About danpankraz

I'm a Youth Marketing Strategist working as Regional Strategy Director, APAC at Iris Worldwide- based in Sydney. I've spent my whole career working on youth brands including Adidas, Axe, Smirnoff, Lonely Planet & many others

Hansel & Gretel Effect: the hidden trail of digital breadcrumbs #m360 presentation

Yesterday I spoke at the Mumbrella 360 #m360 conference in Sydney and I thought I’d share the speaker notes. The topic was social media and youth and I decided to talk about the concept of ‘digital breadcrumbs’ and how youth are expressing themselves and evading parents using social media tools……

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Brands have and will always be playing catch up with youth culture. They’re always trying to stay on the trail.

As we all know, we’re all leaving traces of our presence across the internet, whether that be through social posts, sharing pictures and videos, or just surfing the web whilst signed in with Google. Think of these as ‘digital breadcrumbs’. So how are digital breadcrumbs affecting the social media behavior of the Internet’s most prolific sharers.. youth (specifically 16-24yr olds)?

I call it the Hansel & Gretel effect, the ways youth are both expressing themselves on social media platforms but also evading parents, marketers when leaving their digital breadcrumbs.

Today’s teens are constantly crafting and curating their online identity. This isn’t a new concept, but the explosion of new visual social platforms like Instagram has turbocharged this behaviour.

Our (Iris Worldwide’s)  recent Planet Hyperconnected study looked at the digital breadcrumbs of 6,000 18-24yr olds across 6 countries including Australia. Amongst other things, we found the average teen is consuming, creating and sharing content for up to 13hrs a day. Yes more than half the day. So they’re creating and leaving a hell of a lot of digital breadcrumbs.

So what are some of the digital breadcrumb themes (both good and bad) we are picking up on right now?

Firstly, we’re seeing the onset of Selfie Obsessed Syndrome – teens spending hours posing for the perfect selfie, or altering it on one of the many free photo editing aps. This is a behaviour that’s celebrity fuelled but also has permeated from youth subcultures driven by fashion and also sports for boys.

Whilst brands have moved away from a focus on image to reality/transparency over the past 5 years, teens are going the other way.

They are trying to create an idealised version of themselves to boost self esteem.

It’s not all fun and games though, there is a real INSTAGRAM- PRESSURE to look your best all the time and have a ‘perfect life’. We’re seeing many teens talk about ‘faking’ checkins at parties or festivals, as they feel the pressure to be seen in the right place.

They’re seeking approval by asking their friends to rate them #hotornot and #rateme on their posts as well as uploading selfies to judgement sites.

Their self esteem and confidence are increasingly being defined by how many likes and comments they get. When you’re a LIKEAHOLIC it’s a constant contest putting an amazing amount of pressure on your appearance.

This girl who we spoke to loves the fact that she gets up to 100 likes when she posts a selfie..for her it’s clearly a sense of validation and confidence.

However, the flipside of the positive validation is that there is an undercurrent of teens with body image issues as their selfies or pics are not perceived to be making the grade.

A week doesn’t go by when we don’t hear another story of a teen committing suicide following a relentless Facebook Bullying campaign by her classmates.

 INSTAGRAM PARTIES

A little cultural trend born in Australia (to my knowledge)

Forget hanging at the local Macca’s or skatepark. We’re seeing Pop Up social media takeovers in the form of Instagram Parties.

Teens getting together, having a party and trying to post enough content to effectively take over Instagram for a couple of hours… Their plan is to #ownthenight

In an era where everything is shared, do teens really give a shit about privacy and do they worry about the ramifications?

Well a global study by Device Research for the Young People’s Consumer Confidence Index found that 68% of 16-24yr olds are not concerned that their social media behaviour could harm future job prospects.

However they are only really concerned with the NOW and those with immediate power over them.

Think about when we were growing up, teens have always wanted privacy – in our day it was our bedrooms with  “no parents allowed” hanging on the door.

For todays youth– the motivations are the same – they still want a place to express themselves away from Mum and Dad, but now it’s a digital hideout instead. They want a place they can call their own and talk their own language.

Comparing todays youth with older generations;

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Their photo albums are now on Instagram

Their MTV are YouTube playlists

Their tapes and CDs are now spotify playlists

Their loveletters are now short sharp Snapchats

Their diaries are Tumblr pages

Their posters are now Pinterest pins

Their playground gossiping happens on facebook…  or at least it did…

Teens still crave privacy, but now Mum and Dad and unwanted friends are now on Facebook following their breadcrumbs.

It’s no surprise that today’s youth are spending less and less time on Facebook. I’ll go so far as to say there’s a movement off the platform by Aussie youth, following the trend from American youth.

There are simply too many chaperones at the party. The average age of a new user is now 47. So teens are getting out of there

So where are they going? Places Mum and Dad won’t find them like Instagram and Tumblr and places where they’re leaving fewer breadcrumbs.

Snapchat is the mobile app of the moment for youth … posts, pics and videos are sent and then selfdestruct within 10 seconds. They use it for meaningless fleeting interactions. It’s either silly selfies or sexting. Youth see it as failsafe way to share, communicate and interact without ever getting stung by mum and dad. As one teen said

‘It’s a way to connect with friends when you don’t really have anything to say.” Anonymous teen

However literally this week sites such as Snapchat Leaked and Snapchat Exposed  have popped up where people are screen grabbing naughty Snapchat pics and sharing them.

 CODED BREADCRUMBS

Another new behavior we’re seeing is youth leaving “coded breadcrumbs” online.

Teens are doing this by creating and sharing Cryptic Content as a form of privacy protection in the digital age. Academics call it social steganography where they control the meaning of content.

This is content that has layers of meaning, and hidden messages. To the untrained eye it can look like an innocent, vague facebook post, insta pic or vine video, but to those that know the inside language, it has pointed meaning.

Pew’s recent study on teens social media habits found that 64% of teens admit to using inside jokes and subtle cultural references to hide what they’re really saying.

As Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd states, ‘The more they share in public, the more they are hiding in plain sight

A recent example of a brand that’s tapped into cryptic content by creating a new language with hidden meaning is Puma with their Dance Dictionary.

So marketers today must be highly perceptive and agile, able to quickly spot and act upon the digital breadcrumbs the Hansels and Gretels of today are leaving behind them.

I think there are several types of brand action to consider when engaging youth in the social space:

CURRENCY

Start with what will give teens social currency in the digiverse, conversation is king. It requires shifting the participation focus from message to cultural relevance that will get people talking.

Brands need to act at the speed of culture, real time marketing is an imperative  – think like a newsjacker,  being able to tap into relevant cultural memes or events and respond with social ideas at speed. At Iris we call it Urgent Genius and creating conversational currency must be a key tenet of your marketing program.

CURATE

Trying to navigate through 13hrs of content a day is hardwork, at a minimum brands need to play the role of curators. Think less about what content you can create (remembering Youtube cops 72hrs of new content every minute) and how you cab make their life easier by being a curator.

Aggregating, organising and sharing ‘best of content’ created by others to add context, narrative and meaning to it.

Coke’s doing this really well at the moment.

 CHALLENGE

Todays youth get a kick out of discovering the underlying meaning, and knowing what others don’t. Challenging youth to discover the hidden meanings and mechanics through gamification. Motivating and then rewarding them for deciphering ideas.

Our Iris team in London recently launched Adidas NEO fashion label using Justin Beiber, our ‘Find my gold shoes Adidas NEO’ idea generated participation by hundreds of thousands of Beliebers, with reach social reach to over 300m people on Facebook. If the reward ‘Bringing Justin the gold shoes you found online’ is motivating enough, people will participate in droves.

 COLLUDE

Finally and most importantly we need to continue to look at ways in which we can collude with youth. I purposely use the word collude over collaborate as I think collaboration is the most overused word in marketing. Collusion is much more about giving youth something special, making them feel like they have the inside track, letting them put their fingerprints on ideas so they can share as their own…in secret without broadcasting to their parents..just to their friends that will give them cred. It’s a word shift, but one I think is critical.

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So yeah it’s harder than ever to keep up with youth culture, but understanding the digital breadcrumbs and the needstates is the key to engaging youth in the social age.

Tech girls are chic: interview with Dr Jenine #girlsindigital

I recently presented at a youth marketing conference in Sydney on ‘Marketing to Kids, Tweens & Teens’ and i was lucky enough to sit next to Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen who is doing some awesome work encouraging young women here in Australia to get into IT and digital careers. She’s written a great book, ‘Tech girls are chic’ definitely worth reading. 

Here’s a short interview with her:

I’m Dr Jenine (I have a PhD) and I’m an entrepreneur - well that’s what some people call me. I’m CEO of my own research consulting business Adroit Research which I just launched in the past 3 months, I lecture in IT to undergraduates at Griffith University, and I’m a book editor (Tech girls are chic!). Basically I’m a researcher interested in how people use technology, and how it can make our lives better.Image

Why did you start ‘Tech girls are chic’?

To raise awareness that Information Technology is a great career for girls. At the time I was running Technology Takes You Anywhere and volunteering at Go Girl, which are events for girls to learn about tech careers, and I wanted something the girls could take home at the end of the day to show their parents, teachers and friends. I also wanted to have something for girls that couldn’t make it to any events, I didn’t want them to miss out on learning about technology careers and how great they are. I love my job working in Information Technology. Every day is different; my work is interesting and challenging, I travel and get paid very well!

 Why don’t you think young women in Australia have gone into IT/digital careers?

They don’t understand the awesome opportunities that working in technology careers have. That is not their fault, I find it hard to understand what people in IT do as it so varied. We need  more role models to show us what they do in their jobs, and to share what they love and what challenges they face (this article agrees). One problem is that many girls particularly do not seem to make the connection between using technology and building technology. Think of all the technologies, websites, apps, devices etc. you use every single day, these are created by people in Information Technology. We need you to join us in creating the technology of the future! :)

Do you think women bring different thinking to the industry?

Yes. Diversity is important in many aspects of our lives. Think of how many diverse people use all of that technology that you use every day. It makes sense that those diverse people are represented in the development of technology. This doesn’t just apply to women, but people of all ages from all backgrounds including minorities and people with disabilities.

 What’s happening right now in terms of getting young girls into IT/digital careers? Any big success stories you’ve seen?

I’m proud to say I’ve been behind a success story! Tech girls are chic is a book that I developed to show young girls what is an IT career all about, and to provide 16 different role models of chic women who work in the industry. The message is that we are just like you, we love hanging out with friends, travelling and reading books, we also happen to work in Information Technology. We love our jobs, and we want you to see what we do and we also want to show that we have other skills – story writing. Each tech girl in the book wrote a short fun fiction story about technology. 

 In the past 5 years I’ve distributed nearly 20 000 books and I need more as people keep ordering them! So I’m in the process of looking for funding and sponsorship money so that I can produce the next version of the pink book. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact me. But how do I really know that the book has been successful? Well I recently met a girl called Anna who is studying IT at university because she read my book when she was in high school. It was so exciting to meet her and to hear that I had an impact on the career she has chosen. Gives me goosebumps! So I’m going to work on a crowdsourcing campaign to find out “where in the world is the pink book?

 

What’s the future looking like for women in IT/digital careers?

I think is very positive and full of opportunities. We are using more technology all the time and have a greater reliance on it every single day. Therefore we need a highly expert workforce to continue to innovate into the future. How could you not want to be part of this fun, challenging, rewarding and exciting career, and why should the boys get all the good stuff?

BOYS vs GIRLS: the gender differences of #inbeTWEENers

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Tweens are often termed the ‘inbetweeners’, caught between the kiddie world that’s focused on fantasy/play and the fledgling world of teenagerdom that’s about self expression within the group. Marketers looking to engage with tweens in todays digital environment need to understand that there are huge gender differences between boys and girls aged 8-12. I wrote about these gender differences in a previous post here, but this visual above is a snapshot I created with my fellow planner Paul Gage on the tween gender differences.

Put simply tween girls are all about the social context, playing in co-operation with their friends as they do things online. Once they hit 12-13yrs however, this co-operation turns into competition. We’re seeing the new digital trend of Instagram beauty pageants where girls post selfies and compete with each other as to who’s hot or not. Check out #beautycontest or #beautypageant on Instagram.

 They’re also looking for brands to provide deeper storytelling content online, they’re after detail, flourishes of pastel colours and the ability to create their own branded memories to share with friends.

On the flipside, unsurprisingly, tween boys are about adventure, action, gadgets. They’re visual rather than being verbal focused in their interaction. Their gaming world has trained them to focus on a hero character as the social context is less important. They want brands to be quick and to the point, bold colours and graphics and get excited by symbols of achievement as they compete with their friends in everything. Tween boy world is binary – yes or no and they are extremely single tasked focused. Good to see things don’t change as it’s true guys can’t do two things at once.

 Just a few tips and tricks to think about when looking to design brand experiences for tween boys or girls. Thanks Gagey for the shared insight.

Creating Brand MWE in a selfie obsessed world #brandMWE

I was asked to speak about teens and social media platforms last week at a youth marketing conference in Sydney and here are some of my notes.

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Essentially, my talk based around the fact that teens are not longer just creating BRAND ME (their online identity), they are carefully curating BRAND MWE where every Facebook update, Instagram pic, Vine vid, self destructing Snapchat selfie is seeking social approval from the crowd. They have selfie obsessed syndrome. Curating BRAND MWE is less about their own self confidence and more about fear of rejection and isolation in the digital world.

Like it or not, the rise and rise of ‘Selfie culture’ has created a need for teens today to live in a world where they are constantly competing for online validation. How many likes can I accumulate? Talking to a bunch of 15yr olds last week, they feel enormous pressure to post the right pic on Instagram. Fear of judgement? Yes. Fear of isolation? Yes. A Need for peer validation? Absolutely. Their self esteems are taking a massive hit at the moment as they are pressured into ‘joining’ in to the banter that’s happens online. They know that their real self offline is nowhere near as exciting as their online identity, but they’re pressured to often do ‘fake’ check ins to prove their worth.

Unsurprisingly, teens want to be on social platforms that are simple, relatively secret from their parents and super fun. It’s their new oxygen. They’re after self expression, creativity, entertainment, recognition, a place to build their identity and of course connect and chat.

Facebook, although the biggest is on the nose for many influential Aussie teens. It’s not surprising, why would they want to hang out on a place where their aunts, uncles, parents are commenting on every post. It’s become a busy school playground and the cool kids always want to go and hang out in the corner. By end of 2013 mainstream youth will start avoiding FB. 

Instagram parties the new meet up

Instagram is hot for obvious reasons, these kids are obsessed by taking selfies and sharing how hot, sexy, ripped, tough they are with the world. They also use it for entertainment. I recently heard of Instagram themed parties that teens are having so they can ‘own’ that night’s Instagram feed and make their other friends jealous.  Unfortunately this is a generation where many of them are becoming more and more focused on ‘posing’ rather than ‘doing’  stuff. 

Self destructing selfies mean less pressure

 SnapChat is the hottest new photo sharing app that teens are taking up. An app that lets users send quick, SMS-like messages, which can include candid photos or videos that (supposedly) disappear seconds later — “never to be seen again.” Unless you take a screenshot. Once again it’s simple, fun and most adults don’t know about it. They see it as a bit of fun spontaneity, instant gratification. You take a photo (selfie) share it, and once people view it disappears within 10 seconds. One of the reasons why teens love Snapchat is they don’t feel the need to spend hours ‘altering an image’ like they do on Facebook or Instagram. They feel they can be themselves. Many parents are freaking out about Snapchat and the impact it will have on the sexting epidemic.  

6 seconds of Vine Fame

Brand MWE is also built by ‘long photos’, and teens are starting to get into the new app Vine. Posting 6 second vids of them in action. This app taps more into the performing side of teens. It’s no longer 15 secs of fame, it’s been squashed down to 6 seconds of fame. Another example of bite sized nibble content these teens are after.

 Be yourself on Tumblr

Tumblr is quickly becoming the de facto teen social network. It’s all about creativity and self expression without the prying eyes of parents.

They like it its celebrity and vertical (politics, music, etc.) outreach and varied post formats. Teens love it for its anonymity of and lighter emphasis on follower counts as compared with Twitter. “Even if your mum is on Tumblr, you don’t have to follow her, since there’s no requirement to use your real name. You don’t even have to know that she’s on the site,” They feel they can disguise themselves more than on Facebook or Instagram, without fear of being stalked.

 So that’s a quick look into the social platforms that teens are using to help curate BRAND MWE. They’ll be on to something new within 2-3 months so I’ll be updating this post. The latest self expression app is Pheed. Word not in on whether that will kick off.

SXSW Interactive 2013 Summary: 7 key themes that matter to marketers

SXSW Interactive 2013 Wordle

Trying to synthesise hundreds of SXSW sessions into a handful of key takeouts accurately reflecting the current digital zeitgeist is a little challenging. Based on my experiences I’ve pulled out what I believe are some of the most relevant themes for brands looking to leverage digital today and tomorrow.

1. Hardware is Hot

Hardware is hot right now. The innovation race is centred around how developers and brands can bring game changing hardware to market, cheaply. From affordable 3D printing like MakerBot’s 3D Digitizer, Ouya’s Android’s TV gaming console to Google’s Talking Shoe and Augment Reality Glass concept.

2. Physicalisation of Digital Experiences (Tangible Keepsakes)

In a world where digital innovation has rapidly been occurring over the past decade, dematerialisation has taken place as physical items have been movedinto the ever elusive cloud.  However, while we as humans appreciate the benefits and advancements of digital technology, we’re now beginning to see a return towards tangible goods using the very same digital technology that has helped remove them from our lives. There’s a big opportunity for brands who are able to converge the two if they’re able to create products that link the emotions we attach to items in the digital space to the physical forefront. Stitchtagram a perfect example of this trend.

3. Humans as the New Interface

The future of design will use the Human body as the ultimate interface. As we struggle to cram more stuff on our screens, the real innovation is happening in or around the human body. Whether it’s intuitive gesture based tech like Leap Motion, programmable clothing or embedded technology actually in our skins, brands gazing into the future will be designing brand experiences in or around the body.

4. Think Psychology before Technology

It’s an obvious one, but brands wanting to create circulation (‘viral’ has officially been blacklisted)of their ideas or content need to start with the psychology of why people use or share a service or idea, not with the platform or technology. It goes back to basic needstate driven marketing, but is so important in a world where we’re screening out non useful tech.

5. Hack your brand

Hacking your brand by opening up your API to crowdsourced development and iteration is not a new concept in the USA. But for Aussie marketers it may come across as a destructive concept, it’s actually extremely constructive if done well. It’s about opening up your brand. 2013 will be the year where 24hr Hacksessions and real time creativity become more mainstream and marketers look to agency partners to deliver solutions (particularly NPD) to big problems quickly.

6. Feedforward not feedback technology

In today’s world of big data, we have the ability to create immediate feedback based on real time data. Think RFID sensors, NFC.  When people understand what they’ve just done, it influences their next decision. Marketers need to leverage Feed Forward technology; guiding consumers to make better decisions by providing the right info at the right time in the right context, intuitively.

7. Always On = Always Now

In our latest global study, Planet Hyperconnected we saw an emerging cultural trend that the ability to be always on and digitally connected wasdriven by a desire to always be IN the moment.  Here at SXSW, this theory was proved further as speakers such as Chris Risdon’s “Behavioral Change as a Value Proposition” and eBay’s Steve Yankovich talked about how in this constant era of connectivity brands need to capitalise on people’s motivation in the moment.

That’s my wrap for SXSW 2013, looking forward to resting my brain after the last intense yet stimulating five days and seeing if 3D printing goes nuts in Australia.

SXSW Day 4: Sharing Hate, slow content, living data, embedded tech and tangible keepsakes

SXSW Interactive day 4 was about getting in touch with my geeky side. I wanted to spend some time today attending sessions and exhibits from way out there tech futurists and try and get a glimpse of what’s around the corner. I also wanted to see if there were some digital counter trends to balance the 600,000 mentions in social media of the word ‘Innovate’ so far during the conference.

Here are my Day 4 SXSW Interactive 2013 highlights:

Forget ‘Liking it’, ‘Hate it’

Sometimes things just annoy the hell out of you and you want to share it with the world. Now there’s an app for that.  The most buzzed about app of Day 4 was an app called Hater where you can share what you hate on social networks. It’s like Instagram for everything you hate.  Watch out duck face selfie’s, celebs and politicians this could be a hit.

Slow Content in a Hyper-connected world

In today’s hyper-connected world where everyone is seeking an always now existence, brands are looking to deliver real time snackable content to cater for our ever diminishing attention spans. Today Margot Bloomstein offered a counter trend with her  ‘content strategy for slow experiences’ session.

Slow content aims to slow down users, focus their attention, get them exploring whilst helping them act more deliberately in the moment. It’s not a content approach for every brand, but it’s perfect for those looking to create a deeper brand narrative and genuinely invite consumers in. Patagonia creates slow content experiences, delivering deep long form content, rich copy, rich in detail with total transparency – the good and the bad.

Unlike Amazon-type etailers where speed through checkout is the goal, slow content helps the customer make the right choice, not just a choice. Ikea is doing this really well. Brands looking to demonstrate their passion and purpose should think about a slow content approach.

Living Data predicting the future

We all seem to agree that big data is sexy, if used the right way it can solve many of the world’s problems.  Filtering the signal from the noise is the big challenge for marketers. Futurist Bryon Reese’ ‘Algorithms optimize Human existence’ session went into fascinating (although somewhat scary) detail about the potential for using big data and tech to improve the quality of life.

We’re headed to a world where everything we do (behaviour, speech, thoughts) will be digitally recorded (and perfectly remembered), creating a digital record of your life. But more than the record, the data can be analysed, collecting every cause and effect and developing solutions.  Surveillance state you say? Maybe.

Reese believes “Everybody’s life will become action and data to make others’ lives better“. Significant stuff.

The brands of tomorrow need to look at how they can use, what I call, Living Data to identify patterns and then deliver utility that help people help each other.

Embedded technology making Humans the new interface

As digital devices get smaller they will get more embedded into our lives, literally. A session called ‘The Human Body is the next interface’ explored the future reality whereby embedding micro machines inside the human body will happen.

Pharma and healthcare industries could be the most innovative marketers in the world in the next few years. He referenced several fascinating scenarios. Imagine a baby in a cot, with the blanket containing embedded Nano tech. The blanket senses skin temp, alpha waves, pulse and other vitals, the blanket then releases medicine for baby based on signals from embedded tech. Closer on the horizon are bras that detect signs of breast cancer.

It’s not all life saving preventative tech though.  Programmable clothing is not as far away as you might think. French brand Lacoste recently celebrated their 80yr anniversary with this ‘Future of Polo’ programmable clothing piece. Pretty cool possibilities.

Forget Minority Report type stuff. The Human body is the next interface.

Tangible Keepsakes born from a digital world

Brands can get obsessed with creating digital stuff, as we’re constantly told that’s where and how people live. ‘Embracing Analog’ a session run by Ann Mack, Paul Woolmington and Frank Rose offered an alternative point of view. Their research into the current digital need states of Americans, from Millennials to the Grey market, identified that people are craving sensory appeal in a digital world. Woolmington states; “We want something to have and hold – we crave the tactile and like to ignite the senses.”

It would seem people today miss memories in a physical form. Interestingly, 73% of Americans want to turn digital memories into physical ones.  People are wanting “tangible keepsakes” from their digi experiences. They want to preserve things that have emotional value to them.  Brands like Stitchtagram who turn Instagram pics into handmade pillows and bags are all over this trend. Brands need to think about how they create branded memories that exist both digitally and physically.

So, one more day of digital love, Tacos, start up tech parties and speeches before the 25hr journey home.

SXSW Day 3 highlights: Talking Shoes, feedforward tech and being tip of tongue

Jetlag subsided, now it’s just a case of dealing with hangovers from 6th Street parties, Tex Mex overload and power chord rage as 70,000 people fight to keep the energy bars of their laptops, mobiles and tablets full charged. I’m surprised the lights are still on in the city to be honest.  Day 3 at SXSW was intense; I managed to attend quite a few presentations, some pretty awesome, some quite disappointing.

Here are my highlights from Day 3:

Wearable tech goes motivational: Google’s Talking Shoe

I’ve been waiting for a jaw-dropping piece of tech to brag about on my Facebook wall. Look no further, it’s Google’s Talking shoe, in collaboration with adidas. It’s an experiment to show how wearable tech can tell inspiring stories for people via the web, and to flog its new advertising platform called Art, Copy and Code. It’s tech with a bit of personality e.g.: if you’re running fast it cheers you on.  Using a small computer, accelerometer, pressure sensor, a gyroscope and Bluetooth the kicks tell the person wearing them what they are doing (or aren’t doing) and can relay that information to their smartphone via a speaker in the tongue of the shoe. Another example of wearable technology being somewhat seamlessly introduced into our lives.

Check out this hype vid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcaSwxbRkcE

From Feedback to Feedforward technology

Interesting, yet very academic session called ‘Behaviour Change as Value Proposition’ by Chris Robson explored into the role technology plays in driving behavior change. Obviously a massively diverse topic, but much of the conversation the last few years has been around ‘Feedback’ sensors such as RFID tags and GPS devices providing valuable input to people and brands. The future is all about ‘Feedforward’ technologies intuitively guiding my next option at the point of decision. Chris’ example of going into Subway and Feedforward geo location tech being able to help you decide between cookies or a 12 inch sub by providing calorie info on your mobile in real time.  Google Now is a great example of a Feedforward utility proving real time answer almost preempting a consumer need. Shopper marketers take note as new opportunities emerge to provide intuitive value exchange at the point of purchase that’s.

Top of mind means tip of tongue

Everyone here at a SXSW will claim they’re a bit of a social media guru and know the secret recipe for creating sticky and shareable content. You gotta call BS on a fair few of them. Was refreshing to listen to a Wharton Professor, Jonah Berger talk about his latest book ‘Contagious: why things catch on’ covering the 6 psychological principles for why people share. Sounds obvious, but marketers should focus on the psychology not technology of sharing. Jonah quoted the fact that only 7% of WOM happens online and wanted the word ‘Influencers’ banned, as there was no empirical proof of influencer impact on decision making over the long term. Marketers should focus on the message not the messenger. I’m rather skeptical of this influencer bashing as I’ve seen Influencer strategy work extremely well to increase both reach and engagement, surely all people aren’t created equal in their ability to influence others right?

So the key to contagion or ‘acts of circulation’ as network guru Henry Jenkins calls it?

Making audiences feel like insiders, sharing a secret is key to Social Currency. It’s the first of several “STEPPS” that also include Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories, which, if incorporated, can make any product or idea contagious.

Secondly, if something is ‘top of mind, it’s tip of tongue’. Referring to the need for brands to create trigger cues such as contextual names; Meow Mix cat food, natural associations e.g.: Peanut AND Jelly. Rebecca Black’s appalling YouTube Sensation ‘It’s Friday’ has continued to drive mass views on Fridays due to it’s title and contextual trigger of the word Friday.

Unsurprisingly, high arousal emotions drive people to share: humour, anger, fear, and sympathy. Brands need to create what he calls ‘Trojan Horses’, brand assets that could only be from your brand.  “Trojan Horses carry something along for the ride – the message a brand wants to get across in the middle’.

Fortune favours the Networked Mind

The last talk of the day, ‘The New Serendipity’ had some gold dust in it in regards to brands thinking about innovation. Having a beginners mind, reaching out like a child to meet new friends, learn new things and stop looking in the same places is the key to innovation. It’s kind of like a mantra for SXSW, you’ll come across more innovation in the queues talking to random people you meet. I’ll leave you with this John Perry Barlow wisdom bomb ‘Fortune favours the networked mind’.

So Yes, Google stole the show today with their Talking Shoe, but I did leave the conference inspired and looking for my moment of serendipity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 SXSW 2013 Highlights: Peepculture, Digifrenia & Hacksessions

As I boarded the 26hr flight from Sydney to Austin on Thursday I promised my fellow Aussie SXSW’westers that I’d avoid reporting on buzzwords in my daily B&T posts. It’s Day 2 and I’m about to break that promise. Sorry guys.

SXSW really kicked into gear today, heavyweights like Al Gore hit the keynote stage, but it was actually the smaller presentations that were worth the painful queues.

OK, three thoughts to take out of today: Hacksessions are the new brainstorms, Peepculture not pop culture is where youth are at and brands needing to Design for Digifrenia. Bare with me as I explain.

Hacksessions are the new brainstorms

First off this morning was a fascinating panel talk called ‘Can u hack it’ by Big Spaceship, covering how digital agencies are now tapping into Hacker culture to come up with new ideas/services to business problems. It’s rapid real time prototyping of ideas that break the status quo system. The big question of the session was the difference between 24hr Hacksessions and brainstorms.  The key difference between a Hacksession and a brainstorm is that the former is absolutely focused on the ‘making of something real via rapid prototyping’, rather than abstract thinking on post it notes. Big Spaceship for one, are using Hacksessions as their chemistry sessions in new business pitches. Rather than spend $20k+ and loads of strategy/ creative time, they’ll go into a client for a day and run a Hacksession with a client, taking a team of multi discipline thinkers; coders, designers, strategists to crack a problem. Agencies running 24hr Hackathons for clients with low budgets has also been extremely valuable for making lean budgets work harder. Even Al Gore, in his ‘The Future’ speech said ‘Our (USA) democracy has been hacked’ referring to role of big business in hacking the system. Marketers bring The Hack into your business (it’s not just for geeks) for rapid business problem solving, banish the brainstorm.

From Pop Culture to Peep Culture

My passion for youth marketing and ways brands can connect with digital natives led me to the session on ‘How Peepculture hacked your brain’. Despite being viewed as the ‘Connected’ generation (or GenC as I like to call them), Gen Y and Millennial today are social beings living in a time of ridiculous alienation as ‘checking’ has replaced ‘connecting’. The social revolution has led a shift from pop culture to peep culture, where entertainment is far less scripted and young people are more obsessed with the everyday happenings of their friends entertaining them. Social media is selfish, youth share for themselves, whether it’s for self-expression or self-searching. Yes, it can be overbearing and narcisstic, but every generation has needed self-expression. This one just looks more inward. The other myth that was busted is the thought that young people act willy nilly when it comes to their privacy. Actually, in an era of digital freedom young people crave control of their digitally identities more than ever they just assess the social context very differently to Gen X’ers and Boomers. Brands wanting to connect in ‘Peep Culture’ need to determine the ‘what, how and why’ their audience share in the digital space in order to unlock ways to get their brand in that conversation.

Designing for Digifrenia

Digifrenia was a concept introduced by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff today. Digifrenia or as I Like to call it ‘digitally divided identities’ are being created by all of us. They’re the multiple virtual accounts (on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms) people are created to sustain anonymity and avoid being judged. It’s a phenom that has been rising to the surface these past months as the plethora of connected social platforms we all belong to, put pressure on how we connect with the world. Marketers need to design brand experiences with digifrenia in mind, ensuring they put special focus on content with  context so the social media selection adds value, not overwhelms.

Ok, enough buzzwords for today. Going to try my luck at one of the many SXSW blatantly brand funded parties here in Austin.

 

 

 

SXSW 2013 Day 1 Highlights

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Just survived Day 1 of South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual interactive conference in Austin Texas that’s known for being the Launchpad for all things cool in the digital world like Twitter.

Before I get into the Day 1 highlights, it must be said that this place is absolutely crazy, with 70,000 people expected to be here over the next four days and every second person claiming they’re a ‘social media guru’, I’ve never seen so many people glued to Twitter as they race to share the inspiration. But, I’ve been warned by a few seasoned SXSWesters to keep my wits about me, sniffing out real digital and social innovation from BS can be the biggest challenge with over 5,000 speakers.

Here are my top 3 highlights from Day 1 action:

1. 3D printing is the next Industrial Revolution

 SXSW is known for amazing technology being released. Today Bre Pettis launched the MakerBotDigitizer 3D scanner, which can scan a physical item like a garden gnome and record its precise 3D rendering. Forget printing objects, with his latest invention, Pettis let’s anyone scan and print physical objects in 3D.  We’ve all heard about 3D printing but this innovation brings amazing new possibilities for brands to create highly participatory and personalized experiences for consumers. As Bre states:

“MakerBot is leading the next industrial revolution, and we are empowering everyday people to make stuff””


2. Think Omni Channel marketing, forget the silos

 The world of mobile is always an interesting discussion topic. Australia has a smartphone penetration of almost 65% so I thought I better check out the OMMA session, ‘Is mobile a branding vehicle?’. The answer. Yes.

Brands need to forget the online vs. offline debate, as people have media experiences, not channel ones and mobile devices are the ultimate access point. Consumers are living Omni channel lives so marketers have to stop thinking in media and channel silos (forget buzzwords like SOLOMO) and start ensuring that brand experiences flow seamlessly throughout. Remember, people don’t watch the web, they participate in it and mobile devices facilitate and enhance that. And when planning content for multiple devices think three things: Personal. Adaptable. Social.

 3. Empowering people in the Age of Damage

 Havas Global CEO, David Jones @davidjoneshavas spoke about the ‘Age Of Damage’ where brands like BP have been brought to their knees via social media backlash. Brands need to shift from a focus on profit to a focus on social purpose. Whilst the industrial revolution empowered companies; the social revolution has empowered people with ability to either pull down your brand or build it up. Brands don’t get to dictate their image anymore, so they need to focus on transparency, authenticity and speed in bringing their social good to the world. They also need to shift from mass communication to thinking about how they can leverage a ‘mass of communicators’ to share and advocate their brands. The Rainforest Alliance, an example of a brand that’s done authenticity and storytelling brilliantly.

 

 And to finish off my day, there’s no shortage of fun to be had amongst the digital craziness. Stumbled across this ping-pong tournament happening at the Hilton Hotel set up by Pongrock. I won a few rounds but was no match for a developer from Brooklyn who tells me he ‘lives for code and pong’. Tune in tomorrow or follow me @danpankraz for more digital inspiration from SXSW