Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

Community is your model, connection your strategy

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

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…

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Talking dust: you cannot harness the power…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

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…

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The Wooden Cloud: Archiving the internet… on paper…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

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…

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The cemetery of world changing inventions

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

 

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.

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Data is gold – 91,000 terabytes of uncharted web: welcome to the dark side

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

So, you use the internet? Congratulations, you have a couple of thousand terabytes of charted web @ your disposal: company websites, twitter streams, the magic Kingdom of Facebook, and the wondrous tentacles of Google land. But all of this mindboggling information is only a tiny percentage of what the internet really is: a gargantuan monster…

Picture this: The World Wide Web is rather huge, really… Google found more than a 1 trillion (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs on the web, and is still trying to index all of those ( in 2006, 25 billion sites were fully indexed). However, most experts refer to this “visible” part of the web as the “surface web”.

Surface web is an adequate term, if you currently draw your nets  in the ocean of online info; you’re barely scratching the surface. The Dark Web, or Hidden Web is approximately 540 times bigger than the web you experience daily. Apart from secret military streams, long lost and forgotten early-day-experiments, over machine-to-machine botnets and criminal set-ups, there are whole sections of the web (like freenet for instance) that are concealed from the normal user.

While big players as Google, Bing and Facebook desperately try to chart, map, reach and index this Deep Web or Dark Web, none of them are making remarkable progress: the Dark Web is still uncomfortably dark, and “hidden”.  However, in this Dark Web, people are storing data, having conversations, expressions, opinions… that are now mostly lost for the indexing, tracking and measuring giants.

Michael Bergman is an American academic, specializing in this Deep Web. He found the deep web to be approximately 550 times larger than surface world wide web. His study says that: “The deep web is the fastest growing category of new information on the internet … The value of deep web content is immeasurable … internet searches are searching only 0.03% … of the [total web] pages available.”

Tim Berners-Lee, CERN scientist who stood at the very cradle of the world wide web has a compelling vision: “I have a dream for the web in which computers become capable of analyzing all the data on the web – the content, links, and transactions between people …” His dream of a Semantic, indexed and holistic web is still a distant dreamy thought however… But the key to a better understanding of knowledge, sentiment and vision might be found in the dark web.

Content is Gold. Measuring is knowing. 99% of the web remains unexplored. Leave the charted waters, Go West. Again ;-) .

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If you want to be sheep, get in a flock, if you want to be wolves, form a pack

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Bruce Sterling did not disappoint me at the closing of SxSW. A cynic futurist and gifted speaker, he has a tradition of naming the things exactly as he sees them, without dressing them up. While he usually writes with vinegar, he switches to vitriol in his talks.

The closing speech was a 45 minute ranting, where Sterling gave Exxon Mobile, the Catholic Church, politicians, Berlusconi and Google C-levels a full broadside of his legendary fuming.

Women, cast away all the cowards from your embraces, “ gives a good idea of the tone of voice, but it got even better when Sterling invited the young generation to take over an overheating planet from the generation that let it happen:  “Go away, Boomers! You need to take power, millennials. I’ll vote for ya! Move to Austin, take over the town, and create a global youth movement. Boomers, shut up, your days are gone.  What you should study now is collaborative consumption. Days of rage, baby. Be realistic, demand the impossible!

Sterling was steaming about the fact that, while nuclear power plants are burning, and the planet is heating… the people who can move the needle sit on their coach, playing with their PlayStations and Wii’s. He’s convinced that without a revolution, the necessary efforts to save the planet and invest in clean technologies that will allow us a future will never be made.

Sterling points out that it is the millennials who should grab their future now. And they have the ultimate weapon to enforce things: the power of a social net.

All they need now is rage.


 

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Oil and water… (it’s not them, it’s you!)

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

SxSW is seen by many as the ideal launch platform for social media start-ups. Twitter, over countless others to Foursquare own a great deal of “launch momentum” to the Texas based exhibition. Only, what was the golden start-up this year?

A lot of start-ups come and try to pitch their cause at the blogger lounge, and I heard more than once that the overwhelming presence of bigger brands prevented smaller start-ups from getting a fair share of voice. Gigabrands like Google, Foursquare, Twitter etc. eating up so much attention that they literally smother to death the little beginners?

Excuse me, but I have difficulties buying that. A ton of journalists, bloggers, podcasters, venture capitalists and business angels are sifting through the five days of SxSW to find the little gem that will grow to the next Gowalla. Investors were roaming the floor with dollars in their pockets.  Claiming that you do not get noticed because O’Reilly stole your five minutes of glory is a little bit too Calimero to my taste.

Oil and water. They do not mix, and oil floats on top. Always. So does quality. If no journalist, blogger or investor made you an instant billionaire, you probably only have to blame yourself. Is your product really outstanding? Does it create a unique user experience? Is it unique? Is it compelling? Did you pitch it correctly? To the right people? Were you professional in advance briefing your targets, and in shortlisting face to face meetings? How good was your leave-behind? How professional your deck? Did you present it well: with passion and conviction? Did you identify the right messaging?

Confucius said that 98 percent of luck sits in clever preparation. Who am I to disagree… if you were worth it, you’ll get in the charts. If not: back to the drawing board…

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Pretty please? It’s not about stuff, it is about us…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Everybody needs to make a living, so I respect that everybody sells something. And listening to all the people selling their thing-of-gold @ #SxSW I cooked up a very simple rule-of-thumb to separate the chaff from the wheat.

It’s no rocket science: ignore the people that are talking about applications, software, browsers, plug-ins and tutti-quanti. They will not make it. Selling stuff will get you nowhere in the charts in the social media world. And a quick poll amongst the influent bloggers in the blogger lounge shows a similar view. Selling stuff is an indication that you do not get the game., it proves that you are playing in the wrong league. It proves that you are on a rollercoaster to lonely oblivion…

Because the game is social. And social just does not care a bit about stuff, social is about people, social is about experiencing and social, more than everything, is about us.

And the people selling experiences stand out like traffic lights in the Mobiwashi desert. Because the online consumers do not want to buy, they want to experience. And if good experience goes through a quick tap through their credit card, they do not care.

So, spotting great user experiences, gives you a great roadmap to real successful companies. How do you benefit from location based services? What curation service will get you the most relevant content? What platform will give you the most interaction with your audience, what tool will let you travel without having to worry about keeping track of your important shared documents?

It’s no longer about bits, and bytes, and CPU’s and whether or not it runs on Honeycomb, OS, Win7 or magic stardust. It’s about how and where and why. The web morphed from tech to social, from geeky to ubiquitous, from stuff to us…


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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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