Jeremy Ettinghausen « BBH Labs
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Author archive

  • Leadership and the Amplified Self

    28th July 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in leadership

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman BBH London

    I am not a leader.

    It took me many years to realise it. Indeed I was in a position of some responsibility when the truth dawned. I finally understood that I am in a relationship business, but I’m uncomfortable with relationships; that I shrink from delivering bad news, when I should be characterising it as good; that I am emotionally squeamish, when leadership requires psychological strength. I was a disappointment to myself.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, this revelation, I have remained interested in the art of leadership. What defines a great leader? How do you spot leadership potential? Can you train it, learn it, define it? I’m aware that a wealth of airport management books endeavour to answer these questions, but I confess I’ve never felt compelled to read them. Let me offer my own, admittedly simple, perspective on the subject.

    In the course of my career I’ve been fortunate to have worked with quite a few great leaders. And I have to say that, on the face of it, they have little in common. Some were passionate and visionary, others were practical and pragmatic; some were sensitive and personal, others were pugnacious and combative. None was in any way a perfect paradigm. Indeed all have been flawed, often in very engaging ways.

    But there was one particular thing they all shared. Their leadership style was consistently an extension of their own strong personalities. They were authentic, but they were also larger than life. Their very real virtues had found a louder voice, a bigger stage. They were hyperboles of themselves if you like.

    Leadership in my experience is The Amplified Self.

    This analysis has led me to a relatively straightforward piece of advice for the aspirant leader: establish what you’re good at and do it in a bigger, bolder way.

    And yet this is easier said than done. ‘Know thyself’ was inscribed above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It was a resonant maxim precisely because self knowledge is so difficult to achieve.

    I probably spent the first ten years of my career working out what I had to offer professionally. However much my appraisals identified the occasional virtue, I couldn’t help concentrating on the cited shortcomings. Because they were the same shortcomings year after year: a sluggishness with spreadsheets and Harvard Graphics, a lack of commercial rigour in my arguments, a failure to make eye contact in meetings. Like a diligent student I would concentrate on addressing my weaknesses. But however hard I tried, with every passing year my appraisal changed very little. And I never did win that IPA Effectiveness Award…

    I think there comes a point in everyone’s career when we give up addressing the faults we cannot correct, the blemishes we cannot wipe clean. The point in one’s career when one focuses on building on strengths and virtues, accentuating the positives rather than eliminating the negatives. And I think that’s the point that one finally gets to discover one’s true leadership potential.

    If you think you have the charisma, stamina, vision and appetite to lead, don’t spend your time reading the text books, mimicking your predecessor, emulating your hero. Don’t be someone else’s shadow, their pale imitation. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

    Look in the mirror. Isolate your truest strengths, the ones that set you apart, that make you unique. And turn those strengths up to eleven.

    Be your own Amplified Self.

  • The Man That Didn’t Blink

    30th May 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in strategy

    Author, Jim Carroll, Chairman BBH London
    First published in Advertising Week Europe supplement

    Egon Schiele- Portrait of Albert Paris von Gutersloh
    I knew a man who never blinked. It was quite discomfiting. I’d not considered blinking that important until confronted with its absence. This chap just seemed a bit odd, a little lacking in emotion. Was he perhaps an android? When talking to him I couldn’t avoid the impression that he was unnaturally certain of his own opinions. And that that blind certainty was what I was finding unattractive. I realised that, whilst I like the self-assured, absolute certainty can be troubling, alienating, disturbing.

    I guess that’s why I’ve always responded better to leaders who, though boundlessly confident, exhibit a sensitivity to risk and doubt, a consciousness of paths not taken. I’m rarely convinced by absolute conviction.

    For similar reasons I feel certainty in advertising has always been fool’s gold. Claude Hopkins wrote Advertising Science back in the 1920s. And science has given us analytical tools and techniques that have dramatically enhanced our understanding of consumers and our ability to communicate effectively. But, however much we may wish it, science has never given us certainty.

    I recently attended a stage adaptation of the great Henry Fonda movie, 12 Angry Men. At its heart it’s a celebration of reasonable doubt, and an indictment of the unreasonable certainty that so many people carry around with them. I was struck by the idea that reasonable doubt is a force for good in society. Because life is an ongoing navigation of trade-offs, dilemmas and contrary preferences. Life isn’t about certainty.

    In our business I’ve seen how, many a time and oft’, the quest for unreasonable certainty has actually fostered doubt and indecision. The pursuit of total proof can close windows of opportunity and analysis paralysis can inhibit bold leaps forward.

    Recently we have all been redesigning the marketing model. We have embraced the vision of a customer engagement system that is more connected, more targeted, more knowing and less wasteful. Something that learns, creates, adapts and distributes in real time. But we should not imagine that any new model will deliver unreasonable certainty. All models need ideas to animate them. And the best ideas occur at the intersection of logic and magic, at the meeting point of rationality and emotion.

    What is exciting about the modern age of marketing is the opportunity it affords us to explore this happy interaction between art and science. At BBH we’ve been talking a lot about High Performance Creativity. We believe that technology enables a more intimate relationship between creativity and performance, and that that intimacy will generate better, more effective work. We believe that data should not just be big; it should be strategically insightful and creatively inspiring. We believe that performance measures should not be backward looking proofs, but live, forward-facing guides. We believe that, while High Performance Creativity cannot promise certainty, it can deliver incredible potency.

    I’m reasonably certain about this.

  • A Desire to be Less Desirable

    29th May 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Social

    Author, Shea Warnes, Social Strategist, BBH London

    Instaglasses concept by Markus Gerke

    The problem with having a conversation is “it takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say” explained Sherry Turkle at a not-so-recent Ted Talk. That’s not the case online though. Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagrams allow us to curate, edit and filter what we want to say in pursuit of personal promotion. Ephemeral media allows us to share the moment and not live with them forever! 

    But it can be awfully exhausting. Especially, if like me, you don’t have a good eye for a good photo. There are particular times when sometimes we just want to share experiences with our friends. Unfiltered, immediate real-time moments. Moments that are being championed by the new wave of closed and/or transient  products such as Whatsapp, Kik and Snapchat.

    For brands, this provides exciting new opportunities to engage fans. Especially with reports that 700 million messages are being shared daily on Snapchat and 38 billion on Whatsapp. Despite these overwhelming numbers, only a handful of brands are really having a good crack at it. Surprising really when so many brand talk about wanting to build genuine relationships with our customers, because what better place than the channels where people feel most comfortable being their genuine selves?

    The biggest barrier for many brands wanting to build a presence is a lack of insight. Without this how are we supposed to know the content that resonates best with our audience, or even who they are? Increasingly there are studies such as Sumpto’s study on student habits which are providing that insight. In the mean time, brands are taking a leap of faith to know what content to produce and how to behave.

    Below are some starting points to get your brand in the right direction…

    Be a nice surprise – I’m on Snapchat because it gives me a different way to be have an entertaining conversation with friends. Unexpected and at times silly content that simply serves to provide moments of amusement during the drops in my day. Brands wanting to engage with me should aim to have a dialogue that shows them in a refreshing light. It is intentionally ephemeral, so brands should feel comfortable exercising their personality more through less formal content and giving access to parts of the brand a fan would not normally ever experience.

    Be a real person – The content I receive on Kik is from people at their most unguarded. They are not trying to add a filter of coolness and I’d expect that approach from any brand I followed. Have a look at MLB’s Snapchat strategy who rotate account ownership to different players and staff to keep the narrative interesting and provide a more rounded experience of the sport.

    MLB Snapchat

    Be effortlessly charming – Use it as another broadcast channel for your print campaign and I’m out. There are platforms like Facebook which are better geared for driving sales. This is important on closed platforms particularly as the ambition should be to add value without the expectancy of an immediate exchange – that’s not to say there aren’t business opportunities to be had! Whatsapp, for example, has the functionality to provide customer service better than a tweet ever could.

    Don’t expect to turn into Taco Bell overnight but start with good insight (and good manners) and someday your conversation should begin to promote itself.

  • When Everyone Talks and No-One Listens

    28th May 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in strategy

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London
    First Published in Hall&Partners magazine, Matters.

    Max Schodl - Still Life with Samovar and Chinese Teacup

    It’s often said of the characters in Anton Chekhov’s plays that ‘everyone talks,but no one listens.’ The cast of feckless aristocrats inhabit a troubled world of melancholy, loss and ennui. They speak endlessly at each other of their dreams and disappointments, but they rarely pause to listen. Their relationships seem compromised by their own emotional deafness, their solipsism. They live lives of empty chat and listless languor, punctuated only by another trip to the samovar.

    I wonder has the world of brand marketing something in common with Chekhov’s? Could modern brands be accused of speaking without listening? Talking loud, but saying nothing? Always on project, never on receive? Do they sometimes come across as egocentric and emotionally needy?

    Sign up, sign in, sign on. Check in, check out. Like me, friend me, share me. Blipp me, bookmark me. Rate me, recommend me. QR code me. Upload me, download me. Facebook me, fan me. Tweet me, re-tweet me. Hashtag why?

    There’s a tremendous assumption in much current marketing that consumers have infinite time and attention to dedicate to brands, regardless of the category they represent or the content they serve up for them. With a wealth of new media channels available to us, it’s often easy to confuse talking with conversation, to mistake interaction for a relationship. And as long ago as the nineteenth century the writer HD Thoreau was observing,’We have more and more ways to communicate, but less and less to say.’

    In my experience strong relationships tend to start with a little humility and self knowledge. The best advice for brands seeking a relationship might be: don’t talk too much and only talk when you have something to say.
     
    But can contemporary brands really be accused of not listening? Surely all serious players nowadays manage substantial research and insight programmes. Surely we’re endlessly soliciting feedback, measurement and learning?

    Well, yes, but are brands engaged in the right kind of listening?

    To my mind much of modern research practice could be deemed ‘submissive listening’. ’Hello. What do you think of me? What do you think of how I look and what I do?  How would you like me to behave? Do you like what I’m planning to say to you? What would you like me to say?’

    Is this the stuff of a healthy relationship? Surely brands’ engagement with consumers should begin from a position of equality and mutual respect, not submission and deference.

    Au Pairs - Playing with a Different Sex

    You’re equal but different. 
    You’re equal but different
    It’s obvious.
    So obvious.

    Au Pairs, It’s Obvious.

    We could also categorise much of our research  as ‘reflective listening’: recording what people say, wear, like and do, so that brands can play it back later to them in communication. There’s an underlying assumption that consumers empathise with brands that share their values and outlook on life. I’m sure they do. But one man’s insight is another man’s cliche. And reflective listening, interpreted literally, often produces communication that is curiously unrewarding. Because dialogue is more than elegant repetition and relationships are more than an exercise in mimicry.

    Surely listening and talking should exist in close proximity and dynamic relation to each other. It’s called a conversation. And you’ll find spontaneous, instinctive, organic conversations at the heart of any healthy, happy relationship.

    Of course, the hyper-connected, real time world of the social web affords us an opportunity. It’s the opportunity to demolish the distance between listening and talking; to inspire conversations between brands and consumers; and thereby to create vibrant, enduring, sustainable relationships. It’s now possible for listening to drive brands’ thought and action, tempo and timing and we we should all be striving to put it back at the centre of our communication models.

    There is, nonetheless, a nightmare scenario. What if brands continue to propel their mindless chatter through the infinite arteries of the electronic age, without respecting our audience’s limited time and attention? What if our attempts to listen continue to betray a submissive and reflective orientation towards consumers?

    At the end of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, twenty year old Irina decides to give up on love before love gives up on her.

    I’ve never loved anyone. I dreamed about it for a very long time – day and night – but my heart is like a piano that’s been locked up and the key is lost.

    It’s one of the saddest lines in theatre. I worry that if we don’t start listening properly to consumers, then consumers will stop listening to us.

  • Thinky.done – early learnings

    10th March 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Experiments

    We’ve closed the garage door on our first experiment of 2014 over at thinky.do and there’s a post about what we learnt about bitcoin from our Open Wallet Experiment there. A few weeks ago we went public about our rebooted approach to experimentation, so what have we learnt about learning one month on?

    First off, constraints are both good and bad, or, more accurately, helpful and limiting. We set ourselves the goal of thinking up and launching an experiment, in public, in a 4 week period. And, Yay us, we got it out of the door. Just. We might have had a better conceived, better executed experiment if we’d given ourselves more time, but we might also still be in idea generation phase, filling up whiteboards with hypotheticals and possibilities instead of results and learnings. We did it, it’s done, onto the next doing.

    Second, the subject of the experiment. The extended Labs team were absolutely certain that Bitcoin was the right subject for our first foray. Everyone was talking about it, none of us understood it properly, this was our chance to learn. And learn we did. We now know how to buy it, look after it and spend it. We’ve also learnt that bitcoin is a hard thing to think about and a difficult tool to use for experimental purposes. Getting to grips with bitcoin took time and the technical restraints meant several ‘pivots’ before the Open Wallet Experiment got out there. And while we’re not bitcoin billionaires, we’re in a better position to talk to clients about the benefits and drawbacks of cryptocurrencies than we were in January.

    And lastly, how we work. We couldn’t have done anything without help from a number of people. Colleagues in BBH, partners outside (particular thanks to the guys at MediaMonks for talking us through bitcoin practicalities), people who emailed and commented on the blog and our G+ page, all helped tremendously.

    And so, on to Experiment No2. Trying to remember what we’ve learnt already, and not forget that each month we’re starting over, all over again.

     

  • Letting Companies Share Great Ideas

    10th March 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Start ups

    In his new book on creativity Sir John Hegarty cautions the creative industry to not become enthralled with technology, but instead allow technology to liberate great ideas. This is the idea behind Pie, a tool for modern teams to save and share inspiring finds and ideas.

    Pie originated in the BBH ZAG bakery and we spoke with Pieter Walraven, formerly Product Director of BBH ZAG Asia, about the things he learned during his journey from an idea to a funded startup.

    So what is Pie and how did you get the idea?

    Pie is a link-sharing tool that helps teams share and organize the zillion things they see at work every day. At BBH me and Thijs Jacobs (former BBH Asia Pacific Head of Creative Technology) noticed that people are constantly sharing and discussing inspiring things over email. We loved the culture of sharing, but we saw that sharing ideas over email is broken. It clutters inboxes and relevant finds easily get buried. After talking to other companies and clients about this issue we learned that they have the same problem. This is when started thinking about a technology enabling an open culture of sharing with the bigger vision of liberating great ideas.

    When you say you ‘started thinking about a technology’ what does that mean, how did you translate your idea into an actual product?

    What we did early on was look at the current relevant software offerings out there such as Yammer and Sharepoint and didn’t really like what we saw – who decided that enterprise software has to be dull?! So we shifted our focus to consumer apps as they’re much better at creating a great user experience.

    Obviously, we liked the visual aspect of Pinterest and found that boards are a great way to organize things. We’ve used elements from Pinterest and other popular consumer applications to design our first MVP and tested 2 hypotheses:  ‘do people want to use this?’ and ‘will people be drawn in by the visual consumer-like design?’.

    (An early iteration of the Pie MVP)

    So you tested your assumptions, what was the next step? When did you actually set up Pie as a company?

    To maximise our chances of building a successful global SaaS company we knew we had to raise external funding and attract top talent. Most high-profile strategic investors only invest in strong and autonomous founding teams so shortly after we’ve completed testing our MVP we set up Pie as a separate company with myself and Thijs as founders and major shareholders.

    As we both have prior experience of tech startups our pitch deck was mainly focused on the founding team. It also included the positive market outlook – “Adoption of Social Enterprise is Booming” – and the findings of our MVP which consisted of both usage data and the interest of potential clients.

    (Pie pitch deck: market opportunity slide)

    For structuring our financing we used a model called convertible notes. A convertible note is basically a loan that converts into shares of preferred stock upon the closing of a the next round – Series A – round of financing. Here’s a great TechCrunch article on convertible notes with all the pros and cons.

    After a few hectic and uncertain months we managed to raise our target of $800K from a list of notable investors including BBH Asia Pacific’s former ECD, Steve Elrick, a U.S.-based VC, Siemer Ventures, and Peng Tsin Ong, founder of Match.com and widely considered one of Asia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs.

    So tell us a bit about your daily routine at Pie, what keeps you busy?

    It might sound obvious, but I underestimated the amount of time I have to spend on hiring. Our culture is our most valuable asset and it takes time to carefully select people that match the rest of the team. Of course it doesn’t help that these kind of people already have a great job! Basically hiring great people takes time, but luckily it gets easier as Pie’s exposure grows and we gain more international traction.

    (Pie’s stream where you can see what coworkers are collecting and sharing)

    Other than hiring me and the rest of the Pie team are 100% focused on growth. Everything we do is directly or indirectly related to growing our user base. We’re constantly iterating on Pie to improve either the user engagement or the virality. We’ve also been writing and seeding content for our target audience to attract users and have had some success with this – we’ve been live for 1.5 months and over 700 companies are on Pie ranging from Spotify to Shell. We’re seeing companies saving and sharing industry news, innovations, market data, trends, but also funny videos. Companies such as Edelman and IDEO use Pie to keep track of market trends and collaborate around certain topics. Besides internal sharing they also use Pie to share inspiration and links to relevant articles with clients.

    Proximity (BBDO) uses Pie to collect and organize UX best practices. They create boards with finds that can be used for later use. Before Pie was introduced people were storing things in email drafts or spreadsheets invisible for their coworkers to see. By collecting things on boards knowledge that was previously hidden in silos now gets exposed to the rest of the team.

    (A library of posts collected by a team on a ‘collaborative board’)

    Lastly, we regularly post interesting reads on work hacks for modern teams on our Facebook page and on Twitter and have recently released a chrome extension allowing direct posting from any website.

     

  • The Open Wallet Experiment is live

    26th February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Experiments

    bitcoin-challenge-dollar-currency2.si

    A few weeks ago we blogged about our recommitment to Labs experiments and our new ‘hit-and-run’ approach to experimentation. And now we’re pleased to say that our first experiment is now live, though there were, of course, some hurdles and hiccups on the way.

    If you’ve been following the progress of this experiment on thinky.do you’ll know that we decided to make bitcoin the subject of our first field test. This subject came with certain technical and epistemological issues – it’s not all that easy to get hold of bitcoins even assuming you’ve understood what they are for and what you can do with them.

    But we are interested in whether the very nature of cryptocurrency transactions – anonymous, underground, based on algorithmic trust rather than human relationships – leads to behaviours that can be best described as, er, shady. Or whether given the chance, perhaps the bitcoin community will prove itself as wholesome as a troop of Boy Scouts.

    So we’ve set up bitcoin wallet (address and QR code below) into which anyone can make a payment.. We’re going to leave this wallet up and open until midday on sunday (assuming that all goes well!) and at the end of that time, everything in the wallet will be converted into ‘real money’ and donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee.

    Wallet address - 19xnfvdAHitNErAGEhVnfkeBSTL8VVv8yV

    Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.52.24

    But we’re also going to do something possibly very ill advised and release the key for this wallet into the wild, meaning that anyone with the wallet address (ie anyone) and the key (ie anyone!) can both donate and withdraw money to and from the wallet. No-one should try this at home!

    We’ll be posting frequent stats on activity in the wallet and while we can’t identify individuals, we can identify wallet addresses. So we’ll see how many donations are coming in, how many are leaving and we’ll be able to hero addresses giving generously and identify those wallet addresses taking advantage of this open experiment.

    Bitcoin wallet key - 2G6uK7QwKRPntaS7drFSUVsUf24ZVmEaK8gET2K2Uj4w

    So, let’s go – the wallet is open and so is the key. We’re not sure what’s going to happen next, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

    UPDATE: This post went live at 16.24 and we tweeted about it at 16.27. It took less than 30mins for the 0.01 bitcoin (just over $5) to be withdrawn by a user with the wallet address 1NYR7RF4pdc1i923qGhnkkakCqDLL9dd45. Thanks for taking part :-/

  • Winners, Losers & Learnings – the first truly social Brit Awards

    21st February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Social

    Author: Alex Walker-Sage, Social Engagement Director, BBH London

    Big. Noisy. Full of celebs. LIVE! Music and Entertainment together, in harmony. With the potential for stuff to go wrong. And including a new Twitter vote mechanic half-way through the show. Wednesday night’s new, improved, social 2014 Brit Awards had all the ingredients necessary to provide the perfect opportunity to take a look at the social media landscape and see where we’re at. This is the sort of big, one-off event moment that the twitterati love right?

    Well, overall, yeah. The picture’s a pretty glossy and impressive one. For one, Twitter revealed on Thursday that the event was the most-tweeted about TV show in the UK ever, with the live TV broadcast attracting 2.17m posts about the show, and a further c.2m messages sent in relation to the social vote.

    It, as you might expect, smashed the social stats of all other the other shows that aired to smithereens:

    Verdict: The Brits won.

    And the social vote? That, predictably – due to the number of their teen fans heavily-reliant on their social channels for day-to-day survival – was won by One Direction, with their fanatical fan-base ensuring they took home the gong for Best British Video.

    Verdict: 1D won.

    The introduction of a live and transparent voting element via Twitter was a pretty obvious ploy to encourage involvement from the audience and ensure the event impacted those on other platforms who may not have been watching, or frankly even care it was on. And, whilst an obvious next step in award-voting terms, there’s something pretty exciting here about a live, commercial event brand, with global reach, handing the power over to its audience for chunk of it’s output. Ok, there was pretty much no risk involved, but the fact the power dynamic was shifted for a small window of time into the audiences’ hands is to be applauded. The immediacy of social should see this type of moment become common-place across all types of different pieces of traditional ‘broadcast’ output.

    Verdict: Twitter won.

    We all know then that social is at it’s best when allowing transparency and a bit of a shift of power to the masses to deliver powerful, cumulative results that can, ideally, make big stuff happen. The Brit Award sponsors MasterCard know this, their PR agency apparently did not, sending out emails to journalists asking that they guarantee coverage of their client in event write-ups in exchange for their attendance. Cue much discontent. Cue twitter rebellion.

    A rebellion that led to their paid-for Twitter trend pointing people to an article dissecting the whole sorry social mess in the greatest of detail.

    A quick analysis of social sentiment for MasterCard (the entire brand, not just that specific to the Brits debacle) across Twitter from Wednesday to today is as follows:

    Positive: 3%

    Neutral: 71%

    Negative: 26%

    Verdict: MasterCard lost.

    Clearly there’s a whole load of things that are wrong with this approach but the number one and two take-outs should be about knowing your audience and maintaining transparency. Then there are loads of other learnings around having amazing ideas, being consistent with them, ensuring they match up across all media, and are executed perfectly and in a timely fashion. For all of these (and much, much more) come talk to us.

    As a final point, and because I love Daft Punk, it’s worth touching on how successful brands can be when they get their involvement in events like this just right. On brand, irreverent, and perfectly pitched for the media it played out in, this effort from Paddy Power doesn’t really require much more explanation:

     

    A similar Twitter sentiment analysis to that described above shows the following:

    Positive: 36%

    Neutral: 57%

    Negative: 7%

    Verdict: Paddy Power won.

    Learnings

    • Twitter, enabling real-time interaction and engagement that can effect real change in live content output in particular, is only going to grow in importance, and it’s vital that brands navigate their way through the noise to achieve real cut-through whilst maintaining transparency

    • Whilst MasterCard was everywhere in the few weeks leading into the awards, as well as on the night itself, Paddy Power proved it’s not necessarily about ‘owning’ the event (and all the associated costs that come with that), but more about cutting through the noise at the right time with a strong creative idea, well-executed. 1D fans did it by all coming together at a single point in time. The Brits and Twitter did it through enabling audience involvement, offering a single point of interaction in what could otherwise be a traditional broadcast event. In the right hands, social can and should deliver a powerful perspective.

     

  • Learning Bit by Bot

    7th February 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in robotify.me

    Tyrell: Would you … like to be upgraded?

    Batty: I had in mind something a little more radical.

    Tyrell: What … what seems to be the problem?

    Batty: Death.

    Blade Runner, 1982

    Robotify.me – what we did, what we learned and what we’re doing now

    In December 2012 we launched robotify.me, an experiment to test our hypothesis that seeing social media behaviour visualized could actually influence and change those behaviours. Perhaps, we asked ourselves, data visualisation might reveal surprising nuances of social media behaviour which might otherwise be overlooked?

    robo1

    How would it feel to compare activity – likes, links, retweets, checkins, photos – with the rest of the group’s data? Would the transparency of the visualisation cause any changes in social behaviour? Would inveterate retweeters be shamed into posting more original content? Could we encourage more checking in, more posting of photographs, more liking by visualising the effect that it had on the robot?

    Robotify.me was also another opportunity to learn and experiment with process. Could we create a service rather than a campaign? Could we work fast and lean and create a mvp? Could we create a product without a brief, without a client?

    robo2

    A little over a year on, the answers to some of these questions are in. The first thing to say is thanks. Thanks to the team who worked so hard (and gave their time so generously) on robotify.me and thanks to everyone who took part in this project. Thousands of you created robots and we loved seeing the project come to life, reading the tweets, hearing your thoughts and feedback on this thing we’d made.

    Much of what we learned is displayed in the infographics accompanying this post and some of our early learnings were incorporated into changes we made live on the robotify site in the early go-live days and weeks. Perhaps our major learning was to do with storytelling – if we wanted people to learn a little about themselves we should, perhaps, have shown more, and told more explicitly. Knowing when to intrigue and when to explain is something we will take with us in the future.

    robo3

    We also learned that when you have a team with demanding day jobs it’s impossible to schedule daily scrums and the focus and scheduling required for an iterative workflow are not easily applied to side projects. When we plan future Labs experiments (and more on that very, very soon) we’ll definitely be thinking about the sorts of projects that lend themselves to a leaner approach. Stretch is good, but restraints will help define scope from the very beginning.

    So, we’re going to be pulling down the shutters on this particular garage and disassembling the robotifier, cleaning down the work surfaces and wiping down the whiteboard in preparation for a new swathe of Labs experiments, robotify learnings fresh in our minds. We’ll be keeping the service up in it’s current form for another month, so you can still create a new robot, revisit your robot mirror-self or download and print out your robots for your digital files.

    Finally, thanks again for supporting our Robotify.me experiment.

    Bleep. And out.

  • Ecosystem Management: why marketers must learn to think like ecologists

    24th January 14

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Brands, Social

    Author, Ben Shaw, Strategy Director/Social Strategy Lead, BBH London. Originally published in Marketing Magazine

    Marketers could learn a thing or two from ecologists on the maintenance of ecosystems. We live in a world of always on brand communications across multiple platforms and communities that require the same care and attention as the Amazon’s most delicate wildflower. Over the course of time, new parts of a brand’s ecosystem must be created, grown and nurtured, whilst being careful to think how these new presences will impact the rest of the system.

    Like any good ecologist, marketers know that overinvestment and focus on just one organism or resource can leave the rest of the ecosystem malnourished. However, when looking to develop beyond their status quo, new platforms and opportunities are often discarded as a distraction or a gamble compared to the reliability of their main channel. But it may be a bigger gamble for marketers to not care for, or develop, the rest of their ecosystem. What happens when that once fruitful resource dries up?

    Organisations are continually encouraged by Facebook to first invest to build an audience and then spend again to actually reach them (thanks to Facebook’s ‘clever’ Edgerank algorithm). They get an immediate positive return, their fan numbers shoot up and the reach of each post is in the millions. But then, as they grow, they have to spend more to reach the same audience. And then Facebook tweak the algorithm and it becomes harder to reach their original audience, so they spend a bit more. Then their original audience gets bored with all the branded content on Facebook and starts spending more time on other platforms. By this time, the brand has invested so much time and money into this one platform, it would be a waste to stop now. Wouldn’t it?

    Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman recently admitted that  “We did see a decrease in daily users, partly among younger teens”. Immediately after this, they had £11.2b wiped off their share price. Everyone remembers the infamous collapse of previous all-dominating social networks and although Facebook is now so big and so ingrained it is unlikely to ever end up as dried up as MySpace or FriendsReunited, marketers mustn’t take this news lightly. This should be the warning bell for brands to start tracking the changes in their consumers online behaviours and deciding how their brand ecosystems should change accordingly.

     

    Brands should be looking to diversify and experiment across new platforms as their online audiences develop. Snapchat didn’t exist 18 months ago and now more photos are shared every day than on Facebook and Instagram combined. This should be the time when brand’s ecosystems are reappraised every month, not every year. As audiences develop new behaviours – like teens are with mobile messaging apps – brands should be figuring out how they can connect with, and add value to, audiences on those platforms.

    This requires brands to build and develop their ecosystem, which takes planning and continued management, not just to ensure the brand is covered at a basic social hygiene level, but to ensure the brand is gaining value from all of their activities. This need is why social media teams have developed from a sole community manager just managing a page to a team of analysts, strategists, creatives and now editors ensuring a consistent brand presence, narrative and experience across the ecosystem.

    Ecologist Norman Christensen defined Ecosystem Management as “management driven by explicit goals, executed by policies, protocols, and practices, and made adaptable by monitoring and research based on our best understanding of the ecological interactions and processes necessary to sustain ecosystem structure and function” – which sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

    Things to consider to help manage your ecosystem:

    1. Track your audience – Pay close attention to where your audience is moving online and decide where to follow them

    2. Experiment before investing – the best brands act like users on social platforms, so follow their lead by cheaply creating content to see what your audience likes in different platforms

    3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – As with any B2B service, it can be dangerous to solely rely on one platform – build your ecosystem across multiple platforms

    4. Look to build retained data – ensure you’re building for the future and collating valuable consumer data to add value to future opportunities

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