Global Media Ideas – XMediaLab in Sydney

For the last two hundred years, Sydney has been at the forefront of global trade. During the 1800s trade in wool transformed Sydney from a prison settlement into a thriving trade hub – which accelerated with the discovery of gold. The prolonged mining and resources boom of the Twentieth Century was supplemented with the in- and out-flow of global capital, but the first decade of the Twenty First Century has seen ever greater focus on the exchange of value, of ideas and innovation.

Later this week, XMediaLab: Global Media Ideas to be held at the Sydney Opera House is the first in what is planned to be an annual summit. Part of Vivid Sydney, it promises to be a chance for sharing and collaboration, combining creative ideas with technology, and business with culture. It’s a day of keynotes and presentation, followed up with a weekend full of mentoring and workshops. It’s idea exchange, mentoring, culture swapping and networking all rolled into one.

There are speakers such as Amin Zoufonoun from Google, Robert Tercek from the Oprah Winfrey Network and Steve Jang who has been an advisor to some of my favourite Web 2.0 groups (like Animoto and StumbleUpon). It promises to be a fascinating conference/workshop weekend. I’m looking forward to the #xmedialab tweetstream coverage!

Change, Social Media and Business Design

This evening I am hosting a Digital-Citizens discussion on change management and social media. As such, I thought I’d republish a post from a while back (2008) talking about the important role of orchestrating change and guiding social media from the inside-out. Enjoy the post – and hope to see you tonight!

While we continue to see cycle after cycle of new applications and services arrive in the Web 2.0 space, it seems for the most part that we are seeing incremental innovation. This type of innovation builds a new step on top of an existing innovation.

We are also reaching a certain maturity in the way that marketers work with social media. There are now case studies on the effectiveness of social media, there are tools that help us measure and react to conversations and there are an increasing number of corporate roles for "community managers" or even "directors of social media".

So where does innovation go?

In this environment, the focus is no longer on learning the tools, but on refining the way that we interact with them. It is about bringing social media into our businesses, integrating it with our other marketing efforts and focusing efforts in a way that deliver business results. This will see ongoing debates about "where" social media belongs — PR, corporate communications, marketing, customer support, innovation etc — as well as a scramble amongst agencies to deliver "social media services" to clients.

It will also see a rise in the importance of the "Business Designer".

The Business Designer does not sit in a creative studio. Rather, she operates across business units — touching marketing, customer service and new product design. The BD has a finger on the pulse of finance and lives cheek-by-jowl with the legal team. There is the touch of the management consultant in the way that the BD navigates the org chart — but also the fervour of the evangelist. She may be T-shaped. She may be a green egg. But above all, she is an experienced business professional. That's right — she knows how to get things done.

Social media saturation is not going to kill innovation in the Web 2.0 world. It is simply going to commence the heavy lifting required to move social media with all its benefits, some of its quirks and much of its energy into the "enterprise space". The BD will perform the important role of "change manager" or perhaps "transformation manager" — for the domino-like changes that will occur in every facet of a business will change the nature of the enterprise. What has been rough and ready in the consumer space will become refined and repeatable in the business world for the BD will select and orchestrate the practices, tools and approaches that correspond with a company's business strategy. Of course, this will breed a whole new round of innovation in the technology space — we have already begun to see this withYammer, the business version of Twitter.

And there will be a corresponding transformation in the process of business, and the goals and approaches of groups charged with managing brand touch points. This goes without saying.

But by far, the most radical transformation will be the one thrust upon us by the generational change that is now under way. With 60 million baby boomers about to be replaced by 60 million Millennials, the workplace will never be the same again. Managing the "knowledge transfer" that needs to take place over the next 5-10 years will be a fundamental responsibility of the Business Designer

Five Things You Need to Know About Design

Years ago, while working in publishing, I had the opportunity to design my first book. I remember devouring various books ABOUT design, flicking through books that I thought WERE well designed, and reading magazines that would point me in the right direction. I even spoke with experienced designers and asked their advice. Those were the days when we needed a business case to get a PC on our desks, so access to the fledgling internet was beyond question. And even if there WAS internet access, we certainly didn’t have the volume and quality of content that is available now.

In the following years I designed a dozen or so books, edited them and sometimes even laid them out. Most of the time they were legal tomes, but from time to time there’d be something more interesting. Something that required a little more creativity to get the point across.

What I learned by designing books has been used in every job that I have had since my early 20s. No matter whether I was driving business innovation in large businesses, marketing services and solutions or running global web teams for FMCG clients, these design skills came in handy. So I thought maybe I’d share my five things with you:

  1. Pretty with punch: I’m all for pretty pictures (remember also that sex sells) – but you need more than that. Make sure that your pretty pictures pack a punch, that they have not just an emotional core but also a solid connection to your objectives. If you are designing a book, make sure you are creating context for comprehension within the overall flow of the content. Same with websites. Same with marketing. Your job is to bring it all together.
  2. Let it breath: Don’t overcrowd your pages with too much “stuff”. Give your headings, your keywords, your callouts and your images enough space to breath.
  3. Orchestrate your story across space: Sure you might have only a few moments to capture the attention of your readers, but also play to their intelligence. Tell your story across space – share the visual cues generously and intelligently in a way that flows.
  4. Ease of use drives consumption: This applies to anything and everything that you do. Make it easy to consume (ie read) some email marketing  and click through for more information and people will do it. Design a website that is easy to use and people will use it. Create a book with tabs, visual cues, callouts and so on and readers will love it. Design with a focus on BEHAVIOUR and you’ll be amazed at the results.
  5. Feed your imagination: It is too easy to forget how important it is to get out from behind your screen. When I ran an interactive team, I took the entire studio on a ferry ride across the harbour to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (I think they liked the ferry more than the art). But they came back to work inspired. But if you can’t do that, go for a walk. Go ride a bike. Take a moment out of the day to feed your imagination.

Of course, if you need to get support for good design – say from your CEO, drop this presentation by Jason Putorti on your boss’ desk (thanks for the link to the presentation go to Mark Pollard). Good design, after all, is about SOLVING a BUSINESS problem. And that’s the secret number six of my list of five. Maybe, just maybe, the thing you really need to know is that you need to deliver results back to the business. Hope this helps!

A Cup of Chaos #37: Press Release DOA

If you are reading this blog, then I bet you’ve either received or written more than your share of press releases over the years. So as you sit down with your second shot of coffee this Friday morning, spare a thought for your old buddy, the press release – and keep your eye out for that Panda hit squad send out by the folks from PitchEngine. They pack a punch.

The Digital Life of Luxury Brands

Seth Godin is often provocative. He challenges us to ask the questions that had slipped out of view but had been bothering us. He reminds us of the facts that we’d rather forget – like the importance of working smarter, not harder. Or wondering what we’d do differently if we charged people for the free stuff that hand out every day.

I’m thinking Rupert Murdoch and the future of newspapers in this instance, but apply the same logic to your brand, your masthead products and services. News Corp has been providing free online access to content for years – and continue to toy with the idea of hiving off their website behind a pay wall. Is this the right thing to do?

In my view, this isn’t the right question to ask.

I think they should do what Seth suggests, and ask themselves that hidden question. What would we have to do differently if we charged for “free”.

But what if we pushed this notion? What if we not only charged a fee, but we charged a LOT? What would we need to do to provide value in a PREMIUM model?

Marci Ikeler and Phil Jackson have put together a great presentation on digital strategy for luxury brands. They provide a great snapshot – 10 ways to engage with luxury consumers online – and all brands can take a piece of this action. I particularly like the “tell a great story”. “be a cultural tastemaker” and “provide a trusted guide …” recommendations. For your brand, take those points and push them. Don’t be all things to all people – be the best. Be the most trusted. Be the authority. Set the agenda. And lead the way for your followers. Sounds simple, right? Well enough talking then, show me what you’ve got.

It’s time we all thought about our brands as the luxuries our customers can’t live without!

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Each week as I flip through my fabulous Feedly feed reader, I make note of those posts that really stand out. I jot a few words in a draft post and a link and then publish it on a Monday morning. Hope you find it useful!

  1. Lisa Barone has put together a great list of 52 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Company. If runs the gamut from brand monitoring through community and reputation management – and even to corporate alignment. Great stuff!
  2. The future is notoriously hard to predict – just ask those futurists. Over at The Ad Contrarian, Bob Hoffman explains Why I Never Make Predictions, and shares a few recent examples of how it can go wrong.
  3. Why are we driven to do things? What motivates us? Dan Pink says it’s autonomy, mastery and purpose and Katie Chatfield provides some nice contexualisation around Dan’s recent conversation with Clay Shirky. Well worth the read.
  4. Speaking of motivation, James Fridley is motivated to help his Mum. And you can too! Read his post and find out how you can help one woman who has tapped into her autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  5. Brian Solis (yes the man with the fab boots) talks social relationship management – a step beyond social CRM. The idea is that SRM spreads well beyond the customer service focus of CRM and impacts other parts of the enterprise. This stuff is right up my alley at the moment!

Envisioning Your Future: Augmented Reality 2020

frogdesign-2020-1 The idea of augmented reality is an interesting one. It is essentially looking at ways in which technology will be used to expose/overlay our digital connectedness moment to moment. Foursquare is a step in this direction. But how will this impact our lives in the future? What will our lives be like in 2020?

Tim Longhurst advises that to look forward 10 years you must look backwards 20 years and Mark Earls shows that it is BEHAVIOUR that drives thinking – not the other way around. So if we put these two together – we need to look at what behaviours were manifesting around technology in 1990 in order to imagine our lives in 2020.

frogdesign-2020-2 For me, 1990 was an interesting year. I was just moving out of the safe confines of the university world and taking a job in publishing. It was all about digitalisation, automation and breaking down the silos that characterised the publishing production process. We had big, clunky PCs on our desks with disk drives. We had green screens, beige Commander phones and tweed lined cubicles. The control or ownership of technology was beginning to shift from those who dedicated their work life and knowledge to the mechanics of information to those who employed that knowledge as part of a business process – connecting the dots. This process it seems to me, continues.

Between 1986 when I first started working and 1990 the era of electronic banking had arrived, with my employers now electronically depositing my pay into my account. This meant I no longer needed to spend my Friday lunch hour queuing in the Westpac Bank on Martin Place to cash my meagre earnings. Of course, there was no online banking – in fact, there was hardly any “online” at all. That would not become part of my life for several more years – and when it did, it was all about 2400 baud modems and bulletin boards.

frogdesign-2020-3 The clever team over at Frog Design have, however, done much of the heavy lifting for us. They ran workshops with Forbes magazine last year and have put together a series of visuals that bring to life a sense of what may be (you can see them above). They focused on key areas of our personal experiences – social, travel, commerce, healthcare and media. They talk of the “Bodynet” – to monitor our health and fitness, “Whuffie Meter” to measure our social worth/popularity and “Our Second Brain” to connect what we see with the vast sea of indexed knowledge available.

But given how far we have come since 1990, I wonder whether these go far enough. I wonder if 2020 is just too far beyond our horizon. For example, if i had known about the iPad in 2008 it would have changed the way I think about advertising, media and personal and business behaviour through to 2010. And that’s just a span of two years.

Having said that, visualising just what might be possible creates an interesting dialogue with the future – and this is one we need to have. Don’t forget to check out the Design Mind blog – there’s plenty more food for thought.

A Cup of Chaos #36: Leroy Stick and BP Global PR

bpcares There is do doubt that the crisis around BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is going to take some cleaning up. But I wonder how much longer it will take to deal with the community’s response to the disaster – after all, the very entertaining @BPglobalPR twitter account continues to remind us just what a catastrophe this is.

And now, you can hear the behind-the-scenes story from the person who setup and executed this campaign. He’s called Leroy Stick – and you can read where he got his name and why he is taking on the energy giant – right here.

And while all this CAN be amusing – just take a look in the brand mirror. Are you prepared for a catastrophe? Could you deal with a social media oil spill? How would you weave it into your continuous digital strategy?

Steve Jobs on the Future of …

In this video from the D8 conference, Steve Jobs talks about the iPad and encouraging publishers to push more aggressively on pricing models. Interestingly, he also starts to talk about the “post-PC” era and how devices such as the iPad will make us feel uncomfortable.

Right at the end of the clip, when asked whether he realistically thought that this sort of change was going to take longer than the next year, he paused, and then said “sure”. Though with over 2 million iPads sold in the first two months, I think Steve is not alone in seeing the iPad as not just a “game changer” but as marking the end of an era.

A Big List of Social Media Monitoring Solutions

One of the challenges with social media is simply keeping up with the latest changes, additions and disappearances. It seems that just when you are feeling a level of comfort with one tool, along comes another with better functionality, new features or just better graphs. And one of the hottest, most contestable areas is the areas of social media monitoring.


Now, I use the social web in a quite deliberate way – what I call simple social media. I use social tools to:

  • Create user generated content
  • Filter the vast amount of knowledge available
  • Distribute ideas, links and content
  • Provide context for the behaviours that we see every day

But how does this work? Let me give you an example.

Ken Burbary has created a great wiki of social media monitoring solutions. He lists the name of the company and the platform, what the solution monitors and links to the site where you can find more information. I found this via a link on Twitter (the filter in action) and am now publishing this as a record of something useful here on my blog. This post aims to provide the context for Ken’s wiki and why people might find it useful. My blog also feeds through to a number of other sites such as MyVenturePad and Gooruze (amongst others) – so distribution occurs across the web. This publishing process will, in turn, act as a filter for others – providing relevant information is a small, contextual package.

And the best part? By and large all this is freely available. So now, rather than wondering where or how to find the big list of social media monitoring solutions, you can now just keep an eye on Ken’s wiki.