Your Klout score? I really could not care less…

I was contacted by a young girl who wanted to know my Klout score. She was making a list of important people to follow on twitter. It made me smile. When I answered that my Klout score is on (like everyone else’s) and that it hovers between roughly 55 and seventy-something depending on my mood, and the temperature of the seawater in Belgium, she got upset. Klout was important, and I was not taking her seriously.

I explained that the temperature of the seawater does have a determining effect on my Klout score. If it gets too cold, I migrate South, and stop tweeting for a while. My Klout thingy sinks accordingly like a stone with respiratory difficulties. If the temperature is ok, my mood gets better, I twitter chat with friends, spread some blog posts around, and my Klout score sours up. That did not make her happy either.

Now, how can you determine if someone is important based on a yo-yo Klout score? Try walking up to somebody, and ask how important he is. Can you picture that? How do you define ‘important’? Is that a figure in two digits? Will he be more important tomorrow? Is he important because he has money? To whom is he important?

What does my Klout score tell you? Does it show you what people think about what I write? What impact my tweets/posts/musings have? Does it give a value on quality? Even on quantity? If so, in relation to what exactly? To my goals? Did the girl mean with ‘important’ influential? Influential on what topic? To what audience?

I have nothing against It is a rating system amongst many. I do have something against conclusions hastily drawn from a two digit number that gets influenced by the temperature of seawater.

If you want to determine if someone is important, relevant, influential, you’ll have to rely on more than just an automated tool. You’ll have to analyze all kinds of data, you’ll have to sift through criteria, and you’ll have to put stuff in context. Content might be King, but contextual information is Queen.

There is no number that can tell you whether I am important or not. Only you can determine that.

Thank you for sharing this, it will benefit my Klout score…. :-) .

Moonshot management: because you think, you can

We choose to go to the moon in this decade. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” A famous quote of President John F. Kennedy that kickstarted the run on the moon for the American nation. When he launched this ballsy statement, the Space program was barely able to get a small dog or testosterone crazy astronaut a few meters in orbit. Still, it rallied a whole nation behind a vision, an idea… and on July 20th 1969 Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, just in time to deliver on Kennedy’s statement on time. More than 250.000 people made that happen.
I’ve been a big fan of moonshot-management ever since. Way too often managers at all levels try to fix things. An incredible amount of smart highly paid top hot shot time is invested in fixing things, in getting stuff ‘up to the next level’ – in other words: mostly wasted. Taking a step back, and concentrating on the destination instead of the journey or the vehicle guarantees better thinking. Tessla and Edison did not concentrate on making a better candle. They focused on light, and came up with lamps. Ford did not waste any time on finding a faster horse, or lighter carriage, but build an automobile.
Google has its own Area51 dedicated to moonshot thinking. Google X is the silent think-thank that came up with Google Glass, Google’s self-driving car, and soon: a worldwide web of internet-distributing hot air balloons. It’s led by Dr. Astro Teller. He currently oversees Google[x], Google’s moonshot factory for building magical, seemingly impossible ideas that through science and technology can be brought to reality. “Here is the surprising truth” said Teller last week @canneslions: “It’s often easier to make something 10 times better than it is to make it 10 percent better. Because when you’re working to make things 10 percent better, you inevitably focus on the existing tools and assumptions, and on building on top of an existing solution that many people have already spent a lot of time thinking about. Such incremental progress is driven by extra effort, extra money, and extra resources. It’s tempting to feel improving things this way means we’re being good soldiers, with the grit and perseverance to continue where others may have failed — but most of the time we find ourselves stuck in the same old slog. But when you aim for a 10x gain, you lean instead on bravery and creativity — the kind that, literally and metaphorically, can put a man on the moon.”
We should do it more often: throttle back on the execution, throttle back on the day to day that keeps our best people deeply entrenched in the sticky mud of deliver-on-time-on-promise-on-budget. What is our moonshot? What do we want to achieve? Where do we see our client in four years? What does an ideal agency look like in 2017?
Grab that moonshot, that far-away idea. Believe in it. Nurture it. Retro engineer your way back to today: your path is set.

Larry Page says: “If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re clearly doing the wrong things”. Find a big problem, aim for a radical solution, now go create the science and technology to make it happen. Kennedy proved it: it’s not that difficult :-).

The Power Of Liquid: forget touch points; be the Sea, not the Rock

Liquid. It’s all about Liquid here @canneslions.. Throughout the different presentations, sessions and seminars, the small talk on the sunny terraces on La Croisette and the wise tweets of ninja’s, gurus, rainmakers and specialists one thing stands out: Liquid is the new black.

The red line is clear, and everywhere… here is a summary:

Liquid content – It’s about liquid content, content that gently swooshes around the consumer, like a hot bath on a cold day. Find out who the consumer is, detail his whereabouts, passions, worries, and views through hard data. Go find, curate and create content that bridges the gap between the consumer’s content consumption and your corporate message. Repurpose content that is created by your consumer. The superior stage of liquid content is interaction.

Platform agnostic – Way too often campaigns are targeted to and tailored for a certain platform. But the math is simple: if your target is not on Facebook, your Facebook campaign will no reach him. Period. Simple. True. Good campaigns bring the content mountain to Mohamed, not vice versa.

Any screen, all screens – the power of Liquid is carried by intelligent and responsive design. If it does not work on all screens the consumer might have access to, if it’s not designed well, ultimately it will not be overly successful.

Follow me – good content flows downhill, together with the consumer to the sea. To put in another metaphor: good content is the river that carries the consumer to your harbor. Good content follows you to the ultimate destination: the transaction (be it behavioral change, sale, …). So the impact of liquid can and should be measured, its ROI captured in data.

Touch Points are dead. Touch Waves are in – to be fully liquid, we need to stop seeing every touch point as a singleton, and deal with a multitude of touch points as a connection wave. Wave thinking guarantees the creation of a communication pattern, carrying liquid content over a multitude of touch points to the consumer, ultimately guiding the consumer into harbor.

Confucius knew it already centuries ago: to carry the swimming man, you want to be the water, not the rock….

Information Diet: Be a Creator, not a Consumer

Clay Johnson hammered it in deeply: we need to behave differently, or we will information obese. Author and technologist, Johnson has a fabulous track record in advocating open source information, and governmental tactical transparency.  He just launched a website called and wrote The Information Diet. Johnson is afraid that an overload of information, mostly junk, will have a disastrous effect on our society, and on us, humans.

Johnson is convinced that the automation and industrialization of the media and the thoughtless consumption of it creates an obesity based on information overload and mass-ignorance. He advises a better “diet”.  “There is a strange shift” he claims: “In the past, ignorance was stooled on a blatant lack of information, now an uncontrolled flood of information triggers the same thing.”  He points an accusing finger to some of the bigger thinkers in society, journalists and influencers who are more obsessed by increasing clicks and hits and likes than focusing on the quality and trustworthiness of the info that gets released. “For publications, it seems that concentrating on quality is a lost effort: clearly, it does not pay…” That is why he believes we have a collective responsibility in keeping it healthy: “if we all go on an info diet, the media world will be less obese”.

In his book, he gives a clear path towards a healthy content lifestyle: he urges everyone to write at least 500 words before breakfast: “Be a creator. Be a producer. Set yourself in the state of mind of someone who has something to share. Don’t start your day as a content junkie.” He also advocates to time the periods of media consumption, to switch mail and mobile off on set times, to “go of the web for a couple of hours.” In reducing the time spent immersed in information, he believes we will become more critical on what we consume. “We eat three times a day, do the same thing for media consumption: schedule it!

Johnson also pleads for more clever content consumption: who is feeding you content, and why. Are they left, right? Is the information biased? Can we verify? “Be a conscious consumer of information, seek information rather than blind affirmation of beliefs you already hold to be true. We need an information diet for more critical, healthier media that starts informing again instead of  persuading. We need this diet to re-cultivate a culture of healthy suspicion and common sense.”


Relevancy is the new black

Here is a big take away:  Social Media is not hip and cool anymore.  Walking here through the endless meeting rooms of SxSW in Austin, you still discover a mountain of applications, and a ton of cute shiny new tools. But clearly, not of that seems to  get the audience go wow anymore.

The wow goes to the nice idea, the better implementation, the smart strategy.  And… that is a good thing. Social Media is getting mature, it’s part of peoples reality.  People use it to find their way around, locate sessions, comment on content, book cars and taxis and hotels, hunt for food.

The different applications on the smartphones are used, often on daily basis. There might be fewer applications in average per phone than a couple of months ago, but the applications that make it to the phones’ homepage are truly used, truly used, and become a integral part of peoples life. Most people even forget that the app or service they are using was once called Social Media. It turned into the stuff they use every day: tissues, car keys, chewing gum, twitter, facebook, google maps, foursquare.

Social media is mainstream, it is everywhere, and it slipped into people’s lives and became quietly ubiquitous. As people do not get excited about car keys and bottle openers any more, they do not get easily excited about social media anymore either.

Focus goes clearly on functionality: does it work, will it work better, smoother, quicker? Will it interact with my social ecosystem? Does it link to my social networks? Do I really need it? Does it enhance my life?

The crowd became picky, asking for proof before want. Having new is not cool anymore, having best in class is. That forces developers and strategists to shift down a gear, and to push the pedal to the metal: that download from the app store will from now on have to be earned. The days of cool and shallow are over. Social media, social media applications need to become relevant. Relevancy just became the new black.

Contagious: the science of luck

Viral. Catching on. Views. Fame.  Every marketer dreams of making that one piece of magic that just auto-propels itself in the atmosphere, gets millions of views, is widely talked about, and brings a Golden Lion home at the prestigious Cannes festival.

But, then comes the gazillion dollar question: How do you get your campaign snowballing, how can we make your movie get a viral twist, how can we make your idea more even infectious? One movie gets trashed without mercy with only a couple of hundreds of views; the other one brings piles of cash, and a lot of fame. Every marketer, every agency, and every brand would gladly give and arm, a leg and a piece of a kidney to get the magic formula to guaranteed viral in a heartbeat.

Comes in Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at Wharton Business School. He wrote a book Contagious: Why Things Catch On,  that packs some real good insights based on more than 10-years of relentless research. Berger for sure is a very patient man. He concludes that for an idea, product or movie to get contagious, infectious or viral, it is not so much a question of luck, but a matter of careful planning, psychological understanding of the audience, and a healthy dose of science.

In one of the most talked about sessions here at SxSW, Berger demonstrates that getting widely spread, requires to look way broader than just at the usual influencers. While influencers certainly help driving the message home, and are primordial in helping you create precious awareness, they do not have that much to do with your campaign going viral. Real contagious content spreads like a wildfire, regardless of who is at the sending end.  Therefore, there is a much better pay off concentrating on the target audience and the message, than on intermediate messengers like influencers.

Berger also puts a lot of focus on the social currency. People only share what will make them look good, funny, ad rem, connected and smart. All the other stuff gets highly appreciated, but not shared. Campaigns should be calibrated to the impact they have on the social currency of the people likely to share the message. Worth of mouth has become a unique way to make impressions, and build a personal brand.  No-one sane will share things that might harm his/her carefully constructed image.

A third trigger is the element of contradictory controversy. The message needs an unexpected outcome. Something that triggers an alarm bell in the brain, something that is not following the highly predictability path that we are already plotting in our brain, Contagious content takes an unexpected side road, and triggers our interest, and makes a long lasting impression.

Look at this ad for Panda cheese. Pandas are always cute, right? :-)

Let’s get physical….

For way too long, digital and social media have been regarded as two exotic planets, floating out there somewhere.  It was all about the number of followers, the age of your blog, and if you had some fancy names to thank in your social media book.  But, to the ultimate frustration of marketers, CMO’s and CEO’s, most social and digital stuff was just hanging there, not even remotely linked to strategy, campaign, or product.  Those days seem to be ever.  New strategic and planning mythologies are rolled out to ensure that social and digital are completely integrated, and that campaigns are deeply rooted in moving the needle business-wise.

Also, it looks like a fair share of developments in digital and social technology are finally getting out of the fluffy all virtual zone, but are rapidly linked to what they can do to enhance matters in this real, mostly physical world. Digital and social experiences are great, but for brands they only become interesting if they merge seamlessly with the real world., preferably driving sales.

Nike’s running shoes and application are a great example. How to build a community in a most individual sport: running. Adding real life sensors to real life shoes, operated by real life runners, and using the collected data in an online community where people can compare, share, and compete makes a social media experience very physical.

What Dassault systems is doing together with the Harvard University is also promising: get all the physical data of real places, like Paris, or the Giza pyramids documented in 3D, in the Cloud, man it with avatars, and invite schools to use this space technology to offer their real life students a perfect immersion in history.

Another good example is enhanced and augmented reality, build into fashion wear.  Google Glass comes as a pair of spectacles (sort of J), that  overlays your true view with all kinds of digital data. Offering the same technology Apache fighter helicopter pilots have been enjoying for some time now to everyone opens exciting new possibilities.  @JasonSilva, recumbent eidetic brain, energy bulb, futurist and philosopher raved on the Google Glass possibilities naming it  ‘a total paradigm shift and ‘one of the first examples of the convergence of the digital and human space in a way that is not intrusive’. Virtual data possibilities in real life through Google Glass are endless: from simply finding directions, accessing social network updates, weather, traffic and temperature, facial recognition and identification …

The real world is being touched and transformed by virtual and social technology more quickly and more radically than natural evolution itself and it seems only the beginning.  For brands, facing these exponential changes requires the willingness to let go of the obvious, and start making smart educated bets in expanding their marketing, communications and connecting strategies, looking for convergence with relevant digital, social and virtual technologies.