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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Steve Rubel On Digital Trends - BRITE 09

Steve Rubel

Digital Trends to Watch

Steve Rubel Shares Digital Insights

Steve Rubel, SVP director of insights, Edelman Digital, AdAge columnist, author of Micropersuasion and now Lifestreamer, spoke at BRITE 09. His topic was 5 Digital Trends To Watch for 2009 which I consider to be just as relevant for 2010 and beyond. What do you think?

1. Satisfaction guaranteed

This trend is about Customer service blending with PR and generally elevating the traditional customer service experience. You may have also heard the trend described as "customer service is the new marketing."

Steve made a fascinating observation: an entire generation is growing up that will never use an 800 number. Think of the implications... Not least of which is that those handling customer inquiries via social media channels need to be better prepared and more empowered than those in traditional call center roles.

The opportunities inherent to this trend come from auditing the entire online experience, building relationships with digital embassies such as Get Satisfaction and being prepared to engage and act quickly.

Be sure to understand how people search for your products and services. Realize that customers are affected by everything they encounter online. Pay attention to your online reputation. Think how Frank Eliason aka @comcastcares on Twitter has changed the customer service reputation of Comcast by being online, responding quickly and being authentically caring and human - something Comcast hadn't been.

Scalability is an issue. Reorienting culture and figuring out how to activate people to be out there calls for different approaches. Better to be focused and engage consistently.

2. Media Reforestation: State of Reinvention

This trend refers to the transition of marketing and media to the digital environment, with news and information blending together, the growing importance of search and the rise of content aggregators.

Rubel recommends taking a broad view of the media ecosystem. Realize that all media is social and connected, and some social sites may be more influential than traditional ones.

Consider creating value by becoming a curator of content in niches or around topics [e.g., Alltop aggregates and curates; Intel has created a special site for IT professionsals called Popurls Blue]. Rethink how you measure and value media.

3. Less is the New More

[You can imagine how near and dear to my heart this trend is!]

Rubel explains that overload takes its toll. As a defense mechanism, many are simplifying and cutting back. Gorging is out. Selective ignorance and friends as quality filters are in.

He recommends that you make sure to provide utility, value, and information [e.g., Brita's Filter For Good]; "sow seeds seeds with peers, grow plants with pros" to disseminate information; and then remember to shape the search shelf. Google is not just a search engine, it is also media and rewards valuable content.

4. Corporate All Stars

Personal Branding is big, says Rubel. As workers flock to social media to build their brands, some companies recognize that these individuals can become corporate All Stars [i.e., Yankee greats help fill seats]. Social media tools connect customers to All Stars and help build trust in the company [e.g., personal branding expert Dan Schawbel who works for EMC2].

Steve recommends using blogs to connect customers and All Stars; giving All Stars independence while at the same time focusing them to affiliate their brand with that of the organization; and equipping and supporting All Stars to become active listeners on behalf of the company.

5. The power of pull!

This trend addresses the fundamental shift from push to pull marketing. Where push once ruled, it's now equally important that marketers create digital content that people will discover and 'pull' through search engines and social networks.

Rubel recommends creating resources that inform the conversation; adopting rather than inventing; writing content for searchers and not just readers [do you search for aspirin or for a solution to a headache?].

As I think on these 5 digital trends, I can't help but observe that all five are closely interconnected. You need All Stars in order to deliver Satisfaction Guaranteed. Reinventing Media requires high quality content that pulls readers in and engages them. High quality engaging content is most likely to happen through thoughtful curating and simplifying of information, which requires All Stars...

Rubel's three macro takeaways are:
+ Publicly engage
+ Create content
+ Be simple and utilitarian.

Sounds mighty relevant to me. Do you agree?

Do read the full document titled Five Digital Trends To Watch in 2009. That will put you in a mindset to welcome the digital trends to watch in 2010...

Here is the video of Steve Rubel at BRITE 09.

Previous posts relating to BRITE '09:
+ BRITE 09: Innovating During Downturns & Surviving the Worst
+ Links of Note: BRITE '09 Conference


  1. Hi C.B.,

    Excellent notes on an excellent presentation.

    We have some more great talks lined up for BRITE Conference '10. We hope to see you again this year.


  2. Matt,

    Thank you. I am definitely looking forward to BRITE '10 and to the great lineup of presentations. I always come away inspired and refocused.



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