Get Your Game On

When I worked in Agencyland, games were part of my everyday working life. I spent a great deal of time working elements of game play into the strategies that I was developing for clients, coming up with ideas for new, short, casual games and working with my team of developers responsible for turning these ideas into games that kids would love.

The first person that I hired into my team was Terry Paton – and I learned a great deal about games, game design and user interaction from him. He had a deep love of games and would constantly look for ways to improve the gaming experience. His approach was to make games that were simple to play but difficult to master – and it was an approach which we would learn to apply to almost every aspect of our work – from web and premium design right through to communications strategy.

For a couple of years, we focused on the idea of “play” – of what would capture, engage and stimulate the people coming to the websites that we would produce. We thought long and hard about what worked, we tested ways to surprise and delight and we relentlessly measured “plays”, high scores and ratings, pass-ons, level achievement and “time in game”.

We essentially focused on behaviours that rewarded the player. And, in turn, those players rewarded us with their time, attention and competitiveness. It was a win-win (oh and a win for the brand too!).

But there was something in the nature of play that fascinated me, even though I had moved out of the B2C space. It seemed obvious that the B2B world sorely needed a jolt – and play seemed the answer. So, a couple of years ago I started (but never finished) a series on the future of your brand – and the first future that I saw was “play” – power, learning, adventure and the “yelp” of delight.

Recently, I read Aaron Dignan’s Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success, and found a thorough investigation into the nature of play and how it can be (and is being) incorporated into our working lives. While it is easy to think that this book is about engaging Gen Y in the workplace, to do so would be to undersell it. The lessons and explanations apply universally. This isn’t a book for a new generation, it’s a book for anyone who is seeking to motivate and engage others. And because it applies principles that we already understand (gaming) to the world of business, it frames work in a completely new way.

Imagine … just imagine that your employees didn’t say “I’m going to work” – but said instead, “I’m getting my game on”. Now, that would really change the game!

Oh, and if you want to learn more about Aaron’s approach – check out this video of his recent speech – Why the Future of Work is Play. I couldn’t agree more. 

PSFK CONFERENCE NYC 2011: Aaron Dignan from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

Lessons in Corporate Social Reputation Management from Dell

Dell have learned their social media lessons the hard way. In fact, you’ve probably heard more than one of their success stories.

These successes have been achieved in a systematic way, using targeted approaches and clear measurements. As shown in this presentation, step 1 is listening and engagement, with step 2, the creation of an online influencer relations program.

But the thing I like most is slide 4. Once you are listening and you have begun your influencer relations program, think about the programs that you are going to build out in each of your lines of business. Look for business champions who see the need and have the opportunity. Look for the quick wins and then promote those champions to the other lines of business. Back up these “hero” stories with measurements and outcomes (even preliminary outcomes are fine). And finally, share best practices. Rinse and repeat.

Write Me a Guest Post

Over the years I have had a few people write guest posts here, but it is not something that I have pushed. Recently I thought it might be an interesting experiment – so I asked some folks on Twitter and received positive feedback.

What got me excited about the idea was sharing in your creativity. Like a zombie, I am interested in your brains.

But then it got me thinking … how do I brief a guest blogger? What do they need to know about and how can they make sure that their writing and interests are a good match?

So – if you ARE interested in writing a guest post, here’s some things you should know:

  1. This is a marketing and branding blog. There’s a lot of information about social media here, but it is in the context of the business of marketing. Don’t send me posts on using social media without a serious business context. My readers are also interested in your brains
  2. About 32% of the web readership is from the USA with a slightly smaller percentage coming from Australia. The UK accounts for about 10% of the traffic, with Canada, India and Germany rounding out the top five. Make sure your topic has an international flavour
  3. In addition to the web traffic, there are about 135,000 subscribers per month – make sure you link back to your own site to benefit from the interest
  4. Much of the content here focuses on thought leadership rather than “how to” information. Challenge me with your ideas or explain a new way of doing the same old thing
  5. Twitter only generates about 5% of my inbound traffic. More than 20% of web traffic is direct and Google delivers about 30% so make sure you write good headlines
  6. No pitching. If you represent a brand or a product etc, write about the problem that you are trying to solve rather than about your “stuff”. And write it like a real person. If you send me a brochure I will ignore it
  7. If you DO have something funky that you’d like to share with my audience, don’t pitch it. Instead, tell me the story of why YOU love it and do what you do. Make it real. Maybe then I’ll take it

Now, if you are still interested in writing a guest post, leave me a comment below, or send me an email to outline your thoughts. I’m keen to feast upon your brains!

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Last week there seemed to be fewer but longer posts on my reading list. The regular bloggers that I follow wrote less, but they went deeper than usual, churning out deeper, presentation format style posts. So while some of these posts will take you a little longer to read, be sure that there’s a payoff – there’s some great knowledge sharing going on, and it should be applauded!

  1. Tac Anderson writes about the New Social CMO and how performance in the digital-to-consumer channel is a strong indicator of overall marketing and business performance
  2. Stan Johnson’s observations on the advertising industry and the shifting and unpredictable consumer society in which we live makes for one of my favourite blogs. Stan asks what ever happened to those virtual agencies?
  3. Kickstarter, the darling of crowd-financing scene just turned two years old. Check out the graph that shows the growth in dollars pledged to new projects per month (and it is not cumulative!). Read the post to learn some of the reasons behind their success
  4. In What’s Next for Me, Valeria Maltoni talks about her next move and how she is creating a job by finding a problem to solve
  5. You’ve probably known this for some time, but Assholes are Bad for Business. Just ask Olivier Blanchard.

Get to Know Your Skin

If you could speak to your 16 year old self, what would you say? Would you talk about your fears? Your future? Your family?

This great video from the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund (via @IanLyons) tells the story of real people who have been touched by melanoma. Watch it. Think about the word “touched” and what the impact of that touch is. And then pass this video on to all the 16 year olds you know.

Melanoma is a young person’s disease and it spreads fast. And if you are thinking that extra zap on the tanning bed is worth it. Think again. Think again and live a lot longer. The world’s at your feet – just make sure you live long enough to experience it.

Beyond Innovation – Vibewire’s fastBREAK

I love a TED talk or a TEDx video as much as the next person. These videos that capture the speeches given at the annual TED conferences in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, feature some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers. Each speaker is challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

But time is short, and often I don’t need more, I need less. Sometimes even that 18 minute talk is a luxury that I struggle to squeeze into my day. As Clay Shirky suggests, what we often experience is not a glut of information but a failure to filter the information in a relevant way. And often that means that even the best TED talks receive short shrift.

But perhaps more than this need to zero-in on the essential elements, I find that I am increasingly interested in not just the hero story – the path to success, the riches achieved or the way it was done – but in the personal story that is the back story of the hero. I want to know the person behind the mask. After all, every great success costs us something as does every great failure.

This is where Vibewire’s fastBREAK innovation series breaks much needed ground.

On the last Friday of every month, Vibewire in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, showcases five young innovators in five minute long talks (notice how quick they are?). The focus is on the personal journey that these pioneers have undertaken. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking. And sometimes it takes your breath away. But it is ALWAYS inspiring.

Just take a look at these two talks and you’ll see what I mean – one from Leanne Townsend, CEO of the NSW Reconciliation Council and Courtney Tight, Media and Marketing Coordinator of the Young UN Women Australia Sydney Committee.

fastBREAK is a core component of Vibewire’s charter – to ensure that young people are included (and able to participate) in conversations that matter – at local, state, national and even global levels. The events are produced by a team of young volunteers. The speakers are carefully selected and coached. The themes are brainstormed and promoted. And each quarter the stories are gathered and published as an anthology.

As the chair of the Vibewire Board, I am proud of the quality and the consistency of these events – and the hard work of Annie Le Cavalier and Hala Hubraq and her team. But the most exciting part of these events is seeing some of the Vibewire interns, volunteers and workspace residents step out of the audience to share their own stories.

So now, tell me, have you had the chance to come along to a fastBREAK event? What did you think?

Organise Your Peeps with Groundcrew

Communities can be notoriously difficult to organise – there are always competing priorities, egos and agendas. The same can apply to teams of any type. But what if you could organise your efforts around location and interest? What if you could corral like-minded folk who just happened to be in the right place at the right time?

Well, with this funky service, now you can.

GroundCrew offers some seriously good coordination tools that can apply to many situations. It’s perfect for non-profit or membership based organisations. It’s a perfect solution for companies with dispersed workforces needing to connect their experts to local problems. And it could radically transform the way that we look at responding to natural disasters.

Oh, and for those of us looking for brilliant tools to manage our online/offline communities from a marketing and branding point of view, it’s a no-brainer. And it gives new teeth to the tired notion of “crowdsourcing”. Sign up today. You’ll find a use for it in seconds.

Via @RachelBotsman.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

This week we seem to be asking a lot of questions. We seem to be challenging the orthodoxy, digging into the details and throwing various cats amongst the squadrons of social media pigeons.

There are questions of style and of substance. Questions of tactics and strategy. And even a walk in the hall of mirrors.

All-in-all, it makes for great reading.

  1. Craig Wilson’s Customer Service in the Digital Age: Radiohead v Vodafone sets out some of the tactics that have worked for rock bands and suggests that brands could learn a thing or two from the world of rock
  2. Did you know that 30% of mums use Facebook constantly through the day and that 73% check into their social networks daily? Mandi Bateson digs into the data to show exactly why, in Australia, Mums Own Social Media
  3. You may be talented, but are you buyable? If you are building your “generalist” skills in the industry, consider also where you go deep. BBH Labs asks Are the junior talent in advertising packaging themselves wrong?
  4. I love a good story – and I love to see it being told via social media. But as Kris Hoet reminds us, you need to get your internal story sorted out before you go public. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the external story is the only one that matters.
  5. You might have the talent, the ambition and even the ego to make it to the top – but do you have the right name? Neil Perkin uses LinkedIn data to ask What’s in a Name?