SMW is currently looking for reporters in Berlin, and coincidentally I happen to be here, so it must be meant to be! As I am writing this, I am getting a refresher on Twerking, thank you Miley Cyrus. Social media has turned us into over-productive ADD geniuses, myself included.
My name is Luna Vega, I am a digital marketing consultant based in NY. Living and working in diverse capitals such as: New York, Singapore, Sydney, Paris and Berlin has given me a unique understanding of the global tech industry. What I have found working in each of these markets is that tech hubs deal with similar challenges yet are so focused in their own silos that they are missing out on a huge opportunity to communicate with one another and share learning. In our hyper-connected business world, how can collaboration be facilitated so we can shorten our learning curve? This is my passion point and my goal at SMW is to gather from the Berlin tech community their thoughts on the subject. So let’s all learn from one another and catapult everyone’s success.
Recently, Facebook announced that they will be implementing hashtags on their site. Why are they doing this? Hashtags have been a missed business opportunity for Facebook. They enable brands to steer live conversations and are extremely powerful during events such as the Super Bowl or awards shows. Twitter is the pioneer of cashing in on the promoted hashtag business and Facebook has realized that they want in. Facebook is also most likely in the process of commercializing hashtags on Instagram (a Facebook purchase) and combining both social media networks. Hashtags will enhance Facebook’s real-time commenting with brands who are organizing live events.
Reasons for skepticism in regards to the success of hashtags on Facebook:
1. Facebook is a closed network:
The content on Facebook is not open to search engines such as Google and Yahoo. You can post something, but no one will be able to search it. Everything shared on the social media site is held within “The Great Facebook Barrier” as I like to call it. This is the reason that so many brands have made fan pages and are becoming more and more active within the network- they need a stronger presence within Facebook’s closed network.
The reason hashtags work so well on Twitter is because most users in that social network have an open account. Facebook is a different environment where users have to accept who they allow into their circles. A successful hashtag experience also requires an open network in pulling from various social networks such as Google+, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Facebook already pulls information from your personal Pinterest and Instagram accounts but, it would now have to combine all of this information and group them into hashtags. For brands, this definitely creates added value, but do consumers really want their entire online activity to be featured within Facebook?
2. The Facebook algorithm feed is curated:
Facebook made changes to its algorithm last year, which essentially ranks paid content higher on your live feed rather than organic posts from your friends. Public figures and brands are encouraged to pay in order to rank their posts higher than everyone else’s in your feed. Adding hashtags to the feed will be another source of income, encouraging paid promotions by other brands. Brands and/or users will be asked to pay for hash tag content.
3. Users go on Facebook to interact with their friends, not to look for news content:
The main purpose of Facebook is to catch up with your social network. Users go on it to talk to their friends and to stay in touch. If they want to search for news stories, they would go to sites like the Huffington Post or Yahoo! News. Because of the casual, friendly environment of Facebook, I see it as doubtful that users would be ready to have branded hash tags in addition to the promotional posts that are already included in their news feeds. With all of this extra content, it may deter users from even using Facebook because it could be “clogging up” their news feeds.
4. Is Facebook losing its “cool factor?”
Facebook might be encouraged to adopt hashtags due to a recent trend growing among the younger Facebook user demographic- boycotting Facebook (or at least limiting their interaction with it). For this younger demographic, there are concerns of privacy (many parents and older family member watching what you’re up to), there is constant spam from brands and their promoted posts, as well as too many people they are “friends” with but in actuality, do not even know or are concerned about anymore. Because of these issues within Facebook, this younger demographic is spending more and more time on Instagram (a prime example behind Facebook’s purchase of the network), Twitter and Tumblr. With the implementation of hashtags on Facebook may come the integration of all big social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
It will be interesting to observe the results of this. I have a feeling that hashtags will end up being tailored mainly for marketers, which will create additional spam on the social network, hence a potentially deeper exodus from the platform. What is your opinion about hashtags on Facebook?
This past week kicked off the first ever London Menswear catwalk shows and it was the perfect summation of the wide range and eccentricity of English fashion. Inspirations were present from across the board, from stately modern takes on English Prep, to an avant garde androgynous pastiche straight from the animated gifs of Tumblr. One of the most impressive elements of the collections was the extremely varied take on what comprises modern English fashion. As Patrick Grant, who showed his E Tautz collection, noted in a New York Times piece about the shows, designers have been exploring every facet of the English aesthetic instead of sticking to the molds they’ve become accustomed to: “The great thing about British fashion is that it is going in every direction,” Mr. Grant said. “In the past, people pigeonholed us as either dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists or streetwear designers, and they didn’t imagine anything in between. I think we have been a bit braver.”
English fashion has a long tradition of elaborate experimental designs that have been at the forefront of innovation while simultaneously changing what the mainstream perceives as wearable. Vivienne Westwood almost single-handedly ushered in the punk aesthetic while contemporary designers like Alexander Mcqueen continually pushed the boundaries and artistic decadence of modern fashion, and their influence was consistently present in a number of the menswear collections. This upcoming generation of English designers has really shown they’re creating some of the most otherworldly and forward thinking collections in modern fashion.
Design team Meadham Kirchoff presented their collection in an alternative venue comprised of a two room installation full of dingy mattresses, dollar store linens, and the leftover debris from a night of excess. It was an amazing blend of a Harmony Korine-esque post-rave squalor with a neon and floral color palette accented by dozens of dead roses and squatter fuselage. The look was an androgynous post apocalyptic gypsy dreamscape that combined Eastern tunics with American vintage sportswear, day glo Nikes, and multi-hued pajama bottoms and sloppy boy shorts. At least some part of the aesthetic was also reminiscent of the current Tumblr hyper-pastiche looks floating around the web, eliciting many URL in IRL moments. It was one of the most jaw dropping but also strangely organic collections this season, which completely shattered any semblance of conformity, as noted in this quote by half of the design team Benjamin Kirchhoff: “There is no idea of personal freedom or personal style anymore. It’s something people have lost in London and around the world.”
Sibling’s designs comprised another audacious collection that perfectly exemplified the tenacious experimentation of English designers. It was a futuristic take on hip hop tropes and tailored sportswear with bizarre headpieces and facemasks that looked like mutated q-tips or streamlined jousting masks. It was a decidedly white palette with tons of gold and gaudy accents with intricate knitwear designs and pants that very often resembled baseball uniforms cut below the knee. A lot of the designs reminded me of the Hood By Air homo thug designs that blend sleek urban sportswear with hyper-stylized minimalist touches that automatically invert any overtly masculine cues. There were even bling emblazoned baseball caps matched with a severely plunging neckline hoodie and exposed full body tattoos that were both subtlety threatening and a tad bit decadent twee. Overall it was such an interesting mix and match aesthetic that seems like a harbinger for every rapper’s wardrobe in maybe 2030 or so.
I had an interesting conversation with a client today which made me think about a false notion within Social Media marketing. There’s a misconception out there that Social Media results happen instantaneously. The press is constantly focusing on overnight success stories, from viral campaigns to multi-million dollar advertising onslaughts.
Yes, overnight low budget viral videos do happen but they’re usually flukes, and so far no one’s developed a perfect recipe for them. It takes solid creative ideas, discipline, and trial and error to get proper results. The quantity of content distributed is also extremely important these days. If you can’t commit to making at least 100 videos for your brand, than don’t even get started; it really takes that type of dedication to build an engaged audience.
Any successful brand out there goes through years of trials and experimentation before succeeding – the creators behind Angry Birds are the perfect example. It took them 10 years to achieve their “overnight success” and very often that part of the story doesn’t get mentioned. Who wants to read about that aspect of their development; it’s usually depressing and makes the end goal feel unattainable.
So how can we be more reasonable with our expectations and still stick to a Social Media diet?
First – Social Media works – it’s been proven again and again – it just takes persistence and consistency. The rapper Lil B posted new videos every week for a year before making it big, and you’ll see the most successful campaigns put in a similar effort. Here are a few rules I stick by when consulting on a Social Media campaign.
1) Set Your Goals – With all my clients I set specific goals so we can have benchmarks – levels of interaction, traffic spikes, acquisition goals etc… Having clear goals helps monitor progress; it’s one of the most important steps that’s often overlooked. If you don’t know what to expect by the finish line, of course you’ll run out of juice.
2) Don’t get disappointed until you’ve hit the 3 month mark – Like any diet, set a Social Media routine and stick to it for 3 consecutive months. You’ll see the results, but if you don’t, you probably need to re-think your strategy. Remember, original content is always key – what is it about you that separates yourself from the online clutter? Is it a streamed debate show? Riveting controversial content? Get your audience excited about what only you can offer.
3) Focus on Acquisitions – If you’re just starting out in the Social Media game – focus on getting your community involved. Think of where your audience might be, start conversations with them, and get them to really understand what your brand is all about.
4) Focus on Content – Create original content – if you wrote a book, is there a way you can piece it out and reveal one quote from the book each day? Get your original content out there in an interesting and innovative format.
5) Amplify – Once you’ve created your content amplify it – go to as many mediums and platforms as possible to get your audience to talk about it.
Moral of the story: Don’t get disappointed if you haven’t achieved 4,000 fans after three months – that’s normal. Focus on having a loyal audience who cares what your brand is about and the rest will happen organically. Be patient and don’t lose faith. Happy Tweeting.
Ever since my trip to Asia, my perspective of New York has changed. In the last few years, NYC has become a tech mecca that’s able to rival Silicon Valley. It’s bubbling with young entrepreneurs who are hungry to save the world and it’s certainly a refreshing change of pace. But lately I’ve been wondering if there’s too much saturation in metropolitan cities and maybe the solution is that some of the tech talent could venture to other locations to help save our economy. Would it make more sense for someone with my skill set to help individuals in other up and coming communities? Shouldn’t professionals like us help these cities by creating new economies and sources of income?
Do we really need more Fashion and geo-location apps? A bulk of the industry is competing in very similar areas and they might be better off in completely different surroundings faced with real problems and their practical solutions. A perfect example – I grew up in Miami and every time I go back I’m astonished at the lack of infrastructure down there. Can Miami continue to survive only on tourism and service based industries? Florida was severely affected by the recession, so it seems like diversifying their income stream would definitely benefit them in the long run. So as Tech Entrepreneurs how can we help these other communities? As an innovative DIY tech generation couldn’t we learn the challenges and understand their dynamics to create new ways for individuals to generate revenue? I think so.
The main idea behind it is if you have an online business or technology skills you can offer your services from anywhere around the US or the world, and with our current economy crumbling doesn’t it make sense to utilize our skills to create our own alternative economy? These are the types of questions I’ve really been pondering lately. Let’s face it – with technology, collaborating around the world is as easy as connecting to a Wi-Fi network, and there are endless opportunities to expand our global reach from any home base we set our sights on. What are your thoughts? Would we be more productive if we went to our original cities or suburbs to help these communities?
Carri Munden, the designer behind the avant garde streetwear brand Cassette Playa, writes a weekly blog for Vice Style and she recently talked about visiting New York City and seeing the Cindy Sherman Retrospective at MOMA. Munden discussed at length the impact Sherman has had not only on her own perspective on culture, but also the arts in general. So much of Sherman’s work is concerned with the idea of persona and a chameleonic identity that can be completely changed and altered through makeup, fashion, and specific stylistic cues. Sherman’s use of photography has anticipated so many different cultural trends and movements, including the ever-changing culture of the online world.
Munden’s blog sets up an almost linear evolution of both Sherman’s work over the years and how its influence has predicted different facets of the arts. From the ganguro trend of Japanese street culture where girls tan their skin and dye their hair blonde as an exaggerated version of common hip hop tropes, to Ryan Trecartin’s absurdly decorated, but oddly contemporary caricatures in his films that embody post-human persona and identity transformations. Even Tumblr culture stars like Molly Soda and bon vivant Lady Gaga are also referenced in retaining at least some her influence. Whether or not it’s purposeful they definitely both owe something to Sherman’s aesthetic, where both Tumblr and Gaga have a distinct focus on transformation, cultural identity, and the ability to utilize culture to create and elaborate on an infinite number of personas.
Munden’s own aesthetic for her label Cassette Playa also completely embodies Sherman’s idea of modern day dress up and subverting fashion and design culture to create any persona you can conjure up. Cassette Playa’s clothing is very often a complex pastiche of some of the best in vintage and one-off fashion trends completely altered into a one of a kind style that simultaneously encompasses familiar trends of the past while evoking an entirely alien futuristic feel.
One of the most prevalent examples of Sherman’s influence really lies in the world of Tumblr culture and online personas. So much of her vantage point and aesthetic is found in the creation of characters through makeup, fashion, and design which seamlessly translates to the current world of Social Media. Sherman creates these photographs to comment on what encompasses identity and how easily we can be manipulated through how culture is presented, which is exactly what’s become commonplace on Tumbler and Social Media in general. As Munden puts it Sherman basically invented the GPOY, or “Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself”, except her photos are purposefully imitating cultural norms and satirizing their aesthetic and expectations, while the current version achieves the same effect without actually realizing it’s become a parody of itself.
This week Facebook went public with a record $104 billion dollar IPO offering that’s sure to solidify their future success. A lot of industry experts worry that this might be the second coming of the late 90s tech bubble, but so far Social Media is garnering a substantial payday on Wall Street. Another interesting article on Facebook this week is from The New York Times about the trend of not flaunting wealth in Silicon Valley, which seems like a perspective that’s shared by the entire tech industry.
After another recent round of additional $100 million dollar financing, the Visual Social Media platform Pinterest is now valued at over $1.5 billion dollars. It recently crossed the 20 million user mark and that’s a massive increase from only one million users as of July 2011. It’s nowhere near the recent record breaking Facebook offering, but it looks likely it could be purchased by one of the tech giants the same way Instagram was recently acquired by Facebook.
This is a really interesting piece in The New York Times about the next tech start-ups with the most potential. Everything from file sharing sites like DropBox, mobile payment apps like Square, and even Uber, an instantaneous private car reservation app are all featured in the article. These are definitely some of the best tech upstarts and new companies to look out for in the coming year.
Internet Week kicked off this week in New York City and immediately became a must-go destination for anyone who wants to see the future of technology and what tech trends that’ll become popular in the coming year. Everything from conferences and guest speakers to parties, social events, and even the 2012 Webby awards which are presented for the best web has to offer are all part of Internet Week, which ends this weekend on Sunday May 21st. Check out Ad Week’s coverage for the best highlights and must see events from Internet Week.
This week Animal Collective announced their new album Centipede Hz will be released in September on Domino as the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavaillion, which was at the top of everyone’s best of the year list in 2009. Centipede Hz seems like a return to AnCo’s more expansive jam band sound as evidenced in two new tracks “Honeycomb” and Gotham” that were also released this week. Check out this interview on Pitchfork with AnCo member Dave Portner (Avey Tare) on the making of the new album.
IDM and Drum & Bass forefather Squarepusher makes a return this week with his new album Ufabulum which mixes a lot of modern production touches with his signature jagged drum patterns and carnival gone mad buzzsaw synths. He’s always been known for his erratic but oddly controlled sound and his new album definitely doe not disappoint; even fans of EDM and Corey Feldman lookalike Skrillex might enjoy his new tracks, with their glitchy warbles and stadium sized rave-era synth lines. Check out the interview in FACT Mag with Squarepusher on the making of his new record and his feature in XLR8R about his five favorite classic jungle and drum & bass tunes.
Odd Future has almost become the de facto Internet rap group over the last year or so and they recently translated their mischief and merriment mentality to their amazing Adult Swim late night show Loiter Squad. Their show just got picked up for a second season which solidifies another round of their signature style of Jackass style pranks, Tim & Eric esque parodies, and all around musically-tinged debauchery. Even if you’re not quite a fan of their music, this show is really a must see.
Tons of new cutting edge female MCs have been releasing music recently, and Azealia Banks might just have the most talent of all of them. She’s gone from Harlem to performing in Karl Lagerfeld’s Parisian living room and then back to NYC playing the Met Gala draped in Alexander Wang. On top of that her musical output is brimming with new releases: her full length album is dropping in the Fall, her 1991 EP drops May 29th, and her mixtape Fantastic comes outon July 4th. Listen to this new Fantastic cut “Jumanji” with steller cross-genre production from Hudson Mohawke; it sounds the best Nicki Minaj mixtape track Nicki never made, and the HudMo beat really takes it to another level.
9. New El-P Album and Performance on Late Show with David Letterman
El-P is probably one of the most legendary experimental rappers and producers and on May 22nd he’s gearing up to release his new record Cancer4Cure on Fat Possum, but you can already stream it in it’s entirety over at Rolling Stone. El-P is known for his stream of consciousness rhymes and Mad Max post-apocalyptic soundscapes and his new album is a perfect example of the evolution of his hard-edged sci-fi sound. Check out the video of the album cut “Stay Down” he performed on Late Show with David Letterman this week and a great piece from Fader on El-P’s production style in making his new album.
Wylie Dufresneis known in the foodie world as one of the original molecular gastronomy innovators in the States and this month he look his bold and daring recipes one step further and created an entirely new tasting menu overflowing with his out of this world signature dishes. Molecular gastronomy is known as one of the true avant garde facets of modern cuisine and Dufresne never disappoints with his original takes on classic dishes and wtf combinations that make so much sense on your palette, but sound outlandish in their conception. The New York Times did a great piece and interview with Dufresne on the new menu and the unorthodox methods behind his madness.
11. Community premieres 8-bit Finale Episode “Digital Estate Planning”
Last night’s amazing finale episode of Community, “Digital Estate Planning”, was probably the first time that an entire primetime show took place inside of a fully rendered video game. Almost the entire episode was in a classic Nintendo style 8-bit universe where the show’s signature characters controlled avatars of themselves on a quest to win an inheritance from Pierce’s father. As always on Community, there were so many inside jokes, throwaway gags, and hyper-astute satirical jabs, and this episode was a special gift for video game fans with a non-stop barrage of inside gamer humor. A.V. Club has a great in-depth review of all the episodes from last night’s three part Community finale.
Like some of you know, I just returned from an assignment in asia – Singapore to be exact I helped develop the online presence of several brands in markets all over the continent. My experience there radically altered my business perspective.
First of all, traveling and working in Asia has made me realize how Small the World has become and how much easier it is for smaller brands to compete in a GLOBAL MARKET. SMALLER brands—meaning you don’t have to be a FORTUNE 500 company to make your mark overseas.
By now it’s well know that the internet has been a driving force behind globalization,
and one astounding fact that I was able to experience firsthand is that the Asia-pacific market accounts for 47% of the internet traffic worldwide. So needless to say, because of social media, It’s never been easier for brands, from e-commerce sites to new technology companies, to reach a global audience. As a result of my experience, I want to share some of my observations on how smaller brands can now compete in the global market.
1. The English factor
20-25% of the world speaks English, either as a native or second language — that’s roughly 2 billion people who are able and open to hearing your message. You don’t necessarily need to translate your content like you use to. This is especially true when addressing a younger audience that takes english classes in school, watches american movies, and listens to american pop music.
2. The westernization factor
The American spirit of innovation are still highly admired by people around the world, and as a result American and western brands are just as prized in other countries as they are here at home.
What we’re talking about is soft power, and America’s still got it.
Luxury in these markets is determined by scarcity–the more rare an item, the more prized it is. Victoria’s secret has made such a name for itself globally that women in singapore, where there are no victoria’s secret stores, pay $100 for a $50 bra. Foreign markets are always keeping tabs of emerging trends in America, so smaller brands shouldn’t be intimidated by foreign markets or a lack of infrastructure. To the contrary, they are waiting for you, and where there is a will, they will create a way.
3. Shared Platforms
Social networking is being consolidated more and more every year, so while some regional social networking sites are still popular, Facebook has over 1 billion users and is growing by 30% every year, and Youtube Draws 800 million unique visitors A DAY from all around the world. Shared platforms mean an increasingly global audience for your brand.
4. Online Communities = The New Countries
I was able to experience firsthand how personal interests bring people together, how a passion for photography, brought people from Malaysia, Germany, Egypt, and Australia together on the same blog. The lesson here? Personal interests are quickly replacing national identities. This means that things like blogs and Social Media platforms are places where your target audiences congregate, mix, and are more receptive to brands that match their specific interest no matter what country they come from.
After seeing how the world is reconfiguring itself through personal interest, how centralized social media is becoming and how the soft power of American culture is still thriving. I realized that NOW small brands can compete with the big players in an emerging model of online branding which is powered by grassroots efforts just as much as multi million dollar campaigns.
I’m intrigued to see what the fuss is really all about; not only did it get selected for inclusion in this year’s Sundance, but it’s also premiering June 25th on HBO. I’m especially curious since it seems the style of the doc is a somewhat scattered collection of his Youtube videos, response videos, and other miscellaneous Croker material.
Overall I feel kind of conflicted about the idea of a Chris Crocker comeback. On one hand, his interview with V Magazine made it seem like he has some substance and an interesting perspective of what it’s like to be gay and growing up in Tennessee. But on the other hand, while watching his YouTube videos, he also seems extremely narcissistic – me, me, me and more me.
A lot of his content and persona pertains more to the early Social Media internet famous era, when Facebook was still a new platform and most of our time was spent on either YouTube, Blogs, or MySpace. But with a fanbase of 100,000 Twitter followers and over 253 million YouTube views, he’s isn’t completely irrelevant and is well respected within the gay community.
So the real question becomes is he a genius or just another Internet fame whore attempting a comeback? I guess only time will tell. The only commentary and reflection I have is that it seems like the online world is quickly dividing itself between the content producers and the watchers and how your status quo is only based on how many followers you have.
Which really got me thinking — who was Internet Famous in 2007 and where are they today? I found a Forbes List of the top 25 Web Celebs of 2007, and it’s definitely a mixed bag compared to the current top stars of the web. Some are still around and popular like Perez Hilton, but most of their Internet buzz quickly faded away to make room for the next overnight meme.
Like some of you know, I returned in March from an assignment in Asia – Singapore to be exact.
Here are some pics of various locations I visited. If you need any Asia traveling recommendations, make sure to email me.