What did the New England Patriots ’“rabid” fans’ active sharing mid-game comments via immersive Wi-Fi have in common with Peabody hotels’ guests’ avid videoing and picture-snapping of the daily duck walk?
Or parents standing in front a large store wall of bewildering choices in children’s car seats, looking down at their free Car Seat Helper app from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, comforted in knowing they’ll be able make a wise choice about their child’s safety?
Spur Sharing to Solidify Connections, Centered Around What You Offer
Each of those situations spur positive, shared experiences, shaped by organizations that seek to serve people better at the right time and in helpful ways.
From the Gillette Stadium and sports team managers to the hotelier and hospital leaders, they all recognize that these multi-step moments boost involvement, loyalty and the bragging rights that bring other customers and stakeholders closer too. Instilling bragging rights is dubbed “The Ultimate Moment of Truth’ by Brian Solis in his book, What’s the Future of Business: “It represents the experience that people share after using your product and engaging with your company over time. Blog posts, YouTube videos, reviews, each in their own way direct people to take their next steps accordingly.”
“Because I helped to wind the clock, I come to hear it strike.” ~ William Butler Yeats
Solis see this approach as especially vital now because, “The connected consumer can become a formidable foe or ally for any organization. As such, the proactive investment in positive experiences now represents a modern and potentially influential form of consumer marketing and service.”
I heartily agree. I also believe that the most impactful, change-evoking experiences still happen in-person, as experienced by the duck-watching hotel guests or the sports fans, sitting by side, sharing with others near and far.
“High Touch” Is Still Needed in An increasingly High Tech World
Way back in 1999 John Naisbitt and Douglas Philips described the “fabulousinnovations and devastating consequences of technology’s saturation of American society” in their book, High Tech/High Touch, a topic Naisbitt first raised upon even earlier in his prescient 1982 book Megatrends. We have an unalterable need to “connect with the physical world”, they wrote, and with each other, I would add. As Solis says in several places, “technology is just a tool.” Our desire, as social animals, regardless of temperament– to feel known, appreciated and valuable — provides the motivation for social sharing, selling – and learning.
Renowned doctor, Atul Gawande, would concur. He discovered that multiple, convivial in-person interactions are the most successful way to spur behavioral change. When writing about the slow adoption of live-saving medical measures, from anesthesia to hand-washing, the renowned doctor writes in The New Yorker, “In our era of electronic communications, we’ve come to expect that important innovations will spread quickly. Plenty do: think of in-vitro fertilization, genomics, and communications technologies themselves. But there’s an equally long list of vital innovations that have failed to catch on.”
For example, he writes, “Every year, three hundred thousand mothers and more than six million children die around the time of birth, largely in poorer countries… Simple, lifesaving solutions have been known for decades. They just haven’t spread.” He goes on to describe how teaching and/or distributing how-to medical pamphlets rarely work, nor do attempts to provide financial or other incentives.
The only approach that spurs behavior change, he found, is what Everett Rogers advocated: “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people, spread an innovation.” Gawande cited how a pharmaceutical rep uses “the rule of seven touches,” face-to-face interactions, so a doctor comes to know and trust the rep.
Despite the remarkable discovery that a simple solution of water, salt and sugar could save many of the victims of the deadly diarrheal disease cholera, it remained difficult, for over a decade to get doctors and parents to use this cheap and easy-to-fix option. Yet, as Gawande recounted, a Bangladeshi non-profit, BRAC, was successful in spurring it’s use in villages by hiring individuals to go door-to-door and discuss it, semi-literate, using a “distilled” script with “seven easy-to-remember messages.” The number of villagers they got to adopt this practice went up further, when they were paid, not by time spent but by the amount of adoption.
Then the workers began revising how they taught, just as Silicon Valley-based start-up experts would advocate, making what Peter Sims dubs “little bets” , experimenting along the way, in what Steve Blank calls a lean approach. For example actually “coaxing villagers to make the solution with their own hands and explain the message in their own words, while a trainer observed and guided them, achieved far more than any public-service ad or instructional video could have done,” writes Gawande.
“In the era of the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter,” wrote Gawande, “we’ve become enamored of ideas that spread as effortlessly as ether. We want frictionless, ‘turnkey’ solutions to the major difficulties of the world – hunger, disease, and poverty. We prefer instructional videos to teachers, drones to troops, incentives to institutions.”
I think that is too sweeping an indictment as many of those deeply involved in advocating ways to change behavior, including to sell, are emphatic that the technology is a tool that is only helpful if the people you serve think that its helpful, as Solis suggests. It would be fascinating to see if even greater adoption could happen by blending the insights from Solis and others as the connectivity via ever cheaper digital devices grows, even for use in more remote areas. Trainers could train other trainers, in-person, using them. As well, trainers could use the devices in conversations with villagers. They might show images or short videos of peers and villagers doing the methods and sharing their success stories. In so doing, they could provide authentic, credible bragging rights for those who train the workers, and for the workers and villagers. They too, as Solis would say, might have their Ultimate Moment of Truth that could motivate more people to share their live-saving procedures with others.
Storyboard A Sequence of Scenes That Others Can Experience And Want To Share
Solis described to Tnooz reporter, Sean O’Neil the customer-attracting power of building into the experience, opportunities for gaining bragging rights that spurs people to share it. He had just stayed in a James Bond-themed room in Seven, an Elegancia Hotel in Paris that had, “decor from ’70s era 007 films that was so amazingly convincing that it made me think that Roger Moore would greet me at the door.
I shared pictures on all of my social media platforms—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr—and the response was stunning. It was if I had posted a topless pic. It got more than 50 reactions.”
Hint: Using apt analytics and direct observation, recognize how to serve your prime kind of customer better than the competition by building in ways they can share their experience with others, from scenic backdrops they want to be photographed in front of, to rituals they can share and tout to handy souvenirs they can customize, share and take with them.
Moment by moment pull them closer. In his book Solis describes how businesses can benefit when they design experiences around what he dubs the four moments of truth: inception, tribulation, transformation, and realization. Most anything a company must do can be turned into a shared — and shareable – experience. For example, as Vocus’ Jessica Ann, observes, the stars of a Delta safety video are the flight attendant – and the passengers…. seeing the flight attendant not read from a brochure – and instead tell a story.” Passengers become part of what Peter Guber calls a “purposeful narrative” in which they can play a role.
To complement this storytelling approach, like a movie director, storyboardthe sequence of scenes they experience, from the opening moment to the climactic high point to the closing scene. Ironically, the one often most neglected by companies is the last “scene”, called the “peak end” has the most impact on how we remember experiences. A five-day family vacation that starts with three days at an unexpectedly noisy, “under-remodeling” hotel, yet ends with a sunny day at the beach, is remembered positively.
1. Let them see your genial face and give a momento just before they head out the door or click to something else online.
2. Reduce or eliminate the boring or negative moments and boost the number and impact of the positive touch points.
The Rise of Shareable Organizations Multiplies Shared Experiences And Start-Up Opportunities
Going beyond the increased need for firms to stand out by crafting shared experiences, some foresaw years ago that organizations were springing up based on sharing. Some are local, community-based, not-for-profits like Quantified Self, scaling globally in participation and innovation, with each Meetup chapter getting smarter as they learn from each other. Their success has fostered a several kinds of ecosytems from clothing to APIs and device-making companies and collaborations like Nike and TechStars’ Nike + Accelerator.
At the other end of the sharing continuum are disruptive, scalable for-profit companies, most famously the on-demandcar service Uber that’s expanded to include boating, morphing into a lifestyle brand; and Airbnb, already sparking start-up variations, perhaps next, by you. Tom Friedman officially declared the sharing economy a trend. Looking at the trends from the perspective of “crowd-powered institutions” and corporations, the Altimeter Group, and others dub the trend the Collaborative Economy, with Jeremiah Owyang citing the threats and opportunities for them.
Yet years ago, several individuals began covering the mostly grassroots, sharing-based organizations that were sprouting up. They described how some new modes of sharing strengthened neighborliness, and provided fresh opportunities for individuals to collaborate, help each other and/or save or make money. The most touching, for me, are the ways many are surviving economically, in part, by renting out a room in their home, doing tasks or providing rides for others.
Neal Gorenflo, for example, began crowdsourcing coverage of such organizations at Shareable.net. Even way back in 2001, On the Commons magazine launched to cover collaborative ways of working. Recently they published the book, All That We Share.
Roo Rogers and Rachel Botsman, co-authors of What’s Mine is Yours, continue curating examples of Collaborative Consumption, including a directory of them.
In her book, Mesh, and her TED talk, Lisa Gansky describes how businesses can be built to, “provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright.” Her directory grew sufficiently for her to launch a global gathering.