June 19, 2012. Le Web, London: The pervasive Apple [AAPL] effect is clear all across Le Web London today: from the massed ranks of MacBook models occupying the media zones to the iPad-toting Web execs marching across the venue halls to the dozens of start-ups earnestly explaining their particular brand of "fun, simple to use" app idea. Seems to me an observable fact that Cupertino’s iDevices are defining the content overground.
[ABOVE: Le Web today was opened with a performance from Lindsey Stirling, Hip Hop violinist. She’s a whole heap more energized in real life. What did she have to say at Le Web? Again, that services like YouTube have enabled her to transform her life simply by offering something a little unique.]
Et tu, Google?
Google Plus Product Manager, Bradley Horowitz seems to agree. Clutching his iPad (yes, of course he uses an iPad, which says it all) he’d flown all the way across from Silicon Valley to offer a short presentation focused on Google Plus and its millions of users, and took a chance to host a Google Hangout session. All very nice, but his focus on his company’s media marketing messages meant he didn’t really deliver the kind of cutting-edge analysis this particular audience of Web-savvy types were looking for.
He invited Kraft Foods onstage to talk, and they offered a few nuggets, principally the revelation: “It’s not just about shifting budget, it’s about shifting the mindset. For us to make TV work better for us we need to have social channels around that. All our different marketing efforts now are driving toward social engagement.”
There was an irony to Kraft’s confession, coming in the session subsequent to the appearance of celebrity chef and good food campaigner, Jamie Oliver, who had said: “I guess the food industry is about as corrupt as the arms industry,” as he spoke up for his brand of food-focused “facilitated activism”.
Oliver also spoke up for originality, passion and honesty when it comes to focusing on social media -- a lesson that could be valuable to any firm feeling its way through this relatively young medium.
“It’s not just about selling stuff. Firms need to get people working for and with them who get it [social media] and who are passionate about what they’re doing.” He stressed that his recipes and posts by him which offered passionate opinion tend to be the most popular, and in doing he offered up another recipe any might use to engage better with social media. “
Content is key.” he said, likening the creation of it to the challenges of making a “hit song”. “You don’t always know what will work,” Oliver opined. “Everything I do is driven by creative ideas, if they’re good enough, I’m going to make money. If not, then not,” he added.
Naturally app development led the show, from folks taking stage time to speak up for their weird and wild solutions to the bevy of app developers hoping wishing praying for a few dollars of CrunchFund angel investment and more, much more. It’s an app, app world, to paraphrase a Tears for Fears song.
The evolution of real time
Online content isn’t just a music file or a webpage any more. Localization and social media use are driving evolution in the kinds of content that count, and this is driving the emergence of a variety of differing content provision and management solutions platforms.
The latest in a series of music-focused solutions, Senzari is an online service (an app is on its way) which promises to personalize your music radio listening experience. Facebook integration and the capacity to create relevant playlists off of a few seed tracks seemed like a nice idea. Investors include MTV, and while the interface seemed good and intuitive, this firm faces incredibly stiff competition within an incredibly volatile music industry. Though this service is all about content.
Another service, Zendesk is the company which handles the back end of tech support enquiry. When you pump a support question into your computer -- on a corporate site, the Amazon site, or, at times, even within social media, Zendesk is very likely to be handling the question on behalf of that company, twinning new questions up with relevant answers. And, if you think about it, this service is also about content, a more refined form of content, but content all the same.
Now a SalesForce property, Buddy Media offers a sophisticated set of tools to manage social media online. It’s not aimed at you and I, but at larger firms, and at its very simplest these solutions let firms watch for mentions of them or other selected keywords online; lets them manage their various social feeds through a single interface, and also allows them to engage with customers in real-time through multiple outlets. Take a look at a very much simplified example of the kind of data this service provides here.
That business propositions such as those described here would inevitably star a show originally billed as being all about “faster than real-time” shouldn’t be too surprising, after all, each one of these manifestations deal with content in some way...
But what’s missing? Despite the depth of some of the presentations and the intent manner of the many attendees listening deeply to almost every word uttered from the stage, again and again the debate seems to be heading right back to where the day began: the value of unique, passionate, honest content in an increasingly connected world. It doesn’t matter if that content is words or pictures or video, what matters is the value of the unique.
And across the hall a few hundred Apple users were recording what was going on -- even while the Microsoft stand inside the event stood relatively unpopulated, despite last night’s Surface launch, and the company’s decision to use Le Web to demonstrate Windows 8. And I guess that’s the future for that company, offering up public product demonstrations to audiences who no longer want to know. At Le Web people are chasing originality, passion and belief, after all...
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