Saturday evening. Barbecue. My friends know I’m kind of a social media addict, so they pop a question: “That ‘check-in’ thing, what’s it called? Foursquare or something? Seriously, that is so damn stupid. What’s it good for? It’s made for people who like to brag about where they are, and who they are with.” Hmmm. Must. Keep. Calm. Will keep calm because they are my friends. Great friends by the way. But seriously? You should try something first, before breaking it down. So for them and all those others out there who think Foursquare is a nuisance and for braggers only: here’s what it’s all about.
This is Wikipedia’s definition on Foursquare: Foursquare, stylized as foursquare, is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby. Location is based on GPS hardware in the mobile device or network location provided by the application. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”.
So yes, it’s also for braggers. But the braggers are the stupid ones. Because the best feature on Foursquare is the fact that you can read and share “tips” to venues which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location. So really, it helps you to avoid the basic touristic traps. Eg: you are in Ibiza, and you want to go to a restaurant. Where should you go? Where are the closest restaurants? And are they any good? The best thing to do is to check in on Foursquare: it’ll immediately tell you where the closest restaurants are (from where you are standing), AND you can immediately see recommendations from other people on the menu, the location, etc. Honest crowd feedback as we like to call it. The key to success by the way. And of course, when you’ve eaten, you can share your experience as well. And if you ever go back to Ibiza and you can’t remember where the restaurant was, you can just go back to Foursquare and find all the info back. No need to write anything down: it’s all there. Registered in your device. Easy. And for those with their own business, Foursquare is of course a great PR tool, especially when people check in and link it to their Facebook or Twitter page: extra visibility, free PR. Use it.
The big success of these location based, social powered and accessible on mobile devices (SoLoMo), lies in the fact that people prefer to follow opinions and experiences from their peers (or network): peer review and peer influence are critical factors in the buying cycle. In normal words: before you buy a new TV, who do you turn to first? Exactly: your family. Friends. People you trust. You follow their opinions, you listen to what they have to say.
And where is this going to? I don’t want to scare anyone, but soon they will be able to sniff your intentions, and give you info on that. Eg: I check into my Delhaize supermarket. Based on my fidelity card, my profile and location, they will soon know everything about my shopping behaviour. And as soon as I check in, the supermarket will send me alerts on which of my favourite products are in promotion that day. Or a nice recipe I could try based on the stuff I’ve bought. Yes, it’s scary. But that’s where we are heading. Get ready for it.
I felt a bit empty, without a purpose, even bored. As a seasoned social media warrior (I promised @thebrandbuilder not to use words like guru, ninja, persona, celebrity, Special Operations Commander and rainmaker in vain), I was secretly hoping for yet another social network to pop up, and make my day.
See, everyone is on Facebook now. Even the Belgian Prime minister is on Twitter. My boss is on Foursquare. Nine real smart people and a horsehead are on Google+. My primary schoolteacher’s little niece is on LinkedIn. I have an avatar on 2ndLife. I am connected to people I will probably never meet on Path, most of my female friends go bananas pinning stuff on Pinterest. Their boyfriends are on Gentlemint.
My Sony laptop faithfully remembers my account details of 14 (fourteen) social sites.
Make that 15 (fifteen). Since yesterday I’m a registered user of a new social online thing called So.cl . Microsoft started it as a top secret social research experiment fueled by social groups. They first tested it on virtual machines, then on small rodents, scared orangutans and finally on students.
As a social study on students rarely generates any tangible data, So.cl got a nihil obstat from Nato and WHO, and has quietly been released to the general public. Microsoft claims it is not looking to wrestle with Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or Google+ for world supremacy in the social space. It describes So.cl as “an experimental research project focused on exploring the possibilities of social search for the purpose of learning.” Users of So.cl can find information on any topic, and share interesting findings directly with their network. So.cl also enables sharing ‘rich content’ that consists of little scrapbook-like potpourris of multimedia content.
So, it’s a mixture of Bing, Facebook, and Pinterest. It’s search on steroids. It’s Microsoft’s crazy Frankenstein-mix of Google and Facebook. It’s vaguely interesting. I think I’ll give it a go. I just have to. It’s my job. Confucius said sternly “Faced with what is right; to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.”
Students can do it. Orangutans can do it. *deep sigh* I’ll keep you posted.
I was contacted yesterday by a young girl who wanted to know my Klout score. She was making a list of important people to follow on twitter. It made me smile. When I answered that my Klout score is on klout.com (like everyone else’s) and that it hovers between roughly 55 and seventy-something depending on my mood, and the temperature of the seawater in Belgium, she got upset. Klout was important, and I was not taking her seriously.
I explained that the temperature of the seawater does have a determining effect on my Klout score. If it gets too cold, I migrate South, and stop tweeting for a while. My Klout thingy sinks accordingly like a stone with respiratory difficulties. If the temperature is ok, my mood gets better, I twitter chat with friends, spread some blog posts around, and my Klout score sours up. That did not make her happy either.
Now, how can you determine if someone is important based on a yo-yo Klout score? Try walking up to somebody, and ask how important he is. Can you picture that? How do you define ‘important’? Is that a figure in two digits? Will he be more important tomorrow? Is he important because he has money? To whom is he important?
What does my Klout score tell you? Does it show you what people think about what I write? What impact my tweets/posts/musings have? Does it give a value on quality? Even on quantity? If so, in relation to what exactly? To my goals? Did the girl mean with ‘important’ influential? Influential on what topic? To what audience?
I have nothing against Klout.com. It is a rating system amongst many. I do have something against conclusions hastily drawn from a two digit number that gets influenced by the temperature of seawater.
If you want to determine if someone is important, relevant, influential, you’ll have to rely on more than just an automated tool. You’ll have to analyze all kinds of data, you’ll have to sift through criteria, and you’ll have to put stuff in context. Content might be King, but contextual information is Queen.
There is no number that can tell you whether I am important or not. Only you can determine that.
Thank you for sharing this, it will benefit my Klout score…. .
#canneslions : this is the Mecca of creativity, here the world’s top talented people in advertising and PR meet, compete and interact. A mist of almost holy creativity hangs over the French Riviera city for a full week.
The winners of the first Lions, the prestigious Cannes awards, have been unveiled, and even the very critic peer jury was in awe of the level of brilliance that radiated from the awarded entries. Daring, edgy, entertaining, moving, captivating… it was all there.
The old journalist in me looked as much at the audience, as at the stage. It was fascinating to see how agencies and their clients were sharing these awkward seconds between introduction of a category, and announcement of the winners. Sometimes, client and agency literally await the verdict hand in hand… and every time, winning, close second… or losing was shared by a joined team.
Great brands need great agencies. Great brands and great agencies need great people. Great people in the right environment spark pure brilliance. None of the winning or shortlisted agencies was working for a client. To even compete at this level, it takes more than working for someone. It means partnering. It implicates blind trust and tremendous respect. To win, you need to think outside the box, deliver above standards, re-invent the path to success, and break down any barriers that might prevent flawless delivery of stellar ideas. Not even a team can chew that off. You need a tribe.
There is no arrogance in successful teams, no politics, no poker faces… to win, every single tribe member needs to break through all that, and become the selfless soldier of a platoon under heavy enemy fire: the confidence that comes when you know you’re covered.
The old French elite Musketeers already knew the key to success: all for one, and one for all… More social than that, it does not get
Wandering through the old streets of Cannes, the various advertisings and teasers are about online. Digital, you know, and social media. #canneslions 11 is going to be Social. For sure.
Sipping cooled drinks, awaiting the official start of the event, conversation goes on about the future. The future of advertising, communication, news, influencing. The future of some very influencing industries. And, apparently, between industrial quantities of Pastis and Pernod, it has been decided that that future is going to be digital. And social. For sure.
I, for one, think that this is missing the point entirely. I agree with The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University: the real future of advertising, communication, media buying and news lies exactly where it was in the past: in the ability to deliver a compelling message to a selected audience.
Having insights (metrics, data, intelligence,…)on the communities that harbor your target audience enables you to plot a suitable connection plan, fueled by conversation topics and appealing content.
It does not matter if that community is on or offline. A good strategy is built around the connecting points, encompassing on- and offline, making sure to reach the community in the least intrusive way. Stop bringing the people to the mountain… move the mountain…
If you reach out to communities… do not forget you reach out to people, not to numbers, or dots on a chart… reaching out to people is pretty social in my book, it always was…
The key to success is still the ability to benefit from insights, to have the right empathy to feel the community, and to cleverly select the right mix of influencing channels.
Some old games never change, they just dress differently…
Buzz words, and buzzing phrases… it’s intriguing to see how concepts that made perfect sense when they were first used, gradually erode to the dust of absolute hollow meaninglessness…
The phrase I heard most so far at #canneslions is “harnessing the power of communities”. Seriously, every keynote or seminar I went to, used it: harnessing the power of communities. People on stage trying to make us understand that, regardless if you’re in communications, marketing or media buying, you need to aim at that community. And… harness it’s power. Whatever that means.
What rubs me the wrong way is the directional connotation that the new buzz phrase has. Go harness the power of the community. The community is your target. Go, mighty marketing soldiers… go, and harness its power.
I do not see it work. If a community is your target you will fail, miserably. The secret potion of success lies in understanding the community, finding common grounds and interest points, and creating a partnership that is built upon mutual respect. To make it work, you’ll need engagement… and regardless how well you target the community, and how desperate you want to harness its power… well, you simply cannot. Because engagement and interaction comes from them, the people within the community. They will choose whether or not you’re interesting, funny, nice, intriguing and adorable enough for them to invest some of their energy in you.
See, the power of a community exists. It’s pure magic… but you cannot harness it. The power of a community is a precious gift, and rather than go and conquer it, you’ll have to earn it.
Earning trust and respect, that will lead towards engagement, is a social skill. The social in Social Media was not put there by mistake…
So, stop talking dust…
Stop the press. Seriously. The red button, press it. While everyone at #canneslions is going all mellow on online stuff, and the slow death of classic press is being proclaimed on some over-enthusiast blogs, Internet Archive starts backing up its efforts…. on paper.
Imagine this: “Internet Archive is building a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie we are able to attract or acquire… The goal is to preserve one copy of every published work,” says Brewster Kahle, from Internet Archive on his blog. So Internet Archive is scanning in all those massive records… but is backing them up on dead trees.
“All our disks, servers and storage means are still objects” says Kahne: “stuff can go wrong with it”.
So for every scanned item in their archive, Internet Archive is now keeping the hard copy as well. Millions of books and publications, on normal paper. They developed a modular storage system in Oakland California, constructed around one of the most popular storage units in the world: the shipping container – 40.000 books in a container (the equivalent of a standard library), stackable to accommodate the millions of books.
Preserving all the books on the internet, backing up this digital Alexandria on paper. The Cloud never felt more heavy…
So I arrived in Cannes, city of plush French Riviera, overpriced terraces, great sunsets, and –especially with the #canneslions – a lot of overzealous marketing people. The old journalist in me still has a knack for spotting interesting conversations around me. When I heard two junior people going all ballistic over Facebook, I could not help smiling.
‘Facebook will never go away,” the young girl said. “Ever. It’s too game changing. Too many people are touched by it. It’s here to stay.”
How I love youth. How I love the naïve black-and-white painting of a complex society. The lack of long time perspective… how I adore people not yet tainted by the knowledge that what moves up, comes inevitably down… and hard.
I look back on almost half a decade of life-altering inventions that changed humankind forever. VHS. Betamax. The telex. The fax. LED watches. The modem. IRC. BBS hot tub. MySpace. Yoghurt machines. The number of applications, inventions and conditioned behaviors that simply eroded, ebbed away, and got forgotten is mind boggling. In the best of cases, some of it is now museum shelf material, gathering dust.
In the steam engine era, steam engines were a big deal. Really. It changed life as they knew it. They thought those whistling machines were there forever. Well, it has been a while since I saw the cloud-spitting Flying Scotsman thundering by.
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr… they are great. They change life as we used to know it. But something tells me, we’re not there yet. There will be the next next thing. One day, we’ll have to explain to a whole new young generation what all the fuss was about.
According to MediaTic, a program that focuses on media news on the Belgian French speaking public radio, traditional TV may die in the future. Why? Because of the competition of the Internet and the rise of web connected TV. Some TV makers fear that they will have to go through the same crisis with the Internet as the one that the traditional media had to go through.
I remember when I first had my own TV. I was a fresher at university and at that time TV was still a major channel to get news and access to the public debate – whether political, economical or cultural. A couple of years later I went abroad for my studies, and lived without a TV (for the first time in my life – apart from the holiday periods). Internet was my main source for research anyway, but I realized then how I didn’t need my television. And I still don’t have one – that makes more than 10 years without a TV!
The people who are most surprised about this are my grandparents – “so how do you follow the news?” They are the generation that experienced the start of television. I think they see me as a kind of hermit, while I often feel like I have never been so overwhelmed with information than ever before. I read the newspapers almost every day (in print or online), I listen to the radio every morning, I have access to the most interesting programmes via podcasts or YouTube, I get instant news via social media –Twitter or Facebook – and basically I am connected with the outside world from dusk till dawn via mobile devices and my laptop that I can take everywhere.
The future of television will definitely be connected, and not only on the Internet, for the coming generations. In a way Internet has already replaced the traditional home TV screen. People now want to watch whatever they want whenever they want. The TV makers that understood this are developing more and more applications like on-demand TV, more interactivity and connection with the web, what is called Connected or Smart TV. Maybe then I’ll go back to watching more TV programmes. Ok, only when I am my grandparents’ age…
Every time people come up to my office, call me or send me an email asking for a Twitter strategy, a Facebook strategy, or a YouTube strategy, I get an uncontrollable urge to rebuild their outer hull with the help of a pneumatic hammer and an icepick.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and tutti quanti are no strategies, they are not even tactics. They are simple tools, channels to convey a message. It’s simple. Think about an overall objective, build an overall strategy, and look what tactics and tools you need to achieve your goal. Success is often not in the little details, but in big holistic, structural approaches like the planning of your community engagement .
When rightly integrated in an overall marketing and communications approach, digital and social media will help move the needle in a nice and measurable way, but are not a miracle recipe. No social campaign can make a crappy product look shiny, and no YouTube video can correct a manifest lack of vision. Success comes first with companies who value their audiences, and invest in the courtesy to listen to their market, and respond and act upon it.
Building a social capital requires listening first, and adequate responding after. It asks for building mutual understanding and trust. In short, it plays on the middle to long run. It’s not a quick-win/harvest soon methodology. Like most investments, you’re in for the long haul… you will get longstanding dividends. Just a quick dip in social media waters to test the temperature will not do, and is not done… As social engagement plays out on the longer run, you cannot pull out early of the game. You commit, or not. Like there is no way to be a “bit pregnant”, there is no way of being “a bit social”.
Yoda said it wisely: “Do, or do not… there is no try!”.