Here is a rundown of the sessions the Grafik team was able to attend and our key takeaways:
Speaker Aimee Roundtree is an associate professor at the University of Houston who teaches social media among many other courses as well as devises social campaigns for a number of organizations. She focused a lot on what some of the social media best practices are for large, top corporations are and how it may not necessarily be best suited for smaller organizations. An interesting point she made was that for smaller organizations, sometimes you don’t need a a formal “strategy” in the beginning. With limited resources, sometimes you just have to be free to experiment with choosing platforms and tools to see what works, and then zero in on what makes sense and what the organization can handle. Sounds logical, but not always followed.
This was a very informative yet entertaining session. Amongst the oohs, ahhs, and laughs, the very reputable and very humorous panelists made some simple but profound points on content strategy. The one that struck me the most was the conversation about metadata and how it’s almost as important as the content itself. Panelist Joe Gollner, Director of Gnostyx that specializes in integrated content solutions for companies, made a Matrix movie reference and said that we are the intelligent creatures and that we have to be the ones to feed the machines information in order to effectively work, and that information is metadata. There is a wealth of content out there that is no longer limited to just words (video, photos, etc.) and if it doesn’t have the appropriate metadata, it won’t reach it’s exposure potential on the web.
There was a resounding theme throughout the entire session and that is corporate culture should always be top of mind when delving in social technologies. Panelists Luis Benitez and Heidi Ambler of the IBM social software team say that each social platform or tool highlights a different behavior and not all companies want to or can highlight those behaviors so it is important to pick and choose which to take on. More and more CEOs now know the benefits of embracing social media and how crucial it is to growing business, but social strategies should always embrace the existing culture of the organization despite what the newest trend in the market is.
An experienced panel, anchored by a heavy-weight representative from Google Maps, Chris Broadfoot, discussed how indoor maps are being used to create contextual awareness for the end consumer. The panel viewed indoor maps as the next frontier of opportunity since 80% of our time is spent indoors, yet, at the moment there is no way to accurately and reliably provide indoor location data. The challenge of indoor positioning companies is to fill the large gap between the CADD drawings that exist for every building in the U.S. and outdoor maps that are aware of the building footprint. And while many companies are creatively using different forms of technology to isolate an indoor position ranging from WiFi to sound signals, no one company has completely met the challenge. However, the panel promised that in the next few years, the indoor positioning problem would be solved since all manufactured phones will be capable of transmitting the needed information by 2013.
While the focus of the session was supposed to be around the Glocalisation of the Internet (think globally, act locally) the panel comprised of representatives from Spotify, Foursquare, Zendesk, and Smartling meandered their way through topics ranging from cloud security to presidential playlists. As a cloud fanatic myself, I was particularly intrigued when an audience member asked whether or not they felt the Cloud was reducing the need of the operating system, but all panelists felt that while the role of the OS is definitely evolving, most applications, whether their data lives in the cloud or not, still need the processing power of the OS to serve up the data in the complex application interfaces. Also discussed was the concept of “frictionless sharing” and whether or not it’s a good thing (think Facebook newsfeed automatically sharing your music with your friends via Spotify). In the end, it’s a balance of user choice (having the ability to turn the feed on and off) and the benefits of random discovery (your friends learn of a new band or new track). As long as everyone involved is aware of their user rights, whether or not they own their data, and have the ability to opt out, the beneficial opportunities will only increase down the road.
A more intimate panel, consisting of founder of Ogmento, Brian Selzer, and Peter Gould from PDP Mobile promised to be an interesting discussion since Ogmento overlays a digital experience in the real world via augmented reality while PDP focuses on creating devices that enable us to experience this new reality. However, after a brief discussion around how we should view life as a game, we experienced our first “panel bomb” (where someone in the audience unexpectedly takes over the presentation) of the trip where the entire discussion was quickly taken over by an audience member hawking their new augmented reality application. And while the panel members did their best to get the talk back on track, I think most momentum was gone, given that it was the last talk of the day. However, the topic of the Google Glasses came up, and it led Mila and Brad to talk about what life will be like if people start walking around with glasses where content is constantly being placed in front of their eyes. Will we have an “eyes-free” law, similar to the hands-free initiative where police are now responsible for ensuring that drivers are not driving with these glasses on? Will it make us more disconnected in this always-on, connected world? Time will tell.
Despite the craziness of the rain the first few days, I was finally able to attend my first session which asked how come rappers have turned their personal brands into successful marketing platforms and how can we learn from it? Led by two creative directors from SapientNitro, Bill Pauls and John McHale, they kept the discussion informative, interactive, and not to mention fun.
I don’t listen to a lot of rap, but I chose this panel because the topic sounded entertaining and the room was completely booked. I also appreciated that the guys from Sapient were creative in coming up with a unique topic which also was pretty smart since they knew that their target audience were rap enthusiasts. I mean, who doesn’t like Jay-Z?
So my quick takeaways for how brands can better learn from rappers:
- Stay legit/project a consistent brand image
- Always be on the lookout/market to new audiences (rappers have been doing this well since RunDMC met Aerosmith)
- Master the social/innovate in a digital world (T-Pain’s popular Autotune App, for example)
- Name check/cross promote with advertisers
- Leverage product placement (mmm, Cristal, bling bling)
- And drive culture
Overall, Rappers truly understand their audience better than their audience understands them.