I’ve been a fan of Springpad since they first launched. Enough so to join its board and also to fill in as interim CMO for six months in 2012. I can’t say I was a very good CMO – not a master of growth hacking, which is what startups really need in their marketing mix – but I did push for one feature. Embeddable notebooks.
Everything that Springpad is about – filtering the web, acting on your “springs,” saving, preserving and presenting content in a form that keeps it persistent rather than lost in the stream – is exemplified when notebooks become embeddable. Now you can post them anywhere, share them on platforms other than Springpad, allow your notebooks to travel across the web.
And if you’re a blogger, publisher, media company – and who isn’t these days – it gets even better. Springpad gives you a means of curating, organizing and sharing content in a more productive way than ever. Letting your readers access it, re-Spring it, copy an entire notebook, or more easily navigate to the original source.
If you are a user already, embeds are possible simply by hitting the share button inside a notebook, then grabbing the embed code. Just like a YouTube video. Give it try. Create, curate, publish, distribute.
It will be a great new feature. Love to hear what you think.
Eventually there will be some very impressive data visualizations of SxSW. How many people, how many sessions, how many beers consumed, how many hangovers. Until then you can check out Mashable’s SxSW by the numbers. Or poke around SxSWs’s press room.
But to be honest, I’m less interested in how much there is to pore through and more in the few things that might actually be useful, transferable, and worth remembering. Which is why I go every year. To find insights and perspectives that might serve a purpose the other 360 days.
Out of consideration for the fact that you are either:
A. Home but still waiting for the alcohol-induced haze to subside
B. Too busy doing actual work back at the office while your more fortunate colleagues are partying under the guise of working down in Austin
C. Still there in which case you’re overwhelmed already
….I share only five. Certainly you can remember five.
You are not a true entrepreneur unless you go all in. You don’t even have genuine conviction unless you go all in. This from Olan Musk, who in his interview with Chris Anderson, shared how he took every cent he had from his PayPal fortune, along with whatever else he collected from Tesla or other initiatives and put every last cent into SpaceX. To the degree that he had to borrow money to pay living expenses. If you had a couple of hundred million would you keep some back? Or go all in. Big balls.
Out of the Internet
This from Google’s Aman Govil during his Art, Copy & Code talk with Ben Malbon. It’s time we stopped making things for the Internet and started making things out of the Internet. This was one of the evident trends and ideas at SxSW this year, apparent in lots of new services and platforms. But it’s an important reminder. The ad industry is still thinking that ads on a mobile phone are the way to go. That would be making things for the Internet. Uber and others, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. Out of the Internet. Get on it.
Crisis in Chinese and Japanese
Al Gore says that the word for crisis in both Chinese and Japanese is composed of two characters. One means danger. The other means opportunity. Think about that. The language forces you to consider the positive with as much emphasis as we typically place on the negative. I’m not sure that English focuses us that way. Crisis tends first to elicit thoughts of danger, harm and concern. We may eventually see opportunity, but maybe we should see the opportunity immediately. For example, to use Uber again, urban cabbies can only see danger. That will lead to their inevitable failure.
Capture the Imagination
Clean tech — wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels — never quite reached its potential because it never captured our imagination, says David Merkoski, former ECD at Frog Design, now founder of Greenstart. The clean web on the other hand — AirBNB, ZipCar, other companies whose models are based on collaborative consumption — will and do. They may not have been created to clean the environment, but because they use fewer resources and waste less energy ultimately they will. More importantly they capture our imagination by inviting us to both create and participate. They get used, they spread, they get used even more. Fail to capture the imagination of users and sharers and little happens. Oh by the way, it’s the same reason that big business in America is despised more than Congress, according to Whole Foods CEO and founder John Mackey. That’s pretty obvious once it’s pointed out.
Behavior Should Impact Design
And you thought it was the other way around. Ha! In a rapid fire talk from Adaptive Path’s Chris Risdon, the behavioral designer, reminded us that every design decision we make, in any medium (digital or analog) influences our user. But too often we start with what we want to achieve and what we think will work or be logical. But given that we live in world that lets us collect endless data on an individual user’s behavior and have multiple ways to tell/create/frame a story or experience, we’ll be a lot better off if our design allows itself to be informed by the user we’re trying to motivate.
The wonderful thing about the web is that it makes it easier and easier to come up with useful ideas rather than just ads. Immerse yourself in social behavior, sharing, and how to leverage community to solve a problem and you can virtually invent new ways to sell stuff.
Which is what W&K just did for Dodge with the creation of the Dodge Dart Registry, or at least the commercial that drives you to it. Go to the site, customize your car, add the features you want, then invite friends and family to help you pay for it by sponsoring individual parts. You can watch as the money pours in (presumably) and pick up your car when it’s done. Hope you have a lot of generous relatives.
The Dodge Dart Registry is like Facebook meets Kickstarter. A commercial application of what Steven Johnson envisions in his book Future Perfect.
It’s not so much a digital idea as it’s an idea for a digital world. It allows you to customize the experience, share it across the web, and get people involved with a few clicks and links. And, of course, the entire experience generates content and awareness as you’ll want to share and promote your wish and your your contributors can share their support. Dodge gets data, profiles, free social media attention and probably some sales out of the deal.
Not that digital registry’s are a new idea. Lots of brands have tried similar tactics. And it’s not as if this hasn’t been considered for a car company. In fact student Hedvig Astrom shared a similar idea with the advertising industry a year or so ago in her NY Art Director’s portfolio review. (Heck, for all I know that may have been the genesis of the Dart idea.)
But either way, any idea that can make it easier for a young Millennial to buy his or her first car is a good idea.
“We’re trying to eliminate any unnecessary encounters with actual people,” explains Tor Bot, the DR Fude’s founder in a text message. “If you look at most people today, they have no desire to actually speak to another person. They would rather text or tweet. We’ve noticed that even dining companions never talk to each other anymore. They’re absorbed with what’s on their smart phone. In some cases they’re probably conducting their dinner conversation via text messages.”
Tor Bot, founder of DR Fude’s human-free restaurant
I remember when bank ATMs first came along in the early 1980’s. Most folks were in an uproar. “But I like talking with Margaret, the teller. I don’t want to bank with a machine.”
Now, of course, we dread having to talk to a bank employee. They can’t possibly service us as well as technology. In fact, we’re probably pissed off if our bank’s app won’t let us deposit checks via our smartphones, since even the act of going to an ATM is an annoyance. We might have to talk to someone standing in line.
More and more we’re finding ways to avoid human contact. We shop online, which saves us from chitchat with cashiers or incompetent sales staff. And thankfully we never have to endure a phone call anymore since we can tweet, text and comment on our friends’ Facebook statuses instead.
The next generation will be even less verbal. If you have a teenage daughter you know she can communicate for days at a time without ever using her vocal chords. Studies say the average teenager girl texts 60 – 100 times a day, but check your kids’ account online. In some cases it’s 10 times that.
It’s only a matter of time before we can avoid real conversations in all walks of life. We’ll take classes and attend school via our tablets and laptops (if they still have those in five years) where all our communication will be in bits. We’ll get medical care digitally or through apps and text services. We might even find ourselves looking up at the waiter and instead of answering what we want to order with spoken words, we’ll simply text our request.
At least that’s where I see thing going. You can see my prediction in this post on DR Fude’s, the digital/robot restaurant idea I predict will open soon. Scribbled it up for the MITX blog as part of their What’s Next series.
More often than not, panel presentations disappoint. The panelists haven’t prepared. The moderator can’t maintain control. The answers come off as too repetitive. But last night I participated in a different kind of panel. A competitive faceoff in which panelists competed to remain on stage and the audience decided who offered the most useful content.
Boston University’s Digital Media Club and Maurice Rahmey drew big crowd to hear four of us – Hill Holliday’s chief digital strategist Mike Proulx, Arnold’s digital platform director Drake Pusey, content strategist Margot Bloomstein, and me – attempt to avoid elimination by offering better answers than our rivals.
There were three rounds. The first had five questions, the second four, and the third three. The first two sets of questions were shared with the participants in advance. The last three came from the audience.
Moderator Eric Leist served up the initial query to one person in particular, but after that it was a bit of a free for all as there were only three minutes allotted to the panel for each question. There was a clock staring us in the face. We knew how much time we’d used and how much time remained. To be fair the moderator did let anyone who got shut out of a topic give a 30-second response. But the format forced us to be opinionated, concise and even disagreeable. More importantly it called for us to avoid repeating earlier answers.
After each round the audience texted who they wanted to hear more from and the last place contestant exited the stage.
This is how to do a panel. If you’ve never organized one this way, give it a try. If you typically avoid doing these kinds of appearances, re-consider if you get offered this format. It’s fast, fun, intense and actually gets your pulse rate up.
On a different note, it was also impressive to see the questions that students came up with. I’ve listed some below along with a very condensed version of my answers. I did not win, though I made it to the final faceoff where Mike Proulx kicked my ass with his knowledge of social TV.
First Round: Trending Topics (three minutes per question)
Two current digital media headlines are discussed. Panelists give detailed arguments and can offer rebuttals as well.
Q: Will brands flock to integrate iPhone Passbook and pave the way for mainstream mobile commerce?
A: Brands don’t flock to anything, at least not initially. Most marketers and retailers, despite the so-called instant success of Sephora, will wait until they see what consumers do. Brands like scale as we all know. As for paving the way to mainstream mobile commerce? That’s more likely to come from the credit card companies. It’s important to remember that technology comes first. Early adopter consumers come second. Brands and marketers are always the last to the party.
Q: Are second and third screen experiences affecting the way voters make decisions during political campaigns? Why or why not?
A: Not really. They are essential for access to content, they serve as a distribution channel and leverage social sharing of ads, videos, and candidates’ faux pas. But the technology alone is not affecting decisions. It may have played a bigger role last time around in the way Obama connected with younger, more digitally savvy voters, but less so this year.
Buy or Sell: A rapid-fire segment in which panelists are asked to “buy” or “sell” (be for or against) three different concepts (this time in terms of what audience needs to do to be better equipped for job market).
Concept 1: The interest graph is more useful to marketers than the social graph.
A: Yes. It’s always better to market to a consumer who’s raised his or her hand and expressed interest. The trick is to learn to leverage Pinterest, Springpad and other platforms to both identify those interests and to inspire their expression.
Concept 2: Web 2.0 sites have shifted from banner ads to platform native advertising. In the future, all content networks will adopt some form of native advertising. (Sponsored Tweets, Stories on Buzzfeed, Facebook Sponsored Stories, etc.)
A: We all know that old-fashioned banner ads don’t work. But when is the future? All content networks? They should. And inevitably they will. But it will take some time, simply because of how inventory is sold and the legacy systems, processes and habits already in place. Students, however, should know how to conceive and execute native advertising ideas. It will make them more valuable to forward thinking employers.
Second Round: Controversial Topics (2 minutes per question)
Q: Should marketers care about pay-to-play (ie non-ad revenue supported) social networks like APP.NET?
A: Certainly not yet. Though there is an underlying message. Social users don’t want ads and or a platform beholden to advertisers. Paid platforms may not take off, but smart marketers on the other platforms should take note enough to make sure their content and engagement is useful and welcome, not intrusive and self-serving.
Q: What non-payment mobile trend/tech is having the biggest impact on the retail industry for marketers?
A: Images, Instagram and in-store innovations similar to what Burberry is doing in Dubai and London.
Q: The web has broken down the barriers between PR, advertising, and in-house marketers. Who is the ideal person to create content on behalf of a brand?
A: PR people are best equipped. Marketers are used to multiple layers between themselves and their consumers. Advertising practitioners know how to make messages. PR professionals, at least those who’ve learned social protocols, understand one-to-one and real-time engagement.
Q: At TechCrunch Disrupt, Mark Zuckerberg stated that mobile ads are more effective and will be more akin to television than the web. Is there a non-annoying future for mobile advertising?
A: Yes. We just don’t know what it looks like yet.
Third Round: Questions from the Audience
Even these were quite good and challenging. One was on Facebook suggesting it would launch “wants,” and the potential impact on making it a better, more effective paid medium. (It’s a response to the interest graph.) A second was on the biggest disruptive challenge to agencies. (The need to compete with Silicon Valley for talent.) And the third, which killed me, was about Shazam and social TV. (I attempted to change the subject to the SuperPAC app.) But the audience was too smart to fall for that.
Got better answers to any of the questions? Please leave them below. Been on a panel like this? Please share your reactions. And thanks for stopping by.
Photo: Heather Goldin, Daily Free Press