SAVE THE DATE: 21 MAR 2006, Twitter was founded…

Sanza-02Columnist: Sanza Bulaya  
Sanza's Beyonder Story
Stephane-02Columnist: Stéphane Ferrero
Stéphane's Beyonder Story

It happened in March….

SB: How do you measure things?

SF: I use tools to measure things: it could be a ruler for distance, a thermometer for temperature, a weighing machine for weight…. For example, when I am shooting in the studio, I use a light meter. It’s a simple tool that indicates the amount of light needed for every flashlight I use. In fact, it’s a key tool for every photographer because it provides key information to make a good photograph.

SB: I understand…. Measurement is a necessity in your work. If I’m not mistaken, “measurement” is something beyond photography; I can say that most of us used wristwatch to measure time. Today, measurement is changing because technology provides new tools and devices to measure things. Do you have an Apple Watch?

SF: I see what you mean. I don’t have any connected watch, but I am aware of that trend. Everything is connected: this is the new world we are living in…. Speaking of that, do you know that 10 years ago in March 2006 Twitter was created? Think about it. It has been a decade that instant messages, also known as “tweets,” have been used to create, report, and share information or news.

SB: That’s blow-minded to look at connected devices we have around us, and to realize that we have become so dependent in just one decade…. It makes me think of something related to “measurement.”

SF: What is it? What can we measure with Twitter? Twitter is not a tool….

SB: This is exactly what we are talking about. Nowadays, people use it as a “measurement.” The other day, I was reading an article about this team in the US making some research about the use of tweet messages to measure the speed of news dissemination in a specific area. It’s insane! By following the growing number of “hashtag” used, we have got a clear picture of a phenomenon development. In other words, this is a real epidemic effect, which provides an amount of critical information to anyone who has interest in trend development or trendsetting analysis. From a scientific point of view: this is brilliant!

SF: Very true, Twitter is one of the most popular social media. In 10 years time since March 2006, it has been the voice of a large number of users…. Like it or not, we have entered the social media era. Together with Twitter, many other social media have emerged and become part of our lifestyle. It’s funny to realize that during the 20th century, we considered media as the 4th power after the legislative, the executive and the judiciary power. Today, many things have changed in the way that media becomes the sole power. Everything is media driven!

SB: You really think so?

SF: Do you know the fashion luxury brand Burberry?

SB: Yes I know that British label….

SF: For their latest perfume campaign “This is Brit”, Brooklyn Beckham has been appointed by the brand as the advertising campaign photographer. In case that you are not familiar with that name, Brooklyn Beckham is the son of the famous ex-footballer and the fashion icon David Beckham, and the ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham who happens to also be a fashion entrepreneur with her own label. You see, Brooklyn Beckham is someone in the industry, simply because his parents are elevated to the higher social rank of “celebrity” people. In addition to his family background, it’s important to know that Brooklyn Beckham is only 16 years old….

 

David Beckham, centre, on the front row with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, left, and Brooklyn Beckham, right Reuters / Photo Source: http://goo.gl/azfgsQ

 

SB: Seriously? In short, you are saying that a 16-year-old photographer with no proven experience in the industry is in charge of the Burberry perfume advertising campaign? I have always been convinced that talent has no age…. But ain’t so sure that big brands such as Burberry share the same view.

SF: What I meant is, the reason why a well-established fashion luxury brand bet on a kid for shooting their advertising campaign is because success is guaranteed.

SB: Wow, I am a bit confused here….

SF: Let me explain myself. Being the son of David Beckham and Victoria Beckham means being related and connected to famous people. Today, there are very few celebrities who are not using social media to engage their fans. Via their celebrity status, David and Victoria Beckham can attract an amazing number of “followers” who want to grab a moment of their idols’ life. Thanks to social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Periscope, to mention a few, celebrities can interact with their audience and share videos, pictures, moments of their glorious existence with fans. A thought, a comment on today’s weather, can become a tweet message being relayed by a plenty of followers across the world via mobile phones. As you can imagine, this is a great power to reach out many people in a very short period of time. Back to what we discussed in the first place, you now can realize that the best way to measure your impact on the audience, is to use Twitter or any other social media as a metric….

SB: I got you now…. Twitter is the “measurement” to evaluate how many people use a “hashtag”, how fast this “hashtag” can be disseminated and re-used with an epidemic effect. At the end of the day, Twitter is simply a tool to follow a trend or even better: to set a trend. From this point of view, it’s easy to understand that Burberry is betting on the audience that Brooklyn can bring to them based on the fact that he takes advantage of his Beckham family background. I have to say, this sounds absolutely well executed from the aspect of Burberry’s communication strategy plan to leverage on Beckham family fame to maximize their capacity to reach the targeted audience in fashion, luxury and lifestyle.

SF: Correct. That new trend for social media explains why a 16-year-old kid can be in charge of such a key project for a big brand. Everything is related to “measurement” to guarantee a successful marketing & communication strategy. Nowadays, many businesses and corporates use this digital marketing strategy via the social media to engage potential clients. It’s purely a new channel to develop business: more instantaneous, more spontaneous…

SB: To me, it’s a phenomenon that is taking place in Art & Culture space as well. Many museums, a lot of art galleries and artists have their own social media presence to engage Art lovers. On one hand, it’s very positive because it allows those stakeholders to shorten the distance between people and Art.

SF: Definitely. And this is something great! Now I will make my time available to go and check an art exhibition because I follow some influencers who report good feedback on that artist’s artwork. Social media becomes a facilitator: bravo!

SB: But at the same time, I cannot stop thinking that the limit is the fact that social media is a cold media: too instantaneous and too spontaneous. For example, people share comments and opinions in a very direct way based on 140 characters message called a tweet. Sometimes, you can even add a photo or a video.… In some situations, to make a judgment in 140 characters could be something challenging.

SF: Fair enough.

SB: What is true in Art & Culture space could be eventually extended to other contexts. The great power of social media is communication, but the problem is that the current main driver for social media has become the amount of data generated and processed to define “measurement” that only serve profit-making purposes. I heard that Facebook and Instagram are offering specific “measurement” tools to companies to achieve such purposes….

SF: Digital marketing… my friend. What is sad is the fact that reality has been twisted. Before the emergence of social media, many people were already aware of the great human necessity to communicate. Actually this is what we do best, communicating….

 

“Heart” by Keith Haring / Photo Source: http://goo.gl/ZIWwJF

 

SB: I feel you. This is the feeling I have experienced when I went to see Keith Haring “Multiplexism” exhibition at the National Taiwan History Museum. Indeed, in the 80’s and 90’s, some artists like Keith Haring put a premium on engaging their audience with no filter. In order to shorten the distance with their artwork, they used the public space as the art venue to expose their perception of life, culture, changes, society and power…. Those influencers made Art & Culture accessible with no device.

“Pochoir Tete de Femme” by Fernand Leger / Photo Source: http://goo.gl/w8dJQJ

SF: Actually, this fascinating trend appeared even earlier than the 80’s…. Let me remind you my friend, that the French painter Fernand Léger was one of the very first ones to start exposing his artwork to normal people in the streets and in his working places. The idea he had: to ensure that “Art is for everybody”. I truly believed that this statement is more powerful than the tool that you use to achieve it. Social media is just a tool and eventually, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are just some “measurements” to quantify a certain number of followers. However, what people do with their tools is more important than the usage of the tool. I guess this is what makes Art a great power. There is no need to follow a technology trend but it’s necessary to understand the underpinning social movement behind.

SB: Wise…. It’s true. After a decade of using Twitter, we have new tools that provide a great map to identify people’s passions and interests. Unfortunately, what we do with those tools has completely distorted reality.

SF: Twitter. Already 10 years.

 

It’s happening in March 2016: Keith Haring “Multiplexism” @ Taiwan National Museum of History – 49 Nan Hai Road, Taipei City 100, Taiwan

 

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