What Is the Difference Between a Fad and a Trend?

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A few years back I crowdsourced a presentation curating a bunch of individual slides contributed by the readers of this blog into a talk about community that I then gave at a conference. It was a wonderfully positive (albeit a little risky) experience.

I’ve been asked to speak at Squared this week. Squared is a Google-led initiative (full disclosure: Google is a client of mine) in partnership with Hyper Island and the IPA designed to address the talent shortage in digital marketing in our industry (a subject I think is critical). It’s described as ‘an ambitious and transformative programme‘ to take graduates at the start of their advertising and media careers through an intensive three-month education designed to accelerate digital capabilities. There’s some amazing people involved includingSir John Hegarty and Jeremy Bullmore. Part of it is about education, part is about inspiration, part is about working on real-world projects, and gaining some good experience of ‘creative, debate-driven collaboration’. I think its a great initiative (check out some of the tweets from the participants). The programme isn’t limited by a fixed structure, and it provides a framework for ongoing support and discussion, as well as an invaluable peer network that will no doubt serve them well as they progress in their careers.

So on Tuesday, I shall be speaking to an audience of 80+ graduates from almost 30 agencies, each with 0-6 months experience in the industry. I shall be talking about content, agility, and the intersection of business, media, and technology. And whilst I’m not planning on crowdsourcing the presentation this time, I do think its a wonderful opportunity to pass on some wisdom from some truly smart people in the industry. 

One of the truly challenging things right now I think is the ability to identify amongst all the noise (and spikes of attention) the trends and shifts that are really important – the ones that mean you need to adapt your strategy – the ones that are really going to change things and make an impact. I think knowledge and skill in this area will be a hugely valuable thing in the years to come, so I’d like to ask for some contributions that I might pass on to the graduates that might help them identify the difference between what’s a fad, and what’s a real trend to take notice of. To make it pithy, let’s try and keep it to less than 140 characters, and I’ll aim to capture feedback I get and also include it in the deck on Tuesday.

As a starter, I really like this quote from Henry Jenkins (which was on the slide that Faris contributed to the crowdsourced presentation): “Our focus should not be on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices”.

You can leave a comment here, or email me, or tweet me your answer before Tuesday PM. So (ideally in 140 characters or less):

How do we tell the difference between a fad and a disruption or trend that really matters?

Contributions/answers greatly appreciated.

Original Post: http://neilperkin.typepad.com/only_dead_fish/2012/03/what-is-the-difference-between-a-fad-and-a-trend.html