The Constant Chase for Newness

I chose this specific word, „newness”, intentionally. It`s not innovation, it`s not originality nor uniqueness. Just newness.
I`ve recently experienced a new interactive branding engagement way for viewing a music video.
I`m sure many of you have already seen the double-screen video for Dangerous, David Guetta`s single, which can be found here. Once the user lands on the page, there is an instant call to action asking the user to pick up the smartphone and connect it to the computer. Curiosity just makes one go further with this. Next step, the

dangerous

user needs to introduce a code on the url displayed on the landing page, a validation step, and then a snapshot appears of how the mobile should be placed on the right side of the desktop`s screen. Why? The extra piece of content from the mobile screen reveals new and interactive features making the user feel engaged and more immersed in the experience. The only way I felt was curious, excited at the beginning (as this was the first time experiencing it), and then simply bedazzled. Too many fast moving images, and a constant effort for my eyes to roll from one (large) screen to another (tiny one). It was interesting, but not likely to chase for experiencing it again.
Reaching target audiences across screens is new, and most social media lovers are thrilled at the click of „newness”. But not sure whether this constant chase is not making users feel hungry for more, remaining curious for the next new big thing, and not that appreciative of the last. Leaving users eager for more isn`t necessarily building a connection, it`s actually turning the brand into a fast-food product for hungry users. What does brand engagement really stand for in this context?

Anunțuri

Technology grows smart, we turn out…dummies

Firstly, just a quick note on why I chose this title. My inspiration was the For Dummies series which is the main learning source for individuals who seek to take the easy way to understanding a specific topic or domain. Information is presented in a systematic way and works great for readers who are new to a specific topic, so I embrace this initiative, don`t get me wrong. Therefore, I merely chose this term for emphasizing the theme below.
On a more “niched” note, there`s been a lot hype lately referring mostly to the benefits of social media and cloud technology, and in general, to the potential of web 2.0 platforms to store, share and distribute information. Whereas UGC (User Generated Content) is essentially a “blessing” for freedom of expression and collective intelligence stimulation, there are nonetheless some drawbacks we need to address:
1. Social Impotence – In an era when staying sane means staying connected to the Internet (n.r. and Yes, I have recently seen a stream of conversations where the idea of the Internet being “turned off” for one day drove people crazy), curing such a dependency can turn out to be quite difficult. Apparently, social media usage actually affects our brain, studies showing that 5% of internet users are unable to control how much time they spend online. They crave for more of the excitement produced by using the Internet after each interaction. No wonder I am seeing everyone spending their time online when they`re out with their friends. Why restrain yourself to an audience of 2 or 4 people, when you could be “out” there for your entire network of 5,000 “friends”?
2. Multitasking Shortcomings – it might seem that those working with social media or constantly switching between more websites in the same time might have the ability to multitask, but studies have found that when comparing heavy new media users with others they perform much worse during task switching tests. It`s not about being fast, it`s about paying attention.
3. Silly Syndromes – You`ve probably never heard of the Phantom Vibration Syndrome, but you can imagine what it`s all about. Basically, you`re brain messes with you giving the sensation that the phone vibrated when it actually didn`t. Played by your own device. Not too bad, smartphones!
4. More Egocentric than ever – social media triggers dopamine release, which is a happiness hormone. When people are active online talking about themselves gives a sudden burst in the reward centers from their brains. What ever happened to listening to others?
5. Using External memory rather than our own – we would rather use forms of transactive memory, storing information outside ourselves, than use our own brains for storing it. We remember less because we are not required to do so – it`s enough that we know where information can be found. So, let`s hope our external hardware doesn`t crash when we`re in a meeting, right?
I may have approached just the tip of the iceberg, acting like the Grinch who stole the High-Tech Hype, but I will return with another post with some of the mainstream`s advantages. Stay tuned! Or is it tubed? 

Mind over…computer. Or vice-versa?

Lately, i`ve been quite attracted by a concept which has been gaining a lot of attention the past year. It`s called the Internet of Things (IoT) and i`m sure that many of you didn`t miss it if you`re into online, new media, cyberspace, web platforms and so on. The Internet of Things is mainly about data capturing and communication between devices (computers) via the Internet. So, if in the past we (humans) were the only ones able to control computers, now computers are able to communicate which each other. Enthusiasts say that this sort of communication (based on human`s inability to process a lot of data, decreasing attention spans etc) is helping people track their behavior and facilitate better lives, making everything easier. Just imagine this: if your boss were to change next day`s meeting and set it an hour earlier, your email would automatically signal your alarm clock (which you forgot to set the night before, being so tired from work lately) to turn on an hour earlier, your car engine would be signaled by the alarm to start de-freezing 10 minutes in advance on a cold winter, and your coffee maker would add an extra layer of caffeine to make sure you`re mentally focused early in the morning.
The reason why it`s called the internet of things is because anything can be connected if it`s uniquely identified within the system.
According to Cisco, ever since 2008 the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth. Estimations go as far as predicting that by the end of 2020 there will be around 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. I don`t think you understand this figure: 50 Billion devices. And, of course, we`re not just talking about smartphones and tablets. As stated before, everything can be connected to the huge online network as long as it has sensors identified within the system. For example, cows can turn sick or pregnant and send a message to the farmer to react. The idea of smart and connected devices is appealing, but to a certain degree. Before accepting it as part of our daily lives, we must consider whether these devices will be the ones dictating our lives and not the other way around. People usually seek to escape technology, looking for remote locations where the sound of an Outlook alert is as faint at our childhood`s Tooth Fairy. So, how will we be able to escape technology if we are looking for ways to include it into our lives in such a way that we exclude everything else that is relevant: authentic connection between people and surrounding nature, or just between people for that matter?

What is Control Anyway? Changing Perspectives for Survival in the Online Space

People have always been obsessed about control. One of the most important sociologists describing the notion of self, Goffman (1959), developed a dramaturgical model, emphasizing that individuals engage in performances in order to control (to some extent) other individuals` impressions of them. As such, individuals either give or give off expressions. That is, they either give out information about themselves intentionally (verbally, non-verbally, but usually controlled body language), or non-intentionally (body language and facial expressions which cannot be controlled).
Same thing happens in social media. An enthusiastic Social Media or Marketing Manager gives a compelling message, meant to attract thousands of shares and likes and pins and views, and the list goes on. Then, one segment of the public returns with unanticipated and negative feedback, throwing out accuses and complaints about controversial campaigns (some really interesting examples can be seen here).
With respect to the social dimension of social media, and considering the hype around online crisis situations and the focus on communication practitioner`s lack of control, I must say that control is overrated anyway. What ever happened to natural interaction and engagement? Is that too hard to achieve? Maybe holding back the focus on volume and bringing more strategic emphasis on quality could reframe the way control is viewed in the first place. Neither marketing, nor communication practitioners can control messages, or information disseminated through social media, especially considering the growing numbers of tech-savvy users, who are constantly updated on ways to potentially ruin an organization or public figure. But instead of fighting these limits, threats, disadvantages, risks etc., of social media efforts, how about promoting what symmetry is really all about: credibility, transparency, trust, taking responsibility for mistakes and genuine interest in publics` needs?

Just Around The Corner: Mobile Reputation Management

Just when communication and marketing experts thought they can take a relaxing breath, having reached some form of calculating ROI and measurement of their social media activities, mobile channels and technologies start posing new fresh challenges in the online landscape. From QR codes, SMS, mobile advertising, search, and optimized emails to mobile commerce, coupons, MMS, location-based services, and Bluetooth, companies are desperately seeking for generating sales from their mobile presence.

Not having a mobile strategy is like giving up on future. While a consistent number of companies already started integrating mobile into broader marketing campaigns, integration is yet quite basic (Econsultancy, 2013). Considering the fact that more people are reading emails on a mobile device than on desktop devices, it is actually quite obvious that consumer expectations are starting to change as well. Simple, to the point, no extra layers of useless information, just personalized and relevant content going straight to the consumer. No wonder Facebook chose to buy WhatsApp!

Mobile strategy implies efforts from all departments: management, marketing, communications, design, development and legal. The main goal for mobile programs is brand engagement, loyalty and the need to stay competitive. So far. But please NOTE: mobile users do not tolerate problems (like bugs) on mobile. A problematic mobile app, for example, will be abandoned by users after only one or two failed attempts. Furthermore, dissatisfied users are driven to competitive apps and will spread unfavourable reviews in person and online. My question is this: What does the future hold for mobile reputation management?

What Does SEO Really Look Like?

The priority of understanding SEO has become an unbearable truth for all companies. Either we`re referring to online reputation, keyword competition and incoming revenues from online activities, it`s all being built around SEO objectives and metrics. SEO analysis has started becoming more and more complicated along with the constant growth in keyword volume that organizations are managing.

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird – all if these Google updates do nothing more than increase the ambiguity of the long lasting question which revolves around SEO: How do I get MY public to see MY website, MY social channel, MY sponsored reviews when they search for MY organization? Digital opportunities are mostly leveraged through either Search Engine Marketing or Email Marketing – the most effective tools for building up revenue. But how sophisticated does the SEO strategy need to be with all the competitors out there developing content strategies, where the guiding principle is velocity and volume? How can organizations internalize into their integrated communications programs all the potential keywords, mismatches and relevant key phrases to add up to the final SEO objectives?

While search engines are taking advantage of USG (User Generated Content), staggering up content from social media in order to propel them to impressive Page Ranks, organizations are turning their focus on gathering as much social space as possible. It`s true that the rising tide of interest is directed to social content which is shared and distributed through social channels, but the question still remains – is it enough to start building a social media presence for SEO purposes and leave out the true opportunities and endorsements this sort of strategy would imply? Is it relevant to start becoming obsessed by traffic, impressions, clicks and large volumes of back-links when they truly mean nothing when compared to a long-lasting relationship with publics? In my view, the painstaking question of today`s digital media should be: What are the true measures for efficiency and success when it comes to online visibility?

The Big Era. Or, simply, Big Data.

We live in BIG times. Big moments, Big results, Big problems, Big Macs, Big shots, Big fish, Big foot, Big fan, Big mentors, The next Big thing, Big data. Big deal! Or that`s how ignorance could play it. In fact, many scholars, sociologists, economists, computer scientists, CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and so on are arguing about the advantages of leveraging big data for a variety of purposes. But is this overwhelming wave really improve our existence and the way we process information? In particular, are organizations effectively and efficiently using the overflow of data for building intelligence in order to meet future socio-economical demands?

The large sets of data are too much for standard software to analyze and, as such, new, optimized systems developed for data integration, manipulation and processing are now starting to become mandatory. Data aggregation is particularly difficult especially in terms of acquiring significant connections between important pieces of information. Easily accessible information does not necessarily mean we can easily identify patterns leading to a specific useful direction, for example, in building competitive intelligence.

This is why companies must invest in new systems to effectively manage big data. And no, I am not referring to big companies like Google, eBay, LinkedIn, Facebook built around this concept from the very beginning. I am talking about traditional companies, which are now dealing with the merge of traditional information and communication systems with the new infrastructures that haven`t existed before.

Conclusion? Go BIG or Go Home!