Those that do.

Maker

Maker is a documentary about people who make stuff. It is what I was referring to in the post about the Transition Economy.

I’m happy that the trend was identified and termed more eloquently by others ;) The project is definately worth checking out on Kickstarter and supporting.

Be happy.

Brenda.


A Half-Baked Reflection On Influence

The world is teeming with people we refer to as “influencers”.  Marketeers and advertisers will befriend influencers when launching a new product or a campaign in order to gain access to their entourage. We try to gain their favor in order to reach out to those who look up to them.

The word ‘influence’ comes from an Old French astrological term meaning “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny”. It’s no coincidence that ‘influence’, originally exerted by the stars, is nowadays exerted by ‘stars’ of a different kind.

Influenza’ comes from Medieval Latin influentia, meaning  “a flowing in”, which also refers to the stars, since influenza was believed to have occult or astral influence.

It’s the similarity between influencer-the-star and influenza-the-disease that strikes me as interesting — the concept of influence as an epidemic, in the etymological as well as metaphorical sense.

Are we influenced out of conviction or out of contagion? Do influencers convince us, or do we only want so desperately to be like these stars that we succumb to (and fall ill with) their opinions? The mechanics of ‘influence’ are worth a deeper study, perhaps elsewhere.


The ‘Socialmediazation’ Of Life

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 2.20.03 PM

“You should tweet that!”

You’ve probably received this advice from someone in response to something you said; something admittedly not as profound as your friend made it seem. It’s only normal to ask someone to tweet what they just said, of course. It’s akin to the knee-jerk reflex when the doctor taps your tendon with a hammer.

“You should tweet that!” That’s the new, natural ending to a conversation. That’s evolution, baby.

(-_-)

Your napkin sits lightly on your lap. Crumbs on the table tell of your skirmishes with the bread sticks and butter. In your peripheral vision you spot the waiter approaching with a tray. You turn to your friends to express your joy about the food’s arrival.

But then,

As the waiter comes closer, three out of the four people at the table have already pulled out their phones to Instagram their plates. It’s the new saying grace, the new “بسم الله” before you eat.

(O.O)

Were you at the Metallica concert? Did you check in on Foursquare? Did you then upload photos of yourself to Facebook, standing in a sea of ebbing humanity, with the stage (and maybe even James Hetfield) behind you, miles away, the size of a pinhead?

If you did, then inspect those photos for a moment. Inspect the background, notice smart phone screens in the air as hundreds, thousands (who’s counting, right?) of people are taking videos of the concert with one hand as the other hand flashes the sign of the horn.

Your photos document this convergence of an outdated “heavy metal” hand gesture with the more contemporary addiction to documentation.

An addiction to the ‘socialmediazation’ of life.

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\m/(>_<)\m/

Kik it, Vine it, upload it to YouTube. Or pin it, GIF it, tag it, share it. Send it out like a ripple; a digital echo diffusing into the vast virtual space. It’s all exhibitionists and voyeurs out there. Feed them.

But when you’re finished, right before your phone battery runs out, or just as your dried-up eyes start begging you to go to sleep, ask yourself these:

Were you really there in that moment? Did you ‘experience’ it?

Or were you too busy reporting it to the internet? Did you really want to be there, or did you just want to be able to say you were there; to show off  how much life you’re living? Did you feel anything or were you too preoccupied with publishing the fun you were ‘having’?

Come back. The moment needs you.

=====

PS: At a public art exhibition on JBR two months back, a lovely European violinist performed on the sidewalk in a flowing red dress, her melancholic melodies riding on the night’s lazy seaside breeze. As people passed by, they snapped photos or took videos of this rare presence. They stood there just long enough for the photo/video before moving on to the next ‘thing’. No one stopped to actually listen or watch her perform.


Telling your story.

Previously, I’ve written about the progress of Marketing and Communications over time (Marketing Era’s; From-functional-to-aspirational-to-meaningful-economy). One might argue that such definition of trends and cycles is outdated even irrelevant, since the pace of change in society and culture today is so fast, things move on before we can even discuss them. But, I still believe it is worthwhile to scope out the landscape we are working in, if for nothing else, just to know its modus operandi. Also it is worthwhile (1) to understand the changes in people’s behavior and how to deal with them (policies, products, conversations). (2) To understand the effects of these changes and how to navigate the future. After all, the intelligent brand/ corporation is one who can adapt and be ready for the future.

With that in mind, I believe that the current cycle is one of conversation / experience. More than that, it is one where stories shine. If we consider the rise of WordPress, tumblr, wordpad and even Pinterest and Instagram, I believe one thing they have in common is the idea of sharing our ‘stories’ with people. Even when we tweet we are sharing a ‘story’ of sorts.

Thanks to (as a result of) the digital revolution, people have become accustomed to giving more media more of their time. People spend short – sometimes long – chunks of time engaged in watching videos (Vimeo, youtube), reading (slideshare, blogs, facebook and twitter links), playing games (with all the emotions they involve). Only an interesting ‘story’ makes people do that.

If you look at the print ads below (source: Archive magazine vol.3 2012), you will see that they tell interesting stories. They engage people with an introduction, main plot and conclusion of sorts.

The notion of stories in marketing is not new. But what I believe is important is the way we look at stories from a brand viewpoint.

A brand story is not just a manifesto. Everything the brand does is part of its storyline. And unlike in the past, the ‘storyline’ doesn’t need to continue identically through all communication touchpoints. In fact, we can consider all touchpoints and all aspects of the brand as having unique stories with unique sub-plots, characters and settings across all touchpoints. They don’t all need to look or feel or sound identical. As long as they tell the story in total. At different points in time, one outweighs the other (see diagram below).

So next time you’re briefing your agency, make sure they understand and have a plan to tell your brand story though various touchpoints and that each touchpoint has its own engaging story and emotion. That’s what we do for our brands ;) It’s what keeps our work fresh, intriguing and interesting.


Empty Promises

Sometimes I am so inspired by certain things in business. These days SME’s and Entrepreneurs in the region are doing things differently to the way they had been before the new economy. They are customer service oriented and in fact they are a direct result of errors (read: opportunities) that have arisen from old ways of working. A few businesses are really reaching out to their customers and being open and transparent and providing added-value.

But then, I read and / or experience certain things and realize that some people / organizations are not yet hitting the mark.

Like this proud claim I read on a piece of communication recently: “The Largest Loyalty program in the region”.

What exactly does that mean? Is it the largest by number of subscribers? Or the largest by number of outlets that are part of the program? In any case, how does either of those benefit the consumers who are part of the program? What is the real benefit of belonging to the program?

So to those organizations who are still selling empty promises, there is a lot of merit to being the biggest and largest – but if you can translate that to something more tangible and rewarding, which will actually benefit your consumers you will find your business and your people (customer and employee) relationships will benefit.

Have a positive day :)

Brenda.


Not another Dinosaur

A movie says more than a thousand words


A Chef is not just an expert on saucepans.

I interact with a few of my very favorite brands (and thinkers) on various social media networks. These are brands that kind of hold the same values and world view as myself. I enjoy receiving useful bits of information about various topics from them. What distinguishes these brands from other brands I merely follow is that I like to show them my support – I ‘like’ things they post and I sometimes participate in conversations they initiate by posting comments and answering questions, retweeting and repinning.

But recently I’ve started to question this ‘loyalty’. Because if I’ve taken the time to ‘like’ and comment and interact with a brand, then I believe the least the brand can do is recognise this relationship/support.

I believe that good brands should act like good friends. Is that the way good brands would treat their friends? By ignoring them?

I think that social media has been used as an updated form of push marketing rather than a genuine attempt to connect with people (albeit brands push their messages out to people who have opted into the messages). Social media is such a great way to connect with people but when not used properly, it just highlights a brands opportunistic and selfish tendancies. Any brand / employee can be given the tools to connect, but very few brands (and employees) really understand how to talk and how to treat people.

Here are my issues:

Why don’t brands link their customers online and offline interactions?

Why don’t brands reward customers who support them online?

Why don’t brands use social media as a form of customer support and customer service?

If I was a brand owner / custodian I’d make sure that I connected the people who most commonly interact with me to some sort of loyalty or ‘appreciation’ program. I would send them a little note “Dear friend, next time you’re *at the cafe / at the mall / shopping for shoes* we’d like to shout you a coffee, because you’re special to us!”.

I think it’s time we built smart database or eCRM programs that connect people’s social media activity to the real world. Databases that value people not numbers, interactions not merely transactions.

That’s how I’d treat my friends and supporters.

But that’s just me.

~ Brenda.