Paradox of connectedness: the sad state of Gen C holiday experiences

Gen Y bali holiday I’ve blogged alot over the years about Generation C – the ‘Connected Generation’ and their need to be constantly connected to their friends, sharing content with the world. But this pic, which popped up on my newsfeed this morning, just blew me away. Here’s a handful of cool, educated late 20 somethings from Australia, NYC and London all gathering in Bali for a wedding, yet they’re completely engrossed in their screens when you’d think they’d be engrossed in conversation.

Gen C crave experiences over material goods. We know this. They crave connection. We know this. They crave sharing their world to show off and belong. We know this. Showing that you’re always connected (even on holidays with your closest mates eating brekky) on Facebook is now a badge. New to me.

This pic is very symbolic of Gen C and the paradox of connectedness.  These friends, who likely haven’t seen each other for a while seem more disconnected than connected in the physical sense. The impact of screens on our youth is being studied by people  much more intelligent than me, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our screens are having a profound impact on our interpersonal skills. The Gen C mantra of ‘I share, therefore I am’ has completely taken over.

What happened to holidays where you just talk to people, chill and catch up?

Look, I’m not on this holiday and I’m sure they’ve all had an amazing time catching up, sharing stories about their lives etc, but the fact that they’re all compelled to start their day ‘together’ by uploading to Instagram, Facebook and check emails is really a sad state of affairs for this generation. If ever a ‘digital detox diet’ was in need, it’s for these cool cats :) Chill out. Unplug. Talk to each other. Live in the moment. Ban wi-fi at resorts ;)

How social can help in the era of #TVEverywhere

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at PM 03.16.18

How people are watching and engaging with broadcast TV content is changing dramatically in the USA. Surprise, surprise, It’s no longer linear. It’s no longer scheduled. It’s no longer exclusively in front of a TV screen. “TV Everywhere” is becoming mainstream. It’s the latest buzzword for viewing broadcast shows from channels you subscribe to on your satellite network or devices. TV apps like HBO Go, Watch ESPN, CNBC, and cable companies offering their own branded apps like Comcast’s Xfinity TV Go. 1 in 5 American households are watching TV Everywhere content and it’s growing significantly faster than other online video sources like YouTube, Hulu or Daily Motion according to Adobe’s Digital Index.

Closer to home, the Australian TV networks and telco’s no doubt have picked up on this new revenue stream as Foxtel Go is our best example of this model, but how are they driving engagement around their content?

Several American TV networks are re-imagining the second screen experience and experimenting with new ways for people to participate with social elements when the person is already on their phone/tablet. Here are 5 recent innovative American examples:

1. High quality, bold, branded content:
To promote the second season of the Showtime series “Masters of Sex”, the network hired filmmaker Tatia Pilieva (“The Kiss” creator whose video for clothing line Wren earned 86m views) to create a video clip on YouTube titled “Undress Me,”. Seeding innovative teasers on YouTube is proving to be an effective strategy to generate interest in ‘tune-into’ events.

2. Tease Exclusive bonus content and Insider Info in real time:

As an official sponsor of Pretty Little Liars, Audi Snapchatted exclusive bonus content from the ABC Family program and the show’s stars in real time. SnapChat and Instagram are Millennial mediums of choice and need to be considered in delivering ‘first to view’ content.

3. Experiment with social platform features to build plot suspense

Hulu is the first brand to test sponsored posts on Whisper, an app that lets users post anonymous messages about their deepest secrets, biggest regrets, and strangest desires. For their new series Deadbeat, about a New York resident who helps ghosts take care of their nasty unfinished business they’re posting prompts, i.e.:. “Describe the worst fight you’ve ever gotten into with a rival” to pique interest in the show. A great example of matching a show’s narrative with a social platform’s unique context.

4. Contextually relevant media partnerships:

To promote the release of its new series “Satisfaction,” a show that deals with modern marriages, USA Network teamed up with Vice Media and HowAboutWe – a dating site – to start a cultural dialogue around the subjects of today’s relationships with the thought–provoking question: #AreYouSatisfied? among the very people who might be pondering this question and thus be interested in the show.

5. Use characters to “meet” new fans:

To plug Season 4, The Walking Dead, a Zombie show in New Zealand, TVNZ deployed female models to engage with over 500 guys on Tinder, and as their ‘relationships’ deepened, photos and responses slowly deteriorated, leaving little more than incoherent zombies who rattled off the launch date. Mindy Kaling (star of Fox’s The Mindy Project) also surprises viewers on Tinder, a clever way to attract potential new viewers with matching interests.

If TV Everywhere trend continues it’s global growth, brands like Foxtel Go should be experimenting with innovative social ideas to drive engagement and advocacy around their shows.

How to engage the A-D-D Generation with #LifestyleHacking

A recent piece I wrote for Marketing Mag column with the lovely Kat Edwards from KontentedImage

A screenshot from one of our iris Worldwide presentations courtesy of our guru CSO, Sammy Noble.

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Today’s digitally savvy Millenials have been termed the A-D-D generation, constantly flipping and flopping between jobs, digital devices, having attention spans the size of ants and being brand flirts. It’s not surprising given they’re dealing with 60 million Instagram pics being posted daily, 200 hours of YouTube video content uploaded every minute and 30 billion pieces of content shared monthly on Facebook.

Marketers need to understand those born after 1995 have been forced to develop a finely tuned editing and curating skills to process the endless streams of content bombarding their screens. How they absorb information in the networked world has fundamentally changed.

Today’s Millenials live on a diet of quick fix information nuggets where their memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by hashtags, Instagram pics and Snapchat one-liners. When it comes to content they take a quick glance, sort it, and tag it for future reference. Forget multi-taskers. They are super-taskers.

So how can marketers engage the A-D-D generation?

In todays networked, post modern world, the biggest influence on youth patterns of thought and behaviour are their everyday experiences and social milieu. Their participation in the world around them is the key guide for marketers.

So the role of brands today is to ‘hack’ into and become more of an intrinsic and visible participant in the flow of their lifestyles. I call it ‘lifestyle hacking.’ Here are 5 principles for successful lifestyle hacks:

1. Design distinctive and instinctive interactions

Where milliseconds matter, moving beyond bland consistency, marketers need to focus on visceral, interactive and detailed experiences at every encounter creating distinctive and instinctive interactions.

2. Practical magic

Think about turning life’s pain points into little moments of pleasure and delightful discovery. More than digital utility it’s building in lots of sticky details. The Uber app is a great recent example of this.

3. Tribal identity

Baking in meaningful signs of tribal belonging and affiliation with groups of others to help frame their social identity is key. Our MINI UK #notnormal platform moved beyond the metal to celebrate the inventive relationships MINI owners had with their cars.

4. Social currency beyond WOM

Making your brand a unit of social currency, not just your branded content is the new centre ground for marketing. How do you always stay abreast of the zeitgeist and be part of the emerging shift to the collaboration economy? Online thrift shop ThredUp.com is kicking goals here.

5. Immersive connectivity

Millenials crave connectivity and they love 4D immersion. Why else would Facebook buy virtual reality company Oculus Rift? Look for new ways to create brand experiences leveraging accessible virtual reality.

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.

 

 

 

#GoogleVoiceSearch speaks for itself in Aussie experiments

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the guys at Google Australia the past few months on an exciting project for Google Voice Search for mobile.

I’ll let the videos speak for themselves, but essentially we created two acoustic experiments with some rather unusual apparatus to test out the capabilities of Google Voice Search for mobile.

These are the two teaser videos

These are the actual longform experiments

During the filming of the two experiments we also reached out the the Tourism Australia Facebook community asking them what search questions they’d like to ask ‘underwater’ and in the ‘desert’.

So far we’ve got over 3.5m views all in and growing as well as a sizeable usage shift in peeps out there doing voice searches on their mobile, giving the technology a good old try.

Enjoy