Thursday, April 19, 2012


I had my haircut on recently at my local surburban salon. The lovely stylist and I had the usual conversation: what cut would I like? How might it look? Did I have any examples?

This is where it got interesting, she pulled out her ipad, navigated to the salon's pinboard and scrolled through a selection of styles similar to those we had talked about. The extensions too are endless: personalised boards for each client, tracking styles over time? A board of the essential tools and products for each style? How-to boards showing how to execute a particular style?

Simple, effective and so easy.

Like other social media darlings Pinterest has shown phenomenal growth - 656% growth in NZ visitors from May 11 - Feb 12 according to Comscore. So of course brands need time to establish what role it may play some are further along - check out this great example by
Kotex. In the meantime we should at least be providing our consumers with good quality images to pin.

If my local salon can do it - our brands can too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Does social connectivity equal influence?

Last night I had the privilege of seeing @danielberkal present Project Butterfly – a study into the “effect learning about how sociable people interact in the real world has on the online space”. The purpose of this study is to help brands - and the agencies that work for them - understand “how highly sociable people work” and how “this knowledge can be used to build online social communities that act more naturally”.
All interesting stuff. I’m no market researcher, but the way this study has been conducted is groundbreaking and worthy of every award won to date.
My reason for being there was to understand the connection between sociability and influence, in particular:
-          Does real world influence translate to the digital world; and
-          Are those who are socially connected online, influential?
While the study wasn’t designed to answer these questions, it did offer some interesting and applicable insights.
In the real world Social Butterflies are those who can bend social conventions, but in a good way. They are experts at initiating friendships, but also at maintaining them. They’re interesting, interested and genuinely curious about everyone and everything.
We all know one: they’re the organizer, the one who keeps in touch even just to say Hi. They’re resourceful and will hook you up with anything you need. And they’re happiest when everyone around them is having a good time.
But are they influential? My guess is yes based on three findings from the study: Social Butterflies are early adopters, decisive and the kind of people you turn to for advice.
What they are not is digitally prolific. Their online presence is likely to be built around maintaining one-on-one connections rather than broadcasting clever one-liners to the world, making it near on impossible for brands to identify them using standard ‘connectedness’ metrics. And even if we could identify them, it seems unlikely they would use digital tools to exert their influence.
Instead brands have tended to consider those who are socially connected and highly vocal in the digital world as ‘influential’. Not anymore. According to this study these ‘hyperconnected’ people are delusional self-promoters who need external validation to make themselves whole. They crave attention and use the internet to overcome their social awkwardness.
While they initiate lots of connections, they have no interest in maintaining them. It’s a one way conversation – usually about themselves – which their audience soon loses interest in.
But are they influential? For me the jury is still out.
If the number of people losing interest is less than the number of new connections being made then surely they could maintain their influence – if indeed they had any in the first place.
And if I buy into their online persona by liking or following them because what they offer is interesting, entertaining or useful to me, then do I care who they really are IRL?
Heck, there are many celebrities out there with a million plus followers who don’t even write their own tweets so maybe it’s not just the highly connected that are living a fantasy life online….
So many unanswered questions, but as someone who works with brands seeking to influence in the digital space there were some definite learnings:
-          True influence is about quality and frequency, not quantity
-          Getting someone to tweet or post a status update on your behalf is not the same as influencing.
-          Brands who implement ‘influencer programs’ need to look beyond the digital world.
The Butterfly project is an utterly fascinating body of work, and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity see this presented in person to grab it with both hands. Thank you @danielberkal for a truly thought-provoking evening.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Those In Glass Houses…

Google have recently revealed they are working on augmented reality glasses, which will beam smartphone-like features straight to your retinas as you go about your day. Check out the cheesy teaser video

There is predictable excitement from the techosphere as well as a healthy skepticism from the rest of the world. This opinion piece from the Guardian sums it up nicely.

I tend to agree with the skeptics. Google already know a lot about you, but this takes it to a whole new level; where, in an inversion of the
Orwellian nightmare, Big Brother is not just watching you – he is controlling what you watch.

Tin-foil hats at the ready!