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Register here to join W2O Group president and Storytizing author, Bob Pearson, as he shows you real world examples of “storytizing”.

Thursday, August 4th | 2pm-3pm CT

StorytizingWebinar_SocialCards_1200x628_Loop

You will come away with:

  • How the marketing model (paid, earned, shared, owned) is pivoting due to the birth of audience architecture.
  • How to best target, identify, and architect specific audiences.
  • Trends in the ever-changing digital world and what you can do to stay ahead in marcoms.

There will be a live Q&A session. Can’t make it? We’ve got you covered. Sign up here and we’ll send you a recording of the webinar as well as the accompanying slides.

When I joined W2O Group in 2009, Jim Weiss said to me that I should write a book about the future of digital marketing and communications.  We talked about it a lot and what I realized is that I should write a series of books over time that reflect what we’re learning from our clients and our teams.  If you’re working with the most innovative people in an industry, the answers about what’s next are literally right in front of you.

This thinking led to the creation of PreCommerce, which came out in March, 2011.

PreCommerce centers around a very important and simple concept.  Less than 1% of the time we spend online for our entire lives will be transactional and involve ecommerce.  The other 99% is referred to as PreCommerce – a time where customers make their own decisions to buy or support a brand before and after the transaction, with or without a company’s involvement.  Our life’s work is to create the algorithms and models that give light to what is happening in our PreCommerce world.  Whether it is reaching influencers, generating ideas, improving customer experience or transforming the internal mindset of your team, the book touched on what was important to be successful.

Today, nearly five years later, the concepts and models in PreCommerce are more relevant today than they were even a few years ago.

During this time, I’ve been obsessed with what’s next beyond PreCommerce, the world of influencers and all we’ve done to shape conversations and behaviors.  Once again, our clients and our teams provided a series of answers that will reshape how we market and communicate in the years ahead.

The next book in this series is Storytizing, which is centered on how the marketing model (paid, earned, shared, owned) will flip on its head due to the birth of audience architecture.  The combination of technology advance, analytics expertise and a need to improve outdated models is leading to a new way to identify, architect and then learn from the specific audiences you care about.  If you can listen to what 25,000 cardiologists are thinking and doing online or what your customers are saying online or what your next million customers think, it changes how you prepare for the market.

It means that earned and shared media are becoming the lead dogs in how we shape a market and paid is still important, but it will start to be used far more strategically and at far less expense for our clients.  In addition, with our knowledge of how our audience really works, we can start to see new ways to deliver our story across the full ecosystem for a target audience.  What this means is we will consider broad-based advertising to be less impactful with time and we’ll look for ways to pull our story through multiple channels to penetrate our full audience.  We’ll be Storytizing.

Storytizing looks at how search, media, issues management, corporate reputation and other models of communications and marketing will have to evolve as a result.  It’s important in this book to take the time to look at each area in some level of depth to understand why this change is occurring.

Just like PreCommerce, Storytizing is also filled with awesome advice from 15+ leaders who share their thinking in side bars in nearly every chapter.  Whether it is Jeff Arnold, Chairman of Forbes Travel Guide or Rick Kaplan, who has 47 Emmies and was president of CNN or Natalie Malaszenko, CMO of Overstock.com, you will gain keen insights that further illustrate what is ahead of us.

Storytizing will serve as a roadmap of how our world will evolve over the next 3-5 years.  It will be out March 10, 2016 to coincide with our PreCommerce Summit right before SXSW.

It’s a lot of fun to share how our world is changing right in front of our eyes.  We see it every day through our work and it’s nice to step back now and then and realize how profound the changes actually are.

Hope you enjoy Storytizing, which is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Enjoy, Bob Pearson

The fundamentals of communications are timeless. The art of telling a great story, the science of selecting the right channels to share our story in and the nuances of language always have been and will continue to be critical to success.

The environment in which we tell stories, however, is evolving faster than ever. In its wake, the role of the communications function is changing completely.

The reason is simple. Technology has empowered the entire audience to tell a brand’s story. This shift in capabilities is a game changer. As a result, it’s time for courageous leaders to change the communications function with more urgency than in past years. Our customers will benefit from the work of a next generation of audience architects.

Below are several market shifts that cry out for the communications function to change forever.

Audience Overtakes the Outlet: For media relations, our definition of “audience” is changing due to how technology is empowering the “9%” in the 1, 9, 90 model. For years, we have focused on the 1% of a marketplace who create content and act as influencers. The influencers are still important, but now the 9% or those who share content, also are driving the market. The 1 and the 9, together, reach the 90% of people who lurk and learn and benefit from what the 1 and the 9 do.

We used to be able to focus on five to 10 journalists, get them the news and they would share it and everyone else would follow. Now, we have customers joining in to share and interpret our story as they ensure their communities are informed.

Action: We need to know who matters in the 9%. And in many markets where 9% of the audience is in the hundreds of thousands or millions of people, we are realizing that finding the right audience to share content with is more important than getting coverage in an outlet. The former moves markets. The latter adds impressions. CEOs want to move markets.

Flipping PESOs: Since the 1% are important and the 9% now shape markets, this translates into “earned media” and “shared media” as being most important. In today’s world, when we get news coverage via members of the 1%, we want to have it shared via the 9%, either via shared media channels or paid media used strategically within shared to drive the content through a community.

Action: Since paid media will support and follow conversations and news, communicators must become fluent in how to effectively use paid media along with earned and shared. It’s no longer a bad word for communicators. Paid is in. It is becoming a core skill of communicators.

Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore: The agility of our campaigns must match the agility of the markets. Communicators are experts at knowing when to pivot on a story. Now, we need to partner with our creative colleagues and embrace the concept of “agile creative,” so we can share content that matters with a market in real time, based on the needs of the market. The idea of taking weeks or months to develop a campaign has become old school.

Action: We need to develop a library of content and stories that are preapproved and ready to share based on real-time insights. This will lead to a new definition of media planning for earned and shared.

Micro-Segmentation Replaces Personas: We always knew top-down, persona-driven segments of “five audience types” were wrong. Now, we’re realizing that each person actually represents his/her own media ecosystem. For example, if I am a cardiologist, I may follow healthcare providers, other MDs, nurses, journalists, patients, insurance companies and other professionals on my social channels. If we are going to track what 1,000 cardiologists care about, we can look at the online media ecosystem of all 1,000 of them and determine which outlets they care about, which channels are important, what content is relevant to them, what time of day they go online and much more. The roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. We just flipped segmentation on its head. Now we look from the bottom up and must understand how content is shared and consumed within each person’s network.

Action: We need to become fluent in the use of data and excellent in developing insights from these data.

Fragmentation of Media Means Something New: We used to say fragmentation referred to the proliferation of media outlets. That was an old-school way to look at change. What we see now is that an audience decides where and when it participates, which leads to real fragmentation. Fragmentation of people’s attention is far more important.

No longer are many of us CNN or ESPN fans. We consume content and have conversations in multiple channels with multiple communities and consume content on multiple devices from multiple platforms. We are news or sports fans and decide where we participate and consume content. The result is our definition of audience is very different today.

Action: We are entering an era where we must become audience architects, able to identify, develop and track the right audiences, learn from them and then align with their needs. If we’re not aligned, we may just be talking to ourselves.

This article originally appeared in the September 21, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.

We are excited to be participating in the NewCo tour and welcome folks into our offices to share a deeper look into who we are, what we practice and our philosophy. Bob will be sharing insights on trends within the digital marketing industry and how we fit into the ever-changing landscape. Below are some high level takeaways which he will discuss in more detail at the event.

Aaron: When building a website, we regularly hear how important “responsive design” or a “multi-device friendly approach to design” is. What is your view on how clients should approach “responsive design or responsive experience” for their owned content and web properties?

Bob: Most content today is consumed by mobile phone. 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 site, based on what we know about them pre-visit.

Aaron: You’ve talked a lot recently about the fact that “influencer relationship management is more important than traditional CRM to shape markets”….can you expand on that a bit more?

Bob: 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.

Aaron: The last trend emphasizes how one of our new processes – the creation of deeper audience insights through something we call audience architecture. Can you explain that a bit?

Bob: Audience architecture 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.

Aaron: Can you share an example of how audience architecture works?

Bob: Let’s say you want to find health conscious customers who are millennials, live in 15 specific cities and like to have an occasional burger. We can build a profile that leads to a panel of representative people online matching this group. We then watch what they do and say and can develop a highly targeted strategy. Basically, we’re starting to evolve how media planning and engagement occur.

Thanks for your time Bob. We look forward to hearing about these four insights and more at the upcoming event on Friday, May 29th 12:30-1:30.

 

I have always enjoyed reading what David Cassak, Editor-in-Chief of The MedTech Strategist, has to say about medical devices and innovation.  Recently, I participated in a column written by David that was published in the April 13th issue of The MedTech Strategist.  Enjoy, Bob

The Column

The argument that digital health proponents often make as to why they healthcare industry needs to step up its game – and quickly – when it comes to digital technologies is simply that if the whole work is incorporating digital technology into its day-today existence, how can healthcare not follow along? If virtually everyone on the planet has made smart phones and similar devices integral to every day functions, healthcare can’t help but become part of the phenomenon.

Can a similar argument be made for Social Media? If Facebook and Twitter have become major media of communication, shouldn’t healthcare companies find a way to incorporate those channels into their communications efforts as well? As the accompanying chart suggests, medial device companies – to take just one segment of the healthcare industry – lag far behind consumer and tech companies in their use of Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook and generate dramatically fewer hits on Google and YouTube (See Figure 1). To be fair, more and more device companies are incorporating Social Media into a broader strategy that embraces a direct-to-consumer approach. Companies like sleep apnea specialist ResMed Inc., for example, diabetes company Dexcom Inc. or cold-therapy company MyoScience Inc. are not only aggressively using Social Media, they’re bringing on staff marketing folks who specialize in the media (See, “MysoScience: The Promise of Cold Therapy,” The MedTech Strategist, February 27, 2015)

Areas of online Influence

But effectively using Social Media isn’t simply a matter of racking up the most “likes” or hits. Bob Pearson, president and CIO of W2O Group, an integrated marketing agency powered by analytics, notes that all B2B and B2C populations follow what he calls “the 1, 9, 90 model” – i.e., “less than 1% of a population creates content, approximately 9% shares or moves content and 90% lurks and learns and benefits, via search mainly.” And he notes that device company customers – namely, hospitals and physicians – “are online, learning from each other today,” making it incumbent on medtech companies to begin to understand the 1% and 9% who create or share content “well enough to understand what [those customers] desire/need/ask about.” He says, “Patients, payors and other parties are often following each other and are learning form their communities.” More, he notes, providers aren’t just following providers. Thus the critical question Pearson poses is “What is the social media network that is shaping the market’s perception of a given device?”

Pearson insists that “it’s not all that important how many Facebook ‘likes’ a device company has.” That’s a nice metric, but largely irrelevant, he says. Rather, more important is whether device companies have “defined the exact audience that is shaping the market’s perception and activity related to a disorder or disease, a device or your company.”

Indeed, he says that while device companies are amazing at understanding which physicians are most important, how to train them and build relationships, nearly all such activities today are done in person and offline. “That same experience should continue online,” Pearson says.

But device companies can’t make customers and other influencers come to them. They “must become expert at Audience Architecture to identify, build and interact with their audiences in a highly engaging/content driven relationship.” In short, rather than just chasing “likes” or followers on any given social media channel, it’s about understanding your audience and how they’re participating in social media in all of its ramifications, and in particular, how that audience perceives and understands individual medical devices.

The web is a big, noisy place.  Lots of brands I talk to want to engage the right people with their social media efforts. In my view, that starts with finding the right people and media outlets to follow according to topic areas. If this was easy, more folks would do it. That said, there are some free tools to make this process easier. For me, that begins with search, Twitter lists and curated RSS feeds. In this post, I’ll talk a bit about how to find the right people to create Twitter lists and RSS feeds around.

Speaking of free tools, in the technology space, I’ve used Techmeme.com for years. Scanning the front page, you can easily see which articles and blog posts are driving news cycles, and the Discussion section highlights the main related stories and tweets. Mediagazer is a sister site that works like Techmeme, but it tends to be more focused on traditional media. Both sites are a great place to start.

Now onto searches. I start with Google for news searches and Google is also a good place to start to find top people to follow on Twitter. These days, because of its ubiquity, it’s easy to take Google for granted. But, if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll see that Google searches can help you uncover lots of sources that are worth reading on a regular basis.

Don’t overlook the depth of Google Search

If I do a Google search for Android, I can easily click on the News tab to see results listed that way. Also, finding Blogs is a couple of clicks away (you’ll see Blogs under the More section). Regardless of how you filter the Search results, clicking on the Search Tools button will let you easily look filter for the Last 24 Hours, or other time period see image below).

Android Search

But, even more interesting than that, Google Alerts now make it easy to make RSS feeds from Google searches. To get started, just go to Google.com/Alerts. The example below is my Android RSS feed. You can easily filter for News, blogs or other items before you create the alert itself, and it’s easy to edit your feed alerts after the fact.

Google Alert RSS feed for Android

Twitter Searches and Twitter Lists

While Google searches are great for finding news and media sources, I find that Twitter is great for finding individuals. Recent numbers show the service has over 200 million active users.  Sites like Twitter Counter make it easy to see the Top 100 Most Followed accounts both globally and in regions. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s often a good idea to start with a Google search to find top Twitter lists to look through. Doing a search for Top Twitter for Cloud Computing will give you a few different list of folks to sift through. Looking up individuals manually is time-consuming, but most bloggers will include their blog URLs in their Twitter bios.

There are a few Twitter list-related services out there. Listatlas is a site that aggregates and tracks Twitter lists in a few different ways. Years ago, I used Listorious, which ultimately became part of muckrack.com. Muckrack is a great service that makes it easy to follow journalists on Twitter. Little Bird is a paid service that I’ve been intrigued by… part of its usefulness lies in the ability to create both Twitter lists and RSS feeds of individual influencers by topic. Any other Twitter list-related services out there that any of you use on a regular basis? I’d love to know in the comments.

Since making lists on Twitter is a semi-tedious process, I recommend that you start by looking at profiles of folks who provide a lot of value to you on a given topic. Clicking on Lists from their profile page will let you see all Public lists they’ve created, as well as any lists they’ve subscribed to. You can subscribe to any of those lists by clicking on that list and clicking the Subscribe to this List button. You can also use Google searches to find useful Twitter lists… two that turn up pretty quickly are Mashable’s Social Media list and @Scobleizer’s Most Influential in Tech list.

If you do want to create your own list, it’s pretty easy to do. First, go to the Me tab on your Twitter profile. Then click the Lists link. From there, click the Create list button. You’ll see this dialog box:

Create a New Twitter List

From there, you can name the list, type a description, either make it Public so anyone can see it, or Private so that only you can access it. After you create the list, you can go to any Twitter member’s profile page, click on the drop down menu by the Follow button, choose Add or remove from lists, then choose the list you want to add them to. Below is a screenshot from @Scobleizer’s account as an example:

Add @Scobleizer to a Twitter list

Use an RSS client like Feedly to manage your RSS feeds

Feedly was probably the biggest beneficiary of the Google Reader shut down. Lots of users who were upset about Google Reader’s demise exported their RSS lists into Feedly for good reason in my opinion. Feedly has grown into a really flexible tool that I check several times a day to keep up with things. Feedly makes it easy to create sections and to add RSS feeds to a given section. It’s easy to navigate sources within sections and you can also easily search for items in Feedly overall or in sections. Feedly also makes it easy for me to mark any post to read later by automatically adding it to a Read Later section.

I also really like the Android and iOS mobile clients for Feedly. Besides making it easy to manage and group feeds, I love that it offers a Flipboard-like experience. That’s the main reason I use Feedly on my Nexus 7 tablet every day. I can quickly read through lots of feeds in a short time by flipping through my feeds on a daily basis.  It offers all kind of versatility in terms of how it displays those feeds. For example, here’s the List View of the Techmeme RSS feed:

Techmeme - Feedly List View

And here’s the Card View of the Techmeme RSS feed:

Techmeme - Feedly Card View

Though finding the right people to follow takes some work in the beginning, it’s well worth the effort in my opinion. Once you have appropriate Twitter lists and RSS feeds set up, you can spend a few minutes each day reading the articles and blog posts that matter to you and your area of expertise.

The first step to engaging influencers is knowing who they are and being familiar with the work they produce. If you don’t take this first step, building strategic media and blogger relationships will be much more difficult.

We are excited to be partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to present a five part webinar series on social media and some of the key topics (blogging, mobile, content creation, influencer outreach) that support it. A recap, recording and slides from the first webinar on Getting Started with Social Media can be found here. You can also access the recording and slides from the second, Blogging 101 — Helping You Get Started, and third, Creating Content and Engagement for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, webinars via the links to those posts.

Yesterday’s webinar on Managing and Connecting with your Influencers was an hour long with the first 50 minutes spent addressing key trends, best practices on techniques for identifying and engaging with a company’s influencers. The last ten minutes were spent answering questions. To that end, I’ve included answers to three more questions from the webinar at the bottom of this post.

During the presentation, I (Aaron Strout) was joined by influencer and Syracuse professor, Dr. William Ward. Dr. Ward is a professor of social media at the prestigious Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse.

As promised, the full recording of the webinar is embedded below. You can also click through to see the video on Youtube.

In addition, you can access slides from the webinar on Slideshare here.

We also mentioned that we would answer some of the questions that we didn’t have a chance to cover during the webinar here. Three more questions and answers from the webinar are here:

  1. Is there one application to help me manage al these tools for the sake of time management?
    Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet when it comes to identifying and managing your influencers. However, if you do test some of the light (and free) social influence tools like Kred and SocialMention to identify your influencers, tools like Hootsuite make it easy to follow and track interactions with your influencers across multiple social networks.
  2. Is networking a great way to build your brand?
    Yes, offline and online networking are closely related activities. And if you are doing a good job networking, you should have an easier time identifying and connecting with your influencers. Doing this well will inevitably lead to better brand building.
  3. Can you elaborate on how to identify your influencers?
    Identifying your influencers starts with creating a list of key words (the same words that you might use to optimize your website for search engine optimization or that you might be purchasing as part of a paid search campaign). Try searching on these keywords in places like Kred and even on social networks like Twitter to find people that seem to be relevant and possess some level of reach (reach isn’t synonymous with followers as some people can game the system but often influencers will have a decent number of followers AND a high level of engagement like retweets, comments, shares and likes).