One of the lasting gifts of technology in general and Steve Jobs and Apple in particular is not the technology itself but what that technology allows us to do.
I don’t just mean what “problems” the technology can solve. Nor do I only mean what tasks that technology allows us to complete – its function in the world.
While technology does put the proverbial power in the hands of the people to unsettle and disrupt one mature and profitable mega-industry after another, it does something else today – something important:
It lets us express who we are and thus be more of who we want to be.
It’s not just control, it’s expression. The love fans have for their Apple gadgets is not just the behavioral equivalent of chemical dependency, its the recognition that this or that tool enables my ability to be more me.
It’s critical that media in general and radio in particular understand this concept, because the powerless mass is powerless no more. They are not taking control of their media simply because they can, they are doing so because they want to – and because they can remake it in their own image, and with it, themselves.
This is the charm of personalization, after all.
This is why your iPhone has a different face, different apps, and a different case than mine.
This is why short films from nowhere and everywhere rival the best products to emerge from Hollywood.
What is your brand – your platform – doing to let me be more me and less “one of your listeners”?
I have long been arguing that digital platforms are the equivalent of sandboxes – places where consumers play together in the presence of brands. But the most fun play is the play I choose. The play that lets me be me.
Posting a photo? Let me do the caption. In fact, let me post my own photo with my own caption.
Inviting me to produce a TV spot for your station brand? Why? Instead invite me to produce a TV spot about me.
Are you the cool music station in town? Then make your platform the home for local bands.
Are you the News source in town? Then let me get my news from you the way I want, in the flavors I want, and on the platforms I want.
Moviemakers long ago realized that the successful movies are those that we see ourselves in. We live out our own vicarious hero stories in front of the big screen (even if it’s only the big screen in the living room). Likewise, TV programmers are creating social apps that magnify the involvement of the viewer with the show and each other. Because every time I engage with a favorite TV show, every time I play with my tribe in the presence of my favorite brands, I am being more me.
Radio has to stop thinking about what’s good for “the radio industry” and start with the individual experiences of every single consumer, without whom there is no radio industry (yes, I’m talking to you, HD radio and “FM legislated into mobile phone” zealots).
As Jobs himself said:
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try and sell it.
Help me to be more me in your presence.