Just over a year ago we published a popular cover story, The Conversation. Writer James Hurman showed how any company’s message is both sanity-checked and eventually, inevitably, overtaken by the power of online networks.
A lot has happened since then. As companies have rushed to become part of that conversation they’ve added hugely to the noise. Now it’s not so much brands that need protection from social networks as the users, bombarded by invitations to become a fan, to help test a new product or pick its name, to collaborate on a strategy or suggest a new flavour. But Sturgeon’s Revelation applies to brands as much as anything else: 90 percent of everything is crud. And some brands are finding that nobody cares much about them at all.
James had it right—only authentic and generous conversation will find a ready audience—but on page 52 of this magazineJehan Casinader issues a warning. It’s too easy for many companies to climb on the social-media bandwagon, and too many of them are uninteresting, time-consuming and intrusive. Some companies have even launched crowdsourced projects after firing the creative teams who would have done the work. If your social media strategy is actually cost-cutting in disguise, says Jehan, don’t expect things to go well.
Two New Zealanders who do understand networks are Derek and Geoff Handley, the founders of The Hyperfactory. They built their company into a worldwide tech and marketing firm and have just sold it to Meredith Corporation, a US$1.5 billion publishing and broadcasting giant that owns iconic titles like Home Journal and Better Homes & Gardens. It’s a heroic tale. But what do you do when you’ve sold your business for a vast sum and you’re still in your early thirties? As Mitchell Hall reports on page 32, the Handleys will stay on with The Hyperfactory, but both are thinking about the bigger pictue of New Zealand innovation and entrepreneurship. They’re concerned they don’t see other creative Kiwis opening offices in the Big Apple. We have the ability, they say‚ but we’re lacking sometimes in ambition and bravery.
We also hope that The Hyperfactory’s adventure leads to more success offshore. If that’s not enough motivation, take a look at the 40-page Guide to Exporting Your Ideas that we’ve bundled with this issue. As the Handleys say, it’s not as hard as you think.