Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Sneak Peek at SXSW Panels for 2013

Panel picking for SXSW ended last week. Here are a few panels that caught my eye:

Install This: Making Great Digital Experiences

The user experience determines brand’s destiny. In the digital environment the interface is full of nuances that determine success or failure. This goes on my list.

The Underdog Marketer -- Virgin Mobile

Ron Faris captivates marketers with his "Newsroom Marketing" advice. I hear tell he’s a rocking good speaker.

Stop Being Full of Shit

I just like the title. This talk is for developers and designers, who are always bustling with insights into user behavior. BTW, this title should be emblazoned over the entrance of the SXSW Bloggers' Lounge. Last year, I observed the collegiality of previous years was notably absent. It smelled like teen spirit: lots of posturing.

Let My Brand Entertain You
I’m still seeking clues to where content sponsorship is going next. This panel on branded entertainment may hold the key to the morphing of sponsorship models for arts and entertainment.

Women Unfiltered

So few women present at SXSW. Honestly, you’d think the event occurs in a time warp. If you want to see women on a panel at SXSW, it’ll prolly be one like this--an all-girl affair.  Still, it got my vote.

Brands in Beta

The “always on” reality for brands is forcing a new relationship between clients and agencies. Because LitLamp is a spritely boutique, we stay nimble and evolutionary. But our clients hire us to penetrate the digital culture as part of integrated campaigns. This panel goes on my list because the discussion will likely swerve to keeping up with the churn at the blazing 24/7 speeds of social.

Debunking Startup Myths
Rieva Lesonsky encourages spunky start-ups to knuckle down and avoid so-called startup "wisdom" and focus on reinventing their craft.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flares: Week of August 20-24

Will the Future Like You?
Advice from Greg Petro in Forbes about appealing to Millennials at retail.

Brian Gardner dishes up handy ways to improve your traffic.

Digital Culture
Dan Savage hosts a controversial dinner party that breaks the rules of sexual politics. Clever integrated marketing of the event drives a wicked whale of web traffic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Forging the Chain of Human Connection

Photo by just a hero
In the spring, I got asked to give a tough-love talk to a group of college seniors about life after graduation. You know, how competitive the job market is and what it takes to make something worthwhile happen, and so on.

I declined. Mainly because the organizers seemed overzealous, saying unflattering things about Gen Y. It felt like a setup.

I see nothing inspiring about herding young people into a room and giving them the “scared straight” treatment, hoping it will improve their prospects. Besides, I’m not a career expert, I’m a cultural researcher and marketer. I declined without a second thought.

Reading Jason Fried’s story about how his opinion piece came to appear in The New York Times brought it to mind. CEO of 37signals, Fried’s post is a parable about how to succeed in business: by being a good person.

Lately, I’ve been tempted when working on client projects to offer some advice to the their young employees. We tackle projects without precedence. It’s tough to keep up the rigor and still be creative with so few givens. But the best opportunities go to people who can handle the pressure and still be kind, friendly human beings. I want them to know that.

Maybe it’s time to start doing a little mentoring of client employees.

Good things could come of it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flares: August 17

Buckets of insight this week, especially some recent research. Here’s what we found noteworthy:

Will the Future Like You?
Millennial expert Carol Phillips gives us something new to chew on: Why Flavors and Freshness Drive Millennial Tastes.

Chris Risdon over at Adaptive Path is such a bright guy, and truly an expert on path-to-adoption modeling. I met him out in Austin at SXSW Interactive last year. I've followed his work ever since. If the customer journey is important to your brand, then you’ll find his user experience map helpful.

Digital Culture
The State of Mobility Among Americans
New research from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reveals how many people have mobile devices and how they use the devices—for accessing all kinds of content, using apps and social media and for specialized searches for politics, news, and for health information. There’s also a glimpse at broader attitudes about what people like about mobile connectivity and what they find challenging.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New-Economy Marketing: Brandmakers Exchange Ideas

I relish conversations with new-economy brandmakers who are working on the cutting edge.

Last week, I hosted a jam session with some of Chicago’s most innovative brandmakers. The guest of honor was new-economy marketing maven Kathryn Kercher, in from New York.

Photo taken by superstar brandmaker Brandy Agerbeck
We exchanged ideas about what's next for marketers, under a sprawling umbrella that held back the rain. Kathryn shared insights based on the game-changing brands she’s advising in New York's Silicon Alley: Trulia (reinvention of real estate search); SquareTrade (reinvention of warranty business); MeetMe (new kind of social network); Bonobos (custom men's retail) and Spotify (digital music service).

As expected, it was both inspiring and electric.

1. Buying paid media marks a threshold for digital brands. It’s a rite of passage to create and air a spot. Goal: big audience numbers. True audience: VCs who like big numbers.
2. The winning trifecta is paid, owned and earned engagement with consumers.
3. Talent need in marketing: hybrid marketers with classic training, brand-building experience, and digital savvy.
I got positive feedback from the jam session and I’m thinking I’ll do it again. Why not? After all, the cutting edge works best when is the blade is sharp.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Changing User Behaviors Can Save Your Brand

Photo by akseabird
It’s becoming clear. The new economy will flourish based on our interrelatedness, not what separates us. Mutuality is achieved when two entities unite for shared gains. Many new economy businesses are built this way—eBay, Bandcamp, Etsy, and the like.

Mutuality as an economic model is stimulating a new set of imperatives. People want to feel they are part of a cycle of reciprocity — giving, getting, and growing together. That’s why a recent study of Zipcar user behavior caught my attention.

The Zipcar research explains that the consumer “sharing” economy doesn’t necessarily lead to mutuality. In fact, researchers found significant feelings of negative reciprocity among Zipcar users. People felt anonymous in disposable transactions. Even hefty fines for leaving a Zipcar littered or with an empty gas tank did not generate or sustain respectful behavior. What does? Removing anonymity. By encouraging more direct personal contact with other users, positive reciprocity is established.

Find out how at MENG Blend: Why Changing User Behaviors Can Save Your Brand

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Making Twitter More Effective

Immediacy is a driving force in new media consumption, especially among Millennials. With over 170 million users, Twitter has turned into the go-to site for quick bites of news and updates.

I adopted Twitter in its infancy and use it fervently. That’s not true of all new media. Tumbleweeds blow through my Pinterest account, and my Google+ account has an abandonment complex.

I’m guessing everyone knows how to tweet if you’re reading this blog. But since I use and love Twitter, I’m sharing a few shortcuts, apps and SEO features to make it a more effective use of your time.

Use Less Text
When posting content, use fewer characters to give people the opportunity to retweet your stuff. Leave 20 characters worth if possible. That way, a person retweeting can slip in a quick comment or add a hashtag.

Modify Tweets
The automatic retweet feature always feels a little cheesy to me. For those cases where you have to retweet text that’s too rambly, or you want to put spin on it, modified tweets come into play. Marked as MT, this lets people know that this tweet has been edited. It’s a nice courtesy to the originator of the tweet.

Shorten URLs
Twitter has a utility to automatically shorten links. But using a URL shortener, such as bitly, provides you with analytics. You can track how viral your tweets and links are - it’s always handy to capture metrics.

Following and Unfollowing
You’re probably following more people than you manage. But they may not be returning the favor. I consider that the same as dead links. Set up a schedule that helps you routinely unfollow people who aren’t reciprocating.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Italy Photo Workshop Slideshow

My pal, Catherine Karnow, put together this wonderful little video compilation from her mind-blowing Italy photo workshop.

A few of my photos are sprinkled here and throughout. Some of the pix appeared on the blog previously. It was a life-changing trip. Take a peek and see what I mean.