What Happened to the Link Love?

Old Rusty ChainYears ago, when I first started blogging, I was always astounded by the links that would be shared on the blogs that I read. It meant that surfing from blog to blog was a random feast of ideas – that you never knew where an idea, a stream of thought or the next piece of underlined text would take you. Participating felt like an act of grace.

Some would share their media habits. Others would provoke us with critical thinking and dramatic insights. But no matter where you ended up, it always felt like an easy, fluid ride. One of the joys, despite apparent contradictions, was the capacity to move quickly beyond first impressions.

Each Sunday evening I would follow the hypertext wherever it may lead. There were no straight lines – and if there were, I would always prefer a more cavalier approach. But no matter whether I was connecting dots, shifting perceptions or simply chasing conversation, I knew I was always in for a surprise.

But recently, it seems that enthusiasm for link love has dissipated. My feed reader discourages both links and comments. And I feel the poorer for it. (It’s why I am excited by Feedly. Perhaps it will bring the link love back!)

Bufori – It Takes Your Breath Away

You don’t notice it happening, but the effects are instantaneous. Your pupils dilate, your heartbeat quickens and your jaw drops. Is it love? Perhaps. Lust? Grrrr. It is an emotional and a bodily response.

When Ian Lyons, Jane Glasson and I pulled up to park, we happened to stop next to Cameron Pollard, marketing manager for Bufori. A comment, led to a conversation – and next thing you know, we are blocking traffic as Cameron gave us an impromptu tour of his beautiful, hand crafted car.

Ian and the BuforiFrom the stitched leather seats to the meticulously laid out dashboard gauges, it was clear that this was no ordinary car. I would catch, moment by moment, a smile flicking across Ian’s face. We were all gasping at the design features – monogrammed toolkits embedded in the long engine cover, whisper quiet engine idling, chrome more dazzling than Miranda Kerr’s smile … with every moment we were, each of us, falling in love.

Reluctantly we parted ways. Cameron to talk to AC/DC, and we to our work days. But on reflection, there is much for brands to learn from Bufori – from the attention to detail, the craftsmanship and the passion that fires your imagination. Think about the story of your brand. Think about the way that people SHARE your story – who, how and where. Consider the way that you can use the P-L-A-Y framework to craft your engagement strategy:

  • P — for power
  • L — for learning and curiosity
  • A — for adventure
  • Y — the yelp of surprise and delight

Most importantly, think about that element that is intrinsic to your product, service or experience. Distil your features list and turn them inside out. What is that one thing that makes your fans pant with excitement? That is what you should be marketing – forget the rest.

Recycle a Blog Post Day: Where the Hell is the Sponsor?

Mark Pollard has declared that today is Recycle a Blog Post day. In that spirit, I am recycling this – my most viewed post ever …

If your brand is struggling with social media — wondering how to become involved with a "viral" marketing activation, there is much that can be learned from Stride Gum’s involvement with Matt Harding and his Dancing Matt videos.

The folks at Stride Gum took an interest in the videos that Matt took while travelling. These videos show Matt doing the "only dance" that he knows how to do in a number of places around the world. And while these were initially done for the benefit of his family, they were absorbed into the great viral milieu and spread far and wide. The videos worked because they manifested the P-L-A-Y framework as I discussed yesterday (and in more detail here).

  • P — for power: the videos demonstrate the power of belonging, the desire to connect
  • L — for learning and curiosity: Matt chooses his locations well. He sparks recognition in the locals and curiosity in everyone else.
  • A — for adventure: through this very simple visual storytelling, Matt stimulates our own sense of adventure. Importantly he also demonstrates that despite very different circumstances and locations, that we are connected to others in a primal, joyous way — a connection that has no regard for language or alienation.
  • Y — the yelp of surprise and delight: just watch this and you will know what I mean.

After seeing the videos and their impact, Stride Gum approached Matt, and sponsored him to travel around the world again, this time on their dime. Again, this was a great "viral" achievement. After that success, and after thousands of emails, Matt returned to Stride Gum and suggested he do the trip again — this time inviting the community to participate. Those who had emailed and commented on his blog were invited to perform the dance with Matt … the result is shown below. Fanstastic.

But even better is the approach taken by Stride Gum. While they could have plastered their logo throughout the clips, provided T-shirts to participants etc, they are content with what is effectively a post-roll credit. This allows us, as viewers, to be drawn into the story and into the experience. It allows us the possibility of transference from passive recipient to imaginary participant. It grants some respect to the story, the communities who participated and the viewers. And it really puts a smile on my face.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo

Special thanks to Ian Lyons for introducing me to Where the Hell is Matt!

Crowd sourcing Talent – Storytelling with Kseniya Simonova

In many ways, TV shows like Australian/American Idol operate in a way that is reminiscent of crowd sourcing. The judges and spotters are there in the beginning to set a benchmark, create some pressure against which the contestants will ply their creativity, and drive home the realisation that creativity is a business. But the most fascinating part of this style of reality TV (for me) is the random/chaotic nature of the contestants – it is never clear at the beginning just who (or what) will arrive on stage.

In this clip from Ukraine’s Got Talent, 24 year old artist, Kseniya Simonova, shows what happens when storytelling, artistry and performance come together. Please watch the clip as I don’t want to spoil it for you. As Jye Smith says, “Regardless of the state of the world, the latest technology and the next big thing: we’re human. Don’t ever forget.”

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

PinThere is always plenty of good reading available. Smart people. Simple publishing systems. Makes me think that for-pay content may face an uphill battle, even for Uncle Rupert Murdoch.

Some gold from last week. Feed your brain:

  1. Sean Moffitt looks at personal reach and the transformation this has on both our personal and professional lives.
  2. Not everyone you meet online is going rush up to greet you when you meet face-to-face. Chris Guillebaeau reminds us that sometimes, social media is for introverts.
  3. Tiphereth Gloria is keeping an eye on Facebook for us all – and showing how exactly our privacy is a subject for continual experimentation.
  4. Part of the power of social networks is the way it transforms our sense of “connectedness”. It also opens the door to an unusual form of happenstance – what Ian Lyons calls directed serendipity. In this great post, Amber Naslund talks potential, surprise and exploration.
  5. Kevin Dugan combines social media with The Highlander to remind us that choosing your own path is one of the best choices we can ever make.

Is there something that I missed? What were your must-reads from last week?

Making Your Own Context with Feedly

I have shifted the vast majority of my news reading onto the web. I have not purchased a newspaper in months and I rarely, if ever, read the local online newspapers (after all, Miranda Devine is the reason I unsubscribed from the Sydney Morning Herald).

Newspapers and magazines, however, do serve a function that I miss – that I am poorer for by not having them in my life. Through the juxtaposition of stories, newspapers help to create a context, a lens, for the happenings of the world at a certain point in time. But now, it looks like there may be a neat, new Firefox plug-in that turns your favourite feeds into something a little more visual, more integrated and a whole lot more compelling than a never ending stream of unread feeds.

I spent an hour or so bringing my favourite feeds into Bloglines and then sucked them into the Feedly application. Now I not only can get a visual snapshot of my favourite blogs, I get to see a bit of the Twitter conversation as it flashes by, or I can get a digest or the latest posts. And if I want to dig, I can do so by category. I can also easily search the blogs that I subscribe to.

feedly And while all these are great features, more importantly, Feedly lets me see the CONTEXT in which I am consuming all this content. It lets me see what smart people are saying IN RELATION TO each other. And that makes me a whole lot happier – and a whole lot smarter.

I have a feeling that this may well change the way I think of my Monday morning feed reading.

Quotes from the Conversation Captured by the Conversation Agent

Sometimes it is handy to be able to pull a great quote out of the air and put it in front of a client. Or your boss.

Well, Valeria Maltoni has scoured the web and captured quotes from some of the marketing world’s leading thinkers – and me. Check out the quotes, and then check out their blogs:

Marian Salzman, Mitch Joel, Craig Newmark, Kathy Sierra, Gavin Heaton, Sonia Simone, Hugh MacLeod, Mark Earls, Olivier Blanchard, Christina Kerley, Eve Ensler, Chris Guillebeau, Avinash Kaushik, Seth Godin, Francois Gossieaux,Clay Shirky, Amber Naslund, Adrian Ho, Taylor Davidson.