Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being Online is So Common, We Hardly Notice We’re Online

With the internet becoming so ubiquitous in people's lives, we no longer notice being online. Forrester Research has a new study of online behaviors that shows consumer media habits are a fluid concept - especially among young people.
“Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to 'using the Internet.' In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online.”
Forrester Analyst Gina Sverdlov explains that people report less usage because they are living it. I wonder if mobility also plays a role? The no. 1 device of choice is the laptop - which probably contributes to the fluidity of our online use.

The Internet is winning. We are living digital - less bounded by time and place. All the more reason to understand it as a cultural force, not just another medium.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fill 'er up! Presidential Gas Creates a Point of Difference, Loyalty and PR

Last week, I was in Columbia, South Carolina and I came across this re-branded gas station. Leaping out to get this snap, I wondered if it was a re-election tactic of the Obama camp.

Nope. Turns out to be the brainchild of a business owner looking to create a point of difference for his brand. It worked. I did a little digging and I can tell you--he’s driven a lot more earned media and customer loyalty than the lower priced El Cheapo brand on the opposite corner.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Creating Customer Loyalty in a Digital Culture

It's no surprise that exceptional service can generate customers for life, but there are a few pretty amazing statistics in this infographic from Zendesk.

48% of respondents reported that their first interaction with a brand is the time to win their loyalty, and 78% reported that they express their loyalty by spreading the word. In a world in which these communications - both from brands to consumers and from consumer to consumer - are increasingly digital, brandmakers looking to make an impression should be focused on their brand personality online.

Brands that make their social media presence personal and shareable can make that first impression meaningful and ensure that their customers are creating the buzz for them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Future of Libraries in a Digital Culture

Photo used with permission of R-Squared - The Risk and Reward Conference 2012
During my morning run, I cut through the public library's parking lot. My books are overdue, I remind myself. Like many Americans in the downturn, I've increased my use of the local public library. In 2011, OCLC -- a library consortium -- reported that library usage increased for 36 million Americans. All told, 69 percent of Americans currently use public libraries. My library is a remarkable value -- a banquet of books and periodicals, earnest service, and free WiFi. Lately, libraries are playing an unheralded role in the economic recovery by helping people find work and build businesses.

As the jobless rate hovers around 8 percent, some libraries are stepping up with resume-writing classes and online job-search tutorials. According to research published by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and quoted by Karen Perry, Senior Program Officer for the U.S. Libraries at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 30 million Americans rely on libraries to find a job. For hopeful entrepreneurs, libraries help with free access to otherwise costly business databases like LexisNexis. Some libraries are even helping patrons better understand how to manage their money with unbiased financial information.

Until recently, public libraries had little reason to innovate. Then Google arrived. More disruptive technologies followed, causing an identity crisis for librarians. Now the profession is re-thinking its purpose -- a quest that lured a gathering of 350 eager librarians to Telluride, Colorado recently for the R-Squared (Risk and Reward) Conference.

Excerpted from the full article at The Huffington Post: Books

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dwell: The Design Week Movement

Last year, I worked closely with DesignPhiladelphia on promoting the design culture in Philadelphia. The city is amped with innovation energy. Philly quickly became one of my favorite cites - partially because I see all of the elements of a renaissance coming together.

This week Dwell, one of the top design magazines, published an article about design weeks across the country, and noticed some of the same cultural trends that I had.
If a movement can be defined as a moment when people across time zones and borders act simultaneously on the same idea, then the design week movement is verifiable. In the last three years, design festivals and design weeks have mushroomed across the U.S. in cities including Columbus, Portland, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Detroit, as well as abroad, in Beijing, Singapore, Moscow, and Paris.

In some ways this isn’t surprising. We’re all coming to recognize design is everywhere—everything we touch has been designed, and every economy is at least partly design-driven and becoming even more so. “A new value is being placed on design as essential to innovation,” says Carol Coletta, director of ArtPlace, “and on the connection between innovation, jobs, and economic growth.” This growing awareness is especially concentrated in cities, where design is being heralded not only as a savior of the economy but as the solution to a multitude of social challenges.
Read the full article: The Design Week Movement

*Spoiler alert* They do quote from RenGen later in the article. I love that the design world is seeing the same trends towards rebirth that I am.

Other movements that are pointing towards renaissance? Leave a comment and let me know what trends you're seeing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Digital Culture Remix: Disney Hipster Princesses

I love the witty guys over at AVbyte. Their latest musical number remakes that stalwart of pop-culture, the Disney Princesses, into self-mocking hipster chicks. With an F-bomb thrown in for good measure, it’s hilarious.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How the Digital Culture Elects a President

The latest poll numbers show Obama with a small but steady lead over Mitt Romney, but according to a recent report by MIT's Technology Review, social media has become a more pervasive and crucial indicator--perhaps trumping polls. If online indicators are indeed more accurate, it will be good news for Obama and even better news for Twitter, Facebook, and the creators of online apps.

Twitter: Not Just for Techies Anymore
The Arab Spring has already shown us that the revolution will be tweeted. And it looks like the presidential election will, too. Twitter has 140 million U.S. users--more than 30 million of whom joined in 2012 alone--and it's the perfect tool for driving political activism. By ranking followers based on frequency of tweeting, and frequency with which their tweets are further distributed, it's possible to seed messages that tip into traditional media.

Facebook: The Kevin Bacon Effect Writ Large
"In some states elected officials are only one degree of 'friend' separation from nearly every Facebook account holder in that state," says J. D. Schlough, a Democratic political strategist. Social media gives voters a voice. Back in 2008, the Obama campaign actively targeted GenY voters, amassing Twitter followers as a byproduct. In 2012, Twitter users are commenting on the campaign on a 24/7 cycle that leaves traditional media breathless.

Unique Visits Tell the Story
President Obama's social graph is formidable. According to Nielsen, had 6.4 million unique visitors in August 2012, reaching 2.9 percent of Americans who were online that month. had 3.3 million unique visitors during that time, about 1.5 percent of the American online population. Same deal on mobile. Obama's official app and mobile website had 1.8 million unique users during August. Mitt Romney mobile apps had only 881,000 unique U.S. users. Digital assets allow campaigns to spread messages quickly and efficiently across social networks. They also connect influencers to each other--a critical success factor for marketing any brand. Obama supporters can visit his site and meet with other supporters offline to host house parties for the debates.

The "radiance" factor
More important than the presidential hopefuls' online reach, is the reach of their key supporters--not celebrities, but radiants. They are real people with Klout scores between 50 and 70. They tweet original content and are re-tweeted often. Active across platforms, radiant influencers have concentric broadcast capability without the branding baggage of celebrities. On social media platforms, radiant digerati hold sway. They not only converse, they recruit their friends and cultivate communities through shared values. Savvy marketers and political pundits alike are tracking these influential users. Bluefin Labs, a startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been shepherding a list of 400 to 500 most politically influential people on Twitter, but has yet to analyze them, reports MIT's Technology Review.

Social media is changing the way politicians persuade voters. In a democracy, electoral politics is a bellwether of cultural change. As the influence of digital culture rises, the marketing of political candidates will be waged not in battleground states, but online and via mobile apps.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to De-Frag Your Brain in a Digital Culture

Like many of you, I spend endless hours glaring into the cathode rays of my computer. I manage lots of consumer data. I generate copy by the barrel. So every now and then, I just burn out.

I’m not whining. I love what I do and pity the poor sucker who doesn’t. But last year I discovered a dirty little secret about my work life. The intensity of it is getting to me. Like a PC, my brain needs to be de-fragged or I can’t hold a thought for more than a millisecond.

Lately, I’ve taken to experimenting with ways to de-frag. I’ll pop in now and again to let you know what’s working.

Last week, on a golden Indian summer day, I re-landscaped the yard. I hauled rocks. I dug holes and planted bushes. It felt amazing.

Kung Fu masters teach the wisdom of grounding. It’s a process of intentionally sending one’s energy into the earth to stabilize oneself. I’m happy to report that despite a sunburned nose, splinter in my thumb, mud-caked boots and sweaty brow, I felt utterly grounded. And clear-headed.

The next morning, I sat down and jotted this post—fingers flying, full of glee.