Artful Insight – #20Things Digital Art Reveals 20 Digital Insights for 2015 and more...

Artful Insight – #20Things Digital Art Reveals 20 Digital Insights for 2015


Can you spot 20 hashtags of recent Internet happenings in this artful piece of content marketing commissioned by digital innovation group Syzygy? Each hashtag corresponds to a digital insight that could usefully inform your digital strategy.

Check out the hashtags with insights below.

And beyond the insights themselves, note the medium chosen for this content marketing.  Art. Psychologically, using digital art for content marketing makes sense. Art harnesses what Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls our ‘System 1′ mind, our instinctive, intuitive and emotional mind that works by association rather than reason. We see art, and we ‘feel’ it, and are moved by it. And because art works by emotional association – sponsored art makes us feel good makes us feel good about the sponsoring company as well.

So could art work as content marketing for your business?  It’s been working for the Catholic Church since the 16th Century, when the Vatican commissioned its content marketing masterpiece, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Ever since, brands have been working with artists and using art as a marketing medium. Art impresses; art communicates; art has impact.

Surely art certainly beats the Twitter fails, social spam and camouflaged ads (aka native advertising) that pass for content marketing today?

  1. #FlappyBird – Digital is a great leveller. #FlappyBird came from a small independent developer and not a gaming leviathan. Does the levelling power of digital mean your next big competitor or collaborator could be an agile start-up?
  2. #GoogleNest - How will your brand ‘Nestify’ and use a combination of smart connected technology and smart design to refresh products and services? The digital future is the Internet of Things, not the Internet of Screens
  3. #SochiProblems – The Sochi ‘brand experience’ did not live up to expectations and a hashtag hungry world heard about it. Avoid becoming the Sochi of your category by ensuring you under-promise and over-deliver on brand experience
  4. #TwitchPlaysPokémon -  That Amazon went on to purchase for US$970m is testament to the size and buying power of the global gaming community. Do your marketing, sponsorship and innovation investments in 2015 reflect the reality that gaming is bigger than both the music and movie industries?
  5. #FirstKiss – Exhibitionist and voyeuristic in equal measure, #FirstKiss is an ode to our Tinder times where digital technology increasingly mediates human intimacy. In 2015, how could you target a world looking for labels and love?
  6. #25Web – So much more than a mere advertising or publishing channel for brochureware, the Web has become the planet’s leading innovation platform. Is the 25th anniversary of the Web the time to shift out of the early gears of digital marketing and embrace the full potential of digital innovation?
  7. #ActionMovieKid – Helping people show off online has always been a smart digital strategy, but how could your brand learn from #ActionMovieKid and help proud parents show off their progeny online?
  8. #RightToBeForgotten – Google is not a search engine; it is a reputation management system. The #RightToBeForgotten EU legislation reminds us that brand reputation is built not on what brands say about themselves, but what others, especially Google, say about them.
  9. #FacebookExperiment – Aside from the risks of experimenting on people without their consent, the #FacebookExperiment mood highlighted that the Internet now influences not only behaviour but also emotions. In 2015, what will your brand help people feel online?
  10. #IceBucketChallenge –  The #IceBucketChallenge was all about ‘conspicuous compassion’ – looking good by doing good. Could the digital future of your brand lie in conspicuous compassion, managing brand image through conspicuous acts of compassion?
  11. #SaddestManInBrazil - A digital image is not merely worth a thousand words; it is worth an emotional connection. Is 2015 the year when your brand embraces the power of online imagery to resonate more emotionally with audiences
  12. #PotatoSalad –  Crowdfunding prank on KickStarter to back a potato salad meal received $55,492 funding showed how digital culture likes to mock itself. How could your brand use digital culture-jamming to make playful fun of the latest tech trends in 2015?
  13. #MonkeySelfie – So humans are not the only selfie-prone simian species. Could selfies culture be a foundational part of our digital identity – a digital mirror used to prove to the world and to ourselves that we exist? If so, what part could your brand play in this existential game of digital identity construction?
  14. #TheFappening - So sex, scandal and celebrity sell, who’d have thought? The bigger insight is that we’re all, celebrities included, uploading more and more, including our intimate selves to the Internet. What #TheFappening taught us about ourselves is that we don’t need a coercive Big Brother to log our every move and moment, we’re quite happy to do it ourselves
  15. #AlibabaIPO – Does the #AlibabaIPO mean Western digital hegemony is finally over? Perhaps our digital futures may lie to the East, not in Silicon Valley. What could your brand learn from today’s hotbed of digital innovation in Asia?
  16. #DeleteU2 – Personal tech is deeply personal, so hands off! Violating our digital lives with uninvited gifts is to violate us personally. iTunes gift of Songs of Innocence became the most deleted album of all time. Just don’t.
  17. #BendGate – Digital perception is reality. Armed with hashtags, scandal-hungry digital media is not about truth, it is about selling advertising space. If your brand is collateral damage, too bad…
  18. #AlexFromTarget - Don’t underestimate the power of celebrity in digital media. Celebrities may not cause today’s digital sensations, but they certainly validate and amplify them, as Ellen DeGeneres gave a Twitter and TV boost t0 16 year-old Justin Bieber lookalike Alex Lee
  19. #MicrosoftMinecraft – The value of Microsoft $2.5bn purchase of Minecraft lies neither in the game nor the user base, but as a digital platform for creativity. If enabling creativity is what digital does best, what role could your brand play?
  20. #BreakTheInternet – Yes, celebrity and nudity still sell, but Kardashian’s #BreakTheInternet lesson is that it is the Internet, not Hollywood or TV, that has become the new measure and gold standard of fame. If brand fame is what you’re after, digital is your solution




The Jam Study Strikes Back: When Less Choice Does Mean More Sales


The Jam Study is one of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology, and new research to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology supports the Jam Study’s controversial conclusion; offering consumers less choice can be good for sales. Critically, the study reveals when precisely offering less choice may enhance your sales.

If you’re not familiar with the original Jam Study, it’s here.  Basically, the study, which was conducted at upscale Bay-area supermarket Draeger’s Market by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase jam on display when the number of jams available was reduced from 24 to 6. Less choice, more sales. More choice, fewer sales. Weird, huh?

This phenomenon, replicated in a variety of product categories from chocolate to financial services to speed dating, has come to be known as ‘Choice Overload’ or the ‘Paradox of Choice‘. It’s a paradox because rationally speaking the more choice you offer your customers, the more sales you should make simply because you’ll be satisfying more needs better. But research has showed that choice actually can be demotivating and get in the way of sales. Why?

Psychologically, the Paradox of Choice is not so much of a paradox because the more options you give people, the more time and effort they have to invest in making a choice – something they may not be prepared to do.  Moreover, giving people a smorgasbord of options puts a psychological burden on them because what you are actually doing is giving them more opportunity to make the wrong choice, regret it and blame themselves.

Nevertheless, the Jam Study and follow-up studies has remained controversial;  surely giving your customers more choice must be a good thing, right?  Indeed, a meta-analysis of studies in 2010 found that the inverse link between choice and purchase likelihood is far from consistent.

But now a new study, ‘Choice overload: A conceptual review and meta-analysis‘ by Kellogg researchers at Northwestern University Alexander Chernev and Ulf Böckenholt (and Joseph Goodman) has re-analaysed the data from 99 Paradox of Choice studies and isolated when reducing choices for your customers is most likely to boost sales

  • When people want to make a quick and easy choice (effort-minimizing goal)
  • When making the right choice matters/you are selling complex products (the decision task is difficult)
  • When you show options that are difficult to compare (greater choice set complexity)
  • When your customers are unclear about their preferences (higher preference uncertainty)

So the Jam Study strikes back; more choice can harm sales – but probably only when one or more of these four criteria are met.



How to Market to the #Selfie Generation [Research Summary]


The same personality traits that predict men’s preference and openness to one-night stands also predict their selfie behaviour, with interesting implications for marketing.

A new study in the psychology journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’ links ‘dark’ personality traits in adult males (the so-called  ‘Dark Triad’ of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism) to selfie behaviour.

Specifically, the US study, conducted by Dr Jesse Fox of Ohio State University found that men with narcissistic and psychopathic personality traits tend to post more selfies online, whilst narcissists and self-objectifiers (people who judge themselves on their appearance rather than competences) are also more likely to edit their selfies. Overall, male narcissists and self-objectifiers tend to spend more time on social networks.

So ‘Dark Triad’ traits in men predict their openness to one night stands, and propensity to post selfies.  Good news if you’re searching for a one-night stand with a guy; just target guys who post selfies.

But what does this mean for marketers?  First, marketing to prolific selfie posters is useful since this is a visible (and measurable) activity that is linked to personality traits (and therefore needs).  Secondly, how we can market successfully to this group is revealed by the underlying needs and propensities of these traits

  • Marketing Message 1 “You Matter” – this will appeal to narcissists who are egocentric individuals with a sense of grandiosity, dominance, and entitlement who perceive themselves as smarter, more attractive, and better than others, but are still marked by insecurity
  • Marketing Message 2 “For the Thrill of It” – this will appeal to psychopaths who lack empathy and often engage in impulsive and thrill-seeking behaviours regardless of the cost to others
  • Marketing Message 3 “You are in Control” – this will appeal to Machiavellians who are strategic and cynical. They seek to satisfy their own needs with little regard for morals, often by manipulating others

For more opportunities, check out the contents of the Dark Triad Personality Scale and the Self-Objectification Questionnaire; each element could offer a compelling value proposition for the #selfie generation…

Dark Triad Personality Scale

  1. I tend to want others to admire me. (Narcissism)
  2. I tend to want others to pay attention to me. (Narcissism)
  3. I tend to expect special favors from others. (Narcissism)
  4. I tend to seek prestige or status. (Narcissism)
  5. I tend to lack remorse. (Psychopathy)
  6. I tend to be callous or insensitive. (Psychopathy)
  7. I tend to not be too concerned with morality or the morality of my actions (Psychopathy)
  8. I tend to be cynical. (Psychopathy)
  9. I have used deceit or lied to get my way. (Machiavellianism)
  10. I tend to manipulate others to get my way. (Machiavellianism)
  11. I have used flattery to get my way. (Machiavellianism)
  12. I tend to exploit others towards my own end. (Machiavellianism)

Self-Objectification Questionnaire

When considering your physical self-concept, please rank the following 1-10 in order of impact…

  • Physical coordination?
  • Health?
  • Weight?
  • Strength?
  • Sex appeal?
  • Physical attractiveness?
  • Energy level (e.g., stamina)?
  • Firm/sculpted muscles?
  • Physical fitness level?
  • Measurements (e.g., chest, waist, hips)?

Fox, J., & Rooney, M. C. (2015). The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites. Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 161-165


An online survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. men aged 18–40 assessed trait predictors of social networking site use as well as two forms of visual self-presentation: editing one’s image in photographs posted on social networking sites (SNSs) and posting “selfies,” or pictures users take of themselves. We examined the Dark Triad (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) and trait self-objectification as predictors. Self-objectification and narcissism predicted time spent on SNSs. Narcissism and psychopathy predicted the number of selfies posted, whereas narcissism and self-objectification predicted editing photographs of oneself posted on SNSs. We discuss selective self-presentation processes on social media and how these traits may influence interpersonal relationship development in computer-mediated communication.



The Hawthorne Effect: The Key to B2B Content Marketing Success


The Hawthorne Effect* is a psychological phenomenon that produces changes to behaviour and belief as a result of increased attention from superiors, experts or researchers. And as 3M has demonstrated, the Hawthorne Effect can unlock B2B content marketing success.  Here’s how…

To cut right to the chase, what 3M found is that the secret to B2B content marketing is to involve your top clients and prospects as special advisors and contributors in the publication of a management or industry report.

Specifically, what 3M did was invite secretaries of CEOs across corporate America to contribute to a report on the potential uses of the little yellow stickies that had hitherto been a commercial flop.  Not used to being listened to, and flattered by the attention, these ‘special advisors’ not only offered useful advice for the report, but also become Post-it Note champions. Enamoured with a company that was actually listening to them and treating them as partners rather than targets, secretaries started actively advocating Post-it Notes to their colleagues with a vengeance. Before long they were spreading through the offices of corporate America like a virulent virus.

So the simple secret to B2B content marketing could be as simple as involving your top clients and prospects as special advisors and contributors in the publication of a management or industry report.

Of course, the Hawthorne Effect can work for B2C content marketing too – for example asking consumers to vote on which fashion model to use in an ad, or on the packagingif you can do it at scale. The principle is the same, in Hawthorne Effect powered content marketing you are selling attention and status, not a product or service.

So rather than create content for customers, give influencers an easy hand in creating content for senior management, industry leaders teams or even regulators.  This is the same influencer marketing logic behind beta-testing and seeding trials; engage influencers as special advisors and get them to trial a new product and offer feedback for inclusion in a special report.  This flatters egos and creates a sense of privilege, power and prestige that translates into loyalty and advocacy.  British Telecom does this effectively through its influencer advisory board of company CEOs who have their views regularly summarised into senior management reports for BT.

The secret to content marketing in B2B is listening, not talking.

* The Hawthorne Effect is a psychological phenomenon that produces changes to behaviour and belief as a result of increased attention from superiors, experts or researchers. It takes its name from one of the most influential experiments in industrial history at at Western Electric’s factory at the Chicago suburb of Hawthorne back in the 1920s. Researchers from Harvard and MIT, led by Elton Mayo, were looking to publish a report on working conditions and productivity. But rather than merely observe workers, they asked workers to participate and contribute to the report by giving views on experimental changes to working conditions. What the researchers found is that engaging people as participants, advisors or contributors to a report delivers attention and status that creates loyalty and advocacy.  Using the Hawthorne Effect in content marketing means selling attention and status, not products and services.




Now That’s What I Call Content Marketing 2014 [Epic Content Marketing #Fails Infographic]


2014 was another wondrous year for Content Marketing – so here’s a selection of the finest examples of the year’s content marketing on Twitter in an infographic Now That’s What I Call Content Marketing 2014 [PDF, editable Keynote].

In 2014, B2C content marketers found themselves in hashtag hell. Some real gems included US Airways posting pornography on Twitter, DiGiorno Pizza hijacking the debate on domestic violence to promote pizza, and the New England Patriots coming out and congratulating a racist.

Then, in a return to 2013 form, there was the NRA posting about children having fun at a shooting range, just after a deadly accident involving a child at a shooting range. LG’s post promoting LG phones from an iPhone seemed mild in comparison.

Fortunately, the tide is turning against content marketing as it progressively undermines the marketing profession – especially in social media. We have learned that as brands we’re great at delivering consumer value through advertised products and services, and really lousy at moonlighting as second rate entertainers, publishers and educators.

Facebook is driving home the message – in a mission to cure the platform from the scourge of content marketing and content marketers. Posts on a brand’s Facebook Page used to reach 2% of the brands ‘fans’, but from January 2015, Facebook will begin culling the remaining posts that get through and onto news feeds.

Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of [promotional page posts] content in their News Feeds.

Facebook is keen to remind errant marketers that Facebook is an advertising platform, not a content marketing platform.

Basically the new rule for Facebook is that “If it doesn’t have a face, it shouldn’t be on Facebook” – with the important exception of advertising. This is way new report out from Forrester recommends that brands focus on promoting themselves on their own sites and email, not social media sites.

Fast Company summarises the Forrester report’s advice for brands:

To recap: Don’t tweet. Don’t waste your time on Facebook. Email still works. Sounds great.

But before content marketers turn to something else to wreck and undermine the marketing profession, sit back and enjoy Now That’s What I Call Content Marketing 2014 – the best the content marketing industry had to offer on Twitter in 2014.

Now That's What I Call Content Marketing 2014



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