As we wrap up the year, it’s interesting to see what last minute updates the social channels are rolling out to users. For starters, Facebook is changing its pre-roll and mid-roll video ads algorithm to provide a friendlier user experience. Twitter has introduced a new way to expand long form tweet conversations via the “Tweet Thread” feature, and the platform has also made video views public on any video (brand or personal) to all users. Lastly, Instagram has rolled out their highly anticipated “hashtag follow” feature, allowing users to follow specific hashtags that will show up in their newsfeed as posts. Check out more detail on these exciting updates below!

Facebook to Test 6-Second Pre-Roll Ad Test

  • Starting next year, Facebook will begin testing a six-second pre-roll ads hub and adjusting how the algorithm presents videos to users. These pre-roll ads will only run within the Watch video hub, as opposed to in the News Feeds, as Facebook found that pre-roll ads in News Feed videos didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped. Facebook is also changing the requirements for mid-roll ads. Originally, a mid-roll ad could not be placed in a video that was less than 90 seconds. Now, videos must be 3 minutes long and mid-roll ads can only be inserted when the video has played for 60 seconds. Additionally, Facebook announced that there will be an update to the overall algorithm in 2018 to prioritize videos to users based on their interests, sharing the right videos with the right people (who want to see them).
  • What this means for brands: There are now more limitations on where ads can be implemented, making it more difficult for brands to secure ad placements on Facebook. However, with the change to Facebook’s algorithm, videos are now going to be more targeted to users who want to watch them, which will hopefully impact video views in a positive way and net out the users who are not watching videos in full.

Additional Resources: Tech Crunch, Social Media Today

Twitter Introduces “Tweet Threads”

  • Twitter launched a new feature called “Tweet Threads” that allow users to post and participate in tweetstorms, which are also called threads. Tweetstorm has only been used by a handful of users who want to continue a longer thought on Twitter than is allowed via 280 characters. To create Tweet Threads, there is a new “+” symbol in the top right corner of the tweet composer that allows users to write a strand of tweets and post them all at once so that they’re one consecutive thought. Each tweet still has a 280-character limit, but users can implement media such as videos and GIFs along with their longer thoughts. Users can also update a thread later if they have something else they want to add by opening the thread and hitting “add another tweet.” There is one caveat – there is a 25-tweet limit per thread.
  • What it means for brands: With this new functionality, brands are now able to share longer form content on the platform and can ensure that the tweets will show up show up in a consecutive order for the audience to read. With the roll-out of Tweet Threads and the expanded character count, it shows that Twitter is maybe moving away from their shorter messages to longer messages and thoughts.

Additional Resources: Tech Crunch, Social Media Today

(via TechCrunch)

Twitter Includes a Video Views Number for All Videos Posted

  • Twitter will now display video view counts on all videos posted on the platform. Now that video view counts are here to stay, there will be a reassessment as to what counts as an actual video view (the never-ending saga). Currently, a video view on Twitter is based on the video being played for at least 2 seconds, so we’ll see what this update brings.
  • What it means for brands: Now that the video view number is being displayed on videos, users and brands can keep a closer eye on the competition. Brands can see what competitors are doing (and what’s performing well) and use some ideas in their own social strategy. It will be interesting to see if having the video view count number will spark interest for users who are debating on whether to watch a video. If the video view number is high, users may be more enticed to watch the video, rather than if the number is low.

Additional Resources: Ad Age, Marketing Land

(via Ad Age)

Instagram Now Allows Users to Follow Specific Hashtags

  • Instagram has finally enabled its hashtag following feature for all users, announced a few weeks back. Any hashtag that users follow will show up as a post directly within each Instagram feed. Having this feature allows Instagram to become more of a search/discovery engine for users. Instagram does have the “Explore” page, but being able to follow hashtags allows for a greater engagement on each post. Users will be able to tailor which posts with the hashtag they like by selecting an “I don’t like this” option from a drop down on each post with the relevant hashtag.
  • What this means for brands: Hashtags are now more necessary than ever on Instagram. Since users can follow specific hashtags, brands should be researching what hashtags their target audience is following and including them in every post (if they’re not already doing so). We’ve typically preached that less is more, but more hashtags may be the way to go these days as Instagram advances with new features. This also allows brands to become more specific with their hashtags to tailor their post to the correct audience who is going to want to see the post and engage with it.

Additional Resources: Business Insider, The Verge

(Social Media Today)

This week saw a lot of relevant updates across the social media space. Facebook published a blog detailing its advertising principles for both users and brands. Additionally, the platform rolled out an in-newsfeed virtual reality feature to further enhance users’ experiences and give brands the ability to take their content to the next level. Snapchat announced a re-vamp of its app structure, separating personal and media content in users’ feeds. Lastly, YouTube put its own spin on in-app stories via YouTube Reels.

Facebook Spells Out Advertising Principles for Users & Brands

  • As a follow-up to recent updates about launching a Transparency Center, Facebook has laid out its advertising principles for users and brands in a blog post. The post details that advertising on Facebook is not meant to be disruptive for users, but, instead, add value to their experiences by placing relevant content in front of them. Facebook expressed that their goal is to improve the advertising experience for users, serving them relevant content, while also helping businesses grow via branded promotions on the platform.
  • What it means for brands: While Facebook’s push – much like from other platforms – to increase transparency around advertising on the channel has largely been centered around individual users’ experiences, this most recent update highlights that Facebook is hearing marketers’ concerns and making sure that subsequent updates improve both user and brand experiences.

Additional Resources: Facebook, Social Media Today

(via Facebook)

Facebook Is Testing In-Feed VR

  • Facebook is testing an in-newsfeed virtual reality feature, named “360 experiences.” This new feature will enable users to get a 360-degree look ‘inside’ posts, by allowing them to interact with different aspects of the content. For example, the National Gallery posted a VR tour of a new wing on its page, allowing users to click on specific pieces of art to learn more about the paintings. Facebook is pushing more and more newsfeed updates to amplify the scrolling experience for users on the platform while giving advertisers additional options for promoted content that keep users on the platform rather than directing them to an external site.
  • What it means for brands: While this feature should be a great addition for any brand and company, it could be especially useful for the event and entertainment industries to give users an inside look into different aspects of events, spaces and stories. For the healthcare industry, this could open new doors for engaging consumers and healthcare professionals by allowing them to explore different scientific principles or mechanisms of action involved in the development and treatment of different diseases.

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, Marketing Land, Business Insider

(via Marketing Land)

Snapchat Re-Designs App Structure

  • Snapchat announced significant changes to its app. The biggest takeaway with the updates is that the app will be re-designed to separate personal content from media and influencer content. The ‘Discover’ tab will now live on its own feed, and a separate ‘Friends’ feed will only include stories and content from people that a Snapchat user is connected with. Once this update goes live – the platform has yet to confirm specific timing – the restructuring will have a significant impact on how users engage with influencer and brand content. If an account is not friends with a user and only followed by them, then their content will automatically be delegated to the ‘Discover’ feed. Additionally, moving forward, users can opt to “see less” of any content that they do not find interesting within the ‘Discover’ feed.
  • What it means for brands: Brands will need to take a step back and rethink their approach to Snapchat stories in light of this update. Their content will now be separated from users’ personal feeds, meaning that without enticing stories – or substantial paid promotions – users may view much less brand content in the future. Additionally, this will impact celebrities and social media influencers. Prior to the update, if a Snapchat user “followed” a celeb or influencer, their content was served to them within the same feed as their friends’ stories. Segmenting influencer content into the ‘Discover’ feed may impact engagement and viewership.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Tech Crunch

(via Social Media Today)

YouTube Takes Its Own Spin on Stories

  • YouTube will be beta’ing its own version of in-app stories called Reels. Unlike the stories feature on other apps like Facebook and Instagram, users will need to navigate to a creator’s channel and click on the “Reels” tab. Here, they will find all of the story-style content that the creator published. While the new feature will only be available to creators (influencers), at least for now, YouTube said that it hopes this new video format will foster engagement by letting creators share content on their channels without having to upload an entire new video. Additionally, unlike on other platforms, Reels won’t be short-lived, they’ll be live on creators’ channels long-term.
  • What it means for brands: Stories are a powerful way to post authentic content, whether it be from a conference or an event. Giving brands the ability to post Reels on YouTube could increase the volume of real-time content being shared on the platform by providing brands with an easy-to-use video option with less need for high quality production. This could be a way to humanize a brand’s voice on YouTube, giving them the option to post both edited, thought-out content and real-time Reels.

Additional Resources: Business Insider, TechCrunch

(via TechCrunch)

 

Lots of updates in the social media sphere over the past two weeks. Facebook introduced new poll features, allowing users and pages to use images and GIFs as response options in polls, as offering new ways for users to get more involved and engaged with content. Also coming from Facebook HQ: Instagram users will soon be able to follow hashtags a bit more closely, making it easier to find accounts that post content they are most interested in. Additionally, as previously shared, Twitter increased its character count for all users from 140 to 280; this recent update also included an increase in display name length from 20 characters to 50 characters. Lastly, Pinterest created a new way to shop via the app while in-store, by implementing its own version of a “QR” code – Pincodes. Have a read to learn more and find out what else you may have missed these past two weeks!

Facebook Adding New Polling Options, Including GIFs

  • Facebook is adding a new poll option. All profiles and pages are now able to use GIFs and images as response options for Facebook polls. This advanced poll feature makes Q&A style content more attractive and engaging by allowing users and pages to utilize visual elements in conjunction with interactive polls, which previously had not been possible. Facebook has been testing this new feature since September, but just now rolled it out to all users. Facebook polls are created by inputting a question and potential responses via the poll tab in the status update composer, and then publishing to the feed. Users can click on which answer choice they feel is correct or resonates most with them.
  • What it means for brands: Facebook polls are a great way for brands to engage with their followers and find out information from the audience. With the introduction of this new, more visually-compelling poll feature, users will hopefully be more enticed to participate in polls with creative imagery or funny GIFs, allowing pages/brands to gain more insight into user interests or behaviors. This update is hardly surprising following Instagram’s recent roll-out of a polling option within Stories and with Facebook constantly looking for new, image-based ways to stay current and become more marketer-friendly. Consider adding polls to your 2018 plans to learn a bit more about your audience, as this can help inform future content and strategy.

(via Social Media Today)

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Tech Crunch

Facebook Just Launched a Stand-Alone App for Events

  • Facebook is rebranding its ‘Events’ app. Now called ‘Local’, the app will aggregate local business information and events based on a user’s geo-location. Pulling from Facebook’s database of over 70 million existing business pages, ‘Local’ allows users to view recommended attractions within a user’s location. Additionally, once ‘Local’ is downloaded, it automatically syncs with the Facebook app and imports all events in a user’s area. With over 2 billion users on Facebook, the rebrand of their app may push Foursquare and Yelp out of the local listings/reviews market.
  • What this means for brands: With this rebrand putting an increased focus on local businesses, owners need to be more in-tune with their Facebook footprint than ever before. Once users make the jump from Yelp or Foursquare to Facebook ‘Local,’ up-to-date reviews and event listings are going to be key for local business owners to drive foot traffic and business. It’ll be interesting to see whether Facebook will launch ads within the app in the near future, adding “sponsored” or “promoted” events/reviews to the mix, allowing advertisers to pay for top placement in each location. More to come as the app starts to see traction among users.

(via Adweek)

Additional Resources: AdWeek, Wired, Business Insider

Following Individual Hashtags Is in the Works for Instagram

  • Instagram is testing out a feature that will allow users to follow hashtags, making it easier for users to find content that is relevant to them. This new update will allow users to follow certain topics or themes (such as #fashion) without needing to follow individual accounts. Particularly for users and brands interested in niche topics, this will be an exciting update, as content will be more readily searchable. The update is not yet available to all accounts, and, according to Instagram, it may still be quite some time before a broad roll-out.
  • What it means for brands: The competition for eyeballs on content will be higher than ever once this new feature rolls out to all users. Brands will have to make their content stand out not just among other accounts that users follow, but potentially among all content using the same hashtag. Doing a bit more research before posting content to ensure that the correct hashtags are being used will make a difference in the long-run. This may also trigger brands and influencers to rethink their approach to hashtags – requiring more hashtags to be used in a post for content to be seen by key audiences.

(via Digital Trends)

Additional Resources: Mashable, Digital Trends

Display Name Length Doubles from 20 to 50 Characters on Twitter

  • Twitter announced that users are now able to have a display name of up to 50 characters long, as opposed to the previous 20 characters; @usernames are not included in this update. Users and brands with lengthier names no longer need to use abbreviations to fit within the character limitations.
  • What it means for brands: This update allows business pages to further brand their Twitter handle by creating more attention-grabbing display names to help users find a profile. If a business has a longer name, they’re now able to include more of their name, allowing users to find them more easily. Maybe this change is foreshadowing an increase in @username count, too? Only time will tell!

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, The Verge, AdWeek

Change the Way You Shop with Pinterest’s New ‘Lens Your Look’ and ‘Pincodes’

  • Pinterest has expanded visual search on the platform, introducing a new set of search and discovery options that provide additional ways for users to search for products and pins. ‘Lens’ was introduced last year as a way for users to upload photos of items they wanted to search for. Pinterest pulls relevant pins for that user based on the items displayed in the photo. Now with ‘Lens’, users can use text to go along with their photo, allowing for more specific searches. Pinterest also introduced ‘Pincodes,’ which are the platform’s own version of QR codes that enable users to scan tagged items in-store to access the product information and deals, via businesses’ Pinterest boards. From here, users are able to shop straight from Pinterest, by clicking-through to the product website where they have the option to purchase searched products.
  • What does this mean for brands? A Pinterest-commissioned study found that 45% of active Pinners use Pinterest to look for inspiration while shopping. Enabling Pincodes in stores gives shoppers an easier way to look up trends and relevant items. It also helps businesses better track the effectiveness of their Pinterest efforts by connecting in-app engagement with purchase behavior. Brands can use both Pinterest updates to better serve their customers by providing them with an easier way to shop and find exactly what they are looking for. It will be interesting to see which stores will implement the Pincodes functionality! And of course, we’re waiting for Pinterest to add a ‘sponsored’ component allowing brands to promote Pins based on searches using these new tools…more to come!

(via Social Media Today)

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Ad Week

 

Tags:

Often customers’ first touchpoint with brands is Mobile.

According to eMarketer, we know that Mobile is consumers’ preferred engagement screen and the platform through which customers first engage with brands.  In fact, over 60% of all U.S. adults use their smartphone as part of their buying experience. For years, we’ve lived in a digital era where our Smartphones are the keepers of our most valuable information and the recipients of much of our attention. Yet marketers continue to spend a disproportionate amount on TV ad placement rather than curating a mobile-first touch, in spite of what the data is telling us.

The top three ways customers are introduced to new information are overwhelmingly mobile use-cases.  Of the 77% of U.S. adults who use a smartphone, they will:

  • Hear about companies through word-of-mouth and turn to the closest device to learn more – 89% use mobile search
  • Discover happenings through social news feeds – 76.7% use social networks on-the-go
  • Text, email or direct social message to notify a friend – 63.9% use messaging apps

Knowing that brands may only get one chance to make an impact on customers, it’s critical to design with the first touchpoints in mind. This is our recommended approach:

1. Understand where you are in your Mobile maturity:

  • Initiate a mobile-first roadmap by leveraging various content platforms based on your consumer, their context of use and the inherent constraints of device technology
  • Accelerate by evolving strategies based on consumer need and integrating them across the customer lifecycle
  • Innovate to keep up with the pace of change and maintain market leadership.

2. Determine and design for the key dimensions of a Mobile-first (and connected devices) strategy:

  • Consumer / B2B client
  • Context (use-case)
  • Constraints & Capabilities of device technology

3. Ensure that any idea or experience is thoughtfully delivered across device screens according to their relative strengths, including (but not limited to):

  • Phones – accessible anytime but limited to messaging
  • Smartphones – personal, utilitarian, social and reward contextual, and ideal for presenting snackable content
  • Tablets – immersive and enable a lean-back, entertaining experience
  • Desktops and laptops – fully functional and allow for engagement with long-form content

Lastly, when it comes to better understanding the Mobile opportunity, we know that:

  1. The Mobile use-case has been evolving at the pace of increasing device penetration, and technological innovation in connected device capabilities and form factors
  2. There is an emerging shift in addressable audience by media platform with more potential reach on interactive mobile screens than one-way TV screens – according to GfK MRI data, among those 18 and older, 95.1% have mobile phones, compared to 89.1% who had watched TV at least once in the past week
  3. Those brands executing content development strategies for social media channels are implicitly investing in optimizing for Mobile use-cases – 82% of social network users use a smartphone to access social networks in 2017, and, by 2020, 55% of the U.S. population will regularly access social networks on a smartphone, according to eMarketer

As we approach 2018, it is no secret that companies need to be thinking mobile-first and ensure that the audiences’ experiences are thoughtfully delivered across device screens. However, it is the approach that sets a company apart from the rest; because mobile is increasingly social and the customer is a key dimension in any business decision, social market research is critical to understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of the target audience.

Want to hear our thoughts on industry news? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Here are our insights from our favorite recent stories.

 

We are seeing major changes in advertising on social channels this week. As the investigation on political advertising on Twitter and Facebook continues, the platforms are taking action to increase ad transparency as early as next month. Pinterest is also modifying its advertising capabilities and rolled out search advertising to all brands through the self-serve tool. In other news, Instagram now let’s users go Live with a friend (interesting) and Snap Inc. is partnering with NBCUniversal to create scripted programming on the Snapchat platform in 2-4 one minute segments. Take a look below to see what you may have missed this week.

Twitter Adds Transparency Center

  • Twitter initiated a new ad transparency movement, announcing its “transparency center” last week. This is in light of the latest investigation on how the social platforms were leveraged to advertise during the 2016 election. The transparency center gives users insight into all advertising information, including campaign spend, details into the organization funding the campaign, and targeted demographics of all ads on the platform. Political ads will have to identify campaigns and Twitter will promote these ads with a different look and feel than other ads to differentiate them. Additionally, Twitter will be closely monitoring compliance of the new rules and cracking down on the penalties for brands that violate them. They have hired over 4,000 new employees that will oversee these rules.
  • What it means for brands: The new ads transparency greatly reduces brand advertising privacy. Users and competitors will gain insight into details of campaigns that were traditionally not public information. While we don’t see this having a great effect on overall paid promotional plans, this may affect pharmaceutical companies that advertise during medical meetings and unbranded campaign/disease awareness ads. We’ll be tracking this update closely to learn next steps.

Additional Resources: Bloomberg, Twitter

(via Twitter)

Twitter Launches New Video Cards

  • Twitter is in progress of launching video cards which drive directly to a brand’s website. As a user navigates to a brand’s website the video will continue to play. Twitter hopes that combining the power of video while driving users to the site will increase conversions for brands. While testing this, Twitter says that the new cards achieved a 2X higher click-through rate than the industry benchmark for mobile video ads. Additionally, during testing they saw the number of users who abandon a site while it loads decrease because the ad continues to play as the site loads, keeping users’ attention.
  • What it means for brands: Video advertising is a powerful tool for brands, allowing them to bring a product or service to life and entertain its target audience. Including video cards that link to a website will not only make a more seamless experience for users, but also increase website views for brands. Having a video that continues to play as the website loads will ensure that users are engaged and not clicking out of the website while they wait.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Marketing Land

(via Social Media Today)

Facebook Increases Ad Transparency

  • Facebook’s biggest update this week, following in suit with Twitter, is to increase ad transparency. Facebook will be launching a “view ads” feature which gives all users insight into how brands are advertising on the platform. Typically, “dark” ads are only seen by people within an intended target audience. Now, users outside of a brand’s target audience will be able to view all promotional content published by a page. For politically driven pages, Facebook is implementing an “archived” section to give all Facebook users full transparency into a campaign, even after a campaign is complete. As an extension of this new feature, Facebook is testing two different feeds for users. One feed would be an explore feed, featuring posts from friends and family only. The second feed would be a “pages only” feed, where users can explore the posts of pages and brands they follow.
  • What it means for brands: Starting next month (in Canada, not US), brands will lose the ability serve content to (solely) specific target audiences. All paid advertising content will be viewable by users and competitors alike. Brands will be able to see each other’s ads, giving each brand insight into its competitors messaging and tactics- which is good and bad. While we don’t see this greatly affecting overall paid promotion strategies, where we do see this having a potential impact (for pharmaceutical companies) on paid promotions is surrounding medical meetings and unbranded disease education campaigns. We’ll be keeping our eye on this and share updates as they are released.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Marketing Land

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram Adds Go Live with a Friend Feature

  • Instagram is enhancing its Live stream experience by adding the option of going Live with a friend. The approach here is to make the Live tool more entertaining for users and less uncomfortable and intimidating for influencers or spokespeople.
  • What this means for brands: Having the option to go Live with a friend can be valuable for brands, as they can leverage this to answer audience questions or conduct interviews. This also eliminates potential coordination of having to all be in the same room – now influencers can go Live together from across the country. Going Live can be a great way to reach fans for celebrities or showcase a new product for brands, and as these live-stream capabilities continue to develop brands can expect to continue leveraging this capability for their audience.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Instagram

(via Instagram)

Snapchat Partners with NBCUniversal for Scripted Programming

  • Snapchat jumping on the live-TV bandwagon. The platform recently partnered with NBCUniversal to bring a daily Snapchat program called “Stay Tuned” to the platform, a scripted program covering the latest news in 2-4 minute segments. It makes sense that they are moving towards video programming in the app, as it is following the demands of users wanting to use their social apps to connect with friends but also for news and media consumption. This makes us think that Discover may not be gaining as much engagement as it used to and they need to find new ways to reach audiences with newsworthy information.
  • What it means for brands: Adding video news segments to Snapchat will expand advertising capabilities for brands in the coming months, possibly with more niche targeting and maybe even in-stream video ads like Snap story ads have now. Additionally, as Snapchat continues to ramp-up its user experience, this could attract more users and make it a more desired platform to advertise on. Younger audiences may start turning to Snapchat for all their news, which may cause competition with Facebook and Twitter.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Tech Crunch

(via Social Media Today)

Pinterest Launches Search Advertising

  • According to Pinterest, there are over 2 billion searches on the platform every month and 97% of those searches are unbranded. These results fueled their latest update, the launch of search solutions advertising on its self-serve advertising platform. For soft launch, these ads were only available with Pinterest Partners, but are now available via Pinterest Ads Manager for all brands. The search ads will work similar to those on Google. Brands can add keywords or key terms, and when a user enables a search that is relevant to the ad keywords, a promoted pin will show up in the search feed. Additionally, Pinterest expanded targeting capabilities for these ads with the new “Taste Graph.” This is an auto-targeting option that utilizes the advanced understanding of what people are looking for based on the pins they save, and supplements a brand’s keyword strategy by automatically targeting relevant searches.
  • What it means for brands: Giving brands the ability to promote their pins based on keyword searches is a great way to get the right ads in front of the right people. Additionally, leveraging Pinterest’s understanding of users via auto-targeting can expand a brand’s reach, but also ensure that the brand is reaching the right audience.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today

(via Social Media Today)

 

 

Tell us about your new company, Kaleido Insights? And what was the inspiration for the name?

Jeremiah: We’re a new boutique research and advisory firm, with four analyst partners. We’re focused on the buyers within large companies, who are often in marketing, innovation, product, strategy and beyond. My partners are Rebecca Lieb, who focuses on marketing, media, and content;also Jaimy Szymanksi who focuses on customer experience and digital transformation; and Jessica Groopman whose expertise is in autonomous technologies like IoT, Blockchain, and artificial intelligence. I focus on Corporate Innovation and new business models.

We’ve all seen an increase in the rate of emerging technologies, and it’s leaving business decision makers overwhelmed and confused as how to possibly keep up. Our brand, Kaleido (like Kaleidoscope) reflects how  so many different technologies, like the shards within a kaleidoscope, create a fragmented, chaotic environment for companies. We try to provide clarity through the ever shifting lens. The tripartite logo represents our unique methodology on how we analyze any technology: impacts on Humans, impacts on Businesses, and finally the impacts on the larger Ecosystem.

This is your third research firm – the last two being Forrester and Altimeter – how is Kaleido Insights different?

Jeremiah: Ah yes, great companies, great experience all who taught me a tremendous amount, I’m grateful for those experiences. Currently, Kaleido Insights is the only independent analyst firm focused on the buyer side. There’s larger analyst firms, but it’s easy to differentiate from them as a smaller, more nimble organization.

What are the focus areas of Kaleido Insights (would be good to hit hard on the analytics/data piece here)?

Jeremiah: Kaleido Insights’ coverage areas don’t focus on single point technologies, but rather on the ‘horizontal’ areas that remain core to any business—the areas that are constantly impacted by emerging technologies. Collectively, these form a foundation for any digital innovation strategy. Our 4 coverage areas include:

  • Customer Experience: Including deep analysis on consumer-facing programs, technologies, empowerment, and the organizational transformations required
  • Business Models & Monetization: Including the impacts of emerging technologies on monetization models, and the role of innovation programs
  • Marketing & Media: Including emerging practices in content and marketing strategy and execution and how to align hyperlocal, local, regional, corporate, and global teams for success
  • Automation: Including the ever-evolving role of devices, algorithms, and architectural innovations in product, service, and process automation, driven by IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and beyond

You mentioned in your announcement that you will continue to run Crowd Companies as well. Will there be synergies/overlap between Crowd Companies and Kaleido Insights?

That’s correct, Crowd Companies, which I started around 4 years ago, will continue forward under my leadership, with a seasoned team in place. Crowd Companies is a peer-to-peer council for corporate innovation and digital leaders –it was important to segment an advisory services firm away from the council. This separation is common at other large Industry Analyst firms, too. It’s possible we’ll have overlapping clients but the business models are significantly different.

Who is your dream customer and in one sentence, why should they be working with you?

Jeremiah: Our dream customer is a business leader at a large complex company that needs help innovating their digital strategy. They want help in charting the path, researching the market, and then collaborating with our team on an actionable road map that they can execute, while we coach the team. We’re seeking those long-term relationships so we can aid them as they shift their businesses to adapt to the many technologies that are constantly emerging.

You recently ran the Spartan Beast World Championship. You mentioned in a Facebook post that it was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life. How does that compare to starting a business?

Jeremiah: We all spend most of our adult lives focusing on our career (often even more effort that we focus on our fitness) so getting back into shape was a significant challenge. It took about 3 years to get into shape so I could finish the 17 mile race in Tahoe with 38 military-style obstacles, but I got it done. With that said, it wasn’t easy, while the professionals finished in just over 4 hours, my time was just over 9 hours. What’s the insight and how it applies to business? With ample research, training and dedication and you can accomplish your goals in all areas of your life. On a personal note, I strive to balance three things: family, fitness, and being a founder.

From ubiquitous technologies to data privacy to multi-platform convenience, Europeans are on the verge of redefining how consumers and brands interact

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming more and more accepted not only in our personal lives but for business as well. It seems like each day we are exposed to a different AI application and with it a new experience. AI is the enabler within a digital world that is changing the customer journey offering a smoother path toward purchase, an instantaneous set of data to strengthen knowledge, and a more seamless way of living life.

Here in Europe, there is a growing AI industry spread across a number of countries.  This solid infrastructure represents the next generation of business putting European companies at the forefront of this new technology and with it the challenge of navigating new pressures – both political and societal. Today, UK has the strongest AI ecosystem followed by German, France and Spain.

So where does this leave us from a communications and marketing standpoint?

First and foremost, the coming age of AI provides an early blueprint for how companies can convey their business mission, purpose, and efficacy. It begins with an analysis of the organisation’s influencer network. Meaning those constituents who are interested in your products and services, policies and beliefs, and who are shaping your story and carrying your messages. This ecosystem allows you to determine the vagaries of opinion across countries, boundaries, and regions.

Among the areas where AI is finding a home throughout Europe include: call centres, wearables, fitness, health and wellness, home security, HR recruiting, note-taking, banking, virtual assistants, payments, conferencing, search, lighting, energy management, warehousing, customer service, video games, robotics, etc. The benefits of AI revolve around a richer, more seamless customer experience tying people more closely to the brand in large and small ways such as product customisation, ordering ease, addressing issues promptly, faster turnaround, and more choice.

The promise of AI is the result of a digital world where technology places control in the hands of the marketplace.

With that in mind, savvy organizations are incorporating new elements into marketing and communications programming to move their business and mindset to the future including gaining knowledge, input, and acceptance of AI.  Among the areas being addressed:

1. Bridging the Present With the Future

Rethinking the overall corporate narrative to paint a picture of what the future can look like

2. Discovering New areas that Improve Customer Experience

Identifying customer service connections where AI provides a high-quality experience

3. Balancing any Arguments That Might Impede Progress 

Providing well thought-out points of view (POV) supporting a more digital experience for customers and employees

4. Engaging in Real-Time Discussion and Debate to Build Confidence and Trust 

Creating interactive tools and apps to generate discussions and debate that leads to stronger policies and clearer decision-making  

One of the most important issues regarding AI, as well as all digital intelligence, has to do with security and privacy.  In April 2016, the European Parliament approved the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May 2018. The measure is meant to protect an individual’s personal data and information and therefore privacy. As AI becomes prominent security and privacy will rise in importance providing fertile ground for organizations to declare a competitive advantage if their policies protect consumers and employees.

The future in many respects is already here as AI is changing expectations in the marketplace and the workplace. For European brands, who acknowledge this technological revolution, Top of the Document a proactive communications and marketing effort focused on education, efficacy, and dialogue will not only accelerate these changes on macro level but will position them in a much stronger place for growth.

As someone that started podcasting over 10 years ago, it’s amazing to look at how this medium has evolved over the years. Left for dead back just a few years back, podcasts have made a major resurgence thanks to the popularity of shows like Serial, Crimetown and Presidential.

Back in February, we at W2O launched our own new audio series called the What2Know Podcast. The show focuses on learning about best practices, insights and innovation from a variety of industry experts. And while the show caters to leaders in the marketing and communications space, we work hard to make these entertaining (and valuable) for anyone that chooses to listen.

Now that we are 32 episodes in, it felt like the right time to take a look back at some highlights from our guests who have included some incredibly talented people ranging from celebrity chef, Tyler Florence, to Founder of the LAGRANT Foundation, Kim Hunter. Our topics have ranged from using social media to creating amazing fan experiences to escaping from Vietnam with a broken back and dysentery.

Here are a few of my self-created awards from yours truly:

  • “Dumbest moment” Award — Normally, I try and do a fair amount of research before each of my interviews but this process sometimes gets short-circuited when serendipity strikes. Just such a moment happened at the NewCo Shift Summit back in February when I bumped into Grammy-nominated singer/SuperPhone CEO, Ryan Leslie, in the hallway. I hadn’t had Mr. Leslie on my list of interview targets but after hearing his keynote presentation, I realized he was a “must get.” Luckily, I was able to do some crash research on him and had enough material to go on. So we sit down and before I hit the “record” button, I address him as Leslie Ryan. Duh. This turned into a laughable moment soon thereafter when we started the interview and Mr. Leslie waves his conference badge at me as I introduce him so I won’t mix up his name again.
  • “Most enjoyable” Award — While I’ve really enjoyed doing many of these interviews, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable my interview with Stephanie Cathcart, global head of external affairs for GE Oil and Gas, went. Following Stephanie’s talk at the National StratComms Summit, I knew we were like-minded but five minutes into our conversation, there was just this incredible chemistry. She is a total digital nerd and understands the importance of great content.
  • “Best music connection” Award — I had met Comcast’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Satchell, several months before at a VIP party hosted by Comcast in support of the Olympics. Our mutual friend, Brian Solis, introduced us and we chatted for a good 30-40 minutes on at a rooftop bar in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The interview itself was a lot of fun because Chris is an absolutely brilliant technologist but at the end when I asked Chris about the “one album” he would chose to listen to on a deserted island, he shared his top three. And of the three: 1) Achtung Baby, U2, 2) Dirt, Alice in Chains and 3) American Idiot, Green Day, I could have easily chosen any of them for my “deserted island” album. I knew at that point that Chris and I would become good friends.
  • “Sweating bullets” Award — Similar to my “Dumbest moment” Award, I had the luck of sitting down with Mark McKinnon, the Executive Producer/co-host of Showtime’s, The Circus (also the campaign strategist for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and former Texas Governor, Anne Richards). I hadn’t expected that I would be able to interview Mark so when he agreed, I was on cloud nine. Unfortunately, the podcast unit I normally used was back in San Francisco so I had our second unit shipped from Austin. Three minutes into the interview, the batteries died and the bag the unit came in didn’t have backup batteries. Needless to say, I spent the next 10 minutes apologizing profusely to Mark while my colleague, Ally Masi, ran around like crazy looking for four AA batteries. Fortunately, the batteries were found and the show continued. And Mark was the consummate guest.
  • “Holy crap I can’t believe I’m talking to this person” Award — I’ve been a huge fan of the musician, ZZ Ward, for five years now. I’ve easily listened to her album, Til the Casket Drops a few hundred times and was quite impressed by how engaging yet approachable she was on social media. As luck would have it my friend (and President of Techonomy), Josh Kampel, knew her manager. Several weeks after I first connected with ZZ’s people, I was able to land an interview with Ms. Ward. It was one of the few I’ve had to do over the phone but it was still one of my all time favorites.

It’s been an awesome 32 weeks ride with some amazing guests. I look forward to the next 32. A big shoutout to all you listeners. And a special thank you to Blaire Clause for producing the show and Maya Ollie for creating the accompanying blogs and social posts.

You can listen to an abbreviated audio recap of the show below. Subscribe for our weekly updates!

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