Back in the mid 1990s I used to go to an all night (weekend?) party called Coalesce. There were lots of nice people and loads of deeply meaningful conversations. And ridiculous ones. About life, the universe and everything. There was probably a bit of chemical enhancement going on. Twenty years on, tech entrepreneur turned curator Herb Kim has done something quite amazing. He’s channelled that essence of nineties rave into a conference.
Thinking Digital is a heady mix of music, lights, optimism, existential conversations and meaningful coincidences. A homespun feast of analogue humanity meets digital possibility. The conference is now in its eighth year and it’s a celebration of the polymath. The speakers are all great connectors – communicators who can explain quantum physics or data visualisation with ease. They entertain with complexity.
You don’t have to be clever, you just have to be up for it.
Game-changing companies Airbnb and Uber don’t own anything other than their online communities – and the data those communities generate. But Airbnb and Uber are worth billions. And they’ve blown traditional business models out of the water in the sectors in which they operate.
This was the key point made by digital expert Dion Hinchcliffe at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in London recently: “I hear people say ‘Oh, we’re not a technology company, so we’re not riding the technology wave’,” said Hinchcliffe. “But that’s no longer an excuse!”
“Whatever your sector, your business model is under threat from digital,” said David Terrar, the summit producer. “We’re seeing three massive trends happening at once: cloud, social and mobile. The unprecedented access to data, connectivity and the speed at which new products and services can be delivered mean goal posts are shifting fast.” Continue reading →
As I mentioned in the last post, social media for nonprofits should be like shooting fish in a barrel: “Bingo!” every time. We all love to get behind a good cause – the problem these days is exactly which cause to choose.
Campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (above) went viral due to a number of factors: a great visual stunt, celebrity support, timing (it was August 2014 – the height of summer in most English-speaking countries).
But for most nonprofits, success is not so much about making one massive splash then receding from public view – it’s more like the drip-drip of a constant current: having a place in the public consciousness, year in, year out. Continue reading →
Does every brand need a social purpose? Maybe not – but all brands need a story to tell. Consumers love to share stories about social good – but marketers beware: the panopticon of social media sees and hears everything. If your social purpose story is not embedded throughout the business, if it’s not watertight, you’ll end up with Egg McMuffin on your face. Continue reading →
In the olden days, or at least as long ago as 2005, the formula was simple: send out a press release to journalists and follow up with a phone call. Play it right and you’d see your client’s name in print. Timing and context were essential, plus the strength of your story, and the depth of your relationship with the journalist.
What’s changed? Very little actually. A good story presented to the right person at the right time will still be passed on, but the mechanism of presentation is completely different.
We no longer deal in press releases, but in the essence of an idea. And the “right” person is no longer necessarily a journalist, he or she is just as likely to be a blogger, a vlogger, a Viner or a Pinner. Or something else entirely. Or a mixture of things. Continue reading →
Five years ago this month, I published Monkeys with Typewriters – a bit of a hippy treatise on the importance of social media to business. I wanted to look at how social tools could help businesses and all their relevant stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers and the like – be more productive, effective and – yes – even fulfilled and happy, because they would be communicating a whole lot better. Well, that shouldn’t be rocket science, should it?
Half a decade on, the six behavioural changes outlined in the book are still relevant and, if anything, even more mainstream today. And I stand by them. Here’s what they are – and how to incorporate them into your everyday way of doing things in 2015.
1. Go forth and co-create!
The DIY and customisation trend is only getting bigger. Why only the other week The Guardian Guide ran a special on it. Creative Commons licensed photos are increasingly used on websites as an alternative to stock photography and just last July Google added a usage rights function to its image search. The web is overflowing with free, re-usable material – don’t be afraid to experiment. Set up a playlist on Spotify or Soundcloud. Start your own WordPress or Tumblog and share anything that takes your fancy. Find inspiration by curating some Pinterest boards. Join a #tag conversation on Twitter and realise that sharing and responding to other people’s ideas is just as enjoyable as broadcasting your own. Instragram and Vine stuff you see around you. Free your inner creative genius. Continue reading →
Does your boss ban Facebook? Is YouTube access blocked from your office? Do colleagues look nervous when you mention Twitter? If so, chances are your employer is a large corporate or public sector organisation with deeply-ingrained concerns about productivity and time-wasting. Many large companies (and the more traditional smaller enterprises) have a myriad of communications restrictions in place.
IT departments nearly always cite security and legal issues as justification for this draconian behaviour. A few years back I heard a talk by the head of social media at a leading US retail bank. He referred to legal, compliance, fraud and security as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. It’s difficult for ordinary employees to argue, he said, when confronted with effective corporate death as an alternative.
So what about startups – are they cool with social and other new technologies? Well, yes, they generally are. They’re digital natives, aren’t they? It’s hardly surprising that a recent survey by online recruitment platform Tyba found 68 per cent of people working in big companies said they’d move to a smaller startup if they had the chance…and bad IT was cited as a key reason by 27 per cent of respondents. Continue reading →
Twitter is for now and Facebook’s for yesterday – but you can see the future on Pinterest. From recipes, wishlists and wedding plans to visualisations of new husbands and dream homes, Pinterest has it all.
In a neurotic, self-obsessed, keeping up with the Joneses world, what could be better than a social network that defines not so much who you are, but who you want to be?
Pinterest’s 70 million users (“pinners”) share what they want, not what they own. For a generation where identity is built around shared ideas and experiences, Pinterest could be the de facto social network.
“Pinterest is a search engine, first and foremost” says Sarah Bush, Pinterest’s UK country lead. Pinterest wants to take on Google – by being a social discovery engine where images are curated by other people. A Google search for “red dress” (for example) will serve up a selection of sponsored links under the “shopping” tab – Pinterest gives you a range of styles selected and commented on by fellow users.
Next week is London Social Media Week. The fifth sixth time the event has taken place in London, and the first time founder Toby Daniels’ company, Crowdcentric, has been running the show directly. For previous events, Sam Michel’s Chinwag was in charge. I’ve live-blogged pretty much every time, and it’s been interesting to see the event grown in size and stature year on year.
Inevitably, the event has become more focused and commercial over the years. Like social media itself, it’s growing up. There are good and bad sides to that. People may gripe about inflated ticket prices and a monochrome agenda – but it’s more just the sheer size of the event that’s off-putting. If you look through this year’s agenda, there are plenty of gems to be found.
If you Google it, you’ll find a million articles telling you about optimisation, engagement and discipline. You’ll read how content strategy is as important to social media as UX is to design, or how it makes sense to manage content as an asset, with a quantifiable ROI.
You can look at where your customers are hanging out online and what they’re reading and viewing. You can look at what your competitors were doing and what type of content is working (or not) for them. You can look at trending conversations and upcoming campaigns. You can data scrape everything, set yourself up with monitoring tools and apply your KPIs.
But at the end of all that, if you don’t feel you “own” your tweets, updates, videos and blog posts – if they’re not coming from the heart – you might as well go back to the drawing board… Continue reading →