Archive for August, 2013

Millions of users – is it a stepchange in social?

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

My mum is moving house.  This means she’s going to chuck out a whole load of stuff from my and my siblings childhoods.  Some of it has to be rescued.  So I’ve recently taken home a huge box full of old photographs, looked through a few of them, got bored and stuck them in a similar cupboard to the one they’ve spent the last few years mouldering in.

Keeping loads of physical copies of old photos is a custom of the past.  Uploading lots of photos to Instagram and Facebook is the custom of the day.  So much so that complaints are manifold about too much sharing (who cares what you had for lunch and cute as your kids/pets/friends are please keep them to yourself).  Some psychologists believe that if you’re taking a photo then you’re not fully enjoying the moment.  Watching people watch their favourite music star at a festival through the frame of their iphone can seem a sad example of this.   Then it is more about kudos from the photo or film that you can upload to your social network and share with your friends or review after the event than about participating in the event itself.  The motivation to build a record of your life and a beautifully designed image can seem more important than living the moment.

Snapchat isn’t like that. Snapchat is spontaneous, impermanent and in its way contrastingly private compared to other social trends.

Beloved of teens everywhere it allows to you send a picture of what’s happening right now to a friend or friends which will disappear 3 or 4 seconds after its viewed (and will be deleted from the server).  Of course you can find a way to keep the picture that you’ve been sent even though you’re not meant to but the sender knows if you do and if you are a real geek you can recover the deleted data but you’re not meant to.  The picture is supposed to be grainy, un-posed, blurry and simply fun.

Snapchat represents a change in a couple of ways from the social media that’s been supreme so far.  In a funny way it is more private.  You will probably choose a select set of people, or just one friend, to send it to rather than posting for all followers. The image doesn’t last. You’re not constructing an image for your followers in the way that you can build for yourself on other social media.  You don’t keep it, nor does the recipient and it is like a butterfly postcard of a moment in time.

Snapchat has its dark side of course.  Yet it undoubtedly has potential as a comms channel for brands with the right profile and the right voice. Some teen brands are trying.  Some teen brands are taking their time about venturing in for good cautious reasons.  You may have noticed though that other social media has a dark side too.  The commercial model for Snapchat isn’t clear at all to me yet, but there’s certainly an opportunity to win over lots of teens if a brand uses it appropriately.  Also – it is fun.  Give it a go.  Doesn’t matter what you look like, no one will dig the image out of a cupboard decades later.  Now you see it, now you don’t.


Have you had your Personal Inflection Point yet ?

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The inflection point is the time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.   Ex-chair of Intel Andrew Grove says “when a company faces an inflection point its future might literally be at stake – the proper response leads to sustained growth, while inappropriate reactions often lead to obsolescence.”

Our industry seems to be in a constant state of facing inflection points.  It is key to know which to react to in a strategic way and which to deal with tactically.  The real secret is to know when an inflection point is happening in the first place.  There are plenty of consultants that companies can hire who can advise a CEO in this.  My view is that the role of the CSO is to spot the inflection point before it happens and plan for a competitive advantage from it. 

We also face inflection points in our personal lives which may or may not co-incide with those of our industry.  These can be harder to spot, and harder to deal with.  There’s no corporate consultants for these, nor chief strategy officers to strategise for them.    If you are heading now for the beach or the city break maybe this is a good time to think about whether a personal inflection point is heading your way. 

Last month I was at the Soho Society Club on Ingestre Street, an adorable gallery, bookshop and wine bar.  It was the venue of the Wow Talks.    Wow Talks are short inspirational and interactive speeches that take place around London to an eclectic but incredibly charming audience.  As well as the set of prepared speakers, of which I was one, the owner of the gallery was invited to give her story.

She talked about her own personal inflection point.  When she’d decided that her first career wasn’t enough for her and that she wanted to change everything, and came to London to set up a new model in bookstores.  Her view is that we get at least two inflection points each personally.  One, an obvious one really, when we’re starting out.  What made you join the advertising industry in the first place?

I know that for me, my initial job as a TV buyer started as a stop gap between university and a barrister’s qualification.  The inflection point came not then, but when I had to choose between continuing my job and being able to afford to leave home and giving the job up to continue studying and living with my parents.  The former seemed way more attractive at the time, and turned into a job that I love.  I had to choose and I chose an entire career path based on what was with perspective a fairly short term set of reasons.

What about the second inflection point.  Have you had yours yet ?  A time when you once again throw everything up into the air and rethink your future.   Is there a moment, as in the history of a company or an industry, there is permanent and enduring change which makes you face your future in a new way ?

The personal inflection point may not always be welcome, but that doesn’t mean it won’t represent a bright and positive outcome if you react to it in the appropriate way.   A new perspective on your next set of challenges might be if you were to see them as your next stepping off inflection point for growth.