February 14, 2019Comments are off for this post.

What if there are no shortcuts?

What if you can’t ‘growth hack’ your way to brand awareness, and user and customer growth?

What if building relationships with your fans and consumers took as much time and care as building relationships with real people?

What if hiring big name influencers with curiously large follower counts was just a waste of time and money?

We have gotten so fixated on new digital marketing tools and platforms, content production paradigms and platforms, and influencers and experts, that maybe we’ve forgotten that relationships that endure and deliver true value must benefit both sides and take nurturing and time.

What if we focused on those things instead of looking for shortcuts?

What would our businesses look like then?

February 13, 2019No Comments

Your brand: A new business model

Here’s the trap for a whole lot of established brands.

They need to engage with consumers. Because it’s 2018 and because of course they do.

There are a million and one places where they can do that in the digital space. There are communities and channels for every niche. The marketing technology landscape is cluttered and littered. But inevitably a brand will need to deal with the big dogs in social and search and sales: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, Amazon. These are platforms that promise reach and touch consumers where they already spend all their time.

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January 30, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Should your brand be on Facebook?

Do you still trust Facebook?

There are many reasons why you wouldn't.

Maybe you broke up with the brand after the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Maybe you saw the recent New York Times story outlining how Facebook unethically shared user data and private messages with other tech giants like Yahoo! and Netflix.

Maybe you suspect it’s impossible for the platform to effectively police propaganda and political speech without rampant errors, bias and gaffes that will punish minority populations and promote toxic content.

Or maybe it’s just the company’s foundational business model that turns you off: "you" as the product – with sophisticated algorithmic manipulation of what you see and how you feel pervading every second of your time on the platform.

But that’s just on the personal side.

For brands, it must be different, right?

Most brands have existing Facebook communities and long timelines full of content and comments and you have that entirely reasonable rationale to keep using it. It's already there. It's built. And of course Facebook remains a massive destination for people all over the world. Whatever its faults, it's still where (most of) the people are.

But consider this.

Gen Z is not adopting Facebook at the levels of other social platforms. It’s just not cool. Many in this generation see the platform as the provence of their parents. That’s millions of consumers that are rejecting a social networking platform they see as designed for and increasingly populated by oldsters.

Making a short term bet on Facebook groups makes sense. We do it all the time with our clients. And it makes sense in many cases. We've gotten excellent results there and expect we'll continue to do so.

But for newer or developing brands, the ones without sunk costs in Facebook, the real question might be: if you reinvested the time, energy and effort you have put into Facebook, or any other social-channel-come-lately, into your own brand?

What could you build with your consumers then?

April 19, 2018Comments are off for this post.

The rise of the participant and the end of all that

I think we’re reaching the end of something.

It may only be a stopover on the long journey into irrelevance for exploitative social networks that obscure their true intentions behind small print terms-of-service. It may just be a warning sign for brands that ‘partner’ with their consumers only to wring every last idea and data point out of them.

But it might be more than that. Even if some of the institutions of our corporatized world linger on, there’s something new rising up in their stead, driven by the many, by the participants.

Participant is our term for everyone who makes a commercial or social contribution — consumers, citizens, corporate employees, small business owners — that big messy mob of all of us that makes the world turn each day.

This new participant-first orientation will form the backbone of what we like to call the Participation Economy. It will result in businesses, organizations and technologies of all sorts being enabled, led and powered by all of us. Value creation and eventually ownership will be decentralized and the spoils of a commercial endeavour will be distributed equitably to all those who contributed to it. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will have big parts in this change but the exact roles they will play are uncertain. These things are just tools at our disposal.

This wave of change is one reason why we formed IOVIA. It’s our new venture, an organization that works with companies of all sorts who want to make measurable positive impact right now, both socially and commercially. It’s a venture that puts participants first. We’ve always championed fair and sustainable business models and platforms and now are putting aside all the talk and making it happen. Inside IOVIA Labs we are building a platform that brings everything above to real, tangible life.

We are lining up partners right now.

IOVIA won’t be for everyone. Some brands will recoil at the idea of true consumer autonomy. Some brands will still see creating positive social impact as the purview of the Corporate Social Responsibility department rather than as core to the DNA of their company. But let’s face it — not all brands are made to last. The graveyard of the once mighty expands every year.

We are here to work with those who believe an equitable, sustainable future can’t wait. It’s here now.

I think we’re reaching the end of something.

But I know this is the beginning.


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