A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Engage Digital Storytelling conference in NYC on behalf of Racepoint Group’s Digital Consumer Practice. This full-day event was studded with top executives from HBO, MTV, Esquire Magazine, Facebook, Buzzfeed and many more awesomely relevant brands. While waiting for the event to begin, I met a sports publicist, a mobile developer, an entrepreneur in graphic design, and a public relations pro who had traveled all the way from Switzerland – a true representation of how digital storytelling is applicable across a web of interconnected industries all striving for brand relevance and success.
Our Digital Consumer Practice team found attending this event to be a real treat, especially considering how digital storytelling constantly comes into play for our clients. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to tell a client’s story, and creativity was definitely delivered in large doses during each session.
As I began writing this recap, I realized there was far too much interesting content from the conference to fit into just one post. As a result, this is the first post in a series on Digital Storytelling, one which highlights three distinctly unique perspectives on how technology is the new blank canvas for storytelling.
Perspective 1: Adam Berger, Creative Strategist, Facebook
Adam’s creative strategy is built around an important foundational belief – people don’t change. Sure, technology and the mediums through which we consume content are constantly evolving, but ultimately, people will remain constant in their core interests, needs and desires. From the newspaper to online content to social media, people always apply what they know from the previous medium to the next. You’ll see this in the repurposing of print articles online, and the subsequent repurposing of these posts on social media. The message really hasn’t changed, it’s just the medium. And ultimately, no matter what medium is being used, brands can’t forget that it’s about the people.
So how do we build brand identity in a world where the medium for message dissemination is changing faster than ever before? The answer: cater to the feed. Most digital content today is consumed through feeds, meaning the most effective stories will be designed as if the feed is the most important canvas of all. There are three important rules to designing a storytelling strategy for these new canvasses, which brands should pay special attention to:
Be respectful of people’s feeds. Don’t clog feeds with content that isn’t both a part of your brand narrative and useful to people.
Start with the brief, and realize that sharing is really just talking. Approach feed content as a conversation, instead of a blast of information.
Respond in real-time. Brands need to be timely and relevant every day, while providing rich, deep storytelling.
Perspective 2: Brian Ballard, CEO, APX Labs
Brian’s approach to digital storytelling is to design it with the technology of the future in mind. Over the next five years, he forecasts people will be interacting with each other in a completely different way due to an innovation you’ve probably heard of at this point: Smart Glasses.
Smart glasses such as Google Glass create a real-time digital layer that overlays information over the real world. They’re designed to be on and with you everywhere you go, meaning the story isn’t confined to the times when you’re checking your smartphone or laptop. Every time someone looks at something, a story can be told that is specifically tailored to their preferences, allowing for more immersive storytelling. For example, two people can look at the exact same thing, whether it’s a storefront or a commercial while watching TV, and see two totally different things based on what part of the story they care about most. This is a whole new level of social, where brands can choose not only how much to share, but exactly when and how quickly.
Perspective 3: Nick Hooker, Creative Director, Framestore
Most people are extremely familiar with the work of Framestore, including special and visual effects in major motion films such as Iron Man 3, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. The problem is no one knows they are looking at Framestore’s work. As soon as a director comes to them, the art department gets to work on establishing the DNA of the film through mind-blowing graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics are top secret and never revealed to the public. In order to lift the curtain between the audience and the awesome graphics their creative designers produce, Nick decided to embark on a bold new experiment in storytelling – giving the entire story to the audience.
In partnership with io9, Framestore started creating and progressively publishing images from the art department with zero accompanying narrative. They then asked the audience to build a narrative around the image. Framestore then selected five submissions and asked the community to select the best, from which the art department designed another image, which was posted and carried through the same process, until ultimately there was an entire story built purely by crowdsourcing and engaging the audience. Nick touts the success of this experiment and relates it to how brands can harness the innate storytelling power of their audience and take lead from them.
He provided the example of a piece of art on DeviantArt that depicted a teddy bear over a sleeping child’s head fighting off a bad dream with a sword. This image spoke to people so much and received so many shares and engagements that Hollywood bought the rights to it and will make a movie about it. This is a prime example of recognizing the mysterious connection that sometimes happens between an audience and a story from the grassroots up. Allowing an audience to steer you in the direction of what it is they really care about and then harnessing that to build a narrative creates a true, deep connection.
What is your approach to digital storytelling for your brand? What have you learned along the way?
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s episode features a very special guest from RPG’s Hong Kong office, Emma Matuschka (coolest Kiwi in the world), Ben Haber, Nick Liberati and Ally Peebles. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Social Media During Disasters
Does social media help or hurt more during times of distress and tragedy?
Is social media too powerful in the wrong hands? What (if anything) can be done to prevent occurrences like the AP Twitter hack (and the subsequent stock market dip) from happening?
3. Google Glass
Have you tried anything like it yet? What do you think of the concept, is it inevitable that we’ll all be wearing these in a couple years? Will you be an early adopter?
4. Emma Loves Boston
What has been the best/worst part of Emma’s trip to Boston?
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Tyler Kizner, Erin Knapp, Amanda Nadile and Carrie Weiss. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Employers asking for Facebook passwords
Do you think certain employers should be allowed to ask potential employees for passwords to access their social media accounts?
Twitter’s video service has already been used to apply for jobs, what are some other possible uses for this platform?
Have you tried this new Chrome application that lets users insert hidden messages into their Facebook photos? Does it seem useful to you, or just another gimmick?
4. Zombie Apocalypse
TV shows like The Walking Dead and upcoming movies like World War Z seem to be quite popular these days – what do you think you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Ashley Crutchfield, Colleen McCarthy and Lori Niquette. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Original Content
Do you subscribe? How do you feel about their original content and which devices do you watch on?
2. iPhone vs. Android
Have you recently made a switch? What features would you like to see on the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S? Are phones now becoming too big?
3. March Madness
Who do you have winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? Have you been following via an app on your smartphone? (Note: this recording is from yesterday, 3/28 – Miami was crushed last night by Marquette 71-61, once again destroying Evan’s bracket hopes and dreams…)
4. Spring has Sprung
What are you looking forward to most about Spring?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
It’s been a crazy week in the technology world, and I’m just getting around to sifting through the news out of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference earlier this week. The computing giant unveiled a new operating system for its iPhones and iPads along with a new version of its MacBook Pro laptop computer, among other things. Nobody merges technology into a lifestyle brand better than Apple, and there have been countless fan boys and girls expounding the beauty of these new software and hardware wonders. But what about the impact Apple’s news will have on other brands in the technology industry?
Fast Company’s @kiteaton has a great article dissecting the news and how it will impact everyone from search companies to car companies. Here’s a brief synopsis of some of the ways Apple is changing the world this week:
Apple’s new mobile operating system – iOS 6 is what the industry calls “backward compatible.” That means you can use it on almost every iPhone – even your iPhone 3GS from 2010 (which it still sells today). This sets a precedent that anyone can have the latest software systems and apps, even on low-end devices. It could be a game-changer for the entry level smart phone market.
Siri gets serious. Eaton points out in his article that Siri is a gateway app – it makes it easier to use a whole bunch of other apps – from planning to navigation tools. Now, with an open API for Siri, expect to see a new generation of apps emerging that will be richer and more dynamic than what we’ve seen in the past.
Oh yeah – and Siri queries get routed through Apple servers, not Google servers, so guess who doesn’t get to collect your search data first if you use Siri…? That’s right – Apple gets your search data first and then chooses where to send your query – so Google may or may not get a search from Siri. It’s interesting that Google moves down a notch in the search data hierarchy.
Not that business users needed any other reason to use Apple products – every business person I know has an iPhone – but, Apple added a host of innovative and useful business-friendly functions. These include new cloud editing features for working on documents on the go, the ability to move IM discussions from laptops to tablets to mobiles, video conferencing capabilities over cellular networks and even a “do not disturb function” for multiple Apple devices.
Lastly, the sleek design of the MacBook and the awesome Retina display now available across the line-up means that other hardware manufacturers – think mobile, gaming, tablet and computer – are on notice. The bar has been raised and some will struggle to keep up while others will be just fine (cough, Samsung, cough, cough).
In the immediate future and in the long run, the consumer benefits the most from Apple’s news this week. The company is continuing to push the envelope for mobile computing and enhancing the user’s experience across all devices. The news also puts additional pressure on competitors, but that is good for the market overall – in my opinion.
Happy Shopping Mac Fans! It’s gonna be a great year for you.
This is a guest post by Shelly Runyon. Follow her on Twitter @shelly_runyon.
I’ll admit it – in a fit of teenage angst, soon after I turned 18, I went to a tattoo parlor, and to the great disappointment of my parents, I got a tattoo. I have no regrets, I love it – it’s a snapshot of a moment of time, reminding me always to “do me” as they say on the Jersey Shore. It hurt. That was the end of that phase for me.
But with recent news of the patented technology by Nokia that would allow cell phone alerts to be felt through magnetic pulses resonating in tattoo ink, reported by Fox News, I’ve found myself once again pondering the idea of a tattoo. But would I feel the same way about a tattoo that connects me to my cell phone?
In the long term, when I’m 85, will I feel the need to be as connected to my smartphone (if they even exist then) as I do now? Or will I be forever branded with an out-of-touch piece of technology embedded, literally, into my skin?
Now I’m not 18 anymore, and these days I worry about what I’m putting on or in my skin. The active, or should I say, reactive material in these tattoos will likely be metal. From iron to magnetite to neodymium, which is used in computer hard drives, the range of possibilities is pretty wide. It’s also safe to say that the effects of those metals against cellular walls, muscle tissue and blood may be pretty wide.
Luckily, besides a tattoo, Nokia is also toying with a temporary solution – their patent also allows for “temporary magnetic spray, stamp, sticky decal or perhaps a wristband,” reports Fox News. I’m much more apt to put a patch on my arm than metal in my skin – but even then, vibrating uncontrollably – I can’t imagine the feeling.
Will it be like a bee-sting or self-induced electroshock therapy? And when your arm is wet, say, in the shower, will the tingling spread to other parts of your body? I’ll be waiting to find out!
This is a guest post by Mandy Miller. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyMayM.
I was listening to a NPR story on the recent challenge held at Harvard against the famous IBM Watson. As you may recall, Watson beat out the all-time Jeopardy champion, Ken Jennings earlier this year.
In the NPR segment, the reporter posed the question if technology is the reason for the elimination of many high-skill jobs. It got me thinking – have we out-invented ourselves? Are our technologies a reason for so few jobs today? What will my kids have to look forward to when entering the workforce? Will I even have a job in 20 or 40 years?
While we can laugh at the thought of the robotic future running our society, the thought isn’t that far from reality. When you consider how many assembly-line jobs were eliminated through new manufacturing technologies, who’s to say what else can’t be eliminated? Look at how many telephone systems are now automated for customer service, airlines systems have self check-ins and more efficient farming technologies we have to plant and harvest more and better yields. For auto repairs, so many cars are so electric that a mechanic can hook them up to a computer system for a quick diagnostic.
The story did note that healthcare would remain virtually untouched in terms of doctor-nurse and patient interaction. I’m not 100% in agreement with that. As you may also remember, shortly after Watson beat out Jennings, Nuance Communications and IBM announced a research collaboration to bring Watson to healthcare. From that announcement, many questioned how Watson would redefine healthcare, and, in some cases, especially for more dangerous military scenarios, eliminate the need for a human physician. Could it be with how automated our medical records are becoming that we could also be going to a computer (no, not WebMD) for a doctor visit?
I’m not convinced that our society will go sci-fi and we’ll have a robotic nation, but I do feel that we need to grasp the full scope of the lack of innovation in this country. Granted, you can’t go a day without seeing a story about how innovation has flat-lined. In a time where unemployment rates are at an all-time high and we face a double-dip recession, we really have to continue to address societal problems and create new industries. If we don’t, I really don’t feel we can keep up with technology. As corny as it sounds, as a human race, we need to keep up with the technology that we’re inventing. While technology makes our lives easier, we have to, in essence, be competitive with our own gadgets.
What are your thoughts? Are we so encompassed in the luxury of our own technologies that we are ignorant of our own (potential) demise? What is our solution?
I love my new smartphone. Not only is it super-awesome, but the apps give me cool stuff to cover in RaceTalk – let me know if there’s a mobile app I must see.
We love not paying full price for things, and the success of group-buying daily deal sites has only fueled our penchant for not paying full-price for everything from pizza to skydiving lessons. The challenge for vendors choosing to participate is turning would-be one-time penny-pinchers into loyal returning customers even after the coupons are distant memories. Many businesses never close the deal, instead being left with the equivalent of countless, unfulfilling one-night stands from consumers who only loved them briefly for their discounts. Now that I’ve painted this sad, sad picture for you, cue LevelUp.
Rather than offering a one-time discount to deal hounds, LevelUp instead offers consumers an incentive to come back: spend $X, get $Y in credit. Repeat. The more you spend with LevelUp, the more credit you get back. As described on the site, it’s a “Sesame-Street-simple loyalty program.” We get our savings, and businesses aren’t finding themselves in the red. Good stuff, right? Let us know about your LevelUp experiences in the comments.
If you know me personally, you can skip to the next paragraph. If not, finish this one: Hi, I’m Brittany. I love beer and location-based social media. If I found anything that married the two, I would consider marrying it.
One of the reasons why I was most excited about finally getting a smartphone – aside from no longer having to make excuses along the lines of “Sorry, my phone rides the short bus” – was all the applications and bookmarked mobile sites that would inevitably accompany it. I of course anticipated the usual suspects – Twitter, Foursquare, Angry Birds, Words with Friends – you know, all those little megabytes that have become all but staples of our livelihood. What thrilled me even more was the thought of perhaps the most magical, albeit less mainstream, mobile site to grace the lives of social beer-drinkers the digital world over: Untappd. Haven’t heard of it? Read on.
I first heard about Untappd via the Twittersphere many months ago. Being an avid consumer of beer, the prospect of being able to check into which one I was drinking sounded nothing short of incredible – especially when you go to as many beer fests as I do, and keeping track after the eighth sample can get tricky. Untappd lets you track what you’re drinking, where you’re drinking it, and what you think of it.
After that first glorious (sometimes not-so-glorious) sip, visit m.untappd.com and search for whatever it is you have in your hand. Find it – or add it – add your two cents, and check in. Simple, but that’s the beauty of it. Like many Bostonians, while I do have a few go-tos, I really love trying different brews, and I only have so much brain space dedicated to beer. Untappd is turning into my handy little Rolodex of draughts and bottles and making some recommendations at the same time based off my check-ins (although I haven’t tested that out yet – has anyone who can share their thoughts?). Like Foursquare, it also lets me keep tabs (pun unavoidable) on my beer-inclined friends to see what they’re drinking. Possibly even more fun, I earn badges (also like Foursquare) for my drinking habits, which serve no purpose other than bragging rights (and perhaps a VIP pass for an AA meeting).
Have you tried Untappd yet? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments!
It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:
“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page
One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.
Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).