04/30/13

How to Pivot, Hack and Disrupt Your Way Toward Innovation!

We are not a patient people. As with any personality trait, there comes with this realization the good, the bad and the ugly, all angles of which were explored at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored (#IUNY13) conference in New York City last week. According to the parade of speakers, the tradeoff looks something like this: we have ushered in the digital age—the good—to create a work dynamic that makes the one-career path no longer viable—everyone seems to be on the fence as to whether this is bad, though it was noted more than once it can certainly get ugly! This and just about everything else during the event was a mind-fuck, in the best sense of the compound word’s definition.

Editor-in-chief of Fast Company’s print publication Robert (Bob) Safian (@rsafian) kicked off the event, noting how with the advent of the digital age, we have reached a time during which everything we do requires telling a story, something we at adroyt believe with a vengeance. He also told the crowd that with the coming of the futurist age, which appears to be closer than most of us would like to think, we will find ourselves exploring scenarios that have to be both plausible and provocative—in a nutshell, people without critical thinking skills, you are about to be left behind.

There was no one clear-cut answer for how we make the adjustments to adapt to this brave new world, though a number of presenters have figured out their own ways of being nimble on their feet. Justin Kan (@justinkan), founder of Exec and Justin.tv, keeps calm and pivots. It appears he’s on to something, as skillfully effecting the pivot—a lateral career move, or a business segue from one scenario to another just before an idea goes south—is going to be one of the most important career weapons for success in business in the future. Embracing the definition of this and three other words—disruptive, hacking and iteration—are going to come in very handy in the imagination era. Fast Company experimented with Vine during the conference and Krista Donaldson’s clip is either proof of this or a sign that everyone at the conference was a victim of brainwashing.

More than once during the conference, corporate leaders championed an investment in young talent, which they described as tantamount to the survival of our country. Venture Capitalists are certainly sold on youth, as was evidenced by the procession of the under-30 set ebbing and flowing from the stage, including David Karp of Tumblr, at 26, and Brian Wong of Kiip, at 22, who presented a 7-minute Master Class in the video below with enough verve to ignite a small mid-western town’s power grid. According to Wong, it’s impossible not to bump into money on the street in Silicon Valley. It also seems quite certain skipping classes in school is a prerequisite to nurturing a successful tech startup (Just ask Tony Hsieh of Zappos fame!).

That’s the macro view: the grander scale of futurism was also a hot topic, no surprise as it is a worldview embraced wholeheartedly by Fast Company. A panel on the topic, led by Morgan Clendaniel, the editor of Co.Exist, included Jamais Cascio, David Evans and Rita J. King, whose philosophy espouses the intermingling of science and art—science being the process where curiosity rules and art being an exploration of what it means to be human. “Art gives us a chance to ask ourselves what it means to be human while we are entwined with machines,” she said. “If we don’t consider what makes us human as we code the future, we may leave too much of our spiritually out of the equation.”

Evans made the point that we have two interconnected brains but we come up with only three-percent of our most creative ideas when we are ensconced in offices because the right brain finds the atmosphere woefully boring. “The definition of cubicle comes from the Latin for bedchamber,” he noted. “Our work environments put us to sleep!” For a steady stream of their futuristic thinking, follow them on Twitter—Evans, Cisco’s Chief Futurist, tweets as @DaveTheFuturist; King tweets as @RitaJKing; and Cascio as @cascio.

Fast Company editor-at-large Jeff Chu directed a storytelling session titled “The Future of Giving,” which included Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker, Tal Dehtiar of Oliberté Shoes, Krista Donaldson of D-Rev and Melissa Kushner of goods for good. It was an excellent example of companies looking to make a difference in the world, and it has inspired us at adroyt to look at ways we can make our company more mission-driven and socially conscious. It’s something I have long admired about the way Stephanie Odegard runs her business. I attended the conference with Corey Finjer of Hawkins International Public Relations, and I asked her to share with me her takeaway just before we finished our last cocktail together. “I’m seeing that there are times when companies have to be willing to take some risks in order to take things to a higher level of actualization,” she answered.

Host Baratunde Thurston ended the conference on a high note as he recapped the events of the conference that included him nominating nearly everyone who had walked across the dais for mayor of New York City. Yeah, we’re pretty desperate for someone enlightening (or at the very least engaging) to enter the race. I cast my vote for Mario!

03/27/12

Tagging Mad Men on the NYC Subway

Don Draper and Season 5 of Mad Men finally arrived this past Sunday. The nation has finally been allowed to collectively exhale its bated breath (Don’s being a cloud of vintage smoke) and try to get comfortable on their Mid-Century Modern sofas as the drama continues after an extended hiatus.

Leading up to this year’s launch was the expected publicity build-up, including posters and billboards—we ARE talking Madison Avenue here, people! One of the designs drew a variety of disparate responses: a poster campaign splashed across several metropolitan areas, most notably the NYC subway system, made the news in its own right. The graphic, minimalist in the extreme true to the show’s milieu (and branding), shows a freefalling businessman’s black silhouette on a vast stark white background and a single line of text at the very bottom, the date March 25.

Fans immediately recognized the significance, despite the ambiguity. Others saw something completely different, reinforcing the latent evidence that, after all, perception creates individual reality. A great outcry rose claiming exploitation of 9/11 and “The Falling Man” image, despite the fact that the iconography has been part of the opening credits since before Episode One, and in fact has been present for decades in similarly-staged releases.

Another, more light-hearted response was the white-canvas opportunity seized by New York’s street artists and taggers. There has been some speculation that this may have been a calculated move by the ad agency behind the ad agency (marketing is all about glorious layers of psyching-out), with the sidespin adding to the building of mystique. Opting for entertainment, we’ve collected a few of the better examples in this post so you can see for yourself. What do you think? Happy accident or brilliant marketing ploy by leaving so much white space in the design?

03/15/12

A Spin on the Subway: Google’s Good to Know Campaign

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

Google is running a new and pervasive ad campaign in several US metropolitan centers; the subway trains in New York City are plastered with banal posters explaining internet privacy, basic browsing lingo, and Google’s own policies. This seems to be a spin directive aimed at countering the recent storm of response to Google’s cross-platform consolidation of its privacy policies, which took effect March 1st. In their own words “Written in clear language and featuring practical examples to illustrate complex security and privacy issues, the website and advertising campaign aim to empower users to tackle their online security concerns and make more informed decisions about their internet use.” OK, I feel better now…

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

The copious placards feature caricatures and catch-phrases intended to answer simple questions or concerns of the everyday netizen; they’re calling it the “Good to Know” campaign. The facile messages masquerade as Big Brother Data in a second-grade teacher costume – it brings to mind a disquieting revision of the roles in the insightful “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” scene from The Wizard of Oz.

I find the cartooned characters somewhat repugnant. One commentator described them as childish… but is there a mindset or underlying ethos behind these depictions of lumpy humans dealing with a technoworld they don’t understand? It’s an interesting idea to consider. Their heads are nearly vestigial; the legs are atrophied props. Arms are rubbery tentacles devolved for grasping devices. The stoop-shouldered torso is wide, flattened, and squared off: it reminds me of a smart-phone or a flash drive. Nearly all the inhabitants of this anxious scape are delineated in black and white; only the world around them has a bit of remaining color.

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

What do you think? Are you relieved and reassured by this kindly intervention on your behalf? Stop back in on the 20th when we take a look at the ROI of Instagram, the photosharing app that is getting so much buzz.

03/13/12

Let’s Hear It for the Noise!

In a little over a week, the exhibition “No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection” will be history so if you are anywhere near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, before March 25, you might want to stop by the Cranbrook Art Museum to see the varied works by 50 leading contemporary artists and designers on view within the building designed by Eliel Saarinen. The Finnish architect, who taught at Cranbrook and became the school’s president in 1932, had Charles and Ray Eames (then Ray Kaiser) as students. If you haven’t seen the PBS documentary on the Eames, it’s worth watching for its in-depth view of the rampant creativity for which the couple is known.

One of the pieces in the exhibition at Cranbrook that captured our attention is a Nick Cave soundsuit titled “Tree Soundsuit”—one of the artist’s wearable mixed-media sculptures about which Roberta Smith of The New York Times said, “Whether Nick Cave’s efforts qualify as fashion, body art or sculpture…they fall squarely under the heading of Must Be Seen to Be Believed.” In the video below, Cave explains that he didn’t set out to produce “wearable art”; that he didn’t even realize the suits made noise until he put one on! Leave it to someone who has a background in textile design and modern dance to meld the two disciplines so dynamically!

Cave’s art is available through Jack Shainman Gallery and he sells some interesting items on his SoundsuitShop site, including these punching bags, which we thought might serve as stress-relievers for all of you overachievers out there (we’re online ordering ours as we speak)!

Coming up on the next #ThoughtThursday, we ask you how you feel about the new Google privacy policy, taking on the advertising campaign slathering the New York City subway system. Called the Good to Know campaign, the marketing effort might have been a bit better conceived. How does this related to the Wizard of Oz? We guess you’ll just have to stop back in to see, no?

08/16/11

Describing the Unknown: Social Analytics

Rooftop pool deck at the Gansevoort Park Avenue during ICFF: Photograph © adroyt original.

A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are built for.

John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928 (also attributed to William G.T. Shedd)

How do you plan a trip to an unfamiliar place without an itinerary, or even dependable navigation tools? No Google Maps, much less Expedia’s concierge services or even the confident beat of a TomTom… You may not even know the means: planes, trains and automobiles might morph into canoes, camels or Sherpas!

A twig basket’s shadow at the Molteni & C Dada Showroom in Soho: Photograph © adroyt original

And yet, these voyages into the unknown are being launched every day, in the brave New World of social media marketing. Some are more successful than others, adjusting their tack and trim as they go, and others sail off the edge of the map, eyes on an outdated chart instead of the horizon. Christopher Columbus didn’t know exactly where he would land when he left the port of Palos, Spain, on August 3, 1492; he had a conviction and a direction. The rest he made up along the way.

Light fixtures at The Standard in the Meatpacking District, NYC: Photograph © adroyt original

And herein lies the heart of the (dark) matter: launching a social media marketing effort is a process, not an open-and-shut deliverable. It is the means, not the end. It’s a venture into a constantly shifting dynamic of personalities and exchanges, one which the ancient cartographers labeled “Here Be Dragons.” These encounters need not be a deterrent or a sure sign of defeat, but they do demand awareness. To imagine that a social media campaign will be easy is shortsighted and unrealistic.

Waves of ornamental grasses meet scored decking on the High Line in New York City: Photograph © adroyt original

But the undertaking will be worthwhile and in today’s Web 3.0 conditions, not even optional. In the end, it is all about setting expectations. It is important to go into these explorations with eyes wide open and course corrections at the ready. Know that “you don’t know what you don’t know” and you’ll be forewarned and forearmed. The rewards for a company willing to embark on a voyage of discovery and learning through social media outreach are boundless and lasting. The momentum gained from staying open-minded regarding social media will stand any enterprise in good stead down the road. Consider the question “How will our marketing efforts look in 20 years?” Though it’s impossible to know, of course, any business leader willing to include visionary thinking in his or her set of tools will be ahead of the game regardless of the configuration of the internet and how it’s used as a marketing tool. Another thought-provoking post on the subject can be found here.

This post addresses the #LetsBlogOff question of the day: “What will your life look like in 20 years?” To see a list of other bloggers answering the question in their own unique voices, click here for the full roster.

07/6/11

Bigfoot Sighting on Google!

Why Should I Use Social Media for Marketing?

Your Search Footprint Will Be Larger

It’s #WhyteWednesday and we’re trotting out (with large hairy feet) another WhytePaper ™. Adroyt’s in the relationship business and today we take a look at the relationship between you and Google (you’re in bed, whether you want to be or not). So why not be all you can be?

It’s no longer a neologism, but it IS a truism: “Googling” has become a default behavior, to the web giant’s dismay (not the action itself per se, but the gerundification of its vaunted trademark). Cease and desist orders notwithstanding, we all know what to do when there’s a question in the air and a smartphone in the vicinity. Google it already! If you’re reading this, we’re preaching to the choir.

Let’s extrapolate just a little. Here are a few “givens” about which there can be no quibbling (and these are the operative assumptions of that Holy Grail known as SEO, by which web presence lives or dies); if information is sought, a search engine is consulted. The more easily found results will draw greater attention. If you’re not seen, you don’t exist. Keywords, links, and relevant content make busy indexing spiders hum little happy songs. Chasing site and page rank is a lot of work (and keeps expensive consultants in caviar and champagne) but it will often pay off. However…

There’s a fresh new kid on the block and he’s playing with a new set of rules. It’s open to all comers: you don’t have to jump in but this is where the action is going. It’s called Social Media and it’s a game changer. And here’s the payoff: search engine crawlers (especially Google) are taking note of these forays into relationship and peer validation. This mashup of “search” and “social” is becoming the foundation for the new paradigm tagged  Web 3.0. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Exhibit A – anecdotal evidence follows using Google search returns for the term “adroyt” (Granted, it may not be pure exegetics but it demonstrates a point – we’re not the only “adroyt” out there)…

1. Google’s first two pages of results show 20 results (duh, wait for it); 14 of those entries refer to yours truly.

2. Of those 14, fully 9 are drawn from social network sites. The other 5 mentions are from our own blog platform (this one), which is the content anchor for those outposts.

3. The #1 URL result is adroyt.com (*deep sigh of relief*) but #2, 4, and 5 are Twitter, FaceBook, and Flickr respectively. LinkedIn is #11 and our YouTube channel wanders in at #16 (gotta work on that: some shuffle dancing kid from Cali is stepping on our toes even if I do like his style). Tumblr is gaining.

This is called expanding your footprint. It’s a new take on the SEO acronym: it’s Search Engine Occupation. It matters now and it will matter even more very soon. Ignore at your SERP peril!

06/22/11

The Writing’s On The Wall

It’s #WhyteWednesday and here’s the second installment in a series of #WhytePapers (TM), taking a quick, clear look at a few basic understandings about the why’s and wherefore’s of social media for business. These statements will be collated and available for your use on a section of this site, as soon as we get a few under our belts!

Streetside graffiti in Bologna, Italy © adroyt original

Why Should I Use Social Media For Marketing?

Your Competition Is Already There.

A recent study by BtoB magazine found that nearly 80% of the companies surveyed are planning large increases in the portion of their outreach budgets devoted to online spending. This is the single largest category of growth, ranking ahead of other marketing methods such as events and direct mail. Source here

Research by Forrester and GSI Commerce documents that amongst firms with an online sales presence, 72% intend to spend more on marketing via social networks than in 2010. Driving this willingness to innovate is the huge bump in online sales for 2010 (an increase of 11.3%.) Source here

Another report by Forrester Research forecasts a 34% growth in marketing efforts through social media outlets, faster than any other single web option (such as email, display, or search), and more than double the average growth of ALL online mediums put together. Source here

Corroboration from another study: by 2012, total marketing expenditures of all types by small business is expected to grow a modest 4% (given the tough times.) But there’s a huge shift inside the overall budget: the amount directed toward social media outlets will increase 35%, while other areas will see a decrease in share. Source here

One final Forrester perspective (these folks know their stuff)… U.S. B2B online spending is expected to more than double by 2014, from 2.3 to 4.8 billion dollars. The portion devoted to social media is projected to increase a staggering 500% during that time. Source here

While these statistics cross categories and overlap time samples, the overarching trends are clear. Businesses are recognizing the absolute necessity of an increasingly diverse online existence and the growing role that social media plays in establishing that presence. The face of the web is evolving and survival, no less than success, is awarded through adaptation.

If you think this post is smart, wait until you see how we interweave James Taylor’s Migration, social media and the Vox Humana in our next post!

06/15/11

#WhyteWednesday

We’re launching a new series of posts – seems we couldn’t be more blatant about the scheduling, but the rest of the tag might need a little explanation. It’s simple, really: we’re taking the idea of a white paper and branding it “by adroyt.” The topics will center around our chosen mission of content-driven social media marketing: the principles inside the practices. True to form, they’ll be condensed, to the point, and all about the “Y” – we hope you’ll find them helpful. We’ll be making these available on a dedicated resource page, for easy reference and further use.

Your clients are already there: just knock! © adroyt original from Venice, Italy

We’re kicking it off with the first of a number of posts addressing the perennial question:

Why Should I Use Social Media for Marketing?

Because Your Clients Are Already There

The average American spent 32 hours online in a month’s time; the highest user group is the 45-54 year old bracket at over 39 hours a month spent on the web, according to a recent report by ComScore. Source here.

Another survey by Forrester, a leading web research group, pegs time online even higher, at an average of 12 hours a week. While total time online has leveled off from its strong growth in the last 5 years, there’s a reason for this: users have become much more savvy in their habits, going directly to their goals. Source here.

Even more revealing, of that time spent on the web, nearly 23% of it is now being spent within social networks. This is more than twice the share of time spent on any other activity. Something’s got to give: email use, portal access, and messaging are actually declining. Source here.

Nielsen Research has lately shown that growth of social media use is currently at an astounding 43%. The public is using these networks to communicate, learn, research and, of course, socialize. This is projected to remain very strong for the foreseeable future. Source here.

What’s the upshot? We all know that traditional media channels are in decline, giving way or converting (if possible) to digital platforms. How will you reach your prospects on the web? By meeting with them on their own turf – social networks. These new games have new rules: we’ll be sharing them – we enjoy the sport. Stick around!

Tomorrow, our #ThoughtThursday post will have you squirming under the lens of etiquette, Emily Post style. Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize your place settings; it’s social media etiquette we’re dishing about (sorry; couldn’t resist)!