Posts Tagged ‘Reflexions’

Excuse me… but who is “We” exactly?

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

It must be the old journalist in me. But way too often I hear in keynotes, panels and conversations the gratuitous We”, or even more angering the totalitarian “they”. “We all think…..”; “They need….”, “We all want….. they need to give….”.

I have big difficulties with these generalizing pointers. Maybe it is because I’m special, but every time I hear a keynote speaker go “and that is what we all want”, I have this uncontrollable urge to stand up and shout “not true, I’m not.” I hate it when the audience is unidirectionaly demystified, stripped from all individuality, and crammed into two buckets: “we” and “they”.

Very often I cannot identify myself with either the we or the they… and voicing the angry inner dialogue in the vast personal kingdom of my head after being pulled into a “we-crowd” against my will would be illegal on most planets.

So do not link me to whatever you have to say. Show respect for the fragile thing that makes me me. Talk about people, as Guy Kawasaki does so charmingly (or should I say “enchantingly”), talk about friends, talk about persons. Say there are, or I noticed.

You know what, if your keynote is compelling, interesting, challenging, smart, revolutionary, different or entertaining, I will join your “We” club willingly, unconditionally and completely. Until then, you’ll have to earn it.

As former French president Mitterand once said: “Tu peux me dire vous”. :-) .

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Brands : Stop Being, start Behaving…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

One of the killer questions in the different panels and talks at #SxSW in Austin is: “… and what about brands”. Because, let’s face it: the boring internet of unidirectional websites has evolved into an online social forum, where people meet, talk and share.

The net is social, and the people have taken over the net in a peaceful revolution. That’s fine… but what about brands? Brands have invested heavily to build out their net-presence over the last decades, and are worried their dollars might evaporate overnight, with the masses gone rogue and confined to Facebook and Twitter. While people like Jeremiah Owyang (Altimeter) think it is a bad thing for brands to move away from the trusted fortresses of their corporate websites, this does not mean there is no future for brands in the social space.

I’m agreeing with Owyang that abandoning the build-up brand capital that now is resting in the corporate websites is a bad idea. However, rethinking the website as the vibrating energetic center of a social online ecosystem is smart. Social sites add a ton of interacting and engaging possibilities into the brands online ecosphere, and are capital to bring vital social interaction into the equation.

The first steps in this process are a bit awkward. Beyond the heavily protected walls of the corporate websites, the social online ecosphere looks like a terrifying jungle to the brand owners. There is no perceived sensation of control, which triggers asthma attacks and anxiety in more than one corporate boardroom.

The answer is however simple: go with the flow and partner up (or hire) with online Tarzans who will give you the survival code book of the jungle, effectively turning it into a social ecosystem.  Because this is a fact: Just being a brand online will get you nowhere. Just having a brand presence will not propel you into the winning charts. You will have to allow your brand to behave like a social citizen.

Humanizing corporate brands and making them alive online, allowing a human face to interact with the online community are the first getaways to new opportunities to shine. But for that, brands will have to take the hurdle from controlled “being” to social “behaving”…. And that…. is a difficult one.  :-)

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Tweeting gold, Check-in Silver, Liking Diamonds

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Tweeting gold, Check-in Silver, Liking Diamonds

It’s fast, it’s in, it’s social, it’s easy, it’s entertaining, it’s cool, it’s the thing to do, it’s fun, and it’s educative: social media took our world by storm. Updating Facebook, finding the right places through location based services, keeping your Twitterville happy, and Googling the steam out of your environment added a whole new meaning to how we interact with our physical and social world.

Just following SxSW in Austin, you see people glued to their smartphones as if there was no tomorrow, and the number of tweets, check-ins, updates and posts bangs through the roof with gracious ease.

And all of that for free. Free Facebook, Twitter, Twitter clients, check-in services etc… occasionally you can spend a couple of bucks on some application, but nothing so expensive that it will make American Express call you to ask if you finally lost in.

Leaves the devices. Let’s say it’s reasonable. A couple of hundred dollars will get you a state-of-the-art social weapon to conquer your digital online world, even buying a high end top notch shiny one will cost less than a year of smoking.

But here is the trick: social media for mobile warriors does not come cheap. In fact, it is freaking expensive. Uploading and downloading your life through the cloud to your friends eats up bites, megabytes… gigabytes… and those come at a price. Dataplans of most carriers give out a decent flat-fee deal on mobile data, but as soon you breach through ‘normal use’ the prices skyrock.

And then, there is international roaming, which for Europeans and Asians coming to SxSW can get up as high as 20 dollars… per megabyte. Every day some innocent global traveller gets the yellow hinky-pinkies when the mobile phone bill hits the fan. Uploading a YouTube movie while in the States? Used a little half an hour of Facetime or Skype over 3G while in Austin? You might get an over 1000 dollar bill. That is the price of an iPad 2 with ABS, power steering, and 17 inch rims.

So every time the free Wi-Fi in Austin falters, and your Instagram gets uploaded through 3G, a mobile operator somewhere grins happily, while sipping some expensive bubbly drink. Your social life just made his day.

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You never walk alone…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

While covering #SxSW in Austin is fun, educative, entertaining and generally nice… it is also hard work. The ten venues that encompass the event this year are not exactly in spitting distance from each other, and endless long hall ways, tricky stairs and Austin’s historic pavements are a pure torture for the feet.

Add to that the murdering difference between the soft autumn temperature outside, and the freezing chill inside the meeting halls, the long hours, the time differences and relentless jetlag, the greasy-food-on-the-go, the pressure to choose wisely between more than 6400 keynotes, talks, panels, demos and chats… and you are up for nerve-wracking body-breaking experience.

Luckily, we do not have to do this on our own. The local Porter Novelli team in Austin, captained by energybulb Aaron De Lucia, goes lengths to make this an as smooth as possible experience for the weary PN’ers coming from far away. From reservation, to registration, to help and encouragement “on the floor”, this team does an amazing job.

In between their busy client work, they are great company, they leave their loved ones alone at night to show us the places-to-be and assist in solving a myriad of small but urgent problems.

The PN content team is amazing as well, from the first cry of the Austin rooster, to the last round of the VIP swamped party, these people are everywhere… hammering their dusty keyboards till way too late in the night to produce content to share.

“With a little help from my friends” or “You never walk alone” cheesy songs, but they spring into mind when the team converges a couple of times today for updates and energy sharing. Tao Tze said you cannot walk to your destiny alone… but I’m not scared…

Porter Novelli? It’s a well-oiled Social Army….


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The Magic of “How do you do that”…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Browsing #SxSw in Austin for content, the old journalist in me has a field day. Some of the smartest brains on the planet that are dealing with social interactions and digital media are literally  within a square mile from this laptop. An amazing amount of brainpower, egos and strong viewpoints are competing for attention.

What makes me happy and hopeful is that in about every conversation I witness, the little phrase “But how do you do that…” pops up.  @GuyKawasaki was talking about Enchanting, but he very quickly went down to “But how do you do…” to everyone he interacted with. Steve Rosenbaum (@magnify) asked me “But how do you deal with info in multiple languages”…. Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) and @briansolis were talking in a panel yesterday on data curation and “How do you do…” came back multiple times.

How do you do social across borders? How do you curate? How do you measure? How do you interact? Engage? Spread? How do you get noticed? What are the rules?

My grandfather always told me that the quickest way to become smarter was asking lots of questions. The fact that the smartest brains I’m following on Twitter are still asking these questions every single minute they mingle proves me that our future is in good hands :-) .

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Dream up your future

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Excuse me, I’m still a bit shaky.  I just encountered Michael Bruce Sterling. The Bruce Sterling. Sterling is now globally seen as one of the inventors of the concept “augmented reality”, but above all he is the author of some of the best Science Fiction Books I got in my hands. His Mirrorshades anthology placed him with William Gibson, on the upper left shelf of my bookcase, where my cyberpunk collection is standing.

I’ve always seen Sterling as a semi-god, someone who dreams up a future. Jules Verne, Frank Herbert, Ray Kurzweil… they show us a future based on technology that is just around the corner… just out of grasp, but one that they –for some obscure reason- seem to see.

Seeing Sterling interacting with youngsters on augmented reality made me smile. These kids have no idea about the writer Sterling, about the phenomenon Sterling, about the designer Sterling, nor the futurist Sterling. All they see is an old guy, talking about how he sees augmented reality taking up a glowing big part of our near future.  A guy that urged them “you kids have to dream up the next decades of our future”… They thought he was amusing…. and a bit coo coo

If only they knew ;-) .

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjWPn8WdRQY]

 

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C³: The art of amplifying

Orginally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Content is king. Everybody knows that and unsurprisingly: at #SxSW it is the talk of town. Roughly you can divide the online world in three big continents: the creators of content, the curators of content, and the consumers of content. Think of it as a pyramid: lots of people are consuming content, a selected number of people is curating content, and the smallest group is actually creating content.

And there used to be a picking order: it was clear that creators were more valuable than curators. They were the thinkers, the thought leaders, the wizards and gurus. But as the quantity of content grew in a mindboggling way, the consumer went to look for people who curate content.

With all of the content out there, it became next to impossible for most people to filter the garbage from the gems, or to get timely access to premium content. Content may still be king, but curating is queen.

Precious (and monetizable ) value is added by the curator: he aggregates the avalanche of available content, filters it, screens it, reworks and packages it, and gets it to the consumer in a handy, unified and timely matter. Curators are the glasses through which a big part of the online consumers see the world. In fact, curators have de facto more power and influence than the creators. Without the curator, most creators have no significant reach… they need the curator to amplify their content. The curators of today are the superstars of tomorrow, and the recent godlike statuses of the curators of the Hufflington Post and TechCrunch show it is happening now.

Curators can amplify, or close the gates to your content. You’d better start courting them soonest….

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Quesque je vous?

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Being a European here @ #SxSW is fun. I am like a little exotic curiosity… and you can hear it in most voices when they shake hands (or Bump iPhones): “Europe… right”. Wandering through the long walkways of the Austin Convention Center, I notice how very US and English centric most of the A-players here are. In the blogger lounge, I had a long discussion with people that want to export an social application to Europe. First question: “They speak English in Spain, right?”. Urgh. No? “But they have nothing against English, right?”

Let’s be clear: if you want to be social, and play an active role in social media in Europe, you’ll have to know the facts. Long story short: While it is completely cool to do stuff in English in England, it is not done elsewhere. Period. Courtesy towards the consumer market means you’ll have to engage in his home tongue. And that needs to be done by a native, and not by a San Diego based community manager using Google Translate.

Successful engagement requires mastering the local culture, language and specificities, and cannot be outsourced or offshored. There are no shortcuts in engagement: it is about authentic connecting…

Measurement tools and sentiment analyzers will have to be able to drill down to the core of communications being held in more than 400 languages worldwide, before they can declare themselves “global”. Just English with some notions of German and a flavor of French will not cut the cake ;-) .

It’s a long way to Tipperary :-)


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My “check-in” beats your “like” anytime

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

For brands, creating engagement in any way is key… that’s why they are in social media in the first place. In recent months, a telltale signal to determine that engagement at a glance is the number of “likes” a brand collects all through the brands online ecosphere. Fueled by mostly Facebook, the hunt for likes is powering an important part of the Social Media roll out, and, between us: that is a bad thing.

A number of “likes” does not show you in any way the quality or quantity of engagement with your target audience in any way… for that more intelligent sets of data should be explored that give more relevant information on quality, sentiment, loyalty and behavior.

And a “like” is just a wrong metric. Clicking on it is often a gratuit gesture… for most consumers it means nothing more than a thoughtless “click”.  There is no bar, no effort, no real thinking, and thus way too often no real intention or engagement.

Personally, I have more respect for the location based check in. A check in, is like a “like”, but only better. Checking in means that people are linking their real life location and behavior (shopping, eating, going to a concert,…) with their offline social media ecosphere. They went through an experience that reverberates in the social spider web. Location based social check-ins are more and more combined with the ability to rate the experience, adding a tremendous potential added value for the brand. Having people checking in from stores, airports, planes, restaurants and events and giving a positive social rating turns every active “checker” into an active brand advocate.

People will trust the review of someone who actively ate at a restaurant way more than one from someone who just punched the “like” button on a website.

Check-ins new style will beat up likes big time ;-)

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Ronald Reagan fathered Foursquare

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

There, did that get your attention? I thought it might… :-) Tim O’Reilly caused quite a stir @ #SxSW when he proclaimed that Ronald Reagan was the mental father of Foursquare.

But he has a point. Let’s go back into history: while the Beatles were working on their White Album, the U.S. Navy and Air Force slotted together a system that would enable navigation on a plethora of applications. A set of incompatible systems was developed, until the US Department of Defense decided in 1973 to unify the existing systems. With atomic clocks carried on geostationary satellites (predicted by Arthur C. Clark) , the Navstar Global Positioning System became a huge success. In the beginning, military use had priority, and accurate positioning was not possible for civilian systems.

The disaster with Korean Flight 007 in 1983, a mortal tragedy that could have been prevented with more accurate location awareness, made President Ronald Reagan decide that accurate GPS signals would be available worldwide and at no charge. Reagan’s directive angered quite a lot of military decision makers, but stood at the cradle of the location driven social media that is so popular today.

The military not only got us the backboned, dynamic rerouting internet (and an internet of things by that), but also stood at the very beginning of Google places, Gowalla and Foursqaure. Not to mention Augmented Reality, that made it directly from the cockpit of the Apache fighting helicopter into the smartphones. Presidents and generals at the roots of social media, a slightly disturbing thought….;-)

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