Archive for March, 2012

I thought I had heard it all, that is, until I discovered this session on ‘Coolhunting’ during my time at SXSW. Let’s just say, I wish this science was something they taught in high school. It sure seems to beat out chemistry, and I am almost positive it would have gotten me a ticket into the cool crowd instead of the science geeks.

So, what exactly is this latest science? Coolhunting is the art of combining data mining with social interaction heat maps to find ‘cool’ trends. Apparently even celebrities, like Justin Timberlake, have discovered this ‘science of cool’ and are using it to their advantage. In fact, Justin even hired a team of scientists to help him capitalize on trends and raise his ‘coolness’ profile.

This same methodology can also be used to find trendsetters. In the hunt for influencers, it’s important to note that 1 or 2 people are always the ‘nodes’, aka ‘new trendsetters’, that kickoff a viral trend — Everyone else is an additive. So, how do you find these trendsetters? Peter Gloor, from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, is working to make a science out of it. According to Peter, collective intelligence is becoming more and more apparent in the universe. By mining this intelligence and combining it with social media, we can find influencers, and in turn, find trends early in the cycle.

In a world where 90% of all data  has been generated in the last 2 years and continues to accelerate, data mining is a science that is paying off in huge dividends.  Businesses that can manage to leverage social analytics and data mining will clearly have a higher competitive advantage. They will become the cool new ‘nodes’ for trends.

You have to admit… pretty cool!

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I spent the weekend at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in pursuit of innovative marketing and social media ideas. After attending a weekend of sessions, I decided the best marketing lesson of all was this phenomenon called SXSW, which has developed a cult following of sorts. So here follows 5 lessons I learned from SXSW:

1. Great use of brand page. We’ve all done them —  the lame brand page that begs softly “Please like me”. SXSW amped up usage of its brand page by employing a band of mobile Fotogs to catch the energy of the conference in a ‘photo documentary’ Facebook fan page. Shutterstock also invited attendees to tweet their photos to @Shutterstock using the hashtag #SXSWpix. The documentary was projected on a six-story wall projection. Add a liberal dose of free ‘beverages’ and call it fun, great social media marketing.

 2. An all-in-one mobile app. In addition to session content, The SXSWGo app included networking info on registered attendees, which let you make connections with other attendees. Pixable pulled images into the app from Twitter and Instragram photos that carried the #SXSW hashtag. The app was used widely by attendees for both session content & networking. Very cool mobile marketing approach.

3. Videos to tell the story. Liberal use of video aggregated on a compelling You Tube channel. More and more, this generation has forgotten how to read (irony not lost on me). The videos had great energy & gave user testimonial to a great festival.

4. Cinematography via Pinterest. The SXSW board showcases bands performing, SXSW music parties & SXSW Interactive speakers and events. It added a visual component to the site’s coverage, helping to capture the festival’s spirit.

 5. Social connections through Twitter: Hashtags on every unique session helped attendees to build communities of people of like interest.  Big boards around the conference featured tweets. (Interestingly, the tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 SXSW festival. During the event that year, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000).

All in all, the conference had a great buzz. Social mirrored the real life interaction minus the seemingly endless stream of happy hours. Well done SXSW.

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I remember a day when I had a warm, fuzzy feeling as I booked a flight on my favorite carrier— Jet Blue. I loved the nice, simple Jet Blue web site design and branding, their warm, welcoming, young staff, the big TVs and the roomy seats on the plane. It all said fun, cool and friendly. I made Jet Blue my first choice to fly as a rule. A great option to an otherwise poor playing field of carriers.

Fast forward to my trip last night. Long three hour lines; an angry, seemingly eternally angry, unapologetic staff; check-in kiosques that were broken (and clearly not getting any attention) were among the worst offenses. Once we boarded, the airline experience was pretty much indistinguishable from any other except for the $6 pillow and blanket charge on a very cold flight. What ever happened to the ”Jet Blue” experience that I remembered?

Long story short, my alliance to Jet Blue as an erstwhile lifetime fan dissipated with one bad trip, one bad day. It would seem Jet Blue’s customer differentiation is a bygone of better days. At a time when customers are at a premium and tend to be vocal about good/bad experiences, I am not optimistic the airline has adopted a winning strategy. Every interaction with a customer is a chance to win or lose loyalty, to make a positive or negative impression. I’m sure I wasn’t alone last night. But I for one won’t be coming back any time soon. I look back on my days of flying with Jet Blue as a jilted lover, disappointed that love didn’t last….

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