Curiosity Stop: Innovate or Die – Six things we learned

We Are Social’s Curiosity Stop: Innovate or Die event took place at our London HQ this week, in partnership with Spredfast. If you missed out (or you want to come back for more!), you can sign up for our Social Media Smackdown on 24th February. Tickets are free and available now

This year is the year of Twitter. And Peach. And Snapchat. And long-form content. This year will be the year of a lot of things.

2016 promises to be a moveable feast of digital technology with algorithms, upgrades and new product launches. While there’s no need to hit the panic buttons if you’re not up to speed, it is important to keep trying new things.

This is why on Tuesday evening, a captive audience at We Are Social’s Curiosity Stop: Innovate or Die event heard from some of the big boys of innovation to find out how they are staying ahead of the curve; Sam Woods from Shazam, who has responsibility of managing strategic partnerships and runs the UK business, Matthew Drinkwater, who heads up the Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion and Chris Hurst, who leads on the editorial development of BBC Sport’s interactive services in his role as Digital Development Editor.

So, what did we learn?

1. User behaviour drives innovation
In 2002, Shazam was a service to find out the name of a song; users would dial a number from their mobile phone and hold it to a speaker. In 2016, users can scan beacons, print ads and TV ads to access exclusive content while brands can “own” tracks from their ads, or hijack their rivals’, and promote products and offers within the platform. You see, Shazam listens to its customers – be that the public wanting the best tracks, or the music industry looking for data insight. Shazam makes more than $300m for the music industry each year. Their batch of genius data trend-spotters can identify the hottest new acts in major cities and matchmake them with brands to help reach new audiences opening up new realms of activation and opportunity.

2. Don’t ignore messaging platforms
We’re witnessing the race to be the WeChat of the west according to TalkBe. WeChat, Kakao and Line have each developed a huge user base and they bring with them a whole new world of innovation. Messaging apps are a vital part in speaking to people – 49% of millennials use a messaging app each week and open an app an average of 37 times per day. What would you pay to have that sort of engagement?

From sourcing news stories, to delivering tailored content, to dressing room mirrors syncing with your messaging app and sending your pals photos – the opportunities are endless.

3. Embrace change and know your audience
BBC Match of the Day has been going since 1964 and recently they’ve admitted they felt like it. In the last few years, Match of the Day has embraced social media, integrating it into its live and pre-recorded broadcasts. The average age of a Match of the Day viewer on TV is over 40. On Facebook, it’s 24 and under. The vast difference in age groups across channels has led to MOTD developing a tone of voice and then utilising different aspects of that on various platforms. Broadcasts still tend to be quite formal, Twitter tends to be more of a signposting tool while Facebook is conversational, shareable and more aimed towards a younger, influential audience.

4. If you fail, fail fast
We’re fortunate enough to hear from this guy all the time, but Matthew Payne, Head of Creative Technology at We Are Social spoke to the room about the need to fail fast. Try new things, for sure, but don’t spend too long experimenting. You need to create an environment where you can be nimble and learn quickly if an innovation is going to work.

5. Collaboration is key
The London College of Fashion partnered with Nokia to bring fashion and technology together. Nokia was then bought by Microsoft, but this hasn’t stopped the two industries working together. Fashion and technology are prime examples of industries at once miles apart and close together. Tech in fashion allows companies to explore the latest innovations and make it practical, such as wearable tech. Is it wearable? Washable? Is it durable? Fashion in tech helps companies such as Microsoft get a sexier edge – they can provide the technology behind the best-looking innovations around.

6. We embraced emojinal
We ditched the traditional thumbs up/thumbs down and binned the polls – instead, we got emojinal. Running through the latest innovations from around the world, our writer, Charlotte Miller, asked the audience to give it a ? or a ?. If that’s not the future of consumer feedback, I don’t know what is.