digital experience by looking at the entire web as an engagement platform, not just the pretty social media, videos, and updates on Twitter.

The following are 10 ways to spread "stuff" - content, ideas, and anything else you can link to:
  1. Content sharing and creation, which also includes the co-creation of content (all hail the mashup and remix culture).
  2. Community engagement through blogging, joining groups, and collaboration
  3. Social expression through badging
  4. Knowledge sharing, How-tubing, and other tutorial, expertise, and wiki-type things
  5. Sharing your opinion as a stranger about anything - Rating, voting, writing reviews, customer feedback, and posting responses through comments
  6. Deliberate propagation of an idea, through word-of-mouth, promotion, blogging, link sharing, starting conversations, and other forms of digital kudos
  7. The ever-popular status update. Everyone feels like broadcasting what they are doing and where they are doing because we can, so we just do.
  8. If you haven't noticed, social = mobile (slide 22, and slide 23) and vice versa. Mobile is becoming a social enabler specifically providing ways to map and share our mobility. Think location-based services wrapped in a social burrito (i couldn't think of anything else to say outside of "enigma").
  9. The word viral has been so misused and abused, it pretty much doesn't mean much nowadays because we're trying to call everything viral. Rather, the new content journey is all about social discovery (slide 13), and knowing about something because someone you know shared something they thought was cool. When is the last time you visited a micro-site to get something you kept hearing about?
  10. Finally, making content and ideas slippy rather than sticky has proved that good ideas can survive and travel across the sea of blogs, social networking sites, communities, inboxes, and even mainstream news sites. If it's not stealable, er, embeddable/shareable/portable, it will never get anywhere for obvious reasons.
And thats it. It's really what I have been saying all along, as well as all the amazing digital minds out there. Feel free to tweet about it with me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Future Virtual Worlds

An inspiring short film depicting a world of holographics and building worlds. Truly amazing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blog Authors and Content Collaboration

One of the bloggers which I follow and am most fascinated by is Bud Caddell's What Consumes Me, not only because of Bud's thinking or for kindly sharing it, but mostly because of his ability to take the blog medium and use it as a platform for collaboration. Take a visit to his blog and you'll see exactly what it mean.

"I want to write for your blog. Gratis. But you have to give me a great question or profound thought to ponder."

This is how Bud starts off posts written for other fellow bloggers, then asking his visitors to visit the blog to read the guest article in its entirety. 

As a hats off to Bud for fostering collaboration among the personal blogging crowd, I'd like to take the idea up as one to follow. I've enjoyed commenting with several of you, emailing and reaching out to others, and have had the pleasure of posting content on History Repeats Digitally as well as on Slideshare where I have also met some great people. 

I'd like to reach out to some of you personally over the next couple of weeks to ask if you are interested in contributing to this blog on a per-post basis, with the intention of fostering collaboration, and stating that I'd be happy to do the same on your blog if the occasion arises.

Thanks to all for continuing to read and share your thoughts.

Social Content Aggregation

Last week I had an interesting discussion with a colleague of mine regarding content syndication, aggregation, and the technology allowing all of this. In also thinking of an earlier example such as FriendFeed (which i've stated was like an RSS feed for social updates), I couldn't help but think of the how the aggregator service provides new thinking in how the role of personalized portals is changing.

Not only that, but I also believe that the role of the micro-site as a single point of distribution for content is changing as well. One example recently executed is Adidas' NBA All Star '09 site (via David Armano), which shows how a brand's use of aggregating social content creates a unique point of distribution as the result of content being posted, uploaded, and created across other media entities such as Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.

The result is a micro-site serving as an aggregator for original content being posted across social media properties, which is where I think the shift towards social content strategies will emerge as we begin to come to terms with the fact that over one-third of the content we view online is now user generated. 

Something to think about as we begin to understand the change in how we consume, view, and organize content. I won't necessarily put all my eggs in one basket on this type of trend becoming mainstream among marketers just yet. It will be interesting to see if users actually want content aggregated for them without and personalization input from user themselves.  However, as I've discussed the notion of trust and curation being the future of marketing, I'm curious to see how the aggregation of social content could in fact become a step towards trusting brands to help us filter content for us on our behalf.

Wondering what others out there might think about the topic. Anyone?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brand Building Through Sweat Equity

In watching HGTV the other day, I can’t help but think of the people who put in time to contribute to the value of their home, through renovations, maintenance, etc., often to increase the value of their property. This is known as sweat equity.

Likewise, marketers and their brands need to invest in sweat equity, meaning they have to take the time to work with online communities and participate in their spaces and culture to establish genuine rapport and contribute to the overall value of the community. The days of pulling a one-time stunt to build loyalty and brand followership are over, and it's going to take some real sweat equity to build brands.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When Adopting Convenience Becomes Inconvenient

As I was standing in line in front of the movie theatre to watch a movie the other night, I noticed that the lines to buy tickets at the door were rather short. I then noticed that the majority of people were actually lining up to use one of two machines allowing customers to pick up tickets that are pre-purchased online.

Sounds convenient to quickly enter a confirmation number into a kiosk to obtain an admission pass, but in the end it's anything but. And I’m not talking about any design or experience issues with this type of machine either (using one is pretty straight forward).

In this case, opting to use such a service is inconvenient - not as the result of the service itself, but as a result of our own behavior to adopt the service.

When services provide value, their utility causes us to experience convenience. The resulting consequence however, is that when enough people find such a service useful, our herd-like behavior causes inconvenience as the result of adopting convenience.
Don't get me wrong. Adopting services with value has its benefits, and not all services may encounter this problem. But one day, we might find ourselves adopting convenience, only to realize that our own behavior to adopt it creates inconvenience.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009: A New Year in Digital

This year will bring some rather exciting changes to the digital media landscape. In truth, all years have something new as the boundaries of technologies are being pushed, and as the result of the changing-behavior among users who are continue to embrace new services and what they have to offer. 2009 however, will be different in that consumption and the Internet usage is shifting as the result of the economic situation (at least here in North America).

This presentation hopes to shed light on some of what has happened in 2008, and what we can expect more of over the next 11 1/2 months.

Note: A special thanks to Helge Tenno of Screenplay, who was the inspiration for the visual design and layout of the presentation.

Update: Slide 10 was updated to reference proper credit (Thanks Helge :o). An additional slide was include to provide another example on storytelling through unexpected platforms, with an explanation now provide for the Mini example under Augmented Reality.

Download the revised version here (megaupload link).
2009: A New Year In Digital
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: digital media)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hard Times

I took the liberty of creating a slideshow of Ben Mason's and Nicholas Felton's version of the Charles Dickens classic. Nothing deeply insightful, but it is visually appealing, and it does note some stats on youth and their internet behavior, the innovation of ideas, social networking, and on today's culture growing out of love with old ideas.
Hard Times
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: culture ideas)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brands and The Meaning of Mutual Exchange

While the majority of society can generally describe advertising as a paid commercial message transmitted within a mass medium, there is no single definition that describes it today. Historians, sociologists, marketers, and the common citizen all view advertising differently – as an art form, a science, or marketing tool of within our capitalist world. James Laver, a British historian, broadly described advertising during the 19th century—a time when companies made outrageous claims which could not be proved, and with practically no regulation—as follows:

“Advertising is as old as Humanity: indeed, much older; for what are the flaunting colours of the flowers but so many invitations to the bees to come and “buy our product.” Advertising might be defined as any device which first arrests the attention of the passer-by and then induces him to accept a mutually advantageous exchange.”

In other words, advertising may be described as a mechanism for 1) getting the attention of an individual and then, 2) persuading that individual to engage in some kind of action—ultimately, to use some type of service or buy product.

The truth, however, is that this definition is practically outdated in today’s society, and not necessarily as a result of advertising clutter, the increasing ineffectiveness of awareness campaign, technology, or even the Internet itself. Before the first screen (theatre), radio, the second screen (TV), the third screen (Web), or even the fourth screen (mobile), advertising and marketing still existed. But it wasn’t just word of mouth, the printing press, or a placard on the street. Before that, what got people to act and take interest in something, to believe in what someone else said, was the result of social connections.

I think what Laver meant to say that still applies even today is that 1) the product is the marketing, and 2) Advertising, even in today’s technological, digital, and connected world should work to create mutually, or rather exchanges resulting in the connection between brands and participants.

“Mutually” being the keyword here. In 2009, Mutual brands will join with people, as well as allow them to join with others. Mutual brands will engage with people in cooperative ways, will have common thread, will share goals with society, and unite with those within social environments, for a specific cause, and ultimately become a part of an evolution of exchanges to come.

In 2009, marketers will collectively begin to understand that mutual exchanges, that giving rather than taking, and that providing value to people who are no longer interested in consuming as much as they are interested in participating, will be the new brand currency. Looking forward, audiences will no longer be known as consumers, but as participants, joiners and socialists, each with their own brand currencies to trade on their terms.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Twitter and Geo-Tagging as Platforms for Academic Participation

Recently, one of my past university professors reached out and asked how he could get students in his advertising class to adopt new media as part of his classroom instruction. “Give them assignment using Twitter,” was my reply. He couldn’t have been more stoked, and I couldn’t have been quicker to answer without really thinking about what I just said.

As I later wondered how interesting a concept this was, I further began to think about how the use of micro-blogging to communicate in an academic environment was really something that students could get excited about, even if it is just an experiment. I then thought of how other forms of technology could be applied to other subjects such as my geology class. I loved to study the subject, and I would have loved to have used a mobile phone with the ability to geo-tag photos of the field trips we took every week and upload them to Flickr, and to later be able to go back and look at all the beauty we surveyed, from the desert sands to caves to the tops of mountains, all categorized and stored by location, along with annotations of other things that were observed today. Take that one step further to provide geo-utility with mobile devices also acting as SPIMES or using augmented reality to layer the same data from past trips onto mobile devices as they are used to view natural objects on trips from future classes. All of this providing a completely new and immersive experience, all just to learn about rocks, or anything else for that matter.

Friday, January 2, 2009

INQ1: The World's First Social Mobile Device

Mobile service provider 3 Network has recently launched INQ1, a mobile device that fully integrated social features such as Facebook, Skype, and IM as part of its operating system.
Some of the more interesting features include facebook status updates from your friends that are integrated into your contact list, including eBay and custom widget funtionality. The best part? The phone's ability to act as a plug and play 3G modem. The only feature that wasn't highlighted is whether or not the phone has GPS capabilities.
The emergence of a mobile device catering to the social crowd beyond text messaging allows for social networking portability that will become part of the future of social media.

More details on the INQ1 website.