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Randi Zuckerberg details ‘10 most exciting trends’ of tech, social media


Randi Zuckerberg

The Vocus Demand Success 2014 users’ conference started out with a bang. Literally. Before any speakers took the stage, a drum troupe filled the auditorium with rhythm against a background of neon lights. The performance jump-started the day, setting the tone for keynote speaker Randi Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated, a digital lifestyle website, and a former Facebook executive, to take the stage.

Zuckerberg began by giving some background. The sister of Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, was initially reluctant to join Facebook at first, but after visiting her brother in Los Angeles, she said she was “blown away” by the employees’ passion. She credited Facebook’s success to its demand-led marketing approach, its crowdsourcing—taking the customers’ passion and putting it to work—and an early focus on company culture. Facebook holds regular “hackathons,” high-energy all-nighters with DJs and food trucks where employees work on projects they’re passionate about. Zuckerberg herself used a hackathon to develop Facebook Live, Facebook’s 24/7 news company, where she has since interviewed Katy Perry and President Obama.

Although Zuckerberg has since moved on from Facebook, she said that after taking a break from the frenetic tech culture to have her son, she began noticing the downsides of 24/7 digital access. “It’s really hard to raise children in a digital world,” she said. And yet, the technology available has opened up the world.

On that note, here are some of her key points:

1. The age of the entre-ployee

“There’s now so many ways to be entrepreneurial within a larger company,” Zuckerberg said. Before the digital age, the two main choices were either working for someone else’s company or working around the clock in someone’s garage to start your own. Now, “entrepreneur” and “employee” are not mutually exclusive. Jobs such as social media manager and brand evangelist help employees who may not yet be ready to strike out on their own. Plus, Zuckerberg said, many of the jobs that will be available in the future may not even exist yet but will develop alongside new innovations. She also emphasized the importance of recruiting in new ways and giving employees the resources to experiment, including throwing hackathons (or thinkathons) for your own employees.

2. Think like a media company

“Every single one of us is a media company,” Zuckerberg said. If you have a social media account, then people come to you for media content. Among other examples, she mentioned Red Bull, which has garnered millions of online followers by broadcasting extreme sports events, and Oreo, whose “You can still dunk in the dark” live Superbowl ad tweet was retweeted thousands of times in under an hour.

3. Connections are currency

Zuckerberg predicted that things like tweets and Instagram photos will become a form of payment. Indeed, this is already happening. For example, Frozen Food maker Birds Eye launched a pop-up restaurant in London called the Picture House that lets guests post meal photos online to waive their bill. “They realized, ‘Some of our customers have extreme value in telling their followers about our product,’” said Zuckerberg.

4. Reinventing Retail

Zuckerberg said she thinks “it’s a great time right now to take a risk” when it comes to retail. Companies are reimagining the ways that they can interact with customers—opening pay-as-you-will restaurants, or, in the case of clothing store Hointer, utilizing scanners and robots to bring out products. There are vending machines that now sell Chanel handbags, and one company demonstrated its new Wi-Fi technology by setting up networks named “Steal my WiFi” in order to encourage users to try their networks for free and then buy the product if they liked it.

5. Turn FOMO into JOMO

“FOMO” stands for “fear of missing out”—it’s that feeling that sinks in when you see all your friends post about all the fun they have. Zuckerberg reminded everyone that we are all good marketers, and that we should turn FOMO into JOMO, the “joy of missing out,” which she described as the feeling that “there is nowhere I’d rather be than where I am right now.”

6. The maker movement

Zuckerberg talked about the possibilities of 3D printing, which she said is poised to become a multibillion-dollar industry within a few years. This includes printing (attachable, functional) human ears, entire wardrobes for travel, edible noodles, and even entire houses. On a sobering note, however, this also includes the printing of weapons. “There’s always a flip side,” she said.

7. Life-logging

Zuckerberg said that “life-logging,” or recording every aspect of a person’s life, isn’t just for teenagers who constantly tweet and take photos. The Narrative Clip, for example, is a new wearable device that can take and store a photo automatically every 30 seconds. She also mentioned devices to track health, keep track of children, and even count down to the end of your life, in the case of the Tikker app.

8. The new frontiers: education and health care

With an increasing amount of teaching content online for everything from coding to craft-making, Zuckerberg says that especially now, “there is never any excuse for us to stop learning.” There have also been huge advances in medicine, with “telemedicine” facilitating things like ultrasounds and water testing for people across the world.

9. Gamification for motivation

“Game mechanics are now being applied to every aspect of our lives,” said Zuckerberg. There are alarms that charge your credit card every time you hit snooze and exercise bikes that power laundry machines.

10. Unplug to Refresh

“We really need a digital detox in the society,” Zuckerberg said. She added that many businesses are taking advantage of this, promoting the absence of Wi-Fi as a selling point, which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

With a smile, Zuckerberg delivered her (tongue-in-cheek) closing advice: “You only live once, so be sure to spend 15 hours a day on the Internet desperately seeking the validation of strangers!”

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