I have had a personal conference calling bridge number since the mid 90s. I know the number by heart. I give it out all the time via email, text, and kik. It does not require a participant code. When I type my host code, we are all connected. I have not found a better model for voice conference calls in the almost twenty years I have been using this number.
But more and more I am doing hangouts instead of calls. And I want the same experience for hangouts. It used to be possible to get a "static URL" for a Google Hangout but this feature was dropped at some point. You can get a permalink for an event but it ends on the date of the event.
What I'd like to do is get a permalink for a Google Hangout that is mine and always mine. Then I will shorten it via the USV link shortener and I can pass it out via email, text, kik, etc and Hangouts will become as easy for me as conference calls have been for the past twenty years.
I am curious if anyone has figured out a way to make this happen.
Why do we buy stuff?
Top emotional factors that affect youth mobile phone purchase decisions are status (75%), design (65%) and convenience (58%) (source: The Mobile Youth Report)
People don’t buy stuff, they buy what stuff does for them.
People don’t buy mobile phones, they buy the phone’s ability to connect them with each other.
People don’t buy the caffeine, they buy the connection coffee gives them.
Almost always, the “what stuff does for them” is the tool’s social value – its ability to help the user belong and be significant. These aren’t terms that marketers readily use in their daily lexicon but this is about getting to the fundamental emotional core of why people buy.
“What stuff does for them” is the social benefit of that product – how it connects them with others emotionally.
People buy on emotion and justify with logic.
Often social benefits exists at the emotional level of appeal. You just feel you have to have the product, justifying it with logical post-rationalisations such as “it was on offer”.
You can spend a lifetime trying to decode the logical aspects of our behavior (like price, offers etc) or you can cut the crap and start understanding the emotional.
If an object provides belonging and significance to the user, it is a social tool. People use Social Tools to fulfil these social needs.
The difference between a Social Tool and a commodity is the social benefit the Tool creates. The 5 Cs listed here all are capable of creating social community and shared experience.
* Cell Phones
In these cases, the activity creates the benefit. Usage is more important than ownership.
* The significance of picking up friends in your first ride
* The belonging of hanging out with friends in the park smoking
* The belonging of helping friends choose clothes and sharing opinions
Social Tools aren’t popular because of the content, but the context of their usage. Context is most evident in the most widely used social tool, food.
Think of context as the social packaging of that product, the “what stuff does for them” again.
Take a look at this data on why young people use messenger apps. The 3 main reasons are all to help them connect with each other.
You see, we exist in a world where marketers, agencies and technologists fuss about content – the size, the speed and the design of a product but people aren’t really interested in this stuff.
Sure, if you ask them, they’ll give you the logical answer, “I bought it because it was on offer” or “I like the design” but it’s not the value we emotionally assign to that object. We won’t confess that we bought it because we felt left out or we felt that it would help us pull women, but that’s the one of the many fundamental buttons emotional social appeal presses.
Take food as an example.
We don’t say, “you look hungry, let’s get something to eat”.
We don’t eat food for nutritional purposes but for this social context. For example, instant noodle brands like Indomie, Maggi and Nissin are popular with students not because they taste great but because they contain social meaning (stories to share with friends, YouTube homages to noodles by students etc).
In a study conducted by psychologists at University of South Florida, they asked students to match words representing everyday items like food, clothes, home and car with a set of words representing relationships and events.
* 92% associated food with family and 81% with friends. 85% associated food with celebration, parties and BBQ.
* 82% associated clothes with friends and 77% with shopping.
* 74% associated cars with friends and 62% with road trips.
By selling the context, you can charge more.
Starbucks charges 40% more than the competition despite selling a similar product. Starbucks can do this because it’s not selling a commodity, it’s selling a Social Tool – a product that helps people belong, be significant. When you connect with the social emotional dimension you transcend logic. To this day, McDonald’s offers a cheaper, faster coffee, but people aren’t buying coffee, they’re buying the “3rd Space” as Howard Schultz CEO Starbucks puts it.
We view products according to their social value which means our decisions about Brand A vs close competitor Brand B are less valid when you consider these Social Tools in the wider context. Customers don’t judge Social Tools compared to your competitor (e.g. Samsung vs Apple) but make a wider, often unconscious, decision about your product compared to the complete basket of products that offer social benefits.
To the uninformed, products lose popularity due to changing trends e.g:
* decline of CDs
* Shoppers going online and showrooming while offline
* Less teens owning cars
In reality, these products are often displaced by others which offer greater social benefit. For example, cigarette use by US teens grew steadily until 1997. Only when teens began owning mobile phones did cigarette use begin to decline. Not as a result of public education or shortage of money but through teens making an opportunity cost decision about which Social Tool gave them the most bang for their buck.
You’re not just competing with people who produce the same product as you but those who also provide the same social benefit. Your competition can often come from any sector. Being aware of what Social Tools are and what the social currency of your product is, is key to understanding who your competition is and where they may come from.3) People, not brands, determine how and why to use Social Tools
So we understand that people buy stuff based on what that stuff does for them.
And we also understand that the stuff they buy is the social packaging of the product, the stories we tell and the beliefs we have about the values of the product.
So, the question is – who decides?
Years ago, it was the brand and the ad agency that decided this story.
A brand would hire the best award-winning agency possible and dig deep into its marketing budget to pay for the biggest campaign to boot. It’s the Pepsi Generation model of advertising that’s all about defining customers through the Big Idea stories we can tell.
Those days are over (not in the mind of many brand managers and ad agencies unfortunately).
But the raw fact is that today, it’s the Fans, not agencies, define the context of the brand and these stories can and will change over time.
It’s the Fans who decide how a product should be valued and interpreted and often these stories run in parallel to the “official” brand narrative.
Brands that are largely oblivious to these Fan stories are the ones that suffer.
Social tools aren’t social by the way they are designed, but the way we think about them.
So, if we think about them differently to the way they were designed to be used, who is correct?
Case in point, Blackberry:
The most significant innovations in Blackberry’s recent history have been customer-driven e.g. BBM and BBM groups. Blackberry’s mistake was to deny these innovations and focus on top-down interpretations of its Social Tool – the road warrior’s executive tool as opposed to the social tool for the young aspiration emerging market female.
The key is that brands need to accept these multiple narratives today, they cannot control how people think about their brands or their products.
Importantly, brands shouldn’t try to overwrite the legacy perception of a Social Tool held by the market.
Consensus doesn’t follow the lines of traditional segmentation. Not all women want pink phones. Not all teens want cheap feature handsets. The customer groups that gravitate toward using Social Tools cut through traditional segments. These groups are defined by usage and how they interact with each other e.g:
* the appeal of cigarettes crosses gender boundaries
* the iPhone 5 was as popular with teens as it was with market execs when launched
* Hasbro’s My Little Pony has a growing fan base among “Bronies” (male fans)
In some cases, Fans create narratives about how they use these Social Tools that are stronger than the overarching brand story which is great, if you harness it.
If people get more social benefit out of the old fashioned Nokia 3300 series than they do out of the new Nokia Lumia, that’s a fact that Nokia can’t dispute. What’s a social tool and what’s not is determined by the customer, not the brand or the ad agency.
But, many brands still try to impress their old-school ideas about brand management – a template stamping exercise that sees deviation from the rulebook as somehow a negative stain on their ability to grow a brand.
There is no rulebook for how Social Tools should be used, their context is transferred from generations and between peer groups. The meanings of these Tools and their rituals is coded in our culture e.g:
* Prom & high school graduation ceremonies
* The iconic imagery of smoking in movies
* Asking someone out on date
All of these behaviors remain timeless but people have evolved them over time. Our attitudes towards smoking have changed radically over the last 2 generations. Young people today are more inclined to add someone on Facebook and then creep their profile over time before asking them out. The motivators are exactly the same but the tools has changed over time.
The point is that brands need to allow their Social Tools to be adapted by the market otherwise they become old-fashioned and irrelevant.
Market-driven evolution is key to staying relevant. We don’t speak like Shakespeare today, you’d sound like an idiot walking round time speaking in Elizabethan sonnets. That’s because language has to evolve over time. People get upset when words like “Selfie” get added to the dictionary, but unless you allow things to change, you become stuck in time, and old very soon.Join the mobileYouth Newsletter and Get FREE Access to all this