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.

How brands can avoid #festivalfail this Summer: #youthmarketing

I recently wrote an article for AdNews here on what brands need to think about when activating at music festivals this Summer. Had a little help from my good buddy, Benny Barnett who is an absolute expert on all things festivals. Thanks Benny…

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Festival season is almost upon us, and everyone wants a piece of the action. With a stacked calendar and a continued blurring-of-the-line when it comes to offerings and audiences (IDM vs EDM? Phoenix playing Future Music? Who the hell knows what’s going on anymore) it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out and drive engagement. Conservatively, 80% of brands activating at festivals are wasting their money and creating marketing pollution. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the music festival circuit is the highlight of the Gen Y social calendar and marketers see it as a massive opportunity to get their products and brands in front of this illusive group, en masse. However, approach with caution, as festivalgoers are the most cynical consumers in Australia when brands get it wrong. One negative Tweet, Facebook post or Insta photo can spread like wildfire. .  The kids are there to tune in, turn on, drop out and pick up…and will savage any brand that makes a ham-fisted attempt to horn in on their action in the name of ewmarketing.

So how do you avoid your brand making it on the #festivalfail Instagram feed this summer? How do you appeal to the right audience in the right way when not even the promoters are sure who their actual audience is anymore? Here are some tips to get you on the right track:

 Ensure there’s a genuine value exchange

Brands who think that sticking up a tent, putting your logo on some scrim will keep you top of mind, need to think again. What’s the value exchange? A big bright logo is clearly not enough. At Coachella this Year, Heineken offered free cold storage for your Heineken 6 pack which punters could you access anytime via fingerprint – keeping your beers cold in the scorching heat, #festivalwin.  For Sony Xperia’s sponsorship of Swedish House Mafia’s farewell tour earlier this year, at Iris we created the #together experience, bringing the crowd together like never before. Pre concert, fans downloaded the free Lisnr app and were able to synch their phones with the light show in real time. 50,000 phones lighting up with the main stage. Happy fans.

Don’t try and own the big moments

 Brands trying to ‘own’ the big festival moment or spectacle are destined to fail. Festival promoters and the bands themselves don’t want brands to overshadow their show. Work out what the punters want and do something to enhance their experience. How can you give fans social currency without distracting them? Or how about, hell, creating your own spontaneous moment. In 2011 a bunch of kids laid down dozens of garbage bags and turned the Woodford campground into a giant slip’n’slide. It was miles away from the live stages, but people came a-running. And all the brands were up at the festival because that’s where the action was, right guys? Guys? Buller? Buller?

Understand the varying festival needstates

Creating a one size fits all activation program is a recipe for disaster. Putting your bar, tent or stall up at Big Day Out doesn’t mean it will work at Laneway or Field Day. Status Seekers hit Field Day and Good Vibes. Get those tatts out and singlets off, lads. Remember when Harbourlife banned dudes with no shirts, and how happy that made us all? Expressives hit up Laneway, Young Explorers make the pilgrimmage to Splendour and Falls, and Blokeys get their (mid-strength) bourbon on at Big Day and Groovin’ The Moo. (Note: labels above are my descriptors, not common lingo amongst kids). But why are these kids going – for the tunes? To get off their chops, dress up, have a road trip, tell cool stories, build myth and legend amongst mates? Brands better know before they go.  

Focus on the many, not just the few

Music festivals are the ultimate melting pot, where socioeconomic divides go out the window and the experience is king.  Crews from the Shire party along with kids from the inner west, the North Shore, the Penny basin, and anywhere else you can think of.  Mainstream brands creating VIP experiences do so at a big risk. Oh look, Telco X is doing VIP dunnies? But wait, why can’t I get in there and that guy can? Screw you Telco X. It might look good on a boardroom presentation to say you gave 500 youth a special brand experience, but if the other 20,000 reckon you’re elitist, it’s a #festivalfail. Virgin Mobile got around this at Splendour a couple of years back by giving free tents to its customers, but they had to get them from a secret warehouse outside the festival. Great way to get your brand talked about pre festival.

 Forget influencers at festivals, every single festivalgoer has a massive social voice once they leave the precinct. At Singapore Night Festival, Yelp gave out thousands of glowsticks – people were fighting to get their hands on them. Now imagine a sea of glowing Heineken green at Stereosonic. Yep. 

Be an enabler of self expression

Festivals represent the ultimate opportunity for self-expression. It’s a moment of freedom where you can escape the real world and express who you really are, or would like to be. Brands who create opportunities for fans to be rewarded or celebrated for their individual creativity are the ones that win. Remember, every selfie is an opportunity for stardom within their social networks. Those at home following the festival hashtag feed expect epic pics from their mates. Punters at Burning Man paint each others’ faces with elaborate animal designs – everyone wants in, and they have the living hell photographed out of them wherever they go. And those photos spread online like Chlamydia. Fun with an animal theme? Can’t imagine a brand that would want to get on board with that *cough* Optus.   Beware though, hijacking a meme can be borderline unauthentic if you get it wrong.

Enhance their experience through simple tools

Brands are looking left and right to innovate at festivals with technology such as RFID, as we saw at Coachella festival in the States this year or the Tupac hologram in 2011. The reality is that the best experiences brands can deliver are based on being super useful. Understanding context, environment and mindset is critical. Every year Splendour is a mudbath. You can put money on it. Festivalgoers without gumboots can buy them on site for $50 and up. Bargain, right? A brand giving out cheap branded gumboots would get amazing traction at the event. Or ponchos. Or cheese toasties. Or freaking water balloons! Everyone’s wet anyway, right?

Avoid the on ground social media trap

 Forget trying to do some media activations/promotions at festivals in real time. Punters aren’t checking your Facebook page. Sorry.  Despite ongoing attempts by promoters, mobile coverage is typically rubbish, yes they are taking loads of selfies, but they aren’t actually updating their Instagram and Facebook profiles in real time.  They’re waiting till the next day when they can curate, filter their pics and create highlight packages. #nofilter doesn’t exist in festival world. Which brings me to my last point.

 

Focus social amplification on the anticipation phase and festival aftermath, not during the festival

Brands should focus their content and social media strategy on the lead up to the festival, driving anticipation of their brands involvement. Use your social channels, particularly Instagram (the music festival goers channel of choice) to excite festival-goers as to what you’re going to be doing at the festival.  Generate conversations with behind the scenes footage where punters can learn more about the acts. It’s about staking your claim beforehand so that you’re top of mind when they do get to the festival. Unless your brand is sponsoring the headline act on the main stage, the whole ‘lets broadcast this 3rd tier act on a backstage on our YouTube channel’ play is a waste of money. And, if you’re going to create a wrap up hype video or picture gallery of your brands festival activation, make sure you do it within 24 hours. No on will watch a vid that comes out 3 weeks after the fact. They’ve moved on.

 So, bring on the music, fun and frivolities and hopefully this article will save a few unsuspecting brands from #festivalfail this Summer. 

 

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 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.

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.

 

 

 

Adidas NEO collab with Justin Bieber:: #FindmyGoldShoes contest

Proud of this little participation program our team put together for Adidas’ new teen fashion label NEO and their collaboration with Justin Bieber. If you’re a Belieber, then you’re gonna go nuts over the ‘Find my Gold SHoes’ contest here that’s live on Facebook. Big ups to Adi team at Iris Worldwide.

#GagaMarketing: Lessons from a brand phenom

Last week my colleague Karen and I were looking at Lady Gaga and the lessons marketers can learn from her. As a master marketer, she has cleverly cultivated a following of die hard fans. There are numerous presentations on slideshare covering her as a marketing phenom, so we thought we’d add our POV on what brands can learn from Lady Gaga:

  • BE PROVOCATIVE– don’t be scared to have a unique point of view on the world and stick to it
    • I’m obsessively opposed to the typical’ Lady Gaga
  • BE TIMELY – pick the optimum moment to connect and the right context
  • BE INCLUSIVE– leverage social media so your fans feel as though they’re genuinely part of your brand
    • Gaga has branded her followers as ‘Little Monsters’ making them feel connected to her and each other
  • BE GENEROUS– acknowledge and reward loyalists with real value
    • Lady Gaga gives her Little Monsters exclusive first release access to content, songs
  • BE DISTINCTIVE – take risks to get noticed
  • BE OPEN – your fans’ WOM is the best marketing tool you have, but you can’t control it
  • BE FRIENDLY– they can open doors to new audiences you’d never reach alone
    • Lady Gaga’s association with Google has broadened her reach and given her fans even more of a voice
    • Hooking up with Oprah and Perez Hilton has broadened her reach beyond teens
  • BE QUALITY OBSESSED
    • Limit idea distribution to the best of your content
  • BE A CULTURE CREATOR – infuse your belief system across other aspects of culture your fans are into eg: fashion, activism, gay rights
  • BE REAL – let your fans feel like they are having a real conversation