Creating Contagion: 5 Rule to Delivering Brand Success

Star

Here’s the rub…against a backdrop of thousands of new brands appearing daily, you decide to take your destiny into your own hands and create a new online brand. Your friends call you crazy, after all, how can you be heard above all the noise in the marketplace, how can you think anyone will become an evangelist for your brand.

Rest easy, there are 5 rules to creating contagion. Follow these rules and you will be well on your way to getting a strong following and building brand success.

RULE 1: Embrace Messy
The real world isn’t a clean, ordered place. So why should your brand be? Embrace the messy bits, do things when you have yet to perfect them, release alpha. Get out there, push the edges.

RULE 2: Release Control
Don’t think of your brand as a fragile newborn that you need to hold onto tightly and nurture closely without giving it any room to grow unchecked. Instead look at your brand as a sprightly teenager that needs a level of freedom to go into the wide world, explore new avenues and grow in ways you never imagined. Give up some control in your brand to your users, let them evangelise for you and you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

RULE 3: Back Fires
OK, you’ve got your site up and have regular users. Some of them are innovating on your site, but you’d also like to do some really big things on the site. Wisdom says rather pour small amounts of gasoline on the fires your users have already started, than pumping gallons onto large logs that no-one has tested. The analogy is that a fire with a small amount of gasoline on it will be boosted, whereas a log with gallons of gasoline will simply be a …wet log.

RULE 4: Scare Yourself
Look for issues that would take you way out of your comfort zone and tackle them. If you go right to the edge and really scare yourself, it’s easy to then deal with the smaller issues closer in to your comfort zone. Continually challenge yourself.

RULE 5: Solve Small
Give your users small problems to solve. This gets them used to working with you on building your brand. Once you have established a pattern of problem solving you can ratchet up the size of the problems you open up to your users.

Build these rules into your daily mantra and go build your brand!

The Amazing Foursquare Race

Endemol USA has levelled up to become the mayor of reality TV.

According to Variety, they are partnering with Foursquare to created a new show that is “likely to have an ‘Amazing Race’-style competitive element, in which participants travel to various sites.”

This could signal a deeper level of engagement between users of emerging technology and television programming. For example, a Foursquare user could leave clues for participants in the race at various locations. Or users could vie for the right to be mayor of a venue that racers must check in at and be the local person greeting them as they come running through the venue.

Branded Entertainment: It’s a Journey

The mipblog has great coverage of the MIPTV session “Branded Entertainment Across All Platforms”.

I love the point made by Charlie Crowe of C Squared: “A brand can be built over generations, but destroyed in 140 characters.”

Definitely worth keeping in mind!

The most poignant comment, though, was made by Kamel Oudi, Digital Media Director for Louise Vuitton France: “Each brand has a heart, a DNA.”

He urged brand custodians to follow their brand’s DNA ‘down the natural evolutionary path of your story, your brand and your people.’

He discussed the recent Journeys Awards, a crowdsourced campaign in which Louis Vuitton showcased emerging filmmakers following a brief from Wong Kar Wai. As pointed out on the mipblog:

The work was particularly meaningful because it demonstrates there’s a use for social media by luxury brands, which sometimes worry there’s no way to maintain exclusivity and cachet on democratic media. But with clear boundaries in place (for example, the same “journeys” text appeared in all film festival videos) and a clear communications strategy, users followed the tone set by Vuitton, speaking in the same artistic, ephemeral accent that the brand used.


Here’s the video of Sho Tsukikawa, which won the jury prize. Well worth watching:

Four People Is All It Takes To Change The World

I have a huge amount of respect for Robert Scoble. His intellect, his dedication to his task of curating trends and his personable approach make him a stand out in the Silicon Valley community…, no wider than that: globally!

That’s why I wanted to share with you his talk at Stanford University last month. In it he talks about how people like Scott Monty are humanizing the brands they work with, how new Zappos employees are forced to tweet to connect them to their brand and the concept of doubling pennies.

He finishes in true Scoble style with an understated truism – we all have a burning desire not to connect with thousands of ‘friends’ that we hardly know, but with just four people, the right four people…and that is all it takes to change the world, just four connected, passionate people.

Connect the dots – the right four people who have cracked the formula for building doubling pennies – an extremely powerful combination.

Definitely worth watching:

Re-architecting the business paradigm through social business design

Shropshire BridgeThe current enterprise branding/marketing outflows and monitoring systems are not designed for engagement. Instead they are asynchronous push mechanisms –

“Look at me, I’m the cool brand you need to identify with”;

“Hey guy, you really need to buy me, I’m the product that will make you whole again”.

The challenge for anyone working in the social business design arena is not being complacent and accepting the parameters set by clients –

“We have a total budget of $500k, how can you use this to push us in our market using these new social media tools”.

The challenge is convincing a client to change their entire product development, marketing, sales and distribution cycles to become more integrated around a synchronously engaged model, a model that goes way beyond retrofitting.

The challenge as well is telling them that far from making their business more cutting edge, in fact, this radical redesign will make them far more like the businesses that existed pre-industrial revolution.

In putting forward these re-architecting challenges, I am building on a thesis put forward by Luke Harvey-Palmer:

So much of the theory and practice that resides at the core of Social Business Design sounds like the same principles that successful villages and communities existed upon largely up until the early 18th Century.  For these villages, commerce was very much about the community, and conversations and relationships.  With the Industrial Revolution and the rise of globalisation most recently, corporations have forgotten the notions of community, collaboration and consultation.  Before the advent of advertising and the ‘agency’ people were persuaded to buy products by the people who made and distributed the products…and this all took place on local markets, where everyone gathered to enjoy the social aspects of business!

and continued by Robin Hamman of the Dachis Group:

Whilst it’s true that, at present, most social media monitoring is being used to protect existing mass processes, I remain enthusiastic about it’s potential to help genuinely social businesses gain a foothold by helping them identify opportunities, make contact with those with a need (“the market”) and build awareness of their ability and eagerness to fulfill that need. That, however, requires more than just a monitoring solution – it requires a consumer focused strategy, utilising a variety of social tools to support consumer involvement in every step of the process, including product or service definition, testing, refinement and marketing.

Being bold with clients about re-architecting rather than retrofitting will ultimately deliver far greater return on (change) investment.

[pic courtesy of Burwash Calligrapher]

Social Business Design: Birth of a New Industry

La Défense

New industry sectors coalesce and crystallize as a result of a number of factors converging.

In the case of Social Business Design this is an area that has been bubbling under for about 18 months with a range of different tags, such as Enterprise 2.0, but it never really gelled together. There were differences of opinion on who the market was, how to approach it and what exactly did it constitute. Was it simply setting up a corporate blog, an internal wiki and a customer forum or was there more to this area?

Charlene Li’s book Groundswell went a long way towards gathering impetus behind this new industry sector, but still the gel wasn’t quite there. When she left Forrester and set up the Altimeter Group people took notice, but their attention wasn’t galvanized.

And then Jeremiah Oywang left Forrester as well and joined Charlene. People started to sit up and really take notice – they were primed for something to happen. Around about the same time David Armano, an exec with the Dachis Group gave a presentation at the Social Fresh conference titled Social Business by Design. The industry now had a moniker to focus around.

The key inflection point though came last week when Dachis acquired Headshift. Much has already been written about this and most industry commentators will agree with the following tweet from @amayfield:

Headshift/Dachis is massively significant. Not marketing…this is a new sector shaping up: social business.

The Social Business Design meme is now starting to spread rapidly courtesy of one of the classic tenets of this industry: sharing. David Armano had placed his deck of slides on Slideshare two weeks ago. It has since been featured on Slideshare’s new “hot on Twitter” section and is gaining a lot more viewers.

This depth of attention around the topic is rapidly turning to more widespread adoption of the term, both by potential industry practitioners and by their potential clients. An industry is born.

What is Social Business Design?

Anne McCrossan has delivered a cogent summary of this arena:

Social business design sits at the intersection of organizational development and marketing, and can loosely be described as the practice of developing communities of engagement to develop ideas, activities and outputs for commercial and social benefit.

As organizations adopt the principles of social business design, intangible, soft assets like brand value, purpose, human resources, processes and capabilities come to the fore. Social business design is about engendering involvement and it’s inbound.

Slightly differently, marketing services and ‘broadcast’ media operate on the basis the message and transaction are the means to the end. Marketing services communicate primarily outbound.

Her entire post is pure gold and I highly recommend anyone who has read this far to jump over to her site and continue reading.

You will be hearing a lot more on the topic of Social Business Design and I will aim to synthesise and analyze as much of it as I can.

ADDED: Gaurav Mishra has posted a comprehensive summary of this burgeoning space and I wanted to point to his thoughts as they complement the thread in this post.

The key take out, for me, from his comments are that both Altimeter and Dachis focus on using emerging social technologies for transforming businesses, instead of merely reaching out to customers.

This is a salient point. As the social technologies shift, so can the emphasis that an agency puts in those technologies. For example, Augmented Reality is still in its early infancy as a technology and a few years out from being of use within the enterprise. However, when it does mature as a technology it will have an immense impact, until then it is on all of our watchlists, but it’s not worth confusing clients with until it matures somewhat.

[picture courtesy of JArous]

The New Deconomy: Advertising Under Siege?

Yesterday I mosied around the Sydney ad:tech conference. Being in that wonderfully liberating point of time of seeking my next windmill to tilt at I figured it to be a worthy destination.

My first impression, after factoring in the change of venue from last year, was that it was much subdued. Bearing in mind how photographers see things in capture frames, I spoke with one of the photogs doing the rounds and she had the most wonderful comment which totally summed up the atmosphere.

Her takeout was that she was reticent to take pictures of speakers whilst their slides painted doom and gloom backdrops. She kept finding herself hesitating and waiting for more upbeat slides – which didn’t often materialise.

Last year there was almost a feeling of whimsical discovery – ad execs and marketers in a discovery comfort zone: “tell me again how social media works?”. This year – a totally different picture: “we’ve gotta figure a way to make money from this social media stuff”.

I was also somewhat bemused by the rise of Twitter across the conference consciousness. It was definitely the tech word of the day – much like Google was on everyone’s lips a few years back. Expect a Twitter consultant or two to pop up near you soon. It’s the new SEO in the new Deconomy.

Seriously though, the new epiphany for an industry that is increasingly under pressure, will soon be around engagement and I suspect there to be a panel or more at next year’s event on this topic.

Triibes: Moving Beyond The Echo Chamber With Seth Godin

Today marked the inaugural gathering of the San Francisco chapter of Triibes, the social network set up by marketing guru Seth Godin.

Meeting over lunch at Apple HQ, the group discussed what they were looking to get out of their involvement, broke ice and nibbled pizza. About half way through Seth dialled in and the conversation lifted a notch.

Seth spoke about what Triibes means to him – a place to engage in dialogue with the audience he has cultivated through his writing over the years.

He also spoke about his vision of books and how they fit into the social media paradigm. He sees them as a great way of collating a number of conversations or essays into a format that can easily shared. As proof that his theory was being put into practice, the group unanimously pointed out they had all given one of Seth’s books to a colleague.

It was also interesting to note the attraction for some folks in joining Triibe was that it is not a part of the usual social networking echo chamber. Yet.