Will Social Media Redefine Nostalgia for Future Generations?

I find myself lost in my childhood, caught up in the preparation for an upcoming Trendstalks presentation on Nostalgia Marketing.  This flood of past memories and brands has left me with an interesting question: What will nostalgia mean to this generation of social media ingrained children? Will their concept of nostalgia be different for mine?

Since Friendster (the precursor to Facebook) came into existence back in 2002, quickly followed by Facebook and Twitter, there are a significant portion of first year college students who have spent the majority of their lives active on social media.

The concept of being able to backtrack your digital footprint and view their entire social media history opens up a new avenue of nostalgia marketing: micro-nostalgia.  Facebook and Twitter have already tapped into this new form of micro-nostalgia by launching birthday campaigns where users could watch and share a short video showing their Facebook memories; or their their tweet.  Making your personal nostalgia associated with their brand, a vice-versa to how normal brand nostalgia operates.

Family Circus created by Bill Keane.

An example of a ‘Billy Path’ made famous in ‘The Family Circus’ by Bill Keane.

Imagine having the ability to relive high school memories by backtracking your online behaviour, like a Billy path in The Family Circus, visiting past conversations with friends, laughing (or groaning) at the inside jokes you shared when you were younger.  You could view your life when things were simple.  At the press of a button you could instantly watch an Instagram or Vine video that you and your friends recorded while having the greatest snowball fight of your lives; or see who is the current mayor of the tree fort you built in the woods near your old house and turned into a Foursquare location.  Will the novelty of traditional nostalgia fade with our growing ability to access historical content at a moments notice, will micro-nostalgia of our own online pasts become the future standard of marketing?  Would you share your happiest childhood moment with the world in support of a favourite brand?



Google’s Answer to Game of Thrones

The leaves have fallen from the trees and winter is on the way and here I sit at my computer with chills running down my spine.  Not from the cold but from the possibilities that one of Google’s latest announcements could have on the field of marketing and public relations.

Endgame: The Calling is a series of sci-fi novels being written by author James Frey and a project that he has challenged Google’s off-shoot company, Niantic Labs to help turn into a marketing juggernaut.  Their goal is to turn this story about 12 teenagers that compete from around the globe in a high-stakes competition; into the starting point for something amazing.  John Hanke, the head of Niantic Labs, goes on to explain:

Frey’s vision was to do this as a book and game and a movie all together, and to use social media as a way to extend the universe and make it a place where people could really live within the game universe.  He had this whole thing conceived of as a never-before-done experience across all these media.

4-PortalKey-225x400Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.22.49 PMTo understand how they could accomplish this we have to look back a few years to Niantic Labs last project, Ingress.  Ingress was created as a real world battle between factions to control portals in cities across the globe.  People chose their faction, met their new community and worked together to go out into the real world to participate in a giant global game unlike any other before it.

So imagine this global game structure used for other marketing campaigns.  Suddenly, CNN could have a real-life political map where voters showed their political pride in real-time during election campaigns; or if this were indeed Game of Thrones, each viewer could participate and claim global territory in the name of the Starks, the Lannisters or even in the name of Hodor himself.

Now we up the ante and take that to the next level.  This is where Endgame comes in, incorporating a physical product (the series of novels or their Lost-inspired website) into the mix.  Suddenly, your participation in the real world event takes on a whole new meaning.  You could influence the future of the stories themselves.  A few flash mobs of support and through community participation an army rises up to support someone the author never intended to be popular and change the lore of the brands universe and story.

Popularity wins and now Hodor takes his place on the Iron Throne in a live performance streamed across the game in real-time; only to have another faction assemble en-masse to try to ruin the event with a  spur of the moment community planned and funded Red Wedding event.  Reality and fiction finally blend together with paid and organic promotional marketing.

And behind the scenes the marketing team watches it all in real time.  They can visually see the communities within their brand, how those communities have formed over time and where they’ll be in the near future.  They can tailor the brands message, create new products that cater to the popular communities and their victories while adjusting future campaigns and plans in real-time.

This is what Endgame and Google hope to accomplish; with movies, novellas and the trilogy of books all working together to give its players competitions for cash prizes of real gold.  A game that could connect billions of potential players with their high-tech devices, allowing them to shape the global game.

So can you see the possibilities that it can be used for in the field of marketing?  I can.  Who needs to wait for Khaleesi’s dragons when you have the strength of Hodor’s community that can band together and take the Iron Throne before she crosses the ocean.  Let your voice be heard and comment below on how you’d use this technology!




Trick or Treat? Pinterest Knocks on YouTube’s Door Searching for a New Audience

Have you ever used Pinterest to find your ideal Halloween costume?  If not, Pinterest is hoping that this year you’ll change your mind.

With over 176 million Halloween-related pins they have packed up their pins and embarked on a massive Halloween campaign to show the users of YouTube the treasure trove that lurks at Pinterest.   Partnering with Funny or Die, Cracked, eHow to YouTube’s Michelle Phan, Pinterest’s Head of Brand, David Rubin, believes that YouTube is a healthy platform to recruit a bigger audience.

What we’re finding is not only that the content [media companies] create is helpful to us, but Pinterest has grown into being a place where we’re driving lots of traffic and interest back to them.

What makes this interesting is that Pinterest isn’t relying on an outside agency for this campaign.  With minimal spending on paid ads they’re relying on a grassroots-style campaign and the word of mouth garnered by their online partners to spread the word for this campaign.  Now, I love Halloween – it truly is my favourite day of the year.  That is why this campaign piques my interest.  It might be a chance to head back online and add some spookiness to my barren boards.  Plus it has a series of new features that I’d love to check out.

So with Pinterest now standing as the second largest driver of traffic on the internet, will this campaign earn them tricks or will they find the audience to push past Facebook and become #1?  At the very least, you’ll be able to find a great costume to win this years inner-office costume party.  So follow me on Pinterest and share some of your spookiest Halloween pins.


Did Reddit Investors Just Make History by Placing Its Community First?

Reddit made the news this week with the announcement that Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto were part of the group that invested $50 million into the coffers of Reddit.  But did the medias love of celebrity news blind them, and the public, to the important facts behind this story?  Is Reddit about to make history and only the Reddit community will know it?

Snoop Dogg’s investment is not much of a surprise to anyone in the Reddit community since he is an active member and moderator on the site.  The real surprises are the other important names that never made it into the official headlines with investors like Everbrite‘s CEO’s Kevin and Julia Hartz, and Minted CEO Miriam Naficy.  This influx of cash is going to have a great impact on Reddit, laying out the groundwork for some serious upgrades to the Reddit brand:

  • Hiring third-party companies to expand our mobile offerings (like their new AMA app)
  • To improve their self-serve ad product
  • Helping build up the redditgifts marketplace
  • Pay for their growing technical infrastructure
  • To create a cryptocurrency to give 10% of the investors shares beck to the Reddit community.

These improvements could have a great impact on other social media apps and sites, with AMA Reddit events possibly being part of Eventbrite or other affiliated marketing opportunities.  However, the biggest item on that list was ignored by the mainstream media; that Snoop and the other investors promised to give 10% of their shares back to the Reddit community in the form of a cryptocurrency.  In the sites comments section, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong went into greater detail about how this would work.

We are thinking about creating a cryptocurrency and making it exchangeable (backed) by those shares of reddit, and then distributing the currency to the community. The investors have explicitly agreed to this in their investment terms. Nothing like this has ever been done before.”

The concept of creating a cryptocurrency to reward it’s own community is a great idea that should be heralded by the media, instead of ignored.  Companies often ignore their communities and the fact that Reddit, and it’s investors, see the value of setting aside millions to reward its consumer base instead of its shareholders.  So do you think made history today by deciding to try and put the community first?  Or is the media right? Is it all about Snoop Dogg and /r/trees?

Yinshan Wong - photo from http://i.imgur.com/wFVhIX2.jpg

“An investment like this doesn’t mean we’re rich or successful. Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work.

Putting People First: Hit or MIXX?


There is one thing that is ingrained into you if you have ever driven in Toronto: expect gridlock on the Don Valley Parking Lot. It can be midnight on a Sunday and you’ll still hit stopped traffic somewhere on your trip. So how do we cope and move on from the negative experience you are hit with every time you drive? You prepare for the worst and hope for the best. After all, deep inside, you know it’s the only way to maintain a positive outlook on your day without losing personal momentum. So, as the bus left Kingston at 6 a.m., I knew that I was likely to end up missing a portion of the IAB Canada Fall MIXX Conference’s first speaker, and fellow creative, Charlene Li.

I arrived feeling like I was had slept in and was late for an important meeting, so without hesitation I grabbed my student scarlet letter from the registration desk and raced up to the second floor balcony. Taking the first seat I could find, I realized that the upper balcony of the Carlu was a buzz of excitement where many of the students already taken to the digital realm to engage the world, and their peers.  This was the first time I’ve been at a conference and torn between taking in the information in front of me and using my phone to check out the #MIXX2014 event feed to see what questions unfolded around me in real-time as everyone discussed the secrets to digital strategy success. After an all-to-brief round of post-presentation Q&A where we were able to electronically engage Charlene Li with questions on Twitter, it was time to move on.

Stoked, this was followed by interesting presentations on Profit-Driven Marketing by Marie Josée Lamothe and an excellent look at the Global Perspective on Content & Technology by Marta Martinez and AOL where they showed how quick a company can engage in two-way communications with their customer base. The weakest of the morning presentations would have to be the discussion on the End of Digital Media. When Annette Warring said that “content is NOT king, big data is NOT the savior, and the consumer is NOT in control.” It came off as an attention-grabbing headline whose purpose was to justify booking a presentation rather than use as a starting point for a serious discussion on the issue. If digital media was dead, then why were we trending online? Or celebrating the fact that online digital ad revenue had just surpassed 3.5 billion dollars a year in Canada?

Advertising Growth Trend 2004-13

During our lunch off-site, we discussed the lack of online engagement with the presenters post-Li; especially toward those of us in the balcony. There had been zero post-presentation Twitter discussions and we were starting to feel left out of the event. This abandonment was even more apparant in the lobby where we could only watch as marketing professionals mingled and chatted on the other side of the roped off “delegates-only” section; a section we students were forbidden to enter unless you really needed to use the facilities and dared run through the minefield of industry representatives. After all, we didn’t want to upset our schools reputation by crashing the scene, chatting with the wrong industry professional and have have our school not be invited back.  There was no attempt by anyone in the industry to cross that rope to our side to engage us, or open the barriers to invite us in.  Somewhere in that throng was a room of technology aimed at marketers to look at and no one gave permission, or directions, to the students to see the vendors or displays within that room. Which is a shame since some of them might have paid to be there in hopes of plying their wares on anyone eager to listen.

As I settled down to sit through the downward spiral of afternoon presentations, whose presenters lacked both crowd engagement and Twitter accounts, I was left with an old adage from my Public Relations education floating around in my head, “Get your inside onside before you go outside.” So when your key message is about the importance of engaging your customers, how can you achieve that goal if you’re unwilling to engage your future potential employees first?

I came engaged and prepared to see the best the world of marketing could offer, I just didn’t know I had to watch it from the other side of the ropes.

Whatever side of the ropes you were on, what would you change to help make the next IAB event more engaging for both sides?