Awarding #QantasLuxury with a Downfall

Customer loyalty programs are funny things. They often walk a fine line between promise and flattery, between exclusivity and exploitation. These programs are laced with words and imagery that reinforce the sense of entitlement, achievement and reference “awards” and benefits.

But in a socially connected world, awards, entitlement and even exclusivity can be turned on its head. Right now, Qantas is at the heart of this new brand experience.

A few days ago I wrote What Qantas Will Learn from its Social Customers. There were five key lessons:

  • The social customer is ubiquitous: it’s not just Facebook or Twitter. They write blogs, publish stories and photographs. They share these with hundreds – if not thousands – of friends with the click of a mouse and a glare of disdain
  • The social customer wields influence with a swagger: they have grown up with the internet and have more tools at their disposal than you let through your firewall. They move fast and do so with intent. If they can impact the decisions of others (to not purchase with you) they will do so.
  • The social customer is not your friend: they don’t want a platitude and they won’t go quietly. They will remember your words and your actions and they will choose their purchases carefully and with deliberation.
  • The social customer is the 99%: they can smell inequity at a hundred paces. You’ve just given them a reason to chose another brand who understands their lifestyle and their priorities.
  • The social customer is developing a social conscience: it’s taken decades, but it is forming. Just take a look at the Edelman Trust Barometer. Brands will be judged by their actions.

But things have progressed, and by “progressed” I mean “become worse”. Yesterday’s promotional efforts using Twitter and the #qantasluxury hashtag have been widely regarded as a failure or PR disaster. But I think it goes deeper than that. It’s a malaise that goes to the very heart of the brand and the disconnect between Qantas the brand and its customers.

You see, social media can become damaging to your brand when you ignore the real messages of social media – the wide cultural and personal transformations that I call The Social Way. Without understanding and translating these into your business the gulf between your brand and your customers will continue to widen. If Qantas (or their advising agencies) had understood, for example, the Five Stages of Social Media Grief and had applied this to understanding their customers, then perhaps, #qantasluxury could have been a completely different campaign.

What we are seeing is a widespread “falling out of love” with the Qantas brand. And with this comes a sense of loss. Grief. The Australian public and travellers, in particular, are having to come to grips with a changed reality – where the relationship and trust that they once had in the Qantas brand has evaporated through purposeful direct action of the Qantas management and Board.

qantas-luxuryAnd when the audience, formerly known as “Qantas Customers” have not yet moved into the “acceptance” phase of the grieving process, any brand activations must be carefully considered, planned and executed.

The Twitter stream of conversation (as shown above) seems to be still accelerating and now #qantasluxury appears to have been awarded the ultimate social media honour – the production of its very own Downfall spoof (see Parodies in this Wikipedia entry). When your customers go to the trouble of producing media like this, it’s the equivalent of entering the social customer hall of shame. It’s not an award that Qantas would like, I am sure, but I have a feeling there is still a way to go before this peters out.

Bored at Work = Viral

I can remember coming across Buzzfeed quite some time ago. It stunned me. It made me realise that there was much more going on online than I had imagined. The site, by Jonah Peretti constantly tracks content on the web and asks a simple question – will this go viral? You don’t even have to choose “no” – you can just ignore the question. But if there is a topic/post you think worth voting up, you can do so simply with one click.

In a way, it’s a pop culture version of Digg – but with one important difference – it is curated.

In this presentation (with thanks to Polly Becker), Jonah shares some of the strategies and tips that he has learned over the last 10 years – one of the most important of which is to target the “bored at work” network. And as he explains, you can't "make" something go viral – but you can improve your chances by tweaking, seeding and being lucky.

Jonah Peretti Viral Meetup Talk

Say Yes to Twitter

I was watching this video from the Kaiser’s Toilet on Twitter and Google’s new Buzz – and it got me thinking. Much of the discussion that we see around social media, marketing and new technologies relates to yes/no decisions. The conversations are framed in terms of scarcity – of time, resources, budget and so on. But one of the fundamental transformations that the social web has driven is that of abundance. Of information, knowledge and connection.

So we are seeing a fundamental disconnect between the way that we VIEW this emerging world and the way that it OPERATES.

Say yes to Twitter from Marcus Brown on Vimeo.

The idea of VIEWING a website or social platform is a behaviour that has created a world view. It comes from 50 years of broadcast TV. It places us, “a user” (and therefore a dependent) in a passive mode. The newer, social web places us, the PARTICIPANT at the centre of a hub. It requires choice, it engenders responsibility, and presupposes action. It PLAYS to the concept of abundance and see scarcity as outmoded, traditional, passe.

But as Mark Earl’s Herd has taught us, it is behaviour which changes thinking, not thinking that changes behaviour. So perhaps, surreptitiously, our engagement with the social web may have wider implications. Or maybe the social web is more chaotic, playful and unpredicatable than our marketing and IT “use cases” would suggest.

This interesting article by Alan Wolk shows how the #thuglife meme has made Twitter into a purely experiential platform. More importantly for marketers, perhaps, is the scale of this type of participation – which far exceeds the early adopter circles that characterise much of the social media debate:

It's an interesting use of the medium, and the people participating in these hashtags seem to be getting as much value out of them as the Twitter-Is-a-Serious-Business-Tool types who busily append words like "Genius!" to their retweets of a fellow blogger's "Top 10 Reasons Location-Based Services Are the New Twitter."

What we are seeing is the logical extension of YES. We are seeing the “crowd” embracing abundance and participating in a way which is consciously unselfconscious.

What would happen if we did the same? What if we said YES to Twitter? What would happen if we followed everyone? Would our world change? Maybe not. But maybe WE would.

As Busy As a Bee with Tweehive

tweehive1 What happens when bee colonies collapse? Is there a Plan Bee?

To raise awareness around the essential role that bees play in the environment, a bunch of people have come together to produce TWEEHIVE – a Twitter based role playing game. This game will run over three days  in three months – July 14, August 7 and September 5 – all in the lead up to Pestival, an imaginative, educational and cultural experience designed to shift our thinking about insects, the environment and the way that we relate to the world.

How do you get involved?

  1. Change your profile pic to a bee for the day. If feeling lazy the pic at the top of this post is the right size & dimensions for twitterpic
  2. Check the #tweehive stream, interact with other bees & generally enjoy the buzz. If new to twitter that just means put "#tweehive" into the search box
  3. Follow @tweehive – there will be guest queen bees including Alison Benjamin. If new to twitter that just means put "tweehive" into the find people search box (top menu) & click "follow"
  4. Get into character. What would your bee be doing through the day?
    For inspiration
    when tweeting remember to write #tweehive to appear in the stream
    also remember you can message other specific bees by using @twittername in your tweet
  5. Join in the treasure hunt for flowers hidden on bee friendly and tweehive related websites. HINT these are luscious floating flower picture hidden placed at the bottom of the page
  6. It’s never too late to swarm – do tell all your likeminded friends.
    An easy way to do that of course now is simply taking part
  7. If you have a relevant website/blog do register to host a flower for other bees to find
  8. Watch out for on the spot tasks and other Tweehive surprises…

Do come and join the fun and the tweehiveFB group It’s part of an insect arts ecology event at London’s South Bank

What If the Z-list Were on Twitter?

Two years ago, Mack Collier ran an experiment. He wanted to see if the authority rankings of sites tracked by Technorati etc could be turned around. After all, there are many fine blogs out there – many who don’t receive the links or recognition that they deserve. Calling this the Revenge of the Z-lister, Mack created a viral storm that transformed the ranking and profile of many blogs.

The way it worked was as follows – start with the current list (Mack started with five blogs) and then add your own five. When it wrapped up, the Z-list contained around 200 blogs each linking and re-linking to each other.

While this Z-list could be seen as a form of linkbaiting, there was also something immensely valuable in it – it brought together a community of participants. It activated people in a fun and engaging format. And it introduced those with the patience, to a number of fantastic new blogs and their authors.

Sometime later, Becky Carroll, Sharon Sarmiento and I reworked this list into a wiki format, breaking each blog into a category and providing a short description of each blog and its content. I was reminded of this yesterday by a message on Twitter. And then I thought, what would happen if the Z-list happened now? What impact would something like Twitter have on the amplification of such an enterprise?

Oh, and which new blogs would YOU add to the Z-list? I would add:

And, in case you were wondering, the original/final list looks like this:


Blog Name Author Location Category 10 Word Description
Calico Monkey Animation Focuses on the  ToonBoom software to create animation.
Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together Tammy Vitale Maryland, USA Art Art-focused, including thoughts on the art that Tammy produces.
Woolgathering  Elizabeth Perry Art Looking, thinking, drawing, being
World Blog Collection ugyen Blog aggregator Blog listings categorized by type; goal to add 1000 links in ’07.
Blogging Secret Louiss Lim Malaysia Blogging Part personal but mostly blogging related site.
Blogging to Fame Divya Uttam India Blogging All aspects of online business from SEO to usability and blogging.
Blog-Op Chris Lodge Blogging How to improve your blogging by Chris and others.
Daily Blog Tips Daniel Blogging Tips to improve your blogging from tools to design.
Mike’s Money Making Mission Mike Blogging Making money using free blogs.
One Reader at a Time Bob Glaza Blogging One blogger’s experiment in building and engaging with online communities.
Ruminate this site The Ruminator Maine, USA Blogging Reviews blogs and sites so that we don’t have to.
SMogger Social Media Blog Linda Bustos Vancouver, Canada Blogging The ethical use of social media for bloggers and other web users.
SuccessCREEations  Chris Cree Georgia, USA Blogging Blog Consultant bringing the twin passions of business and blogging together.
Successful Blog Liz Strauss Blogging The legendary Liz Strauss, blogger extraordinaire and creator of the SOB award.
Troy Worman’s Blog Troy Worman Jacksonville, USA Blogging Focus on writing, ideas and connections
Copywriter’s Crucible  Matt Ambrose UK Blogging, Copywriting The importance of copy in corporate blogging
Copywriting Tuneups  Eric Rosen Blogging, Copywriting How to measure reading effectiveness and why it is important in the blogosphere
Dipping into the Blogpond Meg Sydney, Australia Blogging, Tech Blogging about starting an Internet company in the Sutherland Shire.
BrandSizzle Anne Simons Branding Broad and deep insight into the branding process.
Own Your Brand!  Mike Wagner Iowa, USA Branding Blog to help businesses re-imagine their brands.
The Emerging Brand Anna Farmery UK Branding Corporate branding blog focused on leadership.
The Engaging Brand Anna Farmery UK Branding Using technology and marketing knowledge to improve business communications.
What is Brand? Japan Branding Japanese readers/speakers? Anyone?
Presentation Zen Garr Reynolds Japan Business (Site in English) Tips for great presentations, marketing, and business communications.
Bob Sutton Bob Sutton California, USA Business Discussions of “jerks” in business.
Perspective Niti Bhan Asia Business Health, wealth and the freedom to choose.  Archived blog.  New one is jugaad (
Ramblings from a Glass Half Full Terry Starbucker Connecticut, USA Business Views on business life.
Simplicity Mary’s Blog Mary Schmidt New Mexico, USA Business Business development, marketing troubleshooting
Funny Business Scrambled Toast Business commentary Wide ranging discussion on business with a funny and pictorial approach.
Creative Think Roger von Oech California, USA Business, Creativity Fun Ideas to stimulate your creativity.
The Copywriting Maven Roberta Rosenberg Washington  DC, USA Copywriting Marketing and SEO copywriting tips.
Brain Based Biz Robyn McMaster Creativity Tips for stirring creativity in business.
Experienceology Stephanie Weaver California, USA Customer Experience How to create great customer experiences on the web and in the “real” world.
QAQNA Tom Vander Well Iowa, USA Customer service Business blog on call centers, quality assessment, and customer service.
Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid! Tim Jackson Cycling, Blogging The irrepressible Tim MasiGuy Jackson and Co’s slant on bicycle marketing.
MineThatData Kevin Hillstrom Database Marketing Tips for database marketing from the viewpoint of a DM wiz.
Design Sojourn DT Sydney and Singapore Design How to do good design and create clever products.
aialone JT (Jon) Winebrenner Canada Design, tech Design, innovation, as well as Jon’s cartoons!
Frozen Puck Brock Skywalker Canada Eclectic Making cool stuff with expensive toys
Africa Unchained Emeka Okafor Economy Discussing issues and solutions in Africa.
Energy Blog Energy Industry News, information and updates on the Energy generation industry.
Movie Marketing Madness Chris Entertainment, marketing Marketing with a focus on Hollywood.  No info on About page.
gDiapers Jason Oregon, USA Environment Corporate blog discussing environmental issues.
Time to Budget Mona Weathers Finance How to gain financial freedom by controlling your finances.
Soloride Paul Sanchez California, USA Fundraising A project raising awareness and funds for children with dyslexia and learning differences
Girls Swimsuits Preety Girls The name says it all, new site, small archive.
Home Business Wiz Barbra Sundquist Canada Home business Collection of resources about home business.
Working at Home on the Internet Joe Hauckes Home business, Blogging Home business entrepreneurs and making money from home
Kristie T Kristie Tamsevicius Home business, Online Money Making Fun, mom-geared work-at-home tips and advice on making money on the net.
Asia Inspection Community Industrial Blog for Inspection Engineers based in Asia. Includes job board.
Employment Law Colorado Peter Mullison Colorado, USA Law Resource for employers and employees on Colorado employment law
Leading Questions Ed Brenegar USA Leadership Real life leadership, organisational tranformation and practical tips for leaders of all kinds.
Steve Olson Steve Olson Life Chronicling one family’s quest for personal freedom.
Make It Great!  Phil Gerbyshack Wisconsin, USA Life coaching How to take your life from good to great by focusing on relationships.
You Already Know This Stuff Jodee Bock Fargo, USA Life Coaching Reminding us all that what we need to know is already in our minds and hearts.
HolyMama!  USA Lifestyle Funny perspective on life from a stay at home Christian mom.
My Marrakesh Maryam Montegue Morocco Lifestyle Expatriate American with an eye for style, architecture and good living
Gangster Sonny Mafia Fascinated with all things mafia … from movies to weapons.
Talking Story Rosa Say Hawaii, USA Management Management and leadership, Hawaiian style.
AENDirect Aen Tan Singapore Marketing Freelance art director’s view on creativity and advertising
Being Peter Kim Peter Kim Massachusetts, USA Marketing Personal insights from the depths of Forrester (note: this is his personal, not Forrester, blog).
BizandBuzz  Gianandrea Facchini Rome, Italy Marketing Brand building and marketing from an Italian perspective
bizsolutionsplus Lewis Green Connecticut, USA Marketing A passionate and respected author, marketer and activist.
Blog Till You Drop!  Laurence-Hélène UK Marketing Marketing, advertising, branding, blogging
Branding & Marketing Chris Brown Ohio, USA Marketing Designed for business professionals with an interest in branding and marketing.
Business Garden France Marketing French readers/speakers?
Buzz Canuck Sean Moffitt Toronto, Canada Word of Mouth Passionate exponent of word of mouth from Canada.
Buzzoodle Ron McDaniel Ohio, USA Word of mouth, Marketing Creating buzz with word of mouth marketing.
Christine Kane Christine Kane Marketing, Music A recording artist, Christine harnesses the power of community to reach her audience.
CKs Blog Christina Kerley New York, USA Marketing Clever strategies, the new best practices, and the smart marketers behind them.
Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni Pennsylvania, USA Marketing Connecting ideas and people—how talk can change our lives
converstations Mike Sansone Des Moines, USA Marketing, blogging Known as the blogging yoda (for insight not looks), Mike is a conversation generator.
CrapHammer Sean Howard Canada Marketing Marketing using new media.
Customers Rock! Becky Carroll California, USA Marketing, Customer Experience Marketing the customer experience; its importance for businesses.
Diva Marketing Toby Bloomberg Atlanta, USA Marketing The Diva herself, aligning technology, marketing and branding for businesses.
Dmitry Linkov Dmitry Linkov Moscow, Russia Marketing, Business Everyday and business issues
Drew’s Marketing Minute Drew McLellan USA Marketing, Eclectic Where strategy and passion collide
eSoup Sharon Sarmiento Alabama, USA Marketing, Entrepreneurism Productivity, marketing, web media, small biz development and other stuff entrepreneurs ought to know.
Flooring the Consumer C. B. Whittemore New Jersey, USA Marketing, Customer Experience Improving the consumer experience, particularly in flooring (carpeting)
Get Shouty!  Katie Chatfield Sydney, Australia Marketing, Planning Digital strategy and thoughts on blogging.
Golden Practices Michelle Golden Marketing Thoughts on marketing for professional services firms, including lawyers and CPAs.
Hee-Haw Marketing Paul McEnany Texas, USA Marketing There is no box. New media marketing strategy thrown together with a few cuss words and a dash of panache.
Hola! Oi! Hi! Katia Adams New York, USA Marketing, Multicultural Thoughts of a Brazilian newly arrived in the US with a marketer’s point of view.
Jeremy Latham’s Blog Jeremy Latham Vancouver, Canada Marketing A marketing-business oriented blog on website development.
John Wagner John Wagner Texas, USA Marketing News and views on marketing, advertising, media, PR and grass-roots communications
Kinetic Ideas Wendy Maynard Oregon, USA Marketing Marketing tips, ideas, strategies, and musings for small businesses.
Logic + Emotion David Armano Chicago, USA Marketing The
intersection of marketing, brand engagement and experience design. How
to turn your passive consumers into active brand participants.
Marketing Hipster Cord Silverstein Raleigh, USA Marketing Online oriented blog on marketing and web 2.0 tools.
Marketing Nirvana Mario Sundar USA Marketing How corporate marketers can leverage the web & social media for better results
Mindblob Luc Brussels, Belgium Marketing Using alien intelligence to follow the path of ideas as they come to life.
Multi-Cult Classics HighJive Marketing, Advertising Musings on Multiculturalism in the Ad Industry and Beyond.
Nick Rice Nick Rice Kentucky, USA Marketing, branding Marketing strategy combined with creative thinking and design.
On Influence & Automation Douglas A. Karr Indiana, USA Marketing A marketing and technology blog
OTOInsights Jeremi Karnell Marketing Corporate blog focusing on using technology to create and sustain customer conversations.
Pardon My French Eric Frenchman New Jersey, USA Marketing Online strategy and marketing with great case studies of real projects.
Pow! Right Between The Eyes! Andy Nulman Marketing The importance of surprise in business
Purple Wren Sandy Renshaw Iowa, USA Marketing Tools and techniques for communicating life through print and images.
Servant of Chaos Gavin Heaton Sydney, Australia Marketing Gavin’s rant on the world of branding and storytelling.
Shotgun Marketing Blog Chris Houchens Kentucky, USA Marketing Musings on marketing and related ideas.
Small Business Blogging Andy Wibbels Chicago, USA Marketing, Tech Using web media to market your business
Tell Ten Friends Jordan Behan Canada Marketing Marketing using new media to make connections.
The Branding Blog Martin Jelsema Marketing Branding principals, opinions and prejudices he’s developed
The Experience Curve Karl Long California, USA Marketing, Social Media Social media and marketing from an experiential point of view.
The Instigator Blog Ben Yoskovitz Montreal, Canada Marketing Entrepreneurial focus on marketing, ideas and building your business
The Marketing Minute Drew McLellan Iowa, USA Marketing Expert insight into marketing and branding. And Drew loves Disneyland.
The Viral Garden  Mack Collier Alabama, USA Marketing Mr Community leads the way in using technology to create conversation.
Two Hat Marketing Steve Miller Washington, USA Marketing Views on targeted marketing.
Unconventional Thinking Mark Stevens New York, USA Marketing The art and science of growing businesses
Viaspire A biz blog—Viaspire Marketing Marketing and Communications consulting firm blog
Popcorn n Roses TC Kirkham and Kim Brown Massachusetts, USA Movies Movie industry blog with reviews and musings.
Current World news News “Breaking” news across a couple of categories. Small archive.
Choice at Your Fingertips  News, Blogging News and tips for making money blogging. No archive.
Blogtrepreneur Adnan UK Online Money Making How to be an online entrepreneur and also build community!
Can I Make Big Money Online George Brian Manty Online Money Making Tips for making money online including research, design and blogging.
Dosh Dosh Maki Online Money Making Trying to source legitimate methods for making money online.
Internet Bazaar Guhan Mathivanan Online Making Money Tips and ideas for making money online.
Kumiko’s Cash Quest Kumiko Tokyo, Japan Online Money Making Trying to make money online and sharing the experience.
Million Dollar Experiment heads Down Under Rob St George New Zealand Online Money Making Can thinking positively make you a cool mill? Rob hopes so.
Money Spider England Online Money Making An experiment to see if can make money writing, plus some tips.
Quest to make money on the internet UK Online Money Making Currently up to £128, this site makes money by letting out its posting space.
Above Popular Mark Personal Motivated to make the world a better place.
Critical Fluff Jayniek Maryland, USA Personal Ranks various things in life with mulligans, crabapples, and pineapples.
Forged Euphoria Personal Some sponsored links.
OrbitNow!  Troy Worman Florida, USA Personal Miscellaneous musings
The Sartorialist Photography, fashion Photos of fashion on the streets, geared to inspire designers.
Bullshitobserver Todd Anthony Politics Politics and commentary.
New Millenium PR Andrea Weckerle PR Bringing business, branding, marketing and PR together.
The New PR Ryan Anderson Ottawa, Canada PR Public relations in the online world.
Carpe Factum Timothy Johnson Project Management Blog that focuses on the things you need to do to accomplish things. Especially big things.
Work, in Plain English Penina S Finger Project Management A design and marketing focused blog on project management. Interesting mix!
turned out David Turner Illinois, USA Religion Minister blogging to connect everyone with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Evolution…not just a theory anymore Greg Laden Minnesota, USA Science, Religion Creation vs evolution, commentary and archaeology by an independent scholar.
SEO Blog SEO New site on SEO and use of blogs to improve rankings.
Flee the Cube ICesar California, USA Small Business Starting up a small business in web design.
Community Guy Jake McKee Dallas, USA Social Media Online and offline community building tips and tricks.
The Social Media Marketing Blog Scott Monty Boston, USA Social Media, Marketing Blogger with a maniacal passion for anything related to new media / social media.
A Free and Decent Blog Host Unfathomed_Psyche Tech Technology news focusing on blogs and blog software.
Billions With Zero Knowledge Austin Hill Canada Tech, Business Changing the world with little bits of knowledge
Connected Internet Everton Blair London, UK Tech All things to do with technology, mobile phones and gaming. Darren Barefoot Canada Tech, marketing Tech news, writing and marketing
Deepak Deepak Tech Focuses on the technology of the Internet and loves Google.
MapleLeaf 2.0 Mark Evans Canada Tech Tech news stories relating to Canada
Scott Burkett’s Pothole on the Infobahn Scott Burkett Georgia, USA Tech Musings on technology, IT management, and online community.
Small Surfaces Gabriel White Tech Interaction design, user interface design, user experience, usability and social trends related to mobile devices.
TechBuzz Thilak Mangalore, India Tech Tech new and reviews written by 17 year old in India. Awesome. Rob Masefield Travel Design and photography blog.
Through the Lenses Jas Vancouver, Canada Travel, Photography Travel/photography blog includes stunning shots and photography tips.
Travel And Vacation On Blog Travel Lightweight travel guide/destination information on selected cities. Needs more.
The Best Guides to eCommerce with Favor Viral marketing Viral marketing tools, memes and SEO tips.
Web Metrics Guru Marshall Sponder Web analytics Web analytics, in particular for blogs
The Future of the Web Jesse Skinner Canada Web Development Use of new technologies for the web.
Social Media on the fly Mark Krupinski Florida, USA Web media, blogging Learning social media on the fly
Asyuu @ Forest Japan Japanese readers/speakers? Anyone?


Best Practices in Social Media: Tell a Story

While many brands still struggle with social media, there is certainly a maturity entering the market with some sophistication in the consumer, corporate and agency spaces. Mitch Joel over at Six Pixels of Separation kicked off a meme around best practices in social media which, I am sure, will capture some of the lessons learned over the last few years, often by trial and error (or by flame and terror). Sound advice has come, so far, from:

Drew McLellan, added to this list by explaining that you can’t go wrong when you lift up others! He tagged Mike Sansone, Roberta Rosenberg, John RosenDavid Reich and me.

My best practice is: tell a story.

While this sounds simple, it can be challenging — and easily forgotten in the rush to post your latest thoughts. But pause for a moment. Consider your audience. You can add significant value by taking the time to frame a blog post, a video or podcast. Remember, we connect with and through stories. Be generous enough to share yours with us all.

Now it is your turn to share a best practice. If you don’t have a blog, leave a comment below.

  1. Blog it or add it to the comments here.
  2. Link to Mitch’s blog
  3. Tag it “social media marketing best practices project”
  4. And then tag someone else with the meme.

I tag Julian Cole, Mark Hancock, Tim Brunelle, Charles Frith and Adrian Ho.

YouTube and the Context of “Being Social”

When it comes to understanding the impact of digital media on the way we live our lives, there are few who dig as deeply as Michael Wesch. This is a recording of his speech at the US Library of Congress in June. And while the presentation starts off with some impressive statistics about the number of videos uploaded to YouTube (9,232 hours per day — 88% of which is original), the fascinating aspect of this presentation is the focus on story. In his own words:

… that is the story of the numbers and this is really a story about new forms of expression and new forms of community and new forms of identity emerging.

For the following 45 minutes or so, Michael Wesch leads us through a discussion on the way in which digital media is celebrating and connecting people in entirely new forms of shared experience. He starts with Numa Numa and his famous The Machine is Us/ing Us. Interestingly, the latter was initially launched the Wednesday before Superbowl Sunday — and as he had quickly reached an audience of over 200 people he sent a screen shot to the head of school for his permanent record. By Saturday the audience had grown to over 1100 viewings and the video had been posted on Digg. As you probably know, this video has at current count, around 5 million views.

As an anthropologist, Michael Wesch is providing a fascinating analysis of the shifts in society and culture that are already underway. In this video he shows how user generated content + user generated filtering + user generated distribution is reinventing the way in which we create, find and share branded and unbranded material via the web. This potent mix is ignited with a final piece, which Michael calls "user generated commentary" — ie blogs — however, I feel this is better represented as user generated CONTEXT. When blog authors share content with their readers, they create a context into which the content becomes more accessible and digestible for their particular audience. It is this final piece which is an essential part of any digital strategy. I fully recommend setting aside an hour to watch this presentation through, however, if you have limited time, I have written my thoughts below.

About 12 minutes into the presentation, Michael turns his attention to the media. Here he talks about the media not as technology but as a system through which human relations are mediated. This is given more context by showcasing the way that remixing and remastering videos allows others to participate in a video meme (eg Charlie Bit My Finger and its 100+ responses). Clearly this is not just about claiming 15 seconds of fame. This type of participation goes to the very heart of the P-L-A-Y (P-ower, L-earning, A-dventure, Y-elp of surprise), delivering an experience that crosses the chasm that is imposed upon us by culture, geography, suburbia and even the isolating experience of TV viewing.

But the experience of this is dislocating. At 23 minutes, Michael explains "context collapse" which is what happens when we first begin to "participate". For example, think back to the first time that you wrote a blog post, think about your first comment on another’s blog. By participating in this way, you release your thoughts into an environment in which you have no context. You don’t know how it will be read or understood, nor where or when. You don’t even necessarily "know" your reader. Now, apply this same thinking to video. You are "speaking" or "presenting" to a small webcam, not a person. Well, not yet anyway. The human interaction is delayed, mediated, spread across time and space. It takes time for "participants" to become used to this new mode of delayed being. It is, perhaps, why the easiest way to understand blogging is to participate.

At around the thirty minute point, Michael walks us through the topic of cultural inversion. This describes the tension that we (in a cultural sense) experience as participants. On the one hand we express individualism, independence and a keen commercialism while desiring community and relationships within an authentic context. YouTube, and to a certain extent, other social media, allow us to experience this tension as a deep connection with others without the responsibility that comes with close, personal relations. It strikes me that by adding a third party into this equation, for example, a "good cause" like a charity, you are able to move quickly from this state of mediated connection to "community actualisation" (thinkng a community version of maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

But what happens when this is "gamed"? Michael explores YouTube’s authenticity crisis about 36 minutes in, using EmoKid21Ohio and LonelyGirl15 as examples. Ten minutes later the topic of copyright is broached (any remixing is basically illegal). Using a clip from Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk, the challenge is contextualised — the culture has moved on and the law is struggling to recontextualise its own relevance:

You can’t kill the instant the technology produces, we can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using it, we can only drive it underground. We can’t make our kids passive again, we can only make them "pirates" … and is that good?

We live in … an age of prohibitions where many areas of our life, we live life constantly against the law, ordinary people live life against the law … and that realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting, and in a democracy we ought to be able to do better.

The presentation is wrapped up by video quoting bnessel1973:

Some people say that the videos we create on YouTube should be created in hopes to change the world. I have made mine to help me live in it.

Lager: The Ultimate Beverage

In his infinite wisdom, The Kaiser, from time to time, throws a curve ball at the blogosphere. Sometimes this involves creating and developing a character that storms our imaginations (and our RSS feeds) … and then just when we have become attached, engaged or entirely seduced, our digital friend walks off into the echoes of old Europe. At other times, Marcus audaciously calls forth the greatest market researcher in history. This time, however, the challenge is not The Kaiser’s alone … he has shared the challenge — asking a number of folks to claim and debate their favourite beverage.

My part in this challenge is to argue the merits of Lager, against British Ale (championed by Rob Mortimer). While the spirit of sportsmanship should dictate that I encourage you to go here to read Rob’s point of view, the desire to WIN makes me encourage you to simply go HERE to vote for Lager. This decision will be much easier when you realise that Lager is not just a beverage, but a complete way of life.

Lager as lifestyle

As wikipedia notes, although first brewed over 500 years ago, Lager continues to be the most popular beer in the world. It has transcended the role of social lubricant and has become a part of our popular culture. In many ways, Lager is the ultimate advertising opportunity but also one of its greatest challenges. It taps into our sense of place in the world, it occupies a point that both represents pleasure and danger. It has turned utility into art … as Tennent’s Lager Lovelies demonstrates. And it represents, for many, the point at which the logical gives way to the creative.

There is something undeniably refreshing about Lager. Whether it is due to its cold brewing approach or its crisp flavour — or even the fact that it is best consumed when CHILLED — nothing says “replenish my creativity” quite like Lager. By its nature, Lager encourages the poets in our souls … it gives us the famous “beer goggles” that simultaneously reminds us of our own sophistication, eloquence and debonair good looks while also proving that the world around us is populated by attractive members of the opposite sex.

Of course, for the academics amongst you, feel free to dig into the details of the difference between Lager and its lowly cousin, the British Ale. And once you have sated your thirst for knowledge, return HERE to vote for Lager. Remember, a vote for Lager will also make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Thank you for your support 😉

Hot Beverage (Round 1: Monday 3rd March – Sunday 9th March)

Beer, Wines & Spirits (Round 1: Monday 3rd March – Sunday 9th March)

Cold Beverage (Round 1: Monday 10th March – Sunday 16th March)

Cocktail/Long drink (Week 1: Monday 10th March – Sunday 16th March)

  • Gin & Tonic [Peate]
  • Sex on the beach
  • Harvey Wallbanger
  • Pina Colada [Charles]

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I am the Weakest Link

Sparkling Water
Originally uploaded by Othon Leon

We all agree. Well mostly. At least in the places where I roam online. Occasionally there are some disagreements — sometimes gentle argument, but all-in-all there is little dissent. Mack Collier has been pondering the nature of this general affability in the marketing end of the blogosphere, contrasting the inclusive debates engendered by the crowd at The Daily Fix with the scrummage that occurs over at Robert Scoble’s house of rambunctious squattors.

A la Scoble, Mack succeeds in generating quite an interesting discussion (well worth checking out) — and one of the questions he asks is, how does Scoble do it? Fundamentally, I think that Scoble challenges our curiosity. He asks the questions of himself that we find we are answering. He mocks and goads his readers. He dares them and sometimes berates them. MarketingProfs is a whole different kettle of fish.

But the debate is not really about different communities and their style, it is a question of lifeblood. I don’t know about you, but at certain points in time I like to venture far and wide across the blogosphere. I like to run across those weak links. I like to mine the unexpected. It is one of the reasons that I like memes … to me they serve a special purpose in the blogosphere — they introduce new blood into the thinking systems of our social networks. These new sites, in fact, help to keep us all healthy.

This randomness is what appealed to me about the Entrecard widget that you can see at the top of my blog. I don’t have it there for advertising … I have it there for connection. For chance. And while I know that Marcus doesn’t agree, I must admit to finding it slightly useful — and have happened upon a couple of sites that I like.

MarketingFM covers a lot of topics that are obviously of interest to me.

Overall, though, I find my uncontrolled meanderings through Entrecard to be an eye-opener. This is social media in the raw. It is local and it is expansive. It is poetic and well designed. It is real people telling their own stories, making some money and finding new friends, communities and even enemies. It is the space where we live.

It all serves to remind us that our blog is just another drop in an ocean of influence.