A Mini Learning Moment: ‘What’s Next?’… Possibly the most important question for marketers and communicators

Posted by: in Communication Strategy, Corporate and Strategy, executive insights, gary grates, Marketing Insights, W2O Group on July 2, 2015

In a recent meeting listening to the CMO of a major global consumer brand present a creative platform and execution strategy to the CEO, I witnessed a rather telling exchange.

The program outlined was extremely progressive and innovative–certainly one that would garner both critical and consumer acclaim. After the formal part of the presentation was over the CEO studied the materials intently and then looked up to ask one question.

“What’s Next?,” he asked. “After we launch it, where do we go from here?”

After some back and forth with the CMO around “leveraging the positive coverage” and “maximizing customer interest” it became obvious there was no “next!”

Ultimately, the CEO was pressing the team to consider moving from a tactic to a solution. In this case, engaging a new target audience for a new product in a sustainable manner that bridges understanding and burnishes relationship to the brand. The concept presented and strategy outlined– while novel and innovative– did not extend beyond the initial launch plan. It was essentially a “one and done” opportunity. The other problem with such an approach deals with investment. The money necessary to fund break-through programs has gotten serious and as such, the need to amortize such investments must be the rule.

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, marketing and communications are being deconstructed in profound ways. The major shift deals with the move from promotion to one of engagement deriving knowledge and insight from consumers and markets to provide more innovative and customized products and services. Marketing becomes a more invention-based process that utilizes data and insight to improve and develop new offerings. Communications becomes an engagement based process, connecting stories and experiences with interests and networks that lead to advocacy.

In this example, the idea presented was solid, creative, and buzz worthy. What was needed, though, transcended all that.

What’s Next? is actually a guidepost to challenge marketers and communicators to think “longer” and “smarter” in terms of campaign and program efficacy and value.

So, are your ideas linked to customer lifestyles and geared to learning as much as promoting resulting in more sustainable experience?

If not, ask yourself “What’s Next?” or at least be ready when your CEO does.

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.

Avoid the Pitfalls of Internal Collaboration Platforms: A Road Map to Success

Posted by: in Communication, Communication Strategy, Content, Corporate and Strategy, Social Media Insights & Trends on July 1, 2015

A growing number of companies across the world are working to implement internal communications platforms to facilitate employee collaboration. According to research from Gartner, by 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.

What may seem like a simple flip of the switch is actually so much more. Gartner estimated that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.

What does this mean? internal collaboration

Companies today often make the misstep of assuming that employees are so well-versed in the aspects of social collaboration in their own lives, that there is no need for training when rolling out a new platform or any explanation of purpose behind it. In the past, an email is sent from leadership or management referencing this new platform that, more likely than not, no one has heard of, encouraging employees to begin “collaborating.” This usually follows with a few pats on the back expressing what a great job they did. Meanwhile, employees are left with a platform they do not understand the exact need or use for. In the end, the platform is often unused by the majority and both money and time are wasted.

So, how can this fatal approach be avoided?

To start, a simple and immediate need before sharing this type of platform with your employees, is a roll-out plan. All Things IC, cites only 20 percent of internal comms professionals said that they defined what they wanted their internal social network to achieve before it launched. Remember, it’s crucial to define the purpose behind the platform and to align it to your business goals. Here are 4 steps to help get you started.

4 steps to Internal Collaboration Success:

1. Plan and execute

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Why?
  • How do you plan to accomplish this?
  • What does success look like?

2. Training

  • Educate your leadership and get their commitment first. Senior-level buy-in will ensure social is seen as a priority across the business
  • Do not forget to educate the rest of your workforce. These employees will drive the experience and you can’t just rely on early adopters

3. Reinforce Usage

  • Publish articles about innovative uses, noteworthy results and best practices
  • In those cases, give employees credit; find simple ways to recognize active users

4. Measure and Recalculate

  • Take the first few months to identify what’s working and what’s not. Send out a survey and gather feedback on what can be improved
  • Adapt and adjust where needed

 

By: Michael Petrone

Michael Petrone is a Corporate & Strategy associate at WCG

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.

The Social Scoop: June 2015

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends, Thought Leadership on June 30, 2015

Social media changes came in left and right in June and the top dogs are making big moves! Facebook once again has updated their algorithm, ‘Lightning’ is Twitter’s latest project and Snapchat geofilters are now worth a price. Here’s what you missed in June:

Facebook: “See First” Could Change the Way People See Content

What It Is

Facebook announced a change to their algorithm (which is currently being tested) that will allow users to select people/Pages that interest them to show up at the top of the News Feed.

How It Works

  • Users can turn on the feature from a friend’s profile or a Page
  • It allows users to filter the News Feed
  • When a user selects ‘Following’, it will prompt them with ‘Unfollow’ or ‘See First’
  • Until now, users have only been able to Friend/Follow and unfollow other users/brands entirely
  • Once ‘See First’ is selected, everything the person/Page posts will show up at the top of the user’s News Feed so they don’t miss a thing

What It Means For Brands

This feature could be a huge asset for brands that have a following on Facebook. Currently, brands are in a constant battle to have their content viewed (over competitors) by users on most social media platforms. “See First” would provide the opportunity for brands to highlight their content to ensure user feeds aren’t filtering out their content and in return, it’s a great way for users to hone in on content that is important to them. This update highlights the significance of paid media advertising, because to avoid filtration of content, paid media will provide brands with that extra reach push.

Facebook: Algorithm Changes Factor Video Engagement

What It Is

Facebook made another change to their algorithm, factoring in actions taken on videos.

How It Works

  • Users can enjoy video without engaging with it, so now, Facebook is rewarding Pages that post videos in which users turn the volume up on the video or expand the video to watch in full screen and enabling high definition
  • Should a user partake in the above interactions with a video, Facebook has updated the News Feed to infer that the user liked the video and will show users similar videos to that, to push out content that the user is interested in viewing and engaging

What It Means For Brands

This change is set to happen shortly, but Facebook does not anticipate that Pages will see changes in distribution. While that is a strong factor, it is still just as significant as ever to produce content that is engaging and immediately captivating so that viewers will want to “interact” with your Page video. Also keep in mind that the content you are sharing is most similar to your competitors, so this would be a good time to see what they’re doing, and do it better!

Google: “Buy” Button is Coming to Search

What It Is

Google will soon feature a “buy” button along side their paid search ads. Their goal is to provide more than just a link to users, but a direct buying option, giving users the opportunity to take direct action from their google search ads. The “buy” button is about improving conversations on mobile, to help advertisers earn more across mobile devices with the on-the-go buying experience.

What It Means For Brands

The “buy” button will only be available on mobile searches for now and will appear alongside the paid search ads, but not organic search results. While this new feature may not be applicable to all brands, consumer and retail brands will benefit from this opportunity, driving people to their site straight from their Google search. Of course the catch is that brands will need to put paid dollars in to advertising with Google, but Google has said they have no intention to be a retailer, so consumers will still be pushed directly to your website.

Instagram: The Next Move in Ads

What It Is

Instagram announced they will be making sponsored advertising available to all business, regardless of their size. In addition, ads will feature a call to action similar to Twitter’s functionality with Twitter Cards, driving users straight to source.

How It Works

  • Each sponsored post will have a call to action button attached to it
  • It will be located on the same line as the “like” and “comment” button
  • User capabilities will include “shop now,” “install now” “sign up,” and “learn more” all directly from the post, really revamping the user experience on Instagram

What It Means For Brands

This development completely changes the way brands can target their content on Instagram. People want to see ads that mean something to them and in return, advertisers want to get their content in front of the correct audience to effectively deliver their message. These new features will allow brands to create an actionable post, converting more followers into more buyers. The platform will be working closely with Facebook in the next year to enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on select targeting options.

Instagram: An All New Way to Search & Explore

What It Is

Instagram has enhanced their Explore page to include trending tags (hashtags) and places, making search easier and more powerful for users.

How It Works

  • The Explore page surfaces trends as they happen in real-time by allowing users to view trending hashtags and places. There is also a curated collection of content that will be regularly updated.
  • Search now spans discovery to people, places, and tags at one time. Users will be able to search any topic and see Top and Most Recent Posts that have been updated, down to the second.

What It Means For Brands

People now have an easier way to find and see everything that’s being posted around trending topics. This is especially interesting news to brands, particularly surrounding campaigns or branded hashtags, to ensure that your content is populating among trending conversation. Additionally, if your brand does not currently have a customized hashtag, you can explore the conversation and develop a post to become a part of that topic. The same goes for places – if your company has an office for example in Los Angeles and there is a big event going on in that area, be sure to take advantage of posting an image from that location (with a trending hashtag!) to participate in real-time discussion. Instagram also mentioned that there will not be ads alongside images in the trending feeds and sponsored ads are not available for trends.

LinkedIn Elevate: A New Way for Employees to Share Content

What It Is

LinkedIn introduced LinkedIn Elevate to brands. This new feature helps companies encourage their employees to be brand advocates by giving them the tools they need to create and share content. It has three basic functionalities: content curation, easy social sharing, and measuring impact. This feature is only available to select companies at this time.

How It Works

  • Content Curation: The app recommends stories from Pulse and Newsle based on an algorithm designed to show employees relevant stories that reflect their presence on LinkedIn
  • Easy Social Sharing: Makes it easier to share on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Measure Impact: Allows the employee and companies to review statistical information about their content sharing, so that employees can see the impact they’re social sharing is having on the overall engagement of the Company Page

What It Means For Brands

According to LinkedIn, when any employee shares content on LinkedIn, the company they work for receives six job views, three Company Page views, and one Company Page follower. Employees drive tremendous value to a Company Page and are responsible for about 20% of the overall engagement. LinkedIn Elevate gives employees the knowledge to be thought leaders and share information about what they do and who they work for, which in return, helps companies better hire, marketing and sell.

Twitter: Video Autoplay Has Landed

What It Is

Twitter is making some big changes, including the elimination of click to play! Native videos, GIFs and Vines are now playing  automatically on Twitter as users scroll through their timelines.

How It Works

  • Native videos, GIFs, and Vines uploaded and Tweeted will play automatically when scrolling through timelines
  • When the video is clicked on, it will resize to a larger view and continue playing with sound from where it left off
  • This feature is currently available on web and iOS, with Android following

What It Means For Brands

Brands will now be able to capture the attention of current and new followers with powerful and engaging videos. Twitter has acknowledge that Promoted Videos would continue to deliver high impact, engagement and meaningful views for partners (no worries – your dollars won’t go to waste), so paid advertising is still as important as ever when developing social strategies. Additionally, since videos are playing on a repeated, automatic notion, brands will want to ensure that video content is unique and compelling so that users remain captivated and don’t continue to scroll through, with the first few seconds being super engaging and eye catching.

Twitter: “Project Lightning” is Going to Change the Way We Look at Tweets

What It Is

“Project Lightning” is a major new feature that will bring event-based curated content to the platform so that users can follow live events in one spot. Rather then getting lost in the Twitter timeline, the content will be handpicked high interest tweets that will live on its own tab.

How It Works

  • Users will be able to select the tab that will direct them to a live events screen (current events, breaking news, cultural events and experiences)
  • When a user opens an event, they are taken to a selection of tweets that have been hand selected by Twitter editors
  • Twitter will have guidelines for what constitutes “Project Lightning” material and will aim to feature only 7-10 top events a day
  • Users will also be able to follow an event directly, which will curate tweets in their timeline

The Best Part!

Users can access ‘Lightning’ events on and off Twitter. Tweets will be viewable on Twitter.com, on the mobile web, in the Twitter app, and as embeds on other webpages.

What It Means For Brands

It is crucial that brands share strong, unique content to drive engagement, which means the need for rich, creative images and videos is important in every tweet. With this new update, brands will also want to revisit their current social strategies, as the urgency for agile and timely approvals on content will be imperative to real time event progression. In addition, paid media will largely contribute to content exposure in real time. Promoted Tweets give your brand exposure and magnify your content reach, which with Project Lightning, will translate into users both on and off of Twitter.

Twitter: Ads Targeted at What Apps You Download

What It Is

Twitter shared a new tool, only available to advertisers, called “installed app category targeting,” which allows advertisers to target their ads to users who have installed similar apps.

How It Works

  • Twitter has added a “search or browse for installed app categories” section for targeting on the back-end. Marketers can go in and manually search apps or pick from a list of App Store or Google Play categories.
  • Twitter provides an analytics dashboard that gives insights into how users are responding to those ads

What It Means For Brands

Brands will now have a new way to target potential users similar to “who to follow” suggestions. This tool allows marketers who are interested in driving installs of their app to target users that are using apps similar to theirs in order to reach the maximum potential demographic. Knowing exactly who your audience is becomes a huge advantage to app makers. Additionally, Twitter is providing an accompanying metrics dashboard that provides insight into how users are responding to the ads.

SnapChat: Could Geofilters Be a New Source of Revenue?

What It Is

Snapchat’s geofilters are fun, colorful ways for users to let people know where they are, and now Snapchat is hoping to turn these location-centric digital stickers into revenue. Businesses can make their own geofilters – for a price, of course

How It Works

  • Half of Snapchat’s several thousand geofilters are user generated, but the social platform is now prompting brands to partake in ‘paid-for’ stickers that are distinguished with a small ‘sponsored’ imprint
  • Brands and Snapchat will collaborate on the design
  • Geofilters can be applied to an image or video when the user has turned on their location services

What It Means For Brands

This move to use geofilters is a clever way to disguise advertising as a fun and whimsical add-on for users. It opens a huge door for brands to get their fans to show support without making them feel like they are promoting something. Right now, Snapchat charges $20 per 1,000 views of a video ads –  but have yet to reveal the cost and duration of a sponsored geofilter. This is a great opportunity for brand exposure, especially for those that target teens and millennials, who’s audiences then save their Snapchat images to their camera roll and share across multiple social channels for their followers to see.

A special thanks to summer intern, Chantelle Patel, for her contribution this month!

For more: The Social Scoop – June 2015

 

 

 

By: Samantha Hershman

Account Manager, Consumer, WCG World, a W2O Group Company New York, NY

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.

Ten Trends Reshaping the Digital Marketing and Communications Industry

Posted by: in Communication Strategy, Jim Weiss, Marketing Insights, Thought Leadership, w20 group, W2O Group on June 30, 2015

We’re honored to be included in the 2015 PR Week Global Power book list, which represents a distinguished group of leaders in the digital marketing and communications industry.  The list made us take a step back to examine what we’re doing to stay ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape. The answer? Continuing to innovate and act as students of the industry, with a focus aimed a mile down the road. Here and below are some emerging trends that we think are reshaping the industry.

  1. We are unlocking the concept of Owned Media. If you create the content, you own it. Location is no longer a determining factor. This concept is practiced with our content capsules, which serve as “digital content libraries” and a content syndication tool. Our clients are able to deliver content in the form of videos, images and links in one package, and track the engagement rates. This “mini site” allows for them to own the content yet share it across social channels.
  2. What you “own” should align with what people “want” when they want it. This will only increase in importance, so our first impression matters more than ever. As a result, we are shifting from responsive design, which is old school, to responsive experience.  We need to provide the right content the first time to the customer visiting our client’s site, based on what we know about them pre-visit.
  3. Create and track your core audience to redefine how we listen, learn and act. Any discrete set of people can be identified and indexed which then informs us of their behavioral patterns. This parallels our analytics practice- we’re able to extract accurate, actionable insights from big data sets which is key to delivering the “right content” to our audience. Once we know patterns, we can figure out habits for a market.
  4. Decide “who” should tell your brand’s story. Influencer relationship management is more important than a traditional CRM to shape markets. You could have two million customers in a CRM database, but does this matter? What we are finding is that understanding who drives your audience (the 1% and the 9% of the 1,9,90 model) is the key to influencer relationship management.  Volume isn’t the answer to gain the right reach.  Precision of who you reach leads to the right volume/penetration of the market.  A very simple and profound change in how we market is happening.
  5. Small data (or “forensic analytics”) leads to smart filters. Smart filters leads to the right insights. If you’re able to apply the right filters onto digital conversations by brand or topic, you will uncover accurate, actionable insights for your brand.
  6. Your own earned media network will drive your market. Brands should think of themselves as media outlets with that level of power.
  7. Data-driven organizations will require a new insights operating system to be shared between analysts and client teams. The future is one of collaboration. More than ever, organizations that work in silos will no longer be able to deliver due to the nature of how data shapes decisions in real-time. Our data must be able to “talk” within data sets to tell us when we need to focus on certain influencers or topics or keywords.
  8. It’s time to become experts in “bad media”. More than ever, online security is an issue for brands and marketers. We spend all of our time on “good media” to promote our brand. However, at the same time, spam, malware, bots, fake reviews, and black hat search are also reaching the same customers.  When we think of improving the customer experience and protecting our brands, we have to become experts in bad media as well.
  9. We combine the best of research and social analytics to become more predictive. Who you follow to gain information matters. For example, if you are following the right influencers, you can see how their language changes 30-60 days before it changes in the mainstream.  That’s pretty valuable.
  10. Social Graphics will lead to new forms of media planning and research.  Social graphics is part of a larger concept we call “audience architecture”. This relates to how we identify and then listen to the right audience to understand what content we share, what keywords we use and what time of day we share content by channel.  If we are tracking the right audience online, they will teach us what to do. The clues to success are right in front of us.

Check out Bob’s previous blog post for additional global insights, specifically around the innovative Chinese market.

All the best,

Jim Weiss and Bob Pearson

 

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.

PreCommerce Insights: How Global Brands Could Optimize Snapchat

Posted by: in CMO, executive insights, Pre-Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends on June 29, 2015

Snapchat has increasingly become a topic of discussion among brands in terms of driving business value and ROI. It has evolved since our initial evaluation of it in 2014, citing it’s lack of data tracking and its ephemeral nature, but it still has some gaps to fill. Our team has some strategic ideas around optimizing the platform currently and some that could hopefully come to life in the near future. You can view the complete list of insights here and below:

 

#1 If Snapchat can provide full transparency on users of their service, advertising can be done in an appropriate and highly focused manner. The data can be anonymized to respect privacy, while still achieving targeting goals. This data must be accessible to the brands advertising. It cannot be held only by Snapchat, since it is critical for planning.

  • IDEA — Open up a limited API, ala Facebook’s 30 days of data – brands must be able to access anonymized data to plan. Facebook has shown the way on how to do this and still preserve the integrity of the data.

#2 – Work with brands to develop relationships with Snapchat Stars – we all know the power of influencers. The stories feature of Snapchat is where influencers are emerging that have major impact for a brand. These stars are similar to what is occurring on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other channels. For example, if BRAND X focused on beauty brands and emerging influencers for make-up tips, how- to’s for skin care and other related topics, this increases authenticity, supports the drivers of Snapchat traffic and helps your brand understand who has influence in Snapchat vs. other channels.

  • IDEA– Enable a brand to work directly with influencers in a category – this leads to more targeted earned and paid media; it helps the influencers gain additional influence; and it adds much needed authenticity for any advertiser. It is widely believed that advertising alone will not be accepted by the Snapchat audience, so new models of partnership are key to success.

#3 – Create a “Snap to Buy” feature – we need ROI. If Snapchat creates a “snap to buy” feature where users can purchase products or download important buying information for later use, we can better track funnel activity. This can work for a brand by partnering with emerging stars, “map” them discussing a topic, provide the option to buy direct (within the chat), and deliver directly or to a local outlet. For consumables, this scenario could generate simple couponing or co-marking opportunities.

#4 – Develop new content partnerships between talent, media networks and brands – a traditional ad won’t work in Snapchat. However, new models can open up opportunities. In other words, brands will sponsor other brands. Snapchat’s new media service called Discover, which will host branded propertieis for Yahoo, People, Cosmopolitan, the Food Network, Daily Mail, Vice, CNN and others.

  • IDEA – an example can be given for a TV show and a BRAND X brand. BRAND X works with the talent on a TV show. The talent on this show then Snapchats on a key topic that also includes the BRAND X brand. This would be a powerful way to integrate great content, keep the topic aligned with Snapchat user’s interests and work in a brand appropriately.

#5 – Innovate in geo-location – Snapchat is already innovating with picture filters automatically uploaded from your location.  Since interaction with geo-location based content is already accepted by Snapchat users, we think of new ways to build value.

  • IDEA 1– this is purely a matter of creativity.  We could create a contest based on geo-location use of certain backgrounds.  Once a certain level of use is reached, prizes are made available.  New filters that are highly topical could be provided by BRAND X brands, e.g. Olympics and any sports-related shots for certain sports, however the backgrounds feature the local athletes for that user to make it more personal. Or BRAND X sponsors Movember with idea that men are all shaving in the near future.  And on and on.
  • IDEA 2 – align Snapchat content from brands down to the store level.  If the retail networks of a country are aligned to geo-location, BRAND X can offer unique content and coupons/offers at the zip code level and you can snap to buy and it goes right to your closest store.

#6—Improve how “Stories” is handled within Snapchat – the “Stories” experience does not appear integrated with how users typically use the app, which is to interact with friends.

    • Stories are essentially paid content from brands in the Snapchat app
    • Most of the time, people use Snapchat to interact with friends
    • Stories do not appear “inline” when you interact with friends, but rather only if you go to Explore —> Discover in the app, which is a couple clicks off the beaten path
    • This is like moving paid content on cnn.com off the front page and into a section called “Paid Content”
    • If brands are having success, that’s what matters — but it’s an odd way to integrate paid

#7 – Partner with users to create a “brand studio” – populate the studio within Snapchat with brand content (images, video, quotes and other content) that can be used by anyone.  And encourage users to add their own ideas, make requests and participate in making each brand studio as cool as it can be.

  • IDEA – co-create content with communities directly.

Innovative ways brands are using Snapchat:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best,

Bob Pearson

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.