Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, but...

Presented to a client group today on opportunities afforded marketers in the webfacemysocial world, release 2.x

Like many other marketers in the b2b world that we've heard from, there is a clear desire to 'think different' about their marketing. Consistently, a common point of discussion revolves around the obstacles to change...when discussing blogs, for instance, these concerns are mostly associated with the 'risk' of having someone say something not-so-nice and on company property to boot.

Of course these are all valid concerns. So here's a quick list of what's worked in our experience:

1. Start small: pick a project where the risk is small if it blows up.

2. Do what you already do: Sending out newsletters? Have experts who offer points of view? Try posting the content to a blog or board.

3. Find champions: Find those who are passionate about the connected world and get them involved...regardless of org chart titles.

4. Do it for yourself, then your customers: Try a project that helps your own organization's communications, then take what you learn and pursue the external audience.

5. Build on success: Find something that works and tweak it. If something doesn't work, move on.

6. Don't wait: Perfect is the enemy of good when the customer is on the line...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Alt+64

Just returned from the Dominican Republic where I suffered withdrawal symptoms from my connected devices (yes, I know...pathetic. The warm temperature and powdery sand helped however, so need for any sympathy ;).

It took a couple of days to get comfortable with the idea of having only 15 minutes of access a day--from a shared terminal--to check email and the like, epecially when part of the 15 minutes was spent trying to remember alt-code keyboard references for characters that are not part of the standard spanish language set.

Alt+64 for instance being the code for the ubiquitous "@". Alt+69 for '\' and so on. A subtle reminder that sometimes the always on, always present online world has some built in friction...and that sometimes a vacation from 'always on' helps reduce it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Faster, better, stronger...

No, it's not about Kanye West or, for old schoolers, Col. Steve Austin. It's faster, better, stronger consumer research.

Hat tip to Sue LaBarbera who forwarded an article (PDF) about building a better research platofrm using "the tools of web 2.0." According to Sue:

“Quantilitative” research is what Andrew Piece [Senior Partner at Prophet Research] coins this integrated, web-based approach to gaining valuable insights in an effective and efficient manner.

Hopefully, the coin on this term is worth more than the US dollar. Either way, the article describes uses of online tools to engage customers in online brainstorming, concept testing, and product design with an eye toward the more traditional purposes of research:

...yield[ing] deeper, more impactful insights about the who, what, when, where, why and how about their customers and brands.

A key point of the article is the ability of the online methods and tools to obtain these insights in a rapid, iterative, learn-as-you-go manner... without, one presumes, a $6million dollar pricetag!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Does Apple make you think different?

Researchers from the University of Waterloo and Duke University have attempted to answer the questions:

"Does the [subliminal] impact of brand exposure end with purchasing decisions or can it extend to behaviors unrelated to the products the brand represents? In other words, can brands cause people to behave rudely or win more points at Trivial Pursuit?"

You can read a summary here or the 'Prepublished' paper (which will appear in the Journal of Consumer Research) here .

Despite the headlines claiming evidence that Apple's brand "makes you think creatively" and Disney "makes you behave more honestly", there are reasons to be skeptical. In the authors own words, "...brands play a less central role in life than do people, and one of less affective value." This would seem self-evident, of course, to anyone participating in the social media/social influence evolution.

Though it appears well designed, the experiment uses subliminal exposure to brand logos and then measures the amount and degree of 'creativity' or 'honesty' that results. Hard not to define these as soft measures. And while I think the researchers have done an admirable job of constructing a solid experimental method, it isn't the experimental construct that appears fallible...rather, it's that the hypothesis...(does subliminal brand exposure influence behavior) is built on a premise (brand impact) that remains itself the subject of great debate.


Also telling may be the conclusions of the researchers themselves:

“Instead of spending the majority of their money on traditional print and television advertising, companies with established brand associations such as Apple may want to give serious consideration to shifting more marketing resources to product placement opportunities and other forms of outreach that emphasize brief brand exposures,” Gavan Fitzsimons said.

As someone once said "I'll see it when I beleive it".


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Selling awareness through advertising

If you sell advertising based solely on its ability to generate awareness, this clip may encourage you to rethink the pitch...it might cause the buyers to rethink their purchase - unintentionally of course:

http://www.dothetest.co.uk/

Monday, March 10, 2008

There will be blood...

...in the web/agency future.

The question is whose blood and how much?

A dialogue that may become a debate...

Chris Bernard User Experience Evangelist, Silverlight/Microsoft Corp Kevin Flatt Exe Creative Dir, Tribal DDB (Chicago); Garrick Schmitt VP, User Experience, Avenue A Razorfish Brooke Nanberg Exec Creative Dir, ip pixel Peter Eckert Chief Creative Officer, Projekt202

1. Is trouble here?...lots of people in advertising know that many of the messages we create are not authentic...the degree of trouble may be determined by where you are now. Are you nimble? You will probably be fine. Nimble probably needs to be modified to incorporate 'a bias for learning'.

2. Traditional agencies are getting savvy about new technologies. But does viewing the interwebs as 'just another media' say something about how savvy?

3. General agreement about the primacy of 'The idea", but the execution requires the heavy lifting and this reflects the culture of how things get done in an agency...and how ideas abot collaboration and control may be different in interactive.

4. Master data...in this medium you cannot be successful if you can't analyze and draw conclusions from data about behavior. Data is native to the web/net platform...a tougher task for traditional viewpoints, though some media departments would seem natural fits.

So whose blood will be spilled? Here's a list based on the discussin:
  • Their will be blood from those who think it is about building a website or creating an email.
  • There will be blood from those brands who attempt to force their way into social spaces uninvited.
  • There will be blood from those who don't center design around the user's needs/desires.
  • There will be blood from those who use outdated ideas about people's passions and behaviours that are based on notions of gender, age, and factors that fail to recognize individuality....the power of who defines you shifts to you.

Top Secrets

Frank Warren who created Post Secrets discusses where it came from and what he thinks secrerts mean to people.

http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

Like the Zuckerberg keynote, there was a bit of audience upstaging that took place during the audience question segment...Someone had a secret…they took the mike and asked a woman in the audience to marry him. She said...yes.

Anyway, an interesting notion about why the popularity of the Post Secrets site also came up in audience discussion...the idea that there is an intimacy revolution…people seeking authenticity (e.g., sharing secrets, posting photos on myspace). Brought to Warren's mind that post secrets is a brand, but, in the search for authenticity and open source and community, this brand exists outside the realm of commerce. Can you put a price on passion and connectedness? That would be the question I guess.

If you are not familiar, people send their secrets via postcards that they make...very artful in many instances. Original project was set up because he handed out cards and got about 90 that were used in an exhibition. But then he continued to receive them…word of mouth…so he created blog to post what he got. The group organizes itself as it develops around community functions online. He allowed the band All American Rejects ((dirty little secret)) to use postcards from the project in their video for no money…just a contribution of $2000 to suicide prevention hotline organization.

A couple of the funny secrets (many are serious or sad) included:

“I serve decaf to customers who are rude to me. “

“You called me an idiot…oops! I sent your bags to the wrong destination. I guess you are right.”

In the spirit of Picasso’s quote about there being an artists in everyone, Warren hopes that the idea and the site/books that connect us to each our common secrets will expand the role of art in the world and the people who the world sees as artists.

Ten things for managing creative environments

What can we learn about managing creative environments by interviewing theater groups (steppenwolf and neofuturists), symphonies (philly) tech design shops and restaurants? Here are ten things that the Adaptive Path team has found...

1. Cross train people on other's discipline.
2. Rotate the creative leadership.
3. Identifyi the point when divergence of ideas must become convergence.
4. Know the roles each member plays
5. Practice with each other
6. Make your mission explicit and actionable to the team
7. Kill your darlings (with respect...positive or silence...no negative)
8. Leadership is the ultimate service position (not a dictatorship)
9. Generate projects around the groups interests (if you do it for the money only it won't keep people engaged)
10. Remember your audience...you are doing it for other people.

Boy I wish they wouldn't have made so many references to food

Xray specs

Make magazine has a booth...here's someone demonstrating a brain stimulating device...you can make your very own for $30 and your free time

The Future of Consumer Electronics is here...

It’s just unevenly distributed!...

Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft and now with FastCompany TV, moderates a wide ranging discussion on what’s driving the future of consumer electronics. Product Development and marketing directors from Seagate, Logitech, Sling Media, Revision 3 discuss.

The question: Where do you guys see consumer electronics going?
  • Everything goes through IP stack…things like Wii’s attached to electronic devices (Like HD TV).
  • Software becomes the common area of focus to integrate hardware pieces. Hardware is easier to build. What’s hard is the software.
  • Open source development is a ‘collective wisdom’ approach to solving hard problems.
  • Techhnology in general is moving toward open environment (as opposed to proprietary schemas…Can you say Blu-ray?).
  • Large blocks of data present challenges to distribution into the home (for instance, HD video), especially over wireless broadband/broadcast.
  • Many of the issues in consumer electronics are not technical, they are regulatory and deal with issues like intellectual property (digital rights management, RIAA, MPAA). But when technology and regulation collide, regulatory usually ends up frustrated.
  • What’s really important in the new electronics world is batteries (True Dat!).
  • The Bug Labs device is interesting. It’s basically a motherboard that allows you to snap in TV screen, Music player, Camera…it’s a build your own consumer electronics device.
  • Everything about it is open source.
  • The user experience becomes the focus of moving design forward. Design of the software to use processing power for presentation layer is trend (like the iPhone..again software is hard).
  • Embedded devices as a future trend (e.g., implants in clothes, under skin). Open source enables the collective intelligence to figure out how to develop the desirable devices and electronics.
  • Notion of productivity of an individual’s time as a purpose that mobile and connected devices serve…not work productivity but doing something when you are doing nothing. (Not the time in a life but the life in a time).
  • With voice commanded devices, what’s the future of buttons? (besides a large 'Mute' button)

Going Social Now

Shiv Singh, Avenue ARazorfish

Social influence marketing

Using the example of a sofa purchase, SS outlines the current, linear catalog approach to much online shopping…show the brand, take the user to the shopping cart, purchase, and ship. Realworld is less linear…we comparison shop across stores and products, collaboratively share information and even decision making…that’s how we shop for (high value?) items today…groups influence us. This is social influence.

What matters in social influence marketing? Compliance with the norms and expectations of peers; Identification with a group and importance of belonging as it influences behavior.

(then)….Brand marketing-├áDirect response├áSocial influence marketing (now)

This evolution in marketing is a reflection of the increasing communication and connectedness we have today. We are more influenced by each other now than ever before…and less influenced by traditional marketing approaches. We are listening to each other.

Social media, on the other hand, is a means to an end…the end being social influence (another shout out to “the vehicle is not the idea!”).

Other considerations for success in social influence marketing:

  • Become your consumer (And another DePaul campaign idea)
  • Aggregate information for the consumer (Bayer Season anyone?)
  • Participate where your customers are (But of course you have to find where they are)
  • Take small steps

Facebook Faceoff

Ah to be 23 and worth $15 Billion…Keynote interview yesterday with the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was as interesting for what he said as it was for the crowd’s hostility toward the interviewer, BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy. But i'll get to that.

First, what he said…with more than 60 million active users and billions of page views a month, Z seems remarkably obssessed with the social change aspects that he believes Facebook can enable. Throughout, he responded to questions about monetization, IPOs and the like with “I’m just really not that focussed on that part”… What he is focused on is creating a platform.

His described the platform as “…trying to help people connect and communicate more effectively. Removing the friction that we think helps people build trusting relationships.” He talked about the platform in ways that would make Robert Metcalf proud (The inventor of Ehternet describes the power of the network as residing in the power interconnectedness of devices at it’s periphery). He asked aloud, “Why do advocacy issues require big, centralized groups, like the NRA, to enable consitituency’s voices to be heard?” He believes Facebook can be the facilitator (another great DePaul campaign idea ;) of bottom up change.

He described anecdotal stories of Facebook, and the connectedness it enables, being used to combat Colombian guerillas and in Lebanon to dissuade youths from pursuing a path of isolation and extremism. He also confirmed that Facebook (which is currently available in Spanish and English) would be launched in France tonight (you heard it hear first!).


Discussed running the business around breakeven right now…this is enabling them to pursue these larger social change objectives…building Facebook as a business, it would seem, is a means to an end. His vision impacts the larger trend of advertising…as people are communicating with each other more, then the reality is that endorsements (from one person to the people they are directly connected to) become the dominant influence on awareness and perception (prior to an actual brand experience).

And now, what she said. The interviewer was a crowd disfavorite. She was booed at least twice and the crowd of more than 1000 audibly groaned and gasped on several occasions. She alternately was smug and flighty, generally asking questsions that required only a yes or no answer and on one occasion even interrupting one of Zuckerberg’s answers in mid-sentence to change the subject to a story she wanted to tell! She promoted a book she wrote in the interview and generally seemed to be confused about just who was supposed to be the center of attention. The crowd made sure she had access to its collective wisdom on that question.

Man in a box

Four actually. In the exibitor hall an interview was conducted behind plexiglass and streamed to the web...while 100s of people visited vendor booths all around. A case where 'in person' was not a superior experience.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Strategies for Social Media Revolution

Charlene Li of Forrester presented thoughts on enabling companies to participate in the Social Media revolution taking place without their consent. She focused mostly on blogs and good examples from Blendtec (the ‘Will it blend’ YouTube series that cost $50 to produce); Ernst and Young’s college recruiting via Facebook (something for R+K to study for our own use); and Dell’s path from the Dell Hell blog to effective PR with the flaming laptops and collaborating with cutomers to design new product.

Fulfilling the role of good consultant/analyst, she presented a memorable acronym, POST, for structuring the idea of using social media. P is for people, O is for objective, S is for strategy, and T is for technology, in that order. The order is important, if not also the most obvious. The best analogy I can come up with on an empty stomach is ‘vehicles are not ideas’…

Also included was this comment: “Making revolutions stick will require frameworks and processes”. Go BCM team!

Covered the Ladder of participation…Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collectors, Critics, Creators…as a description of behaviors. I favor the simpler ‘Receiver<—>Seeker<—>Provider’ descriptors since a critical notion is that we can move from one behavior to another in an instant online.

How to find and support revolutionaries:
-People most passionate about developing relationships with customers
-Educate the executives…the benefits
-Put someone important in charge…
-Define ‘the box’ with policies and process…
-Make it safe to fail…

Summary of success factors:
-Revolutions require frameworks and process
-Start small, think big
-Make social strategy the responsibility of every employee
-Be patient…culture change takes time.

Unsafe at any speed...

Someone is taking rhe risks of a virtual motorcycle racing game pretty seriously...crash and burn

Interacting with the audience...

And the audience with itself...live chat on screen from audience...who is engaging whom? Of course, the screen is sort of irreleveant given that it isn't any more readable than the photo suggests and that anyone participating in the chat is seeing it up close on their computer.

The presentation is about designing interactions. A behavioral psychology and economics look at designing interactions between people (as opposed to interaction between people and information).

Design against considerations including: costs, reward, risks…

The costs are primarily of user time and cognitive effort (e.g., enable action at the point of behavior); Reward is primarily about status (e.g., popularity, respect and alternative social currencies). The considerations of risk are about mitigating the risk of an action (such as rating systems that distinguish only positive options).

Many examples are of sites that, on the surface, may seem absurd...for instance the facebook "Buy and Sell Friends' application (http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=7019261521 ).

But even these experiments appear to appeal to fundamental notions of what many humans value: esteem, belonging, recognition and a degree of narcissism that is able to be indulged in realtime, all the time. Interaction designers are using these values as incentives to drive interaction between people...online.

Nothing groundbreaking in the psychology (think FiberMAx One Ton Club for an incentive geared toward esteem and recognition)...what seems new is the granular and diverse nature of defining infrastructure that enables individuals to actively pursue and manage against these incentives....think of it as knowing what everyone thinks about you and being able to do something about it to the level that you care.

Americas next top spokesmodel...

Demoing the latest HP supersystem...the geek chic!

Macs vs PC

Of course it's not a binary decision, but an informal count shows that there is no correlation between Mac use and wearing the color black among attendees.

Curry in Austin

Last night, the Worldwide Partners went to dinner at an Indian restaurant...good food (if you like Curry) and good conversation. Best story of the evening was from a session on social media metrics...apparently the speakers were not addressinig the issues to some folks satisfaction, so about a dozen attendess in different parts of the room began using twitter (a networked text messaging application) to organize a disruption...I guess the message was received by the speakers on the topic they were presenting...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Managing the media blur...

The panelists, Quentin Hardy (Silicon Valley Editor of Forbes Magazine) and Douglass Merrill (CIO and VP Engineering of Google) await the crowd, like fathers makenzie...the presentation will be run from a MacBook Air, so it has to be good ;)

Co-branding works for many companies. Apple, Forbes and Google all have stellar brands, brought together on one stage. Unfortunately, in this session only the Apple MacBook Air delivered to expectations. The panelists, and the brands they represent (themselves?) are pretentious, smug, patronizing, and pedantic...

But other than that, I think they really just weren't very well prepared. But here are a few of their comments anyway:

Technology has changed society previously…for instance the printing press. (newsflash)

The future always shows up with big chunks of the past in it. (and then its the past)

Key mechanical innovation has unanticipated social change. (like war photography)

Web 1.0 imitates the past…it looks like print and radio and tv. Now, Web 2.0 is enabling neighborhoods…of trust, of interest, of involvement

Information in itself is valueless. Only when it enables action does it have value…but information overload is nothing new. We just talk about it more now.

Authority is a relative scarcity.

A vigorous debate takes palce about the merits of 'every citizen having a voice as a journalist' vs the idea of 'quality editing and filtering'. Tools enable a merging of some of this via collaborative knowledge vetting (like Wikipedia), tagging, and search.

Audience questions didn't save this session. Sorry guys. I'll still read Forbes and use Google though. On my PC :)

10 thing from 37signals...

When I wonder what's going on in the world of good online design and usability (where good means form follows function) I ask myself...Hey self, I wonder what the guys at 37signals are up to"...well, they are running a session entitled 'Stuff we've learned at 37signals'...here's a link to their company blog (http://www.37signals.com/svn/ ). 37Signals is a Chicago-based software firm. They're widely regarded for understanding how people use online tools and for identifying the goals that they have...here goes...

Well, that was more about effectively managing a business that involves collaboration, tehcnology and creativity...hmm, certainly lessons applicable to a variety of organizations. Here's the baker's dozen of Ten Things 37 Signals has learned (your mileage may vary):


1. Red Flag Words: Here’s the words that get people upset…red flags
· Need: It’s an absolute, puts barriers up, not negotiable.
· Can’t:
· Easy: Usually used to describe what someone else does
· Only: It never is only one thing
· Fast: it seldom is
· It’s only one more feature, but we really need it. We cant launch without it. It should be easy, cant you just do it real fast.

2. Being successful and make money by helping other people be successful and make money.
Spot the chain reactions…BE the catalyst (sounds like a good tag for a university campaign!!!) for these chain reactions..you don’t have to worry about charing if you are delivering value

3. Target nonconsumers and nonconsumption
Nonconsumer has a problem but the solutions are too hard, too expensive, or too inaccessible…people who don’t use something who would use something.

4. Question your work regularly
Why are we doing this? Are we adding value? Whats the opportunity cost? Will this change behavior? Be honest with yourself.

5. Read your product
Biggest sin on the web is crappy copy/writing; Too much attention to pixels, not enough to words. Words are easiest and cheapest things to fix. And for all of us, rewrite first, then redesign second.

6. Err on the side of simple.
Start with the easy way. Most mistakes are the result of doing to much.

7. Get three things done in one week instead of one thing done in three weeks.
The longer it takes to develop something the less likely you are to launch it (Cat WL CD anyone??) . Get it out and tweak it later. Momentum and motivation are temporal qualities.

8. Resist the urge to try and do more the next time around. Focus on what you are good at…don’t start to think your prior success is whats going to enable you to do something different

9. Invest in what doesn’t change: Today and ten years from now…people will always want fast, affordable, what works

10. Follow the chefs (BAM!)
These guys share…they are experts and ttey tell you what they know…they build their empires by sharing them. In business, people are afraid competitive will mimic it and beat them. When you give it away, people pay attention.

11. Interruption is the enemy of productivity.
The closer you are, the more likely you are to interrupt colleagues…taps on shoulder, required meetings. A fragmented day is not a productive day. Passive communication reduces interruption…write back and forth…boards, email, etc. Allows the person on the other end to get to it when they are free…not when you think they should get to it. This is certainly different than we work.

12. Roadmaps can send you in the wrong direction. Roadmaps lock you into the past…into decisions you made in the past. Ok to think about the future, just don’t write it down.
Ricardo Sembler has a book about rethinking the organization…"Maverick"

13. Do the right thing at the right time.

14. Be clear in crisis

15. When you make tiny decisions you cant make big mistakes

16. Everything you do should matter.

030808: Audience discussion

Discussion on the ratio of consumption to creation (with media)...it is changing to a smaller ratio due to technology tools (e.g., youtube mashups, facebook)...

Discussion on screen time: Term is inappropriate generalization of how time is spent by youth..what they are doing is more important.

Cyberaddiction discussion: Addiction is the wrong term...if you stay up all night reading a book you are learning, but staying up all night playing a game is addicting. IS there some way to make school learning more engaging?

Discussion on impact of expansive online networks (Facebook, LinkedIn) with smaller offline relationships/networks

030808 keynote speakers

Speaker 1:

Everything that’s bad is good for you: Steven Johnson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_Bad_Is_Good_For_You

Speaker 2:

Convergence culture: Dr. Henry Jenkins, MIT

http://www.nyupress.org/books/Convergence_Culture-products_id-4756.html

HJ: Never underestimate the power of parents to see their children as dumb. Kids have always adopted new technology as a way to separate themselves.

New literacies emerging that adults don't understand...hence a wave or angst over the 'declining skills' of youth. But no good evidence testing for new learnings in areas such as collaborative learning, ability to tap into collective knowledge...people don't need to have mastery over an ever evolving body of knowledge.

People don’t do things that are meaningless…the challenge is determining how it is meaningful to the individual engaged in the activity...in many instances, this meaning is found in collaboration.

For instance, TV shows like Lost/The wire….The Wire is hill street blues on steroids, last gasp of old school tv??? Lost, fan created engagement with the map of underground lair…people trying to decode text, freeze frame map and upload to discusson threads…

And then, the good Doctor panders to the audience! “What’s wrong with America that they don’t value such creative engaged people?” Expected applause follows as everyone in the audience thinks he's talking about them :)


On to politics of technology:


How do we turn a collective knowledge society toward endeavors that change the political culture/system? The Obama Phenomenon (PhenomObamathon??)

In Politics, younger generation is about ‘We’ versus 'I’…collective intelligence and collaboration are hallmarks of Obama's campaign, moresoe than Hillary according to the doctor.


"We are the answers we are seeking."

On to the audience questions...

Collaborative gaming

Lots of rockband and guitar hero here at booths for local universities among others...people will watch others play and then the booth staff swoop in...this 'rockband' was jamming to paranoid.

Play the frag dolls...

Four master (mistress) game playing women take on all comers in a first person, multiplayer shooter game...beat em abd you win a maxtor hard drive...at lest 30 people watching the screens over player shoulders...

Gamer community.

Registration....

Interesting that the registration reuired a small green card to be completed...in pencil. Opening remarks at 2 pm...now, tradeshow and swag. :)

There's a very good reason...

That they hold this conference in the south!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

SXSW, huh?

I will be live bloggin' from the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin. The festival schedule can be found here:

http://sched.org/sxsw2008/0307

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mailto blogger

"Mail to" as distinct from "mobile"? In this day? Only in a vehicle-centric world...my friends.