Bits & Pieces?
Inspired by two books I am reading (The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and 344 Questions by Stefan G. Bucher, although 344 Questions isn’t a book you actually read) and the fact that I am a giant kid whose 8943765472 questions a day drive all adults around me crazy, I was going to write a long inspirational type of post on the power of curiosity, exploration, experimenting and mistakes. On the power of constantly asking questions and trying new things. But them I stumbled upon this video created by the great folks from Skillshare – a community marketplace to learn anything from anyone. The video does a much better job of encouraging all of us to be lifelong learners with childlike curiosity than the 500 or so words I was going to write.
And because I can’t miss an opportunity to quote Albert Einstein, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes and a question from 344 Questions.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
“When was the last time you said ‘I don’t know’ with eagerness?” – Stefan G. Bucher
Remember how big and rapidly growing Tumblr was last year? Well, no one cares anymore. There’s a new web darling: Pinterest. Just like most social platforms, it’s difficult to easily describe what Pinterest is. For me, it is an inspiration board/discovery tool/visual bookmarking tool. Pinterest calls itself “an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you. Discover new things hand-picked by people who share your interests.”
Unlike most startups, Pinterest grew quickly in the past few months because it was embraced by DIY crafters, designers and moms, not tech types. Over 59% of Pinterest’s users are women age 25-44, which makes it a very unique environment for fashion, travel, food, art, fitness and home décor topics. Not surprisingly, every day more and more brands start pinning. Some of the bigger and more popular ones are Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Etsy, Martha Stewart, TIME Magazine, Rent the Runway and the Travel Channel. Even universities and libraries are jumping in.
What can brands do on Pinterest?
1. Share what your brand stands for: Pinterest is a great platform to share the essence of your brand or the lifestyles it promotes. It’s not just about your products and/or services, but about the idea behind them, about what they allow people to do. Pinterest makes it really easy to visualize what your brand stands for and what’s the role it plays in peoples lives: empowering people to create the home of their dream, inspiring them to find their individual style, etc. It’s not about you, it’s about how you can help people. And, you can even segment your audiences and create different boards that appeal to different people with different lifestyles.
2. Share your corporate culture and core values: As people become more interested in learning about the people behind an organization and as organizations become more human and transparent, sharing a corporation’s culture and core values in an easy to digest visual way with short stories is a no-brainer. People are interested in the details and images can humanize the brand. Post pictures of the office, lunch breaks, office events, behind the scenes, people volunteering, etc.
3. Increase visibility and interest, even sales: As a great discovery tool that doesn’t require strong ties such as mutual friendship or an asymmetrical following, Pinterest makes it easy to stumble upon a variety of products that a user is highly likely to be interested in. From recipes to books, to furniture, to accessories, a user can find pretty much anything and everything. Not only that, but also pin those items to boards such as “Gift ideas,” “My Wedding,” “Home projects,” etc. Real Simple recently reported that Pinterest is driving more traffic to its site than Facebook.
4. Use it as a focus group: I’ve always said that social media is the best focus group you can ever get if you know how to mine the data and Pinterest is no exception. Millions of people use it to keep track of objects they love, places they enjoy, places they want to visit, foods they devour, clothes they want, things that inspire them. It’s the quickest way to glance into people’s lives and heads. Look at the pinners who follow your brand and see what they’re pinning and who else they’re following. As behavioral economists have told us, asking people what they want/need or how they feel isn’t as effective as observing their behavior. Pinterest allows for just that.
5. Inspire your team: Create mood boards and pin things that are interesting and relevant to your team. The world and the web are full with beautiful objects that make you want to apply for a job at Oscar de la Renta. Pinterest allows you to collect all these objects and organize them in a way that makes sense and is easy to navigate.
Because it’s focused on interests, Pinterest allows brands to participate in people’s lives in a more utilitarian, subtle and non-intrusive way.
What better way for a furniture manufacturer to promote its products than to let people use them? That’s what IKEA has been doing in Europe in the past few months.
In November, IKEA hosted a sleepover in its Essex store in response to a Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA,” which has almost 100,000 fans. IKEA made their dreams come true and, through a contest, invited 100 of these fans to spend one night in its store and treated them to goodie bags, midnight snacks, hot chocolate, massages and manicures, and even a midnight movie and bedtime story read by Sam Faiers from The Only Way Is Essex. (Sounds like my type of evening.) The experience included a sleep expert and was designed to help educate people on how to get a great nights sleep, well, in addition to the fact that 100 people had an entire IKEA store just for themselves for an entire night. I wonder if they were allowed to make purchases.
The second example is still in the making, but IKEA fully furnished a 54-square-meter home (about 177′) for six people to live in, in the middle of a Parisian metro. From January 9th to the 14th the apartment in the Auber metro station in France’s capital will be home for these six individuals and frequenters will get a glimpse into the daily routines of five of their fellow Parisians. The project is called “The IKEA Apartment – 54 Square-Meter Ideas to Life” and aims to highlight how IKEA furniture is compatible with small spaces.
These are two great examples of listening and responding to customer, connecting the online and offline worlds and, most importantly, turning fans into advocates by allowing them to experience the brand instead of just bombarding them with meaningless messages. Sounds like XXI century marketing.
Looking back, I think I will remember 2011 as the year when everyone and his dog decided to launch a social platform of sorts: Google+, Quora, Empire Avenue, Path, Unthink, etc. Even before the newness of each network could wear off, another Facebook wannabe platform was launched. Of course, amid all launches and constant releases of growth numbers, there were a few social platforms that actually added value to users’ lives instead of just adding features. For me those few platforms are Percolate, Storify and Cowbird.
Percolate is a content-discovery/content-curation tool that is a great filter for everyone who complains how difficult and overwhelming it is to keep up with everything shared online. Percolate surfaces interesting and relevant content from a user’s online networks and presents it in an easy to use dashboard and a daily e-mail with just the most relevant links. Not only is Percolate a great tool for everyday users, but it can be a powerful social platform for brands as well. We keep telling brands to participate in communities, join conversations and share relevant content and Percolate makes it extremely easy to find what the communities with which a brand wants to engage are interested in. Counterparties (by Reuters) and Healthymagination (by GE) are two examples of how brands can use Percolate.
While Percolate is a great content-discovery tool, Storify (technically launched in 2010) is a great curation tool. The platform operates under the belief that real news unfolds on the web and Storify gives us the tools to capture, share and remember these stories. It allows users and brands to turn curated social content (tweets, photos, videos, links) into coherent stories and share these stories with a single link or embed them on a site. First to adopt the platform have been media outlets like The Guardian, but even the White House has joined.
The last platform that has the potential to change how we create, curate and consume content online is Cowbird, a collaborative storytelling platform launched earlier this month by Jonathan Harris (the artist who created We Feel Fine in 2006). Its purpose is to empower all of us to document the overarching “sagas” that shape the world today (think the London riots, Occupy Wall Street, etc.), or just create a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life. As explained on Cowbird’s site:
“Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events and universal themes. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.”
Powerful stuff from a platform that could easily win the award for the strangest name of 2011.
What makes these social platforms incredible is that they add value to our lives and allow us to collaborate and share with people with similar interests and passions. They make creating, curating, documenting and sharing an enjoyable participatory experience for both users and brands.
What were your favorite social platforms in 2011?
Yesterday Nick wrote about the cultish behavior of the Green Bay Packers’ fans and how every company in the world aspires to motivate such behavior, yet very few do because they don’t have strong brands.
I think it’s more than just a strong brand, it’s about the experience. Sport teams with cult-like following reach such status because they provided shared experiences. They bring people together. They create communities.
If you think about all such sport teams (Barcelona, Liverpool, Olympique de Marseille, Green Bay Packers, <insert another football/basketball/baseball/cricket team here>), most of them bear the name of the location in which the team was started. That’s not just because it was an easy solution to a difficult problem (naming a team), but because sport teams are one of the pillars of each one of these communities and always have been. Something very few brands can and want to be. However, that’s not to say that companies can’t achieve such cult-like following. Apple and Patagonia have done it.
Last week Simon Jenkins from The Guardian wrote about the rise of the experience economy and shared some incredible numbers about the music, live comedy, politics, museums and galleries. People are spending more and more time doing things, going places, meeting people IRL, which provides two great opportunities for brands who want to become part of people’s lives instead of just push messages.
Opportunity number one is an obvious marketing lesson from sport teams: create experiences that bring people together.
Opportunity number two is about how we use digital platforms. I’ve written before about the power of experiences as it relates to harnessing the social graph. But it can work the other way around as well: using small data, personal data, to amplify and personalize real-world experiences. Think about all the data we share about who we are, who our connections are, what we like, what we buy, where we go, what we do. Google, Facebook, Amazon and our cell phones, the most personal device, probably know more about us than we will ever know. And all the data can be used to amplify our real-world experiences and make them more exciting, more entertaining, more rewarding, more memorable, thus creating stronger emotional connections with brands.
Featured Blog Posts
Given two studies on preference for mobile web versus mobile…
Anyone can be creative. Often the biggest obstacle to innovative…
I’m involved in a couple of professional groups that are…