Altruism or Anonymity?

Facebook Blank Photo 300x246 Altruism or Anonymity?

How do you create a movement without scale?

You can’t. At least not in the traditional sense.

Segmentation of media has rendered the concept of  a “movement” into a much more digestible (and achievable) concept. Hitting the “mainstream” has never been easier.

How? After all, shouldn’t fragmentation hurt this process?

Yes and no.

Humans are social animals. They break off into groups and organize themselves on culture, spiritual and language similarities. From tribes, to city-states, to nations we have steadily created more complex and intricate ties to build out what makes us part of a group. This culminated in the 20th century with the invention of mass media and the rise  of nationalism.

Then the internet happened.

What impact did the internet have on group dynamics?

Fragmentation. Instead of forcing people to mobilize around a watered down idea it allowed for them to construct their own identities with a (very!) similar group of people. Information stopped moving vertically and started moving sideways.

Audience atomization overcomeA new pattern of information flow, in which “stuff” moves horizontally, peer to peer, as effectively as it moves vertically, from producer to consumer.

A few examples:

Ice Chewers – A community for people who love to chew ice…way too much.

Juggalo Faith – An invaluable resource for that rare handful of folks who are both Insane Clown Posse fans (aka “Juggalos”) and God-fearing Christians.

Dancing Alone to Pony – People who love to get down alone to Ginuwine’s seminal hit.

Niches have essentially crushed our need to consensus build. We can now exist in a world where everyone we interact with socially, shares the same motivations. This is great for our self-esteem, not so great for exposure to differing viewpoints. This has led to accelerating polarization.

After all, how could someone like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman come along and take over the national  scene? They don’t ascribe to or even try to appeal to most of America what they do instead is focus on a specific set of highly motivated vocal supporters.

In marketing we call these supporters “influencers”.  These are the catalysts for any successful movement, whether it’s for sharing a video or casting a vote. These influencers have a disproportionate amount of say into what ideas succeed or fail.

It is with this mindset that we can divide all online movements (natural and manufactured) into two camps:

Altruism – A desire for good. Kickstarter, Causes.com, Reddit and Social Good.

Anonymity – A desire for mischief. 4chan, Reddit and Something Awful.

Every marketing campaign, political initiative, or community based initiative needs to have one of these ideas at their core. Otherwise, they run the risk of feeling forced or even worse? Contrived.

How does this mesh with your sense of community? Have you constructed a movement/marketing campaign with these core ideas at their center?


Brands Shouldn’t Build Ecosystems, They Should Improve Them

4449141520 aba3f0648f b 225x300 Brands Shouldnt Build Ecosystems, They Should Improve ThemAndrew Carnegie’s style of vertical integration is no longer possible for most (if not all) companies. The primary reason being that we’ve moved from a brick and mortar world to a digital one. You can’t really “own” data and code.

Numerous attempts at controlling the flow and spread of code (see DRM, CD keys etc.) have failed miserably due to the culture of free that seems to propagate the digital world. Therefore any attempt to build a stand alone ecosystem will fail. If it doesn’t connect; it doesn’t work.

The How

Why then do companies like Facebook and Google succeed while more traditional companies flounder? By embracing the idea of fluid integration.

Vertical integration relies on a closed loop. Fluid integration relies on an open loop.

How does fluid integration work? Collect data from consumers, not in the traditional sense though. By providing various utilities, services and experiences companies can learn more about you. All they ask in return? A small tracking code that follows you around the web. Thus, the ecosystem that they create is one that doesn’t rely on control but rather the sharing and propagation of data.

The Why

When setting out to build something we have to consider that people use products for two reasons:

1. They need the product.

2. The product was recommended to them.

New products (especially digital ones) rarely fall into the first category. After all, if someone needed something wouldn’t they have already invented it? Start-ups live and die by the mantra that they are inventing something that people need, they just don’t know it yet.

This is also why 90% of start-ups will fail.

Corporations can’t innovate the same way start ups do. The reason? They need to make money. Their  margins are slimmer thus so is their appetite for risk.  Every action they take will have an impact on the bottom line.

The Evolution

How then do corporations/agencies innovate effectively?

  1. Allow any (non-sensitive) data  you possess to be accessed via an API.
  2. Does someone do something better than you do? Integrate and connect with ecosystems already in existence.
  3. Ask your customers. They’re just as invested in your brand as you are and can provide the “Emperor has no clothes.” type of advice that goes overlooked by internal resources.
  4. Test. Test. Test. You can’t innovate unless you test/try out new features.

How else can we improve/innovate a company’s experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


The Predictive Web

Can you create serendipity?

Great marketing provides branding, an experience and utility. Serendipity is usually an after-thought. How can you create a genuine and timely experience for the consumer? Shouldn’t the experience suffice?

No.

We’re at the point where the timing of the message is often more important then the content inside that message. What does this mean in operational terms? Serendipity is not only possible in the future; it’s expected.

However, the pieces, strategy and best practices of predictive modeling within marketing are still developing. Up until now, marketing has been about creating experiences; not ecosystems.

Evolving: From experiences to ecosystems

Ecosystems aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve existed since the inception of advertising. The problem is that today they’ve come to resemble this PowerPoint of the war in Afghanistan. Thus, most marketers are content to try and create experiences.

The best example of a marketing ecosystem in today’s market is Apple’s mobile platform. Apple has created a place where the best possible experiences for the user is guaranteed via a draconian vetting process. This ideology has been extended with the introduction of their iAd, which seeks to create advertising “worthy” of the Apple experience.

However, this type of ecosystem has a shelf-life. It’s unsustainable when technology and access start to surpass the original experience. (Having AT&T as the primary carrier isn’t exactly helping either…)

Convergence

What do Facebook, Google, Internet browsers and your credit card have in common? They actively collect data on your behavior. Each click is tracked, each purchase is monitored; all with the goal of making the advertisements and offers you receive more relevant.

Technology by itself is useless. It’s a means to an end, nothing more. The same could be said about data; it’s useless without interpretation. We’re in luck though, the two are about to intersect in a revolutionary way.

Where Do Conversations Live?

Where do you hear a joke first?

Is it from your friend? A relative? A co-worker? Online? Or from an actual comedian?

Maybe you were lucky enough to hear it in the original writing session.

Most of the time it won’t matter. However, the medium through which the joke is received (and its make-up) will alter the listener’s reaction.

Complexity and proliferation of channels has ensured that most of us will never be at the original telling of that joke.

Does this matter?

Purists say yes. After all, that’s when the message is undiluted. Now apply this lens to a brand message. Does your perception change or remain the same?

My guess is that it shifts. Purists and marketers are thought of as an oxymoron (despite our best efforts). After all, our content doesn’t always lend itself to easy conversation or an emotional response. In fact, this is the very reason that most of us (marketers) are hired in the first place.

How else could a conversation about shoes become a story about happiness?* Or a conversation about food becomes one about community? We try and take a brand’s essence and distill it down into a singular emotion that is both easy to grasp and synonymous with the consumer experience.

Why then are some of us so fearful of someone taking the simplicity of the message and re-purposing it?

Simple: It’s a matter of credit.

Engagement is now a metric. It’s a measure of success that we are judged upon. However, the current tools with which we measure product conversation are still in their infancy. They are platform dependent in a platform agnostic world.

Conversation operates in cells of influence, much like Al-Qaeda. The hierarchy is disparate, confusing and the sheer volume makes it almost impossible to analyze the true reach of a campaign or program.

We are at a creative crossroads: do we embrace the remix or do we adhere to the tradition of message crafting? The answer is obvious. The way in which we measure our success is not.

Don’t ask where a conversation should live, think about where it can spread from.

*This was all Zappos. Just want to be clear about that.

Parasitic Marketing

(Par-a-site) n. 1.  An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.

Fill a need. Position accordingly. Profit.

It’s that simple. Parasites do this better then anyone. They fill holes in a product and in turn leverage that product’s popularity to spur on their own development.

Why then do parasitic business models fail so often? After all, in the animal kingdom these creatures are the epitome of efficiency and survival. Granted they aren’t the most loved…

Simple: They are at the mercy of their host. For an example of this, see the recent decision of Twitter to ban 3rd party ad platforms from their service.

Parasitic business models are a calculated risk. It often comes down to timing and the quality of product that you provide. Tweetie is a success story. Ad.ly is probably toast. They easily could have switched places.

Parasitic marketing on the other hand? Could not be  more successful  in the right hands (given that a proper code of conduct is observed). The key is co-opting an existent platform and adding additional information and functionality to it.

Filling a Niche

The best marketing solves a problem. Whether this problem is branding, positioning or business-related, it has to serve as a utility for pre-existing need in order to be valid.

Thus, you need to think more about what you can make first, and then concentrate on the emotion you can create. Then, building solutions to problems is far more effective.

Parasitic marketing isn’t right for every situation. For example, you don’t want to intercept and reshape a message. Nor do you want to deceive or mislead. However, you do want to provide valuable information or products where relevant and appropriate.

Crashing the Conversation

Twitter has popularized this phenomenon. Marketers often sit on key terms and relevant subjects to which they contribute. This phenomenon has also started happening on Facebook with the introduction of tagging various pages in individual posts.

Example:

The key isn’t to crash, it’s to listen, position and provide helpful, relevant information when needed. Most people are receptive to your message if you are filling a need. Thus, if you approach your marketing this way, you will be far more effective.

Augmented Reality: Ultimate Parasitic Marketing

Stickybits. Springpad. Foursquare. All represent the evolution of augmented reality, yet none could exist without the understanding that they were building upon pre-existing infrastructure. Twitter and Facebook are approaching Google-type importance. Thus, in order to leverage these services in the most efficient way possible, you need to connect to them via one of these 3rd party apps.

Augmented reality is just that. Reality with a helpful parasite gleaning information, context and chipping in helpful advice. It will be exciting to see what further developments occur over the next year.

A Helpful Parasite

Before engaging and actively seeking out platforms to augment, you need to ask yourself these five questions:

1. What are you adding to the conversation around the product?

2. Are you interrupting the natural sales cycle?

3. Are you respecting the rights of the community you are operating within and being a good citizen?

4. Do you have an open line of communication with your host/product?

5. Does your contribution/marketing make the original product better?

If your answer to any of these questions is in the negative? Stop what you are doing. You’re spamming. It’s a fine line, but you need to maintain it in order to be successful.

Parasitic marketing always needs to augment the platform/product, not detract from it.

Do you have some examples of marketing that could technically be termed “Augmented” or “Parasitic”? Share them below.


What is Geolocation’s Endgame?

Want to confuse someone? Start talking about the importance of geotargeting, user profiles and predictive data modeling.

Now ask them if they’ve checked into Foursquare yet.

Geolocation is hot. As in, $150-million-dollars hot. Why shouldn’t it be? It blends mobile, contextual information, gaming and serendipity into a relevant experience, enabling users to change their behavior based on the actions of their friends (or enemies).

“Checking-in” isn’t just colloquial geek-speak; it’s the new human behavior.

Have you thought about the true intention of these tools?

Despite what detractors may say, Foursquare doesn’t exist to help burglars rob your house while you’re away (pleaserobme.com). Strangers probably don’t care about your exploits/check-ins. As marketers, however, we should be concerned with the aggregate data being collected and categorized around points on a map. How can we leverage it to our advantage? How is this information pertinent to your brand and objectives?

“Open by default” (meaning that information a user posts on a social site is, by default, available to the public) has led to the development and improvement of data collection, with Facebook and Google leading the way. We may have reached a critical mass of information, but at least now we can build predictive modeling around the data and market accordingly.

Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and Britekite have built context into locations and places that’s a gift to marketers. The world is now a physical Wikipedia entry. Data can be aggregated from everyone and extracted from everywhere.
Consumers may think that geolocation is a game, but for us it’s a new way to talk with consumers.

With both Google and the Library of Congress committed to archiving dialogue from social platforms, conversation is now part of the public forum for discussion. It’s also universally accessible, searchable and eternal—a huge shift for content formerly viewed as spontaneous and disposable.

With this mindset, we’ve begun to see the first forays into leveraging geolocation for brands. Local businesses in major metro areas like NYC and San Francisco are creating “Tips” (partnerships/deals with brands) that prompt a location-aware ad targeted directly at the individual. These special offers are opt-in and usually of high relevance to the user.

Brands are also sponsoring in-game rewards for users. For example, Bravo has created specific Foursquare badges based on their programming. Check into a restaurant featured on “Top Chef” and earn a badge.
But what if we aren’t thinking big enough? Marketers could purchase and bid on entire swaths of physical space to target consumers.

The auction model is the future of geolocation.

The model breaks down like this: Companies bid for “Check-ins” around various locations. Obviously some places will have higher values then others. Then services could charge the company for the ability to communicate with a customer at each individual check-in.

A potential execution of this strategy could be enacted by a chain restaurant. The restaurant could purchase the physical space within 2-3 square miles or it could just buy space within all other restaurants and prompt consumers to reconsider their purchase decision.

It’s the Google ad model as applied to physical space. Instead of keyword targeting, companies could begin location targeting and identifying the behavior of their core customer profile. Couple this with the recent developments at F8 (Facebook‘s developer conference) and you suddenly have a crystal clear picture of a potential consumer.

Predictive algorithms are nothing new. However, they have never been used quite this way. For instance, we already recommend restaurants based on affinity (consumer likes Restaurant X, therefore he will like Restaurant Y), but not necessarily on activity (consumer checks in at Whole Foods so he is directed to an organic bistro in his neighborhood). You can predict a stock’s relative growth based on past activity, so why couldn’t you predict consumer behavior the same way?

Mobile accomplishes what was once thought impossible: it allows someone’s online identity to follow him or her around offline.

Services like Plancast, Meet Gatsby and Riotvine are utilizing the location-based web to go beyond real-time data and actually put some thought into contextualizing it. They’re taking static data and making it dynamic and predictive on an operational level. By self identifying interest in a particular event or subject consumers can be served information relevant to their future activities. In essence, marketers can now effectively target peer groups and influence a change in behavior via peer pressure.

This is just the beginning.

We keep gaining new information about ourselves and our surroundings every day. Augmented reality has become a key part of tech’s evolution; not just a footnote.

Who knows what the future will hold?

Gaming Mechanics: The Illusion of Openness

Video games used to be fairly straightforward: a world to save, a princess to rescue or finding a piece of fruit.

However, as consumers’ tastes evolved? The games have kept pace and have exceeded the limits of what was thought to be  previously impossible.

Today’s games are largely “sandbox” based meaning that they have a variety of different possible outcomes depending on what decisions you make in-game. In essence? Video games have started to emulate life; for every choice there is a consequence.

The Importance of Rules

The complexity and depth of these choices has exponentially expanded over the past decade. However, the choices that one can make in a game are finite (unlike life). If they weren’t users would lose interest, become frustrated and abandon the experience.

Why?

Simple: It wouldn’t be fun anymore.

Free will is hard (and it’s too much like life). It relies on your imagination, competitive spirit and experiences to create your own idea of what you should be doing. Gaming allows for us to escape the reality of the unknown for the security of finite outcomes.

The fun comes in that simplicity. The user may not be able to control the outcome of their own life but in a game? The deck is stacked in their favor. Explore the limits, practice accordingly and push what is possible and you can’t lose.

Marketer Takeaway: Providing a clear definition of your intentions allows you a greater deal of latitude when dealing with consumers. No one wants to be cheated. Thus you need to be transparent, open and honest about any engagement you have with the consumer.

Defining Your Objective

Every story ends and every game has a predetermined outcome. Sandbox games add a level of complexity on top of this by allowing for a variety of different outcomes.

This variable level of control and “free will” to choose your own path is essential to engaging and learning from the user. Games that are constantly under development like World of Warcraft often listen to player feedback and change outcomes and difficulties as a result.

In this way, game developers are able to fine tune the experience for the user and make it a more enjoyable experience.

Marketer Takeaway: Define your goals. What do you want to accomplish with this campaign? Who is your target audience? How can you make the best usage of your resources?

Using Breadcrumbs

Now that the rules have been established and objectives have been defined you need to set out a clear path for the user. This means leaving a variety of breadcrumbs at various points to help the user along and accomplish all the objectives that you set out for them.

The world doesn’t come with a save-point. So why do developers create mission objectives and maps? To adjust for the skill level of the player.

Breadcrumbs decrease in value as users become familiar with the game. They remain important however because they provide an easy entry point for a newbie player.

Marketer Takeaway: Don’t just cater to pre-defined influencers. Give people a low barrier for entry and allow them to adjust their advocacy accordingly. It’s a lot easier to upload a picture then create a video. However, if a person has a great experience with your brand? They may engage with your brand at a higher level the next time around. Influencers tend to be fluid; not static.

Rewards and Incentives

What keeps 225 million people a month coming back to Zynga games? Social currency and a desire to achieve new incentives.

People love incentives no matter how small or large. The key is being able to scale these rewards incrementally and at a pace that is amenable to the player.

Marketer Takeaway: Given the choice between no carrot and a carrot? Always choose the carrot. Understand the competitive nature of people and utilize this in your messaging and outreach. You don’t get something for nothing.

Have something else to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts on some other gaming mechanics that can be applied to marketing?

Photo Credit: kbcool

The Arrogance of Creation


Is creation the pinnacle of achievement?

The success and failure of industry is based on this idea. Think about all that it takes to build something: an idea, a plan, people and resources to execute and the budget/organization to make sure it all happens. Once you have created said product you would either put it to use or sell it at a profit. Rinse. Repeat.

(You can see why most people go into software after you factor in the additional complexities of a brick and mortar.)

Seems simple enough, right? So why is it then that so many of our creations fail to succeed? It comes down to a basic understanding of what creation is and isn’t.

Creation isn’t static. It’s a living, breathing organism that requires constant attention, care and love to succeed. Creativity is social.

The Seed

What are you actually creating? Are you creating a momentary distraction/interruption or something that has the potential to inspire?

We’d all like to inspire. The problem is most of us can’t. That’s why it’s imperative to create something truly extraordinary to spur your marketing forward. Great content begets great reach.

 

Crowdsourcing is going to be baked into every single creative push going forward. How could it not be? It’s cheap, sustainable and can build on and increase the power of your initial idea. The key is being able to effectively influence, understand and direct the creation of the product/marketing materials.

The new task for creation is simple but requires a fundamental paradigm shift: move to inspiring and inciting for activation instead of pure creation. The more customization and ability to tweak your content? The stickier the content will become.

Come up with a great idea. Create a model/demo.  Allow the crowd to execute and riff off of it. This is the future of the creative model. ~ The Creative Seed

Therefore, what level of social creativity are you building into your marketing? Social creativity is based on your original content’s ability to inspire new content produced by your audience. Ideally, this user-generated content would serve to augment and strengthen the original creative concept.

Perennial or Annual?

Campaigns usually fall into one of two categories: a value prop (offer) or an introduction (branding). The difference between the two is not just in construction but also has to do with the sustainability of each.

Annual campaigns are limited and often used to increase the volume of sales in the short-term (usually unsustainable).

Example: Groupon, Launched in November 2008, Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the United States. We have about 180 wonderful people working in our Chicago office (a handful of whom you can see to your right), along with a smattering of people in Groupon’s other cities.

A perennial campaign is usually based on a pre-established concept meant to strengthen the overall structure and sustainability of the business. It reinforces core concepts and strengthens your brand.

Example: Staples’ “Wow!” guy: Check out our newest commercial! When prices are this low, some people simply can’t contain themselves.

The Fertilizer

Behavioral hooks are essential for any marketing. They ensure that your creation will be understood, appreciated and serve a purpose. Creating utility should be the first goal of product design but the second should be finding the behavior that cues the consumer to engage with said product.

Based on the above, wouldn’t behavioral hooks essential for creativity? Behavior merely acts as an entrance into the psyche of the consumer who will be buying your product. It should be at the forefront of your mind when conceptualizing and designing content for your audience. Use psychology and behavior to craft your content in a way that is beneficial to your marketing. Try and make the choice to engage impulsive.

The Power of Perception

Let’s say you’re lying on a beach on a hot day. For the last hour you’ve been thinking about how much you want a nice cold bottle of your favorite beer. Your friend gets up to make a phone call and says,

“Hey, want a beer?”

The only place nearby where beer is sold is a run-down grocery store. How much money would you give your friend for the beer?

Remember how much you gave him and reread the question. This time around, replace “run-down grocery store” with “fancy hotel.” How much money would you give your friend now? Would it be more than before?

Most people say yes. During a research experiment, the behavior economist Richard Thaler discovered that the fancy resort’s median price was 71% higher than the run-down store’s price .

Amazing, right? You were willing to pay two drastically different prices for the same bottle of beer because your perception influenced your price limit. ~ Derek Halpern, Social Triggers

The Gardener

Who’s curating and tending to your creation? Conversation strategy is just as important as creation. Without the proper influence and insight into which buttons to press and levers to pull content will fail.

Identifying and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your influencers can determine the success or failure of a campaign. Thus, entrusting your content to the wrong voice will ensure its failure.

What to do? Identify your channels of distribution and your target influencers around the dialogue you will be using. Size, location and personality don’t matter; context does. Use common sense.

“Wieden+Kennedy’s Coraline campaign is a textbook example of how to build buzz around a product using many different types of outreach.

Phase one was designed to activate online communities that have a reason to be passionate about this film in order to build a groundswell of support. Phase two was to create intrigue on a mass scale — introduce mysterious elements of the film that drive people to [the Coraline] website to learn more. Phase three was to create mass awareness for the film and it’s launch date.

In addition, W+K identified a guiding creative light for the campaign that “everything [they] do should reflect the unique, cool, handmade nature of this film. [They] believed that the more you knew about what went into it, the more you’d get out of it.” Though there are many aspects of the campaign that could be highlighted as examples of how to best do an outreach campaign, I’m going to focus specifically on their blogger outreach for this post.” ~ Coraline Raises The Bar For Influencer Outreach; The Future of Ads

 

Serendipity

One of the more interesting innovations in the serendipity game is a service called Plancast. Pay close attention the genius of serendipity in this service’s intended purpose:

Plancast is a website where people post their plans. Plans to attend a conference, plans to go to a party, perhaps plans to get a haircut. “We have the same ‘who wants to share that?’ issue as Twitter,” Hendrickson told us today, “the standard ‘I dont use Twitter because i don’t care you’re eating a sandwich.’ What we’ve learned though is that semi-mundane stuff is actually interesting. So, perhaps we wont have a lot of the ‘getting a haircut’ stuff because that’s indeed quite mundane, but we will get ‘getting drinks tonight downtown’ or ‘heading to Palo Alto for the day’ type stuff. Which actually leads to very cool serendipity.”

Now that Twitter is such an unqualified success in all but monetization, it’s cool to say you’ve got the same problems Twitter had.

Mash up all those plans from friends and you get an interesting stream of forthcoming events.

20100308 pxnau428afr4rmw1gikd7c5473 The Arrogance of Creation

The site is simple, if smart, today. The little company has big plans for the future, though. “We want to host and distribute all content that pertains to what individuals, organizations and businesses have planned for the future,” Hendrickson says. “If you break the idea of an ‘event’ down into its basic units (what’s going to happen, when, and where), there’s a ton of relevant social content through the long tail. We’re designed to host a superset of all this event data.” ~ Marshall Kirkpatrick; ReadWriteWeb. The Future as Platform: Mark Hendrickson’s Vision for Plancast

Seeding never works 100% of the time. The best success rate that you can hope for is something with a 60% (I’m being generous) chance of gaining notoriety. Now factor in sales success based off of your launch/distribution strategy and you are left with a figure in the 33% range. Needless to say? It’s a tough egg to crack.

The Harvest

Now that you’ve succeeded in bringing your campaign to fruition, what are its results? Have you been successful with your mission? More importantly, did the process deem itself worthy of repetition?

Learning and improved success comes from the measurement and dissection of a campaign. Always revisit your work to tweak, change or insert more creative horse power. After all marketing is a process.

Marketing doesn’t stop at creation. It starts there.

Photo Credit: pagedooley, peterkaminski, gypsyfaephotography


Steal this Idea

What is originality?

Intellectual property and what it constitutes is an interesting discussion these days. What restrictions should be placed on ideas? Not the lawyer’s definition, but the layman’s. Most marketers are of the mindset that stealing is not only sanctioned but should be rewarded.

This shift in thinking did not come easily and has only been earned over the past decade. DMCA take down notices are still a fact of life and large corporations are still very resistant to anyone getting a hold of their content and manipulating it in a way out of their control.

Remix culture

Despite the best efforts of traditional avenues of control? The war is largely over.

“In reality, these companies lost control a long time ago; the fans can do pretty much anything they want with these brands and with a high level of visibility and going after them is a bit like Brier Rabbit pummeling away at the tar baby. Yet, even pretty innovative companies are getting trapped in the internal politics around television production and promotion, incapable of forming meaningful partnerships with their most active and visible fans, and thus almost certain to start acting in ways that are going to leave them, to continue the metaphor, looking “stuck up”. ~ Henry Jenkins, Going “Mad”: Creating Fan Fiction 140 Characters at a Time

Creative ideas are being remixed, reformatted and bent to adhere to the current problem. It’s hard to find a truly original idea. After all, we are exposed to so much information on a daily basis it’s next to impossible not to take a little here and a little there as long as the outcome is different.

This can be especially true if the content is made readily available online and isn’t protected.

Sharing is creation

This leads into an interesting discussion: What constitutes creativity?

Creation is simply adding your piece to the larger puzzle. If you participate in the elevation of an idea onto a new level you are just as much responsible for something’s success then the originator of the content.

My only requirement for creation is this: An idea that independently or collectively that adds a new wrinkle to a pre-existing concept.

Seems simple doesn’t it? The reality is that it isn’t. Coming up with something that can provide utility and coolness in a new dimension is often harder than the creation of something new. Just ask anyone who has tried to make a sequel.

What’s next?

Wikipedia is updated in real-time, songs are made public before the album is released, and advertisers are encouraging and embracing the concept of user generated content.  The time between creation and remix is continually getting shorter.

Then there are the new social consumers. Determined to take things into their own hands – conversing, commenting, criticizing, creating — they feel no qualms about bringing a brand down, celebrating the products they love, or becoming brands themselves, capable of building their own multi-million dollar companies with little more than a digital camera, a folding table and a knack for leveraging a community. ~ The Future of Advertising, Edward Boches

Is this a good thing? I happen to think so. After all, I’m of the mindset that any contribution to creation no matter how small should be rewarded.

Feel free to remix this post as well. (As long as you link to it!)

Photo Credit: pasukaru76


Context is King

The web of intent is coming.

Want to confuse someone? Start talking about the importance of localized databases and the aggregate collection of data from a wide variety of users.

Huh?

We are shifting into our new reality; a reality built from our own contextual input, from both a virtual and analog perspective.

The world is now a Wikipedia entry.

The red light is always on. Smile.

Social media has taken conversation and made it a part of the public dialogue. We’ve created a public forum for discussion that is accessible to all people at any time.

The behavioral shift over the past five years has been nothing short of revolutionary. We now feel comfortable sharing the most intimate of details about ourselves with the populace at large.

This openness by default has led to the development and improvement of data collection. We’ve started to reach a critical mass of information; a mass with which we can actually do something.

Does anyone ever check out of 4Square?

The hardest thing for a marketer to accomplish is to initiate an actual shift in behavior. Geolocation based apps have done just that.

Twitter and Facebook have done the heavy lifting (behaviorally) for newer more utilitarian applications like GoWalla and Foursquare.

After all, who would have thought that sharing one’s location would be a required event in any major city?

One of the biggest issues with the current collection of tools for geolocation is the context in which they are used. They’re static and aren’t updated in real-time.

You’re forced to update your status if you want to inform the world if you’ve moved on from the place you’ve just checked in. (I have it on good authority that 4Square is working to fix this issue.)

Why talk about the present when you can talk about (and predict) the future?

Predictive algorithms are nothing new. However, they have never been used locally or on a smaller scale. If you can predict a stock’s relative growth, could you indicate a restaurant that someone would like based on an input of data? Of course; you’d probably even be more successful.

Services like Plancast, Meet Gatsby and Riotvine are utilizing the location-based web to go beyond real-time data and actually put some thought into contextualizing it. They’re taking static data and making it dynamic and predictive on an operational level.

This is just the beginning.

We keep gaining new information about ourselves and our surroundings every day. True augmented reality isn’t looking so much like a pipe dream after all.

Who knows what the future will hold?

Photo Credit: laszlo-photo