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W2O Group’s 3rd Annual HIMSS Social Conversation Report: Not your mother’s #HIMSS15 social media analysis

What do you get when you mix tens of thousands of healthcare IT’s most influential experts with today’s increasingly social conference atmosphere? An incredibly unique and unmatched opportunity to identify key trends in digital health and health IT overall, and a perfect laboratory to study industry conversation and market shifts through social data analysis.

For today’s healthcare and technology business leaders, using social media to understand how market conversations are trending and how to reach and engage with top influencers is no longer optional. And when it comes to the intersection of healthcare technology and social media, the HIMSS Conference and Expo is undeniably where it’s at, and the power that lies in its corresponding social data and conversation analysis is truly greater than ever before.

HIMSS’15 convened more than 43,000 of the health IT industry’s forefront thought leaders, influencers, movers and shakers and garnered nearly 83,000 tweets – or more, depending on the timeframe of measurement used – all driving social engagement on and around the #HIMSS15 hashtag.

Having been locked in the basement since the event, our W2O analytics wizards have been diving in and churning through the plethora of social data from this year’s conference. Drawing out notable takeaways and offering expert analysis, our #HIMSS15 Social Conversation Report helps today’s business leaders and healthcare communicators target their engagement strategy, optimize their social investments and better understand the ever-changing digital health ecosystem.

HIMSS’15: Social conversation analysis

So just what was the beat on the HIMSS’15 social street? How has the conversation grown in relation to prior events? What individuals and companies have made the biggest leaps forward with their #HIMSS15 social footprints in relation to previous events? How are physicians and patients factoring in to the social conversation? Let’s find out!

Per the below, between 2012 and 2014, the HIMSS social conversation rose consistently year over year. While 2015 saw continued growth in social conversations overall, it also saw a steep decline in the number of unique individuals who were a part of that conversation. Further, the rate of year over year conversation growth slowed from 55 percent between 2013 and 2015 to 11 percent between 2014 and 2015. Could the astronomical rise of social conversation at HIMSS be leveling off? (Fig. 1)

Fig 1 Conversation Slow Down

Fig 1.

Note: Want to know how the top health tech brands performed in terms of social impact and influence at HIMSS 15? For a rich analysis on the most influential companies at this year’s event, as well as more detail around those key social influencers driving the conversation around electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth, mobile health and wearables, please reach out to W2O Practice Leader, Rob Cronin, here, or see below for additional information.

Another interesting fact that we came across in our analysis was related to the relatively small proportion of tweeps who were driving social engagement for the conference as a whole. In looking at the chart below, 50 percent of the HIMSS social conversation was driven by just 4 percent of the individuals engaging, and just the top 1 percent drove 30 percent of the conversation. This is slight a change from 2014, which saw 50 percent of the conversation driven by 3 percent of the individuals engaging in conversation, and the top 1 percent of individuals driving 3 percent of the conversation. This tells us that, though it has increased slightly, it is still a very small group of “power users” and engaged tweeps who are driving at least half of the HIMSS social engagement (Fig. 2). This is yet another illustration of the 1-9-90 rule of influence that W2O Group has measured and reported on across multiple industries (Fig 3).

Fig 2 - Few Individuals Drive ConvoFig. 2

Fig 3 - 1 9 90Fig. 3

There is no denying that connectivity between patients and caregivers is increasing as providers continue to embrace health IT adoption and include in the care delivery process. And as the industry moves to a value based care framework, whose success is rooted in interoperability and the expanded use cases for EHRs and health data, it is not surprising to see a rise in the number of clinicians becoming active participants in the health IT conversation. And as we’ve seen per the tremendous growth in our own MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem (#healthecosystem), more and more physicians are, in fact, becoming increasingly active in the healthcare social media space.

When looking at the HIMSS’15 conversation, we were pleased to see this trend was reflected here as well. In spite of the slowdown in total HIMSS social conversations overall as compared to past years (see first image above), as we see below, physician participation in the HIMSS conversation continues to steadily rise, both among physicians who have participated in the HIMSS conversations in past years, as well as among newcomers to the conversation. (Fig. 4)

Fig 4 - Physician RelevanceFig. 4

Additionally, the #HIMSS15 hashtag was used by nearly 350 unique practicing physicians. As a point of comparison, in the past year*, the #MGMA14 hashtag was only used by 22 unique practicing physicians, #ACHE2015 by 21 unique practicing physicians and #ACC2015 by 52 unique practicing physicians. The #ASCO2014 hashtag, however, was used by 441 unique practicing physicians; though the attendee make up of that event is primarily clinicians, a stark contrast to HIMSS.

Key takeaway? The fast growing and relatively high physician engagement rate at HIMSS shows just how invested clinicians are in advancing the health IT conversation.

As for the new kids on the HIMSS block, we looked at who “stepped up to the mic” this year in terms of the HIMSS conversation (see slide #6 in embedded deck below). A few highlights in terms of the individuals and solutions who increased their engagement in the HIMSS conversation the most this year are:

Individuals:
Michael Crone: New to the HIMSS scene. Business development at Emids. Engagement was primarily retweets.
Bill Bunting: Went from near zero to hero this year. Director of healthcare solutions at EMC.
HIT Conference Guy: Also a new kid on the HIMSS block. Active content curator.
La Lupus Lady – Well known patient advocate. Minor participation a couple years ago, but active this year.
Regina Holliday: Not new to the space, but Regina more than doubled her participation in the HIMSS social conversation since last year. Data access for all!
Vendors:
ClinicSpectrum: Medical billing services provider new to the HIMSS conversation. Took first place for vendor participation growth.
TruClinic: Telehealth platform. Active social participation.
Dell: The company stepped up its social presence at the conference, engaging attendees and encouraging them to stop by their booth.
Intel Health: Account has existed since 2008, yet this was their first time participating in the HIMSS conversation.
Mayo Innovation: First time tweeting at HIMSS as well. Demonstrative of Mayo Clinic’s increasing digital footprint and growing social reach.

In terms of the HIMSS tweeps who were mentioned most in the #HIMSS15 conversation, as you’ll see below, HIMSS, Healthcare IT News, Brian Ahier, Farzad Mostashari and Deloitte garnered more social mentions from individual accounts tweeting at the event. However, Regina Holliday garnered more mentions among leading digital health influencers – or, those who are the most influential socially across the healthcare IT landscape on Twitter — including: Wen Dombrowski, Dave deBronkart and John Sharp. These individuals, who are all actively engaged in conversations around the patient role in HIT advancement — are a further indication that patient engagement is becoming an increasingly integral part of the health IT conversation. (Fig. 5)

Which social handles were mentioned most in 2015?

Fig 5 - Most Mentioned Handles

Fig. 5

When looking below at hashtags that had the biggest spikes in use as compared to previous HIMSS conversations, #engage4health and #physicians saw growth in number of mentions. While the former supports the increased focus on – and importance of – patient engagement, the latter highlights physicians’ increasing alignment with and participation in the health IT conversation. Another hashtag to note is #dataindependenceday, the popularity of which is a testament to the strength of Regina Holliday’s message of enabling health record data access for all. It is also worth noting that #HITchicks usage grew this year, a hashtag that supports women leadership and female participation in healthcare IT and the HIT conversation. (Fig. 6)

Which hashtags had the biggest spikes in use?

Fig 6 - Most Mentioned HashtagsFig. 6

Additionally, #HITsmCIO was another new-to-the-scene hashtag this year. This @W2OGroup-initiated tag focuses on health system CIO engagement in social media, and was created to celebrate and educate on how health IT leaders are using SoMe to drive improvement throughout the industry. Including social powerhouses CHIME CIO of the year, Sue Schade, from the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers (@sgschade), Dr. Rasu Shrestha, chief innovation officer at UPMC, Will Weider, chief information officer at Ministry Health Care (@CandidCIO) and David Chou, chief information officer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (@dchou1107), the #HITsmCIO community is harnessing the power of social to drive innovation and quality across the healthcare continuum. For more details, including a summary of our first-annual reception held the night before HIMSS on April 12, 2015, please see here.

In terms of health IT solutions providers who stepped up their website-engagement-via-social game, Deloitte was highly successful at driving users from social media onto its own digital properties. Conversely, although Walgreens and IBM successfully garnered conversation, they were not nearly as successful at driving individuals to their respective sites via their #HIMSS15 social participation. (Fig. 7)

A few notable mentions include:
Healthcare IT News: The premier publication of HIMSS. Created substantial content during the conference.
HIMSS Conference: A highly shared, in-conference resource.
Deloitte: The content winner of the conference – by a long shot. Created highly sharable content that drove attendees to share infographics, blog posts, research findings and poignant social media posts.
HIT Consultant: Created a mix of sharable and rich conference-focused content throughout the conference.
• MedCity News: Conference-focused editorial content drove shares.
YouTube: A mix of interviews and promotional videos were shared more this year.
Forbes: Bruce Japsen, John Osborn, Larry Husten, Louis Columbus, Matthew Herper and Nicole Fisher drove numerous articles shares within the health IT community.

Which domains were shared the most in 2015?

Fig 7 - Most Shared DomainsFig. 7

Another trend we followed was around the domains which garnered the greatest gains – in terms of social shares per user – from 2014 to 2015. Translation: we looked at the site properties whose number of shares increased the most from previous years to 2015. Once again, Deloitte was highly successful at driving shares of owned digital properties, but also improved significantly since its efforts in 2014. Other significant improvements include, HIT Consultant, MedCity News, HIMSS, Healthcare IT News and HealthIT.gov. (Fig 8)

In looking closer at Health IT.gov, the federal site shared more content – including more of its own content and links to its own site properties – and took on a more active role as an industry educator and social engagement leader at this year’s event. Another account who stepped up their game, in addition to Deloitte and HealthIT.gov, was HIT Consultant, who was very successful increasing the amount of content shared that drove traffic back to its online properties. Lastly, Cerner was notably the only EHR vendor included on both our list of top shared domains and biggest domain share increases from 2014 to 2015. This showcases a great opportunity for EHR organizations across the board to improve and refine their content and social engagement strategy to connect with this influential audience.

Which domains saw the greatest increase in number of shares in 2015?

Fig 8 - Domain Share IncreaseFig. 8

It wouldn’t be HIMSS without an announcement around meaningful use! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their draft meaningful use rule – that reduces the requirement that providers have 5 percent of their patients electronically download, view and transmit their medical record to a single patient – days before HIMSS, and as expected, this drew a lot of conversation on the topic. Regina Holliday, Sherry Reynolds, Mandi Bishop, Susan Brown, Charles Webster and Wen Dombrowski, among many others, were all active participants in the meaningful use conversation at HIMSS 15, with CMS, the ONC and Brian Ahier adding to that list of those who were also mentioned the most in relation to MU at HIMSS. (Fig. 9)

Meaningful use: Who drove the conversation?

Fig 9 - MU Convo DriversFig. 9

As noted previously, patient engagement was another topic gaining traction in the HIMSS 15 conversation this year, and we wanted to know who the most active tweeps were from an engagement standpoint, as well as who was mentioned most by others in patient-related conversations.

Not surprisingly, patient engagement strategist and health technology consultant, Jan Oldenburg, drove the conversation around patient engagement, followed closely by patient data rights advocate Regina Holliday. Clinicspectrum and Get Real Health were two of the solutions providers most active in the patient engagement conversation. (Fig. 10)

Patient engagement: Who drove the conversation?

Fig 10 - Patient Engage Convo DriversFig. 10

Not only has the conversation around patient engagement as it relates to HIT increased at this year’s event, but patient-related topics are also heavily rooted in discussions around health records and health data information ownership, with patient engagement being increasingly aligned with notions of transparency and access. In looking deeper at the health records/patient empowerment conversation, overall, we see that conversations about health records continues to rise, and is actually one of the key conversations related to patients at HIMSS’15.

As can be seen below, access, support, rights, own and need are all among the top terms used in the patient and patient engagement conversation at HIMSS’15. Additionally, the number of conversations about these topics rose incredibly fast since 2014, and with data and records appearing near the top of the list as well, it becomes clear that patients are increasingly associating empowerment and engagement with health data and EHR/EMR records access. While there was a slight dip in the number of people talking about patient engagement from 2014 to 2015, it still remains the single most discussed topic surrounding the patient perspective/experience. (Fig. 11)

Patient empowerment and data ownership: A growing trend

Fig 11 - Patient Empowerment TrendFig. 11

While survey also ranked very high in terms of growth, there are always a good amount of these documents released at events, and this year was no different. One such survey that received a lot of social engagement was Deloitte’s Survey of US Physicians, which provided data-driven insights on how physicians view the healthcare system healthcare reform. Last, but certainly not least, as can be seen in the continued increase of electronic as part of the patient-focused conversation, the divide between the business of health IT and those whom it is built to truly benefit is definitely shrinking.

And there you have it! Well, most of it, as we saved some of the real meat for those data geeks and organizations looking for a deeper analysis on key trends and eye-opening takeaways – including influencer and engagement metrics around mHealth, wearables and telehelath – as well as more insight around which companies were the biggest winners – and losers – in the social engagement and social influence game. For a deeper dive into the research and to set up media briefings, please contact:
• Rob Cronin, Practice Leader, Technology and Digital Health (@robcroninNY)
• Jen Long,
Group Director, Technology and Digital Health (@jensparklong)
• Jenny Laurello,
Senior Manager, Technology and Digital Health (@jennylaurello)

W2O Group’s HIMSS’15 Social Conversation Report

And for more @W2OGroup research, including our analysis of socially active hospital and health system CIOs (#HITsmCIO), please see here and visit our MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem to learn more!

Let’s begin with an oversimplified summary of marketing macro-trends from the past five years. Advances in technology have led to rapid innovation cycles, an open door to startups, and greater competition in virtually every major industry. Increased competition places greater pressure on marketers to successfully position, target, and reach new (fickle) consumers, thus leading to increased budgets but greater scrutiny. Concurrently, channels of distribution and social media proliferation have reduced the overall effectiveness of traditional paid media (TV, radio, print). Investments in digital media continue to rise, but these tactics run the risk of becoming just another billboard until a standard measurement scheme is adopted…impressions no longer count, folks. Marketers find themselves faced with too many options but the same old dilemma…how to reach the right eyeballs with a relevant message to drive funnel activity? Relax, you don’t have to do it all alone…

Your Brand is No Longer Yours

As mentioned above, the proliferation of digital media has become an open invite for informal journalism and product critique. Consider your personal news feed, anyone with a Twitter handle, Pinterest page, or YouTube channel can pose as a resident authority for a given topic. Combine this with a human tendency to seek recommendations from trusted networks at the speed of “fiber”, and all of a sudden pay-for-play review services like Zagat, Forbes, and Michelin become a little less relevant. Similarly, a brand’s ability to tell their own story objectively is in itself oxymoronic. Consumers yield more power than ever in curating brand experiences for rebroadcast with greater organic reach than any single brand or network can provide. So how can you make heroes out of your customers and are you comfortable with passing the mic?

beck song reader site(ex: Beck’s Song Reader)

Never Discount Vanity

We are all a few clicks away from becoming professional storytellers, kickstarters, and journalists…and some clever folks make a pretty good living doing so. Since we all now have the ability to live in bits and bytes, we also own digital brands to build and protect. Consumers tend to curate the best of themselves in photo, video, and text, and if advocating your product or service can help them in their quest, you just earned more efficient advertising than you could ever pay for. Yes, altruism still exists and deep-down most of us share information with the hope of helping others. But there is also selfish pride in being viewed as a source of discovery for news, humor, products, or deals, which can double as brand sponsorship. Do you have the ability to locate your top advocates, make them feel special, and hand off something exclusive enough to share? Does this help them build their individual digital brands?

warby parker 2

(ex: Warby Parker’s Home Try-On)

Just Cause

If traditional media effectiveness is in perpetual decline, you no longer own your brand, and customers control their own path to purchase, how can you win? The most progressive brand marketers recognize that modern consumers, specifically digital natives, want to elevate beyond the transaction and require their share of wallet contribute to more than corporate profits. This can be a win-win for both brands and consumers, with corporate cause efforts (CSR) are perpetually constrained by resources and priority, when aligned with marketing they can build brand equity and also contribute to customer acquisition. As mentioned above, if this also helps consumers attach altruism to their digital profiles with minimal keystrokes, they will support your cause through commerce.

toms

 (ex: Toms Improving Lives)

In the grand scheme of advertising, digital media is still in relative infancy. This is precisely why I find it so valuable to study patterns of communication and subliminal intent to predict behavior. One thing is for certain, no single brand can afford to continue feeding the diminishing returns meter, a.k.a. traditional paid media. In order to scale your brand message in the most organic way, you must enlist your customers (and their respective networks) to participate. Word-of-mouth still happens largely offline, but online sharing platforms are fertile ground for brand advocacy. However, this must be a true value exchange, whereas if a consumer offers you a piece of their digital real estate, your product or experience must deliver incremental value in their personal brand building campaign.

Google cause

 (SOURCE: LBGT Advertising, How Brands are Taking a Stance on Issues)

 

There is a saying… “if some is good, more is better.” Often, this saying is meant ironically because it is rarely true. But in the case of our 2015 events leading up to (and slightly overlapping) SXSW Interactive, we here at W2O Group were extremely pleased with the results. For the Readers Digest version of our events, you can check out the content capsule below (it includes a few select videos of our speakers, our PreCommerce Spotify playlist, speaker presentations and pictures from numerous events). We also led up to our events with some speaker interviews which I recommend checking out here.


We kicked things off this year with our second annual VIP Round Table — an event reserved for speakers and some of our more senior level clients. Held on the 55th floor of the prestigious Austonian building, the 40 person event was led by W2O Group President, Bob Pearson and tech mogul, David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy.

2015-03-11 14.56.00

The two and a half hour, facilitated discussion touched on topics such as innovation, the future of apps, security and mobile advertising. The day rounded out with an appearance by none other than one of the hardest working men online and on camera, Al Roker (Below is the episode of Live from Stubbs Jon Harris and I filmed with Al).

One of our two signature events this year was our fifth annual PreCommerce Summit. And while each of our past four summits have gotten better than the year before, this was the year where we really stepped up our game the most significantly. Not only was the venue a cut above (thank you Austin City Music Hall) but our event production team (huge props to Erin Disney and Team Clink) took our game to a new level. And then there were the speakers. I’ve pulled out some key quotes below but I would highly recommend spending some time reading the recaps/watching the videos for each.

 

 

 

Here are the speakers (note links to their blog recaps and a link to their presentations to the right of each name):

On Friday, we held our second annual digital brunch. This is technically our third or fourth but the second in our new office with food trucks and music. This is a great time for our clients, neighbors, partners and employees to mix and mingle, enjoy some breakfast tacos, Bloody Marys, take in a demo or two, all while basking in the warm Austin sun.

Here are a few pics of the festivities:

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Brunch

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This year, in addition to our PreCommerce Summit, we decided to take a page out of our earlier SXSW days where we had a smaller, more intimate room. At our first ever Geekfest moderated by Bob Pearson and our CTO, John Cunningham, we featured 16 speakers covering topics that ranged from the Apache Project to resonant charging to the importance of diversity in tech. It was a lot of good food for thought in a power packed four hour span. We will have the videos for these talks up soon but in the meantime, you can thumb through the blog recaps below.

Last but not least in our string of events this year was the Geekacue. It’s hard to believe bu this was our sixth annual Geekacue and also the first year we didn’t host our event at an actual BBQ joint. For the last three years, we had the good fortune of taking over Franklin’s BBQ (owner and chef, Aaron Franklin, was recently named as a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award). This year, we made the tough call due to space constraints and took our party over to the elegant confines of the Charles Johnson House. This of course meant that we needed to find some great BBQ and likely that we would need some entertainment as well. Mission accomplished on both fronts as we were fortunate enough to land new-but-not-so-new, Terry Blacks BBQ, as our bearers of brisket. The short version of the story is that twin brothers, Mike and Mark Black opened Terry Black’s in Austin in late 2014. However, the namesake of their new establishment is their father, Terry Black, whose father, Edgar, opened now legendary “Black’s” in the BBQ capitol of Texas (Lockhart) over 83 years ago.

In addition to some amazing BBQ, we also had the luxury of not one… not two… but three bands. Some of you may have only seen Monte Montgomery who opened or Black Joe Lewis who was the feature act. But for those lucky enough to stick around, we also had the red hot blue grass band, Whiskey Shivers, upstairs at the after party. All three were amazing and left us wanting more.

geekacue2

geekacue1

geekacue3

terry blacks

2015-03-14 20.02.22

geekacue-bobnmitch

geekacue-whiskeyshivers

During the Geekacue, we also kept our clients, partners and friends-of-W2O entertained with a dance party booth (video below).

We also brought back one of the staples of our Geekacue, the photo booth. We’ll have all the photos available soon on our Facebook page but in the meantime, here are some gems to give you a flavor.

photobooth1

photobooth2

photobooth3

Key stats across all our events:

  • We had over 5,200 tweets tagged with our hashtag #sxw2o (I encourage you to scroll through the content there — it will make you smarter… and hungrier, I promise).
  • W2O Group held eight different events this year — our most ever. Look for that number to be closer to ten next year.
  • There were over 3,300 registrations for our events. Somewhere between 40-50% of those folks showed up plus walk ups. Subtracting out overlap, we had roughly 1,000 unique folks not including our employees attending our events.
  • There were over 60 briskets consumed at our Geekacue. Okay, I’m making that number up but it was somewhere in that neighborhood.

Last but not least, none of this would be possible without our wonderful partners/sponsors. They not only help fund (or in the case of alcohol, provide in kind donations) but they are also integral parts of our events as speakers, attendees, photographers and avid Tweeters. We appreciate you all and thank you for your support Sysomos, Clarabridge, Bayer, Datasift, Sprinklr, Business Wire, Synthesio, Sullivan Wine, Deep Eddy Vodka and Thirsty Planet.


Sponsor Block_Updated

 

gayleAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we are interviewing several of our speakers during our events the week of March 9. Next up is Gayle Fuguitt, CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Gayle became the first woman to lead The ARF when she became CEO and president in April 2013. She spent 32 years at General Mills, where she was lauded for bringing the voice of the consumer to the decision table. She has served on the board and executive committee of The ARF from 2005 to 2012.

[Aaron Strout] How is the advertising industry changing (beyond the obvious)?
[Gayle Fuguitt] The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed”  (William Ford Gibson). We are obviously in a fragmented, dynamic, complex world filled with new fears like bots and fraud, but it’s more important to see the amazing opportunities that have been created for marketers today, and I’d like to make that distinction:  The c-suite is asking “do my marketing dollars drive growth and sales?” and “where should I spend my next dollar?

We have an amazing opportunity through our measurement mandate to embrace and advance new technology for better business decision. Media buying and planning is more sophisticated than ever before.

At the end of the day, it’s important to get down to our number one ground truth, first declared by the ARF in the early 60’s and then again in 1989:  Advertising Works.

[AS] Where do you think we are headed?
[GF] New technologies will catch up with the consumer today, but in pockets, and we will need to find the best of the best and evangelize and scale them across industries to drive the kind of business sales growth that our C-Suites are demanding.

The best insights will still come from a keen understanding and quantification of  “heart”:  What consumers’ values are and what they value that can be translated into brand value. We will get better and better at those insights, but the exciting breakthroughs are in the measurement of how the “heart” and emotional reactions connects to the head. Our second Ground Truth:  Brands are built in the brain, so we rely on neuroscience to unlock deep insights and predict sales growth better than ever before, to the feet where sales data can now be more easily aligned to media delivery.

[AS] If you had one piece of advice for marketers, what would it be?
[GF] Set aside 10 percent of your budget for pure experimentation and give it to the next generation to design and execute.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[GF] There’s nothing more important than a powerful story to drive personal connectivity to behaviors. Word of mouth is more important today than ever before. Consumers want and need to be connected, they seek each other out for ideas, inspiration, affirmation and solutions.

[AS] If you’ve attended SXSW in the past, what was your biggest takeaway?
[GF] I’m not even at SXSW, and I’m already blown away!

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[GF] Growth and Innovation, Art and Science combining to drive to new, never seen before solutions. Storytelling of successes AND failures, experimentation, trial and error. These are exciting times, and there’s never been a better time to be in marketing advertising or insights and analytics. Our time is now.

Daina (1)

As I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Next up is Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Prior to joining Twitter to run global marketing, Daina was the CEO of Performics, the performance marketing division of Publicis Groupe. A pioneer in the digital marketing space, Daina is known for creating “participant marketing”. Prior to joining Performics, she served as SVP of Insights, Trends, Innovation and Research at Moxie.  Prior to that, Daina spent 16 years working at Hewlett-Packard in key marketing positions across the company, and was running advertising for HP’s $28 billion global Imaging and Printing Group immediately prior to her departure. Daina serves on the boards of Marin Software, Healthwise, and the Teton Valley Community Foundation.  She is a regular industry speaker.

And now on to the interview:

[Aaron Strout] I’ve heard you have a slightly unorthodox major/minor combination. How did this come to be?
[Daina Middleton] Yes, it’s true. I have a journalism degree which has been more beneficial than you might think — especially in today’s world where there seems to be an overabundance of communication. My skills there help me digest and sort through what’s relevant and what’s not. The “unorthodox” part you are referring to is my minor which is in fisheries and wildlife. The back story there is that while I was at Oregon State, they required a technical minor. I had so many credits from different technical fields, including archaeology, zoology and many others — even computer science.  Finally,  I decided to pick a minor by counting the area where I already had the most credits because I could not decide.

[AS] Daina, you worked with Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) of HP while he was running the print division. Tell me a little about that relationships and what you learned from VJ.
[DM] I was running advertising while VJ was running Imaging and Printing. We were experimenting in measuring everything in marketing — these were the early days when analytics were more of a promise than a reality and pushing the envelope with partners, particularly Google who would produce a 200+ page report including data and insights every week. VJ was really fascinated with the idea of measuring marketing and I think he read every page every week.  I learned this because after I forwarded the report on to him he would give me a call and ask me a question from one of the charts.  I never knew exactly when the call was coming. After a few calls, I decided that I had better do my homework and understand the story behind the numbers, along with the business impact in order to be fully prepared when the phone rang.

What I didn’t know at the time was that VJ’s expectations and passion for data was setting me up for my  job running the largest performance marketing company in the world: Performics. My interactions with VJ were instrumental in insuring that I was immersed in all facets of the data and performance. To that end, I still passionate about data.  Mapping everything marketing does to direct business impact is just common sense.

As I said, we were working really closely with  Google at the time to break new ground in marketing analytics. VJ was on Yahoo!’s board of directors at the time and was so impressed with what we were doing with Google that he insisted I come along with him to one of the Yahoo! board meetings to explain to them how they were falling short.

[AS] Like a few of our other speakers, you’ve written a book. Tell us a little about, Marketing in the Participation Age, and what some of the key themes are.
[DM] Yes, I did write Marketing in the Participation Age back in 2012. It was a great experience. There are three parts to the thesis:

  • Traditionally we were all trained that marketing is about persuasion.  Today, persuasion is no longer enough.  Marketers need to understand participation.  Every customer has a computer in his or her pockets.  And the goal of marketing is to get that customer to take some form of action on your behalf.  We are all measured on these actions.   And actions are the manifestation of participation.
  • There is a science behind participation. It hasn’t been applied to marketing before now because there was no reason to do so. The science is based on intrinsic motivation or self-determination theory which has been applied to education and HR but hadn’t been applied to marketing, until now.
  • The last chapter of the book focuses on the idea that more fundamental changes within a company are required for success today.  Historically, all marketing metaphors have been based on war.  If we want our customers to participate, then I think gardening is a better metaphor, and if a company can adopt “nurturist” values they will have success in the Participation Age.

[AS] How are you using your philosophy to help evolve the way that twitter as a platform is experienced for businesses/your customers?
[DM] Numbers help us make decisions today and better prepare me/us for tomorrow. How do we prepare for tomorrow?

  • Explaining how and why Twitter is so much bigger than just a platform.
  • Knowing your customer, and using data in smart ways to REALLY know them and invite them to participate.

mike edelehartAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. First up is Mike Edelhart, CEO of Pivotcon.  For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

If you don’t know Mike, he is the lead partner for the Social Starts moment-of-inception investment fund and CEO of the Tomorrow Project, producers of the Pivot Conference in NY. Mike is an experienced media and Internet start-up executive. Mike was Managing Director and founder of First30 Services, a launch accelerator for early stage companies. Mike has held CEO and executive positions at numerous start-ups including Inman News, Zinio,Third Age Media and Olive Software. Mike was a partner at Redleaf, a VC firm. Earlier in this career, at SoftBank, Mike directed content for the Seybold, Interop and Comdex conferences and launched new businesses.

Now onto the interview:

[Aaron Strout] What is innovation? How do companies adopt and scale within their companies.
{Mike Edelhart] We need to think about innovation on two very different scales. One is innovation within the norm: the better mousetrap. This happens all the time and can arise when companies pay attention to the details of what they do, solicit ideas for workers and best customers and operate obsessively at perfecting their internal processes. But there is a second, deeper kind of innovation. This is tech disruption. When fundamental new technologies–such as social and mobile today, and the IoT tomorrow–emerge, they create change slowly, but with inexorable force. Because they often negate long standing fundamentals, company’s can’t respond simply by being better at what they do; they have to learn to do something utterly new. That is the challenge companies face today: How can they strip down the house they live in and completely rebuild it in recognition of fundamental change, while still keeping the current business going? That is very hard and most businesses fail. Which is why tech change often ushers in new market leaders who approach what they do in radically different ways, ala Netflix and Uber. And we’ll see many more of those to come.

[AS] What do you do to keep your company fresh in the business?
[ME] We are an unusual business, being a moment-of-inception fund. Our job is to be out front of change. We compel ourselves to recognize that no company, especially a small one like ours, can understand everything going on in a complex, high-velocity world like ours. So we compel ourselves to radically focus and in our focus areas to see literally thousands of new companies, so we always have been context for making our decisions. The enemy is our personally held views of what the future will be. It doesn’t matter what we think; all that matters is what customers are doing and are likely to do. We need to stay single-minded on that.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[ME] Stories have been fundamental to human communication since we squatted in caves. They remain so today. In the old days, everyone was a story teller, but the range of impact of stories was quite small. More recently, stories could travel worldwide and have huge impact, but only at great expense and complexity, so the story tellers became a professional caste–TV and movie producers, authors and publishers, newspapers. Now, we see an era emerging where everyone can be a story teller again, the traditional mode returns, but with a worldwide impact that individuals have never hard before. We believe the impacts of this on media and marketing will be profound.

[AS] If you attended SXSW last year, what was your biggest takeaway?
[ME] I wasn’t there last year. But what I heard at a distance was that popularity has made the event so big and so noisy that only huge expenditure could get a company/product above the noise. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out this year.

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[ME] I hope to hear a lot about how companies now can and should interact directly with their customers/fan bases/employees in new ways. Value, in marketing, should flow directly to the people whose actions moves markets. The role of all the middlemen in the market–all media, all platforms, all channels–should be deeply re-examined. It can’t hold that a platform like Facebook can generate billions of value from the behaviors of its members, with none of that value flowing to them. That inequity must be changed and the rising generation of millennials seems determined to make that happen. Is business ready for this yet? I hope to get a sense of that from SouthBy this year.

We look forward to hearing more from Mike on March 12!

In2

Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco, “a global network of events that explore innovation, disruption and evolution that has — and continues to —redefine influence and engagement.” That’s a lot to take in, right? “Redefine influence and engagement.” What does that mean? Well, here’s three things I took away from the conference:

– Storytelling is alive and kicking, but participation is key. Daina Middleton, head of global business marketing for Twitter discussed how today we are in the age of participation. In her book, “Marketing in the Participation Age,” she discusses how now is the time to evolve from the traditional marketing methodology developed over 50 years ago to one that embraces how people engage in conversations today. The world has become smaller and more complex. It’s not a competition in who can be the loudest. There’s so much content available and people are now choosing how, when and where they spend their time consuming content. Daina discussed how the key for customer participation is to activate all three elements of the framework:

  1. Discover: The human desire to continually learn, and the satisfaction of becoming competent at something. In what ways are you inviting participants to learn more about your product/brand?
  2. Empower: Inviting someone to have a meaningful contribution to the brand and/or product. Do you invite participants to connect with the brand: provide feedback, offer tips and suggestions, and help to create the product itself?
  3. Connect: Humans love to interact with others in meaningful ways. Brands often only think of creating environments that allow Participants to connect with the brand, but do you build environments that foster relationships with others who may share the same interest?

– Chief Marketing Officers are under pressure to show ROI. We heard from some of the biggest brands this week: Starbucks, MasterCard and one of my favorite brands, Method. These leading brands are all on the cutting edge of engaging in a more participative conversation with their customers. I am a brand advocate for Method. Why? I tell everyone how much I love their laundry detergent. I also proudly have their hand soap on my sink counter vs. in a soap dispenser that matches my bathroom decor. Why? I am proud of my decision to bring a brand into my home that is socially responsible. That’s all great and fine, but how does that translate into sales? Despite all the chatter around mobile and the term “big data,” many chief marketing officers (CMOs) are at a standstill in reaching digital and data-focused marketing goals. Why? Internal silos, resistance to change within their companies and limited expertise with emerging technologies and solutions. Here’s the Oprah aha moment: Companies can’t keep up with the pace of consumer adoption. How do you fix the problem? Baby steps. First, ensure you’re CEO is supporting the cause. Are business objectives clear and do they align with marketing objectives? Second, CMOs must get all functions of the marketing organization to talk to their finance and IT departments. The idea is to find an approach that works for all functions and to slowly identify ways to measure the connection of marketing to sales. That approach can include the use of CRM data, scan data from supermarkets, insights from digital conversations and/or measurement of influencer engagement, to name a few.

– Analytics and Insight – no longer just an afterschool special! During the conference, I heard one of our leaders Bob Pearson at W2O Group say that companies are starting to develop insights through analytics, but then they stuff it in their pocket and move on with their regularly broadcasted TV program. Worse yet, if they do use analytics, the insight is elementary… learning of “likes” and “RTs” is not a strategy. In the course of the conference, there was a panel discussion entitled, “Speaking CEO – The Next Frontier in Measurement & Analytics.” It was clear that the panel participants, including Seth Duncan from W2O Group, are on the forefront of analytics and insights. The idea is to actually use insight to help make strategic business decisions, not just communications decisions. Overlapping market segments with an understanding of where customers spend their time online, plus insight into what their passions are could be incredibly lucrative. It means not just counting the numbers, it means understanding human behavior. Once you do that, it’s not just about holding onto that data, it’s about identifying how to align with business objectives. It’s about creating the right conversation, identifying the right channels online and offline and it’s about having an engaged experience with your customers. Not only that, do it fast, be agile and evolve it over time.

So, you can see that the market is ready for us to redefine the way we influence and engage. It’s about participating in a conversation. It’s about understanding how people behave, what gets them excited. Where are they spending their time? It’s about finding ways to engage all parts of your organization to identify opportunities to link marketing to sales. Finally, it’s about taking those insights and turning it into action – FAST!

Diane Parrish, Group Director, WCG World
Diane Parrish, Group Director, WCG World

Although it is rare, every now and then, I get to just sit back and listen to leaders talk about innovation and entrepreneurship.

In the last two weeks, I had an opportunity to keynote at a Nestle/Purina meeting in St. Louis and a Sysomos meeting in Toronto.  Here is what I learned.

#1 – Local Innovation is Important to Monitor & SharePete Blackshaw, global digital chief of Nestle, showed example after example of social media/digital/paid media innovation from India, Pakistan, Turkey and many other countries.  It made me reflect on the past and remember how many times leaders have shared examples from the largest countries, rather than the most innovative.  Pete is a born innovator who identifies what’s next and then shares it better than anyone I’ve seen to help his team build a unique advantage.  Internal center of excellence focus matters and Pete and his team are a great example.  Plus, there is A LOT of innovation occurring in the media world in Asia and in emerging countries overall.  We need to keep an eye on this to learn ourselves, particularly in the US where we navel gaze too much. 

#2 – Being an Entrepreneur Takes Guts Jim McKelvey, creator and founder of Square along with Jack Dorsey, provided this analogy.  He showed a picture of a car on a road where it was snowing.  You can’t see ahead at all.  He said “this is what it is like being an entrepreneur when you are really innovating.  You can’t see clearly ahead.  You can’t stop your car because the plow will hit you from behind.  You aren’t sure if you are going straight, but every mile you see a marker and you are ok for a second.  You keep going straight…..or think you are….your gut is you are right…..and then finally, after you have run scared for what seems like a long time, you see the landscape.”  He said that he has been scared to do every great thing he’s done.  But he did it anyway and ended up creating some pretty cool companies.  He’s right.  Innovation can be a lonely, frustrating place.  If you can stay focused long enough, the windshield will clear and the trip will be worth it.

#3 – We Can Innovate Far Faster Than We RealizeBen Kaufman, founder of Mophie, dropped out of school and still did ok.  He now leads Quirky.  They crowd-source ideas for new products and produce three new products each week!  They built a new air conditioner for GE in 140+ days.  A new smart lightbulb in less time.  His message is that if you really crowd-source views and care about innovation, you can greatly accelerate what you create.  He was pretty clear that companies move way too slow, point to bureaucracy, wait for others to make decisions and they are actually the real problem.  Ben said “you need to overpromise and over deliver to unlock innovation.  You need to set very ambitious deadlines to get things moving.”  We experienced the power of crowd-sourcing with IdeaStorm when I was at Dell.  Why don’t we see more of this?

#4 – Patterns Matter in Analytics – Cynthia Storer, one of the original six members of the CIA’s analysis team (all women) tracking Bin Laden from 1988 through recent times, outlined the importance of looking for clues, finding patterns and then determining what to analyze.  If you closed your eyes, you would think she was working with us.  Great analytics has the same intensity.  We always assume there is another clue to find, another pattern we missed.  We can learn a lot from listening to how Cindy’s team operated. 

#5 – Digital Media is now the Mainstream Media for Major CompaniesRob Norman, Chairman/CEO of Group M and board member of WPP spoke.  Rob clearly stated that strategy starts with digital and that is where the focus is for WPP.  Rob said “every plan at WPP now has a significant digital component”.  He also said that “ecommerce is changing.  Point of sale is determined by consumer choice, not brand”.   We are now in a world where it is normal for 40-60% of marketing spend to be digital worldwide. 

#6 – Facebook is a S²aaS firm – Facebook understands that software is optimally used when you combine education, training, ideas and the software.  I see their teams at every big company these days.  They are highly dedicated to their client’s business and they make a difference.  It makes me wonder why every SaaS firm doesn’t get this.   Software does not sell itself in a marketing environment.  Kudos to John Patten and friends at Facebook.   

#7 – The Future looks like Buzz Feed – publishers will move closer to the Buzz Feed model where the publisher works with you on how to leverage your ads.  They help create content with the advertiser.  It is past due for the advertisers of the world to ensure they also become relevant members of the conversation.  We have a lot of evolution ahead in the ad space. 

#8 – The New Celebrity Looks like Us – people are not connecting as much with celebrities these days.  Instead, they are connecting more often with the emerging stars on YouTube and other channels who are more like them.   We now have more potential spokespeople…..

#9 – It’s Hard to See Change & Embrace ItGuy Kawasaki pointed out how companies too often hang on to the models of the past and make excuses as to why they can’t change.  This works until they become obsolete, over and over again.  Couldn’t help but think he was referencing the advertising world as he said this.  He said “the key is what is the core question we are solving for and why?  What is the next curve?”

#10 – Great Innovations Polarize People – Guy said that when real innovation is occurring, it can divide before it unites, since so many people hate change.  This from a guy who used to work for Steve Jobs. 

#11 – Don’t be a Bozo – Guy told the story of how he turned down the CEO job of Yahoo! in the early days.  He didn’t make the time to figure out the opportunity.  And it passed him by. He figures he lost about $2 billion.  His point is that great ideas and great opportunities are often right in front of us…….but can we see them or do we refuse to see them?

#12 – Make Decisions with SpeedLindsay Sparks, new CEO of Sysomos, talks about how the need to make quicker decisions outweighs having perfect information or waiting for a scheduled call/meeting.  Our world is moving too fast and demands better/faster decision-making.  As Lindsay said “if someone can’t make a decision, I’ll make it for them”.  I love that.  What it really means is that we all need to work at how to become more empowered and make our own decisions earlier. If we’re waiting for leaders to break the tie, we are part of the problem. 

All of these insights can apply, in some way, to our daily lives.  My advice is to think about it…..and think of how we can each improve the company or organization we work at today.

All the best, Bob

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that takes place every January in Las Vegas is always equal parts amazing, informative and overwhelming. Many of the top CEOs and CMOs of the biggest companies in the world show up to speak, network, learn and do deals. As a result, thousands of start-ups, agency people, journalists and influencers show up to “fish where the fish” are. This year alone saw 170,000 industry professionals with 3,600 exhibitors on 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space.

DKirkpatrick

With so any voices and hundreds of different events happening from 7:00 in the morning until 4:00 AM Sunday through Friday, it’s hard to keep up with the fire hose of information. To that end, we at W2O Group have found sometimes holding smaller, focused, events during bigger events like CES, Mobile World Congress and SXSW helps our clients, partners and company leaders learn, discuss and synthesize key trends being discussed at these giant conferences. CES 2015 was no exception as our company partnered with one of the brightest minds in the Tech industry, David Kirkpatrick, and his company, Techonomy, to hold a private meeting with ten clients/friends of W2O last Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

At the round table event, David kicked us off by sharing observations from trends he covered as a journalist at Techonomy combined with insights gleaned from several of the talks he conducted at CES. This included a Keynote panel David led the day before with Cisco CEO, John Chambers, Comcast CEO and President, Neil Smit and Bosch Chairman, Werner Struth, Bosch.

David’s talk featured a few key themes including the concept of the “end of industries” or the diminishing of bright lines where they previously existed; the shift of power from the center to the edges that players like Facebook are facilitating; companies’ increasing obsession with innovation; and an increasing dominance of China as a player in the tech world. One of the boldest statements during David’s discussion came from his keynote panel the prior day where John Chambers claimed that “in 10 years it’s predicted that 40% of the Fortune500 companies will no longer exist.” Chambers — and Kirkpatrick’s points were, you must disrupt to survive.

While we didn’t record our session in order to offer a free flowing discussion among the senior level brands that attended, I did take copious notes during David’s talk. You will see that they roll up to some of the high level concepts I’ve called out out above:

  • Industries are converging e.g. Technology and Health. You can find a company like Celera (biotech) and Autodesk (software) are both mapping the human genome. Increasingly, companies will find non-traditional competitors (and partners) in their own backyards.
  • Every company is a software company. David cited a recent post by NY Times writer, Farhad Manjoo, that talked about the need for companies to focus on software vs hardware (ironic given the dominance of hardware on display at CES).
  •  One of the oddities of CES is that it doesn’t feature smart phones — Mobile World Congress is where that conversation happens. Key trends that David noted from this year’s CES including the Internet of Things (IoT). David reinforced that IoT is a fascinating and important trend (including wearables).
    • IoT – will literally connect everything in life (stomach to airport control tower)
    • Unilever has 2 billion users – how can they use a product that has text on it that people pick up every day. Could they become a communications company? David said that sensors will get cheap enough to put on every product down the road.
  • The companies that have the longest histories are the ones that can mutate themselves the fastest. They have learned over time how to mutate themselves. Small group of dinosaurs that are “built to last.” Getting harder for even the good companies to evolve.
  • 2014 is being called “the year people stood up.” Hong Kong, Mexico and Ukraine and Burkina Faso – all of which had people rise up using social media (all countries where Facebook is super strong).
  • More on companies obsession with innovation:
    • If you go to any city with over 300,000 people in the world – you will find a startup neighborhood with an incubator, VCs etc. The number of opportunities emerging is incredible and threat to incumbents.
    • Trends: starting internal incubators (Samsung), partnering with companies (Tech Stars), coming together with industries (fashion) and companies are coming together to co-innovate.
    • There is a company in NYC called Bionic. Their job is to help big companies innovate.
    • Companies like GE are working to adopt a startup mentality and focusing on an imperative for speed (more here from David’s interview with Beth Comstock).
    • Numerous companies are creating innovation centers in Silicon Valley.
  • On China
    • China can’t be talked about enough. Two poles of tech innovation in the future – China and US. Important to keep an eye on Chinese social media/ecommerce sites like Alibaba, Tencent (just opened a bank), Baidu. They are the next “Apple, Google, Facebooks.”
    • PRC has extraordinary support from the government although their lack of diversity hurts them (US as an example has drawn on attracting some of the brightest minds in the world over the past few centuries — China has been relatively insular).
    • They are innovating through copying. The more they copy other countries/companies products, the better they get at making faster, cheaper and more innovative alternatives.

Following David’s talk, we had a 20 minute Q&A where leaders from the automotive, telecommunications, financial services and other industries drilled down on some of David’s talking points. This led to more thought provoking concepts:

  • Uber/AirBnB – neither of these companies are in the industry they operate in (both are marketplaces vs. a taxi or hotel). AirBnB is already doing restaurants. Ability to tap into the capacity of society. The more of these platforms that emerge, the more people can make money.
  • David worries that the pace of change today puts people in jeopardy more so than in any other generation.
  • For some large companies, people aren’t just interested in the job (good or bad) their front line employees like technicians do, but rather the role they play in the community the company serves.
  • The Dollar Shave Club was cited as a company that is truly disrupting the shaving industry. Their product may or may not be better, but their delivery model is significantly different than that of P&G or Unilever.
  • David’s take on IoT: someone needs to come along and organize IoT (David thinks Google is in the best position to do this). We probably need the government to come in and provide regulations that facilitate someone like Google curating their data.
  • You can go into your Google Maps and see everywhere you’ve ever been as long as you have sensor turned on. If it’s not turned on, you can’t use services like maps.
  • Privacy is a cultural thing (not nearly as big a deal as in Asia as it is in US).
  • Right now, China is growing at 7% and are crying (we would kill to grow at 7%). It helps to have 1.3 billion people/test market (closed).
  • In China – company knows well enough how to unfairly advantage its own businesses (US doesn’t according to David).

Last but not least, W2O President, Bob Pearson walked through 12 thought provoking trends (technology and marketing) with the group that facilitated some fascinating discussion. Bob’s deck is embedded below via Slideshare.

All in all, a thought provoking day building on some thought provoking time spent at CES. Have additional questions based on what you read? Let me know and I can elaborate or can reach out to David to get more information.