Evolve CommunicationsArticles by: Daniel

Posts By: Daniel

Cyborg Marketing: Part 1

NOTE: This is the introduction of a whitepaper/manifesto that is currently in development. If you’d like a copy of the full whitepaper, please email daniel@simplyevolve.com

Cyborgs have a bad rap. In TV, literature, movies, etc., they’re depicted as more machine than human: automated, unfeeling, calculating. They are simultaneously attractive to humans, as they are human, and repulsive, as they are also machines. We are fascinated with their efficiencies and technology, and at the same time we are disgusted with their lack of humanity.

And we are frightened, of course, by them; they remind us of a possible future that, with all of our technology, may be impossible to escape. There is nothing natural about cyborgs—they are made and not born; and we fear we may lose our own natural state of humanity by giving into their technology.

And yet, that is essentially what we have done. Technology has been integrated into almost every facet of our lives.

The irony here is that for all our technology, we continue to strive to be more human. Rather, our technology allows us to be more human—to extend our humanity or even translate it into digital format. At least, to the extent we can. We suffer from a technologically-induced cultural Attention Deficit Disorder, jumping from shiny object to shiny object with little time devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. We bounce happily from Facebook post to YouTube clip to Tweet to email and back again, always feeling busy but never actually getting anything done.

Our technology is now an extension of ourselves. We are always on, always connected to each other…through our phones, our tablets, our laptops, our cars, our TVs, etc. More than ever, we are living in a mixed-medium world. That is, we simultaneously live in multiple worlds that are layered on top of each other like a palimpsest. We live in the real world that we experience through our bodies; we live in online worlds in numerous communities that we experience through our technology.

We live in a mobile world where virtual information is all around us, hidden from our human eye, yet visible through our cyborg eyes. Look up “Times Square” on Google Maps and you’ll see links to thousands of images, pictures uploaded by visitors from all over the world.

I have always contended that virtual communities have no meaning, no relevance, if it they do not impact real-world decisions. Now, everywhere we go, almost everything we look at has been somehow captured and imprinted into a server somewhere in the world. We have re-created Borges’ “Map of the Empire,” where every feature of everything is mapped out, only now it is in if only in small chunks spread across millions of computers around the world, each with our own individual imprint. The virtual community and the real-world overlap, coincide, exist simultaneously with references to each other.

What does this mean for brands and the people who market them? If consumers are cyborgs living multi-faceted lives that traverse the real and the virtual, then do we need to build cyborg brands that do the same? What is a cyborg brand? And what does it mean to be a cyborg marketer?

These are questions we hope to conquer in future posts. Resistance is futile!

Are You Creating Social Media Dead Ends?

There’s no doubt that professional networking has been massively transformed by social media. We actively use Twitter and LinkedIn (and sometimes Facebook) to meet new people in our field, prospective clients and other “people of interest.”

And many people use these tools effectively on their websites by linking to their various profiles.

Lately, though, we’ve noticed a lot of dead-ends. That is, when we click over to someone’s Twitter page or other profile, the page doesn’t provide any further details no other websites, no contact information, no links to other social media profiles.

Case in point: we really liked this blog post by @cassandrabianco about what marketers can learn from mixologists. First, the link to her Twitter account actually ended up at @piamara‘s Twitter page (an oversight, we’re sure). @piamara clearly has a food connection based on her profile description and her background, so we easily believed she had penned the post. We wanted to read more of her work (and not just her Tweets). We wanted to learn more about her, what she does professionally, where she might work, etc.

Unfortunately, @piamara doesn’t have a website or a real location on her Twitter page. There was no way we could find out more about her, unless we wanted to ask her directly. Which we didn’t want to do for a variety of reasons, most importantly of which was that we just didn’t have the time to hunt for it. It was a dead end.

Sure, if we wanted to reach @piamara, we could’ve taken an extra step. But what if we were a potential customer or useful contact for her? Would we bother doing further googling to find her contact info? Possibly. But possibly not.

Who knows how many lost opportunities happen when people or companies don’t create dead ends like this. Sadly, we’ve been seeing this more and more. Someone even pointed out to us recently that our phone number isn’t listed on our contact page (we fixed that immediately).

Bottom line: close the information loop. Cross-link your social media profiles and your website. These are simple ways to let people learn more about you and your business. And not doing them is like leading people down dead-end streets. Make it easy for people to find you and reach you.

NOTE: It was only until we started writing this post that we realized that @cassandrabianco was the true author (and she indeed does have her company website linked on her Twitter profile).

The Shifting Locus of Community

As students of the media, as well as participants in the news process, Evolve Communications has taken the time to think critically about the role media plays in society. If you look back at the origins of the newspaper and news organizations, their mission was to be the voice of already existing, highly localized communities. Even when news organizations shifted to mass media (i.e. radio, television and widely distributed print publications), there was a strong commitment to being the voice of a group of people tied together by a set of cultural commonalities.

As the profit motive grew into an imperative by media organizations, the focus shifted away from community to ratings and settled on what we would call bottom-line thinking. Before the Internet existed, news organizations’ sole focus on profits contributed to the fragmentation of audiences (ala cable TV), with critics bemoaning the quality of news and its lack of ability to foster community.

Today, of course, community has taken on an entirely different meaning. Today, communities can still be localized, but they can also span geographies as they unite people with both common interests and culture. It’s common knowledge that the place where communities are formed has moved online.

Some news organizations are doing a great job of refocusing on building community by engaging people through social media. Others still don’t get it. Case in point: the Washington Post’s memo stating that the paper’s sole use of social channels should be to spread news and not engage readers online.

Communities happen where there is conversation. We don’t know yet if community can support for-profit media, but what we do know is this: for-profit media needs to support the communities they serve. And they can do that by communicating with their audiences–wherever those audiences may be.