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T R E N D

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2 2012

Silent Signal


WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT? The Silent Signal trend report discusses the digital revolution and the multiplicity of consequences it has for the lives of consumers, companies and media. The report, scheduled to appear three times a year, consists of expert articles by top actors of digitalism, marketing, advertising and communication both from Finland and abroad. The Silent Signal trend report is published by Vapa Media in order to inspire discussion around the central functions of the web and in order to encourage further collective thinking. You are welcome to take part in the conversation on the Facebook page of the report.

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THE AUTHORS OF THE SILENT SIGNAL 2|2012: Ida Hakola & Ilona Hiila are the founding partners of content agency Vapa Media and the first heralds of content strategy in Finland. This duo believes that web contents will play an ever-larger role in the success of the web-oriented everyday life of companies. Ed White is a senior writer and consultant at Contagious Communications, where alongside writing for the magazine he has consulted for global brands including Nike, Louis Vuitton, BBC Worldwide, Diageo as well as global network agencies such as BBDO, JWT and McCann Worldgroup. Jyri Rasinmäki believes in renaissance of today, and respects thinking, having multiple areas of interest and productive relations between people above everything else. Rasinmäki is interested in behaviour of the masses and the reasons behind an individual’s excitement. Jyri is currently working as a content strategist at Vapa Media. Jarno Alastalo is the ambassador of social media in Aller Media, leader of Suomi24, and defender of freedom of speech. Alastalo is irritated by the fact that companies still seem to think that social media is very black and white. Esko Kilpi is one of the most internationally acknowledged Finns experts in creative cognitive work and social interaction technology. His research and work with customers deals with how the Internet and mobile operating systems have changed the way companies use strategies, earning models and how they get organized. More about Kilpi’s work can be found here: http://eskokilpi.blogging.fi

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What’s all this about?

The authors of The Silent Signal trend report 2/2012

Silent Signal, Vol. 2: Contagious content and its effects Ida Hakola & Ilona Hiila, Vapa Media

Watching you, watching me Ed White, Contagious Communications

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Pro-ams challenge media companies Jarno Alastalo Aller Media, Suomi24

There’s no such thing as a loyal customer Jyri Rasinmäki, Vapa Media Oy

Interactive competence Esko Kilpi, consultant

About the report and the publisher


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Silent Signal, Vol. 2: Contagious content and its effects

Ida Hakola, Ilona Hiila Vapa Media Oy

HOW INFORMATION CHANGES US AS PEOPLE, AS COMPANIES AND A A SOCIETY The first issue of Silent Signal, published in early 2012, dealt broadly with content and creating commitment. Here, in Vol. 2, we focus on contagious content and how it has effects on both how companies organize themselves as well as how customers are reached. But what do we understand with ‘content’? And what exactly is the good stuff like? A to-the-point description of the service you provide, a piece of brilliantly constructed product information; those can be good content. It can also stand for continuous communication with your clients or a web service built on information or content, whether it be an online store or a customer service chat room.

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Content as such isn’t what counts, however. It only becomes effective and starts to make an impact when someone picks it up. Content can only be as meaningful as it can be interesting and if it spreads within the target audiences. The ancient Chinese proverb asks: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” With online content, the answer is no: unless someone listens to what you have to say, your words count for nothing in the dense forest that is the web. Catchy and mesmerizing contents are important for marketing, management and product development. The articles in this issue of Silent Signal will provide you with unique perspectives on how content has changed and continues to change the world – here and everywhere.


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CATCHY CONTENT KNOWS WHAT THE AUDIENCE WANTS (AND THINKS) To create something catchy, you have to understand and see the big picture of what customer needs are – even the ones we still don’t know of. In the old days, customer needs were studied using questionnaires and observing consumers in research settings. In the future, advertising and communication will be planned more meticulously and in real time with the help of perceptive media. Devices and software designed not only to relay messages to audiences but also to study their reactions as they happen – that’s what perceptive media is.

be studied, it also gives us a great glimpse into how traditional forms of media, like the television, can in years to come be used to learn more about consumers in real time.

“Content as such isn’t what counts, however. It only becomes effective and starts to make an impact when someone picks it up.”

This shift from the information highway to a layered and diverse communication network creates pressure to reach out to people. How can you take all these groups of people – crowds – flitting about, and get them to gather around your content or brand?

Ed White, the senior consultant of the international agency Contagious Consulting, writes in his article Watching me, watching you about perceptive media and what applications of it already exist. While Ed’s article is more focused on how online audiences can

CATCHY CONTENT AIMS TO CREATE OPEN BRANCHES, NOT CAGES While social media gives us the tools to actively communicate with our friends, acquaintances, clients and other stakeholders, our growing need to be in touch with everyone and everything has severely eroded our online attention span. Digital natives today use the web in fragmented ways, moving rapidly from one page and contact to another.

Vapa Media’s content strategist Jyri Rasinmäki unravels this mysterious bundle of web communication and marketing in his article No loyal customers to be found online. Instead of trying to chain yourself down to the “mass

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communications for mass audiences” way of thinking, Jyri encourages companies to look at online audiences as a flock that is constantly on the move and changing. And there is no way to build a golden cage of advertisements to hold down this flock. PROFESSIONALS, LEARN FROM THE AMATEURS! Whenever you find catchy content, passionate hobbyists are rarely far from its source. Content creation is no longer the sole domain of institutional organizations and the media: the most beloved contents can very well be made by someone with no professional education in the field. Meet professional amateurs, or pro-ams. In Pro-ams challenge media companies, Suomi24.fi ‘s Director of Online Jarno Alastalo poses the question if pro-ams should be seen merely as content creators. He thinks professional amateurs make for a great channel to tell the story of a company, but that their true value lies in the community they bring


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with them. These are passionate people who can be a great asset in developing a company’s activities. INFORMATION BROUGHT CHANGE TO COMPANIES Content has changed more than the way consumers come together with each other or with businesses. The amount of content brings also radical changes into how companies organize themselves and what the recipe behind success is. The volume of this information mass has transformed work and managing companies into managing and giving access to information. In Interactive competence management consultant Esko Kilpi gives us an approach to the content world from the point of view of managing companies. According to Kilpi, we still don’t grasp that work is communication and managing this communication means controlling both what we do and the results we generate. The future therefore belongs to the companies whose management is successful in generating and controlling participation. For it is through this participation that we create know-how between the company and various other actors.

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CONTAGIOUS MESSAGES By creating catchy content and controlling it, you have the chance to change the world. We are connected through content as individuals, groups and employees. The winners of today will be those who deliver catchy content and use it to further their own goals. The purpose of Silent Signal, Vol. 2 is to open up new points of view that let different actors in society to pick up on the possibilities of catchy content. It is our hope that these articles, written by various people from all around the field, help to kindle new ideas and encourage you to think outside the box. Please let us know if we were successful in this and give your feedback, suggestions for improvement and tips on who you’d like to see write an article for us at: facebook.com/hiljainensignaali. You’re holding in your hands the 2nd issue of this trend report. Be a part of the in-crowd and among the first to know when Vol. 3 is coming out by making your way to www.hiljainensignaali.fi or by liking our report on Facebook.


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“Content changes us and society. Trend report reveals what the changes are now and what they will become�

#silentsignal

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Watching you, watching me From browsers to billboards, media channels are starting to recognise individuals, providing opportunities for brands to offer more personalised content.

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arketers used to collect data through representative surveys, focus groups and sales figures, extrapolating insights about wider consumer behaviour. But now there is a chance to capture data and respond in real time on a personal level. The range of new sources producing data, from social networks to mobile phones to the sensors and cameras that can be found everywhere from retail environments to the living room, is fuelling the growth of Perceptive Media.

or music they liked. Samsung and Lenovo have released TVs fitted with front-facing cameras to look back into our living rooms, while Microsoft is building Kinect sensors into laptops. Even overheard conversations could become fair game for advertisers: Markco Media, the company behind deals site MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, recently announced the development of Hearscreen, a new technology that listens for keywords spoken close to the TV, then delivers relevant adverts and retailer discounts.

MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL At a recent Social Media cafÊ event in Manchester, senior member of the BBC’s R&D team Ian Forrester talked about developing programming tailored to the people in the room, potentially including photos of them,

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Ed White Contagious Communications


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SENSORIT DIGITAL EXHAUST/ VISUAL AND AUDIO SENSORS Meanwhile, the internet is creating vast amounts of digital exhaust: people’s online browsing, purchase history and social media activity paints a detailed picture of them, giving advertising a chance to target with precision and serve up personalised experiences.

Digital billboards and vending machines from adidas and Kraft now have sensors to recognise the age and gender of people in front of them. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany’s Interactive Shop Window concept tracks eye and hand movements giving retailers a detailed insight into what people are looking at, pointing at, or flicking over: data that could be used to inform what the shop stocks and what it drops.

As facial recognition converges with an online identity, all the online information about a user can be matched to messaging: so, for example, a broadcaster could soon be able to know exactly who is watching TV in real time, serve them content based on basic demographics, their browsing and purchase history via Google and Google Wallet, their social graph via Facebook, and their interest graph from Pinterest. It could then let them buy direct from the ad, matching a particular sale to a specific person.

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ONE-TO-ONE REAL-TIME RELATIONSHIPS/ LEAVING PERSONAL DATA TRAILS For brands, knowing who’s watching offers an unparalleled opportunity to better tailor products, services and marketing specifically to them. As Mark Pritchard, P&G’s global marketing and brand building officer, put it: ‘P&G’s vision is to build our brands through lifelong, one-to-one relationships in real-time with every person in the world... It means shifting from mass broadcasting, to creating more personal, one-to-one conversations with individuals and the communities in which they’re active.’ Why should marketers care? a report from online advertising provider Tribal Fusion released in November 2011 outlined the change to the bottom line: ‘In our experience, dynamic ads – that is online display executions that change, on the fly, according to


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84 percent of the UK public who would share their data with companies in exchange for cash or rewards. (Future Poll)

pre-collected data on an internet user’s online behaviour, location or demographic segment – increase response rates by 30-50%.’ ADRIFT IN SEA OF DATA/ THE URGE FOR ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS Potentiaalisten mahdollisuuksien ja niiden Yet there’s a huge gap between the potential and its realisation: 39% of marketers say they can’t turn their data into actionable insights, according to a 2012 study from Columbia Business School. Perhaps that helps explain why many aren’t using the vast amounts of data available to them. Speaking at Facebook’s fMC event in London this March, director of platform partnerships eMea Christian Hernandez Gallardo said, ‘There are now over seven million websites that integrate with Facebook in some fashion but there is a vast amount of data that over 90% of them don’t use.’

CONSUMERS ARE OPEN TO CONVENIENCE AND REWARD In a recent survey from Future Poll, 84% of the UK public said they’d share their data with companies in exchange for cash or rewards. In a pan-European Nokia survey from 2011 about data and privacy, only 30% of people said they would never share their personal data. Us digital agency Evolution Bureau CEO Daniel Stein even went so far as to say: ‘From years of practical experience, I’m a big believer that convenience will always win out over privacy concerns.’ Although people may be willing to give up their data for rewards, they’re uncomfortable with the general premise of being monitored, and specifically watched without a clear purpose that rewards them. In the Nokia survey, 85% said they consider data privacy to be very important, as public complaints about Facebook and Google’s

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privacy rules have shown. Jason Zada’s Take This Lollipop Facebook Connect experience, which racked up 10 million Likes within a month last year, was a creepy reminder of online security fears. Brands need to be transparent about the data they’re gathering, and what they’re offering in exchange. Companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook store vast amounts of information, which people are mostly comfortable sharing because of the value they gain from doing so. at a recent event in new York, Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of local, maps and location services, said that Googlers were constantly asking themselves, ‘Given the amount of privacy or informa-


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tion a user has to give us in order for us to provide this service, is the service beneficial enough?’. ROI THE FUTURE OF DATA/ DIGITAL ROI FOR TRADITIONAL MEDIA Brands have an opportunity to add real value to people’s lives, using their data. so far we’ve seen little integrated and contextual targeting, but this is set to grow, with mobile flexible ad solutions including location, social media data and preferences bringing more relevance in time and place. Many of the first iterations of Perceptive Media could be said to be gimmicky, focus-

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ing on the novelty value of facial recognition or data scraping to attract attention. But as that novelty wears off we expect to see data being used to best effect, and offer real services and deeply relevant marketing that add value to people’s lives. As Adrian Whelan, group sales director at Intel, said, this data can be used to improve a brand’s offerings: ‘If you’re a marketing head and you’ve spent a lot of money on campaigns, you can start asking deeper questions ... It gives you the flexibility to start tailoring future ads from the learnings you get from the previous ones.’


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Perspective media in action JELL-O: TEMPTATIONS EXPERIENCE More affordable sensors mean that Perceptive Media can be used to smartly – albeit simply – segment audiences on the fly to increase relevance. To promote its new Temptations dessert as ‘for adults only’, for example, Kraft brand JELL-O created a vending machine equipped with age-detecting technology that only dispensed free treats to grownups. The campaign was created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and featured the Intel-designed iSample vending machine that used a special camera to scan faces and determine whether people were the right age to receive a complimentary product. If a child dared to try their luck, an alarm sounded and the machine asked the child to step away with the ironic message: ‘sorry, kid. You’re too young to appreciate indulgence like this.’ The vending machines were placed in family-friendly areas in the US. MOTAQUOTE, TOM TOM: FAIR PAY INSURANCE For insurance companies it’s vital to correlate a person’s risk factor with the level they should pay for their premiums. Being able to keep a track of someone’s driving would hugely benefit both the driver individually and the insurer, as it could create much more dynamic

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pricing by matching policies to drivers and therefore keeping overall costs tighter. UK insurance broker Motaquote has collaborated with TomTom on a data-driven policy. drivers signing up for the Fair Pay Insurance scheme are given a modified TomTom Pro 3100 satnav device, fitted with a LInk tracking unit that sends details of how the car is being driven back to the insurer. The idea is that, using real data from the customer’s behaviour, Motaquote will be able to lower the premiums for good drivers while raising the cost of policies for more hazardous motorists. The TomTom device also provides a driver’s dashboard, displaying the same info being sent to Motaquote – such as the user cornering too quickly or braking too sharply – so that the user can modify their driving to become a safer, and therefore cheaper, motorist. Customers also receive regular email bulletins about their behaviour on the roads. The article was first published in a trend report Now / Next / Why by Contagious Communications 2012.


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”Soon you won’t be watching TV, the TV will watch you. And if rewarded, 84% of the people won’t mind”

#silentsignal

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Pro-ams challenge media companies What’s going to happen to all the companies developing digital services and content when networked, fun-loving, professional amateurs enter the race?

Jarno Alastalo Aller Media, Suomi24 Two buddies, Olli and Jussi, were passionate sports enthusiasts. They were motivated by shared workouts, peer encouragement and exchanging tips on how to do better sports. It so happened that the two encountered a problem with continuing their shared hobby together: distance. Olli and Jussi were working at opposite sides of the globe, yet they still wanted to keep motivating each other to

get better results. The two came to the realization that the available services didn’t rise to meet this challenge. So Olli and Jussi decided to start a sports journal of their own, based on sharing personal data. And that is how HeiaHeia, an internet service of wellbeing that lets users publish their sports and exercise activities as well as follow and cheer their friends on, was born.

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Olli Oksanen and Jussi Räisänen were professional amateurs, proams, who were unhappy with the technological solutions available at the time. Out of a love for sports, they began creating a completely new service that would better answer their needs and the needs of those close to them. The two friends tackled the project on their spare time, email, Skype and a wikipage their only tools. At the very beginning of this shared project, Oksanen commented it would be a fun way to make a living. Lo and behold, that wish came true. Now Oksanen and Räisänen spend all their time on the development of HeiaHeia. The role of professional amateurs on the evershifting media field might be significant in

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the future. Pro-ams can easily create their own media and content – and in the process their own rules. The big picture on what motivates pro amateurism and how things actually work is at the moment unclear; this also makes it difficult to make the best use of this phenomenon. That’s why Aller Media and 15/30 Research have started a new research project to shed light on the world of pro-am culture. The project has already seen its starter seminar and interviewed six pro-ams of various fields, like a fashion blogger, an active Suomi24 discussion participant and a musician who actively provides content on the web. The next step will be to gather data from a larger group of people and to publish the results at the end of 2012. Here’s some preliminary findings on how the pro-am mind works.

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HOW’S THE VIEW INSIDE A PRO-AM’S MIND? Free time, hobbies and other activities have changed in recent decades. People want what they do to be individual and free of responsibilities. In pro-am culture, hobbyists of any given activity strive to achieve such a good quality that the results can easily be compared with results and contents that professionals create. They are extremely active in what they do, they produce content and organize events on their spare time. So while pro-ams aren’t exactly professionals, calling them amateurs would be equally wrong.


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Pro-ams have trained themselves online, in social networks, games and other “schools” made available through technology. Their learning process is constant and they liberally share with others what they’ve learned. Pro-ams don’t waste time envying each other: rather, ideas are freely shared and real co-creation made possible. This rapidly gives birth to new innovations that would take the average company an R&D unit a hundred people strong. When pro-ams network, they can have a significant impact on the political field as well as culture, development and the economy. The pro-am research project has so far recognized that the following traits and goals often appear in the case of professional amateurs: persistence, creating a shadow

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career, willingness to make an effort, selfimprovement, unity and honor. So pro-ams might try to make a career out of their hobby, but the social aspects and having goals in their actions is what motivates them. An open data spokesperson wants to create better services out of the information available and is happy with being credited for a job well done. A fashion blogger wants to challenge the professional magazines by discussing her clothes with a personal flare: her joy comes from the dozens of comments beneath her blogposts. LOVE OF DOING IS THE DRIVING FORCE Samuli Lahtinen might on the surface be the AD of Katso-magazine but outside office hours he’s an avid gamer. He also loves doing illustrations. Samuli and his friends noticed that while new technology makes a lot of things possible, young people still get stuck in front of the computer for hours on end. With his friends, family man Samuli wanted to help kids to move more actively. That’s how TreesureGame, a new application that turns family activities into a

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game, was born. The game has been loaded for hundreds of times and the press around the world have spread the news on the application. The motivation for Lahtinen was to make an impact on how his kids and his whole family spend their free time. Indeed, the research project has discovered that major drivers for pro-am activity are certain personal and social gains. The most common of the personal gains are the experiences received from the activities and content creation, self-actualization, self-expression, creating an image and an identity, rejuvenation, a deep sense of contentment and financial profits. On the side of social gains, the attraction of a social environment, a permanent reference group, the feeling of your input being useful and the unselfish nature of doing are highlighted. The strong motivation to doing things is often also visible in the way pro-ams commit to their projects. Pro-ams take their hobbies seriously and set themselves professional


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standards both in the activities as the contents they generate. The compensation for the work and the yardstick for achievement are the times a video is viewed or commented on YouTube or how many times an article is shared in social media. Blogs have set a challenge to the web services traditional media offers. Websites compete fiercely over who gets to host the cream of the crop bloggers, especially in the realm of fashion magazines. While some organizations already know how to get value out of pro-ams, they often fail to make use of an important social resource the professional amateurs possess. Pro-am communities nurture social capital and build lasting friendships. It is this sort of action and commitment that create a strong glue to keep a community together and its activities alive; very few businesses can accomplish this with just their own content input. Companies should therefore seek better insight over how they could make better use not only of the pro-ams but also the communities they bring with them.

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WHAT CAN MEDIA COMPANIES LEARN FROM PRO-AM’S? The pro-am world is already in direct competition with the professional media. A passionate knitting-fiend might host a blog that sees more traffic than the website of a maga-

estranged with their clients. So while the professionals grasp the theory behind doing things right and know the ingredients to an orthodox article, pro-ams can counter this with sheer passion, strong know-how and the new technology to do things.

”In pro-am culture, hobbyists of any given activity strive to achieve such a good quality that the results can easily be compared with results and contents that professionals create.”

From the media houses’ point of view, the future professionals who’ll bring their knowhow and audience to the companies already walk among the pro-am community. When pro-ams infiltrate the institutionalized media, they’ll show us new directions that content can take and create new ways to approach the consumer. Organizations – and not just the media houses, either – should view these dedicated hobbyists as a greater resource than just “a way to create content”.

zine devoted to the topic. What’s the secret of pro-ams and where does their knack for creating lasting communities come from? The key is in their modus operandi: for pro-ams, their audience is without question the focal point of their activities, and they evolve along with that audience. Many companies, however, tend to forget who they are doing things for and the managers become

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Instead, businesses need to see pro-ams as community creators – people who have not only the ability to pass on the story of a company but also to harness an army of R&D assistants to solve problems the company is trying to tackle. This will be a community that not only creates catchy content but also develops the company’s activities so they’ll be able to answer to the needs of their clients better and faster.

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I’d like to thank the following people for their help with this article: the research gurus at 15/30, Jussi Räisänen of HeiaHeia, Kristiina Hännikäinen of Aller and Samuli Lahtinen of Katso.


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“What professionals should learn from professional amateurs?�

#silentsignal

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There’s no such things as a loyal customer

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’m surfing the web, jumping from one page to another. I read an interesting article, share a video. My trip takes me to another URL. I go through my messages without sharing anything, without letting anyone know what I’m doing. I log onto a familiar forum. I run through dozens of pages and various topics. A new camera model catches my eye so I read a review on it. I’ll pay a visit to the manufacturer’s website, but not today. Right now I need to pay a few bills and then log onto Facebook while checking out the news at the same time in another browser window.

THE TARGET IS THE CROWD In his book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki defines the crowd as a group of individuals revolving around any given interest; the crowd can alternate or stay the same throughout its limited existence. The definition encapsulates a great deal about the core principle of the web. The structure of the crowd, i.e. the audience of any particular content, is always momentary, fleeting. When the show is over, the audience will disperse and the next set of people coming to watch won’t be like the ones you just performed for. The motion begins again.

The attention span of an online consumer is so brief that it’s ridiculous. In the course of a day, our attention is divided between countless platforms, websites and content producers. And all the while, all that web-based business is built upon capturing this fragmented attention of ours. You just can’t put a leash on the biggest problem facing the web communication of companies nowadays: the consumers themselves, running wild out there and being unable to focus. You know, those people who won’t stay on one page longer than a couple of minutes (or seconds, even). Being so frustrated with seeing this, you could argue that the web is scattered and in pieces. But no, it’s all in order alright. The chaos starts making sense when you step back a bit and see the whole picture from afar.

This series of motions or the so-called chaos of the web is what it is because the heterogeneous user-base of the web is constantly on the hunt for new content to sink its teeth into. People online sort of flit from one location to another, kind of like little birds between branches and trees. The motion is rapid and perpetual and it resembles the communities that birds form. The laziest of the lot might be happy to just nibble on the safest and most familiar of the branches year in, year out, but it’s also easy to recognize larger groups moving in bursts. This way of content consumption is highly visible for

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Jyri Rasinmäki Vapa Media Oy


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example in the Verkon sisällöt 2012 –study that focused on the way Finnish people use, share and produce online content. 44% of Finns spend their online time browsing mostly the same familiar pages; then again, 40% follow the content flow based on social media recommendations. Although each member of the flock is searching for their own favorite treats, many will often wind up in the same place and form a momentary audience. So far the best model for this kind of movement has been The Internet Map by Ruslav Enikeev. It is an attempt to package the whole internet into a single picture. The Internet Map displays 350,000 websites in relative order of size: the more traffic a site has, the bigger its circle is displayed in relation to other circles. The end result resem-

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bles something of a strange ball pit or an overarching sky of the internet, the largest of the heavenly bodies clearly visible. http:// internet-map.net/. The online map is, however, gone in mere moments since it’s constantly changing as people’s interests and content consumption shift. Consumers couldn’t care less about Google’s or Facebook’s position as the world’s largest website, they’re interested in what these places have to offer to them. THE CROWD KNOWS WHAT IT’S DOING NOT WHAT IT WANTS Surowiecki writes about the flitting crowd’s collective behavior. The prime mover for them is the individuals’ will for self-actualization or the desire to gain something useful. When it comes to consuming content online, gain can mean some momentary entertainment, added knowledge or other fulfilled need. People spend time only with the sort of content they believe gives them

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something or benefits them somehow. This is how the user-base is constantly filtering through an endless sea of online content to discover those purest nuggets of gold. You could argue that whatever the consumers are focused on (right now) must be the best the web has to offer (right now). Companies need to stop fantasizing about faithful consumers – the fragmented nature and low sense of loyalty among web audiences is simply incompatible with the daydream about a loyal customer. Instead, what we have available to us is more demanding but also better. There is a countless number of people out there, constantly searching for more content to satisfy their appetites. The masses, hungry for knowledge and entertainment, surely know that they want; they just don’t necessarily know what they want. At this point, the producers step in. Content producers create the only places where the web audience can stop to rest for


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a moment instead of ceaselessly flitting from one location to the other. There is no better way to command consumer attention than to offer people something they want. Providing content is above all a way of initiating conversations again and again and answering to unseen needs. The consumer finds the content, and the online chatter is silenced for a moment. HOW TO TAME THE FLOCK? Consumers hold the freedom of choice online. Yet the true jockeying for power happens among the content producers. Whose content is most popular is the one most talked about and gets the biggest slice of the attention cake. People vote with their feet and reward with their attention. The constant competing for attention is good for the web’s ecosystem. As new producers step in, content diversity grows and is refined. All the content producers need to do is try and learn to be ever better. Lifeless

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content is easily recognized from minimal interest and it soon dies off, along with its producers. “Although each member of the flock is searching for their own favorite treats, many will often wind up in the same place and form a momentary audience.” A company cannot always presume that its products will automatically generate conversation. It is once in a blue moon any company manages to create a product that forms into a natural topic on its own. And even then, it is rare that the buzz is mere coincidence: the seeds of conversation probably lay inside the product already. If you look at, for example, the crowd revolving around Apple, it is clear that there is no coincidence at play there. Apple manages to attract interest time and time again with every product launch.

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Those who don’t (yet) have That Mythical Wonder Product in their hands are left with just one way to tame their audience. It is vital to find your own mystique and your own approach to the world. As the Verkon sisällöt 2012 –study shows, Finnish online users target most of their criticism toward the promotionalism of companies’ web communication. They demand personality and interest from the content they wish to see. After the company learns to answer these needs, it still needs to find ways to offer the content to this hungry flock. The future belongs to those who succeed in commanding the attention of the crowd with intriguing content in the right places – time and time again.


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“Companies should find their own mystique and learn to serve it to the hungry flock.�

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Interactive competence

Esko Kilpi, Esko Kilpi Oy

A

ll of us have at some point of our lives experienced performance appraisals where we as individuals have been evaluated. This approach to appraisal from learning at school or getting rewarded for good work in an organization were the same: it was about individuals separated from other individuals. We are now leaving behind the preoccupation with the autonomous individual and beginning to appreciate the importance of social processes and interdependence. The way we perceive organizations is changing accordingly. Rather than thinking of organization as an imposed structure, plan or design, today’s organization arises from the interactions of individuals who need to come together. An organization is a continuous process of organizing. This shift in the way we see organizations changes the way the perceive competitive advantages. The new competitive edge comes from interactive capacity: the ability to connect with information and people, as and when needed. ORGANIZATIONS AND LIVE INFORMATION An organization as a structure with separate individuals is a seventeenth century notion. It comes from a time when philosophers began to describe the universe as a giant piece

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of clockwork. Our beliefs in prediction and organizational design originate from these same ideas. A different ideal is emerging today. Similarily produced products with same product features are used by different customers in different ways. Just because a product is a commodity doesn’t mean that customers can’t be diverse in their needs and the way they use the product. Companies used to have no mechanisms for connecting with the end users in order to understand and influence this. Social media and mobile technologies are now changing the model. The relationship between a customer and an enterprise can get smarter with every interaction. Consider a service as routine as grocery shopping. Suppose that you could turn to your mobile phone and come up with a graph of last month’s or last year’s grocery purchases. Every time a customer buys her groceries, she is not only showing herself and products she buys. At the same time she could also teach the grocery store or the manufacturer of the way she consumes/uses products and and implicitly the complementary products she perhaps does not yet know of. The service is creating a history of this particular customer that is virtually impossible for a competing shopping service to replicate.


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As the example above shows, we want to be agile and resilient and we want to learn effectively and fast. The tension of our time is that we want our firms to be flexible and creative but we only know how to treat them as systems of boxes with a fixed number of lines between them.

think about corporate publishing. Organizations are creative, responsive processes of communication – like Facebook streams. All creative, responsive processes have the capacity to constantly self-organize and re-organize. Change is not a problem or anomaly. Solutions are always temporary.

CREATING INFORMATION YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED When we change the way we think about organizations, we need to change the way we

In this view, it is information that is the energy of organizing. Or, like Gregory Bateson wrote, “information is a difference which makes a difference”. When we see informa-

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tion as a power plant that has the ability to organize and change the organization, we realize the power of open information. When information is transparent to everybody, people can organize effectively around changes and differences, around customers, new products, technologies and competitors.


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When information is transparent, different people see different things and new interdependencies are created, thus changing the organization. The easier the access that people have to one another and to (different) information is, the more possibilities there are. What managers have still not understood is that people need to have access to information streams that no one could predict they would want to know. Even they themselves did not know they needed it – before they needed it. Thus information architectures can never be fully planned in advance. SHOULD MANAGERS PLAN THE CONNECTIONS OR ENABLE THEM? Although media, people and organizations along have changed and the world is more like a stream of changes rather than a static box, many managers still prosess skills that meet the challenges of static conditions. In

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a static environment, you know how each role fits within the larger system. You know how the processes work, and you don’t want deviations. You know what it takes to make the products and you don’t want people experimenting and making things up. You, as a manager, do the coordination and share the information necessary but nothing more. In dynamic business conditions the management practices described above are not only unhelpful but cause real damage and create waste rather than value.Today’s organizations are complex systems that require continuous, responsive coordination and access to information streams to be effective. Work is much less repetitive than before. Job roles and work instructions can never be complete descriptions of what needs to be done. Work is not separate ac-

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tions but connected tasks. It is about links. Who needs to connect cannot always be planned in advance. Interdependence is contextual, situational. ORGANIZATION AS AN ENGAGEMENT Any one person or any one function cannot meet today’s challenges alone. We need a community of people who willingly participate and provide their insights to address the increasingly interdependent issues. Collaboration is necessary because one person no longer has the answer. Answers reside in the interaction, between all of us. Therefore challenge of today is engagement. Widening the circle of involvement means expanding who gets to participate and who gets access to information streams. It is about inviting and including relevant, new and different voices.


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The unfortunate misunderstanding is that engaging people requires managers to let go. As managers contemplate to widen the circle of involvement they sometimes believe that it means to have less ability to provide input based on their knowledge and experience. Paradoxically, engaging more people requires more from managers than the current management paradigm. Instead of being responsible for identifying both the problem and the solution, they are now responsible for identifying the problem and identifying the people whose voices need to be heard. Who else needs to be here? How do I invite people who do not report to me? How do I invite people from outside our organization? TOWARDS SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION Success today is increasingly a result from

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skillful management of participation: who are included and who are not, who are excluded from the information streams and the following interaction.

“When information is transparent, different people see different things and new interdependencies are created, thus changing the organization.“ A misunderstanding is that productivity will suffer if larger numbers of people are involved. The new social platforms and interaction technologies have dramatically reduced the cost of participation. Temporal communities can be formed to solve a problem or to tackle an opportunity easier,

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cheaper and faster than ever before – if people are invited and if people want to engage. It is about distributing the intellectual tasks at hand and integrating the contributions of many resulting in creative learning. An example for this might be what the Finnish company Jalostaja is doing on Facebook. Their aim is to help customers to get more value out of their line of Aura salad dressings through sharing information and recipes and engaging future and present customers. When you widen the circle of participation, you also widen the possibility for engagement and the solution/value space. As Linus Torvalds put it: with enough eyeballs, all problems are shallow.


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“Open information will change organizations. Now managers need to learn how to enable data connections rather than control them�

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ABOUT THE TREND REPORT: �At first, only the most observant will detect the soundwaves rippling in the air.� The Silent Signal trend report gathers the whispers under one title and presents fresh expert perspectives on the effect digitalization has on consumerism, citizenship and companies. The report, scheduled to appear three times a year, consists of different expert articles by top actors of digitalism, marketing, advertising and communication both from Finland and abroad. The first part of The Silent Signal was published in February 2012. The report is free of charge and free to use, except for commercial purposes. Regarding the use of the report, the terms of the Creative Commons license apply. Please remember to make correct references (Vapa Media, The Silent Signal trend report) and provide a link to the original report whenever you use or cite the contents of the report. The report is available for download in Finnish at www.hiljainensignaali.fi and in English at www. silentsignal.fi. There you will also find additional information on the authors and their backgrounds. Join the conversation: write and comment on the changes taking place on the Facebook-page of the report at facebook.com/hiljainensignaali or comment via a tweet #silentsignal ! This report would not have been possible without the help of Vapa Media’s work community, graphic designer Janne Melajoki, all the article authors and the active web public interested in content and digitalism. Contact: Ilona Hiila Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 40 1467144 Email: ilona.hiila@vapamedia.fi Twitter.com/IlonaHiila

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: The Silent Signal –trend report is published by the content agency Vapa Media. Vapa Media is Finland’s first agency specialized in content strategy. We believe in meaningful content and in its power to attract attention. We create content strategies for companies and organizations and help various actors define what platforms, messages and content solutions to use in order to best reach their clients on the web. In addition to this, we also do client-oriented website design and social media functions that offer interesting content to target audiences. Vapa Media is publishing this report to inspire discussion around the central functions of the web and in order to further our collective thinking. Vapa Media: vapamedia.fi facebook.com/vapamedia twitter.com/VapaMedia slideshare.net/VapaMedia Contact: Ida Hakola Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 50 5394912 Email: ida.hakola@vapamedia.fi Twitter: twitter.com/IdaHakola

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Matti Oksanen Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 50 3878303 Email. matti.oksanen@vapamedia.fi


Silent Signal 2/2012  

The Silent Signal trend report discusses the digital revolution and the multiplicity of consequences it has for the lives of companies, cons...

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