Community Signage Networks – Engage, Educate and Entertain

Social Media/Networking and community attitudes in general are driving changes in the way people view advertising.  The old style based on interruption (eg TV commercials, pop ups etc) are now seen as annoying and something to avoid. The quality of ad content is another factor …people no longer accept being shouted at and treated as sheep that need to be driven to buy more.

The Internet is driving a change towards an expectation of being educated, engaged  and entertained. As such business needs to deliver valuable information if it expects to sell……not merely promotions.

Some recent research shows that businesses that use Social Media well spend 80% of their time on the 3 E’s and 20%  on promoting or selling.

At the same time people and business are more concerned about environment and community issues.  Business also craves cedibility as they seek to develop their own consumer communities and develop brand advocates.

As such there are moves beyond old style sponsorship to leverage credibility from Sports, Charities etc to a much closer involvement between business and Not for Profits.

Governments also are seeing the need for closer alliances with business and the need to use new ways to raise money outside the normal Govt Budget process. A m,ajor State Govt Dept is about to  undertake a multi million dollar project with no budget.  They want to work with business to leverage expertise and fund with advertising.  As they say “we have assets and we am willing to trade”.

Then we add a new approach to the creative approach to advertising which sees products promoted within programs (eg MasterChef) which includes ad agencies now creating TV programs as a vehicle to sell their clients.

Online we see Branded Content rather than pop ups and click through,  where advertisers sponsor sites, pages etc where the independently produced content is relevant to the type of advertising.

What can we learn from this in terms of the expected rapid growth in Digital Out of Home Signage..

Not for Profits (incl Govt Agencies) can now “own” their own signage networks to display material important for them to Educate, Engage and Entertain (eg Smart Bus Stops) and at the same time use them to generate revenue.

Shopping centres and streets are used now for Charities to sell badges, raffles etc and seek donors and major companies love to make big donations to look good.

Lets take a quick example of the Heart Foundation which does all of the above and also uses Digital Signage now.

They also run a Tick program which delivers credibility to food etc manufacturers by providing an endorsement for healthy products.

They could now go to venues with Digital Screens and have them join the HF Community Info Network.  They would also go to advertisers (their current supporters) and sell them on paying to support branded content on the network.

As such the ads would be in sync with the community health messages ….  screens could be used to download Videos, Diets, BMI calculators, apps etc, which could include direct sales of “sponsors” products.

The times are right on many fronts as listed above to take a new approach to digital signage and this Community approach is definitely one way to do this.

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Peek behind the curtains … before you knock on the door

Some great Apps on my iPhone that help me find what i am looking for in terms of nearby businesses and a recent article in the paper about the breakdown of communities got my brain ticking over.

It seems that most people have in the past promoted the Internet as a way to open up the world as a marketplace, which resulted in the local shop asking “well what’s in it for me?”  But now the tools of Social Media and the Moblie Net (used to be called a Mobile Phone) has given us a much more local focus.

On my iPhone I click the Google App and then say what I am looking for (eg Coffee Shop) and it will in seconds give me a list of the nearest coffee chops sorted in order of distance and include address, phone no, website link and in most cases a recent review.  And then there is another App – AroundMe  that helps me find the nearest Bank/ATM/Pub/Parking Station etc etc ..

I assume if your business Googles well these Apps will promote you but if you don’t you may well be invisible!!

The article I read talked about the breakdown of the neighbourly interaction that was a key part of society 10/15/20 years ago. It seems most people don’t know their neighbors, they don’t talk or socialise in any way.

And with all the stories about home invasions, domestic violence, drug labs etc in average suburbs, maybe we are a little scared of what we might find over the fence.

So is Social Media a way to rebuild the neighbourhood by letting people find our who lives nearby and what they are interested in, getting to know them and chat online before meeting.

It seems to work on dating sites, it certainly has worked for me on LinkedIn.  I now have lots of face-to-face contact with people I met as a result of finding them or them finding me on LinkedIn.

We talk about building communities using Social Media – in terms of people who support a brand, a business, a celebrity etc. but maybe we need to re-established the old fashioned neighbourhood interaction by first getting it going online.

Rather than knocking on the front door or even saying hi over the back fence perhaps Social Media will let us peep behind the curtains and get to know who lives around us.

But who will set up this neighborhood infrastructure online … who has something to gain from it … perhaps the Local Council … but I suspect most of us won’t live long enough for them to get around to something so radical.

Well who else wants to be seen as Mayor of the Local Neighborhood …  could it be the Local Real Estate agent … maybe … I think I feel another blog coming on!!!

Social Media – It’s a lot like cycling

Cycling

With Lance Armstrong and the Tour Down Under the centre of everybody’s attention in Adelaide, I thought I should write about a passion of mine – cycling!!

On some of my regular, long, sometimes enjoyable – sometimes painful rides lately I have been thinking about the similarities between cycling and Social Media. This has helped put the value of Social Media into perspective for many fellow cyclists.

Every Tuesday evening I ride with a group of 50 or so men and women ranging in age from 17 to 70 from Scuzzi Cafe in North Adelaide.  They are a disparate group that have one think in common – cycling – so we come to together and build a Community with a common purpose. Isn’t that what Social Media can do too??!!

In fact a few are now “LinkedIn” with me and exploring business opportunities as a result of finding out more about each others professions from LinkedIn.

During the ride, we, like all cycling groups (even the Pros in the Tour Down Under), provide support and advice for each other to help get the maximum value from the ride and ensure a safe and enjoyable ride … even though we are secretly competing against each other!!

The advice comes in the form of simple hand signals or short sharp phrases that warn of upcoming hazards (eg. glass on the road, a parked car ahead that those behind can’t see) or advice that it’s safe to cross an intersection.  A wave of the hand signals glass on the road, a shout of “car back” warns the group a car is coming from behind on a narrow road, a hand behind the back signals a parked car or a stop sign … while a shout of “clear” lets those following know it’s safe to cross the intersection … and there are many more to cover every situation.

So it’s a bit like Twitter with it’s short, sharp and highly effective communication that passes rapidly to those that are interested.

During the ride everyone takes their turns at the front to make the pace and block others from the wind … it is up to 30% easier riding closely behind another.  In a peloton the outside line rides a few kms faster than the inside line so that someone constantly moves to the front while someone on the inside drops back.  It’s another unwritten rule and courtesy that all participants know and respect – a bit like the self regulation that is core to Social Media.

So we build a community for a common purpose … we help and support each other  (even competitors) with valuable information and we communicate directly and effectively.  Now that is exactly what Social Media allows us to do too … isnt it??

If you watch the Tour Down Under or any Pro or Amateur Race you will see plenty of evidence of all of the above too.

Finally when we get back from our ride the Cafe recognises the value of our loyalty and provides hefty discounts to all cyclists to make sure we keep coming back.  Not only do the discounts apply after the ride … but any cyclists going to that cafe at any time will pay only $2 for a coffee.

So there you have it … Community, Communication, Loyalty, Listening and Rewards – all key elements of Social Media and cycling.

Perhaps that connection was evident when Lance Armstrong “tweeted” that he was riding last Saturday morning at 9am along the beautiful Adelaide beaches and invited all and sundry to join him – more than 7,000 turned up on their trusty treddlies – all shapes and sizes – most in their lusty lycra!!