Snapchat 101: Selfies, Filters and Emojis, Oh My!

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on May 23, 2016

A few weeks ago, my coworker, Jessica Marpe, and I presented on the wonder that is Snapchat to our amazing W2O Group family, and to our surprise, everyone was joining in on the selfie nation!

For those of you who do not know what Snapchat is or have heard of it, but have absolutely no idea how to use it, then let me give you the low down. Once upon a time, there was a boy named Evan Spiegel who went to Stanford University where he met Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy (Snapchat co-founder and programmer behind the app). Brown was sending a girl pictures and thought “hmm I wish these photos would disappear!” Spiegel heard the idea, loved it and the idea for Snapchat was born, but they were calling it “Pictaboo.” In 2011, Brown wanted 30% equity and ended up being booted out of the company – later, Spiegel and Murphy changed the name to Snapchat.

There’s more to the story, but for now, let’s talk about Snapchat and what it is used for today. Snapchat has become a hugely popular instant messaging app that has become extremely popular with people between the ages of 13-34. Pictures and videos only last for a matter of seconds, and you can edit the photos like you would with Instagram. Within Snapchat, there are four different ways to view and create content: Stories, a compilation of your videos and pictures; Discover, a list of the world’s best publishers content that is hand crafted; Live, a look into the real story coming straight from the fans; and Local, a look into what’s happening in your city right now. As you can see, there’s so much to do and be a part of in this app!

Stories Pic 1

If you are new to Snapchat you may have never seen these, or you have and have no idea what they mean, but in your list of friends you will see emojis next to their names. Each one means something special about each friend – check it out below! My personal favorite is the “you are one of their best friends, but you just don’t feel the same way.”

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You may be wondering why Snapchat would even be remotely interesting to someone who isn’t a teenager, but there is a real business case behind it. Brands LOVE and utilize Snapchat to engage with their audience on a platform that allows them to directly interact with their favorite brand by taking screenshots, discovering secret passwords, and sending replies. Victor Pineiro from AdAge said, “Snapchat offers something unique in the world of mostly-broadcast, feed-centric social media – intimacy at scale.” And he would be correct!

Some examples of brands that are currently on Snapchat are The White House, The Voice, MTV, Ellen, ESPN, National Geographic and Comedy Central. There are many, many more, but sometimes finding these brands takes some research. In the Discover tab, you will find brands that are paying to be on Snapchat exclusively – some of these brands include, MTV, ESPN and The Food Network – these brands are offering content from an editorial function. The Live function is another way for brands to distribute content.

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While Snapchat users are adding their content to the live event they are at, brands have the ability to feature targeted ads within the story – an example of this is the Jason Bourne movie trailer. The brands such as Ellen and The Voice are a little harder to find unless you follow them on other social media channels to learn their Snapchat handle. They are not paying to be on Snapchat, but they are still engaging with users and fans with their own Story (owned channel) like a regular Snapchat user. If you are wanting to find out if your favorite brands are on Snapchat, I would suggest heading over to their Twitter or Instagram page – some brands have changed their profile pictures to their Snapchat icon and they are posting about their Snap name to gain followers.

The final features I will mention are the branded filters and lenses. There are two types of branded filter activations: Community filters and On-Demand geofilters. A community filter can be created for a city, university, landmark or another location that is public. An On-Demand filter are created for events such as a wedding or music festival. With geofilters, brand logos and trademarks are permitted in the filter, unlike the community ones. To access these filters, you must swipe right to see the different features available in your location. These filters are a great way for brands to get exposure at locations all around the world!

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With these filters, brands also have the option to buy interactive lenses that users can access through the facial recognition feature of the app – If you don’t know how to access this, simply hold your finger on your face in the app and the facial recognition options will appear below! These branded filters and lenses allow users to customers how they use brand assets and how they represent their relationship to the brand. If you want to create a filter or lens for your brand, visit their website and follow the steps!

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If you haven’t already guessed, there’s more to Snapchat than meets the eye. I challenge you to take a moment, find a brand or your favorite brand and interact with the brand or some of your friends! Now get to snappin’!

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By: Gage Grammer

Content and Community Specialist at W2O Group. Background in Strategic Communications (PR and Advertising) and Writing. I have a rockin' French Bulldog named Phantom!

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Effective Employee Advocacy Opens the Door for Influencer Engagement

Posted by: in Communication, Communication Strategy, Integrated Communications on May 18, 2016

A lot of my recent work revolves around helping clients get employee advocacy efforts off the ground. Brands are thinking about activating employees and for good reason. They understand that potential customers trust information from employees they know personally more than when it comes from executives or from the brand itself. But brands that focus on pushing content are missing the best part: developing and empowering the internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

Enlisting employee advocates to share content is a good first step. No question that it helps drive awareness and attention to content that brands produce. But in my experience, the real benefits happen when brands take the time to identify their own internal SMEs and empower them to connect to topic influencers outside the company. In other words, while all employee advocates are valuable, not all are created equal. No question sharers make up the biggest base of employee advocates. But, there is value in moving employee advocates up the hierarchy.

Employee Advocacy Participation Distribution

Here are Rules of Engagement I had worked to establish when Dell started doing social outreach back in 2007. Though I made some tweaks over the years, these have remained largely intact. One unlisted rule is to go where the conversations are happening.

Rules of Engagement

So, what does it take to formalize a process? Both brands and employees have a part to play.

The Brand’s Role:

  • Identify strategic topics
  • Identify internal subject matter experts
  • Identify the external topic influencers and build ways for your SMEs to follow
  • Develop training that empowers your SMEs to connect with those topic influencers (RSS feeds, Twitter Lists)

The Subject Matter Expert’s Role:

  • Check with your social team to understand your company’s social media policy (there may be some training or compliance classes you need to take)
  • Follow the topic influencers you already know and those identified by your company
  • Read their content on a regular basis
  • Share their content (add your own context and make sure you give them credit when you do)
  • Add value to conversations via replies on Twitter, comment on their blog, Facebook or LinkedIn groups – wherever the conversation is happening.

I know it is easy to say “add value to conversations.” But what does that really mean? For me, it’s about adding valuable context. Doing it right means you will share knowledge you have in a way that’s helpful to the conversation. It’s about digging deeper into a topic.

To illustrate context, here are three NPR stories:

  • Preview of the Boston Marathon: This was a preview story that ran a week before the Boston Marathon in 2014, a year after the terrorist attack. Rather than just reporting another story about additional security precautions, they brought it to life by profiling a runner named Carol Downing and her daughter Erika Brannock. Erika was near the finish line to watch her mother finish the race. When bombs exploded, Erika was severely injured in the attack. Doctors had to amputate her right leg above the knee. Erika’s still working to recover. But she attended the Boston Marathon a year later to cheer her mom on again.
  • Productivity, Technology and UPS: This makes a mundane topic of workplace productivity a lot more interesting for a geek like me. UPS trucks are loaded with sensors that measure up-to-the-second data for the smallest details. It collects that data in a black box at the back of the truck and sends it to Paramus, New Jersey for analysis. According to Jack Levis, the person responsible for making sense of the data, saving one minute per driver per day saves the company over $14.5 million over the course of the year. All these efficiencies have increase the average number of deliveries a driver can make from 90 to about 120 per day
  • Lab Girl – Hope Jahren: This is a story about Hope’s new book called Lab Girl. Hope Jahren defines a leaf as a “platter of pigments strung with a vascular lace.” She also touched upon the challenges she’s faced as a woman on science. What I liked most about Hope is her ability to communicate scientific terms in terms a non-scientist would understand. Though she’s in a completely different field, Hope reminded me of the work that Danah Boyd and Michael Wesch do. This story is the reason I currently follow Hope on Twitter and have I told others to do the same.

I’m not saying you need to write a blog post for every conversation, but do not be afraid to go deep in a topic you’re an expert on. In a conversation, it may mean several comments in a dialog. The key is to pull in insights from your experience, third party research or articles from others to in an effort to educate and serve folks who are part of the conversation. It may mean you spend more time doing research. That’s a good thing. If you do it right, you will be adding value. Adding value to conversations is the key to becoming an influencer in your area of expertise. Do it consistently, and people will notice.

 

By: Lionel Menchaca

Lionel used to be Dell's Chief Blogger, beginning in 2006 when Dell launched its first blog. Now he's Director of Corporate & Strategy for WCG.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Building the Future Together

Posted by: in Jim Weiss, w20 group, W2O Group on May 17, 2016

A Personal Reflection After 15 Years in Business

As our firm turns 15-years old next month, I must say, this is a momentous time.

I started this all those years ago in a robe, in a loft, with one goal in mind: to become the best. I wanted to provide organizations with first class communications expertise – both in counseling and executing against a strategy to achieve critical business goals.

We were built on the premise to create an incredible health communications firm. But we, didn’t stop there, because, with us it is only about one thing: “Go. Ahead.”

When we sensed the shift to everything digital, we led the industry by establishing a unique analytics and insights. Our technology provided clients with data, insights and executional strategies to optimize the shift to Influence in brand-building, organizational excellence and customer experience.

We wanted to build beyond health. Our next step was tapping into technology and global brands’ verticals. We incorporated strategy, creative, corporate, planning and all things digital as capabilities. This evolution has allowed us to take advantage of how technology is catalyzing new and different models in every sector.

The key to all of our success lies with our people. They bring it every day for clients, and that is the only metric that matters.

Over the last several years, we have been approached by many organizations to either acquire or partner with us. We have met a lot of smart people and made many friends along the way.

Fast Forward to Now

2015 was a pivotal year for us as we approached the magical $100M revenue level.  As we completed the year at $95MM in fee income and thought about how we maintain 15 more years of consistent growth, momentum and opportunity, we realized we had hit a new phase in our development.

Our goal has always been to find the right partner to help us advance through this exciting yet challenging stage in our life as a firm. To that end, we have re-capitalized the firm to allow us to enhance our capabilities, expand our footprint, accelerate and facilitate talent acquisition, and drive faster innovation. This is our priority so we can continue to partner with clients at an increasing scale and quality.

Mountaingate Capital, a Denver-based private equity firm formed by some of the partners of KRG Capital, is our new financial partner. Mountaingate invests in leading middle-market companies that demonstrate strong growth potential and that are led by management teams committed to a strategic vision to realize that growth. They support management in prioritizing, funding and executing on growth opportunities, including strategic acquisition and integration.

The principals of Mountaingate Capital have extensive experience investing in digital marketing and communications firms, having led investments in OLSON, a Minneapolis-based digital agency which grew to become one of the top five independent digital agencies in the U.S.; Ansira, a St. Louis- and Dallas-based leading data-driven results marketing agency; and Aspen Marketing, a Chicago-based leader in direct and digital marketing. In addition to marketing services opportunities, Mountaingate focuses on investments in specialty distribution, specialty manufacturing and business services.

Their investment will be used to fund our growth strategy, including potential acquisitions, extending our global footprint, creating new services and optimizing our client experience with a stronger infrastructure that can support healthy scaling.

As CEO, founder and owner, I often remind people that our goal remains to be the “best not the biggest.”

As such, a key reason we chose Mountaingate Capital versus so many other avenues that we explored, is because they share our commitment to client service and staff development, as well as the preservation of our unique culture, values and executional excellence.

While Mountaingate will not be involved in our day-to-day operations, they will be providing the financial and operational guidance plus foundation necessary to fulfill our goals at the highest possible quality as we scale.

As leaders, managers and associates, this means more opportunities for personal and professional growth including expanded responsibilities as the firm exceeds its growth targets. For clients, this allows us to invest in additional services and end-to-end solutions in areas critical to their sustained success. Our clients consistently share with us how our unique approach, methodology and models are re-defining marketing and communications in today’s social/digital era.  This is our DNA.

It’s all about ideation, creating and building at scale, while maintaining our innovative leading-edge culture. We are creating a firm of tomorrow that is a centralized platform catalyzing an array of services and capabilities centered around transforming companies. This investment will accelerate our future growth opportunities and enable us to continue to be an industry leader delivering exceptional service and capabilities to our clients.

For W2O Group, it’s about acquiring new skills and further developing our thinking and capabilities to provide state of the art counsel, advice, and performance to clients attempting to succeed in a complex, ever-changing world.

Let me reiterate what this all means first and foremost for our amazing people who make it happen every day, and also for our clients who stand to greatly benefit as well.

It means career development potential that is exciting and wide open.

It means we are serious about our vision to be the BEST!

It means that we have secured the foundation for the future while retaining our independence, culture and optionality.

It means we are disrupting the status quo and defining the marketing and communications firm of the future today without the bureaucracy and idea bias.

It means there is much, much more to accomplish and much more to learn, to share, to dream, and to do. It means I get to lead, work and create something even more special and impactful with everyone for many years to come.

I am proud to have worked with some of the best people in the business to realize our vision to this point.

Here’s to continuing to Go.Ahead. . . . Together.

 

By: Jim Weiss

Chairman & CEO, W2O Group

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Basel, Switzerland – Our New Office & Why It’s Important for Our Success and Clients’ Success

Posted by: in Corporate and Strategy, twist, w20 group, W2O EMEA, W2O Group on May 17, 2016

We live in a world where Basel and Boston, Geneva and Fort Worth, and Zurich and New York City are partnering every day to create new medical treatments, consumer products, technology solutions and services.

Our world isn’t an office-based world. It’s a network-based world.

That’s why we’re opening up a Basel, Switzerland, office. Basel is the heart of the BioValley, which houses more than 900 life science companies and two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. An impressive number of Forbes 2000 companies are located in Switzerland, all of which work across time zones each and every day to meet the needs of their customers.

An increasing number of our clients call Switzerland home – some as their worldwide headquarters and others as their regional center. We have decided to do the same and call Basel our newest home. The network of our clients drives the network we build for W2O Group.

We are pleased to announce that Jeroen Aarden has joined us from Novartis AG to open up our Basel office and build our team there. Jeroen has more than 20 years of digital innovation and online communications expertise. Plus, he’s an expert in business intelligence.

“It was not an easy decision to leave Novartis, where I played a pivotal role in its digital transformation,” said Jeroen. “But in joining W2O Group, I  can now help drive these same types of digital transformations for companies around the world. W2O’s capabilities in analytics, together with its fantastic group of people who offer other critical communications services to clients, positions it as a prime player in this complex but critical and exciting time of change.”

With our new presence in Basel, our 40+ member team in London is thrilled to expand its reach in Europe, as are our teams throughout the U.S. In particular, Colin Foster and Eric Shenfield of Twist Mktg, and I are jazzed to have an office in Basel as all of us have previously lived and worked in that city.

W2O Group looks forward to becoming a productive member of the Swiss business community and reconnecting with many friends we’ve made over the years. More to come soon.

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Interview with Korean Magazine The PR on Key Global Trends

Posted by: in Analytics, Communication Strategy, Storytizing, w20 group on May 16, 2016

In early May, 2016, I was asked by Mi-hye Kang, a senior staff writer for The PR, a monthly on- and offline magazine for PR professionals in Korea, to participate in their six-year anniversary issue. In celebration of the 6th anniversary, The PR asked to interview myself and Paul Holmes, Publisher of The Holmes Report.  What readers in Korea may not have known until this interview is that PreCommerce has been printed and is available in Korean.  Thank you to Professor Joon Soo Lim, a professor at the Newhouse School, Syracuse University for helping to make this happen. This interview originally appeared in The PR.

1. Could you introduce the W2O Group and yourself to Korean PR practitioners?

W2O Group is a communications and marketing firm with a foundation in data science.  We decided to build our own algorithms, software and new models to understand influence, content, language and channel selection so that our campaigns for our clients can be more precise and aligned with what customer’s desire.  We work in 20 languages today, including Korean.

For myself, I have been a leader of communications at several Fortune 500 companies, including Novartis and Dell and, at Dell, I was asked to build the world’s first global social media function for a Fortune 500 company.  Now, I am president of W2O Group and spend all of my time with clients and in creating new models for our industry.

2. What are the most important needs among your company’s clients these days?

The greatest need is how to shift from a coverage model to an influencer model.  Essentially, it is no longer enough to just get coverage.  In fact, that is the starting line.  With algorithms, we can see exactly who drives share of conversation, exactly who shares your story and exactly who forms your search engine optimization position.  So when we get coverage, we have to syndicate our earned media into the shared media world.  This can occur simply by sharing in the right channels, but it increasingly requires the use of small amounts of paid media as well.

3. I heard that your new book “Storytizing” has just come out. (We are sorry that we have not read the book yet.) What do you want to the book to convey and how have your ideas evolved since your previous book Pre-Commerce?

The big change involves technology advance and our audience. We can now see exactly who our audience is online (all forms of media) and understand who they respect, what they read and all of their public habits.  This allows us to align what we share with them.  It enables us to empower the key people in the audience to co-share a brand’s story more effectively and it changes how we measure.  We want our stories to pull through and reach the entire audience we care about, which is how Storytizing works. Advertising can’t do this, it just catches our attention.  Communications can if we know who our audience really is.

4. What did you mean when you suggested that all public relations activities begin with creating the audience architecture? How do social media analytics help practitioners do so?

Social media listening is evolving from “listening” to “audience intelligence”.  If we just listen, we often don’t know what to do next.  That is not acceptable in the future.  Audience architecture means you define the audience you want to reach before you do a campaign, learn what they want, learn who has influence, and even learn what time of day to share content.   We build intelligence so we know how to reach a professional audience (e.g. physicians), a certain customer audience (e.g. company’s partners) or a new audience (e.g. future customers).  We can then keep learning and adjusting to our audience and get smarter with time.

5. What are the global conversation topics or trendy words in digital PR among practitioners these days?

It seems like everyone is talking about influencers.  This is great to hear.  However, what we often see are that agencies are just creating new media lists and calling it an influencer list. That does not work.  The real trend here is the rise of micro-influencers.  For example, if we are looking at who is influential for Samsung in mobile, there may be 20+ categories of importance from video to open source.  Each of these topics has its own influencers with less overlap than we think.  The ability to identify the right influencers by topic, sub-topic, issue, language and country is what really matters.

6. One of the challenges for PR practitioners regards how to plan and implement a marketing/PR plan that leads to sales increase. This is also directly related to the campaign budget. What’s your and W2O’s approach for this issue?

We live in a quantitative world so we can show how we are shaping behavior and, in some cases, how we drive sales via social media.  The big trend here is what we call “agile campaigns”.  This means that you are learning from your audience and figuring out what to share on a daily basis.  Said another way, if your client asks you to lock-in a campaign plan for the year and stick to it, you will be far less successful. Even with big campaigns, you need room to make agile decisions and adjust to your audience.  Then, ROI improves.

7. Like media planners in the multi-channel media environment, PR practitioners are also required to make a strategic and integrative use of diverse social media platforms. What are your suggestions for and effective social media mix?

PR practitioners will be doing media planning for earned and shared media.  It is important to identify the exact channels and outlets where our customers spend their time.  What we find worldwide is that customers tend to congregate in four channels or less (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) and this channel mix can change by brand, country or language.  It is important that we know why we use each channel as well, since each channel serves a different purpose in the customer journey.

8. When it comes to a social media mix for a campaign, PR and marketing in Korea trend to rely heavily on Facebook. It seems that this trend is based on the potential reach and continued growth of the platform. How do you foresee the potential and limitations on Facebook?

Yes, Facebook has become our new television due to its reach. Facebook can be an effective channel if you know exactly who you want to reach.  However, I always remind our clients that Facebook does not impact search, where 90% of our customers go to learn more on a daily basis.  Google+ is a minor channel, but Google favors it in its algorithms, which impacts search.  Twitter impacts search.  In this case, think of the 1,9,90 model (1% create content, 9% share content and 90% learn from the 1 and 9).

9. We are observing a trend in which diverse areas of strategic communication gradually converge on digital and social media. As a result, we see the business boundaries between advertising, PR, and marketing gradually becoming diluted. How can a PR firm (or a practitioner) raise its (or his/her) competitive edge in this ever changing environment?

You are exactly right.  The worlds of communications and marketing are converging rapidly. What this means is that communicators have to become more expert in search (the 90%), in use of strategic paid media (small amounts of paid media in social channels), agile campaigns and audience architecture.  The world is actually moving in the direction of the expertise of the communicator.  The ability to tell a story, build relationships and adjust to changing conditions are all skills communicators have.  The Storytizing era is really our era!

10. What is and how do you know about the Korean market of social commerce and public relations?

When I was at Dell, we would always stay up to date on how leaders in Korea were utilizing forums to hold conversations, how gaming was changing habits and how social media was used overall.  I’ve always viewed Korea as one of the countries in the world that innovates a bit faster than the rest of the globe.  In fact, I am thinking of writing my next book on how innovation is occurring in key countries, like Korea, and what it means for all of us worldwide.  A mega trends type approach.

11. Do you have any thoughts or comments that you would like to share with the readers who are Korean PR practitioners of the PR?

Yes, I know myself and my colleagues would like to hear more often about how Korean PR practitioners are seeing the media world evolve.  We would like to learn from each other.  This interview is a great example of the type of sharing that we should do, two-way, more often.  Maybe we think about how to do this together?

Also, my new book, Storytizing, is now available on Kindle on Amazon.com.

Thank you for this opportunity.  I enjoyed our discussion and hope this furthers the conversation.

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.