Of the many incredible innovations that have impacted our lives over the past few decades, one in particular stands out to me as an example of how technology can change the way we relate to each other on a fundamental level – social networking. Whether you take an optimistic or pessimistic view of this evolution, the change is undeniable. Technology and social networking have given us the ability to connect with friends or strangers (both near and far) for business or for recreation, all at the touch of a button.
The story of innovation behind social networking and the internet is a complex one, full of give and take. At times, social networking drove the development of the online experience, at other times it struggled to keep up with technological advances. This is a look at the innovators who changed our lives by connecting us (and our data) online.
We’ve been seeing some heartening numbers on unemployment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which currently places the unemployment rate at a very low 4.9%. However, while this number demonstrates substantial economic recovery since the Great Recession of 2008, overall public opinion isn’t so optimistic. In fact, Rasmussen Reports reveals that only 31% of Americans feel that the country is “heading in the right direction,” and this number has been significantly low for several years now.
While economic struggles and unemployment are only a part of the problems facing American workers, they’re a large driver of general discontent. I’m sure we all know someone who is struggling to find the caliber of work they would prefer or to find a job at all, and the stress this places on individuals and families is enormous. With unemployment rates so low, why might this be the case?
One of the questions that I find consistently fascinating and informative is “How do entrepreneurs find world-changing insights?” For those with active, searching minds, inspiration can be found in many places, but the insights that have shaped product development and consumer behavior over the last several decades often came from where we might least expect them. By studying innovative minds and their sometimes surprising influences, we can learn a lot about how to create vital, transformative products ourselves. Continue Reading
The online mattress brand Casper has emerged over the last two years as a force in social media marketing, disrupting the department store mattress racket and building its success on an unlikely target market. Casper’s novel approach bears examination; their path to market, product development, and audience outreach each contain valuable lessons for today’s entrepreneurs.
Bloomberg View recently ran a powerful article titled, “Islamic State Is Just an Umbrella Brand for Hate.” Leonid Bershidsky’s compelling piece reaffirms to me that a large part of ISIS’ success has sprung from its deft combination of the age-old rules of propaganda with the novel accessibility of social media. ISIS’ twisted (yet carefully calibrated) message can be broadcast both faster and more directly than ever to horrific effect.
The message that propagandists cultivate tends to grow through three stages of attack. First, propaganda demeans the target group, then degrades them, and ultimately dehumanizes them entirely. This subtle escalation of rhetoric is the slippery slope that allows propagandists to infect the minds and hearts of those who hear their message.
I recently read an inspirational, deeply honest commencement address that has really stuck with me in a way that few such speeches do. It was delivered at the graduation ceremony at the University of Illinois in May by a man named Jeff Huber, a lifelong entrepreneur who previously worked at eBay and Google and is now the CEO of a company called GRAIL. I believe it contains an important message of hope and also a challenge for those of us who consider ourselves to be innovators.
Huber uses stories from his own life to reveal a larger experience and exhort these young graduates (and, by extension, all of us who hear or read his words) to “find a better way.” His speech still resonates with me weeks later, and I’d like to share some of the thoughts it has stirred with you.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and today’s consumers are more visual than ever. Due in large part to the dominance of social media, we live in a world that is saturated with images. With so many selfies and “foodie” photos flashing in front of our eyes everyday, we’re over-exposed and yet primed for visual communication.
For marketers and branding experts, the challenge is to cut through the clutter and make your brand and your product stand out (both online and on the shelves). How can you tell your brand story visually? Here are a few tentpoles of visual branding to consider.