The 104 West Denver team spent two days with over 400 social insights leaders from the world’s largest brands and agencies at the Now You Know™ Denver Conference. We heard from a diverse group of the greatest minds in social, including professionals from AOL, Edelman, Twitter and Hootsuite, and each of us returned to the office with some very useful knowledge. Here are a few of our top takeaways:
One talk by Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford, really blew me away. Bostrom is known worldwide for his work on the risks of superintelligence and, though it may have been a bit intimidating, he really put the effects of artificial intelligence and machine learning into perspective.
One example he used was that of a paper clip factory. If you told a superintelligent machine to make as many paper clips as it could, it would probably work fine for a while. Until it learned more ways to make paper clips, such as creating more factories, allowing the intelligence to rapidly continue to advance. If not contained, eventually the world would consist of nothing but piles and piles of paper clips. It was funny to compare something as simple as a paperclip to intelligence this complex, but the narrative really gave me a good grasp on how complicated these technologies can be. One of our clients, Magisto, leverages artificial intelligence, so it was helpful to take a step back and breakdown this complex technology. It was also a good reminder that sometimes simple is better when trying to explain something to media.
On the second day we heard from the Executive Vice President at Edelman, Pauline Draper Watts. Watts allowed us to explore the present state of trust through the lens of the Edelman Trust Barometer. The session was extremely interesting, especially when she started discussing trust in media. We learned that consumer trust in traditional media is down and leaked information is considered even more credible than a company press release. As a communications professional that works with media to tell brand stories, it was interesting/slightly scary to learn that consumers consider official sources suspect. As an industry, we need to keep this low level of trust in mind when determining the best strategy and tactics for telling our client’s stories.
The session titled, ‘Social Truth: Revealing what Truly Matters to Customers,’ was one of my favorite talks. Misia Tramp, VP Customer Experience Strategy and Insight at Metia, talked about how critical it is to understand how to use unstructured data to ensure a 360 degree view of audiences. Her session elaborated on the importance of discovering the full truth about your customers. Tramp also discussed how brand strategies and tactics to please customers have changed. For example, customers no longer want to be surprised with things like a free baseball cap from their bank. Instead, they want brands to focus on minimizing customer efforts. The session was a great reminder to look beyond the data. As an agency that leverages data-driven programs for many of our clients, we were reminded to look past the numbers to discover the full truth and in turn, consider the best narrative to share with our target audiences.
In an era of “fake news”, I was excited to learn about how consumer insights and research will impact our daily lives. As content creators, data plays a significant role in our clients’ narratives. I was thrilled to listen to Paul Siegel, data scientist for Brandwatch’s “When Numbers Fail: The Dark Side of Data” session. While exploring a few real-world consequences of overly simplistic metrics, Paul elucidated how tools from information theory and statistics can help us tell the right stories.
It was a great reminder that brand stories have a lot of components and sometimes, as communication professionals, we need to flash back to our statistics classes to help us better understand the story we want to tell. From interesting presentations to an insane hail storm, I’m grateful that I attended the 2017 NYK conference.
The conference was a great opportunity for the team. With so many knowledgeable people in one place it was impossible to not be inspired and eager to learn more. After two days full of incredible, insightful sessions, we were ready to put our new knowledge to good use. We’ll be in the office if you need us!