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Calling Social Media Out November 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, web 2.0, work/life.
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I’ve had enough. I’m done with social media and I’m calling you, you and particularly YOU out on it. I’m nailing it to the wall for the crock that it is. UGC was the first to cop it, social media is next.

I’m looking at what Jules is doing with The Population, my friend Matt‘s work with DP Dialogue, whoever else is out there. Yes, we have the Beersphere tonight, yes I blog, vlog, put music on MySpace, I comment, bookmark with del.icio.us, I use compfight to search Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed imagery, I discover new music via Last.fm and Pandora, and I Twitter. I do all that, and I’m telling you right now social media will be, in the great history of the web, hell in the great history of the next three years (if that long), the 2.0 equivalent of Pets.com.

And here is why.

First, we have to agree on something. You can choose to disagree, and I welcome that, but my stance is this: the web is inherently social. Not for everyone, particularly not for older generations, but from me back to the babies it is inherently, indiscriminately, and unavoidably social.

Next, we have to agree that the web is young. The web is still figuring out what it is, what it wants to be. You know movies? The name comes, need I remind you, from moving pictures. Photos that seemed to come to life, truth 24 times a second. Web 1.0 was moving pictures, we’re now in the Talkies. Imagine if film had stalled when talkies came along and we suddenly found the actors had horrible voices?

That is where we are; social media is “the talkies” of the Internet.

Social media isn’t anything special, it is just the Internet in its current form. All media is social – Julian says this himself. It is a period that will forever be known as a time where it became as easy to create content as it was to consume it. THAT is the important part of what is going on.

Not Web 2.0, not new media, not digital media, not post-media and certainly not social media. If all media is social, media must be inherently social and if we agree the web is inherently social then the Internet is, my friends, just a collection of media (we need to separate that idea from the business of media). We have created a new taxonomy in an attempt to somehow describe the “otherness” of this new space, which is itself not a recent development; we’ve separated movies and TV for years even though they showed us essentially the same thing (like FM radio and Pandora do now). Watching video online is no different, and soon we won’t treat it like it is.

In fact, thank God (or Dawkins for the atheists) we’re rapidly coming back around to a place where we’re not stuck on discussions of platforms and mediums; there will only be one platform where everyone produces and, once again, content will be king. That platform is the Internet, and, dear client folk, if someone comes to you with a digital strategy that does not have a focus on creating 1-to-1 connections in your audience, then run for the hills. But do not be caught up in the myth of social media, that is just the interwebs as we know it.

As Iain Tait said much more succinctly than I, digital is not a thing anymore.

Now, let’s talk about something interesting for a change.

**Update** I got the name of Matt’s social media company wrong as he points out below. Apologies to him and the good people at De Pasquale.

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Three of the best for Marketers November 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, marketing, philosophy, social media.
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My friend Matt put up a great post – The Ten Best Marketing Tips Ever. I’m not crazy about all of them, but these three are gems:

  1. Make your customer service truly remarkable. No, seriously, you don’t understand. Not good. Not brilliant: remarkable.
  2. Find time to get active in your industry association. Offer to be secretary and do an amazing job. Do extra stuff that no one wants to do and do it really well. You’ll be a captain of industry in six months.
  3. Engage your customers properly, start conversations with them online and offline (you know, like, when they’re in your store) and do it because you want to, not because it’s the latest fad. Smile like you mean it.

Some thoughts:

  • Remarkable is such a good idea, and so under the radar still. Take it, eat it for breakfast. Own it. Be it.
  • I was telling my new friend Lisa, there’s always an opportunity to be a thought-leader, and she’s reaching out to small businesses on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and making a really positive impact by just being good. If you’re in that area and need a hand, get in touch with her.
  • Passion counts for more than degrees and experience and networks combined. Full stop. Look at my friend Jules for proof of that.
  • Matt references Gary Vee’s brilliant talk from the Web 2.0 conference, which is required reading watching if you’re a reader here (“Stop watching fucking Lost!”). The other great insight from that talk is (and I’m paraphrasing) “Listening is one thing, giving a shit is a whole other thing.”

OK. Go enjoy the weekend.

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Take a message to my love October 15, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, storytelling.
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There’s this age old idea that people got into advertising who wanted to make movies, the same way every journalist is supposedly a frustrated novelist. I’m sure it is true for some, and entirely not true for many. My friend Matt used to be a journalist and now works in advertising, he might have something interesting to say there (he usually does).

There’s a distinction, an important one I think, between people wanting to make movies and people wanting to tell stories. I’m wondering if advertising always has to tell stories, at least, needs to tell them in a traditional sense. One thing I think old media advertising did and still does much better than digital is deliver a whole story in just a single image and a bit of copy. We can argue until the cows come home that that isn’t the point any more, but that’s for another post.

In writing this I’ve been thinking about ads that have conveyed a story for me, and particularly ones that didn’t have narrative at their core, but still managed to tell us a whole lot. Take for example one of my favourite commercials ever (yes, forever-ever, forever-ever):

There’s a whole lot of story going on here, it isn’t just five guys goofing off with each other. The bikes hanging up in the first apartment, the cut to Dookie who is clearly the rennaissance man of the bunch, left-handed and a gamer, at the end we’re even shown it’s winter outside. We could make some guesses around the character archetypes employed to bring the story to life, but we’ve already got a variety of things to work with, and in a transmedia environment there’s a lot of fun to be had very quickly, and very easily.

Another commercial that only came out this year that I loved was this one from HSBC:

What did you think? One colleague I showed it to said it made him angry, he really got worked up by it. I thought it was great though, brilliantly executed to deliver a very particular point – and in delivering a point we get to the heart of narrative in traditional advertising.

Advertising, in telling a story, requires a very specific emotion or lesson to come out of the narrative in order for the brand’s proposition to connect with the audience; if there’s ambiguity it falls flat, it only works if it can’t be easily refuted, and that’s really, really hard to do. With this in mind they have more in common with Hans Christian Anderson than they do with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (great book, read it), stories employed to deliver a very particular point, constructed from very simple devices to make the re-telling as simple and easy as possible, which is why when I get around to having kids they’re still going to be hearing about Hansel and Gretel, even though I’d much rather be telling them about Han Solo and Chewie.

This is getting a bit long, so I’m going to split this into two sections as I still want to talk about ambiguity and how it works in favour of the story when done right (it’s more interesting than it sounds, I promise). To whet the appetite, if you haven’t seen the HBO Voyeur site, then that is homework.

Meanwhile, what’s your favourite example of a linear story in advertising?

**Update** October 29th, 2008

Watch the Budweiser guys get resurrected in this pseudo-spot for Barack Obama. This is now a meme as much as it was ever a commercial, which means the fun is only just getting started.

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They say you gotta stay hungry August 27, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
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Springsteen talks about chasing a silver thread between him and the audience, and some nights he grabs it on the first note and holds it the whole way, and some nights he spends every second trying to catch it, only to have it constantly slip away.

I’m feeling a little confessional today.

Don’t know whether that’s due to Matt quoting Bible verses at me while we argue over if Mother Theresa was a good marketer, but I had trouble getting started yesterday and today doesn’t feel much better.

One thing there’s never a shortage of in advertising is confidence. Confidence and ego. When I made games a good friend and I would meet up at conferences and make secret confessions that we spent so much time second guessing the design decisions we were making  it was a miracle we hadn’t been exposed for the frauds we were. That friend then played a lead design role on Bioshock, a game that appeared and mopped the floor with everything else that showed up to dance last year.

In the time since we’d both rationalised those feelings through many encounters with others who never lacked confidence, yet consistently produced mediocre work; if you think every idea is sprung from genius, you’re not likely to try harder at anything.

I say all this sitting on an idea for a client. A great idea. Game changing, Lion-winning, great idea. I know in my gut it is a great idea, and I’m struggling to boil it down to a simple, one line pitch, which it needs to be as the company is quite conservative. It needs to hit home and they need to get it before the sentence finishes leaving my mouth.

I’m searching for that silver thread today, and the bitch is if I knew I’d find it then it wouldn’t be worth a thing.