Published in Communicatieonline 2 February, 2014

We live in a super-connected era. In fact we are so digitally connected with everything and everyone – the whole day long – that a counter-trend is emerging. The result of this stressful situation is a growing need for disconnection – including going offline – and anonymity. Because of this, we are seeing more closed networks: small, limited groups of like-minded people. Networks created for and by people who share the same passions, culture, ideas or occupations. Both online and in real life. This goes further than the idea of wanting to be part of something because of a need for status or affirmation. This comes out of a striving for personal growth, self-fulfilment and increased awareness. Viewed from that point of view, seclusion or isolation is very natural. You want to spend your energy and time as much as possible with people you can really connect with.

Slow is the new fast

Influencers and opinion-leaders would like to discover this for themselves. To be the first. And keep the best bits for their close circle of friends. Because of the simplicity and transparency of sharing on the Internet, this is becoming increasingly difficult. The process has been accelerated enormously. With one press on the “share” button, you can share everything with all of your friends, and their friends too. But here too the technicians are working on solutions that will enable you to share selectively. The Web will become more intelligent, or rather “semantic”. If you want to compete effectively as a brand, you have to know what type of content resonates. To see what is shared by the influencers and what is not. Quality rather than quantity. Myth and mystery rather than transparency. Slow instead of fast. In terms of engagement marketing, this means a high-quality reach in a specific niche group rather than a scatter-gun approach via Facebook ads and events.


The increasing demand for anonymity is also being boosted. We want to protect our privacy now that cookies and big data are part of our daily lives. Do we still want to make all of our details available to third parties? We are more inclined to accept brands that are valuable, that have reciprocal importance, rather than those that approach us simply for reasons of profit and intrude on our private space. In other words, the future is for the brands that present themselves subtly. For example, LVMH is the initiator of the storytelling platform Nowness. One of their strengths is that LVMH is not visible on the site; you are simply inspired by a shared passion.

Creating momentum

We can learn a lot from initiatives in art and culture. For example, every month the cultural embassy of the Lloyd Hotel holds the Night@TheRedBar in their hotel bar, which is entirely decorated in red. The point behind this is that a small club of free-thinking people will create a surprising evening with unimagined performances. Friends are invited personally, who, in turn, may introduce their own friends. This creates a chain effect, resulting in an intimate circle of friends. The more intimate, the better. Neither does the Lloyd Hotel report these meetings, making the evening – and the moment – more special. See the site of the Cultural Embassy of the Lloyd Hotel for other, radical, often cross-border experiments.

It’s about seeing but not being seen

Mediamatic in Amsterdam held the exhibition FACELESS on loss of face, temptation, surveillance and privacy. According to curator Bogomir Doringer, anonymity is becoming increasingly more attractive; images without faces integrate people and are seductive. The exhibition also hosted about 100 works by nationally and internationally renowned artists such as Hester Scheurwater, Marina Abramović, Jill Magid, Philip Vogelenzang and Aram Bartholl. The jewelled masks of Maison Martin Margiela were also shown. The Maison Martin Margiela has based its entire concept on our hunger for ambiguity. This includes the mysterious absence of the designer himself and the minimalistic white work coats worn by all the personnel. Margiela’s idea of covering the faces of the models during the show was a statement against today’s top models and the increasing superficiality of adhering to the ‘standard’ celebrity look.

For your eyes only as USP

If you want to reach opinion leaders and influencers through a PR or content marketing campaign. It is becoming ever more of a challenge to fight against the speed and transparency of the Net in order to safeguard the magic of seclusion. Don’t be so quick to send everything to everyone; build something and grow it. You create pull through scarcity and seclusion. That ensures magic. The longer you keep such an experience exclusive, the longer and more intensive is the effect of that magic. In that regard, Facebook is so 2013! Welcome to the magic FYEO Year 2014.