Transmedia vs Social Media

It is the year 2012. Warragamba Dam, which supplies Sydney with fresh water has now reached critical levels, holding only 15% of its capacity — and the city has been placed on Level 8 water restrictions. Country towns, meanwhile, are struggling to survive.

This is the setting for Channel 9/NineMSN’s new drama series, Scorched. Gordon Whitehead has an excellent post explaining the digital strategy that has been put into place to support the series and to transform it into an immersive online experience. But he also asks, "is this social media?" — provoking some interesting discussion with Craig Wilson. After taking a look at the Scorched.TV site, there seems to be quite some distance between the stated aim of allowing users to contribute content and the activation which requires you to send your ideas for video submission via email/form.

Perhaps it is still early days, and the social media strategy is yet to kick in. However, there is clearly some good thinking around transmedia digital strategy in place, or what Faris Yakob calls "converged communication" (see below). But with an airing date of August 31, Scorched have only a couple of weeks to begin really building and activating their viewing community. And if the plan is to extend the storylines into web-only episodes post-August 31, the success (or otherwise) of this effort will be available for us all to see. The clock is ticking …

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: transmedia faris)

Article 39 Concert in Sydney

Over the last couple of months I have been helping a local final year, high school student with a marketing plan for her major work. Now, I don’t know about your final year project, but mine was fairly low key. But Isadore Biffin has other ideas.

a39_one When she was 16, Isadore did work experience volunteering for charity work in Ethiopia. Here she learned about the plight of child soldiers and resolved to do something about it. Now, a year and a half later, Isadore’s challenge is to raise funds to assist in the rehabilitation of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and her plan is to hold a concert in Sydney on November 20, 2008.

Things are now starting to come together … Isadore has confirmed some local bands like The Shipwrecked and Peregrine — but I believe she is hoping to add a headline act to the list. There will be speakers and T-shirts and plenty of activity. One of her friends, Murray Bunton from Streetline Media has created great artwork, including logo and shirt designs; and Deanna Coleman and Stig Richards have given invaluable advice about getting the word out.

If you want to keep up-to-date with Isadore’s efforts, you can subscribe to her blog and join her Facebook cause (then you will be sure and hear when the tickets are available). Now, we just need to get some TV interviews scheduled and we will be set 😉

Oh, and THIS was my 1000th post! Wow.

Tiptoe Through Your Digital Tulips

In a digitally-connected world, our past may no longer be "ours". With sites like the WayBackMachine and Google’s great caching engine, our own words and the words of others ABOUT us will live long into the future. Add to this the "handles", user IDs, profiles and so on that we create in the various courses of our lives — from Facebook to Twitter, Flickr and even dating sites — and we can amass a digital footprint that extends well past the bounds of public/private and into the deeply personal.

But how might this play out for a baby? Or for, say, my nephew who is 10 years old? What is out there and how will all this data affect the relationships that he has in the future? What about his first job? His first date? Or his twentieth? What about the photos taken by his family and friends? Who sees what and who "owns" what is shown?

This video produced by Kanupriya Tewari for the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society’s Digital Natives Project shows how all this may play out for a newborn (hat tip to Katie Chatfield). But watch the video, then read this account of a first date gone wrong.

There are lessons here for brands as well. Clearly, with 78% of consumers trusting the purchase advice of friends or even networked acquaintances over advertising, it pays to at least monitor the conversations that are ALREADY taking place about your products/services. And while, yes, consumers have always spoken about and discussed the brands that they love and hate, in this Age of Conversation, these sentiments are captured, stored and immediately available well into the future.

Social media may look like a tulip field, but it is, in fact, a whole new way of playing and participating. Tiptoe with care!

Time for a Little Style

When Sara Goldstein, aka the Bargain Queen, bundled up her house, her laptop and Mr BQ to take on one of the fashion capitals of the world, the Australian blogging community became a lot quieter. After all, Sara had been instrumental in bringing a wide range of disparate groups together for drinks and discussion. With her mascot pink pig in tow, we made the Arthouse Hotel in Sydney a regular home away from the keyboard — at least for a while.

But since moving to New York, Sara has been anything but idle. She has been busily laying plans for global domination. Here is the pilot for Sara’s Style Spice show for the Wardrobe Channel — I am looking forward to seeing more of this style of web based programming in the future. In the meantime, Sara is sure to be learning plenty out there on the frontier.

Social Media = Consumer Terrorism?

With the emergence of self-organising groups such as the Social Media Club, Planning for Good and even Interesting South, is it any wonder that the peak bodies that represent the media, advertising and digital services are feeling under pressure? Often these bodies only provide services and membership to corporations, not individuals — which does not take into account the sweeping changes in the nature of work in these areas. After all, with the vast array of easy-to-use tools, we can all now publish, broadcast and market to a worldwide audience. It seems anachronistic for these industry bodies to not recognise and adapt to the changes that characterise the industries they represent.

The Job can be dangerous!And while bloggers such as Laurel Papworth have taken a swipe at Australia’s AIMIA and Gordon Whitehead has questioned the value of the Australian Marketing Institute, it is clear that there is a disconnect between those who represent the industry, and those who make it up (see also the debate hosted by MarketingMag). But the situation here in Australia compares favourably with the state of play in Belgium.

Kris Hoet’s popular blog, ‘crossthebreeze, builds on the conversation surrounding the Belgian Direct Marketing group’s upcoming conference — Revenge of the I. Roughly translated (by Kris), the email announcing the conference states:

“During the congress we’ll deepdive into the current era of ‘consumer terrorism’ that is coming up with the rise of digital and social technologies such as blogs, social networks and email.”

As Kris points out, not only does this remind brands and companies to treat consumers with suspicion, it sets up an artificial divide between the "traditional" and "new media" camps. Branding and marketing is no longer something that is forced upon consumers (if it ever was). After all, it is easy enough to simply click away, delete the email or fast forward through the advertising. The POWER disparity between brands and consumers has been eroding for years — and it is time that all parties — brands, industry bodies, practitioners and even consumers (yes, yes invite them in) began to collaborate to find suitable solutions that deliver value all round.

Yes, it is time to join the conversation. It is already happening. You start by listening.

Meet Joseph Jaffe in Sydney

Geek Drinks in Sydney
Originally uploaded by josephjaffe

Last year I missed the geek drinks with the big Crayon, Joseph Jaffe. The stories of "Brand Minxiness" and associated photos make it clear that it was event that should NOT have been missed.

UPDATED: So, if you are like me, and you want to take the opportunity of meeting up with Mr Jaffe in person, we will be gathering next Tuesday evening (August 19 ) at the bar of the Tilbury Hotel at Woolloomooloo in Sydney, between 9:30pm and 10:00pm. See you there.

Free Marketing Strategy eBook

Earlier this week I received a LinkedIn question from Jay Ehret, wondering whether I knew of any good, free eBooks on marketing. Unfortunately, most of the eBooks that I knew of were not free. But then, yesterday, Andrea Vascellari, sent a message on Twitter advising on the availability of a free marketing strategy eBook.

From a quick scan, "Strategic Communications Planning" by Dave Fleet is a great introduction to the steps required to develop a corporate communications plan. It covers context, audience, messaging, tactics, budget and even evaluation. For those wanting to go into further detail on the planning process, I would advise you to join the Plannersphere and begin reading the blogs of various members. AND don’t forget to visit the Staufenberger Repository to download this valuable (and rare) PDF of Stephen King’s Planning Guide.

But remember, while this material is available free of charge, putting the recommendations and suggestions in place in either a client or in-house setting is a challenge. The ideas are out there, but the devil is in the execution, in how you actually turn these ideas into frameworks, notes, analysis documents and creative briefs — and that is where professional planners can add real value. Good luck!

Read this document on Scribd: Strategic Communications Planning

Questions from the Minds of MBAs

Dennis Price
Originally uploaded by Truus, Bob & Jan too!

A couple of times a year I get a call from Dennis Price. Not the movie star shown here, but the blogger, retail guru and course director of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management’s MBA program. Each time I go along and talk about Web 2.0, social media and the Age of Conversation. I always aim to provide as much of an overview as possible — and then use the Age of Conversation as a case study for how the tools can allow conversations, communities, brands and consumers to come together. This can be challenging with only an hour or so available.

When I first went along, I spent quite some time explaining technology. The students in general were not participating in any form of social media. That meant that my focus would shift to explaining the applications and their use. This situation did not change much when I returned in the following semesters.

Today, however, I was pleasantly surprised that the students had a strong understanding of many of the social media tools available. Many were under heavy use.

In about a year and a half, the students who participate in this prestigious MBA program and who will move into leadership positions across the business spectrum in the coming years, are already demonstrating a sound understanding of social media. For these folks, it is not something foreign or indescribable. It is tangible and already a part of the fabric of their lives.

Not only that, the questions that were asked also got me thinking. There was some serious questions around the following topics (feel free to chime in with answers):

Business models
What is the business model for Web 2.0 businesses? Is it reliant only on advertising? Is valuation based on potential advertising revenue or is there something more to it? Do all business start-up to sell?

Personal relationships
Is the Internet or social media damaging our personal relationships? Is there something out of balance when families spend more time, individualised and participating with their "networks" and not with each other?

Group dynamics
Does group dynamics inhibit innovation or growth?

What is the future?
Where does all this technology, all this community etc go next? How is/will this change us?

How do individuals make money doing this?
While it seems that start-ups can make money, what about individuals? Is there a personal business model?

Now, I am looking forward to the next round … and wondering what the audience will have in store for me. And the best part about it, is that I learn something new each time.

A Lion of a Story

What happens when you raise a lion as a pet (!) and then release him into the wild? Kim Komando shares a story about two men who did just that. John Rendall and Ace Berg purchased Christian from the zoo in 1969, but after a couple of years found he was too big to handle safely. They agreed to release him into the wild.

Nine months later, they decided to travel to Africa to see Christian, the lion, one more time. They were told that he would not recognise them. What will happen at their reunion?

Hat tip to David Armano.

Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 Bloggers

Years ago, while working at IBM, I began to see the convergence of a number of disciplines. I had spent quite some time learning about, product managing and implementing an Internet-based community publishing system and could see that the publishing model was being turned on its head. And while this phenomenal, integrated, web-based system built by a company called appeared to me, to be the future of newspapers for the digital age, it was clearly well ahead of its time. More than 10 years ahead of its time.

What I learned about this community-oriented technology business, however, seemed more easily digested and activated within a closed community. In particular, it seemed to apply more readily to business.

As my career progressed, I moved into roles which focused on change, knowledge and innovation management. Each time I applied what I had learned about communities, about activating them online and the power that comes from allowing connections between people to thrive. I remember procuring machines and application servers, stashing them under desks and cobbling together interfaces that linked instant messaging, wiki-style collaboration and whiteboarding applications. Hooking into address books and intranet search engines meant that secure, trackable access became available to the worldwide workforce, and put our small projects onto the global (if internal) stage. My focus, however, was on the people who used (and needed) these systems … and by ensuring the systems were user friendly AND helped people deliver over and above their KPIs, we saw system adoption accelerate faster than word of mouth. Back then, e-mail was our friend. These days we would call this "web 2.0", or "social media" — perhaps even, "enterprise 2.0" — but back them, I was just trying to find a new way of achieving an outcome.

Ever since that time, I have kept one eye on the world of knowledge management. I have also been fascinated by the concept of business innovation management — how the process of strategy can, in fact, deliver competitive advantage. And in many ways, the opportunities offered by Enterprise 2.0 occupy a similar space for large scale businesses that social media offers for business-to-consumer brands. My interest lies in how these all overlap — understanding how, where and why our various business, professional, consumer and producer "roles" merge, and what that means for the brands and businesses that we engage with.

Recently, Bill Ives has pulled together a great list of 40 bloggers who write on the Web 2.0 and/or Enterprise 2.0 space. Many of these bloggers cover this murky area. There are no great surprises in the first 20, where the blogging heavyweights converge, including TechCrunch, Mashable, Om Malik, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel. However, the second 20 (of which I am counted) reveals quite a few blogs which are new to me as well as some old favourites. These include:

  • Nick Carr — Rough Type — well-known author of Does IT Matter
  • Lee Lefever — CommonCraft — the team who work to bridge the business and tech worlds through quirkiness, storytelling and experience design that is based on … experience.
  • Valeria Maltoni — Conversation Agent — well known for her marketing insight and focus on conversation and storytelling

Be sure to check out all 40 of these blogs. Try thinking about them from a B2C and a B2B point of view. This dual vision will multiply your insight into the challenges we are facing in our personal and professional lives. And while the technology makes our lives easier in many ways … it now also exposes the complexity with which we live.