Understanding the new influencers: AUT guest lecture

What a lovely time I had on Wednesday at the new Sir Paul Reeves buildings at AUT campus. 

sorry Simon Devitt I pinched another one of your photos

I was invited to do a guest lecture on social influence for the third year IMC (integrated marketing communications) course which was great because I got to see all the nice new things and meet some real life student people.

real life students

I’ve put the slides up on slideshare but I decided to go for the all photos thing so you might need to click into the speaker notes to make sense of it. 

Main things are:

1. Broadcast communications can move the herd

2. Internet created more publishers and rise of democratised communications. New influencer emerge on platforms like Youtube, Vine, Instagram

3. Customers are more empowered and can curate, comment and share content. Look for people they trust and who are like them. 

4. Big seed marketing e.g. Buzzfeed. Create content that appeals to people and they distribute and share, decide what’s popular

5. Customers are employees and vice versa. Whole person approach- harness the power of the BWN Bored at Work Network to distribute and share your messages e.g. Zappos Big brands and advertisers struggle to personalise and need to partner with influencers.

Then I worked my 'Lecture Hand' so everyone could see there was some serious business going on right there

live action shot of lecture hand

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone learned something. One of the students told me he was going to go home and set up a YouTube channel and start vlogging so I'm glad my 'stay in school but please make sure you can make things' plea was received by someone. 

How to make better management decisions with ecommerce analytics

Once upon a time there was a story. We all tell ourselves little stories to fit the version of events that we want to be true sometimes don’t we? 

Photos are important
Of course we do. So it’s important with analytics to listen for any assumptions in the narrative that could be making the data tell a not so complete story. Here’s a real example from some Booking.com reports that we came across the other day. 

Big jump in May stayed revenue
I kept hearing “May is our quietest month” but that wasn’t what the data was showing. Looking at stayed revenue 2013-2014 we can see a big jump in May -what’s with that? Stayed revenue up 800% The weather was about the same and there was no discounting?

The ‘May is our quietest month’ idea had been treated as fact for so long that the one person (ah yes the old One Person scenario again)  who knew how to load deals on Booking.com had taken her holiday in May 2013 and not loaded deals for that period.  A new person had started who learned how to load the deals in 2014 and we can see the revenue going up for May 2014.

Yes it was quiet but that’s because there were no deals. When the deals were loaded and someone managed them, there was good revenue in May 2014 and looking at the month’s either side we can see that it may not be the best time for people working at the hotel to take their holidays. 

Now here come the feelings. The 'May is our quietest month’ narrative didn’t fit with the data but it also didn’t fit with One Person’s plans to take holidays in May. It also challenged the idea that someone else could be brought in to manage the bookings. We can see that the person managing the deals in May 2014 who apparently wasn’t very good, needed to be more thorough and just generally didn’t know what she was doing and ‘I don’t think we would use her again’ brought in good revenue for the business and it was not a good idea to turn off the Booking.com deals for one month. It also shows you don't want to depend on One Person's view of events and question assumptions that may be self-fulfilling in the telling of the data story. Now I know people are very anti-meetings at the moment but sometimes a quick eyeball across the table and a 'well then why is that number sticking up like that?' is necessary to reset the feelpinions and get everyone to one version of truth. Turns out the other person did a really good job and she can now come back for the 2015 season. And everyone lived happily ever after. 

data: mobile operating system actual use in New Zealand

Trade Me labs have released some data this morning you might find useful. We're still planning and building in a very Apple-first way which isn't wrong (ios is still at 41%) but you might want to think for future people resourcing and campaigns about how Android is going to work for you. I'd write more but I think @tarkwyn has provided the amazing commentary you need. Good job Trade Me and thanks for releasing such high quality data from a big sample size of actual use. WIN. 

Trade Me Touch (touch.trademe.co.nz)

The little green robot is storming all over Touch this month with Android growth charging ahead.  This is fuelled by a few things, including our adoption of iOS Smart Banners on Touch in some areas.  Unfortunately there still seems to be a staunch contingent of Android 2.x users.  If this is you (or someone you love) then perhaps this search might be in order?

Jun 2014 Operating Systems Touch

That's all for the first half of 2014, we'll be back in October with the next batch.  As usual, please send your comments and questions to us @trademelabs (and/or to the author @tarkwyn.)

How to spot a heartless showroomer

I went for a haircut the other day and that was nice because sitting reading magazines and having cups of coffee brought to you is lovely. The most lovely thing about this week’s service experience was that it was in a big renovated house so people were all very relaxed and friendly and talkative. 

How great Lorraine Downes’ hair is on the front cover of the Women’s Weekly was the main topic of conversation.  The hair stylists said they are getting lots of requests for that haircut and that doesn’t she suit it and doesn’t she look great and isn’t she ageing well and yes, she is still really beautiful. 

It was then also agreed that going from long hair to short hair ‘takes confidence’ and Lorraine Downes seems really nice and she’s married to Martin Crowe and the young hairdresser didn’t know who he was and the other people all felt old. One of the older customers called him ‘Marty’ because she met him once and meeting Martin Crowe once means that from then on you call him ‘Marty’…good to know; put that in your Evernote. The person cutting my hair said ‘yes it does take confidence to go from long to short hair and she was really brave’ and I nodded and admired her courageous act on the Women’s Weekly cover. 

Then the conversation moved on to lipstick. The young hairdresser who didn’t know Marty said she was ‘all about’ lipstick and that her favourite one was a Mac one called Morange but that it was expensive so she wasn’t wearing it today because she kept it for good. Another lady suggested that she could ‘maybe buy it online a bit cheaper’ but that she herself didn’t buy things online because that was called ‘showrooming’  and she ’didn’t have the heart’ to do such a despicable thing. 

“It’s destroying all the retailers this showrooming. I wouldn’t have the heart to go in a shop and look at something and buy it online”

Goading young impressionable hairdressers into heartless acts of showrooming Morange lipstick. The shame. 

So just to review:

Lorraine Downes= takes confidence /lovely/ probably not a show roomer/highly requested hair style

Showroomers=heartless/destroys retailers/may or may not wear Morange lipstick/not highly requested hair style

I didn’t have the Lorraine-Downes-confidence to point out that going and looking at an iPhone in an Apple store and then buying it on their website was also showrooming and that it was something that certain brands and retailers encouraged and are very excited about the future of and that are lots of online retail brands like Asos that are doing really well and creating jobs and giving people more choices. That there is also ‘reverse showrooming’ where you look at something online and go into a store to buy it which is actually how I ended up at that particular hair place. So I just kept my non-feelings to myself, drank my nice coffee and didn’t share the dark truth that I too was a heartless showroomer. 

23 reasons it's great HuffPo is coming to Australia (number 17 will surprise you)

The Huffington Post is coming to Australia and that’s great news for people like me who have sat in cubicles at traditional media companies thinking ‘this whole thing just doesn’t work anymore and I want to go home now.'

Now Australia and New Zealand media companies will have a working model of a proper new media company so that we don’t have to skip to page 110 of the Digital First Content Strategy Newsroom of The Future strategy document to try and convince editors that their fears of native content are largely imaginary and that the smiley-faced external consultancy person walking around with a spreadsheet who keeps disappearing into that meeting room that’s locked all the time is more likely to cause you pain and suffering by process of redundancy than writing a blog post for Toyota about driving a four wheel drive car up a ski field. 

HuffPo (or as the ABC charmingly calls it "the liberal American online news aggregator and blog") is brazen about native advertising, blogger friendly, and happy to talk about machines curating content through behavioural targeting.  Sponsored and branded content discussions are not imaginary but actual real-life things that happen and result in advertisers paying money to media companies so that they can pay editorial teams and journalists and everyone can pay for their groceries and maybe a new pair of shoes now and again.Great. 

The media industry gets more competition, The Guardian and Buzzfeed (oh look- they’re here already) come to Australia so talented local people like First Dog on The Moon get to develop new characters like the Westboro Baptist Hate Octopus, and we don’t all have to read about climate change being imaginary, rugby union, rugby league, Aussie rules rugby, and racehorses all the time. 

Koda Wang is the HuffPo person getting all the Australian stuff ready to go and he said the second quarter of 2014 generated about as much revenue in terms of native advertising than the whole of 2013. That's called growth and growth is good because the opposite of growth is decay which results in death and killing and book titles like this one:

Professional aggregator of liberal cat video bloggists Koda Wang said,"we keep the same bar of quality for native as we do for editorial. A lot of editors that create our native content come from our newsroom - they know how to create good content. It's also important to make sure native advertising is clearly labelled. And it's got to be authentic to the brand of your advertiser and to your own brand."

My thoughts exactly. Treat your audience like they’re adults and didn't just come out the Christmas cracker yesterday and they’ll be OK with some ad-supported content. 

But what about the ‘slippery slope argument’. The slippery slope argument comes from editors and usually goes along the lines of ‘if I drive a Toyota up a ski field and write a blog post about it then next week I will have to run streaming propaganda for the war in Gaza because that’s how North Korea works. It’s a slippery slope’. 

I know that’s a big separate discussion but at the heart of it I would say perhaps it’s time for journalists and editors to also be adults and take responsibility for their decision making.  The days of kidding yourself that “I don’t work for News Corp, I work for The Daily Telegraph” are over and trying to pretend that you aren’t part of the machine like everyone else…well come on.  The challenges of the media industry impact everyone and trying to cling to some romantic notion of eighties journalism is what’s causing all the pain in suffering in today’s traditional media companies where employee satisfaction ratings sit around 22-35%.  It’s not the war in Gaza but good grief I’d be gratefully taking the keys to that Toyota and getting my branded content on. 

The Huffington Post Australia plans to launch in the first quarter of 2015 and let’s hope it’s a shining light of new media that will inspire Australia and New Zealand media companies to face the realities that yes print is lovely but no, it doesn't make money anymore so let's go drive a Toyota around a ski field so that your colleagues will have a job that they actually like going to next year and if you don't want to write crappy '23 reasons' blog posts then don't write them. 

Leading change -take me to your leader

I once had a very plain-speaking Australian operations manager call me into his office. 

He had overheard a conversation I had with the CEO about killing the Intranet and moving to a new, more collaborative enterprise social system. After the initial mocking about my accent, weird shoes, the number of empty coffee cups on my desk and a quick update on the performance of his racehorse, he got to the point. 

“I think you should know that…you know…he’s a manager, not a leader. He won’t make that decision. The real boss is in Singapore so either go and knock on his door or just get IT to put your new system in and cross your fingers they’ll do what you say and not ask too many questions.”

He was right. 

I’ve just been re-reading John P Kotter’s seminal article Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail:

“A paralyzed senior management often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating. Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership. Phase one in a renewal process typically goes nowhere until enough real leaders are promoted or hired into senior-level jobs.”

If you read the full article you’ll see there are many other factors to consider (pretty sure I’ve ticked the fail box on all seven at some stage) but the manager’s response is always to protect the current system. I think it’s an important thing to think about because it might enable you to change tack and start throwing down some quick-wins like I got with the new system that went live by the end of the day. I would have wasted so much time writing reports and re-scoping and testing all sorts of other options that the CEO would never have said yes to.

Like you, I’m sure you can think of many times when you’ve tried to get people to make decisions and wondered why nothing was happening. You get responses like ‘write a report’, ‘show me some KPIs’, ‘who else is doing this- I need to see a working system’, ‘we’ll move towards it over the next 18 months’, ‘there is another project that covers this’, ‘we already looked at doing this last year’. 

You might be better to return to your coffee cup island wasteland in your weird shoes and come up with a new path over the mountain. 


Why reinventing the same social media applications is a very good idea

I just had a read of Paul Ford’s Medium article on email and while I agree, I think he’s highlighted one of the main things people get hooked up on with communication software.

What a product does is not the same as how it is used. 

It’s one of the big challenges I face with social media or collaboration software- trying to explain to people that there are many different ways to use a product and the importance of looking past the app as an individual consumer, to the social network behaviour and what it could do for you. It's the thing that most people missed with Instagram and their crappy little mobile app with hipster filters ugh who needs that? 

"A recent study by Forrester Research found that Instagram users were 58 times more likely to like, comment, or share a brand’s post than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than Twitter users. All data indicates that users are moving away from Twitter and Facebook and shifting their time to Instagram. This absolutely proves that Instagram is the best social and mobile platform for brands to reach audiences that are willing to engage. If you’re not marketing on Instagram, you’re missing out." 

200 million monthly actives apparently. 

About five years ago I presented to a local government organisation that a lot of their consultation and community-level activities could be done on this thing called Facebook with the functionality of Pages. 

At that time they were running about 60-70 static micro-sites (nobody really knew the exact number) and each was given between $5,000 and $20,000 per annum as a ‘web budget’. Centralised page admins could help the community groups and use Facebook product features to connect with people in real conversations and reduce the need for front end developers and designers. Long story short I was laughed at but now that same place has about 10 full-time social media employees and their main job is to manage Facebook Pages for community boards and groups. I spoke with one of the managers there recently and she said the main problem now is getting customers off Facebook,

“we have people who think the Internet is Facebook. We try and get them to click through to our website and get complaints for not making stuff available. Now we just put everything on Facebook”. 

Whatever your personal preferences, Facebook has excellent functionality for ease of use and community building and just using this part of the functionality is a big improvement for the organisation. How a large FMCG or retail brand uses Facebook is not how a 14 year old high school girl uses Facebook. How you use Twitter as a single end-user is not how a large government emergency operations centre uses Twitter in a natural disaster.  How Denny's uses Tumblr is just amazing and one of the best things in the world. 

Most social network software works best when you have real individuals having peer to peer communications. When you add multiple users to an account like community managers or brand marketers, it gets harder to create the individual experience for your customers. When you add timezone variations and brand names and product categories and languages, it gets even more complicated. So you need software and systems to hide the complexity from the customer. A single user in your organisation firing up an account and using it the same as a consumer is not a good, scaleable solution for your company.  You can’t measure anything or lead score or translate the data into real sales. People get frustrated with this idea because they don’t see why you can’t just use individual, consumer tools the same way for enterprise tasks. In most cases you sort of can. Take the common one of salespeople using their personal Outlook email accounts to send mass emails to their customers.  Open the email, BCC a message to your territory list and fire away. 

Meanwhile back at head office, the marketing team has an enterprise email system that schedules, tracks, optimises, and delivers the company email programme. Analysts run lead scoring software and test email headers and click rates and unsubscribes. Meetings are held with swizzy coloured graphs and pointy laser beams to try and generate a 1-2% increase in customer response.  See the difference?

Yes, it’s all email and in its purest form, it doing the same thing but trying to communicate one to many in a sales environment is different from a peer to peer consumer chat with your friend about holidays. 

A small change in interface design or metrics or API might be the difference between and organisation seeing the light on something and being able to use the tools to do something a lot better.  In some ways we probably are circling around the same things of email or lists or social but improving the way the products are communicated (the way that Mailbox did so successfully with their marketing launch and UX) hopefully will turn into smarter use and wider adoption of better tools.

Won't personal branding make our people vain little egotistical divas?

One of the  objections people have about personal branding and employee advocacy work in companies is a concern about creating superstars or divas. In its simplest form this is a practical ‘what if they leave’ thing which you can work on by building out a team and having good systems.

However, I find the idea the you will create a star culture ridiculous. Just look at the World Cup Final. I don’t really follow football so I sort of know about Argentina’s Messi and then there was the young German guy who scored the winning goal….what was his name again?As for the rest of the players in all the teams that participated across the tournament ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Football players are superstars with endorsements and TV rights deals and PR and marketing machines thumping away at their personal branding and image. Still we may only know a handful of people in high interest areas such as our own country or individual players that we follow.  Do you seriously think that putting one of your sales support people on a blog post is going to create a star? Just because everyone in your company notices, it doesn't mean that customers will. Hang on, isn't that the real issue? Internal company face time and attention?

The real reason companies resist personal branding and advocacy is because it changes the rules of engagement inside the company and some people might feel that they have earned their place in the company or their right to speak as the Head of Digital at a marketing conference or to be featured in a management article. Another version of this is the manager who feels self conscious about appearing on a YouTube video or at an industry event so they project their own fears on to the project. 

Decentralising and democratising the public exchange of ideas in and outside a company presents risk for people who might not think they can compete at blogging, vlogging, LinkedIn network building or user group hosting. The rules of reward also change and a ‘nobody’ in a lower-level role in a small town sales office can start a Yammer thread that might solve a management problem. The smoke and mirrors of middle management sign-offs and who is actually doing what get cleared away and the grad can write three bullet points that solve why the paywall isn’t working.  The boring guy from accounts might know heaps about model airplanes and have an online community that also happens to use your products. That’s the main thing you want to listen for in an employee advocacy discussion: the person who doesn’t want to participate because ‘it’s not really me’ but they also don’t want to put any of their own team members forward because…. exactly, what’s the real reason? 

I also don’t buy the introvert versus extrovert thing because we all have natural strengths and development areas we have to work on. One of the top media relations people I know has spent years going to ToastMasters and public speaking and presenting courses just to be able to present to her own team in small meetings.  It’s an area she struggles with and she has to work a little harder than other people. In the same way you don’t get to say ‘oh look, I’m an extrovert so I don’t think I should have to do expense claims- that’s introverted behaviour’. Of course some people are going to be naturally better at it than others but don’t assume that it’s all gift, some people work really hard and put in a lot of hours in and outside of work learning new skills. If you start from the place that everyone is special and useful and has something to contribute but also, there is skill involved and people might have to do things outside their comfort zone for their own development then the discussion can stay more honest and grounded. 

Star culture or concerns about creating divas is not a real objection so throw that one out and focus on the benefits of a company that is open, connected, trusted and customer-centric. 

How do you make people feel culturally comfortable?

I heard an idea last week that I really liked and now I’m going to share it with you: culturally comfortable
Isn’t that great? Culturally comfortable. 

Father David (that's him in the photo) mentioned it in the context of Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori) in churches and how we should always try to create communities where different groups are welcome and celebrated. So it’s not about Maori churches or Pakeha churches (he speaks Maori and ministers in a lot of Maori communities) but making sure everyone feels comfortable in each other’s environments. 

Cultures and environments fascinate me in both a workplace and a wider society context. I can’t help but think we put a lot of emphasis on physical workplace environments nowadays and can kind of miss the pull that culture has. Anyone can go and buy some cool furniture and throw some toys around the place but are people actually using the stuff? I did a project for a very fancy investment firm once and they had beautiful harbour-view offices with architecturally designed coffee station perch things where people were meant to hang out and cross-pollinate and synergy with each other or something. After a few trips to the coffee stations I realised that 1. they were always super clean with no rubbish or spoons. 2.every time I walked to the coffee station I could feel hundreds of eyes watching me. 3. I was the only one using the coffee stations. The culture was competitive and clock-watchey. Any movement away from your cubicle was seen as slacking. People who took lunch breaks were weaker humans and it was duly noted by the hundreds of open plan office eyes that had me under surveillance. 

Physical environmental design had not conquered a paranoid culture and I was not culturally comfortable

How do people react when someone makes a mistake?

How do people react when someone has success?

Do people hang out and you know, actually like each other?

How do we make people feel that work is like home but also appreciate that they aren’t everyone and people are going to have different ideas about what ‘fun’ is and what ‘expensive’ is and what ‘Christmas party’ looks like?

Do the people who have been with the company for 25 years welcome the people who started this morning? What does ‘welcome’ look like? What does ‘welcome’ feel like?

I like this idea of ‘culturally comfortable’ because it recognises that not everyone is the same but everyone needs to be included and that there is a feeling to culture. 

How do you improve the cultural comfort of your home? 
How do you improve the cultural comfort of your workplace and communities?

The wait is over. Beautiful story telling to make tears come from your eyes

I’m going to break my rule of 1. not posting straight video links and 2. not talking about campaign creative for this video because…well you’ll see. If you want to know the difference between a promo video and true, documentary story telling then this is it. 

Kiwi Paul Nevison tells the story of Halena -the little Indonesian girl without a child sponsor

Compassion Australia #thewaitisover

Warning: tear jerk level: Extreme next level nothing you have experienced in your life. Massive puddles of water from your eyes forming very salty lakes. 


Together with @HillsongConf we've ended the wait for 40k kids. You could end the wait for one more:#thewaitisover