Greek Love

"One of the most famous speeches in the Symposium is that made by Aristophanes which suggests that at the beginning the human race was made up of three genders. There were double males, double females and a male and a female stuck together. Each had four arms and four legs and moved by cartwheeling. But they became too proud and annoyed the gods who took a blade and severed each of them in two. Aristophanes then tells us that each half has been searching for its twin ever since and defines love as the desire and the pursuit of the whole." (Spencer 1995: 49)

Work

#WorkingBreakfast – Are Brands Fracking The Social Web? – Gorkana Notes From Basecamp

Gorkana Notes From Basecamp – April 3rd 2014

A couple of weeks ago, a few of the News Team attended Stack Work’s #WorkingBreakfast ‘Are Brands Fracking The Social Web?’ event, which discussed the structural issues of marketing on the internet with guest speaker John Willshire, Founder of Smithery, and former Chief Innovation Officer of PHD.Willshire began his presentation with a quote from Phil Adams – ‘fracking is an aggressive, invasive technique for extracting valuable raw materials from hard to reach places’. He also stated that for brands, ‘attention is the most valuable raw material that there is’.A few years ago, Willshire believed that ‘the future of brand communication lies in finding a way to become part of a community and communicate with them in a way that is shared, participatory and reciprocal’. However, nowadays, he feels that this idea only applies to certain brands and companies.
Willshire later suggested that branding on the social web is different and it is more about conversation. He cited Richard Sennett’s book, Together, explaining that there should be cooperation where the participants benefit from the encounter. Furthermore he explained that brands are heavily focused on themselves and stated that ‘when we [the brand] speak about communication skills, we focus on how to make a clear presentation to present what we think or feel’. There is no mention of the consumer or interaction. Willshire highlighted that conversation is about listening as well as speaking.

However, he explained that within the social web, there is not just conversation. There is no consensus of views. Willshire explained that perhaps traditional marketing was more dialectic due to the fact that it was necessary for brands in the past to come to a consensus. Moreover, that perhaps brands nowadays are intentionally fracking the social web due to a cultural divide; that it is just one model of marketing against another.

He suggested that in traditional marketing there are four basic principles; competition, simplicity, compression and certainty, whereas in modern social marketing, there is complexity, experimentation, cooperation and fragmentation. According to Willshire, these principles are effective in building social media campaigns.

He added that with cooperation, it is all about people and what they do together. Brands need to understand that people want to be friends with people rather than the brands. He exemplifies Ronald McDonald and that people do not want to be friends with Ronald because he is not real. He referred to the article by Tsoukas ‘A Dialogical Approach to the Creation of New Knowledge in Organizations’ (2009) that explained that by having lots of people talking about what’s going on in the company, it actually broadens the company’s outreach, as a company is simply just a big group of people.

In terms of fragmentation, Willshire quoted Heatherwick who is ‘really interested in the making of it [the product] – where the making is part of the story of it’. He referred to Burberry and their rich history where they can frequently refer to their extensive past in order to revive their modern marketing, for example using an image of Twiggy wearing a jacket. Willshire feels that Nike is particularly good at fragmentation. He explains that their YouTube channel doesn’t just feature one consolidated channel but has multiple channels for its varied consumers i.e. Women, Football, and Skateboarding.

With regards to complexity, Willshire advised brands to not consolidate. He further highlighted that there is a difference between something that is complex and something that is complicated. He used Argyll Motor Company as an example, stating that they were a bespoke motor company based in Glasgow in the early 20th century and their catalogue of over 100 pages could make the process of buying a car take up to a year. He explained that this was complicated. It is the right idea but at the wrong time.

The principle of experimentation, Willshire explained, is about showing the consumer the future that they want to live in. He revealed that it is easy for tech companies to show how this can be done; for example, Red Bull’s advertisement on Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space which can be viewed here. He finished by stating that ‘a day in the wild is worth a month of guessing’, meaning that it is better for brands to just do things rather than keep guessing whether something will work.

However, he finished the presentation by admitting that brands must give up something in order to embrace one of these principles. If brands want to embrace fragmentation, they must be willing to forget about perfection and just keep creating more content. If brands wish to embrace cooperation, they must give up control and attempt to build a community and make it fun and playful. In order to raise complexity, they must give up consolidation and forget about the notion that one size fits all. Finally to embrace experimentation, brands must give up no obvious links and be true to experiment.

Read the article on the Gorkana Notes From Basecamp site here.

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