First, let’s start out by saying that an audience is an audience, whether they’re waiting, in transit, shopping, or immersed in an activity. We now live in a world where we have 50% smartphone penetration and people are actively engaged in interactive media – whether on their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. To further illustrate this multi-tasking world, people are tweeting, reviewing, sharing on social sites and messaging, all while they watch television. This is the new paradigm and this is what your audience is now accustomed to… and, it is what they will expect from anything you do to interact with them digitally.
The Four E’s and your Content Strategy
When you think about building a digital experience, a simple roadmap to follow is the four E’s – Engage, Educate, Entertain, and Evangelize. The four E’s will help guide your content strategy to ensure relevance, retention, resonance, plus help you avoid many of the natural pitfalls.
Engage – Build engagement at every turn. Be interactive. Be two-way. Be participatory. Let people know what’s going on and add to their calendars digitally.
Educate – Information is power and digital is your gateway to “of-the-moment” knowledge and education. People crave knowledge – so give it to them.
Entertain – Digital media has the power to dazzle, entertain and showcase. Use it to its full capacity and not as a PowerPoint delivery system.
Evangelize – Give people great things to share and then they will share them out to their audiences. The goal today is not to just talk to your audience but to talk through them – when Psy & Gangnam Style can reach close to a billion people it gives us all hope.
Why? A Systematic Approach To Creating A Digital Experience
Always start with WHY? Why are you going digital? Organizations are constantly going about creating digital experiences backwards: picking technologies first instead of focusing on what they want to accomplish. Don’t ask what technology to use. Ask first who you’re trying to reach, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change your relationships with your audience. Then, and only then, can you decide what technologies to use.
People. Review your target audience’s social behaviors and attitudes.
Don’t start a digital strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out to business people, consider ratings and reviews. If you’re trying to reach multi-generation households, have a tablet strategy. Know how they will interact with you and don’t start without thinking about it.
Objectives. Decide on your goals.
Are you starting an application to listen to your members, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best members to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it. Think ROO (Return On Objectives).
Strategy. Determine how your objectives will change your relationship with your audience.
Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best constituents? Do you want to get people talking about your congregation? Do you want people to spread your messaging? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.
Technology. Choose the appropriate technologies to deploy.
A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Interactive digital screens. iPads. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.
The Power of Community
Communities can make a difference. Their ideas, concepts and voices can be heard. Hey Starbucks – we don’t like your new logo, but we’ve created something that we think you may like. Hey Coke – we liked your new ads so much that we’ve created a few of our very own – what do you think and want to use them?
When communities reach scale, you need to listen, to weigh-in and join the conversation. There should be no negatives in a bad conversation about their services or suggestions on ways they can improve; it should be just great information that can help guide their decisions… always welcome engagement. Take lessons from the consumer world, if Nike has pissed off the market because they are using a particular plastic, which is bad for the environment, and enough people are weighing-in, then Nike cares and Nike makes changes or at the very least acknowledges the issue.
People are generating “content” everyday in the hope that other people will see what they have created. Learn how to harness the talents of your members to add to your content, you’ll be surprised at the quality you receive (in a good way). When you get the audience involved and do things they like, they will advocate and evangelize the message and spread the word. This builds loyalty. This builds awareness. And this builds your audience.
Ecosystems vs Screens
It’s about connecting Digital, Social, Mobile and Commerce together, enabling you to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with your audience – let’s call it… a convergence of digital media and the rise of the “active participant”.
You need to make your programs holistic, 360 degrees, and integrated to take advantage of the active participant. These are the loyal followers of the future and they will respond positively to efforts to connect digitally. Delve deeper into insights, so you can better identify socially connected members—those who are leading the way in the digital space. As those who fail to take their cues from these connected members are missing an opportunity.
n: the moment when technological change becomes so rapid and profound, it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.
I have recently been reading quite a few articles on the topic of humanity’s eventual demise at the hands of machines – ala Terminator, I, Robot, The Matrix, etc. It seems that we, as a society, are becoming very preoccupied with the notion. Articles such as Time Magazine’s cover story, "2045 The Year Man Becomes Immortal," The Atlantic's Brian Christian’s essay, "Mind vs. Machine," and the book by Ray Kurzweil titled, "The Singularity is Near," all offer up various takes on our future and our future’s future.
So take this little tidbit into account when reviewing – the average cell phone is about a millionth the size of, a millionth the price of and a thousand times more powerful than the computers we had 40 years ago. Flip that forward 40 years and what does the world look like?
Last night, I finally got around to watching "Transcendent Man," with concepts that are familiar to even the most casual of sci-fi fans: artificial intelligence, nanobots, machine-against-man global wars, techno-imbibed immortality, and so on. What separates this film from your run of the mill genre movie, however, is that "Transcendent Man" is actually a documentary, which posits that all these concepts could just be a decade or two away from really happening.
You may not have heard of Kurzweil, but you’ve probably been affected by his inventions in one way or another. He’s been referred to as “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison” by Forbes, leading the charge over the past few decades in developing the flat-bed scanner, text-recognition machines, print-to-speech reading machines for the blind, music synthesizers capable of recreating orchestral instruments, and many other innovations. But the film is more concerned with his beliefs as an author and futurist, chief among them being his claim that within the next 20 years or so we could all be granted immortality thanks to microscopic robots that will live inside us.
Kurzweil is definitely out there in his thinking (the bringing back his father part is a wee bit eerie), but after watching "Minority Report" back in 2002 and seeing the world of technology actually develop what was envisioned:
Multi-touch interfaces > Microsoft Surface, iPhone, iPad
Gestural Interfaces > Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect, Intel
Retina scanners > GRI, Nexus
Insect robots > US Military
Facial recognition advertising > Intel (Cognovision), NEC
Crime prediction software > University of Pennsylvania for Washington, D.C.
Electronic paper > Xerox, MIT, Hearst, LG
And the list goes on >>>
"Minority Report" director Steven Spielberg sums it up best, when he talks about his vision for the movie. Spielberg said, “I wanted all the toys to come true someday. I want there to be a transportation system that doesn’t emit toxins into the atmosphere. And the newspaper that updates itself… the Internet is watching us now, if they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing us, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”
Watson on "Jeopardy"
Watson runs on 90 servers and takes up an entire room. Watson is an artificial intelligence computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM’s DeepQA. Watson was named for IBM’s first president, Thomas J. Watson.
But can Watson play "Jeopardy," with all its “answers for questions”, nuance and colloquialisms? It sure can. In January, Watson finished ahead of two former champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson got almost every question it answered right (with a few wonky flubs here and there), but much more important, it didn’t need help understanding the questions (answers), which were all phrased in plain English.
In acknowledgment of IBM and Watson’s achievements, Ken Jennings made an additional remark in his final "Jeopardy" response. Jennings said, “I for one welcome our new computer overlords.” Echoing a memetic reference to the episode, “Deep Space Homer” on "The Simpsons."
What will it really look like?
Do we know? Do we want to know?
I love technology. I embrace it every day. I think we can marry ourselves to technology in order to better ourselves. But, do I want to be wiped off the earth when there is no longer a need for human “thinking” or ingenuity?!
What is it that makes us human? What is it that makes us unique? We each have a unique thumbprint or DNA. We each strive to better ourselves, create, innovate and reach. But… is this enough, when the computers of the future will think faster, create faster and innovate faster, not to mention doing everything else with super speed, accuracy and… wait for it… intelligence?
"I joined the Digital Screenmedia Association because everything is changing so rapidly with this medium that you need to have as much access to information as you can get. I have met many vendors and users, and enjoy the opportunity to share our 'war stories' and use our experiences to help each other with ideas that support successful networks."
Director, Gobal Marketing & Communications
Platt Retail Institute