Here at Moving Image & Content we’ve got more than a healthy obsession with all things pop culture. Each month we share our favorites in a video series called What The Kids Are Watching (WTKAW). FOMO is a terrible thing. Click play above and catch up on what you missed.
By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy - MI&C
What’s the difference between a herd and a swarm? Knowing the answer will do more than impress your 8th grade science teacher – it can help you understand the future of marketing.
While a herd represents a pack of animals blindly following a single leader (sometimes to their own demise off the nearest cliff), a swarm is entirely different. Swarms, flocks and schools comprise honeybees, birds and fish respectively. Unlike herds, swarms are not controlled by a single individual, they follow a collective intelligence that empowers the whole to accomplish tasks impossible for any one member of the species.
When a swarm of honeybees needs to find a new home for the hive, they work together. They take into account proximity to pollen, fresh water, safety from predators and a myriad of logistical requirements – certainly a task well beyond the scope of any single bee.
Swarms are smart, herds – not so much.
This intelligence of swarms inspired Dr. Louis Rosenberg (a serial entrepreneur and multi-degreed Stanford engineer) to develop a system to aid in better decision-making and predictive modeling.
His platform (called Unanimous.ai) combines artificial intelligence with the wisdom of crowds – small crowds, to be specific. To validate the model, he took on a real-world challenge anyone could appreciate. He implemented a prototype to predict the winner of the Kentucky Derby.
Not only did Unanimous.ai pick the correct winner, it correctly identified the superfecta – the first four horses to win – in the correct sequence. Not a single human matched those results.
Dr. Rosenberg placed a $20 bet on his long-shot prediction and won $11k.
A true believer in the scientific process, he continued to test and refine his approach. Each time, the results improved in accuracy. The system was getting smarter. In early January 2017, he was challenged by Modern Trader magazine to predict Trump’s approval rating 100 days into his presidency. He accepted.
Using a group of 76 participants collaboratively responding using the Unanimous.ai platform, the prediction came in at 42%. 100 days into Trump’s presidency, the official counts of his approval rating were announced – 42%.
Several tests and predictions later, Unanimous.ai went on to win “Best in Show” at SXSW 2018 and top honors in the “AI and Machine Learning” category. While the concept was inspired by nature, the execution involves the integration of artificial intelligence and human intuition that is changing how marketing decisions get made, from product design, to ad testing and innovation mapping.
Swarm sessions are conducted with participants who answer questions in real time and can see how others are responding. Swarms allow “the initial human response system to calmly react to the message, deliberate with like-individuals, and converge on an answer that best meets the needs of that group,” according to Dr. Rosenberg.
Compared to polls and surveys, swarms have stronger, statistically significant results despite much smaller sample sizes.
To further refine its approach, Unanimous teamed up with Oxford University to perform comparative studies of polls vs. swarms, testing the accuracy of group decisions and predictions.
The study compared a poll of 469 football fans with a swarm of 29 football fans in a challenge to predict 20 Prop Bets during the 2016 Super Bowl. Results revealed that the poll results, although based on 16 times the number of participants, was significantly less accurate (47% correct) than the swarm (68% correct).
This represents a significant amplification of intelligence resulting from swarming. When compared to individual poll responses, the swarm outperformed 99% of participants.
The implications for applying swarm intelligence to marketing are profound.
Swarms capture how participants behave, rather than just what they report so brands can gather strategic insight into not only what their customers think, but how they think, capturing the data behind the debate.
Sometimes thought of as “groupthink” or suffering from social influence bias, swarm logic is often misunderstood. Dr. Rosenberg explains the difference between swarms and social influence bias as follows, “If you go to Amazon and you see a product has five stars, you are significantly more likely to give that product five stars. It’s called social influence bias.”
This is the reason why “continuous voting online using up-votes, likes, stars, and shares is a completely flawed method of generating insight.”
Dr. Rosenberg continues, “It’s part of the reason why swarming gives more accurate results than votes, polls, surveys, and focus groups. Everyone is equal. Strong personalities can’t take control. And there are no leaders and no followers – there is just a “meeting of the minds.” To clarify further, we return to the herd.
Evolving not as a form of intelligence, but as a reactive form of protection from predators, herd mentality has a dark side. We humans are innately conditioned to follow the pack as well, which can sometimes work out fine – or have you running blind off the nearest cliff.
Meet the new breed of A.I. - By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy – MI&C
When a brand hires an influencer, what’s goes into the decision? An impressive follower base in the right demographic? Strong engagement and an authentic voice? Cross-over appeal with a top ten hit on Spotify? What if an influencer had all of the above – but just wasn’t quite human?
Meet Miquela, or @lilmiquela as she’s known on Instagram where she’s got a fan base 740k strong. What makes her stand out, besides her top ten hit on Spotify? Miquela is a computer animation. Looking closer you can see it. Overly-smoothed skin, eyes slightly askew and alien-esque.
Despite her lack of flesh and blood, she is just as active on social media as her real world peers, complete with a passion for brands like Chanel, Vans, Supreme and Proenza Schouler. The person behind Miquela however is quite real. She’s a 19 year old LA model, half Brazilian, half Spanish to be specific.
She’s inspired by contemporary artists like Carly Mark, Martine Syms and Kerry James. “In fashion, I look to Isamaya Ffrench, Raf Simons, Sies Marjan and Alexandre Vauthier. I also love Reese Blutstein,” Miquela said in a recent (chat-based) interview with Business of Fashion.
While all-too-real non-disclosure agreements prevent her from saying which brands she’s working with, in true influencer fashion she teases a hint, “I can tell you that I’ve been shot in Chanel, Moschino, Burberry, Versace and Fendi,” she said.
Although her actual name is unknown, @lilmiquela’s identity is everywhere. Vogue, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, and other publications are increasingly covering her. Real earned media, every bit of it.
In an recent Interview Magazine piece the artist behind the avatar said, “It’s an interesting time for reality, it’s being redefined by technology every day— fake news, fake body standards. Authenticity is a rare thing right now.” Miquela added another first to her list this week, she’s the only fictional it girl to ever team up with Prada.
According to Vogue, the luxury brand sees @lilmiquela as the perfect fit for the launch of their Instagram GIFs “featuring logos and prints from the Fall 2018 collection, including some, like the Spring 2010 flame shoe or Spring 2011 bananas, that nod to the Prada archive.”
One question remains. If the reach, authentic voice, and high engagement an influencer delivers are real, does it matter if the influencer isn’t?
Why Facebook still matters in the age of engagement, By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy - MI&C
Given the digital dystopia surrounding recent media coverage of Facebook, you might think the world’s largest social network was on the way to the MySpace pile – sorry Tom, not so. Considering 2 billion people use Facebook every month, talk of the platform’s demise seems a bit premature.
While it’s true that reach of organic content on Facebook has been shrinking faster than Trump’s approval rating, most brands have been shifting their organic efforts to platforms like Instagram for quite some time.
Paid reach on Facebook remains highly targeted and extremely effective, that doesn’t mean organic is dead – maybe just our definition of it.
In the days long before fake news, Facebook rose to prominence as “a social utility that helps people communicate with their friends and family” and that is where it aims to return. Is there a place for brands? Yes. Do they have to work a bit harder to ascribe some value? Yes. Is it worth the hassle? Absolutely. Just ask the billion plus monthly users of Facebook groups.
What Facebook Pages are to brand messaging, Facebook groups are to engagement. As the singular metric driving the algorithm for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, engagement is the new holy grail and it’s all about conversations, ideas, and participation. Engagement in groups is rewarded by the updated algorithm, resulting in higher organic reach and visibility – more reasons for brands to consider the strategy.
While publishers like the New York Times, BuzzFeed and the “Today” show have launched special interest groups, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to connect with their most active customers in a more intimate way. Startups like Peleton are leading the pack.
The Official Peleton rider group of +71k members linked to its page with 334,000 fans is going strong. They use the group to engage customers in conversations, listen to their ideas, and empathize with any challenges.
This level of human to human engagement deepens customer relationships – something quantitatively proven to drive revenue and market growth.
Understandably some brands are wary about diving too deep into Facebook groups for fear of changing algorithms or further attempts at monetization. In the meantime though, the learnings and deeper customer relationships they can build deliver a solid ROI and inspire innovation.
Beyond customer insights, groups are ideal for behind the scenes content and combined with Facebook Live – can be the perfect platform for influencers to do what they do best – engage, inform and entertain. These sessions inspire conversations – driving visibility and informing content strategy as influencers strengthen their role as brand proxies across social.
So before you do an about-Facebook, consider the role groups can play in the mix. It might be time to rethink how your brand uses the platform and switch out a slow moving organic content strategy for something a bit more dynamic.