The next speaker for our event series “1871 Talks” was none other than Howard Tullman, labelled by Inc. Magazine as “the most accomplished, best-connected entrepreneur you have never heard of.” A serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, art collector, teacher, lecturer, lawyer, marathon runner, and friend of both Bill Clinton and Tyra Banks, Tullman has done it all. 

Most recently and prominently, President and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, Tullman attracted a room full of 300 eager Chicagoans anxious to hear about his insights on new media trends.

Before Facebook, the primary purpose of the internet was informational. It was principally about anonymous links. However, now that we can post personal social profiles and scroll easily through those of others, the web has become about people. This has had phenomenal implications for the way businesses can interact with and learn from their consumers. Businesses that are not willing to constantly evolve their communication online will quickly be left behind. This is even true for established brands. For example, Words with Friends blew Scrabble out of the water by listening and rapidly reacting to the ever-changing demands of their users.

According to Tullman, social media and technology will shape the future in the following ways:

  • Hyper-personalization: Our laziness to retype information across multiple accounts has sparked the great success of the Facebook connector. Now more than 9 million applications connect thru Facebook allowing marketers and businesses to target everyone cost effectively, making personal data “the oil of the digital age.” You can even personally benefit with sites like ShoppyCat, which recommends gifts for your friends based on their Facebook information.
  • Know-Before-You-Go Data Capabilities: Metrics have become so predictive to the point that there is an 80% likelihood that Facebook can determine which two people will change their status to “in a relationship” from their online activities. Analysts have also determined the number of people who will leave AT&T and typical moods on certain days and times of the week just from analyzing trends on Facebook and Twitter. Thus, businesses will have heightened accountability and confidence in the moves that they make to get ahead.
  • Constant Connection and “Smart Reach”: The location based data (LBS) that is now available has added the dimension of context to business insights. Tullman says now we can “hit people with the right content at the right time and the right place.” Where is my consumer right now? What media outlets are available to me in those places? If a lot of target consumers are attending a sports game,  for example, marketers can take advantage of stadium screens for their advertisements. Israeli company Trendit has melded cell phone data with census data so they can figure out where the crowds are and where the crowds are going. This is unbelievably useful information. It’s not just about the content of your message or the quality of your product anymore. It is about where and how you are choosing to promote it.
  • Connection and Digital Content Delivery: It used to be that when we left home we were unplugged and unaware of the things that were happening in real time. Mobile, tablet, and 3G/4G capabilities have changed that. Mobile has become the best way to connect with people. Even when people are watching TV, 40% of adults are multitasking on another device. Crowd-funding site Indiegogo raised over $700,000 for the Abused Bus Monitor fund from people in all 50 states showing how powerful it can be for people to be connected all the time. In fact, technological sustainability has taken on a sort of razor-cartridge business model. It’s less about the device itself and more about its ability to maintain a constant connection with continuous content delivery.
  • Gamification: Whether it be through Klout’s influence score, Foursquare’s badges or Nike Plus’s monthly workout rankings, brands have found new ways to engage their consumers – with games and prizes. This new “incentivization” technique has great promise for marketing campaigns and engagement strategy.
  • New Types of Networks: People on the streets are trumping the power of our large news institutions with handycams, cell phones, and the power of the web. There are new networks forming around these forums. From the rapid video sharing power of Youtube to the up-voting and down-voting of links on Reddit, people have developed widely dispersed engagements with their content. Understanding these networks and their fluctuations is crucial to developing loyalties with your audience.
  • Seeing is Wanting: Online shopping is an extraordinary convenience in itself, but now we are even looking towards online “fitting rooms” so to speak. Sears allows users to design interactive rooms with furniture they plan to buy scaled perfectly to size. There are even companies that will show you what an outfit will look like on you. This is a melding of digital and tangible that’s incredible.

Although this may seem like a lot to think about, Tullman advises to “start small and scale up as you succeed.” Technology is a vast and pervasive tool that exists to take your vision to the next level, so “stick to your knitting,” the idea that you know best, but make sure to utilize the great social capabilities that tech has to offer.

Thanks again to Howard Tullman for this awesome presentation!

By: Yasha Saxena, 1871 intern

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