You may remember about a year ago I embarked upon a project with a kid from Romania I met on the internet. We called it the Super Awesome Micro Project. I met our CTO for the first time a few weeks ago at the WPP Stream Conference. Which is a little bit strange seeing we have been working on projects together for the best part of 18 months. Well, we are mere weeks away from completion. So I thought I’d share an ignite talk I did on this Stranger From Romania. For the initiated, an ignite talk is a format in which you have 15 slides and 15 seconds per slide to tell a story. The slide change every 15 seconds no matter where you are up to so timing has to be perfect. The mantra for ignite talks is “Enlighten us, but do it quickly”. So here’s my super fast talking 3 minutes and 45 seconds to give you a little more detail on why meeting strangers on the internet is not always a bad thing. And a preamble for what’s coming next month. Enjoy!
While the sharing of ideas on the social web has enlightened us all, it has also turned us into a ‘have you seen’ society. A society where people want to be first to know and first to show. A community of finders, fans and agents. To the point where it consumes time we could be putting into our own projects, where we could be the thing being shared. While curating the cool stuff has a value, and we all do it, there is a simple thing we should remember - Without creation than can be no curation. And curation is always subservient to what is being created.
I can tell you from personal experience there is far more satisfaction in saying; “look what I built.”
In 2013 we should remind ourselves that the most valuable thing we can do is get out there create something.
I love it when I see an emerging social channel used in a way that redefines what can be done. I’ve just seen Pinterest used in such a way by Australian Road Safety consort the TAC. While it’s easy to see the link between brands selling home wares, properties, holiday destinations and other ‘things’ on Pinterest, the link with road safety takes a little more human insight to find. The angle the TAC took was ‘How to plan a funeral’. In doing so they used various boards to share the ‘emotional cost’ of road trauma. I particularly like the fact that this social channel is strongly skewed to woman, who can strongly influence the men in their lives who are statistically most at risk on the roads.
Like most social channels, they can promote just about anything if we free our mind from usage in the past, and start thinking about usage in context of what we do.
I’d be interested to see if any startups have used pinterest to create a branding campaign or build a community through.
I feel like my brain is seriously with being overloaded with data. To the point where I am becoming addicted to it. I am constantly seeking the next idea, the next great blog post, and the next piece of technology news. And now I feel like my brain needs a bit of rest. Not from sharing ideas, or continuing my projects, but during my down times. My down times have sadly becoming momentary bridges of media consumption – there is no ‘down’. Whether it is checking my tweet stream, checking into foursquare and perusing instagram, it just feels like I am bombarded with other peoples thoughts. So here’s what I am going to do.
I’m actually going to ‘re-introduce boredom’ to my life.
So instead of checking my twitter stream while I wait in line, or read in bed until my last waking moment, I’m going to give my brain a rest and let it just be. Let nothing exist. Let my brain do what it wants, not what I want it to do (oxymoron?)… and just see what happens and where it leads me…. just be a little less demanding on my brain and see if it likes it better. Might be worth a try for all of us to avoid the overload for a while.
The strangest thing about the evolution in business, communication and media is that we are acting as though the social element is some kind of anomaly. As though it is a new form of human behaviour. When in truth the past 100 years was the anomaly. This great quote from Douglas Adams is the best reminder of all:
“…this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for….”
This comes from a terrific article that was written more than 10 years ago by Adams on the then emerging internet. It is worth reading so we can remind ourselves that the revolution is essentially a reinstatement of how humans have always behaved.
It’s easy to think that our target audience is the same people it has always been.
18-24 year old influencers
Main grocery Buyers
Primary School kids
But sometimes, that target market evolves. Some times it is the exact same people it was 20 years ago – except they are actually 20 years older. Case in point is Ice Magic. Yes, that chocolate coating dessert that is scrumptious when spread all over ice cream. These guys who run the brand found out that a whole bunch of big kids (35 year olds) were reliving their child hood and sharing photos on line. They even invented ‘ice Magic Day’ an annual event where pics of the choccy treat are shared on twitter and flickr.
Rather than fight it, they embraced this underground brand community and where it is going. And the end result is this uber cool graffiti piece.Which I am really digging because I am one of the members of the community. Enjoy
A few days ago I blogged about the serious advantages of embracing an open API. And just recently I’ve come across another great example of an startup using it to full advantage. The tiny idea, yet mobile app phenomenon Instagram has been mashup up by the uber rad Statigram. And I love it.
What Statigram does:
- It provides statistics on your instagram feed (hmm obvious)
- It shows who we interact with the most
- Timelines on our usage patterns and filters
- Churns your stats into really cool infographics ‘about us’
- Allows us to send private messages to followers
- Details on our tag patterns
- It even has photo printing capaibilities
… in fact, here’s a little photo essay of some of the cool stuff it does from my @sammartino instagram feed so you can get a good feel for it. There is no doubt in my mind that Statigram will end up being acquired by the API forefather assuming it continues its rapid growth trajectory.
Without even realising it, the average web surfer or smart phone addict has become an expert in usability. This doesn’t mean we could ask them what a sight should look like, how it should work or to advice us of any design imperatives. it’s a little different than that. But have no doubt, they are the experts. And their expertise is different. it is more like this – they know what sucks. They will not tolerate a site that sucks for more than a few seconds.
We have entered an age of mass usability expertise – and this has been driven by social media. As entrepreneurs and aspiring startup geeks we have to remember the training our users are getting. They are being trained on what is ‘best practice’ by the worlds best – brands like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Foursquare. Brands with the greatest UI’s ever seen are training the everyday person on what good looks like. Even if it is occurring at a subconscious level. It is happening.
The impact of this is significant. For me it puts flow first, and features second. The flow of the site and intuitive nature must be put above all other technology and feature desires we have. If we fail with our usability, there wont be a second chance to win back the experts who’ve already decided we don’t cut it.
Lately I’ve found myself checking my instagram feed more often than my twitter feed. I didn’t realise it at first. But I noticed it only when a few of my twitter friends commented on my lack of tweeting. Clearly I’m still using both, but increasingly instagram is what I give my small doses of available attention to. I remember the time when this happened to facebook, the time when I slowly started coming back to facebook less often, and starting giving my attention to twitter. And it is happening all over again for me.
It really does feel like there are only a few channels I can invest in at one time. Maybe it is Dunbar’s number is at work again?
If I had to understand why this is happening I’d just put it down to noise. When there are a lot of voices shouting at once, it is very difficult to hear what anyone is saying – the conversation is replaced with a hum of city noise, interspersed with the occasional siren or loud car horn. Instagram feels more intimate at the moment. It feels like twitter did when I first got there. I have so few people in my feed I can see everything. A few crew who have organically organised themselves to share some of their life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, and it feels like I have a greater sense of control that my other feeds. Sure, I have to take a photo of all my thoughts – but most thoughts we have can be augmented with a pic quite easily. In addition, this need for a picture reduces the amount of banal posts I see in my feed.
Increasingly I am convinced of one thing – as soon as ‘everyone’ arrives at a party, it’s time to find somewhere more interesting. And what this means for entrepreneurs, is that if your party is cool enough, people will eventually seek you out.
Every now and again a brand crosses the chasm. A brand goes from being a thing, to being an emotional ingredient. These moments are usually personal, they are hard to capture and share. But occasionally it is captured, and it takes us to an entire new understanding of what is possible when we create things with the end user in mind. In this instance, the car was first created with driver in mind. And then, the acquisition was created with a dad in mind.
Another example of great narrative that would not be possible in the limited media of yesteryear. What a beautiful brand story to share – Kudos to all involved.