It’s been a crazy year. I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and all the best for the year to come. May your heart be open and your dreams come true! Big thanks Paul Donnellon for the santa cartoon.
You never know what to expect from a brand-organised conference. A little bit of hard sell, a whole lot of soft sell, maybe some interesting speakers, possibly nice people, undoubtedly decent catering and an ok sort of venue. That’s pretty much the best case scenario.
NYK Europe, the new social media intelligence conference from Brandwatch delivered on all those fronts. And probably more. It was nice to spend time with lots of other people deeply interested in social media analytics and consumer marketing insights (yes, leaving the rest of you FREE to party on without us)!
Here are five things I learned:
1. The key to meaningful innovation is empathy – Clara Gaggero and her magician husband Adrian Westaway designed the only phone manual ever to be put on display at MOMA. After observing elderly people struggling to un-box and set up new mobile phones, they made two hard-bound books which the sim card and phone could be placed into, creating a fun, interactive process with packaging, gadget and instruction all blended into one. Such a cool, simple idea.
2. Some nice lines to use about working with influencers: “Influence is contextual. It’s not absolute. It’s not a commodity. Influence is an eye-dropper: diffusion not infection. It’s all about planting a seed”. Thanks Dr Paul Siegel! Influencer marketing is still so misunderstood – good to be reminded it’s all about relationship-building (a la old school PR) not sledge hammers.
3. “Social for good” is something we can all be working towards: it’s all about using social data to solve read world problems. Yes, thanks Edward Crook (research manager, Brandwatch) – let’s have some more of that!
4. A 25 year old man can be a global figurehead for challenging gender stereotypes. Liam Hackett has been working with Brandwatch to research misogynistic language online and see how it impacts on men as well as women. Their first report was published in January. More collaborative work is coming. Liam’s agency worked with Lynx on a new tone of voice – as revealed in the aftershave’s latest campaign, Find Your Magic.
5. Mark Zuckerberg may have come to the party late, but he really knows what he’s doing with virtual reality. I hadn’t seen this latest video but its clear that the marriage between Oculus’ technology and Facebook’s 1 billion strong marketplace is frighteningly powerful. Meanwhile, if Twitter doesn’t innovate fast, we could all be deleting our accounts. Just two stories I heard on NYK’s savvy audience grapevine.
Thanks for having me, Brandwatch! Look forward to the next one.
Something very significant happened to the digital industry this week. Not just the controversial passing of a new Investigatory Powers Bill, nor the fact that Channel 4 almost lost the right to screen Black Mirror, nor even The Pope deciding to reach millennials on Instagram.
No. This was the week Thinking Digital – the North East’s phenomenally well-loved art-meets-geekery conference – finally came to London. And it was quite an entrance.
A fabulous venue (the very chic Ham Yard Hotel in Soho), sublime organisation and – as ever – an exceptionally brilliant line-up of speakers (including Twitter’s Bruce Daisely, above).
It’s the most fantastic luxury to be able to spend a day (or two days even) walking around chatting to like-minded people and listening to feisty speakers talk about politics, economics, culture and the state of the world in general.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places self-actualisation at the top. And it’s true: only when all other basic needs are met, are you able to indulge, retrospectively and introspectively, in thinking about what being “you” might really entail.
There’s a lot of it about.
In January, Edelman’s Trust Barometre said the UK was at an all time low in terms of public trust for charities, NGOs, business and media. The PR giant recommended companies demonstrate clear personal and societal benefits, and behave with integrity, in order to build trust.
In February, the PRCA ran a packed-out event, Should Brand PR Have A Higher Purpose?, where the likes of Coca-cola and McDonalds argued that social purpose was core to their business strategies. (There’s a good write-up on Gorkana by the panel chair, Ruth Allchurch.)
In June, I went to the launch of Reclaiming Agency - a report on the future of advertising. The report concluded that advertising creatives should start using their collective nous to address sustainability, inequality, poverty and other big social issues facing the world.
Not to be outdone, in September, marketing and media industry bible The Drum relaunched with a brand new strapline: How Marketing Can Change The World.
Just back from Thinking Digital Manchester. And the over-riding message was for us to all turn off our devices and go and do something more interesting instead.
Yes! From a digital conference!! You don’t go to digital events expecting to be told to go off-grid and head for the hills, but the most awe inspiring speakers in Manchester seemed to do just that.
Whether it was “digital obesity” from Eddie Obeng, Stephen Waddington talking about the Internet being full of sh*t or Tom Chatfield warning that all our time risks becoming the “same”, the loud and clear message throughout was that the digital (marketing) industry needs to take a proper look at itself in the mirror – because it’s getting kind of ugly.
Dare Conference has been going for three years but this is the first year I’ve been able to attend. It seems unique among conferences in that it focuses on collaborative business culture from a digital/ geek standpoint. Founder Jonathan Kahn used to be a web designer, but he grew frustrated at the disconnect between espoused workplace values and the reality – and set up DareConf to bridge that gap.
The first thing about DareConf is that it’s great for networking (in the best sense of the word): getting the chance to connect with like-minded people on a deeper level than you might do at a purely speaker-focused event.
The conference is a mix of presenter-led talks and interactive workshops (like the one above). The excellent talks – where four people (Rifa Thorpe-Tracey, Laura Morgan, Penny Walker and Holly Burns) spoke about overcoming their own problems at work – set the tone for the interactive sessions.
There was a hint of rebellion bubbling under at last week’s Social Media Week London. But despite Will Hayward of Dazed (above) kicking off the conference with a fabulous call to arms – wanting all of us to turn off our ‘content pipelines’ and start doing something more interesting instead, most sessions reverted to business as usual, focusing on brand-building tips and tactics.
Here are my top three takeaways from the week:
1. Short-form visual content is overtaking the written word: the most popular ‘word’ online in 2014 was the heart emoji (Twitter’s Tariq Slim). Twitter reported a massive rise in short-form content (Periscope, stop motion Vines and gifs). Jonathan Davies from Buzzfeed noted the same, citing animated Vines and gifs. Ed Couchman from Facebook has seen a huge rise in emoji, stickers and photos. By 2018, he says, 9/10 pieces of Facebook content will be video.
I’m reporting live from Social Media Week London again this year – covering the official event stream from the conference HQ in Holborn. So don’t worry if you don’t have a conference pass, just follow the #SMWLDN hashtag (or @JemimaG) on Twitter. There are also loads of unofficial (and free) events happening round town.
This year’s theme is Upwardly Mobile: The Rise of The Connected Class. The key question is how can all humans achieve more in a connected world? Fabulous question, but you might be disappointed looking down the schedule trying to find sessions that attempt to answer it. These ten get my vote:
1. Definitely Not Content Tues 15 Sept, 9am: Will Hayward spoke last year. He’s really good. This time he’s talking about the cultural significance of the social web and why why we should all aim higher than “content” marketing.
— Thomas Jackson (@tmjackson) May 21, 2015
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.