Month: June, 2010

The (Traditional) Media Delusion

Digital Strategy, Social Media8 Comments

If you’ve been following the #socadl hashtag on Twitter the last week or so you would have seen some ranting directed at mainstream journos hating on social media.

The most recent of these came in the Sunday Mail, where tweeting was compared to ‘mind-farting’ and social media is enabling a generation of rudeness and selfishness.

Clearly these are people with no idea about social media and how it works. All they see is what they want to see.

And it’s understandable why.

The power of traditional media is predicated on the fact that the historically, the barriers to entry to become a publisher and thus be heard are insanely high and that being a journalist meant having exclusive access to stories as well as some talent to write. This scarcity meant that you could only find news that the publishers deemed worthy.

The emergence of new technologies including social media, however, has seen this power gradually shift from traditional media publishers to the hands of the people. These tools mean that everybody now has the capacity to be both a publisher and a journalist -  take this blog, for example.

The way we find and access the news has also changed. Instead of waiting for the morning paper or a TV broadcast to tell us the news, we can now find out what is happening anywhere around the world wherever and whenever we want. (More on this in my next post)

This scares the hell out of most traditional media outlets because we no longer rely on them solely to tell us what’s going on. They no longer control the news cycle as it now happens 24/7. In fact, you can expect the number of stories that break on social media to grow.

Traditional media is deluding itself by thinking that social media is irrelevant and/or dangerous. The very fact that these stories are becoming more frequent points to this very fear.

However, the revolution is happening with or without them and if they are to survive they must rethink their attitude toward social media and see it for the opportunity it is to reach out and actually interact with their audience, and not for the negative hype. For every offensive Facebook page, there are a dozen more that are genuinely useful and advance thought and conversation.

That’s right, conversation. Because that’s something traditional media by by being the very definition of broadcaster has very little concept of.

To quote the Cluetrain Manifesto, “markets are conversations”. You only need to look at the furore surrounding the BP and Nestle’s recent disasters to know that social media is where that conversation is happening today.

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How fun is the Web really?

Digital Strategy12 Comments

To me, it’s plenty fun but at lunch with my friend Steve Culgan (@sculgan), we discussed what effects new technologies like Twitter, smartphones and the iPad have on people’s attention and our ability to just enjoy ourselves.

As Steve put it, the sheer volume of information and content that we are exposed to has the potential to make us more neurotic. Instead of being able to focus on just one thing (say, TV), there are now multiple channels competing for our attention. Rarely do we ever simply watch TV. For example, right now I am watching Algeria vs Slovenia on TV while writing this post on a laptop and checking Twitter on an iPhone.

The Argument

The argument is that we are no longer able to live in the moment. Obsessive checking of Twitter and the feeling that you might be missing out on something only contribute to this growing neurosis. The problem is further exacerbated when you take into account the amount of noise when your followers grow.

Our ability to enjoy ourselves diminishes as we constantly worry that there could be something else we could doing.

My counter, however, is that while the tools have the potential to disrupt our lives (let alone our brain patterns), human beings are incredibly adaptable.

Just take a look at a typical high school kid. They are growing up in a world where these technologies and multitasking are the norm. They’ve figured out how to juggle all these competing media and still have a good time.

The Challenge

The challenge is for my generation and older who haven’t always had this in our lives and aren’t quite as adept at the whole multitasking thing.

We must know our limits and how much we can handle before it’s too much. As a parent, there is an opportunity to cost to being constantly plugged in. Family-time means giving them my full attention (or at least a close approximation of it) – not being constantly distracted checking-in or posting status updates. When it’s just me, I’m free to do as I please whether it be playing PS3, blogging, tweeting or generally wasting time online.

The point is, you must accept that there are some things you’re going to miss out on. The beauty of something like Twitter and social media is that the cream will rise to the top. Following the right people or subscribing to the right feeds gives me the confidence that if it’s important enough, I’m going to hear about it.

How do you go juggling multiple media devices? Does something have to give or can you do it all?

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Breakfast with Gary Vaynerchuk

Social Media3 Comments

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with the amazing Gary Vaynerchuk. Sitting in the Shangri-La Hotel restaurant, overlooking Sydney Harbour we discussed the future of social media and why it’s now all about the customer service.

The first thing that struck me about Gary was that he is exactly as I’d imagined. That is to say no B.S., 100% Gary.

He is passionate, engaging and overflowing with confidence that what he is doing is the right way to do it. His energy is totally infectious and had us hanging off his every word. But even then, he is also incredibly warm and friendly, genuinely caring about what you have to say.

Since most of the Gary V story is already covered in Crush It!, I won’t bother recapping it here. What we did talk about (besides parenthood and the Knicks chances of landing LeBron, amongst other things) was social media and how it profoundly effects business.

From Gary’s point of view, what social media has done is force previously faceless brands to get a personality if they want to succeed. Simply put, social media has fundamentally changed people’s expectations of how they expect brands to interact with them.

So what is Gary’s secret to succeed in this brave new world?

Story telling.

Brands need to tell their story, build advocates and empower them to share that story with their networks. Technology and the platforms aren’t nearly as important as the change in mindset this entails. It is about genuinely caring for your customers and treating them with respect and like human beings.

Following on from breakfast, Wine Australia have actually gone out and done this with their A+ Australian Wines project that went live last week. Worth a look!

Customer service is the new black in Gary’s world – and with his track record who could argue.

Location-based services are also going to be huge according to Gary. A claim he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is by his personal stake as an angel investor in Simple Geo and Gowalla.

Even bigger, Gary insists, will be Facebook credits. This will not only transform Facebook into a legitimate economic force but change how we incentivize and monetize the consumption of branded content.

Despite the storm in a teacup (my opinion) over Facebook’s privacy issues, the simple fact is they are far too big a player with nearly half a billion heavily invested users to go away seemingly overnight (a la Second Life).

With our time over all too soon, he talks passionately about his business Vayner Media and the growing list of A-list clients desperate to cash-in on the Gary V brand and expertise (such as NHL, New Jersey Nets and Campbells). All, I might add, without a hint of arrogance only absolute confidence that he is going to crush it big.

And to his goal of one day owning the New York Jets, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Gary’s response to my tweet, “What could the Australian wine industry do to empower their fans to spread the word and develop overseas markets?”

Thanks to Lucy Anderson and Paul Henry from Wine Australia for giving me this fantastic opportunity to have some one-on-one time with Gary.

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Why the iPad will change everything

Digital Strategy6 Comments

Despite already having twice as many computers (including smart phones) than there are people in my house, I’ve still managed to find a place for an ipad.

While it’s true that it doesn’t offer anything truly revolutionary (it is, arguably, a giant ipod touch), it is how it is packaged and the benefits of having a bigger screen that are what makes it indispensable for me.

Here’s why:

The screen is drop dead gorgeous. Nothing looks quite as good as it does on an ipad. Tweetdeck, Wired, even Keynote and Pages.

It’s a great in-between device. For those times (such as this short business trip, where I’m writing this) when you don’t necessarily need the grunt of a laptop or desktop but need something more functional than a mobile phone.

It blends the focused nature of using iphone apps with an infinitely friendlier user-interface. Anyone who’s used an iphone will feel right at home, even if you haven’t it is just so simple and intuitive to use.

Did I mention how sexy it was?

Browsing or in fact doing anything on an ipad is a more communal experience than doing it in front of a computer. Within minutes of firing up the New York Times free app, my wife and my mum were huddled around me interacting with the screen, discussing articles of interest.

The size is just right for so many occassions. On the flight back to Adelaide, for instance, it was so much easier maneuvering an ipad than a laptop with a screen large enough to properly enjoy videos and work on a couple of documents.

Transitioning from one app to another is totally seamless. Waiting at the boarding gate, I could switch from Twitter, to Safari, emailing a link to a colleague and back to watching a video someone sent me without really breaking stride.

Finally, as Craig Wilson puts it, the ipad is a total media convergence.

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