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The Hyperloop: rethinking transport

Hyperloop

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn explained how the Hyperloop will propel you in a low-pressure, near vacuum tube on a comfortable air-cushion. The technology is completely run by computers, and is human error, bad weather and nasty earthquake proof. The Hyperloop will make hopping from city to city a very fast, very comfortable, and reasonably cheap experience.

Los Angeles to San Francisco

The first Hyperloop traject is a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, in parallel with the Interstate 5. The first projections foresee an expected journey time of 35 minutes (!), meaning that passengers would silently whoop the 600 km at an average speed nearing 1000 km an hour, and hugging a top speed of well over 1,200 km/h.

Help travel suck less

Ahlborn believes the key USP for the Hyperloop is helping city hopping suck less. He is convinced that at this moment no one actually enjoys travel anymore. No one looks forward to taking a plane or a train. No one looks forward to the journey, everyone counts down to arriving. He believes the Hyperloop will disrupt all this.

Green energy

Ahlborn claimed also that the Hyperloop project will generate more energy than it consumes, and will run on a healthy green cocktail of wind, solar and kinetic energy. He also announced that construction will begin later this year on a 7,5 km stretch alongside Interstate 5 in Quay Valley, California, somewhere halfway between L.A. and San Francisco.

Virtual windows

To avoid people getting claustrophobic, the Hyperloop will be fitted with “interactive panels”, virtual windows that will project landscapes through “motion capture technology.” These screens will actually shift perspective based on your position. On the window screen, other information will augment the experience: distance travelled, Hyperloop map of the trajectory, and current speed.

Crowdsourced

Musk and his team relay heavily on a crowdsourced team of more than 500 contributors to design, kick off and execute the west coast Hyperloop project. Crowdsourcers from MIT won a national university contest to help design the Hyperloop people carrier.

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By In #SxSW

Virtual Reality: Robert Scoble’s new future

Well, we all know that the geeky evangelist, and blogger Robert Scoble is a passionate man. Since years he’s traveling the globe, (on Rackspace’s dime) to go and find the newest platforms, apps and technologies. This journey has gotten us memorable pictures of Scoble using his Google Glass in his shower, and finding the man on about every stage, from Timbuktu to South Africa.

Leaving Rackspace

It hit the techspace as a bom, Robert Scoble is leaving Rackspace to take on a new challenge in a leading role with UploadVR. He is very excited, claiming at #sxsw that VR is actually the most orgasmic revolution that hit the tech industry since the introduction of the Apple Macintosh. VR is very much in the same line as the videos and blogging he’s always done , but he is convinced that augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), combined with 360 movies and live streaming will dramatically chance the communications space.

The dreamy smile

Scoble points out that most of the test users of VR and AR have a “Holy shit, this is amazing”, dreamy smile on their face. “You realize this is mind-blowing,” he told the bloggers at his keynote: “I knew this was going to be industry shifting, utterly significant, and I wanted to be very deeply and personally involved in it”

 

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By In #SxSW, Marketing, Social Media, Trends

The Hottest Marketing Trends at SXSWi 2016

SXSW-2016-930x581Some trends we saw pop up at SXSW this year in marketing that we would like to share with you.

Messaging becomes bigger than social media

As we saw in our last article, the messaging apps are in the top 10 most used apps on mobile. It is impossible to ignore its importance as billions of messages are being sent every day. According to Adweek, the younger generation is spending a lot less time on social media and much more on messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Kik and Facebook Messenger.

So now we have to consider marketing through messaging if we want to reach the elusive Millenials and especially Generation Z. The trick here is to make sure that, as a brand, you stay relevant and natural. Venturebeat mentions that “Marketeers need to find the key moments to passively enable a conversation through visual language or by creating compelling customer experiences via messaging channels.” We know that young consumers use messaging when in-store, sharing pictures of the products and asking for advice from their peers. Should brands position themselves as “peers” this generation feels comfortable with asking for advice? All we need now is a platform that meets the consumer’s needs for an intimate way to share and connect.

Being aware of dark social

Dark social is on the rise, especially with Generation Z. It simply includes apps such as Snapchat and Eroder – social media/apps that allow people to share moments of their life with their peers or followers but which are erased hours later. This gives a sense of security to the user, knowing that these will not endanger any future career plans (or the wrath of their parents now that they have befriended their children on classic social media such as Facebook and Instagram 😉 ).

Dark social is not making it easy for marketeers to use to their own means; there is no way to analyse any data from these platforms. Some brands are using these platforms effectively, creating fun dialogues with their audience, but this remains very limited in visibility and there is currently no way to grab useful data and learnings from these.

From text to visual

Emoji’s, stickers, Snapchat, video (360° or regular) – all of these are on the rise, and most of them also in marketing. This means there is a clear shift from text to visual marketing and brands need to make sure they follow this shift. In our last blog post, Instagram was pushed forward with some great examples of how, as a brand, you can position yourself as an inspiration all the while branding your content and being relevant for your audience. Not always an easy feat but entirely worth it should you find a way to incorporate your brand in a creative, visual way.

Virtual Reality is taking over

Images of people at SXSW wearing VR gear popped up pretty much everywhere on our social media feeds; a sign that might mean that VR was a hot topic at SXSW 😉 This year, the Samsung Gear VR wanted to push SXSW goers to try VR by pushing the #VRonDemand campaign. According to Venturebeat, if you tweeted the hashtag and responded to their following DM, the Samsung team brought you Samsung Gear VR to your location. A fun way to bring VR to the average consumer!

Artificial Intelligence

The tables have turned when it comes to robotics. Cynthia Breazeal from MIT introduced us to emotive computing in 2015, and this year emotive AI returned to Austin as she brought along her friend again: Jibo. Jibo is a super advanced robot, connecting to humans on an emotional level and creating a human-to-human connction rather than a human-to-robot experience. Venturebeat mentions that “the key to the concept of emotive robotics is its ability to take a consumer’s emotional response into consideration, making consumer interactions with these devices more positive and personal.” So, are you looking forward to your first emotional connection to AI?

jibo

Curious? Interested? Questions? Drop us a line at info@mediabrands.pub and we will be happy to discuss these topics with you!

Inspired by Adweek and Venturebeat

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Forget the battle for the wallet, try the battle for the heart

Many agencies and their clients are still struggling to click in the social and digital piece in the complex jigsaw of media. The result is a constant firing from the hip of boring and uninspiring banners, mastheads and click buttons a go-go. The consumers try to shield themselves from this relentless onslaught with stealth-modus, ad-blockers and fake profiles.

Forget the battle for the wallet

A big driver of the online communication endeavours of companies is stooled on one very clear central pillar: return on investment, and driving sales. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with that. Companies are no charity organizations, and in the end they need to use all possible techniques to secure their profits. However, the relentless push for conversion and closing the sale is making the consumer very tired and weary. Gary Vaynerchuck phrased it well: “there are way better ways to connect to me than slapping a banner on my iPhone. That is just stealing my time, and it is just pissing me off.” In the battle for the wallet of the consumers, the reality of the context of the consumer and the unwritten silent rules of the platforms are easily ignored, forgotten and trespassed.

Try the battle for the heart

A clear central theme at this year’s SxSWi is “emotional connections”. How can you look past the traditional display ad, and find a more natural and valuable way to connect? What does it take to find ways to add value, relevance and smarts? Why is it so difficult to be relevant rather than intrusive? Respectful rather than pushy? Why do we reach for the wallet rather than for the heart? The real battle in the online consumer space is not the direct sale, but the life time value. Is your company also prepared to invest in a real commitment with the consumer over time?

Rethink the value of endorsement

Tesla is thriving on the endorsement of its power users. They do not only add value to the brand by raving about their cool electric car, and bedazzle everyone with the steaming stats on how well the car behaves from 0 to 100 km per hour in ludicrous mode. They also offer their friends easy test drives, and important cash rebates. This only works if the driver has an emotional connection with his car that he is prepared to share. And for the friends they reach out to, the car experience comes with an emotional friend-endorsed quality seal.

The time of a quickie with the consumer is over. Are you ready for a relationship?

emotional connection

(this post as first featured on Heliade.net)

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By In #SxSW

selfdriving, yes… autonomous? Nah.

Your car will only be autonomous the day you ask it to drive to work and it drives you to the beach.

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By In #SxSW

The FBI, your iPhone and your underwear

“Privacy is sacred. It’s a cornerstone of our society. A pillar of our constitution. But, to stop the bad guys, we can riffle through your underwear with a legal warrant. Why would a iPhone be more sacred?” Barack Obama

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SxSW 2016 – You may all go to hell, but we will go to Texas!

Davy Crockett, king of the Texan Wild Frontier strolled off for the fatal shoot-out at the Alamo mission on March 7th 1836, shouting “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas…

SxSW

Famous last words that I happily cite every time I prepare my yearly pilgrimage to the slightly weird city of Austin in Texas. Austin will be hosting some of the most clever, crazy, unorthodox and fascinating social media and digital people this side of the Milky Way. It’s called South by South West, or SxSW. More than 50.000 social and digital media enthusiasts will attend this Texan Mecca of creativity, best cases, lukewarm beer, successful campaigns, endless discussions and creative sparks. Undisputedly, it is the biggest interactive gathering on this planet (and most of the planets around us, as far as we are aware). There is enough social brainpower in Austin between March 11th and March 15th to catapult a small Greek island in an orbit around Saturn.

30 years SXSW

Beer, rattle snakes… and you?

Once again we will confront tremendous heat, unbearable thirst, insane steaks, burning sun, and humorless rattlesnakes to be your eyes and ears on the ground. We will sacrifice long days and short nights, and be there for you when the next big thing hits the industry!
So… if you’re in Austin, let’s meet up and talk shop, trends, tools and stuff. Let’s exchange experiences, compare notes. Let’s social this social thing. If you pay for the beer, we’ll throw in the chicken wings… Let’s go for a wild BBQ night at the County Line on the Lake, and talk about connecting the dots, moving the needle and setting the bar in audience interaction.

As Crockett said: “Be always sure you are right – then go ahead.”

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By In #SxSW, Social Media

6 life lessons learned at #SxSW

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I set out to Austin for my very first #SxSW. Accompanied by three of my favorite geniuses and armed with an open mind, the necessary geeky stuff and a solid set of sneakers, I threw myself into this Texan adventure. And what an inspiring adventure it has been! Beside tons of smart insights, mind boggling innovations and clever thought processes, what I will remember most of all are the inspiring people I got to witness on and off stage. Now some of the Texan dust has settled, here are some of their life lessons that seem to have stuck with me:

  1. Embrace failure

In our results-oriented society, failure can be a difficult concept. We are hardwired with the desire to do well, win, be the best. But sometimes, you have to be willing and ready to fail, in order to come out on top. To trigger real change. Give yourself room to fail, and be smart about it: asses, learn and shift direction.

John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewiss: It’s ok to fail. The trick is to take the right risk, fail the right way.

Google’s Astro Teller: Failure drives progress. Fail often, hard and fast. It will give you the insights and mental push to get it right.

  1. Stay curious

Innovation was never found on the beaten track. An average kid asks 100 questions a day, whereas an average adult only asks 4. Why not embrace that kid in you, daring to question what you do and how you do it? Be curious about the world around you and its endless possibilities. Who knows what you might discover…

Producer & author Brian Grazer: Curiosity is a superpower. It’s a driving emotion that gives you courage to pursue those ideas you otherwise wouldn’t.

Nilofer Merchant: If we only look for one particular set of ideas, we miss everything else. If we’re curious enough to look further we can find an entire new solution for an old problem

  1. Find your place of authenticity, and stick with it

In a maturing online sphere, both consumers and brands are looking for authenticity. It’s all about creating meaningful connections. People don’t connect with organizations, they connect with people. So be human. Find your authentic voice and natural personality. It will help you break through the noise and create an emotional connection with the audience that matters to you.

Eva Chen: What makes you different? Find what excites you and let that enthusiasm shine.

Michelle Phan: People think they have to copy, but the beauty of the internet is that everyone can have their own niche market. If you’re being real – being yourself – people appreciate that.

  1. Remember that your project is only as good as the people involved

No matter how motivated and brilliant you might be, you’re just one person. Cherish what other people bring to the table. It’s how magic is created. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and bring value to your project. And be a team player, for heaven’s sake!

Spencer Griffin: Nobody is so good they can afford to be a dick.

Gary Vaynerchuk: I don’t give a fuck if you’re the best, learn to play with the other girls and boys or you’re out!

Decoded Fashion’s Liz Bacelar: It’s like baking a cake: focus on the right ingredients, the right people, and you can create beautiful results.

  1. Celebrate uniqueness

There are many ways to be good in the world. You’re the only one with your particular blend of goodness. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Celebrate your uniqueness and that of those around you.

Nilofer Merchant: how many of us have been told that we’re too wild or too weird to fit in? Each of us is standing in a place in the world only you are standing at. It’s in this place you create value. We have to celebrate that which each of us bring.

Princess Reema: If you stand still, you’re letting them push you down. If you keep walking, they have to follow you.

  1. Learn to let go!

When you engage online you can do amazing things. You can create, connect and collaborate. But you can’t control. And you shouldn’t want to. This may seem like a scary notion for a lot of organizations, but really: it’s an opportunity. To engage in an authentic conversation. To include those that matter most to your organization in your creative and conversational process. Empower your online community and possible ambassadors to tell your brand story with their own voice. It will be that much more powerful.

Nilofer Merchant: The Future is not created, it’s co-created.

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Truly ”some of a kind”: mass-customization in fashion

Fashion is personality. It’s a way of expressing your individuality, externalizing who you are and putting it out in the world. We are all unique, and creating a personal style can be a way of voicing that uniqueness. For most of us though, we do this with less-than-unique means. Traditionally, one of a kind pieces and haute couture has been fashion for the happy few (vintage stars and DIY queens excluded 🙂 ). For the average fashion lover, this uniqueness is created by a personal combination. Mass-customization challenges this model, by adding a layer of consumer personalization to an efficient quasi-mass production process. Not truly “one of a kind”, but it’s getting darn close.

In a market place where consumers are looking for authenticity and self-expression, brands need to be about the consumer to survive. A production process based on consumer needs and wishes seems like one way to tackle this, now doesn’t it? Aubrie Pagano, CEO of Bow & Drape and Jodie Fox Co-Founder of Shoes of Prey, entrepreneurs and mass-customization evangelists, sure seem to think so.

Pagano: 2015 has delivered a customized world. Fashion is a mean to express your identity. And how better to do that than by getting involved in the production process and getting a highly personalized item?

Fox: Fashion is a highly emotional purchase. Consumers buy a product to represent a more authentic self.

With the Burger Kind “have it your way” campaign as the oldest example, and Nike ID as one of the most well-known ones, mass-customization is an established practice in the retail space.  Ranging from user-driven alternation to true collaborative customization, different brands have been experimenting with this, with various degrees of success.  A strong value proposition, tight supply chain and ultra-flexible production process are crucial for playing this game successfully. In the current manufacturing context, that golden formula remains a challenge. However, Pagano and Fox are optimistic about the (near) future and innovation to both support and transform this business model.

Fox: Innovations like 3D printing will disrupt manufacturing and remove many of the barriers of mass- customization, such as stocking, waste and limits to the customizability. Eventually, the manufacturing might even happen at home. I see a scenario where you open your closet in the morning, develop the perfect shoe for that day and have them print while you are taking a shower.

Now how cool would that be! However, the question arises what the role of retail will be in this new reality. Will we still need brands if we can print our own fashion?

Fox: Designers will always have value for the creative aspect, such as creating shapes and selecting colors for example. We might be heading to a time where design will be the essence of what we do, where fashion brands are not selling physical products but design files.

If you need me, I’ll be getting myself a “some of a kind” pair of pumps, dreaming about my very own 3D printing closet.

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By In #SxSW, Content Creation

Content marketing- Let’s get it right: Owned. Paid. Earned.

when-spider-webs-unite-they-can-tie-up-a-lion-quote-1

To fully wield the possibilities of content marketing, it’s important to get the fundamental basics right. Way too often, content strategy, paid amplification and social (earned) interaction are not, or badly linked from the very beginning.

To maximize return on investment, it is crucial to start with clear definitions in this online, interactive environment. Definitions that might be different from the common use or understanding.

Owned: is your complete online powerhouse, ranging from your website and your blog to your social channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, Meerkat etc. Creating successful content begins with a basic insight: what does the consumer want from your brand. Most often brands know what they want from the consumer, and build their content strategy on that. A deadly and quick recipe for failure.

It is smarter to concentrate on the expressed needs and expectations of the consumer. Once you have identified these needs and expectations, you can create story-lines that bridge the gap between your brand-essence offering, and the expectations and interests of your target audience.

Reaching out with pieces of content that answer the well-defined needs and interests of your consumer is an ideal starting point for a long term mutual understanding, and a foundation for future interaction and conversation.

Most of the best practices presented at #SxSW show how a strategic view on the owned ecosystem consists of the owned website and/or blog in the center of the content-solar-ecosystem. The owned social presence gyrates around this, and sparks the ecosystem with clever inbound links, SEO references and visual snacks that guide the consumer to the center of the system.

Paid are the purchased media actions you take to get people to your content, or content to the people. Content that is not noticed and not found is like the sound of a falling tree in a desert forest: one might argue it did not happen. Paid enables the communications architects to drive tailored traffic to every single bit of the content ecosystem, or to launch any piece of content in an orbit towards any place an identified target might be. The rocket-fuel is advertising money, pure and simple.

The cleverest paid strategies are carefully plotted to get the targeted consumer (identified and relevant) as deep in the owned ecosystem as possible. They have also one other thing in common: reach is less important than relevance and accuracy.

Strategic masterminds reduce the avalanche of mostly useless big data that results from everything is measurable in true actionable intelligence that fine-tunes the tactical plan, and re-adjusts the efforts permanently. The ability to shift from carpet-bombing to sniping is often the result of a critical factor: true intelligence.

Earned is how your content gets spread, distributed and published on places you do not own, and that you did not pay for directly. People coming to your content-ecosystem, and sharing your content on theirs. Influencers mentioning your content in their ecosystem. Your content being discussed in comments, on news-sites and influential blogs. Your products being used and mentioned by your consumers on their owned and social channels.

To realize this, the credibility and the authority (aka influence) of the brand must first be established. Secondly, the content must be appealing, relevant, interesting, catchy… and easily shareable. Content-ecosystems with content that is not one-click-shareable, deal with locked-in content syndrome and will never foster, or live up to their expectations.

The best-in-class examples of earned all show a clever way of linking the attention back to the core of the own owned ecosystem… a true gravitational pull to the center.

Through the earned part of content marketing, a big portion of the true engagement can be realized. Conversations, remarks, comments, references, word of mouth and back-links provide an in-stream of attention that has a unique quality: it is earned.

The fact that Facebook, Twitter and others increasingly claim their business model has nothing to do with earned (and organic, and viral) does not mean this earned section does not provide value, or is not important.

United it conquers, divided it fails

The value of return on investment of a good content marketing system, can only be established by measuring the performance of the Owned/Paid/Earned system as a whole. The three components need to be carefully aligned to work, much as a DJ masters multiple tracks to create the one sound that makes the crowd go bananas.

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