Adaptive Path: The Long Wow

I just read a great article by by Brandon Schauer, President & Managing Director of Adaptive Path.

Here's a quick snip-it:

... Few companies consistently translate rich insights from their customers’ lives into new and better offerings. The few that do can achieve a Long Wow, continuously delivering wow moments and building a true, deep loyalty that transcends traditional loyalty programs...

I highly recommend you read the entire The Long Wow article.

Semantic Web and Content Strategy: What are you doing about it?

I was lucky enough to attend a talk last night organized by UX Melbourne. Rachel Lovinger from Razorfish spoke about her work on Nimble, and I found it so interesting I decided one of her presentations needed to be on my blog.

Beet.TV: BBC Global Digital Chief: The "ROI from Facebook is Staggering"

Beet.TV: BBC Global Digital Chief: The "ROI from Facebook is Staggering"

Your brand has an online community ..... now what?

I’m pretty lucky to have the opportunity to meet with lots of different types of company’s and learn about their brand from the inside out. Creating a plan for the online community requires an intimate knowledge of how the business is setup. It could be likened to a nutritionist providing a client with a meal plan- there’s no use in prescribing food options that are hard to find at the local grocery store or tasty to the person who has to eat it.

A common mistake is to create a community strategy that doesn’t fit within the business framework. An online community needs to be an extension of existing systems and values. As much as I’d love to fit into a size 6 I know that I will never have the willpower or drive to work hard enough to achieve that goal. I could eat a raw food diet and workout for a few hours every day, but that isn’t realistic. Your community strategy needs to follow the same logic.

The first thing you need to think about is why you want an online community. What purpose is it serving your customers and your business?

Just like a diet, make choices based on the needs and not lofty ambitions that aren’t true to your natural way of doing things. Many businesses need ideas being generated by passionate brand advocates. Other businesses need to discuss pitfalls and challenges to improve their customer service. Some communities are open and public, but others are limited to private members. But regardless of the type of community they should be providing the business with insights and information.

Having an online community is not a one size fits all exercise. Every brand has unique requirements. And each social media platform has its own rules of engagement. Spend time thinking about the messages you need to communicate and where the right audience is located in order to positively receive these messages. Individual motivations are commonly dictated by where a person spends the majority of their time online. Although we’re speaking the same language we don’t all share the same vocabulary.

The way to attack your brand’s strategy for cultivating an online community is to break down barriers and provide the flexibility for users to define their own terms of use. A great example is Polyvore, a fashion portal that invites users to create their own ‘sets’. The barriers are broken down, in that, users can mix and match brands and products. Technically, the products within the sets are sold through different websites and if someone is inspired by a set they can’t buy it via Polyvore.

The genius is that users are able to merchandise products on their own terms. Most shopping portals try to be a print magazine defining the use and purpose of products using out-dated advertising methodology. The community doesn’t want to be sold to. The community wants to create, share, explore, build, compose and once they’re exhausted of mixing and matching they’re ready to make informed purchase choices.

Polyvore doesn’t need to worry about advertising because the entire platform is advertising. The community provide critical data informing brands about popularity and trends. Engagement is a metric that affects your bottom line because it provides a glimpse of your brands longevity. A community isn’t a gimmick – it’s a product. Analytics is information and information is power.

Why Failure Breeds Success: Thoughts on Digital Media

Digital media is only just reaching it’s maturity. The medium is so young and mainstream use of web technologies is still quite awkward. To believe that everything we build and design is going to be perfect the first time we try is unrealistic. It’s good to be critical and continue raising the bar of what is possible, but failure is still unavoidable. It’s much healthier to embrace the notion of failure as opportunities to learn. We learn more from loss than gain.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about failure. Both in my personal life and professional sphere the idea of what constitutes failure has become an underlining theme. In meetings when new ideas have been proposed they've been continually rejected by those who fear failure.

"X company already tried that and it failed (a statement with no insight into the poor execution or variables)."

"We can't create a concise business case that we're guaranteed uptake so it's safer to keep doing what we're doing (even though no money is coming from what we're currently doing)."

"We thought of doing X years ago, but we didn't have X or Y or Z and now we've moved on. It's too late."

"X worked for Y, but that could never work for us because we're in a different category."

Being a risk taker means not worrying about failure because the risks are calculated and understood. If the exact goal is not succeeded an initiative is not necessarily a failure. Something is always learned and therefore there is always value. Digital media is founded on test and measure - not waiting for an answer to fall into your lap. In order to be in this business you must have a thick skin and be able to rebound quickly.

I read recently in a parenting book that you should never offer an option to a child that you are not prepared to allow them to fulfil. Being passive aggressive involves believing that other people can infer a meaning from subtle to non-literal cues. So often we believe that other people are psychics and able to pick up our non-actions as well as our actions. Or we try to control others and the world around us because we fear failure. The more we try to control digital media the less we grow. And being passive aggressive just wastes time. You might as well just stick your head and in the sand and wait for everyone to understand digital media as well as they understand traditional media. (I'll tap your shoulder is about 5-10 years.)

Some say that it takes 20 years to be able to make accurate inferences about individuals we know intimately. And if we apply that concept to ourselves or to our work it is reasonable to think that we’re destined to fail more than we succeed. That was the case for me, it took me about 20 years to really know myself and ten years later I’m still fine tuning my relationship with myself. Communication is a fine art, and so to is predicting user behaviour online. It takes time and a lot of trial and error.

My Dad used to call it “pulling a Jessica” - when I'd spontaneously try something and fail. I failed a lot as a kid and upon failing I gave up. Not to suggest my Dad was putting me down. He is a very wise man who helped me understand that what makes me different are my greatest assets. The trick is to apply what is different to benefit others and not become a reclusive introvert. If I think about my differences as hindrances I'd never try new things because I'd fear failure. I believe it's why I gravitated to digital media. Trying things and failing is a part of my personality. But as I've grown up I've realised that failing is no reason to give up - it's only the beginning.

“Life exists as a million deaths and a million rebirths.” - Toni Childs