Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big-Picture Communications: Be Nimble, Not Land-Locked

Public transportation: In Istanbul, Turkey, it can mean everything from a taxi to a subway to a ferry that carries passengers from the European side of the city to the Asian one. Yes, it is possible to be in two continents at once ... okay, not quite at once, but within a half hour ... in this vibrant city churning with people, places and cultures.

I recently spent a week in Istanbul catching up with an old friend, and I’m still thinking about the incredible 30 minutes we spent traveling over the Bosphorus during our ferry ride to Kadik√∂y. Everything ... the sky, the water, the crowded, overlapping architecture in the distance ... was glowing with that pinkish blue luminescence that happens during the last few moments before sunset. A young man was throwing handfuls of breadcrumbs over the side of the boat, much to the screaming delight of seagulls skimming the wind and light in whatever direction they pleased. Their persistent grace was awe-inspiring, an air dance that matched the tumbling, broken water falling behind them. And somewhere in this place between continents, moving forward seemed graceful, spontaneous, full of possibility and happenstance.

Now that I’m back in my daily world of deadlines and writing and social media-ing, I keep returning to that day on the Bosphorus because it reminds me of a critical truth about communications. We need to be nimble, and ready to change with the world changing around us, a world that can shift within hours, even seconds. Gone are the days when we have time to pin our hopes on something that's overly complicated and keeps us land-locked and unable to jump ship when needed.

Remember the fervor of Facebook Landing Pages and how much companies invested in them through design and links and other bells and whistles? Well, Facebook Timeline is coming to brand pages. We keep telling ourselves that global community is what drives the economy ... but are our companies, colleges and universities exploring the social media that is relevant to audiences overseas? For example, Qzone and Weibo are huge in China, Facebook, not so much. Will BlackBerries stay afloat, when the iPhone, Android and other mobile devices have taken on-the-go communicators by storm? What does it tell us about our priorities in the year ahead when in 2011, people spent more time on mobile apps than they did Web browsing? Is referring to social media as “social” no longer relevant, as we convince ourselves integrated marketing is key to our success? Maybe it should just be called "media" at this point.

The best creativity is by nature often spontaneous. And creativity drives the ideas that are populating the communications world around us, carrying us forward to the next horizon, the next conversation. The good news is that if you miss one idea, you can probably catch another one in 20 minutes or so. The bad news is if the ship has sailed and you’ve invested too much time, money and metrics into a specific system, you just might be adrift.

Here's a Spotify playlist that makes me think of the ride on the ferry over the Bosphorus.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Love this post! I still think about that sunset that day too - it was absolutely perfect! I hope I can another one like that when I have my good we're just dealing with lots of snow and I do not plan on any ferry rides in the near future. =)