“The Metaspace Economy” is the next fundamental global economic transformation.
Breaking through with communications during times of major cultural and economic changes requires a new way of thinking. During these times, experience can be a detriment because it leads to incorrect assumptions around what strategies and tactics will be successful.
I recently saw Edie Weiner, founder of The Future Hunters, speak at a private event where she shared her theory that we’re undergoing just such an economic change. She took us through “The Metaspace Economy” – her premise that due to new technologies, society is shifting and giving rise to a new economy. This economy includes 10 major growth areas that will define and influence the future, such as leveraging time differently, the shift from being “green” to “blue” (putting back more than is consumed), gamification, design thinking as a major differentiator, and much more.
These growth areas are major communications opportunities for corporations, brands and organizations now due to their relevance in people’s lives. For example, the growth area around leveraging time differently includes the feeling that time is speeding up and more should be achieved within a compressed timeframe. Among other concepts, it also includes the economic value of time – time as a new luxury.
Knowing our relationship to time is shifting, and that people need help with this shift, opens many opportunities for communications programs that offer value. There are multiple ways brands can help give people back more of their precious time. For example:
• Use technology to reduce wasted time. A lot of the content people view on social media isn’t of interest to them. Can your brand fix this problem and create a social media aggregator with filters to only show them the things they want to engage with? If that sounds too advanced, the MIT Media Lab is currently working on a project using similar technology to balance political views and sources, so why not apply these kinds of innovations to benefit your brand?
• Remove everyday obstacles eating up your customers’ time. Every week, people waste hours of time on outdated processes, e.g., going to your mailbox so you can sort through, read and recycle mail you never wanted to receive in the first place (let’s not even start on the environmental guilt). Could your brand be the first furniture/electronics/major clothing store to pledge to never send another physical catalog? Or, can you create the first free do-not-mail list that works no matter where you move and lasts a lifetime?
• Offer customers the services of a “time consultant.” Like the above, if you were to map a typical person’s day, there would be inefficiencies everywhere based upon old habits and processes that could be streamlined. A time consultant could come in and fix all those inefficiencies, giving customers their time back to use for more creative and human pursuits, e.g., by unsubscribing people from unwanted emails, installing smart home devices that automatically turn things on and off based on schedules, or automating chores like cleaning and grocery delivery.
We live in complex times, so value-based communications are more important than ever because they build trust with consumers. Time-starved people want to align themselves with brands that share their values and operate with empathy, including offering them something of personal value. The types of programs that will have a lasting impact and build brand affinity are ones with real substance at their core – whether that’s cause-related, taking a stand on issues, or offering real value such as more personal time. With all the cultural and technological shifts underway making the world uneasy, these kinds of transparent and substantive communications are critical for organizations’ long-term success.
Samantha Stark, who has more than 20 years of marketing and PR experience, is a member of Ketchum's technology team in Washington. You can follow her on Twitter @sammystark.