I am very excited to announce the launch of the new RobotSpaceship Podcast, a weekly bilingual German / English language format, about all things technology, innovation and living the digital lifestyle.
Along with my host, Dr. Oliver Kemmann, CEO of KEMWEB, we discuss the latest tech trends and topics of the day and how they apply to our lives, our business, and our society.
In Episode #1 we talk about the new podcast format, the RobotSpaceship Magazine and various topics from our new RobotSpaceship Trend Report for 2020. Join us in the discussion, subscribe to the podcast and let us know what you think!
Update: The following is an article I wrote prior to the 2016 Presidential Elections. It discusses the state of social media momentum at that time based on each candidate. I think overall, my estimations were pretty relevant.
We are at a very critical time in history and the result of the upcoming US elections could have DRASTIC effects on both the future of our country and the world. The decisions in November could mean the difference between peace, security, economic prosperity or even, depending on the political climate of your particular country, life or death for you and your family. Things are that serious.
The time has come to ignore the cat pictures, the Oscars or whatever Kanye says and pay very close attention to the important topic at hand. It is time to take action and to take responsibility for your actions.
What I want to talk about here is a social strategy that will help your candidate win the election in 2016 and it’s very simple.
You do want them to win, right? Well, if so, keep reading.
Social Media is a Powerful Tool, But…
Social media is currently the primary driver for expressing, changing & manipulating public opinion on a global scale. What we do and say on social media has tremendous power and can directly effect how people share and develop opinions.
In this case, how it effects voting decisions.
The dark side of social media and politics is that what we say on social media is analyzed by government organizations, financial institutions, PR firms, corporations and most importantly, political parties to identify patterns of opportunity using software algorithms and analytics tools. Based on what they discover, they use either teams of people or automated software (bots) to manipulate social momentum on a mass level to promote their business or political agendas.
Despite the powerlessness we can feel by such a massive, corporate-political machine, social media still offers us a great advantage. What I am talking about here is the basic human interactions and opinions with which we can share between friends, family and social connections.
It’s the power of persuasion with people you have personal connections with and who trust your opinions.
Think, Before You Share!
I would encourage everyone to think very seriously about what you post on social media right now regarding politics and how it could potentially impact election results.
One simple post may not seem like much to you, but on a mass, collective level, it has a lot of power.
Unfortunately, WHAT you post, regardless of your intentions, also might have powerful reverse effects.
It begins with a simple process of repetition, where the brain begins rewiring itself to release certain chemicals based on a seeing or hearing repeated phrases, actions or stimulus. We see this in marketing with brands such as the red color of Coca Cola, aligning a perfume with sexual imagery, an annoying catchy melody in a terrible pop song, or in this case, political names and slogans.
Conditioning is a core tactic in hypnosis, brainwashing & propaganda, which over time, physically changes the brain chemistry so that it builds patterns of alignment & dependency to whatever has been repeated, even if the subject of the repetition is negative.
It is the first step in building an addiction.
In regards to politics, simply by repeating a candidate’s name, political slogan or sharing a MEME, even if it is negative and you oppose them, causes a conditioned response that gives leverage to that candidate
Sometimes negative MEMEs are even intentionally created to generate exposure to a brand because just by repeatedly seeing a name or image, creates subconscious patterns in people’s brains in connection with that brand or candidate.
The reason is that even a strong connection to a repeated “negative” creates a stronger bond than a non repeated “positive.” The result is that the brain becomes more comfortable by the chemicals it creates by being surrounded by the negative than the confusing, discomfort it feels when faced with the unfamiliar positive.
These patterns of alignment create herd mentality, which then becomes a social norm, which leads to people accepting, or at least living with the idea of a candidate that they don’t support.
We are literally building and spreading a chemical addiction to them on a mass scale, even if we hate them.
Here’s a simple example of how much conditioning is happening per candidate as of the time of this post. Despite political opinion, the numbers make it pretty clear who is in the lead, just by sheer volume.
Not happy with those results? Then you have to change the momentum. Here’s how:
The point here is to understand what is happening and don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Resist the urge to participate in the addictive skinner box mentality of sharing every little political “ha ha” moment on social media. Use it as an advantage, not as a virus, not as your controller.
Here’s how to apply this to social media and politics:
If you want your candidate to win, then don’t contribute to building patterns of momentum for the opposition.
Stop posting the names of the opposition and reposting their negative material. Let people know the name of the winner.
Build strong patterns by focussing only on who you want to win and only post positive info on them.
Fear is a stronger motivator than pleasure. (Sucks but it’s true.) Don’t focus on how bad the opposition is. Instead focus on the benefits of how your candidate will protect from the bad.
Create your own posts, MEMEs and hashtags and share them instead of reposting others. If you don’t do it, the bots will and they sometimes have an alternative agenda.
Follow your candidate. Unfollow the opposition. Post about them often. Numbers count.
Use every social platform at your disposal. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, pinterest, forums, chats and messengers, dating sites, etc. Any place where you can potentially reach a lot of people. If it is on a personal and emotional level, even better.
Make #hastags that promote your candidate, not the opposition.
Spread your message globally. Some countries dont use or have access to the same social platforms we use in the west. China uses WeChat and Weibo for everything. In Japan, Line is popular. Global opinions matter.
Don’t contribute to the problem, contribute to the solution. Generate positive patterns that build strong chemical bonds which align to your chosen candidate. In a world where we feel powerless to determine world affairs, we still hold the power of our connections and our ability to influence them.
Thats how you win with technology and thats how you win elections.
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If you like this post, then please share it or retweet it using the hashtag #howtowin2016
Let’s see what happens and best of luck in the elections.
According to a recent article on Singularity Hub, the CTO of Cisco recently quoted that the upcoming Internet of Everything (IoE) will be a $1.9 Trillion opportunity over the next decade.
At CES 2015 Keynote speech, Samsung announced that by 2020, all of their products will be Internet of Things (IOT) capable. Since they currently manufacture around 20 products per second, that means in 5 years (or sooner) there will be millions of IOT devices, all connected and gathering data about us.
And Samsung is just one of many…
TVs, mobile devices, toothbrushes, refrigerators, thermostats, lightbulbs, electrical outlets, vibrators, the clothes we wear, the vehicles that will drive us, the vehicles that will deliver our stuff, the lamp posts, the public utilities, the paint on the walls, our pets, our plants, our kids, and even the invisible wifi spectrum that floats around us, all will be gathering data.
Most of them already are.
Every aspect of our lives is being recorded and analyzed. Our needs, our desires, our health, where we go, how we feel, who we like, who we don’t like, what we do, what we say, what we buy, what we don’t buy, all will be analyzed by systems that will process our data and attempt to deliver targeted & contextual experiences back to us.
Privacy is a thing of the past. There will be no secrets. Everyone will be naked on someone’s TV. Lying will be impossible.
The Internet Will Come to You
With so much context gathering tech surrounding our daily lives, the role of a website as a destination will no longer be relevant. Arguably, it already has.
In the future, we won’t need to search Google because contextually relevant content will come to us. The internet will fade into the background as an omnipotent, invisible layer, just as electricity or running water did in the past.
For a while, we can assume that it will be insanely spammy. Combined with augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D holograms, things will start to become an overwhelming hallucination of multimedia ads and notifications injected into all aspects of our lives.
Media will be projected everywhere. 3D avatars and monsters will jump out of your burger, follow you down the street, be your companions and/or sell you insurance.
(This video below of a 7D cinema experience in Dubai might give you some idea of what that world could look like.)
Quiet Filters & Digital Prozac
The need for filters will become necessary for survival. Simple, daily tasks like walking down a busy street will become overwhelming. We will need Digital Prozac.
Luxury services will appear that filter only the “organic” healthy data to protect us from the “junk food” data that will fly out from all directions. We will pay a premium for the silence we currently take for granted.
Pop culture fashion & lifestyle choices will be based on which data filter you pick.
Over time, the systems will evolve and be so dialed in, that every action we take will have the most desired contextual reaction delivered to us. The systems will become so smart that they will predict things that we didn’t know yet. We will allow the system to have more and more control because without automation, we could lose our ability to function.
Our brain chemistry will permanently be rewired for constant distraction and constant entertainment. (it already is…) Turning it off will create withdrawals similar to quitting smoking or kicking heroin.
Getting hacked could make you insane or physically harm you. We will pay higher insurance premiums to insure we stay normal, healthy and alive, not just as a means to get paid when something happens.
Autonomous Vehicles, Transportation & Shipping
Autonomous driving will become a huge opportunity for relaxing and hands free media consumption. As we sit back in these robot cars and consume content, (rolling movie theaters, offices, hotels, restaurants, brothels) the drones will take us to work, remind us of tasks, deliver our food, watch our children, clean our streets, care for the sick and injured and hunt down criminals.
They will make life or death decisions based on who pays the highest insurance. Drivers licenses, traffic accidents & parking violations will become a thing of the past.
Swarms of autonomous vehicles run by a central, corporate transit system will chain together like freight trains or break off into small personal taxis.
Automotive manufacturers as well as the transportation, travel, postal and shipping industries (any industry involving robot cars, trains, airplanes cargo ships, tractors, trucks, buses, etc) will at some point all be disrupted and forced to merge to become one, giant, autonomous shipping industry, focussing on transporting people and things.
(At least anything organic that can’t yet be 3D printed on location.)
Branded Neighborhoods & Cities
In the short term, there will be a chaotic mess of aggregating devices and software that all attempt to capture the data and compete for who owns the core experience. There will be a lot of broken, fragmented experiences, hype and a lot of money will be spent and wasted.
As the systems evolve, the big player data platforms (GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) will buy up the most successful companies, and continue to evolve into mega, lifestyle based, entities that will eventually control entire communities, economies and could influence political structures.
Based on copyrights and digital rights management, your neighborhoods and cities will be determined by your choice of Apple or Google. They will own the homes, the devices, the transportation, the entertainment and the utilities. All will be reliant on being logged in to some larger platform and system, all controlled by GAFA.
Because of DRM, you will own nothing. Nobody will need to (or be able to) own a car or a home, only rent it. Your whole life will be one big subscription plan.
With so much monopolization and automation of every aspect of culture & civilization, the only areas left for control will be real estate, both in the wifi / communication spectrum as well as physical land and natural resources.
Jobs & Business of the Future
Since many of our jobs will be replaced with automation, our earning potential will be based on our ability to do creative or humanist tasks that can’t easily be replicated with artificial intelligence or robots. Our activity will generate both income and energy that can be sold or traded back into the system.
Everything we do will have the potential to be gamified and income earned from these gamified actions will replace our salaries. Every action we take will be collecting points that can be exchanged for goods and services, both physical and digital, in sub layers of micro economic marketplaces, where modern paper currency is replaced with a multitude of virtual currencies.
Where do we go from here?
For now I am going to stop and use this point as a launching pad for later discussions on more specific topics.
I can honestly say that, based on all that I have seen and experienced, the future looks both exciting and incredibly bleak. Many major disruptive changes will occur in the next few years that could change life as we know it for better and worse. Lots of opportunities, lots of unknowns. In many ways, we are on the verge of a major evolutionary shift.
In contrast to the present, admittedly, the future does seem overwhelmingly negative. I also think that there will be plenty of amazing & positive things on the horizon as well, so I also plan to touch on these things too.
I’ll share more as it comes to me. In the meantime, please comment and let me know your thoughts. If you have suggestions on particular topics related to the future that you would like me to touch on, I would love to hear them.
As a consultant, I am frequently asked to share my opinions on the future of technology & innovation. Typically, this is on a micro level, in context to the needs of a particular client, project, industry or use case.
As is the way with consultants, many of these ideas end up buried in a Powerpoint or research document, never to see the light of day again, once the project is over.
What I feel has been lacking is a larger overview of my thoughts. Some way to get a bigger picture, based on all of the various projects, clients and industries I have been involved with over the course of my career. Some place to document & reference should ideas become reality, or should things change.
I had considered writing book about the future (I still have a lot of books planned) but like most tech related nonfiction books, they take time to write and once published, their information can quickly become dated or irrelevant. A book about the future becomes the present, then the past, very quickly…
My goal is to write a multi-part series of interconnected blog posts about the future, where I touch on different topics. Some lengthy, some short. I’m just going to wing it and see where it goes.
If it eventually turns into a book, so be it. If not, the important thing is that I share ideas in small bursts when I think of them, as opposed to letting them ferment in the back of my mind, useless to the world.
The hope with this series is to both keep these ideas fresh, to inspire new ideas and discussion. At the very least, it will serve as a reference point to look back on and reflect.
Admittedly, this will include a lot of free flowing ideas that might stray off into sci-fi at times, however I feel that based on a lot of current events, a lot of what I write will happen. I’m usually right on a lot of things…
With that being said, I will list all entries below and eventually collect them all on their own page. I will definitely be asking for opinions, so PLEASE feel free to leave comments, share feedback and let me know your thoughts.
Enjoy & see you in the future. (See Below for all the latest posts!)
I did a little experiment yesterday using some strategically targeted hashtags to promote my art on Instagram.
How did it work out? Lets just say the results were instant and dramatic.
BTW, If you are not using Instagram yet to promote your art, you should jump on it! As you will see below, including some strategic #hashtags to your Instagram posts is where the real promotional power is at.
Normally, I would just add two or three hashtags as an afterthought just to get the images positioned and seen. Since my work is primarily pin-up, I would use: #pinup #pinupart #vintage & #retro but would normally stop there. Just by doing so, I would get a couple likes and followers. First, a few immediately, then one or two a week as the exposure trailed off. Nothing spectacular, but they worked ok.
After reading a post over on Art Marketing Resources, I decided to take their advice on using some popular artist related hashtags and put them to the test.
Obviously, you can add whatever hashtags you want, however, the ones that primarily interested me were hashtags related to lists where art buyers might be regularly and casually browsing. In particular, hashtags that are related to buyers who might be looking for ideas for decorating their homes, and more importantly might be inspired to see and purchase art prints.
This was the real “AH HA!” moment.
The strategy behind this is targeting hashtags based on where the BUYERS are, not just the artists or fans. My feeling on this is also that you want to use hashtags for lists where people really do want to browse for inspiration, not just random related hashtags that people add to posts to be funny.
Within a 24 hour period of adding these, I received 92 likes, 7 new followers and 2 mailing list signups. This was all done by updating old art posts with more hashtags. As I type this 2 days later, my Instagram notifications are still going off.
You can experiment by either adding all hashtags at once for the “big bang” effect, or try adding a couple each week to stretch out the duration. Not sure yet which approach is best but, so far, the second option seems to be working well. It also makes it more manageable to keep posts visible during peak Instagram usage times. (Still researching and experimenting with what the peak usage times actually are)
I’m going to continue to experiment and I’ll be sure to post more results as they happen.
Do you have any favorite power hashtags? If so, feel free to share.
I have been doing a bit of research about which products sell the best on Zazzle, so here are a few thoughts.
One key aspect of a successful Zazzle product is context. This is a topic that I discuss quite a bit with my consulting clients and is an increasing focus for most digital marketing strategies, both now and into the future. (Big data, the internet of things… it all relies on context)
Context is defined as:
“The parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning”
In other words, context, as it applies to a Zazzle product, is the primary activating reason or reasons for why a product exists and why it sells.
Usually, people buy things because it serves a need. Yes, sometimes it really is just impulse (which I will discuss in another post) but typically, the reason is some level of need for the item.
This is also a big roadblock that many digital artists get hung up on when getting started. Understandably, we artists put a lot of love into our art and want to share it with the world. We create a Zazzle store, upload our beautiful art onto a bazillion products hoping that we will sell tons, then get discouraged when we sell nothing.
The problem is not that our art isn’t amazing. Zazzle is filled with tons of amazing art, but the reason that a lot of it doesn’t sell, is because it lacks context.
The Ah HA! Moment
A big AH HA! moment was when I read a blog post over on the travel blog PassingThru.com (great blog btw!) where they list their top selling products.
Product number one is this postcard of an old trailer.
Certainly a photo of a trailer would not be something that most people would race to pull out their credit cards for, but when you add the text “We have a new address” over the image, it instantly adds a whole new level of context to the product.
Suddenly, the postcard solves a problem. It provides a reason why someone might want or need to buy it and why someone who receives it might think it is funny.
Remember, Zazzle is a huge marketplace of generic items. The only differentiating aspect is the paint job. (Your art)
Adding context to your products creates a solution to a problem. It ads value where there previously wasn’t any. It takes a commodity and makes it a luxury item.
With that being said, one of the most important aspects of Zazzle is customization. If you look at their list of best selling items, these are primarily customizable items, such as wedding invitations, greeting cards, business cards, and other types of paper products.
Yes, people buy these things because they have cool art on them, but more importantly, people want to add their own personalized information to them.
Using Market Samurai (my favorite SEO research software) I did a couple searches for both Zazzle & personalized gifts. As you can see, some of the top keywords that came up were a variety of invitations. This seems to be a good indication that there is a general affinity for these keywords in relation to Zazzle.
On both the Google Trends Tool, and Market Samurai, the keyword “Personalized” seems to show up as a much stronger search term then “Customized”. I assume the phrase “Personalized Gifts” is a more contextual phrase because it gives a purpose for why someone might want to purchase them.
As a side note, I stumbled across a great blog called Five Green Lizards where the site owner, Kim, discusses quite a bit about how some of her top selling products are wedding invitations. Just another confirmation that seems to affirm that this is a hot selling topic.
Time of year is definitely a key factor that effects sales. There are peak seasons for selling personalized items, which tend to be December (Christmas) and Early Summer (May to July) which I assume correspond to peak wedding season or wedding planning season. We all know Christmas is the peak sales month, but May is the more interesting factor here.
If you look at the results from Google Trends you can see the seasonal peaks which are compared to both zazzle and personalized gifts.
I made a couple interesting discoveries while cross referencing some of the top selling categories as well. (I am not sure if these are due to economic factors or cultural factors or what…)
1. Over time, there is an apparent decline in searches for invitations, weddings & business cards and a rise in the searches for phone cases. Phone cases are also on Zazzle’s list of hot selling items.
2. There is a very slight increase in searches for “baby shower invitations” in relation to a decline in “wedding invitations” however “wedding” seems to be a much higher searched keyword. “Wedding” vs “baby” seems to indicate this trend as well. Admittedly, this is also based quite a bit on current events, such as celebrity babies and royal weddings, so the reality of how this effects sales is unclear.
3. “Baby related gifts” seem to be trending higher then “Wedding gifts.” as well as “gifts for him” and “gifts for men” seem to be on the rise as well.
Another VERY interesting trend I discovered was the rise in searches for certain items based on different countries & languages, in this case, primarily Spanish.
The keywords: “invitaciones” and “baby shower invitaciones” show very interesting possibilities.
Two important ways to optimize for this is to both, keyword your Zazzle items for different languages, as well as to create items that are targeted for certain languages or cultures.
Sales success on Zazzle relies on a strategic approach which is based on the taking advantage of the key strengths of what Zazzle offers. This being: the personalization factor.
Keyword research is also very important and I would recommend learning how to do the research as well as how to optimize your products and traffic sources for what you discover. It’s a big game of detective, but if done properly, it will definitely be to your financial advantage.
So, to answer your question, what sells on Zazzle?
I would say that, in addition to all kinds of random stuff, it’s a safe bet that it is a lot about context, personalization, baby shower and wedding invitations. I would also pay attention to growing trends which are both phone cases and optimizing for other languages, especially Spanish.
If your art can compliment these genres, you will definitely have a pretty decent chance at success.
I’ll continue to share my discoveries. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts, so please share them in the comments.
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