8 Lessons from Howard Tullman on future tech trends and social media

Last week 1871 invited Howard Tullman, President and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy and accomplished entrepreneur, to discuss the future trends in technology and the power of social media. Tullman spoke about new technologies that are changing the way the world does business; focusing on the influx of data, the Internet has given us about the consumer, the power of games, the secrets to online advertising and the domination of Facebook.

Here are eight of the many lessons that Tullman shared with the crowd:

 1. Context trumps content—if we are not listening it is meaningless
We are moving from the information web to the social web. This critical transformation means that content providers need to be at the right place at the right time to successfully reach its audience. Because Internet users can no longer be anonymous we now know detailed information about our chosen target audience. Tullman says the way to capitalize on this is by enacting ‘smart reach,’ explaining that a constant, honest connection is needed to increase your web presence. This presence will boost the value and utility of your product. The downside? It takes work: a website alone doesn’t count, you need a strong social media presence to succeed at this.

2. The most critical attribute of the Internet is not its immediacy and low cost. It’s how much more we know about the user
In this age, no advertising should be wasted. Because customers are pre-aggregated and there is easily accessible behavioral data one hundred percent of energy and emphasis should be spent on the group that is on the fence regarding your product. Today, privacy is low on the list of personal priorities (especially if you can save someone time, money or make them more productive) making precision marketing an easy task. With the invention of nudge commerce, marketers can now target consumers based on their location. For example, if you are in a grocery store, marketers will not send you a car ad, instead, they will send you a targeted grocery ad. Tullman says that places and locations talking to us in real-time will only become more common as locations are the next dimension of interaction.

 3. Brands are not as important as execution and speed. It takes being first, fast and constant improvement to succeed
Social media is not about saving money. It is about connections and getting data out to users. It is this connection plus the constant delivery of digital content that leads to invaluable consumer data. To succeed in social media you need to love it and create an authentic engagement with the audience. This means taking the time and energy to fully understand available information using free programs like Tweetdeck and Twistori. Tullman used an important example: Words With Friends beat Scrabble at it’s own game by being the first, fastest, most innovative and providing a necessary social connection.

 4. Gaming rewards, accomplishments and measurements of success are important validators
Games are how business and commerce are currently taking place on the web. They have a massive reach and are able to accurately target their audience, measuring their performance at a low cost. The most shocking part is the players of these games are not just children: more than 50 percent of them are adults. What have these games taught us? “Games signal the end of fixed pricing. Every product and business will now have to offer products across a continuum that the consumer will dictate,” Tullman said. And this is a good thing for business: instead of guessing the exact price for a product that comes out in two years they can now offer a micro-transactional model with an integrative spectrum of engagement, depth, sophistication and levels that will allow you to sweep in a broader and larger population.

5. You can no longer suppress or ignore online consumers: they need to be addressed
Today’s consumers are smarter and faster. They complain effectively and efficiently online giving power to the people. Conversations on social media can no longer be seen as trivial or dismissible: they are conversations with your customers, clients, consumers and employees. Integrating social media into your business plans helps to create emotional connections, see who the drivers of this conversation are and showcases the mood of the country. Popular examples of companies who effectively listened to the buzz on social media include Netflix with their Qwikster fiasco and GAP with their failed logo redesign.

6. Gamification and sharification are the new behavior drivers on the web
The old philosophy said that a business must save time, money and increase productivity to be successful. Today this has changed: people are driven by status. They want to measure their activities and share them. It turns out that the wisdom of friends is more valuable than the wisdom of consumers. Tullman refers to this change in behavior drivers as the gamification and sharification of the web. In this world engagement and connection are the new currencies.

7. Search should be a window, not a mirror
According to Tullman, Google is toast because of low engagement rates. In January of 2012 users spent 405 minutes on Facebook and only three minutes on Google. Despite Google’s ability to measure 57 things in a single search and their incorporation of the Google Knowledge Graph, Google is stuck looking backward. The search engine will ultimately fail because it works as a rear view mirror and not as a sniper scope like Facebook, he warns. “Google thinks because I searched for something in the past, that search is predictive going forward. Facebook has a much easier job: enormous amounts of people are raising their hands and saying, ‘here’s what I like, here’s what I want, here’s what I’m interested in,’” Tullman said. This is why more than 35 percent of all display advertising on the Internet is on Facebook.

 8. Facebook is the master of modern social media
Because of social engineering like “Facebook Connect” users are constantly turning over their information to Facebook. Thanks to the current fascination people have with what their friends are doing, Facebook has built in filters that give them insights that Tullman refers to as “the best crystal ball.” This extra information gives them the ability to be predictive, leading to hyper-personalization. This means they can target specific audiences cost effectively and accurately measure their success. Ventures like Facebook Marketplace allow for the convergence of identity, proximity, interest, commerce and currency, maximizing its precision and connection. And Facebook will continue to grow. “In this winner-take-all technology world, we all gravitate to the winners: the advertising gravitates to the winners and the traffic gravitates to the winners. People make conscious choices to opt for a specific channel because they cannot spread themselves across everything,” Tullman said.