brand extending, branding, campaigning, co-creating, community-building, connecting, earning, gaming, owning, praising, social media-ising, user-generating

Big Planning and Big Thinking: How Bendigo and Adelaide Bank use owned & earned media to deploy a little utility into the world

Got a big idea that you want to bring to life? Create a plan, share it and make it happen with help from the PlanBig community

so the lovely and awesome Zaac posted a link to my wall of the above effort from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.  it's called PlanBig and, in it's own words, its…

"… a way for people to get together to make things happen and make a difference.  We [Bendigo and Adelaide Bank] believed that there was some real value in giving people the chance to come together in one place to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice or help make things happen for themselves or someone else.  PlanBig brings together the experiences, knowledge and expertise of people with different skills from all walks of life and all ages to help each other get ideas kick started."

it's a delightful and instinctively attractive platform, which elegantly ticks a range of boxes including – amongst others – socialisation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and gamification.  it also has a elegant and seamless execution that connects with the Book and other social platforms…  the badges-as-reward effort has been borrowed from FourSquare, as has the Book's Like concept (in fact the functionality is a bit like a social network functionality greatest hits, which isn't a bad thing – better to use functionality with which we're familiar … makes it more, well, functional).

as the site observes, "Bendigo and Adelaide Bank feel so strongly about helping people realise their dreams, they’ve been doing it in local communities for over 150 years" … so this platform is just a natural extension of a brand proposition that's been in market for over a century.

it's also another example of the owned and earned media combo (note the absence of bought media) to create (1) utility (2) meaningful connections with a community of people and (3) content ripe for the amplification – if even a few of these ideas get big it will be marketing gold-dust.  all of which makes a great deal more sense to me than buying a shedload of ads telling people what competitive lending rates you have.

this genuinely feels like a brand / product extension with sociable and marketable assets built in from the ground up.  it's a communication for people, by people, and its infinitely better for it.  good on 'em.

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connecting

Its a small world and we are all connected: why exposing ideas is exposing, and why its important

Inspirationthe welcome note at The Church in Crows Nest, which rather sets you into the right frame of mind

I had the pleasure of spending today with some clients coming up with ideas.  just that.  have some great game-changing ideas.

I was struck by the above message on the way in…  that connectedness = meaningful change beyond our immediate sphere of influence.

we don't often enough ponder the significance of our connectedness.  we get that we're connected – we're reminded daily of that.  but rather that our connectedness is the engine that permits and enables the spread, growth and development of ideas.

ideas get exposed, but that also means that they are exposed … to other people.

I had a hard lesson in that these last few days.  that our ideas don't live in echo chambers.  if we want to see change, if we want to make things happen, then we have to expose how we want to create that change to people whose opinion and action we seek to influence…  but that means engaging, with people and their opinions…

it's a small world and we are all connected.  the opportunity and responsibility to create meaningful change is ours for the taking…  and we shouldn't shy from the debate and opinion that comes our way when we put ourselves out there…  this doesn't diminish us, this makes our ideas – and therefore us – better…

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branding, cinema, connecting, futuregazing, internet, IPA|ED:one, opinionating, thinking

An opportunity not to be missed: what Tiffany Shlain’s ‘Connected’ means for brands as the internet transforms us and our world

so last night, thanks to Disco Davo (thanks Disco), I was lucky enough to be amongst a cinema of people gathered to watch an Aussie-first and unique screening of a movie called Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology.

organised through social media club sydney in conjunction with AMP's AmplifyFestival, Tiffany Shlain's (@tiffanyshlain) film is a narrative on how the internet is fundamentally changing us, interspersed with a personal account of a year in her life.  the result is a fascinating polemic on the nature of our interconnectedness as a species.

much was well-trodden territory for this blog … but there were two aspects I hadn't heard before that I found particularly interesting.  I hope that Shlain won't object to me sharing here…

one, Shlain described how in her father's book 'The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image' he made the connection between how the invention of the written / printed word had coincided with the rise of men in social, political and commercial circles.  he argued that this was because the written word is processed by the left side of the brain, which is more male.

last century's 'iconic revolution' (Shlain's term) – which saw imagery and images became a more predominant form of communication – coincided with increased predominance of females in society.  images are processed by the right side of the brain which is … more female.

the interesting conclusion is that the internet, with it's heady mix of words and images, is processed more of less equally by both sides of the brain, and is therefore a mass-communication channel that isn't biased towards one gender or the other…

the other aspect I found fascinating is how the brain and our body chemistry is predisposed to both connectedness and the pleasure hit we get from the stream of information on the internet.  when we connect, we release oxytocin – which evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security.  Wikipedia notes that 'many studies have already shown a correlation of oxytocin with human bonding, increases in trust, and decreases in fear' … so the more we connect, the less anxious we are, and the internet allows us to feel more connected than ever before…

dopamine is released when we experience something pleasurable, and encourages us to keep performing the action ad-infinitum (as there's no diminishing return from dopamine).  Shlain's interesting observation is that – as dopamine is released when we get a 'hit' of new information … we are becoming addicted to the internet (or more specifically the infinite content that it gives us access to)

if you get a chance to catch the movie I urge you to do so … it's a fascinating and beautiful experience.  and it left me thinking about the role of brands and advertising in Shlain's interconnected and interdependent world.  from one perspective advertising and media fuelled the worst of the excessive consumption society that is now placing sustained pressure on our environment…

…but on the other I can't help but think that Shlain's hypothesis presents us with a clear opportunity, an opportunity defined by a simple question that I can't shake.  in an inter-dependent world where billions of people increasingly connect, communicate and coordinate as communities, why do we continue to so readily seek to engage with individuals?

in an inter-dependent world, the only thing that matters is shared agendas and communities of interest.  and more specifically, what matters most is an opportunity for brands to fuel – rather than interrupt – their interconnectedness and interdependence.

its utility, but its more than that … its potentially brands becoming a key and fundamental part of a dopamine and oxytocin-fuelled revolution in how we live on earth…  it's tantalising enough to warrant asking what you would want of the brands with which you work?  …  for them to be part of humanity's next giant leap, or reconciled to history as part of the iconic revolution that for a while so influenced our culture and behaviour?

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connecting, developing, integrating, internet, social networking

Ping vs. Fabulis: what Steve Jobs can learn from Jason Goldberg about Social Networks

Ping Steve Jobs launching Ping earlier this week

last week Apple continued their ascendancy with the unveiling of a revamped iPod range, but also with Ping; a social network, housed within iTunes, based – not surprisingly – in and around music.  so a small step for iTunes but a giant leap for Apple into the social networking space.

they're not the first.  back in July 2008 I wrote a post in response to news that MTV was launching a social networking initiative called House.  I expressed concern then, that brands sailing into social waters did so at significant risk…  there's simply only so many networks people can and will be part of…

at the time I ranked a very un-statistically robust sample of social network membership and (unsurprisingly) a long tail emerged…  whilst a small minority of sites (Facebook, MySpace) account for the vast majority of social networkers, there is the potential for a network to aggregate a strong and viable community around a niche topic or area.  but therein lies the rub…  if you're stuck in the tail then running a social network could be an expensive way to aggregate and entertain a niche audience.

but back to Ping, and as niche's go, it got to be said that if you're going to go after a vertical then music seems to be a fair vertical to choose; especially when you have one of the biggest and most significant music ecommerce platforms in existence, and MySpace – you're most significant rival with specific music credibility – is struggling to demonstrate a place for itself in the world.

but Ping is a somewhat limited experience.  on first use it feels like a twitter engine (you follow and are followed) with a Facebook framework.  but that's where the similarity ends and the problems start; the only way to connect with people is to invite them by email, and once you are connected there's no inter-network connectivity.  what goes on Ping, stays on Ping.

contrast this with Fabulis, the social network set up for gay men and the friends of gay men set up by Jason Goldberg (below) earlier this year.  fabulis.com aims to help gay men and their friends discover where to go, what to do, and who to meet.

Jason_goldberg fabulis founder Jason Goldberg

two things struck me about fabulis.  one is how the site has an explicit 'currency' in the form of bits – points that you earn or win by interacting and engaging with the site and other social networkers.  for the record my meager 815 points currently rank me at 4,181st, so I've a bit of engaging to do (but then that's very much the point of points isn't it).

Fabulis fabulis tackling the onerous task of helping gay men and their friends stay in touch – it's a tough job but some networks got to do it

but the second and most interesting aspect of fabulis is how I never actually joined the social network.  I never registered a username or created a password.  nor did I upload a profile picture or suggest friends.  Facebook Connect did all of that, and moreover, fabulis was more than happy for Facebook to do it.  my sign-in, profile, and network were all ported happily and seamlessly across from Facebook.  Compare and contrast this with Ping's approach.

the fundamental difference between the networks is that Ping is insular and closed (and that's very much Apple's prerogative and indeed modus operandi) whereas fabulis is not only open in it's approach, but dependent on another network – namely Facebook – for a key element of its infrastructure.  if Facebook went down one day (run with this!) then fabulis would go down with it; it's a network built on a network, and its very much the better for it.

all of which makes Jobs' position on why Ping isn't connected into Facebook's (or another social network's) content very revealing…  in a post on cnet news, Kara Swisher describes how when she asked Jobs about the lack of connectivity on Ping, "he said Apple had indeed held talks with Facebook about a variety of unspecified partnerships related to Ping, but the discussions had gone nowhere … the reason, according to Jobs: Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to""

Ping was a pretty unique opportunity for Apple to open it's doors and integrate part of its product into the wider web in a way that would ultimately have made Ping better for its users.  the fact that Jobs didn't says more about Apple than it does about Facebook's apparent 'onerous' terms.  it seems that Facebook's terms weren't too onerous for Goldberg, and fabulis is, well, pretty fabulis as a result.

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