Bryan Kramer

Posted on February 08, 2012 by Bryan Kramer 3

Social Cocooning: A Digital Reality

We’re social creatures by nature. Much of our social interaction has now moved online, but the fact remains, we crave community, communication and connection with others. The rise of social networks (which shows no signs of stopping) is evidence of this.

This leads me to wonder, what does the future hold for our “social” lives? So many of us connect with each other digitally on a consistent basis—and in fact, studies are showing that our penchant for social networks is becoming more of an addiction. For better or for worse, we like it, and most desire the connection.

I read a book by Faith Popcorn called the “Popcorn Report” in 1991 who said we would become a society of “cocooning.” A goal we would all strive to obtain. A place where everything we need is within reach and we would have no reason to leave our homes in order to conduct our business or our lives. We aren’t quite there yet, but in the right cities that have built everything to order, we’re close. And with the likes of Amazon making everything we need available for delivery. With the rise of telecommuting and the dawn of truly unified communication systems, even our workplace interactions have moved online as our connection with coworkers becoming more digital. This can make for very efficient collaboration and streamline processes, and it makes me wonder what’s in store for the future, as long as it doesn’t dehumanize our engagement.

Communication is both our greatest gift and biggest challenge as marketers— really in any position in life. And now we’re developing social networks that allow us to get even more into each others’ minds. Innovation is happening faster because sharing is so prominent. The question is, is there ever enough sharing—and when is enough? Here is how I have started to classify Why, Where, Who, How, What and When toward building a more connected digital workplace in our personal or professional marketing efforts

Why: Influential Mapping. Analytics are only getting started with mobile shoppers, location-based networks, proximity systems, QR codes, etc. Analytics engines are looking to tie it all in together, and they will. Remembering that you will always need the “why” before the “how” is key. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” -Peter Drucker

Where: Contextual Hyper-curation. The ability to search or share within a greater network privately or publicly (work or home). Think Siri meets Pinterest meets.

Who: SIMI. Sales, IT and marketing integration. Let’s be honest, this is the trio that works most in silos. The more they work together, the more companies are able to innovate faster. Sales are being captured online, IT (CIO) is building the foundation, marketing is delivering the message. What’s missing? People becoming cross-functional In each of those disciplines there have always been contributions or growth that triggers fear about people losing their jobs because the technology would be so automated we wouldn’t need them any longer. Wrong. If anything, we need them more. We just need them in a different (and in my opinion) more exciting capacity. We will need more strategic thinkers who can collaborate cross-functionally.

How: Collaborative visualization. Everything in our world eventually becomes visual, tying all our content into a visual representation (well designed, of course). Infographics are a great representation of why we all need information delivered to us visually. We’re in the age of content. With constraints on both broadband, which is getting better, and loads of content, we haven’t seen a lot of visual networks until the likes of Pinterest or Google+ for their simple yet elegant visual representations. I think it will only get better.

What: It’s a creative economy, and this means that clutter is back. It’s been a long time since we just had radio and TV to contend with. With the dawn of the social era, we know that the global economy is growing. Delivering on a proper plan, objective and set of proper tactics is more important now than ever.  There will always be software or ways to do things faster. But remember, we’re growing more and more into a creative economy and with so much going on; creative vision through strategy and implementation can’t be fully automated. The only thing that will win the clutter war we’ve always faced is and always will be a unified vision and message percolating throughout an organization (from the inside out) that differentiates you from the rest.

When: Take everything above and put it into a scoring system and what do you have? Done right, a higher score. Well, it still comes back to—creating the right experience for the consumer. I still want to know that the experience I’m having is about being treated as “Bryan,” the guest or customer. Not as just a number or another guest at a conference or hotel. Even as technology takes us to a new place in a social and relational sense, the basics of marketing will never change.

Our world continues to become more social and digitally connected, and we are finding nearly everything we need online. That can be a gift, and a challenge. Yet, we still need to create a personalized experience for our customer, even in the age of social networking and our working relationships, online and offline.

Key Takeaway:  Even cocoons turn out the most beautiful butterflies; it can be a freeing experience for marketers that can harness the digital ride.

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  • Drew Clark

    Reading this article really made me think of the movie Wall-E

    • Bryan Kramer

      Interesting, I can see how. If I remember right, eventually everyone wanted to get back to Earth.

      • Drew Clark

        Yeah. Although they were all in their little, drivable cocoons complete with HUD access to their social networking apps … what they were missing was the actual real life, human connection. They wanted reality over virtual reality (which is sort of a relic from the 90s). Now Augmented Reality, the ability to seamlessly weave our technological progress into our day to day lives, is the dream. As long as we remain biological entities, we will crave real interaction.