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.




Who is Generation C

A speech I gave last year at a digital conference here in Sydney on who is Generation C. This is Part 1 where I cover off who these digital natives are and their relationships with brands and each others. Part 2 will of the presentation which I’ll post shortly was about how to create conversation and tribal ideas with Gen C. Stay tuned.

10 Commandments of Youth

I came across a great study by MTV called Youthtopia which had fantastic insight into global youth and the key values driving their behaviour. It’s from early 2010, but I believe the insights are still very true today.

According the the study there were 5 meta values which created the 10 commandments of youth. These 5 meta values are INDIVIDUALITY, TRADITION, HONESTY, EFFORT and POSITIVITY. Off the back of these 5 values, here are the 10 commandments driving youth behaviour:

1. Believe in yourself

2. Honesty is the best policy

3. Take responsibility

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T  your parents

5. Be passionate and live life to the max

6. Stay optimistic even when things aren’t great

7. Dream big

8. Be a creator, not a destroyer

9. Embrace differences in culture, in beliefs

10. Stay true to your friends

What was interesting to me was that there are some myths about Gen Y and Gen Z and how they behave which were uncovered in the study. They are:

– Born to be mild NOT hedonistic

– Industrious NOT lazy

– Achievement obsessed NOT celebrity obsessed

– Looking for love NOT sexually promiscuous

-Family focussed NOT selfish

Gen Y & Social Networks – my radio interview

Last week I was involved in a radio in terview with Simon Canning (marketing/media writer from The Australian) and Nick Love, CEO of Myspace Australia talking about what Gen Y want from social networks and the reinvention of Myspace.

You can listen to the interview here

Generation C thrive on Social Expression

I was recently quoted as part of a Myspace survey done on how different generations interact with social media.  The press coverage  was  here and here

This is the article which ran in The Age on the 26th June 2010

BABY boomers are better online networkers than their Generation X counterparts, a poll of Australian MySpace users has revealed.

Often thought to be flailing in a world of 21st-century networking, Baby Boomers, aged 46 to 64, boast more online friends than the average Gen X (31 to 45), the survey of about 1½ million people revealed.

The results were formulated using self-expressed data taken from the MySpace accounts of users across the country. But it comes as no surprise to youth strategist Dan Pankraz, who says it reflects a broader cultural trend that he terms ”the rise and rise of Generation C or The Connected Collective”.

// ”Unlike Gen Y (14 to 30) or Gen X, Generation C are not an age cohort but a collective mindset of digital natives,” Mr Pankraz said in a statement.

”Gen C-ers of all ages, whether they are 14 or 41, share a need for social expression, and social media has turbo-charged their ability to express themselves in real time.”

Experimentation is the new Engagement

This is the short presentation I gave at AIMIA (Australian Interactive Media Industry Association) ‘Getting Inside Gen Y’ conference last week. My presentation was titled ‘Experimentation is the new Engagement’ and it was all about how brands today need to continually experiment, play with youth if you will. It’s about creating an interesting brand game, far less about your brands story. It’s about social ideas which spark a rapid mobilisation of youth, and some recent examples of brands that are experimenting with culture – from Red Bull’s Project X (Shaun White secret halfpipe) to Coke’s Expedition 206 to VW Swedens ‘Fun Theory’ social experiments. Enjoy.

Getting Inside Gen Y – speaking at AIMIA October 22

Picture 1

I’ve just been asked to be a speaker and panelist at the annual AIMIA Conference (Australian Interactive Media Industry Association) October 22nd  on the topic of ‘Getting Inside Gen Y‘. I’m going to be presenting on 10 key principals brands need to think about when wanting to engage in conversations WITH this audience in the digital space.  This conference will have the who’s who of the social media world in Australia including experts like Julian Cole from The Population and Jy Smith from Switched On Media  so I’m in good company. Will post my presentation after I present/write it 🙂

The 3 Symbols of Youth – Star, Circle and Pirate

UK semioticion Dr Alex Gordon has just completed research with Sydney agency Heartbeat on the key symbols used by 15-20yr olds to express their values, identity and tribal connections. The three symbols which came out as most popular were the ‘STAR’, ‘CIRCLE’ and ‘PIRATE’ motif.

The Circle motif is a key symbol for Gen Y representing their obessions with social networking and belonging

The Circle motif is a key symbol for Gen Y representing their obessions with social networking and belonging

The PIRATE motif is apparently a sign Gen Y males are looking for examples of transgression, maverick adventure and risk taking, it also represents their need for empowerment. I unfortunately don’t see any new insight here, young men have been using skate culture and extreme culture to live maverick adventure for the last 40 years.

The CIRCLE motif signifies Gen Y’s obesession with social networking, their need to belong to tribes and that results in marketers needing to talk to the collective rather than just the individual. I also believe that there is a subconscious reference to ‘worldly togetherness’ and Gen Y’s new found attitude of global sustainability. I’ve been talking about this a fair bit in my Gen C’ Connected Collective  profiles…so i agree with them on this one.

The third symbol is the STAR motif…the star tattoo is super popular with Aussie youth, apart from the fact they’re all copying Rhiannon, Sienna Miller and Nicole Ritchie, it’s all about their desire to be ‘famous’.

So that’s the research in a nutshell, no massive revelations on youth here..yes young men are always going to be adventurous and buck against the status quo, today it manifests in an adoration of ‘dark culture’….yes, social networking and belonging is like oxygen to Gen Y, they can’t live without it. The ‘make me famous’ ambition of todays youth has been around since for the past 5 years, so unfortunately Heart Beat havent cracked anything new here…but good on em, for researching symbols…interesting approach.

Image credit: Duncananddragon

The Green Teen?

Are Aussie teens as altruistic and environmentally concerned as their global counterparts? The Worldwide Lab at Alcatel Lucent has just completed a global study on teens interaction with all things ‘green’. In a nutshell, ‘Green Teens’ from western cultures ARE more likely to support products which are ‘green’ in some way than Gen Yers and Gen Xers. While more than 66% of the teens on the panel have participated in earth-friendly activities, just over 50% of them call themselves “environmentalists.” Most of their participation in green activities focused on school or civic activities that were compulsory or highly related to their relationships. Teens are sceptical and reveal they don’t know who to trust or what information is truthful when it comes to bands trying to communicate their green creds. They want PROOF and demonstrated business practices showing eco commitment. They want action, not words.
Some key stats on the ‘Green Teen’:

> More than 80% of the panel consider green when making a purchase.
> 40% of Lab Members bought something because it was green.
> 77% said they would pay more for a green product.
> There are gender differences: 91% females consider green versus 71% of males.

Not many brands in Australia have seriously tapped into the ‘Green Teen’ mindset, definitely fertile ground..excuse the pun.

Almost 30…still a Kiddult

I’m turning 30 in a few weeks and I’m freaking out. Although everyone’s constantly talking about youth being a mindset and all that stuff, the fact that my Mother is constantly telling me how I need to settle down, buy a house, marry a nice girl is draining me. Don’t get me wrong, I want all those things, and I’m lucky to have a great girlfriend who puts up with me. I hate the idea of ‘settling down’, I want to still explore the world, work in different countries, live the dream so they say. But what Boomer parents still don’t get is that we don’t necessarily operate on the same time frame as they did. My parents, like most Boomers married quite young and bought properties quite young. The last 5 years or so we’ve seen marriage rates drop substantially, the average age a person is moving out in Australia is now 27. So, we’ve got all these “kiddults’ running around living off their parents wealth, soaking up their inheritance. The Parent/Child dynamic is changing and I think we’ll see parents rebelling against their kids as they plead with them to finally move out. It will be interesting to see how the recession hits Gen Y behaviour. This Generation has always been the ‘I want’ generation..I want a better job, I want more money, I want that pair of jeans, I want that holiday to Paris..and i want it NOW!!! How will people in their 20’s deal with the fact that they can’t choose their jobs as much (cos there aren’t any!!) will they just hike up their ridiculous personal debts even more??? All I know is that I’m turning 30 and I still want to do that ski season on Whistler or Lech that I never did in my early 20s…damn