Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grace Under Fire

I've never cared much for boxing. But my daughter, Grace, took it up with gusto and trained like a maniac. So I became a high-class hostage to the sport. About six weeks ago, her coach had her spar with a woman who is on the U.S. Olympic team. Grace went a full nine rounds with her and came out of it a changed person. She told me, "Mom, no one has ever punched me that hard in my life."

Grace realized there was a gap between where she was and where she wanted to be. That led to two-a-days. She sparred with men. She sparred with drop-ins at her gym. She doubled down on cardio workouts to build endurance. Then she had to drop 10 pounds to get a bout. For a girl who's 5 ft. of solid muscle at 116 pounds, she had the daunting task of losing weight without losing muscle. 

While I was in Austin last week for SXSW, Grace got a wicked flu bug. I returned to Chicago to find her gaunt and exhausted. I was beside myself. I had to nurse her to back to health in time for the Golden Gloves bout when there were, like, five things she could eat! 

And then last weekend, in a crowded, sweaty stadium in Cicero (hometown of Al Capone), she did what she had trained to do. Well matched, she entered the ring and took on a feisty Latina. One old guy sitting next to me said it was the best match-up of the night. 

At the start of the 2nd round, Grace landed a blow and bloodied her opponent's nose. The refs wanted to call the fight, but the girl's coach intervened, signaling that she was a bleeder (meaning it looked worse than it was). 

The fight resumed, and her opponent took revenge. She pinned Grace against the ropes and started hammering away at her. Truthfully, I was scared for my kid. But it was the middle of the 3rd and final round, and while Grace was taking a beating, I could see she had more energy in her legs than her opponent did. Suddenly, the girl threw a punch that, had it connected, would have taken Grace out. But in a split second Grace ducked and spun away from the ropes. 

Then something amazing happened.

Grace's coach shouted, "Now!" and Grace drove forward. In a flurry of gloves, Gracie landed blow after blow, marching her opponent across the ring. The crowd went nuts. Above the din her coach cried, "Do not stop!" Then the bell. 

All the retired boxers seated ringside cheered and shook my hand. Never mind that Grace is pint-sized and female. Now, she was a comrade. One elderly black man crossed the floor to greet me. "I competed in the Golden Gloves as a young man, and it's been a long time since I've seen that kind of fight in such a small package!" 

I turned to look up at Grace's college friends seated in the bleachers and realized the entire crowd was on its feet, cheering, as the ref held up Grace's glove in victory. It was a moment I shall never forget for as long as I live.

This was one of the rare slices of life when it all comes together. When all the effort, ambition, struggle, and grit release in a series of seamless gestures—it's otherworldly, elegantly arresting.

I had her buddies over for pizza afterwards. They lingered here until I kicked them out at midnight. Then I walked through the house, turning off lights and giving thanks for the wonderful journey that is life. 

Let me ask you something. How often have you felt pinned against the ropes? How many times have you felt the sting of a blow to your bottom line? No matter how bruising the economy has been over the last five years, if I learned anything watching Grace fight, it’s this: keep looking for your opening—your NOW moment. Even if you have to pivot and re-position yourself. That’s precisely what breakthrough brands do.

​It’s spring. A new season is upon us. I wish the readers of this blog many NOW moments as the cycle of rebirth carries us forward.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SXSW Afterglow: Talking with Esther Dyson

I’m still unpacking the highpoints of SXSW Interactive 2013. Here’s a favorite:

I caught up with Esther Dyson during the conference. While I consider her a founding mother of the digital age, she’s more low key about her role. 

Having just flown in from half way around the world, Dyson wasn’t sure if her photo would turn out. I think she looks amazingly fresh, especially considering she had just spent 14 hours on a plane! In fact, that’s what struck me most about Dyson—she's fresh. She takes life on with a drive to discover what’s next and new.

We talked about her training as a cosmonaut, and we touched on her role as angel investor. She revealed how she spots a winner—hint: something truly new.

I’ll share more when I profile Esther Dyson for a series that kicks off on Mother’s Day titled “The Mothers of Invention,” saluting the women who blazed trails at the dawn of the Internet. 

Stay tuned…

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Make a Video Go Viral

This is a live blog from SXSW Interactive 2013. Forgive any typos--fingers flying across the keyboard to share what I'm learning.

Bettina Hein, Pixability

Why marketers care about whether it’s video go viral? FREE awareness!!!

Let’s pull back the curtain on what are the juicy aspects of what’s in the content mix, outreach and engineering and paid ads—a mix that drives virality.

Viral videos that are essentially ads—up to 84% of views are typically driven by ads.
Nike’s Greatness video—only 40 % were free views—
VW Darth Vader video was part of an integrated marketing campaign that included
Super Bowl ad

Middle market brands can win with How-tos and good learning content.
Build Direct—steady lead flow over time.

Real virality is often smaller than you think.
Coke—500,000 views bc they chose NOT to buy ads around it and let it tumble-grow

Sharing—Find the relevance heartthrob of the community you want to reach.
Deliver the content that touches that passion or need and then the community will begin sharing.

Identify leaders and cultivate them early.

Seeding--Drive engagement by getting your videos seen by the right people.
This is moving more toward “pay for post” which explains why my blog gets hit up weekly by pay-to play content marketers.

IM views for $800 are claims that will be robot-driven and Google will panelize you.

Incentivized—passive watches that drive the numbers of views but aren’t the target you want to reach and convert.

Bring an engineer’s mindset to the mix
Look at traffic sources
Target links to lead your traffic
Clone your successes in future videos

Paying for views is nothing to be ashamed of—
See your YouTube channels as your
TruView to opt-in and out

Dermablend—virality can happen L’Oreal
12 million views
Visual concept

Know your audience
Share their passion
Seed authentically
Use ads in a very targeted way

Kevin Doonan, EVP Machinima—male-oriented video channel, 2.6 million viewers
Ingredients for virality:
1. Audience—very targeted- We reach young men on the bleeding edge of culture—yes, he used the word culture!
2.     Point of View—very cool, cutting edge content
3.     Partners

“Washing machine 25” 6.9 million views
Cardboard warfare

As views increased dwell time grew, too. The
Fan boy stuff very popular.

1. Social
2. Affiliates/network  to tumble through
3. PR/earned

If you have a piece of content that is meaningful to a network and offer it to a network to scale the audience
WIRED did a story on growth of Machinima

Mortal Kombat Legacy—built huge audience because believed

Look at your space and see what kind of content is already relevant to them and get your video picked up by that network.

Eduardo Tobon, Diner’s Club
His challenge: How To Get a Bunch of Bankers to Agree to Do Video?
Got Filmmakers Creating Videos for Brands
One statement tells a story-
Create great content and test it against material already out there, and put a soft-wrap around the popular videos and approach the creator and ask to “sponsor” the soft wrap. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SXSW Updates: Using New Media to Change Social Norms

I'm at SXSW Interactive. I will live blog some of the events. It's fast and furious writing so forgive any errors. The wonder of SXSW is that you can sample ideas from all across the globe that inspire fresh thinking. What follows is an example of a social movement that holds tons of clues for social media marketers about how to speed adoption.

Ruthie Taylor, Orchid Project

Talk: A Movement Online to End Female Genital Cutting
I am listening to a talk on what it took to shift social norms around female genetil cutting using social media and community engagement. In 200 communities in Africa. 

Campaign theses:

Only when a taboo is broken can it be discussed among a community.

Game theory--individual action is less meaningful than group action.

Rituals are important--re-mix of old rituals fused with new meaning celebrate the cultural change that ended the practice.

Live events and community organizing model:
1. Improv theater: Act out a play about a girl who dies of female cutting. Invite discussion.
Silence followed. The process occurred 3 x and each time the conversation and audience grew.
Then the women began talking about it in the community informally. The taboo had been broken.

2. Approached a male shaman. He became the discruption accelerator. He "stapped on his sandals and walked" which meant he walked from village to village asking people to abandon the practice.
He found that people want for others what they want for themselves. 

3. The intermarriage tribes stood up and said they no longer wanted to hurt their little girls in this way. They only did it because an uncut girl was not eleigible for marriage and legigitmate motherhood. 

Cutting was linked to a a tribes future existence. That had to be changed. Communities pledged and created rituals with the pledge to deepen the meaning of the new social norms--songs, dances, plays are performed amidst community celebrations--an indication of how mainstream the change is becoming.

Today, EU investing and DFID and United Nations has banned it internationally. Now, 15 countries have adopted the ban. Over 8 million girls have been spared the brutal practice.

The Orchid Project organized the change by using Internet community-building theories.

Here are the new-media tactics:
1. YouTube videos 
2. Collaborations with Amnesty and WHO.
3. Cultivated relationship Nicholas Kristoff @NYTimes
(NB: empowered men were a critical component of the recipe)
4. Positive messaging, infographics, storytelling based on real girls who want their stories told.
5. Show the "hope" in the change.
6. WordPress website

People in the media are now openly reporting on it. 

Foot binding ended in 20 years. The similarities are useful--social media can end in 5 years? Achievable--and tells us how powerful new media is to make powerful positive social change. It's no pipe dream.

Motivations--how people adopt change based on their psych-social needs:
1. Settlers--We begin by being sustenance focused--safety and security.
2. Prospector--(outer directed) Needs are esteem-focused
3. Pioneer--(community focused) progressives who act on behalf of themselves AND others.

Most campaigns focus only on Pioneers. That's not enough groundswell to break a taboo. You have to reach all 3 types of people with different tactics.

More here:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top Women (you've probably never heard of) Shaping the Digital Culture

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’d like to shine a spotlight on some of the unsung heroines of the digital age. Everyone knows about the awesome women over at Yahoo! and Facebook. But I’m talking about a different breed of female: the pioneers, the world builders, the passionate geeks hacking their way to the top with inventive ideas and software.

Here’s my list of culture hackers. By intent and design, they use the Internet as a positive cultural force. Hats off to them.

Karen McGrane 
 wants to make the Internet more awesome. She delivers by creating usable digital products and content strategy through the power of user experience (UX) design. Currently, she’s one of the voices accelerating responsive design, a technology makes content mutable to easily format for any size screen. It’s an innovation that will further democratize web-based publishing. A content strategy guru, McGrane is managing partner at Bond Art + Science, where she develops interaction designs for a broad range of clients. A proponent for elevating the quality of online advertising, McGrane asserts “If you’re a UX (user experience) person, and you’re going in to talk to your clients with a snotty, condescending attitude about advertising, then you’re not doing your job. If you hate ads, then figure out a way to make the experience of ads better.” Now that would truly make the Internet more awesome. Follow her @karenmcgrane.

Cindy Gallop is an advertising sharpshooter whose award-winning career spans the death of the 8-track tape and the birth of Twitter. After indulging in a string of affairs with younger men, she observed that their ideas about women and sex were largely drawn from Internet pornography—much of it hard-core. That led her to launch Make Love Not Porn to provide more realistic information about how people have sex, and to restore #Realworldsex. Back in 2010, Gallop created IfWeRanTheWorld, a web platform that brings together human good intentions and corporate good intentions, and turn them into collective action. While she continues to consult as a brand strategist, she describes her role as the person who "blows sh*t up." Follow her @cindygallop.

Lisa Wade, PhD and Gwen Sharp, PhD are co-founders of the influential website Sociological Images. Its mission is to “encourage all kinds of people to exercise and develop their sociological imagination.”  Using compelling imagery, the duo provokes conversations about sexuality, gender politics, and our belief systems. Their archive of over 4,500 posts is a social record in itself. With day jobs as professors, Wade and Sharp influence over 20,000 RSS subscribers, many of whom are bloggers. And their website enjoys 500,000 visits per month. You can friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter or Pinterest (of course).

Liza Daly is changing the world of books. In 2008, she developed Bookworm, one of the first open source EPUB readers, and in 2010 she released Ibis Reader, the first HTML5 ebook platform. She was the lead developer on major online products for Oxford University Press and engineered e-resources for Columbia University Press. Founder of threepress, Daly helps publishers play catch-up in a world exploding with free content and she charts the course for the book industry’s future as a member of the Board of Directors for the International Digital Publishing Forum. Follow her @liza.

Shelley Bernstein keeps the Brooklyn Museum breathless at the cutting edge of social technologies. She engages audiences with projects like web-casting a 28-foot tepee being built in the museum or by testing people’s art smarts with a visual art quiz. Her efforts have expanded the museum’s reputation globally, making her a role model for museums around the world struggling to transform the connection between their content and audiences in a digital era. You can join one of the 403,000 Twitter followers Bernstein has cultivated @brooklynmuseum or check out her personal feed @shell7.

Constance Steinkuehler pioneered the idea that multi-player online games could change the way we teach and learn. She studies, for example, why teenage boys who are struggling readers can plow through complex video game instructions. Currently, she advises on national policy relating to the impact of video games on learning at the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Obama Administration. A founding fellow of the Games+Learning+Society Initiative, Steinkuehler chairs the annual Games, Learning & Society Conference. In 2009, she served on the National Academy of Sciences committee on games. Follow her @officeofedtech.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Manufacturers Go Full Throttle in Marketing Electric Cars

The BMW i3 will sell for $52,000 and offer loaner- cars for long trips.

Amid ongoing consumer reluctance to cross the chasm and buy alternative-powered vehicles, automakers are getting creative with their marketing strategies to lure in buyers. One of the barriers for prospective electric-auto buyers is battery life. BMW’s strategy for its electric i3, slated to come out this year, will be to offer customers loaner cars for long trips. 
It’s fascinating to witness the collaboration between engineering and marketing departments to address the limitations of current batteries. GM added a gasoline motor (engineering) and a complex transmission to its electric Volt, allowing for longer trips while maintaining an attractive sticker price (marketing). Tesla, meanwhile, offers big, pricey battery packs (engineering) based on market research that their customers will pay for convenience (marketing). The Tesla Model S, with a 265-mile range, sells for $80,000. Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is investing in infrastructure by installing a network of fast-charging stations (engineering) that double as outdoor advertising (marketing). 
All this effort on the part of automakers will collectively make an impact on consumer attitudes. Throw in some savvy sponsorship 2.0 deals and alluring rebates and boom! It’s a good bet that buyers will make the leap to electric vehicles.  
Now we just need that heroic political momentum from global leaders to urge everyone to play a part in restoring the planet… are you listening, Mr. President? I hope so.
For more on the trend toward renewable energy check out our 2013 Trends Report. 
For more about BMW’s campaign see BMW Shifts into Electric Gear.