Digital Identity – Why It’s Important for Brands

A while back I wrote the first post about digital identity ‘Digital identity – We Create Ourselves‘. It was about how everyone from  ‘normal’ to hardcore tech and internet people create themselves online. This support their identity – not only online but it even empowers their offline identity, some without even thinking about it.

Join the social media locomotion

We are all doing it! Just look at what pages you join on Facebook. Why join the Facebook pages ‘I like when people smile at me’,  ‘happy people are the shit’ or ‘running makes my world go around’. Now, all these mentioned pages are just made up, but I bet you have joined a page almost like it, and why? – Because it adds something to your online identity.

During the last two years of wild fire spread of social networks, blogging sites and Twitter, it became easy for everybody to send a clear signal of who you are and what your passion is about.

Take for instance, the young mother, who updates her Facebook status ten times a week telling her network and the world how much she loves and adores her children and husband. And you probably have one of those people in your network, who constantly feel the need to update you on his of her running game -because running is the new black 😉

People who say that this online creation of identity is fake, or that offline is going to be the next big hit – I just don’t get it. The creation of our identity is deeply rooted in our DNA. It’s human nature to expose ourselves, create ourselves, dream big about ourselves. And we will not stop using this great opportunity.

Using social media as a brand

So as a company or brand, you should start thinking about how you can tap in and give something to people’s identities. For example when you hire, look for truly passionate people. They will show themselves to you on social networks, in communities, on forums or their own blogs.

When you think of marketing, forget the old idea of marketing to the masses. Instead, tap into the people that are already passionate about what you do. They will spread the word for you, and it’s going to be a personal recommendation in a advertising free environment.

But do it properly. Please don’t just make another Facebook application that tries to rip personal data, so you can spam people – and the app being a total disappointment.

A best-practise case

One of the strongest cases of tapping into identity is Nike (oh no not again, well yes!).  A whole lot of brands could tap into running, but Nike that does it the best way. I will just share some thoughts about a small but brilliant fraction of the social identity platform they made, and this will also be the follow up on a post I wrote in what feels like ages ago 😉 – ‘Testing Nike Training widget – part 1´.

In September last year, my girlfriend wanted to start running, and she looked around for things to motivate her. It did not take long before she got hooked on the Nike+ iPod system as it gave her something that could measure and keep track of her progress. But she also wanted to bring it to her social network – one of the highest motivation factors in running is sharing it with your network. She quickly discovered a Nike widget to add to her Facebook profile. It’s a small customisable avatar that jumps when you have been running and just sits there to give you a bad consciousness when you are not running, because everyone can see it on your profile. It will keep track of her running and it’s her constant motivation to get out there. Once it hits 250 km, it even gets a new cooler jersey 😉

What Nike really understands is to give people something that not only brings value to their running game. It also provides a vital part of building a digital identity. Everyone in your Facebook network who visits your page (and remember we all stalk and stick our noses in each others’ pages) is able to see how well you’ve been doing on your running game!

There is a million more good and bad cases of brands and companies tapping into people’s online identity – if your company or brand is not doing it yet – it’s about time you look into it!

If you got this far reading this post, it means you are very interested in the subject, so please share any thoughts or good cases with us. You are interested maybe even passionate on the subject – please take a moment to create yourself.

 

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» Digital Identity – We Create Ourselves
» On A Positive Note About Companies And Social Media

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.