Revolutionary Measures

Generating a network effect – why WhatsApp is worth $19 billion

As I’ve said before, the technical side of creating a new social network is relatively easy – and nowadays with cloud computing you have fast, cost-effective access to the resources you need to scale it in line with demand.

Diagram showing the network effect in a few si...

But how do you create the demand – for your social network or any other service in today’s complex and fast-moving world? Essentially you rely on the network effect – the fact that the more people use a service, the more valuable it becomes to each user. A classic example is the telephone. If one person is connected, it is worthless, but add more users and the positive effects increase dramatically – you actually have someone to call. It can also drive lock-in – if 80% of businesses use Microsoft Office there are compatibility issues for those that don’t, but who want to share documents with them.

Social networks are a classic example of the network effect in action – the bigger Facebook gets, the more people are on it who you know and supposedly want to communicate with. WhatsApp is another. It has built a base of 450 million users – 70% of whom are active on a daily basis. And as it allows free texts to be sent between users (and doesn’t cost to join for the first year), why wouldn’t you sign up to message your friends? No wonder it is predicted to hit the billion user mark in the relatively near future.

So how do you create the network effect and catapult your startup into the $19 billion bracket? There are six things I think are necessary

1              Word of Mouth
Obviously people have to know about your network or service, but traditional PR and marketing can only take you so far. What you need is people to recommend it to their friends, so start by researching and targeting the nodes of networks (i.e. those with lots of connections). If they join then their followers will as well. Approach these people and maybe even make them brand ambassadors to get them onside.

2              It has to be different
In open markets there is no point trying to simply copy what is already out there – if people are already using a service, the alternative has to be different or substantially better, if they are going to join. What issues/problems do people have that you can solve? In the case of WhatsApp it is removing the cost of sending text messages, so there is a clear advantage of moving to the service.

3              Make it easy to use (and free)
An obvious one, but if people log on and have to navigate through a maze of functions when they join, they are going to be put off. From registration to ongoing use, make things simple for people. And you have to understand and appeal to a mainstream audience – test it out on real people, rather than early adopters and fellow geeks. An intuitive user experience and comprehensive online support, including video and how to guides are a must if you are to grow. Put it where people will use it – on their mobile devices as well as PCs. And the basic package has to be free if you want to recruit major numbers of people.

4              Make it compelling
Just getting people to join is the easy part – network effect relies on them actively using the service. LinkedIn had this problem a few years back. Everyone had joined, but no-one was logging on, unless they were actively looking for a job. It changed this by adding in compelling content that aims to drive you back to the site – from the thoughts of business leaders to seeing what your peers are doing. You need to create reasons that drive people back to your site on a daily or even more frequent basis if you are going to build a solid user base. 

5              Think global from the start
When it comes to tech and the web, you need to think global. Does your proposition work in Delhi as well as Derby? The wider the target market, the bigger the potential user base, provided you make it appealing to a worldwide audience. Even if your site is initially just in English, the user experience has to be understandable by non-native speakers. As things grow you should quickly add other languages, dependent on demand.

6              Keep evolving
Nothing stands still – since its acquisition, CEO Jan Koum has announced that WhatsApp will offer voice calls on its platform, putting it in direct competition with Skype and traditional telecoms companies. You need to add new services and functions to both keep momentum going, ensure users return regularly and to recruit new ones.

The success of WhatsApp demonstrates it is less about the technology, and more about generating network effect if you want to attract a lucrative exit. Is it worth $19 billion? If it can continue its growth, introduce new paying services and bolster Facebook’s own platform it might just be.

Enhanced by Zemanta

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Marketing, PR, Social Media, Startup | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 changes that Facebook has made in ten years

This month Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday, having come a long way from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room in 2004. Hitting 1.23 billion active users and 2013 revenues of $7.87bn points to an astonishing growth in just a decade – though several researchers have tried to spoil the party by pointing out that teenagers have been deserting the social network in favour of cooler locations such as WhatsApp and SnapChat. On the flipside there’s been an 80% growth in those over 55 joining up – and from an advertiser’s point of view, which is the demographic with most money?

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

As the parent of a ten year old, albeit one that hasn’t delivered any revenues yet, it is amazing to see the impact that the social network has brought, not just online, but to the world around us. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing – ten years ago digital marketing essentially meant creating a website, SEO or sending out emails, rather than the relatively sophisticated profiling that is now possible through Facebook.

So here’s my top ten things that Facebook has changed:

1              Our language has evolved
Ten years ago we liked things. Now we Like them, and friend and unfriend people in the real world, as well as online. Poking publically is still frowned upon though. The language of Facebook has added and amended written and spoken English, and made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

2              Marketers have traded control for access
If you told a marketer ten years ago that they’d move from investing their budget in their own websites to fitting their content inside the constraints of a presence on a third party network they’d have laughed at you. But essentially that is what Facebook has done – consumer marketers feel they have to follow their target audiences onto the site and interact with them, if they are to drive engagement.

3              Consumers are now in charge
The relationship between companies and consumers used to be one way and top down. The very word consumer conjured up a vision of passive purchasers lapping up whatever was marketed to them without complaint. Social networks have turned this on its head. Got a complaint? Disagree with what a company is doing? Facebook (and, of course, Twitter) provides you with a megaphone for your comments and can reach a global audience within seconds. Brands no longer have total control – as my ex-colleagues Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington have pointed out we’re now in an era of #brandvandals, that have the means and inclination to undermine corporate reputations overnight.

4              Everything happens faster
This isn’t just because I’m old, but we’ve moved from 24 hour rolling news to second by second and minute by minute activity. Move away from your computer for a tea break and you’ll be behind the curve and out of the loop. The constant need to update your status, post what you are doing and react to other people doing the same does give immediate insight, but is it at the expense of longer term perspective?

5              You cast a longer digital shadow
Ten years ago there wouldn’t be much information available online on most people. Now people live on Facebook, sharing their most intimate moments without a second thought. But unlike the offline world, this information doesn’t disappear but remains available forever. So be careful what you post as a teenager, as it may come back to haunt you when you’re Prime Minister

6              News has changed
How we consume news – and how it is collected and disseminated – has evolved beyond all recognition. Facebook profiles are the first place that journalists look for information or reaction to events. Much of our news is shared or recommended by friends rather than genuinely found through our own efforts. Consequently bite-size stories have risen up the agenda, along with a focus on cute kittens and addictive but unprovable gossip.


7              Distance is less important
It used to be that your closest friends were those you saw every day, even if the main thing you had in common was location. But now you can hang out with people you share interests with, wherever they are scattered across the globe. For many people the main focus of their social lives is Facebook, not the telephone or face to face communication any more.

8              Celebrity hasn’t gone away
Social media has allowed celebrities, from the Queen to Justin Bieber, to share their lives and build a direct relationship with an audience, unconstrained by the press. But this comes as a price – you need to actually talk to your fans and engage, rather than shutting yourself away, surrounded by minders.

9              We’re more open
Perhaps too open judging by what many people post. But the stereotype of shy and retiring, emotionally awkward Britons has been completely destroyed by the advent of Facebook. There’s no limit to what people think is shareable or that they believe their friends will find interesting………….

10           We’re beginning to grow up
Our attitude to how our private data is mined and used is changing. When Facebook began, few were bothered about what happened to their personal information – but that has changed as we’ve grown savvier about what it is worth. The next decade will see a fascinating struggle between Facebook (and marketers) and users, as each side tries to shift the needle on privacy.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Creative, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The all-seeing eye

People are still coming to terms with the lack of privacy that social media and the online world have brought. Some are happy with the fact that ‘privacy is no longer the social norm’ (to quote Mark Zuckerberg). However for many more of us the fact that our every online move is tracked (whether by large companies or the NSA) is a big worry. But at the moment, the usefulness of free online services, such as search and social media, outweigh the intrusion. After all, it is confined to the virtual world and provided you don’t do anything stupid, like give out your house number on Facebook, you can keep your real life separate from the web.google-glass

But the shrinking size of cameras, and the forthcoming launch of Google Glass, promise to merge the offline and online worlds like never before. Whether deliberately or by accident you can photograph and share images, video and audio in real time, without the knowledge of those around you. Combining this with the vast store of digital information on the web enables people and places to be easily identified, tagged and shared. So far Google Glass has privacy safeguards built in – it bans facial recognition apps and requires either a voice command or tapping the top of the glasses to take a photo. However given that there is already a hack to take photos by winking, I can see developers getting round this all too easily.

Should we be scared? The normal argument trotted out by those in favour of increased surveillance is that only the guilty or those with something to hide should be worried. And obviously the ability for the police to identify criminals and terrorists is a major positive of ubiquitous cameras. But what about the person who happens to be snapped where he or she isn’t expected to be – on their way back from a secret rendezvous with a lover, or a job interview that they don’t want their existing employer to know about? The difference between official surveillance, where access to the pictures is tightly controlled, and the world of personal photo sharing, is that everyone can see everything, without safeguards to limit access. There’s already issues with unauthorised photos taken upskirt or down blouse by low lifes with camera phones. Add in facial recognition to these, enabling the victims to be identified, and it makes the whole practice much more sinister.

For me the even more disturbing thought is what businesses can do with this data. Advertisers already have access to your location, your past browsing history and what you have previously bought. Add in what you are looking at, and your reaction to it, and it gives a 360 degree view of your behaviour. Spend five minutes idly staring at a poster at a bus stop? Look at a pair of jeans in a shop window? Expect it to be noted and used to sell to you.

Don’t get me wrong, the proliferation of personal cameras can be a good thing. They can be used to provide information on the world around us – want to know what that plant is or what bird is singing nearby? Google Glass can help. They benefit dementia patients, enabling them to fill in the gaps in their worsening memory. Personal cameras provide a tamper-proof record of conversations that can prevent litigation against doctors, couriers or the police. But in my opinion, the negatives outweigh the positives.

What is needed is a fundamental review of privacy and how it is enforced. And that needs to happen now, before Google Glass and its competitors hit the streets and become mass-market. Social media failed to do this – there privacy was an add on rather than built in from the start and this has had a major impact on how our personal data is shared. When it comes to something even more personal, what we see and what we hear, governments and businesses must act now to guarantee privacy before it is too late.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pick up the phone!

Telephone

Everyone in business today has a plethora of communication channels to choose from, split between analogue (face to face, phone) and digital (email, social media, text, web). But is it a good thing?

As a member of Generation X (roughly defined as born between the mid 1960s and early 1980s) when I started work in public relations the only ‘digital’ communication was the letter (and extreme cases of urgency the fax). So analogue channels were pretty much the sole way of interacting with colleagues, talking to clients and pitching to the press. That meant that you had to develop verbal communication strengths such as being able to respond quickly to questions, give succinct answers and carry a conversation.

And PR was typical of all professions at the time – we were forced to speak to people (even if it was scary) and consequently got reasonably good at it.

But this has changed with the entry into the workplace of Generation Y. Weaned on new technology, these digital natives never had to learn to use email, social media or text as new channels – as far as they are concerned they’ve always been there. Lots of people I know comment on how much quieter today’s offices are as people are simply not on the telephone.

Which brings me to my issue. At the risk of sounding old, Generation Y need to start picking up the phone rather than hiding behind email and social media. It is very easy to craft a wonderful email, hit send and believe the job is done. Research quoted in Fresh Business Thinking found that 1 in 20 18-24 year olds is terrified of using the phone in work – and I reckon that’s a gross underestimate. The survey also found that 40% of 18-24 year olds were made nervous by telephone communication, against 28% of the total workforce.

We’ve all ducked making that call and sent an email instead (whatever generation we are), but here’s three reasons I think it doesn’t always get results:

1              Lost in transit
Most people get hundreds of emails every day and with the best will in the world it is easy to overlook one out of the many, whether deliberately or not. So the end result is that you don’t get a response and either have to re-send the email or try another channel.

2              Lost in translation
Even if everyone in the email conversation speaks the same language the chance of misinterpretation is high. Something that you can explain verbally can appear rude or just unclear, giving the wrong impression or leading to being ignored.

3              Lost in the gaps
With a phone call, or face to face, you need to think on your feet and try and build a rapport. You can change your tone, explain things and actually persuade someone by listening to what they are saying and responding accordingly. You simply can’t do that on email. While someone might come back with a question they are more likely to just hit delete and move to the next email.

I’m not Luddite enough to suggest going back to the days of telephone only communication, but people need to understand that there are advantages and drawbacks to every channel and pick the right one for each particular task. That might be email, social media or text – but it is vital that today’s workforce doesn’t neglect the telephone or we’ll end up as a nation of business mutes rather than engaging communicators.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Creative, Marketing, PR, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

easyBrand Damage?

Aircraft: Boeing 737-33V Airline: EasyJet Regi...

Like a lot of people I’ve been impressed by the current easyJet TV ads. Celebrating ‘generation easyJet’, the group of travellers that the airline claims was created due to its low fares and wide range of destinations, it is modern, engaging and aspirational. There’s no overt mention of price (in contrast to Ryanair’s pile them high and sell them cheap advertising), and the overall approach is grown up and comparable to ‘proper’ airlines. The message is travel with easyJet to do the things you love.

However in an age of social media and consumer activism advertising can’t trump reality. Two recent easyJet blunders threaten to undo the slick ads, damage its brand and put off prospective passengers.

Firstly, it initially refused to let a passenger who criticised it on Twitter board his flight. Lawyer Mark Leiser sent a tweet after his plane from Glasgow to London was delayed, potentially preventing a soldier on his way to active service reaching his base in Portsmouth. easyJet allegedly said they wouldn’t help pay for him to get to his destination. After tweeting Leiser was pulled out of the boarding queue and told by a manager that he couldn’t get on the plane as ‘you can’t tweet stuff like that and get on an easyJet flight.’ It was only when the manager found out that Leiser was a lawyer that they changed their mind and let him on. easyJet later apologised and denied that it was its policy to ban passengers based on what they’d said. However by then the damage was done as Leiser’s original tweets were shared around the world and then picked up by major media.

A couple of weeks later easyJet managed to leave 29 passengers behind even though they’d passed through the boarding gate and completed check-in (and had hold luggage on the plane). Interestingly statistics from YouGov found that nearly 10% of UK Twitter users heard about the story, showing the power of social media to spread bad news.

Obviously easyJet is not the only airline to suffer at the hands of social media. After BA lost his parent’s luggage, Hasan Syed invested in a campaign of promoted tweets focused on the airline’s target audience, leading to the #BASucks hashtag trending. Eventually BA customer service responded, apologising for not getting back sooner but (I kid you not) the global airline’s social media team only works 9-5. Like easyJet, BA has an ambitious new ad campaign out now, highlighting its “To Fly, To Serve” motto. No news on whether they are going to amend that to “To Serve (business hours only).”

easyJet has invested over £5m in its new ad campaign and I’m sure BA has spent a lot more. But it looks like a classic case of being distracted by shiny things. A much smaller investment in social media and staff training might not look as impressive, but in today’s world may well go a lot further.

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Creative, Marketing | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spam goes social

No-spam

Most of us are painfully aware of the amount of email spam out there. According to Kaspersky Lab, 70% of emails sent in Q2 2013 were spam – a rise of 4% over Q1. But as software gets better at detecting spam, particularly malicious emails, criminals are moving into the social world.

A separate survey by Nexgate found that social spam rocketed by 355% in the first half of the year, meaning that one in 200 social media posts is spam. 5% of social media apps are also spam, according to the research.

In many ways this is a logical development – better spam detection technology and heightened awareness mean that email is less effective at getting through to the gullible. With social media it is easier to reach a mass audience with a single tweet or post, and if you can unwittingly persuade people to share it, peer recommendation helps spread it even further and faster.

Essentially people need to apply the same levels of suspicion to social media as they do to other channels such as email – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And they also need to be careful what they say online. Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, harvesting information from social media (such as your children’s names or favourite football team) and using those to crack banking passwords. While this takes a lot longer than whacking out an email telling you your PayPal account has been limited, the rewards are potentially much greater, and there are plenty of people with the time and technology to build up enough of a profile to access your details.

So what should people be doing about it – and how can marketers make sure that their valuable and targeted communications reach the right audience and their brands don’t get hijacked? A lot of it is common sense. Don’t connect to people that you don’t know without checking them out and be careful what you share (and with whom). It is the 21st century equivalent of not leaving your wallet unattended or giving your address to strangers. Make sure you understand your privacy settings and bear in mind the default is normally set to open.

For marketers, there’s a double problem. Firstly, they need to increase engagement with target audiences so that their emails make it through spam filters in the first place (and even more importantly aren’t then deleted unread) and that they use the data available around the web to deliver insight into what customers want, without being accused of cyberstalking. And secondly, they need to protect their own brand against being hacked, particularly on social media. Who has the login details of your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages and are they regularly changed? What is your social media policy – and how do you ensure that all your staff protect their passwords when it comes to business networks such as LinkedIn? All it takes is one person at a multinational company to be hacked and their account used to send spam and your reputation is in serious trouble.

So, the moral of the story is, be vigilant and remember that your online presence is now responsible for the majority of your personal or corporate brand reputation. Protect it on social media like your wallet in real life or you’ll suffer the consequences.

 

 

 

 

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Robots vs serendipity

A swarm of robots in the Open-source micro-rob...

By bringing the world together the internet opens up pretty much unlimited possibilities. You can discover completely new topics and interests, communicate with people across the globe and access a myriad of content that was previously unavailable.

More and more of what we read, watch and listen to comes via the internet – and this is only going to increase as previously analogue services such as TV go digital. On one hand this widens choice, but how do we navigate and find things we are interested in? And more to the point, is just watching what we’re interested in necessarily a good thing?

Showing my age, when I was growing up I had a choice of three TV channels (I remember the excitement of the Channel 4 launch), and video recorders were in their infancy. So you watched what was on – or switched the TV off and did something (less boring) instead. That meant there was a greater chance of stumbling upon a programme or subject that you wouldn’t have chosen to watch but actually widened your knowledge. I’m not saying the 1970s was a golden age of TV but you were likely to see a broad range of subjects in your daily viewing.

Now we have a plethora of channels and there’s always that nagging fear that there’s something better on the other side. Navigating this maze is difficult – how do you choose what to watch when there are thousands of alternatives? The way I see it there are essentially three ways of making a choice:

Robots – like Amazon Recommendations your TV/Set Top Box or PC sees what you have watched and enjoyed in the past and comes up with more of the same. However this essentially narrows your viewpoint – you’ll potentially end up watching programmes very similar to those you’ve seen before. The same goes for search – after all, you’ve got to know what you’re looking for before you type something into Google.

Friends – personal recommendations work, provided they come from people you trust. And given pretty much every programme is available on catch-up TV, you can view what your friends on like after the fact. And social media provides a quick way of gathering recommendations. Better than robots, but still likely to keep your watching within a relatively constricted area – after all we’re governed by a herd mind.

Editorial choice – what does the newspaper/TV guide say is good and worth watching? TV previews tend to cover a wide range of subjects so can highlight programmes that you wouldn’t normally watch. All good, but even with glowing reviews some programmes may not sound like your cup of tea and you won’t watch them.

Ironically the digital world can give us too much choice and make us flee back into watching a tiny fraction of its range. So, what’s the solution – or does there even need to be one? I’d argue that we should rely less on robots or even our friends and trust to serendipity – switching on the TV to a random channel and giving the programme 10 minutes to make an impression. Yes, it might mean seeing some duds but it also gives the chance of finding a new area that will change your life. Now all we need is an app to help us do that……………

September 11, 2013 Posted by | Creative, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorting out the Twits on Twitter

New Troll and Old Troll (Front)

Twitter is currently at a pivotal point in its development in the UK. Having celebrated its seventh birthday in March, it now has 10 million users in the country and worldwide 400 million tweets are sent every day.

It is worth looking at these figures in the context of the current publicity around the hateful trolling of female celebrities on the microblogging network. Over 1 in 5 of the UK adult population is on Twitter and, as Baroness Lane-Fox has pointed out, the danger is that the genuine outrage about misogynistic threats on social networking will drown out the issues of violence against women in the real world.

Clearly there is a wider issue about how people, particularly men, feel they can treat others. Social media provides an anonymous and easy way to broadcast their ‘thoughts’, as they are able to hide behind their keyboards rather than having the guts to talk directly to people.

The danger is that the current abuse will drive right-minded people away from Twitter and it will lose some of its variety and ability to enable millions of conversations. A second worry is that in the run up to the election, the government will take action that, while it cracks down on trolls, curtails genuine freedom of speech.

So what can be done? While the 24 hour boycott was well-intentioned it risks the trolls feeling they’ve won. In my opinion what is needed is, unfortunately, increased proactive policing of the network. Twitter’s decision to add a report abuse button to every tweet is a step in the right direction but at the moment trolls don’t see the consequences of their actions. In the same way that the Lord McAlpine Twitter libel case brought home to people that social media is not above the law, a similar high profile trial of trolls is needed to demonstrate that abuse, threats and harassment is as unacceptable online as off.

Currently the CPS guidelines on prosecuting offensive tweets require either a credible threat of violence, stalking/harassment of specific individuals or breach of a court order. ‘Grossly offensive, indecent, offensive or false’ communications have to pass a high threshold of evidence and the guidelines state that ‘in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.’ Therefore while prosecutions would happen for some of the most high profile trolling cases, the vast majority will slip through the net. The police have said they don’t have the resources to monitor every offensive communication. This puts the ball back into Twitter’s court and it is time it began suspending accounts more quickly and making it more difficult to reactivate them. Naming and shaming of trolls is another option – witness the abject apology given to Mary Beard after someone threatened to tell the troll’s mother about his behaviour.

Twitter, like other social networks, has crossed the chasm into mainstream life. What is needed is fast action to demonstrate that actions online have the same consequences as they would have offline, with fast prosecution of offenders and, before that, suspension of accounts. While this may not cure misogyny and violence against women in the real world, it will send out a strong message that it will not be tolerated online.

 

 

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The thigh’s the limit for advertising

Advertising

In an increasingly cluttered world, reaching consumers with your ads is becoming incredibly difficult. We watch programmes on catch-up TV and fast forward the adverts, ignore online banner ads and routinely delete marketing emails unread.

So how can advertisers respond? Step forward the latest Japanese idea – using women as walking billboards. Public relations consultant Hidenori Atsumi is paying young Japanese women to put adverts on their thighs and walk round Tokyo for eight hours a day. His rationale is that it is an area that men want to look at anyway and that women are happy to expose. Even ignoring all the inherent sexism in the idea I think it is a tactic that doesn’t have a long term future, despite the column inches it is currently generating. While men won’t get bored of looking at women’s thighs, the impact will wear off – they’ll remember the medium rather than the message.

However the idea got me thinking, so here’s my top five underexploited ways of advertising and reaching the right audience

1          Heads
In a counterpoint to young women’s thighs, another body part that gets a lot of attention is the head. You could dye hair in corporate colours or sculpt it to look like a product or company logo. Beards and moustaches offer another great opportunity. Alternatively for the follicly challenged, bald heads make a great space to display your message.

2          Beer glasses
I have seen some adverts on the bottom of beer glasses, but it still seems like an underused space. Obviously you need to keep the message simple so it is understandable after a few pints, but it would be a perfect way of reaching drinkers. How about a ‘Buy Crisps’ advert to boost pub snack sales – or for the more hardened drinker ‘Buy Alka Seltzer’……

3          Plants
You can buy bean seeds that supposedly grow a leaf with a word on them, but that’s small in comparison to what could be done with careful breeding and a bit of ingenuity. Individual plants with a sponsor’s name or whole fields that display a message when viewed from above. Perfect for farmers near airports to boost their income.

4          3D Printers
3D printers are becoming cheaper and cheaper – you can now buy one for £699 in Maplin. But what if you were actually given one for free – but in return every third or fourth thing it made was an advert or replica of a product someone was trying to sell you. Essentially the Spotify model brought into the physical world. You could even hook up a webcam and social media so that it automatically tweeted a picture of the object to your social media followers.

5          Personalised billboards
We walk past billboards every day and often don’t give them a second glance. But if they addressed us by name and delivered a personalised advert that would be different. It should be relatively simple to use smartphone proximity to trigger ‘your’ ad to appear – and it could even be based on your location. A billboard between the train station and your house would advise you to buy milk on your way home or one outside a clothes shop can offer a discount on new trousers. Providing you situate them in less busy areas (Leicester Square isn’t going to work) they’d be able to deliver a personalised message to a steady stream of consumers.

Any other ideas I’ve missed? Tattooing toddlers or affixing ads to animals? Let me know in the comment section.

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Creative, Marketing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journeying to the uncomfortable zone

The world of business used to be a simpler place. Companies worked in a linear fashion, creating products and services and then marketing and selling them to consumers. Most organisations had a single business model and customers were very much at the end of the chain.no-straight-lines-home

The rise of the internet, greater communication and social media has changed all of this. Rather than being driven by brands, consumers have now taken back power and are in the driving seat. Don’t like the service you’ve received? Social media provides a megaphone to broadcast your concerns. Dislike the attitude or activities of a major brand? Use the power of the internet to force them to change. The #FBrape campaign succeeded in forcing Facebook to change how it dealt with gender-based hate speech on the network, both by demonstrating the scale of anger (60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails in less than a week) and by lobbying advertisers to remove their adverts from the network.

And the new world order goes much further than this. Companies need to tap into this complexity to co-create with their customers rather than continue in the top down, industrial mindset that we’ve known for so long. That’s the view of visionary thinker and Cambridge-based author Alan Moore, who talked through his book No Straight Lines at last week’s CamCreative.

Alan sees five key areas for companies that are being disrupted to focus on as they move into the uncomfortable zone of today’s business reality. They are:

1              Ambiguity
The non-linear world is complex and unclear. Rather than fearing the unknown companies need to unleash their curiosity to see how they can change.

2              Adaptiveness
As Wittgenstein said “the limits of our language are the limits of our world”, so everyone (companies and individuals) needs the knowledge, skills and tools to formulate what they want and how they can request it.

3              Open
We’re not in a monoculture anymore. Companies in all industries need to open up to work with their customers and other partners to design and deliver the products and services they want. Crowdfunding is the perfect example of how this delivers results, as is Lego’s Cuusoo site where builders post designs of new models. If it gets enough support from the community the design is turned into a fully-fledged product, with the inventor receiving a royalty.

4              Participatory cultures and tools
Humans are not machines and we want to make meaning in our lives, participating in the world around us and providing input into things close to our heart. The rise of fan fiction demonstrates this, with people actively extending the stories that they love. Rather than reaching for the lawyers, creative companies need to work with enthusiasts to benefit everyone.

5              Craftsmanship
The old model of build it and it will sell is broken. Companies need to continually update and adapt their products, listening to feedback without fear of failure.

6              Epic
The new world order can have a transformational impact on your business and the lives of us all. Companies need to embrace this and deliver an epic response to meet the needs of the world around them.

Whatever your business, marketers and creatives need to understand and react to the changing world, making it more relevant to everyone. There’s a lot more in No Straight Lines, which can be accessed online for the price of a tweet or bought in paperback or Kindle editions – it is well worth a read.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Cambridge, Creative, Marketing | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers