Keynote: Josh Spear on social media FTW!

By: Heidi Schneigansz

Josh Spear likes to say he is ‘from the internet’. He is a digital nomad in the true sense of the word. He spends most of his time travelling around the world – he has literally visited 12 countries in the last 30 days!

He started his keynote with a little bit about him: He once told his parents he wanted to ‘sell ideas’. So, in his freshman year of college, he started a blog, within a few months, advertisers came flooding in. This led to an investigation about digital marketing and what success looks like, which in turn led to the birth of his digital consulting company. Undercurrent strives to solve complex business problems with a digital worldview. He’s consulted to some of the largest companies in the world and they listen to him because he believes the Internet is not about technology, it’s about human beings.

He is obviously one of those, he actually danced around the stage to a video of a ginger cat playing a keyboard FFS! Josh taught a room full of Internet geeks about the origins of the memes we spend our days sharing. And then he Rickrolled us.

I, for one, didn’t know just how influential 4chan is. I knew what it was, I just didn’t know what it’s done for us. Apart from the obvious LOLCATZ, 4chan represents the zeitgeist of the connected world. And that’s scary.

Spear says that sites like 4chan prove that the web must change the way we communicate and market, that getting excited about a 1% click-through rate on a banner campaign is getting excited about a 99% failure rate.

The average person has so much media being thrown at us everyday that we have effectively become air traffic controllers of information. Are we even absorbing anything anymore? We need to stop and ask “OMG, who am I? Why am I here? What have I become?” Imagine a whole world of people who have grown up taking the technology that overwhelms us today for granted? How should we be communicating to the future captains of industry?

According to Josh, “disruption is the only path to success”. Do things differently, cut through the crap and communicate to people the way they communicate with each other. There are rules and norms of the world that can’t be understood unless you participate. Companies need to realise that people drive culture, not brands or advertising, that digital is about shared interests and people aren’t one dimensional.

I wish Josh Spear wasn’t getting on a plane tonight to New York. I wish he would stay and teach this to big brands in Africa. We need it.