We're constantly being asked to 'join the conversation'. I kind of think it's one of the bigges, fattest digital lies we've all collectively bought in to. Because if we're honest with ourselves it's not a conversation really is it? In few instances it is, at the most though it's just series of statements of opinions. One after another after another. And that's not a conversation, it's a series of statements of opinions. Having looked after innocen't blog, twitter and facebook presence for over four years I saw very little genuine 'conversation'. There was some, stuff like this was ace when it happened. But it was rare. That's not to say that what we got up to wasn't valuable.
That's not to say that conversations don't happen digitally
The last few nights I've taken the bus from Bethan Green tube station to Broadway Market. And the last few nights I've noticed that a good proportion of the passengers are using iPhones, but more interestingly they're all using them for messaging. They're having conversations with their friends, but one at a time in a back and forth tennis match style. Not on mass. See I'm not sure that 'on mass' works for conversations, it works for a series on statements of opinions, just not so well for those conversations we're all ment to be joining.
So I can't help but wondering why the stuff we make and use doesn't reflect this really basic behaviour. Here's an example of how it could. I'm reading an article on Atlantics's App, I think it's really interesting and want to have a conversation about it, but don't just want to post a statement of my opinion. I actually want to talk about it, do some of that polo stuff. I want to talk to Asi about it as he's hot on start up mentality. So why can't I? Why can't I send him a message there and then from in the app that shares the link with him and starts up that conversation. To me that would be really useful. No one else would be able to see it, but that doesn't matter really, people would be talking about stuff, properly talking and not just stating opinions.
So a new button please, for conversations.
(This should be a mocked up conversation between me and Asi, it isn't though).
And here's the brief in words: Many people in the developed world are aid weary. They know billions of dollars go into aid, and yet the problems never seem to go away. This leads them to question if the money ever gets to where it is needed, and even then, if it is used wisely. The media seems full of stories of corruption, waste and broken systems. But that’s not the whole story. Effective aid programs help developing countries become self-sufficient. They do not replace those countries’ efforts, but rather support the important work that’s already under way. And here's the rules.
So here's my idea..
It's pretty basic, not fully thought out, and probably doomed to failure. But then so was capitalism, but that didn't let it stop it from taking over the world. My solution to the above brief would come at it from a slightly different angel than just providing transparency of aid work via a clever social media campaign. It would try to get right to the heart of aid, and make an audience in the developed world the very seeds that aid is grown from. And is basically a question: "What would happen to aid if rather than give to charity, you were a charity?" It's got a working title of 'Be Aid'. Have a click of the sketch below and see what you think.
And now how YOU can (REALLY) help...
The idea is pretty basic as I say, and more of a question than a solution. But I feel there could be something in it if I had some good brains to help me think it through a bit more. Your brains basically. So I've pasted my existing thoughts into the entry form format, and made it an open source Google Document here. Anything what-so-ever that you think might make the entry stronger please just enter into the document. Point holes in it, add opportunities to it, sort out the whole scientific measurement bit. Do what ever you want in short. Or if you're not into Google Docs just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @this_is_helpful. Or leave a comment on this blog post. The deadline is May 15 so you've got a few weeks to ponder.
We're looking to impress Mr Iain Tate et al, so it needs to be good. In the slim chances it does get shortlisted I'll make sure that all contributors get full credit, and a yankee burger and chips on me.
The final entry has been entered, and lives here. Thanks to everyone who helped with it.
I've had some ideas for London. Alain and the Evening Standard are asking for ideas at the minute, so I'm going to enter them in return for the chance to win a night in a boat on the roof of the South Bank. Here's my ideas, as wonderfully illustrated by Maggie at Scriberia.
idea 1: The Good Old Days
An idea to get young people and old people talking to each other. That would manifest itself in a series of ongoing events (The Good Old Days). Such as vintage film screenings where the participants, both old and young, would have a chat with each other after the event. Think speed dating for random strangers both old and young.
idea 2: Finding the oyster in oyster
Almost £30 million is left unused on Oyster cards every year. £30 million that could be put to very good use if only it could be released back into the world again. Why not create an affiliate charity Oyster card targeted at tourists and short terms visitors, where the remaining unspent balances are donated to chosen charities (with the purchasees permission) after 12 months of none use.
idea 3: #occupy culture
An idea to create a yearly London based '#occupy culture weekend' where a broad cross section of Londoners, who don't normally attend cultural events, are encouraged to apply for FREE tickets to a wide range of events. Participants are simply encouraged to consume less stuff and more ideas for a weekend.
idea 4: The really real London tour
Let's create a new kind of guided tour for London which takes participants through a selection of the realities of England's capital.
idea 5: Conversation Olympics
During the Olympic fortnight create a series of 'conversation with strangers' evening picnics across London's Royal Parks. Taking the unique opportunity of a time when the international community of London guests is at its richest. And doing stuff outside of the Olympic venues to constructively fill people's time while they're waiting for public transport to calm down a bit.
idea 6: Save the Hello
People don't say hello as much as they used. Let's try and 'save the hello' from a long, slow departure from our lives. Here's just a few ideas of ways that we could collectively save it.
The worlds population is getting bigger and bigger, wikipedia says so. More and more of the population are moving urban cities, UNFPA says so. By 2035 most of humanity will live in favelas, The Observer says so.
Favella living doesn't have to be desperate and deprieved though, Prince Charles says so. Looking at cities like Mumbai and Lagos we can see immediate lessons in community building/ self policing & managing, resourcefulness/ entrepreneurialism, and extreme recycling in a way that we're lagging in in the west.
So why not get a few clever people together and make a blue print for a sustainable favela in somewhere like London? Embracing great architecture, urban design, community and social management, sustainability and technology. Ai Weiwei did something similar in Mongolia a while ago and the fella that won the TED Prize this year would probably get involved.
Failing that we could just start drawing up plans for Britain's, Europe's, the Worlds next 'Tallest Ever Sky Scraper' TM. Just an idea.
Every now and again I have an idea for a killer business, like eByGum or Anti-Paparazzi Hand Guns. My latest ideas are to set up a Digital Dude School to train in-house Social and Community Managers. Or to create a decent sCRM agency. We've had commerce, then e-commerce and now Social Commerce is the hot new thing. So it makes sense that CRM has advanced to e-CRM and should next go s-CRM. And proper Social Customer Relationship Management, not just more data base building and marketing message broadcasting. Or just another way of measuring and slicing and dicing stats.
Take for example Top Shop's Facebook presence. In running one of the busiest stores and the high street with a highly successful e-commerce division they're generating a lot of social comment. And all of it good as seen below. A decent s-CRM offering would allow them to manage these relationships with consumers (the definition of CRM after all). None of these comments have been responded to since before Xmas (arguably their busiest time of year) but at the same time their Twitter feed has continued to broadcast messages out so someone must be in the office.
There's a gap in market right there. To turn stuff around quickly and simply just like this..
Following from that no can Do 'action without action' stuff here's a thought on digital dudes. Dudeism has it's roots in Taoism and purely living in the moment/ power of now stuff. Prioritizing the present over the past or future is a fundamental behavior of great social media, because social media is pretty much only about the now.
And to best facilitate the now you need a digital dude. Someone who lives and breathes your brand values and it's communities, a peoples champion, a consumer advocate, a product expert, a customer service representative, an emotional intelligence guru. Just one passionate person is all it takes.
Take for example Pattie from Pampers Nappies (your dude doesn't need to be a dude). She's single handedly Community Managing Pampers US social media presences such as Twitter, Facebook and very active Forums (for a global P&G brand with a dominant market share). And in being a real person, a real mum, a part of the community as well as the business she can quickly get to a level of engagement like the below. Signing off every tweet individually, answering questions and comments in real time and actively solving problems and keeping advocacy high on a micro economy level. Making a very big thing look and feel small and personal.
So forget the 5 year plans, strategic pillars and quarterly campaigns and get with the now. Get yourself a digital dude. You just need to give them an internet connection, some social media accounts, and most importantly permission to just get on with things.
Here's to the Pattie's.
I've got a new theory on social media. I came up with it while sat in the audience at the media140 conference I spoke at the other day.
It goes like this... The metaphor is television, traditional advertising is pre-produced broadcasts and social media is live broadcasts. Simple enough really, kind of makes sense as social media is being touted as a live/ real time media.
Take the old Saturday morning kids programme Going Live for example. Before this all Saturday morning kids telly was pre-recorded. The fact that Going Live was 'live' however brought a new dynamic to Saturday morning telly, a new excitement (social media comparisons here).
It also brought new opportunities but also risks, anything could happen basically. As five star and Eliot show us below. Thanks very much Eliot.
So we've got another new metaphor, now what? Well my point is that I'm not buying into all these 'there's been a paradigm shift' / 'it's all about the conversation now' / 'consumers are demanding transparent and live dialogue with brands' sound bites. There are some instances of this of course, but it's not the absolute, we're back to making massive sweeping statements.
What I do believe however is that (back to the television metaphor) there'll always be a mix of live and pre-produced content out there. A mix of social media and traditional media. And, in my opinion, the majority of it will stay as traditional pre-produced content. Purely because the quality is better with pre-produced. Think about it, not everything on telly is live, you'll never see a live period drama on ITV on Sunday night (Kiera Knightley can't pout for that long without taking a break for one thing). Other than the Honda sky diving advert all commercials are also pre-recorder for the same quality reasons. In actual fact looking at a typical days telly programming only a fraction of the total broadcast is live (highlighted in pink below).
So there we have it. Social Media equals the new live television. Full of holes as a theory I accept but beats the hell out of this 'consumers are demanding transparent and live dailogues with brands' bollox. I'm a consumer and I haven't demanded anything from any of the brands I've spent real life money on in the last two months. Have you?