1000 Heads

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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Making social media's 'semiotic promiscuity' work for brands

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

If you read just one post this week, make it Lingering, Benjamin Kunkel’s brilliantly written and thoughtful essay on the ways in which social media is changing our behaviour. Kunkel grapples with what he calls the semiotic promiscuity fostered by the web, whereby truckloads of ever ‘shorter, more frequent, more spontaneous, and more casual’ content seduce us with ‘novelty, variety, excitement’ so that ‘shallow and ephemeral relationships supplant deeper and more lasting ones’. It’s a fear shared by Joseph Jaffe, who has been mourning the death of the blog and the hegemony of Twitter on Marketing Profs Daily Fix.

The sentiments will ring true for a lot of people (although Andrew Seal of Conversational Reading has been quick to publish a rebuttal). The question is how we can make this landscape work for us.  At 1000heads, we have found that fostering deeper and lasting relationships with consumers – and taking their experiences, passions and encounters offline – is an essential precursor to the quick-fire amplification of content online. Nailing meaningful engagement with social media users in a personal, experiential way has all the more impact because it is becoming so rare. Get that right, and then plug it back into that semiotically promiscuous online world, and the deeper, individual engagement powers a whole lot of instant, varied, exciting, quickly spread and easily digested content too.

Kunkel’s post is actually a review of three excellent recent books examining the space, and he’s right – it sometimes takes the longer think piece of a full text to drill down into really interesting ideas. So rather than just skimming your Google Reader, I’d advise investing in one or two – and Blog Talk Radio’s weekly Word of Mouth Book Club podcast is a good source for discovering and discussing the latest releases.

Having said that, some online content is definitely better left in the form of ‘op-eds, diary entries, aperçus, allusions, screeds, and scrawls of graffiti.’ Rob Matthews’ physical Wikipedia would definitely collapse my Ikea shelves.

Making social media’s ‘semiotic promiscuity’ work for brands

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

If you read just one post this week, make it Lingering, Benjamin Kunkel’s brilliantly written and thoughtful essay on the ways in which social media is changing our behaviour. Kunkel grapples with what he calls the semiotic promiscuity fostered by the web, whereby truckloads of ever ‘shorter, more frequent, more spontaneous, and more casual’ content seduce us with ‘novelty, variety, excitement’ so that ‘shallow and ephemeral relationships supplant deeper and more lasting ones’. It’s a fear shared by Joseph Jaffe, who has been mourning the death of the blog and the hegemony of Twitter on Marketing Profs Daily Fix.

The sentiments will ring true for a lot of people (although Andrew Seal of Conversational Reading has been quick to publish a rebuttal). The question is how we can make this landscape work for us.  At 1000heads, we have found that fostering deeper and lasting relationships with consumers – and taking their experiences, passions and encounters offline – is an essential precursor to the quick-fire amplification of content online. Nailing meaningful engagement with social media users in a personal, experiential way has all the more impact because it is becoming so rare. Get that right, and then plug it back into that semiotically promiscuous online world, and the deeper, individual engagement powers a whole lot of instant, varied, exciting, quickly spread and easily digested content too.

Kunkel’s post is actually a review of three excellent recent books examining the space, and he’s right – it sometimes takes the longer think piece of a full text to drill down into really interesting ideas. So rather than just skimming your Google Reader, I’d advise investing in one or two – and Blog Talk Radio’s weekly Word of Mouth Book Club podcast is a good source for discovering and discussing the latest releases.

Having said that, some online content is definitely better left in the form of ‘op-eds, diary entries, aperçus, allusions, screeds, and scrawls of graffiti.’ Rob Matthews’ physical Wikipedia would definitely collapse my Ikea shelves.

Reflect, don't project

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

One good thing about the media’s Twitter mania is that some provocative people are starting to comment on the behaviour behind social media tools. Cue psychologist Oliver James in the Times:

“Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity [...] To ‘follow’ someone is to have a fantasy of who this person you’re following is, and you use it as a map reference or signpost to guide your own life because you are lost. I would guess that the typical profile of a ‘follower’ is someone who is young and who feels marginalised, empty and pointless. They don’t have an inner life.”

Within the polemic, there’s some truth. Many Tweeters have a strong identity, but in a crowded and competitive digital world, constant reinforcement and broadcasting of that identity has become default mode; it happened with texting long before microblogging. Many more than the ‘young’ and ‘marginalised’ feel that if they’re not visibly sharing and speaking, they don’t exist. In the same piece, Alain de Botton also notes that the mundanity of Tweets only reflects our age-old offline behaviour, by emulating the intimate, meandering small talk we indulge in with our closest family and friends. Basically, we want to feel that the big public world of social media is our living room (or even, as de Botton claims, our womb).

So underpinning most of social media’s chatter and creation is a deep craving for security. People will continue to talk as if their identities depended on it, but those who learn to listen will be richest in the attention economy. For both brands and individuals, listening well, rather than constantly opining, will prove to be the real art of social media. This doesn’t imply passivity; any actor tells you that active listening is an incredibly powerful tool, and that mirroring, acknowledging and asking for more will draw people closer to you. Making others feel heard, and reinforcing their identities – not imposing your own – garners the trust and, paradoxically, the attention that we all crave.

What was it that dude Shakespeare said? “Hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature”, or some such guff…

Reflect, don’t project

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

One good thing about the media’s Twitter mania is that some provocative people are starting to comment on the behaviour behind social media tools. Cue psychologist Oliver James in the Times:

“Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity [...] To ‘follow’ someone is to have a fantasy of who this person you’re following is, and you use it as a map reference or signpost to guide your own life because you are lost. I would guess that the typical profile of a ‘follower’ is someone who is young and who feels marginalised, empty and pointless. They don’t have an inner life.”

Within the polemic, there’s some truth. Many Tweeters have a strong identity, but in a crowded and competitive digital world, constant reinforcement and broadcasting of that identity has become default mode; it happened with texting long before microblogging. Many more than the ‘young’ and ‘marginalised’ feel that if they’re not visibly sharing and speaking, they don’t exist. In the same piece, Alain de Botton also notes that the mundanity of Tweets only reflects our age-old offline behaviour, by emulating the intimate, meandering small talk we indulge in with our closest family and friends. Basically, we want to feel that the big public world of social media is our living room (or even, as de Botton claims, our womb).

So underpinning most of social media’s chatter and creation is a deep craving for security. People will continue to talk as if their identities depended on it, but those who learn to listen will be richest in the attention economy. For both brands and individuals, listening well, rather than constantly opining, will prove to be the real art of social media. This doesn’t imply passivity; any actor tells you that active listening is an incredibly powerful tool, and that mirroring, acknowledging and asking for more will draw people closer to you. Making others feel heard, and reinforcing their identities – not imposing your own – garners the trust and, paradoxically, the attention that we all crave.

What was it that dude Shakespeare said? “Hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature”, or some such guff…