I love watching TED Talks – in fact, several of my year-end emails to my team have included a reference (and link) back to Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.” It’s the perfect watch (and listen) to inspire any department in a business to embrace their ‘gritty’ side to succeed.
I also enjoy watching TED Talks to get a better understanding of the latest trends, including in digital adoption and platform usage. Social media is a constantly evolving field – it’s a rare arena of marketing where the platforms may change over time (bye Vine, hello TikTok), but the overall advice seldom feels too dated. Most businesses do want their content to go viral. There’s recognition that a successful social media strategy relies on creating and consistently posting thoughtful content, measuring performance through KPIs, and engaging with the audience. It’s also increasingly important that all information shared is fact-checked and thoroughly researched from a credible source.
As we enter the 2020s, social media is having its most mindful moment yet. There’s an ongoing fight to protect personal information and the truth. There are more methods to combating burnout – the quiet ring of fire that threatens to engulf many creatives. And there’s also the understanding that social media is not going to disappear from our lives overnight. We’ll continue to use it, embrace it, and spend part of our lives on it.
As such, there must be a strategy for adapting and keeping social in our daily lives. Luckily, these five TED Talks provide a better understanding of the digital landscape we now call home.
1. Eli Parser: ‘What Obligations do Social Media Platforms Have to the Greater Good?’
I pulled the descriptor of social media as our home from this TED Talk by technologist Eli Pariser. The world is currently not in a good place. In the best-case scenario, social media would be used to bring society together, however, social platforms are being harmed by sharing wrong information and the presence of trolls and hackers.
According to Pariser, the conversation should be less about what platforms need to stop doing and more about what we need from them for the greater good. If we give these platforms the power of discourse, what do we get in exchange?
Pariser’s TED Talk reveals that what we think is a platform crisis is really a people problem. These platforms should be viewed as spaces – and physical spaces usually need a bit of structure to bring humans together.
2. Dao Nguyen: ‘What Makes Something Go Viral?’
In 2017, the biggest live video BuzzFeed had done to date “involved a fountain of cheese” according to BuzzFeed’s publisher Dao Nguyen. However, the company experienced a far greater viral sensation with a Facebook Live video of baby goats in an employee’s office. The video, meant to be a birthday joke for an employee named Frank, was delayed nearly 30 minutes as Frank kept encountering obstacles that didn’t allow him to get to his office.
Rather than think about what made the video a hit, the company read the comments section. These comments – all 82,000 of them – helped BuzzFeed hypothesize the thoughts and feelings of the audience. Everyone was excited for what they knew was, eventually, going to happen when Frank arrived. They felt like they were part of a community and it made them happy.
In this TED Talk, Nguyen explores the question of making something go viral. The answer, Nguyen says, is found less in the something – like a cute animal – and much more in what we are actually thinking about, and where we identify.
Is that the job your content is currently fulfilling with its audience, or are you still stuck on the something?
3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt: ‘How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative’
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt begins his TED Talk by revealing that there are two powerful feelings in the world: ‘getting attention’ and ‘paying attention’.
Thanks to technology, we’re able to draw attention to ourselves, and it feels pretty good to be acknowledged and have our voices heard. So, we keep going after this rush – but ultimately, the more effort we put into getting attention, the more unhappy we become.
Why is this? Craving constant attention creates a negative impact on the creative process. You’re working on your craft, but you’re also conscious that whatever you do should be well-received via likes and retweets on social media.
Gordon-Levitt’s Ted Talk tfurther explores how social media platforms like Instagram sell attention, which often leads to becoming addicted to getting attention – and how the best way to keep others from controlling your attention is to pay attention to just one thing.
4. Christiane Amanpour: ‘How to Seek Truth in the Era of Fake News’
This TED Talk between journalist Christiane Amanpour and TED curator Chris Anderson plunges headfirst into the alarming spread of disinformation and misinformation efforts across the globe.
One of the greatest threats to democracy, especially over the last few years, has been the rise of fake news. As Amanpour says, when one can’t distinguish between the truth and fake news, it becomes increasingly harder to solve problems facing our way of life.
Can we find a way to curb fake news, and build (or rebuild) credibility, especially in the social media landscape?
5. Raghava KK: ‘What’s Your 200 Year Plan?’
Take a moment to consider the business or brand you work for. Some of these may be legacy brands, hundreds of years old, others might still be in startup mode. How can you think ahead to one year, five years, 200 years, out into their future – and subsequently your own future at the same time?
This is part of a legacy project artist Raghava KK has established with his wife – trying to come up with their 200-year plan. Naturally, this kind of plan means thinking beyond yourself. It’s about considering the legacy that you’ll leave behind and what type of impact you want to leave in your personal and professional worlds?
In this TED Talk, Raghava details how to outline a 200-year plan for your life, what should expire in that plan, and how the decisions you make now contribute to the memory of yourself after you’re physically gone – but live on in the digital world.
Taking the time to sit and think with these TED Talks will help provide you with more perspective on the modern digital landscape, and not just the immediate impact and response elements of what you do, but the broader shifts happening within society, and the role these platforms play within that.
Understanding this can help you develop more effective, proactive strategies to improve your processes – in business and in life.
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