I’ve had this post in draft for a few days now, so this is blogging lesson No.1 for me – write up what you want to say during the event and publish it asap, otherwise someone will beat you to it ;o)

Last Thursday was my first event as a Microsoft Evangelist down at The Fantastic Tavern, meeting some fun, smart people keen to discuss their predictions: “2010 Trends – what’s hot and what’s not” in social media. I was welcomed with open arms by organisers Michelle Flynn and Matt Bagwell from EMC Consulting despite being the only person standing at the back with a notepad and pen, furiously scribbling away like Rolph Harris after 5 cans of red bull.

Speakers were rated using the ‘cool wall’ (homage to Top Gear) and after lots of shouting there was a clear winner – Playfulness (surprise!).

1. Playfulness

Colm Brophy won the debate with a convincing argument for the value of turning menial activity into fun. He referenced Chore Wars, a points based system that rewards completion of chores – you can move up levels the more chores you complete.  He also showed how making a recycling bin into a game (complete with flashing lights, woohoo) encouraged 100 people to recycle in one evening. So, playfulness encourages interaction. It’s a fact.


2. Behavioural Architecture

Richard Sedley championed the idea of designing for behaviour, originated by Dan Lockton at Brunel University. A great example was making tube stairs look like a piano encourages people to use the stairs, or adding incorrect examples to a profile so customers are driven to change it and therefore complete their profiles.

3. Realtime

Dean Wilson discussed the advantages of using ‘real time’ to your advantage. Everyone feeds back in real time, but some have turned this on its head. Dean showed how one guy sells creme brulee in San Francisco using Twitter to let people know where he’s going to be. Interacting with his customers this way means he gets a loyal following.

4. Augmented Reality

Cyrus Gilbert Rolfe talked about adding a layer to the real world between what you can see with your own eyes and what’s on the PC. What if we could change the way people interacted with products? We do that to an extent now (finding your nearest tube station or Wi-Fi), but say you’re in a clothes shop looking for a new t-shirt – and then can see yourself wearing it and get opinions from your friends?

5. My Special Friend

Michael McClary did a grand job presenting a highly visual idea without video as there was no internet access (oh, the irony). He talked about the fact technology exists today where you wear a camera and projector and are able to make a frame with your hands and the camera takes a picture. The projector will then project the picture you just took with your ‘hands’ and project it onto a screen behind you. Take this one step further and imagine that functionality on your phone so you can project yourself to others and vice versa. No longer do you need to sit at the bar nursing a pint on your own – project your friend onto the wall behind you and bingo! Your own special friend.

6. Social Commerce

Chris Reed argued his case for the fact ‘people like people who like what they like’ – people tend to follow others that are like you, whether it’s similar musical taste, the colour of your hair or the TV show you watch religiously. Recommendations from people you know hold much more weight than an advert (Amazon does this really well - ‘people who bought this also bought…’). Yub encourages people to sell to their network by offering commission and this could be the way forward.

7. Vendor Relationship Management

‘CRM is dead!’ announced Chris Robson. Apparently it’s been replaced by its reverse, VRM where individuals control interactions with companies, rather than relationships. Chris referenced reverse auction houses that ask customers to name their price, so the consumer controls how to engage with businesses. Same with Giff Gaff which rewards people with cash if they bring in friends to the programme.

8. Truth

Zuzanna Pasierbinska reinforced the idea that ‘The age of tolerance is over’ – consumers are happy to shout when they get bad service so the only way to survive as a company is to be open and honest. 

9. Death of the 30 second ad

Online TV ads are dead, according to Vaughan Denny. This made sense when he explained how online ads are more likely to go viral and reach a wider target audience.

10. Anti-Trends

Unfortunately Nathan Williams couldn’t make it  - sounds interesting but I can’t tell you anything about it

Thanks to Michelle and Matt for a great night, look forward to the next one.