Kindness is the new Transformation

I have always believed that trust is essential to create lasting change. No matter whether you are changing a business process, convincing a customer that your solution is the most useful, or introducing new technology to a large user base, trust is essential. The same applies to those who work in social justice, government and politics. It’s essential to the kind of work I do in marketing and innovation.

In fact, I’ve had a long term love affair with trust. I’ve written about it, developed frameworks for the way that trust works in social networks, and used it as a basis for many keynotes over the years. But trust is under pressure.

When the President of the United States can reel off policy announcements in 140 characters, it’s easy to see that we’ve switched from a 24-hour news cycle to a 24-second news cycle. Policy and government announcements which once took weeks of meticulous planning and execution are now thrown like content fodder into the scrap heap of the worlds’ news feeds, stoking passions but leaving us wondering whether there is substance, thought or strategy behind any of it.

And while it’s easy to be swayed by the immediacy of tweeted action, I also get a sense of a deeper hunger. Sure there are plenty of people willing to go with the flow and take every tweet at face value, but there’s a growing impatience with the superficiality of what has been passing as news, insight and policy. I’m pleased to see more focus on problems worth solving than ideas worth spreading. We are seeing this in the work that we do with companies and government organisations. We are seeing it in the work we do in social impact. And we are seeing it in movements like Pledge 1 Percent.

Underlying this resurgence, is a need to rebuild – and perhaps – reconstitute trust in the modern age. And I think we do this with kindness.

That’s why I like this deck from Leo Burnett. It’s a step in a new direction. And with any movement, that first step is what is needed.

Putting the You in YouTube

We all know that YouTube has become an internet powerhouse. It’s the one place that we spend more time on than Facebook, and it’s the world’s second largest search engine.

There are many more statistics and stories to tell in this interesting infographic from Filmora. But the most interesting thing – for me at least – is that the People & Blogs category has the most number of uploads of any category. With just over 40% of total uploads, it over three times larger than the next largest category (gaming).

And with 1 billion hours of YouTube watched per day, clearly we remain curious about the people we inhabit the Earth with. What is particularly interesting about this, is that there is no end in sight – no plateauing of data. We seem ever more interested in our own humanity and our creative endeavours.

Which makes me wonder about brands and businesses. When humanity and creativity are top of the agenda, how do you join the conversation?

 

Go #SocialFirst for Customer Care

Remember when “Digital First” was the marketing catch-cry? Or “Mobile First”?

Living in a world of constant change means that, as marketers, we have to continuously refine our approach. We need to test and tweak our messaging, adjust our spend and targeting, and reconsider and re-evaluate our technology stack. That’s right, increasingly, marketing is a tech game. The game of marketing, itself, has changed.

Recently, Qantas announced that Olivia Wirth will take on the role of Chief Customer Officer. This sees responsibility for the areas of customer and digital strategy being added to Wirth’s brand, marketing and corporate affairs portfolio. The reshuffle, puts Qantas at the vanguard of “Power Marketing” – where the head of marketing has responsibility for the end-to-end customer journey.

It also signals the arrival of customer care as a Board level conversation. A small scale survey of Conversocial customers revealed some interesting directions for social customer care. And while social customer care began slowly, it is gaining momentum with significant investments in social contact centre staffing, technology and process.  Social is the “low hanging fruit” of customer service channels because it is:

  • Direct
  • Responsive
  • Public.

The very fact that social customer care is public brings additional pressures and attention to customer care – which in the past has largely been a back-channel activity. Now, as it shifts to “front of house”, the manner in which you deal with your best – and your most difficult – customers, is on display for all to see.

Be Curious and Have a Point of View

In this always-connected, digital world, I often see and hear things that I agree with. Or disagree with. Some of this is deep content – articles or videos that take time to engage with. But some of the content is simple, cursory, scrollable. I can look at it and move on with barely a moment’s regard.

The thing is, however, that I HAVE had a regard.

Almost everything that I see elicits a decision response in my head. I am forever making judgement calls about every single piece of content that passes by. And not just online. The same applies offline.

On the surface, it would seem that the problem that we all face is inundation. Our minds and our experiences are so saturated with things to engage with that our senses have been dulled. Where once our senses were highly tuned to detect important things (threat, pleasure, opportunities), they now tune things out. We are dulled to our experience of the world right when the world offers so much.

If we look deeper, there is a way to short circuit all this.

We need to re-inspire our curiosity.

If you need a break, meditate. Pause and breath. Express gratitude. Look again at the world, a situation, the page or person in front of you, and be curious. Ask a question. Receive an answer with grace.

But most of all, take your curiosity and act on it. Have a point of view. Respond to the world you live in. Act, don’t react, and see how the world greets you differently.

Southern Rail UK Breathes Life Back into Social Media

Topics of conversation have become depressingly heavy across most social media channels. What with Brexit, Trumpmania, Climate Change and a general sense of dystopia pervading Twitter and Facebook, not even the #inspiration hashtag of Instagram can compete.

Years ago, when I worked on digital and promotional strategy for McDonald’s, we’d constantly return to the simple premise – what would it take to “surprise and delight” our customers? We would put this at the heart of each and every promotion.

From the surprise and delight, we’d then move onto “play”. We’d ask more simple questions:

  • How do we create or generate a sense of playfulness?
  • What does it mean to “play” with digital?
  • And how do we make this happen?

While exploring these topics, I developed a content marketing framework – PLAY. There are four main elements:

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

Notice, we still have surprise and delight – but to make this work, you need more. You need to understand that great brands have and can wield power – to influence, engage and stimulate. But our customers have this agency too. We need to build adventure into our brand narratives and promote a sense of curiosity.

And all this comes down to great copy. Fabulous storytelling can change lives.

And a great example is “Eddie on Work Experience” with Southern Rail UK. Single handedly he is breathing life and energy into the @SouthernRailUK Twitter account. And it’s thrilling. And fun.

Imagine if you could do this with your brand.

Buzz Aldrin Gives No F***s

When you’ve been beyond Earth’s orbit, I expect you have a different view of the world, it’s people and it’s leaders. And as someone who has “the right stuff”, Buzz Aldrin, certainly can lay claim to having firm views and a sharp ability to analyse the data laid out before him.

Here he is providing Marcel Marceau level commentary on a speech by Donald Trump. It seems he has no poker face – and doesn’t care who knows it.

Snapchat Ghost Mode – and how to protect your child from snap stalkers

Technology shifts and changes so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. Almost every day there are updates to your computers, “patches” to fix software, improvements to the apps on your phone and more. If you are like me, you’ll have automatic updates on so that these changes take place in the background – often overnight – so that when you turn on your device for the day – voila! – new improvements at your fingertips.

But not all updates are created equally – or with your best interests in mind.

A recent Snapchat upgrade added a new feature – Snap Maps. It’s a way to “view Snaps of sporting events, celebrations, breaking news and more from all across the world”. Sounds great, right?

But it’s also a way for you and your friends (or the general Snap user) to share your location with each other. So now, if you are wondering where your friends are and what they are doing, you can seek them out.

It’s super easy to use, just open the Camera screen and “pinch out” like you are zooming out from a photo and Snap Maps will be activated.

From the map you can see snaps from interesting locations and events as well as photos of people that you know or are connected to.

But isn’t that stalking?

It’s rather cool that you can see where your friends are. In fact, Google has variations on this functionality in its maps – and even had the standalone product, Latitude, until it was closed down in 2013. At the time, I had concerns with Latitude and with the data that we uncaringly share with the people who make our phones and create the apps we run on them – and so too do I have concerns with Snap Maps.

Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer, location information can be super useful. And as a person with friends all around the world, I get a particular kick out of knowing where my friends and connections are and what they are doing.

For example, I know my friend Suzanne is travelling in the US at the moment. Thanks to Snap Map I now know that she was just on Mariposa Street in San Francisco. No doubt checking out the local fried chicken shops.

That’s kind of fun. But as a consumer it makes me nervous.

We know that on social media, the concept of “friendship” is fairly loose. There will be a lot of randomness in your friend list – plenty of people who you don’t know, have never met, and probably wouldn’t invite to your home to stay for the weekend. Yet, you can trust them with your location, each and every second of the day.

A warning for parents

As adults, we can make choices about who shares our personal information, location and so on. But parents with children who use Snap Chat may not realise what has become available with the new Snap Map functionality. In fact, most parents won’t know that some children have open privacy settings meaning that anyone can “friend” and connect/share information with them without asking.

Imagine, for example, your child has a group of friends who use Snap Chat to share photos, chat and keep connected outside of school. Then imagine that there’s an incident – like some bullying or bad behaviour – a falling out of some kind.

Thanks to Snap Maps, all your child’s connections (including the bully) will know where your child is whenever they are logged in.

No doubt, parents have asked their children about their connections and “friends”, and have received assurances that “no, I don’t add people I don’t know” … but words and actions are sometimes strangers. In this video, Joey Salads conducts a Snap Map stalking experiment with the parent of a young girl. The results are compelling.

Turn on Ghost Mode to protect your Snap Chat privacy

The only way to stop your location being shared across your Snap Chat network is to enable “Ghost Mode”. You will be prompted for location sharing the first time you upgrade to Snap Maps, but you can also edit your privacy settings later.

If you have children, I’d recommend you enable Ghost Mode immediately. In fact, unless you’re confident that you know your connections well, I’d enable ghost mode on every device. Being location aware can be useful, but data sometimes reveals more than we expect – and there’s no reason for us to turn a blind eye to it.

If You Can Only Try

Living, as we do, in a time of rapid change. Of transformation and uncertainty. It can be difficult to see what our long term future holds.

You can see it in the words we use to describe our lives. These words are flat. Uninspired. Transactional. We have entire governments swept to power on the back of the laziest of phrases and political slogans masquerading as thought-through policy agendas.

But we have not arrived in this desolate landscape randomly. It is the end-result of a thousand micro choices that consolidate our misery.

It is as if we have abdicated our personal responsibility for imagination in favour of a strange wariness of close fears. Today, in Australia, it was announced that we now hold the record for economic growth without a recession. We have experienced 26 years without interruption to our prosperity. Twenty six years without a downturn.

We have a generation of people who have known only growth. There have been few labour strikes. Precious few public protests. This perceived prosperity has dulled our senses to our own personal agency. The storytellers who ignite our hearts and passions no longer tread the public boards of our most important debates – they pop up in our Facebook news feeds, talking at TED or singing on “Insert Your Country Here’s” Got Talent.

But this can change. The story is the trick. And if we do want to reclaim our sense of the future, then there’s much to learn from the careful crafting that goes into the stories of digital media’s emerging heroes. Just watch this clip from America’s Got Talent. Think about the one clear message. See how you are drawn in to this story. Understand how and why you respond to what you see and what you hear. And see how the foreground, backstory and framing create the conditions for you to take the story into your heart.

Then think about what you can do to change your sense of what is possible. You only need try.

The Sundays on a Sunday

One of my favourite bands from the 80s, The Sundays, slipped from public view in the late 1990s. And yet their alternative, melodic pop still sounds as sweet today as I remember it decades ago.

When I play their music, it makes me feel like I am padding my way through the Enmore Theatre, shoes sticking to the crunchy carpet, the sound reaching all the way around me. It transports me back to unknown, particular moments that are a fine pastiche of worn through memories. Were you there? Was it this band or that? And what did we eat for dinner – maybe kebabs. Or Thai. It’s all jangling around in my mind like the guitars in this song.

If you are like me, you’ll enjoy The Sundays this sunday, with a blast from YouTube.

Hey BizCover Insurance, Welcome to the Internet

For the last few years I have been using BizCover for business insurance. It has been very competitive and convenient. Until now.

A couple of weeks ago, my bank noticed a suspicious transaction on my account and alerted me. After a quick call, we realised that it was entirely fraudulent – which meant that my card number had been compromised and needed to be cancelled.

Happily, the new card arrived within days and normal operations resumed. Except, of course, that regular payments had to be updated.

Which brings us back to BizCover.

As a small business owner, I seek convenience and flexibility. I look for the best deal possible. And I have recommended BizCover to many people – colleagues, contractors and other small businesses. Their rates are competitive and they are flexible. You can review policy options, check rates and signup online. It is a fantastic service.

Up to a point.

But what happens when things change? Surely, you can just login and update your details, right?

It appears not.

Now, it feels like I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. After all, tomorrow I will call and sort out the details. But I see this as a more instructive challenge for most digital businesses. Which – for better or worse – is all businesses.

We have spent the last decade figuring out how to get our customers to buy online – and we have done this relatively successfully. But now we need to go further. To figure out how to get them to remain our customers, and to serve them online.

Sure, this can be challenging when you offer a brokerage service. But that’s part of the deal.

If you want the sale, you’ve got to continue to service the channel.

It’s time that fintech – and especially insurance companies, brokers and stakeholders invested the effort to understand this new marketplace. It’s not just about the upfront dollars, but the ongoing relationship. This really is an internet driven commercial world now, and customer service and convenience should not be a special service. It just gives you a seat at the customer’s table.