Pitch the Future–Young Social Innovators in Action

You know what it’s like when inspiration hits … an idea galvanises in your mind like a bolt of electricity, sending your pulse racing. And the more you think on it, the more you feel your nerve fibres tingling.

But what happens when you tell someone about your idea? Your mouth dries. The words tumble out one on top of the other … you get tongue tied, excited and afraid. What happens if someone steals your brilliance? What if your idea is no good?

Now imagine, that you are taking your idea and pitching it to a room of strangers. Imagine that this idea is a deep seated passion and could have a real social impact if successful. And then imagine pitching your idea against four other people just as passionate about their idea as you are about yours.

Pitch the Future event at the Vivid Ideas Festival last night. Check out the story as it unfolded below. And who won? You’ll have to follow along to find out!

Twitter + TV Goes Beyond the 30 Second Spot

Many companies spend a great deal of time, money and effort getting people to do something. Like switching brands. Trying a new product. Or watching a TV show. And to do this, they use advertising. TV has been the great transformer of the 20th Century – it has educated us, engaged us and even amazed us. And the thing it transformed was not the world, but our behaviour. But it has always been a one-way street – broadcasting its message from a single point to the masses.

And then along came the internet and provided a whole new way to be educated, engaged and amazed.


We have always known that there was an abundance of awe inspiring activity taking place in the world but it was often hard to find. Realising that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) tapped our primal urge to fight or fly, in the war for ratings, broadcast media prioritised the sensational over the substantive. But in a multi-dimensional communications world, where the means of production (ie creating content) and distribution are readily and widely available, new forms and types of content are emerging – and with them, new behaviours.

Anyone interested in human behaviour knows how difficult it can be to change a personal habit. But trying to change habits within a culture add layers of complexity that can boggle the mind.

Which is why this latest move from Twitter has me intrigued.

Much of the innovation that we have seen emerge from Twitter has been invented and driven by its community of users. It’s one of the benefits of having a large and active, participating user base – ideas, trends and opportunities magically appear out of the interactions of the crowd. But the businesses behind social networks have an advantage over other types of businesses – they can observe real time and emergent behaviour and adjust accordingly.

When people started using Twitter and hashtags to collaboratively consume television programs it marked a new line in the sand for a struggling TV industry. The dominance of the single screen was well and truly over – and the rise of the connected, multi-screen experience was underway. Now, we can all collectively watch TV shows like #QandA, contribute to the fast flowing conversation online and compete to see our names flash upon the screen. Twitter, in many respects, has given us a reason to tune in at a set time on a set day. Despite our timeshifted life, it’s made TV relevant again.

And this new Twitter + TV offering is taking this a step further. Take a look.

What I like:

  • It taps into existing behaviours: we are already using Twitter to collaboratively consume content on TV. It’s a no brainer that this could be monetised or extended
  • Creative opportunities for extending the customer experience: smart brands (and I would include TV broadcasters in this) have the potential to radically transform the relationship they have with “viewers”
  • Encouraging participation: for all the energy and noise, we are still in the infancy of social media adoption. It’s one thing to have a billion users across the world, but getting that billion people to do something other than login and post once a month is the next great challenge

Some of the problems I can see arising:

  • Broadcasting more broadly: when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right. Twitter has never (and I repeat NEVER) understood its role as a community platform. The fact that it facilitates amazing conversations doesn’t mean that it is a “conversation company” as we have seen with various ham-fisted changes to functionality, and its short-sighted limiting of its own ecosystem etc. There is the potential for this new offering to generate more noise and simply broadcast more broadly. This would be a great missed opportunity
  • Most brands lack comprehensive multi-channel strategy: while we see some substantial and innovative approaches to multi-channel strategy and execution, most brands (and their agencies) lack the level of strategic understanding required to make this work. We can’t all be Red Bull – but we could be more successful if we invested in these channels and strategies
  • Digital skills are thin on the ground: a key to making this work will be deep digital skills and a collaborative approach to storytelling. Brands need to up their investment in digital skilling not just in marketing but across the enterprise. When social becomes the #1 channel for engagement across your business ecosystem (ie not just sales and marketing), then you’ll have the kind of competitive advantage you’ve been dreaming of.


Creative Commons License RubyGoes via Compfight

Lead Your Life the Right Way, the Dreams Will Come to You

One of the amazing things about the web is that we are constantly in a state of renewal. We read, consume, engage and move on. Great ideas, applications, innovations – and even people – come into our sphere of attention and leave. Sometimes without a trace. Or sometimes with only a line or two in our memory. A feeling. A sense of pride or loss.

I remember watching Carnegie Mellon University professor, Randy Pausch deliver his “last lecture” and being gobsmacked. I felt like this piece of content – this lecture from 2007 – would become “internet history”. I felt that it would somehow be automatically consumed by people as they engaged more deeply with the web, its abundant content and the bone achingly powerful stories that many share.

But I recently mentioned Randy Pausch’s last lecture and was met with a stony silence. I explained a little – to provide some context – about the world leading computer science professor famous for his work in human computer interaction. Still nothing.

In a world with an abundance of information, we continue to struggle to prioritise what comes into our sphere of attention. And in the rush to sort, file and proceed, we often – mistakenly in my view – prioritise the new in favour of the great. So today, I’d like to momentarily reverse that and suggest you spend an hour – yes a full hour – with Randy Pausch. It may just change your life.


wil p via Compfight


A Date with Lindsay Lohan. Or How Celebrity Adds Punch to Your Brand

If there is one thing I love, its when people are publicly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest in public. But I love this even more when the person at the centre of the confession is famous. Or hyper-famous, like Lindsay Lohan.

So, imagine that you are the brand manager for eHarmony, the dating site, and you notice that your social media mentions are going through the roof. What could it be? A crisis? A catastrophe? Another cat picture?

Maybe it’s a parody by Funny or Die. Featuring Lindsay Lohan.

Passwords – One for the Money, Two for the Show

I am always going to love an Elvis quote. We don’t see enough of it in the world of business. And we should. After all, he was “The King”.

So this quick guide to unhackable passwords from McAfee and Intel caught my attention straight away.

The guide points out that you need multiple passwords:

  • One password for banking
  • A different password for email
  • Another password for social media

Unfortunately, we all have more than three needs, right?  So one idea is to add the account information into your password:

  • Facebook: your Facebook password can become my_facebook_password
  • Twitter: your Twitter password can become my_twitter_password

Or variations on that theme.


HT Lindy Asimus’ pinterest collection.

Forget your raison d’être. What’s your raison pour le faire?

I am a fan of deep thinking. Really I am. And I am a fan of long copy advertising. Documentaries. And books. Those old fashioned paper products that immerse you in other worlds. I love them and collect them and will continue to do so.

Each of these sing to my soul. They ground me in a way that other things cannot. And they tap into my sense of self. My sense of purpose. My reason for being.

But while I love ideas and the way that they can inspire others, what happens when the energy of that moment wanes? What happens when the talk stops and you find yourself alone and unguarded. What then?

That’s when your reason for doing takes over.

Where the raison d’être – your reason for being – speaks of life, raison pour le faire- your reason for doing – speaks of action.

On the one hand you have thought. On the other hand, life.

We seem to have plenty of ideas, thought and inspiration. They abound in life, art and work. We attend conferences devoted to them.

But inspiration doesn’t create change. That’s hard work beyond the realm of ideas. It’s the realm of life. And you can only change life through doing.

So stop reading.

Architect of Your Future - Tattoo Design

Creative Commons License – = Duke One = – via Compfight

Did the Job You’re In Exist When You Were Studying?

Got a new job Stéfan via CompfightPredicting the future is incredibly difficult. Ask any psychic. Or marketer. We don’t need research to tell us that the world is changing, or that the future will be different from the past. The challenge is magnified not only by the amount of change that we are seeing in almost every industry, but by the rate at which those changes are taking place.

Futurist, Tim Longhurst says to predict five years into the future you need to look back ten.

Is it any wonder that younger generations entering the workforce are finding it hard to plot their future careers?

As it turns out, I don’t think this problem has changed that much. Marketing was my fourth or fifth career, and I fell into it by accident. But even within the broad field of marketing, I have rarely held a role with a fixed job description. There have always been large grey areas in which I operated most effectively – whether as an incubator of new business units, a strategist, marketing director.

The thing is – I don’t think my career path with its twists and turns is all that different than others. But tell me. Did the job you’re in exist when you were studying?

Got a new job Stéfan via Compfight

Putting Experience Back into Customer Experience

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of reading mean tweets. It’s a post about the rough and tumble nature of online conversation and what can happen when you step out into the gaze (and full throttle voice) of the social web. And then today, almost on cue, comes what BuzzFeed calls the most epic brand meltdown on Facebook ever.

It began with an appearance on Gordon Ramsey’s reality TV show, Kitchen Nightmares. As you can see from the footage from the show, the episode did not play well for the owners of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro in Scottsdale, Arizona.


No doubt, BuzzFeed did a great job of amplifying an already hot story. But a story can only take you so far. It needs to be stoked. Fed. It needs to be cultivated, fanned and coaxed to become a raging fire.

And that’s exactly what is continuing to happen.

With each comment on Reddit, Yelp or even BuzzFeed, for every tweet and mention on Facebook, owners Samy and Amy step into the breach to fan the flames of this conversation. They continue to take brand experience to a new level with each and every comment or tweet. Take a look at some of the Facebook comments and conversations captured on the BuzzFeed page by way of example.

I am always fascinated at the way that people behave under pressure. Some deal with scrutiny gracefully. But not all of us are able or willing to. And I admit, I was drawn to this unfolding drama … to the flaming tentacles that lashed at every passing message. And then suddenly, the kraken appeared and I became part of the story. A small moment where the story was not part of someone else’s drama, but part of my own.


And I must admit I was a little flattered. To be singled out here, on the other side of the planet, for my limited cameo appearance. But all jokes aside, there are salient lessons here – not just about social media, crisis communications and brand management.

What intrigues me is that certain point where the social media experience eclipsed the brand experience.

I can already imagine this restaurant becoming a Mecca for an inverted kind of customer experience where diners choose to expose themselves to the Samy and Amy experience unplugged. It has happened before and can happen again. But maintaining this level of performance comes with a cost. And there are precious few who can continue to operate at that level indefinitely.

Where will this go? Who knows. But it is a brand performance that few will forget in a hurry.

Reading Mean Tweets – Social Media Beyond the Magic Mirror

Are you an executive stepping into the world of social media? Are you a leader learning to tweet? Or are you in charge of a social media account or community site for a brand? If so, you may have experienced a flurry of mean tweets. And by “mean” I nasty.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose brand is fairest of them all?

You see, for decades, we have all been living the life of the Evil Queen, viewing the world through the wonderful frame of our very own magic mirror. We frame the question. Ask it. And wait for the adulation to return. And in a world where every question, all “market research”, surveys, ratings, reports and so on can be framed by our own perspective, we’ve lived a relatively sheltered life.

But the moment we step into the world of social media, the Magic Kingdom disappears. In the real world of 21st Century marketing, there is no Fairy Godmother. You are known – and become known – for your good works and bad, your efforts and your laziness.  You are what you tweet. It’s what I call the “4 BEs”.

You want to be found, known, trusted and successful. Many of us, however, fail on one of these counts. Especially in the early days of our social media journey.


Now, no doubt, you will have heard the cliche that social media is a marathon not a sprint. And like most cliches, it is based on a deep truth – you cannot build a relationship with anyone – a customer, a friend, a partner or supplier – without investing in that relationship over time.

And it is with this in mind that I would encourage you to step out from behind your own magic mirror. Read some of the tweets that are sent your way. Read them out loud. To your teams. Think about the impacts that they make. Is there a truth? Or are there always going to be haters?

Take a look at the way celebrities respond to some of the nasty tweets sent their way. Notice how, when spoken aloud, some of the nasty tweets lose their impact?

Reading the mean tweets will prepare you for what will follow. For no matter how many white horses you ride, one day you’re going to eat an apple meant for someone else. It’s time to end the fairytale, but with some work, a decent strategy and a bit of luck, you may just reach your happily ever after.