Monday, October 6, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Micro-Interactions In a 2.0 World by David Armano

(I'm still trying to catch up from the Web 2.0 Expo, but I'm sure my memory of these events are receding. Apologies if these are not as detailed as previous ones.)

The first session Friday morning was "Micro Interactions In a 2.0 World" given by David Armano, vice-president of Read his blog at:

(David's Powerpoint presentation is here.) While many of the ideas we had heard in other talks, David's presentation of them was direct, and among the most forceful and powerful.

David recalled Randy Pausch's story. He went to Disney World and purchased salt and pepper shakers with Mickey Mouse ears. He broke them (and fully acknowledged so), and brought them back to the store. Unexpectedly, the Disney representative gave him new ones. Pausch estimated money he spent on his family trip was $100,000 – but his story explains customer loyalty to Disney. Was it a design issue? It was one tiny interaction.

So he asked the execs at Disney: "If I sent a child into one of your stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker today, would your policies allow your workers to be kind enough to replace it?" The execs confessed: probably not. This illustrates a new paradigm in the marketing world.

The idea of the marketing funnel - that is, where all consumer interest heads into one doorway - no longer exists. Consumer behavior is changing from passive consumption to active participation.

Social networking is now bigger than porn. This makes us more complex to understand. Companies have to understand us in our complexity. We are: users, consumers, communities, participants, producers, customers. The old marketing tactics don't work anymore.

Technology has changed too, from front/back ends to an endless fragmentation of services, services which can be mixed and mashed like melodies. You don't have to build from scratch, but can leverage. can create mashups.

The end result are touch points which seem infinite. The pre-digital age had finite touch points. The "digital age" had multiple connected touch points. But now, in the "post-digital 2.0" age, there are now infinite touch points.

We influence each other differently. It used to be that celebrities and public figures received all the attention, but now anyone and everyone received attention. We no longer depend on a hierarchical structure to society. We broadcast to each other all the time.

[Slide from Critical Mass - Always in Beta whose website carries the legend: We believe that creating great experiences for your customer is an open dialogue and a never-ending process. Always in Beta reflects our belief that the pursuit of excellence is an evolutionary progression that is never static.]

Lifestreams. Every time you create an online profile you create a stream of your life. People create multiple streams. Right now, we are overwhelmed by these streams. They intersect in junctions and aggregations. There are services like FriendFeed that aggregates all your feeds from acquaintances.

Why do we want to keep up with all these people? Because we trust people who are like us! Surveys indicate that consumers trust friends (like themselves) more than anyone else when recommending new products or services.

A brand is not what you say it is, it's what THEY say it is. For example: "A collective experiment in brand perception. All tags are generated by people like you and do not reflect the opinions of the site owner or anyone else he knows. Have fun."

We are becoming more demanding about brands. We want fewer promises, and more actions. "Companies stage an experience when they engage customers in a memobrable way." It's not just the talk, it's the actions - it's what they do.

Where it's moving: to interactions which engage, interact, and empower the customers. This is rocking advertisers' world.

The 3 U's in the application economy: Usefulness, Utility, and Ubiquity

  • Usefulness: serves a purpose
  • Utility: fosters meaningful interactions
  • Ubiquity: effective across multiple touch points including social
Some examples: Craigslist. Nike Plus: it went from a brochure-like website to everyday experiences and interactions (Nike Plus - the jogging tracker - insures that you'll visit every day - it's a new experience). Domino's Pizza Configurator and Pizza Tracker - example of a brand that merges personality with utility. Similarly with the Vegas Planner Tool MyVegas.

Engagement [with the user] is the new sticky:
  • Borders: their website replicates a shelf that allows one to move things around just like a real shelf.
  • Fiskar's Fisk-a-teers - ordinary people made ambassadors, showing what they've done.
Your brand is the some of your interactions.

"We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each encounter no matter how brief is a micro interaction which makes a deposit or withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious. The sum of these interactions and encounters adds up to how we feel about a particular product, brand or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our everyday behaviors more than we realize."

Micro-interactions are the new thing. They are fast becoming the building blocks of Brand 2.0 (and Google is leading the way).

Interactions + Feelings = Brands

Extraordinary customer experience. Google got the basics right and then perfected it.

The five pillars: Useful, Usable, Desirable, Sustainable, Social [see slide 48 in presentation.]
Built upon 3 foundations: Users (emotional wants and needs), Business (measurable goals and objectives), Brand (core values and brand objectives)

Getting the basic rights means a willingness to embrace change.
We're going from websites to web applications.

Examples of positive interactions: Netflix, Google,

Thinking about things in multiple channels.

Users can't be restricted by their browser – loads of people use cellphones – each object has its own set of rules.

The social experience is composed of millions of micro-interactions.

Old style: the brand as broadcaster.
New style: the brand as facilitator (among influencers and friends).

Example of the new style: Jeff Jarvis (who publicized about his unfortunate experiences with Dell Computers) and Dell. Now Dell acts as a facilitator of their social network of users for user support. They were desperate, they had a senior person at top who gave their decision, and overrode their lawyers. Now on Dell's blog you can find 485 comments to one post.

Faceless companies now have faces. They get you help. Social networks amplify positive and negative social interactions.

Micro-interactions become especially important when brands stumble. Starbucks is a good example. Their stock began to slip, so they are looking at their roots and going back to their core values and what made it special. Now they have a social network: My Starbucks.

Social media is evolving. Twitter good example. It was never designed for what it has ended up being: a multi-touchpoint conversation ecosystem.

Brands are moving from being canned to live and direct engagement. Positive interactions lead to trust and loyalty.



Treat everyone like an influencer. Make every interaction count.

One of the post-presentation questions asked David to characterize the difference between mobile and fixed experiences. He said it was a matter of situational design. Understanding the context of how the device (e.g. mobile phone) is used and developing and creating right experiences with it.

Brands that don't invest in these (social) areas will never get it. But brands that do invest in them will put a lot in them. If you're doing it for the sake of public relations, you will not achieve it. And if you're going to invest in a social network, then put plenty of resources into it.


Marji Chimes said...

Thank you so much for this. I was at the conference earlier in the week and was so sad that i couldn't make it for David's presentation. I really appreciate it.

Bob Kosovsky said...

You're very welcome, Marji. I was impressed with him, too - he delivered a simple and straight-forward message. I'm going to start following his blog.