Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Tag: Brand management

Future of Money and Technology Summit

I was invited to present at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on Monday April 26. Representing The Ingenesist Project, I’ll be seated on a panel with two very important futurists; Chris Heuer and Micki Krimmel discussing non-quantifiable exchanges. The ever esteemed and respectable Ms. Tara Hunt will be moderating the session.

From the FMTS website:

The Future of Money & Technology Summit will bring together the best and brightest thinkers around money, including visionaries, entrepreneurial business people, developers, press, investors, authors, solution providers, service providers, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of cash and commerce. We meet to discuss the evolving money ecosystem in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment.

What I find especially interesting is the incredible collection of technologies for the storage of value and the amazing group of entrepreneurs corresponding to the exchange of value in future markets. The definition of currency is something that is used as a medium for the storage and exchange of valuable. As such, it would be quite the understatement that the FMTS will be a valuable experience.

A great deal of thought, planning, and money has gone into these ventures and now they are together in one room. This can only be attributed to the increasing inability of the current financial system to function as an equitable means to store and exchange value that drives entrepreneurs to new conclusions.

When I witnessed the Mexican Devaluation, the social reaction was to empty out the local WalMart. Those “goods” such as clothing, appliances, and furnishings became an intermediate currency that stored the prior day’s peso value for exchange with tomorrow’s market. The same is true for most financial crises with significant devaluation events in recent history.

The clear and present difference is Social Media.

We now see people busy at work to replace the old currency with improved systems and tools for the storage and exchange of value before the actual calamity arrives. In effect, the new systems are hedging the old one.

It will take many years for the implications and importance of events such as the Future of Money and Technology Summit to make it into the case studies of the major B-school curricula. Ironically, that does not mean that real history is not being made – or shall I say, old history is not being re-made.

So please consider joining us at the conference (details). If you are attending, please, please, please, find me and let’s talk about everything. As always, thank you dear reader because ultimately you are the only reason that people want to talk to me 🙂

Conversational Perjury

As brands get social, they enter the new media performing their best interpretation of a conversation. Face it, they are still going for the kill – like a wolf in sheep’s clothing – the dance of the pitch is just getting more sophisticated. Social media is powerful followed closely by the of abuse .

The danger is that the more it resembles buddy talk, the more likely it will be mistaken for buddy talk. The sales pitch is being elevated to an art form. Now social media can be as much as a social cure as a social anomaly.

The 4 Big Lies of Marketing:

The integration lie; Ingratiation efforts are manipulative and calculating but serve as a very subtle way of obtaining increased power over another person. Appearing to be similar to the target the ingratiator appraises the target person’s attitudes, opinions, and interests and modifies his/her statements to match the perceived beliefs of the other conforming to the target’s wishes.

Major Brand: The key principles underlying [company] decisions and actions in social media are: Listening, Learning and Engaging in conversations with our customers where they are…while hiding where we are.

The foot-in the door lie: To increase the likelihood of a prospect saying yes to a moderate request, a person may ask for a smaller request first. By saying yes to the first, small request, the person may agree to the second request to maintain consistency with self perception.

Major brand: we recently launched an on-line quiz with a widget component exclusively through social media and it has been a great success just in terms of the number of people taking the quiz and then word of mouth as a result. This goes back to us showing people can engage with [company name] not yet buying the product.

The ‘Istanbul bazaar’ Lie: The initial request is very large – large enough that no one could be expected to comply with it. It is then followed by a smaller, more reasonable request. This technique relies on the norm of reciprocity. The norm of reciprocity states if a person does something for you, you should do something in return for that person.

From a famous social media marketing evangelist: Extrapolate the potential points of touch between your customers and your organization, by showing them what full engagement looks like but then asking for a smaller subscription, enables participation in some of your processes, in some way.

Even a penny will help Lie: This technique is based on the tendency for people to want to make themselves “look good.” Since everyone has a penny, one would look foolish to say no to the request. The target cannot simply give a penny without looking foolish. The target tends to give whatever is appropriate for the situation.

From a Social Media Marketing Guru: FB Friending, Twitter, and even Linkedin are brilliant in delivering mutual follow mentality to marketing – people want to feel good for having followers and will often put up with constant, yet fleeting marketing messages. Tweet meme is another way for people to feel good about thier self for a tiny investment of a single click.

Inherent in all 4 techniques is the attempt by an influencer to manipulate another by engaging in subtle subterfuge. The only way to undo the lie is with a simple truth: knowledge and understanding that the influencer is always lying.

The Social Media Paradox

Starbucks paradox (Bernie Hou)The very nature of the traditional corporation is called to question by the Social Media Paradox:

Definition (by me):

Social Media Paradox: The degree to which the act of engaging in the social media paradigm reduces one’s ability to engage in the pre-social media paradigm; and vice versa.

Success in social media requires humility, authenticity and commitment to the medium.  Like a tattoo, that impression defines the person and is not easily removed – after all, everyone’s got to have some skin in the game.

Social media rewards people for doing what they are best at and saying what they feel to be most true. Furthermore, brands need to trust their employees to represent them – this means that they need to give up control of the message.  The more they try to control the message, the less effective they are in a social medium.

Sounds like a great idea, but is it practical?

Many people still need to work for a living often find ourselves at the mercy of corporations for an actual paycheck.  Social Media provides a free source of reference material on a new candidate.  If a person is seen as edgy, ‘counter culture’, or defiant by any number of risk averse HR gatekeepers, one’s “old-paradigm” employability can be affected.  The subtle irony that the those who best understand the medium can make themselves unemployable as a result.

The opposite is also true:

Listening For What People are Listening For

Communities organize themselves:

Most people do not listen completely in conversations because they are too busy planning their response to what they think the other person is going to say.   Often what seems like astute response is a template that may fit a moment but can kill a conversation.  The successful conversation occurs when all participants speak to what the others are listening for. Not an easy trick.

I Heard the Ocean

When I first got into this social media stuff, I had a lot to say.  Then I figured out that nobody was listening; I learned a lot since then. As soon as I started to listen, people started listening back.   Today these people are my heroes, I hang on their every word, their generosity is roughly 70% of my social media world – where did they come from and where can I find more people like them?

Well, that’s all I have to say about that, so let’s listen to Janet Fouts. Part of her quote is a product pitch, but that illustrates an important point in Innovation Economics; conversation is currency and this currency has value:

“Before you dive into social media for any reason, listening should be your first step. What are people talking about and where are they doing it? Is there buzz out there about you or your product that you didn’t know about? Who should you be connecting to? Has there been a recent event you want to find out more about?

Setting up listening tools from free to paid versions can give you a tremendous amount of information and help you find even more things to talk about. I’ll give working examples of listening tools, outline a strategy for effective listening and give you some ideas to use this information in a real world setting.

This short 30 minute session will include links to both free and paid listening tools and creative scenarios for use.

You will learn how to:

  • Set up a set of listening tools to cover multiple platforms
  • Identify the right listening tools for your own needs
  • Identify the best networks for you to participate on
  • Evaluate what you find
  • Creative ways to engage and communicate your message
  • Find new topics to populate your blog and online discussions
  • Evaluate how effective your social media campaign is

Thanks Janet, Now here is a hint at the product pitch at Conversational Currency:

“In a few months, events such as Janet’s may need not  be funded by the participant.  Rather, our sponsors will support events for those most worthy of  participating.  Why would sponsors do such a thing?  Maybe they too are learning to listen, after all, roughly 70% of the US economy is consumer spending.  Will roughly 70% of ad budget be allocated on listening?”

What does all this mean?  keep listening!

Does Social Relevancy Matter?

The Ingenesist Project Community concerns itself with the value of social reach since this will most certainly impact he relevance of  those conversing as well as the relevance of the conversation to some business activity.  Obviously, innovation is about having the right team in the right place at the right time.

Furthermore, business activities such as marketing and advertising need to make their communications more relevant and less wasteful of their audience’s limited bandwidth – lest they risk being perceived as “anti-social”.

Stated somewhat more clinically; the most worthy knowledge surplus must be matched with the most worthy knowledge deficit in order to produce the most valuable outcome.

Brynn Evans offers the following observation:

The future of search  involves social networks, social graphs, or social filtering in some capacity.  Companies will live or die by whether they get the “social” part right: creating the right level of intimacy, trust, reliability, social connectedness, and accuracy in their results listings. Of course, this specifically means that their user experience must at least meet or, preferably, exceed that of Google’s.

To achieve this, we must first stop arguing over the different flavors of search.

Real-time search. Social search. Semantic search. These distinctions are essentially meaningless, especially when we can’t even agree on definitions and when each of their boundaries remain undefined. Instead, we should recognize that they’re all part and parcel of personalizing and contextualizing search for individual users. Let’s stop playing the “name game” and start thinking holistically about how each (and all!) affects and improves what we think of today as “search.”

Defies analysis, defies control:

Ms Evans’ excellent analysis continues to identify numerous problems with attempting to classify Social Relevance – each system is merely trumped by new issues related to semantics, context, and proximity.  It seems as if the more you try to “control” social media, the more it defies control.  The more you try to study it, the more it shows you a mirror of yourself.  Introspection is the irony of extroversion.

The great big Sucking Sound

While nobody, including Ms. Evans can tell you how to increase your social relevancy, we can probably all agree on what does not.   If your message sucks, your social relevancy will also suck.  If you are trying to sell a product that does not actually save people time and increase their net productivity, your product will fail and your social relevancy will suck.   If you are in any way trying to match unworthy knowledge surplus with unworthy knowledge deficit, your social relevancy will suck.

Give up Control in order to gain control:

Business intelligence is the science of knowing what sucks and what does not.  Let Social media carry your message wherever it wants to carry it. The sooner the market tells you what it wants, the sooner you can adapt your products and services to meet the needs.  Things happen fast in social media space and the corporation needs to be faster.  This may mean corporations need to give up control in order to gain control of both the threats and opportunities of the future.  After all, even by the playbook of Corporate America : survival of the fittest is the only relevant social rank.

(Ed: Brynn Evans is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego who uses digital anthropology to study and better understand social search)

Humility R Us

Many companies are flocking to Social Media as the great new tool for pitching products.  The results have been mixed; there are winners and there are losers.  At first, there was no clear path toward certain success but now the differences are becoming increasingly clear. Humility is rewarded and arrogance is punished.

If “Nice guys finish last,” is the mantra of the old world, then “The last will be first,” is the motto of the new.  To understand why humility works in social media, we need to understand what humility is.

Cashing the Reality Check

Humility does not mean looking down on oneself or thinking ill of oneself.  It really means not thinking of oneself very much at all.  The humble are free to forget themselves because they are secure.  So when they mess up, the humble don’t have to cover up.  They have nothing to hide.

All this is simply a way of saying that the humble are in touch with reality.  If the definition of insanity is being out of touch with reality, then in the old world, “nice guys finish last” illusion is clearly insane.

Strength in numbers

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  And since they have nothing to prove, they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  Humility leads to meekness.  And meekness is not weakness.  Rather, it is strength under control, power used to build up rather than tear down.

You can’t buy happiness

Back in the early 90’s, I worked on an ad campaign in Hollywood.  The producer told everyone; “The objective of this commercial was to steal the thing that people love about their self, and sell it back to them for the price of the product”.

The marketing message has been for many years much along those lines.  Make people believe that they need something that they don’t.  Make people believe that they can buy happiness, love, and community.  Make people believe that reality is something that can be escaped.

Rising Tides float all ships

The great brand messages, the successful blogs, and the viral communications in social media all have one thing in common.  They provide true and real value to the most people.  They produce correct and practical insight for the most people. They empower the most people to help their selves.  They amplify the priorities of the most communities. They help the most people to be successful in their clear and present reality.

Soul Searching

Ironically, it will take great introspection in the hearts of many corporate brands that follow the old rules of marketing.  These corporations need to look backwards into their own corporate philosophy and business plan to re-identify what they represent and how they represent it.  This new identity must reach into R&D to define what innovations are developed and what features they provide.  This cannot and will not be easy for most.

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  Likewise, when Brands are humble, they too are strong and they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  The power of social media is to build up rather than tear down.

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