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anita bose_It’s only an hour time difference from the East Coast but adjusting to Central Time was honestly a shock to my system. In the best possible way.

I’m a firm believer that doing the same thing in the same way for too long saps us of our energy and creativity. Having lived, breathed and worked in New York City for the last two (plus) decades, I knew I needed a jolt to the system. A few months ago, I finally made the big break and moved to the great Midwest. And, at the same time, I took on a new and challenging role at W2O Group.

A big change. Momentous. Seismic. I went to college and grad school in New York. I’d spent my entire adult life there. But that was exactly the point. Being in a new place unlocks your senses and forces you to observe things differently. Whether it’s a new city, a new apartment or a new office.

W2O’s Chicago office is very different than our 150-person stronghold in downtown Manhattan. Our small but mighty, tight-knit and fun-loving group is housed in very hip, West Loop offices in the old meat-packing district. At first I worried that being in a smaller office would be isolating. I was immediately surprised at how wrong I was. W2O has mastered the concept of virtual teams. Our staff readily and successfully works across time, space and organizational boundaries. We thrive on it. Granted, technology and effective systems make this possible. But it’s also a testament to how the company has grown and evolved over a short time – from a one-person consultancy to an integrated international operation with 12 offices and over 400 people.

We think of our colleagues as all working along a “long hallway” – creating, collaborating and handing off assignments and clients across geographies and time zones. And being in Central Time has its advantages. Yes, New York is an hour ahead which means we start work earlier to accommodate. But the mere two hour difference with the west coast allows for much more fluid collaboration with our Pacific Time clients and colleagues. W2O’s approach means that we match our clients with the best staff members who have the most relevant experience and appropriate skill set to service their business – not just geographic proximity. In an industry where identifying talent is always a struggle, this methodology allows us greater flexibility in developing strong cross-functional teams that can best address our clients’ most pressing needs.

In my short time here, I’ve already worked with rock star colleagues from every one of our offices, and with clients on both coasts and those based in Chicago.  Working along W2O’s “long hallway” has truly energized me. As has the much-needed jolt– both physical and psychological – of moving to Central Time.

(View the official release welcoming Anita to the W2O team here).

Cly 10

Being the “new kid” at W2O Group is equal parts exciting, scary, inspiring and eye-opening. And joining a new agency for the first time in five years has resurfaced a key idea for me – how the diversity in a group amplifies all of the individual talent within. I call this an agency’s “t-factor.”

In our industry, we’re constantly discussing the “talent pool” and how to bring on the best of the best. Whether in media relations (my area of expertise), digital, analytics, account management, etc. But the problem is that we tend to focus on roles in isolation, and not in relation to a broader ecosystem. We look at expertise and skill sets in solving a specific or immediate problem. And that can lead to homogeneity – in background and in thought.

That’s why I’m so happy to already see in my short time at W2O that our most talented colleagues come from completely different backgrounds and disciplines. Take this stellar earned media team – it’s an eclectic mix of smart and curious media specialists, former account executives and former journalists who’ve come over to the “other side”. This type of mix benefits our entire team and enables us to counsel clients in the most effective way possible. It helps create true empathy, since we’re evaluating decisions from all different vantage points.

Fifteen years ago this wouldn’t have been the case. Today it’s a different game – the talent pool is filled with specialists, generalists, tinkerers and everything in between. And that’s incredible for all of us. Growing, learning and shadowing others is not only encouraged, but expected here – how refreshing!

In the few short weeks since joining W2O Group, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a stellar mix of all-star colleagues with backgrounds as varied as could be – former C-suite execs, reporters, political advisors and even former clients. Selfishly, I know working with all these folks means I’ll be stretched, molded and taught by the best of the best in our industry. It’s a little daunting, but as a result, I know my personal t-factor will only increase.

Bottom line? Today’s talent pool must be diverse, varied and multidisciplinary – in both experience and thought. I’m thrilled to jump into that pool here at W2O Group.

Each semester at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, thanks to the ongoing commitment and gift provided by Jim and Audra Weiss, a group of W2O Group industry professionals and invited executive guests travel to campus for a series of events to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the industry. Last week, I was fortunate enough to help produce a series of activities in collaboration with Lauryn Botterman, Maria Russell and the fall 2015 Social Commerce Days crew, including:

  • Jennifer GottliebGroup Panel Discussion Photo_Fall2015SCD SMALL
  • Gary Grates
  • Kieran Fagan
  • Ryan Flinn
  • Eileen O’Brien
  • Jennifer Kaplan (Jennifer Katz)
  • Blaire Clause
  • Alex Levine

A quick recap:

This semester we were invited to visit a record number of classrooms, spanning Research, Campaigns, Writing, Advertising, Ethics and more. Along with speaking to students and faculty in their classes, we hosted several networking events and continued our popular, immersive Analytics to Strategy Workshop, facilitated by Jennifer Kaplan and Blaire Clause and attended by over 50 students.

TheHergStudents_Fall2015SCD SMALLWe also expanded the usual keynote address into an executive panel featuring our own Jennifer Gottlieb, as well as Chris Preuss, SVP of marketing and communications at Delphi Automotive and Craig Rothenberg, former VP of corporate communications at Johnson & Johnson. Moderated by Gary Grates, the executives discussed the concept of gaining and sustaining relevance as the new reputation.

To cap things off, we honed in on crisis in today’s digital age, highlighting the work our ambassadors, Anna Hodge and Andrew Petro, executed over the summer in our New York office and showcasing our new digital tools and approaches in a professor session, led by Kieran Fagan.

We’ve been receiving overwhelming positive feedback from students and faculty alike. And digital conversation and engagement only increased from last semester’s events. Check out our Storify created by ambassador Anna Hodge, highlighting #SocCommDays interaction.

A few reflections from this semester’s team:

Eileen O’Brien: Why Writing Matters More Than Ever

“It may seem counter intuitive, but writing matters more than ever in our digital age,” according to my colleague, Ryan Flinn, director of earned media at W2O and former Bloomberg reporter. “It used to be a top down approach – journalists relied on access to CEOs, government officials and key opinion leaders in order to develop a story. A reporter made their name by breaking big news. In our new media environment, breaking news has become a commodity since everyone is a publisher.”

Ryan and I recently spoke before several classes at Syracuse University and the students were relieved to hear this as they worked their way through their writing classes. And the professors enjoyed this validation of their focus on writing skills. Ryan made the point that after news breaks (whether via Twitter or CNN) people are looking to learn what the news means and its potential impact. This is where smart writing comes in.

We also talked about the fact that reporters’ success is increasingly being tied to clicks and shares. The author (and their employer) are able to get feedback on whether the article was of interest. We debated with the students whether this resulted in “click bait” and whether it was good or bad for the industry. It’s interesting to note that with so many traditional newspapers laying off reporters, new media sites such as Vox and the Daily Beast are providing jobs for these journalists.

During class, we encouraged live tweeting and it was great to get real-time reaction from the students to see what was resonating with them.

Twitter

Blaire Clause:

I already knew that the Center for Social Commerce was an exceptional program, but it was energizing to see first-hand the impact that it has on campus.  I thoroughly enjoyed presenting some of our analytics models, case studies and speaking candidly about the day-to-day life at W2O. My (high) expectations were surpassed by the genuine curiosity and enthusiasm expressed by the students, especially around our analytics approach and how they apply to different business challenges. Aside from the full classrooms, the executive panel and workshop were packed with bright minds who asked thoughtful questions. Some of my favorite parts included getting to know some of them 1:1 through the networking session, and working with them as they eagerly accepted the client example/challenge we presented in the workshop. Jim and W2O Group have truly created something special for the students— it allows for them to enhance their education through exposure to real client examples, W2O’s models, and industry leaders.

Professional service firms, specifically those in marketing, PR, communications, consulting and digital, are finding it critical to recalibrate their value proposition in today’s social and digital reality.

Why?

Simply put, the lines are now all blurred.  The swim lanes no longer distinct.  The delineation of work and expertise between outside counsel and internal management not as clear.

This self-awareness moment for CEOs of such firms is causing a very important question to be raised.  One that strikes at the heart of a firm’s efficacy.  One that must be answered by everyone in the organization.

So, what is it that we do exactly?

At W2O Group, a network of complementary, progressive and multi-faceted digital, marketing, and communications counseling firms, of which I founded and now serve as Chairman and CEO, we are right in the middle of this new world and actively answering this important question.

The following is a brief overview of the discussion we are having internally:

“What is it that we do?”

Well, some may say we are an integrated communications or PR firm.  Others a creative or advertising shop.  Still others a social and digital agency. Possibly an analytics and insights organization.

Guess what?  You’re all right!

And you’re all wrong.

It’s certainly true that we as a firm provide all of these services and capabilities.  But at the end of the day our real value lies in something much bigger.  Something much more profound.

As the CEO of one our clients said recently, our value is to help organizations “maintain relevance in a distracted world.”

Think about it.  Living and working in a content rich, influence-oriented, attention deficit world where consumers snack on information and form knee-jerk opinions while employees turn off the volume better to watch what leaders do than listen to what they say, is taking a toll on organizational and brand relevance.

This is what keeps CEOs up at night and Boards from enjoying their weekends.  It is also what keeps W2O Group a central and important part of the marketing and communications mix for our clients.

What does it take to remain relevant today?

Here’s a start:

1)      Meaningful Purpose – Is what you do important and meaningful to the audiences you care about and the world in general?

2)      Adaptable Culture – Are your employees and your systems agile and empathetic to the environment?

3)      Nuanced Comprehension of Customers, Stakeholders – Are you incorporating data and insight into your thinking and programming to ensure precision?

4)      Personal Stories –  Do you communicate in a manner that drives interest and conversation that aids learning?    

So, the question is simply this:  How are you making our clients relevant in a distracted world?

Think about it.

I am…!

(Note:  Engaging in such a provocative discussion with staff is producing some incredible thinking and ideas.  Ultimately, clients determine value and bringing the discussion inside raises the bar on performance while solidifying efficacy)

Jim

Also posted on LinkedIn

Together with panelists Steven Overman, CMO at Eastman Kodak, Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel, and Steve Milton, Consultant and Former Corporate Communications director at eBay, Bob Pearson investigates whether evolution is enough to stay relevant in the new digital economy.

There’s a clear need to embrace digital, but do we need to learn more about it before we start our digital agenda to ensure we do it right?

For Bob’s panelists digital is actually something that needs to be part of the mindset of an organization in order to be successful and impactful. Since the nature of the digital world is dynamic and not stable, we need to start acting, but also remain nimble to be able to respond to changes in the future.

Part of our digital transformation should also be a reevaluation of familiar questions: How do global brand behave in local markets? Do we position ourselves as the known and trusted international brand or do we adapt to local needs? Navigating between the waters of global and local has always been a challenge for companies, but when it comes to digital the core question actually diminishes – there is no local. However, we have to think through more tactical implications such as various languages, servers or how we handle e-commerce fulfillment. We are trying to behave in a unified way, but have to figure out how those things can actually be executed.

Another key question in digital is whether or not e-commerce is becoming channel and platform agnostic by integrating the ability to sell and buy into our social channels. It is actually not a question of if, but rather when we see this development, thinking about markets like China, where the integration of the marketplace into the social world is already reality.

So what can online marketing tech companies do to be more relevant and valuable? With a lot of change we need to have a scientist’s mindset, being curious, trying out new things and failing fast, which is not failure, but a way to gain new insights. Most importantly we need to listen of what people care about and can no longer assume we know.

We are living in a time where we are ‘always on’ with multiple devices providing us with information but also distracting us and exhausting our time. Technology has become a natural part of our daily life, where having different multiple online personas for work, life, and play is common. It has also become a source of angst.

With an influx of new information and online digital platforms almost daily, the digital landscape is evolving and consumers are now more empowered than ever. Brands can no longer fully control their narrative and need to find and understand the people who are most relevant to their future determining how they consume and share information as well as how they listen to each other as individuals.

This rapidly changing world can sometimes feel both like a massive headache and an incredible opportunity for marketers and communicators. C-suite leaders must be able to adapt to these changes if their organizations are to survive. Staying nimble and being able to predict how the industry will evolve before it happens is all part of the job. What we see from working with our clients and helping them stay one step ahead of competition is that regardless of which industry you are in or who your audience is, we are all facing similar challenges when it comes to digitalization. Being so imbedded in our client businesses is what allows us to build the community where innovators and leaders can come together and share their best practices and learnings.

Breaking away from your everyday routine and meeting those who are walking in the same shoes as you, is a proven method to generate new ideas or new solutions. Following on the success of last year’s Social Intelligence Summit we are excited to host our second annual thought leadership event – PreCommerce Summit London 2015.

The event, coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, will bring together experts from across industries to discuss how we work, live and create in the digital world. We will be considering the impact and opportunities of the mobile generation and will provide perspectives and host panel discussions with key leaders, such as:

I’m hopeful you are able to attend this important forum. Don’t miss the last chance to register to attend the summit on the 14th of September in London via livestream or in person!

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here www.w2oevents.com.

Navigating the future takes more than just educated guesswork. It combines knowledge, adaptability and a willingness to garner new inputs from new sources.

The W2O Group Pre-Commerce London Summit is your personal GPS to succeeding in the future!

In Texas, we would say “Nancy Zwiers?  Yeah, she’s done a few things in her life”.  Typical Texas understatement, of course.  Nancy has held multiple executive positions for Mattel, the #1 toy company in the world; she led worldwide marketing for Mattel’s $2 billion Barbie doll brand; she re-launched Polly Pocket and grew the #1 Cabbage Patch brand.  And she has advised clients ranging from Disney to Hasbro to Spin Master about the area of kids and play.  Yeah, Nancy knows a few things.

So we thought this Millennials Unplugged should be an interview with Nancy to learn more about youth marketing and what it all means.  Here’s excerpts from our talk.

Q: You were selling over 100 million Barbie’s a year, inventing new Barbie’s and learned a lot about what matters.  What did you learn about how we think as kids? 

A: I like to say that we had big data before there was big data—with so many transactions, we were able to see patterns that others missed that helped us develop our understanding of “Core play patterns.” These play patterns are amazingly consistent across time, geography, and culture.  We have concluded that play comes from the inside out.  It is a biological drive.  If you tap into these core play patterns, you are more likely to be successful in engaging kids.

 Q: That’s fascinating.  We always think we are so unique.  Why are we actually so similar?

A: Play is nature’s way to ensure we learn what we need to learn to survive.

For example, the original play pattern is “exploration & discovery,” which starts at birth—or maybe even before.  It’s innate in us and it drives us to explore our environment.  As we grow up, that same play pattern is fueled by curiosity and the little thrill that goes with each new discovery. 

Q: Very cool.  What are some examples we can relate to?

A: Reading flows from this play pattern.  Our desire to travel is a form of exploration & discovery.  Scientists feel like they are playing as they are driven to explore their scientific fields.  We want to learn in order to survive and we play to discover and learn.  The second play pattern we all share is “challenge & mastery,” which is at the heart of sports and most game play.  It drives us outside of our comfort zone to help us grow.

Q: How is entertainment viewed compared to play?

A: Entertainment flows the opposite direction of play.  It comes from the outside in.  That said, the new “discoverability” of entertainment content is a manifestation of exploration & discovery.  Further, the more entertainment is interactive, the more the lines are blurred between entertainment and play. 

Q: We realize it’s hard to ask you what your favorite toy has been…..but we will……

A: My favorite toy of all time is Barbie.  And the most innovative Barbie dolls are the ones that I like the most.  We created the first radio-controlled Barbie (Dance n Twirl Barbie), Becky the first “differently abled” friend for Barbie, the first mass customized doll (University Barbie) and even Barbie’s baby sister, Kelly, so we could facilitate the nurturing core play pattern.

Q: What’s the importance of nurturing as it relates to toys? 

A: Girls, especially, are irresistibly drawn to nurturing play—whether a baby doll or a pet.  Girls are also drawn to toys that let them explore what beauty means to them—think fashion dolls and arts & crafts. Frozen’s famous star Elsa personifies girls’ beauty fantasies.

Q:  What happens when we grow up? 

A: Our behaviors change but the drive behind them stays the same, so instead of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, now we play with X Box or Minecraft.  You know, boomers didn’t have as many opportunities to play with a wide range of toys.  We only had a few TV channels*, but we were ok with that.  Now, kids and millennials have a wide range of toys and they see play as digital or physical.  Plus, they have an expectation that we can personalize our play experiences.  Customization and interactivity are the big things.

Q: When we think of the movies, what is happening when we love a character?

A: We find that you need an aspirational lead character that is also relatable.  Aspirational means “I want to be like her/him.” and relatable is “He/she is like me.”  These are the characters we most want to play out fantasies with. The real life Princess Diana illustrates this.  She was actually a princess, she was beautiful AND she had flaws.  Having a weakness makes us love characters more.  Think of Superman and kryptonite.   One quick note:  In the key imaginative play years of children from 3-6 years old, they will often fantasize with a toy/character that often reflects gender stereotypes.  Many adults think this should change but it is part of an overall process of developing one’s identity. 

Q: What is the future of the toy industry?

A: 3D printing will have a big impact on the toy industry…..digital (and physical arts) and crafts will grow…..kids are getting more focused on wanting to express themselves more……the need to differentiate from our peers is growing….customization and personalizing experience is important.  The Internet of Things will have powers we never realized.  Imagine a new 3D view master with augmented reality or having Siri-like interaction with dolls?  Or learning how a child is using a toy and then suggesting what else they may like based on sensors in the toy itself, sending back data to headquarters that is meaningful. 

Q: Nancy, what was your favorite toy growing up?

A: It was my microscope.  I loved it.  I still remember what my hair looked like under the microscope.

Thank you Nancy, this was fantastic.  Very insightful!

Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)

*Bob’s favorite Saturday shows were Speed Racer and Jonny Quest. 

As a marketing analyst, my day is governed by digital media. My nights are equally dictated, as I am guilty of sleeping next to my phone, just like 83% of other Millennials. Tech-dependant as we are, I’d expect this “generation of digital natives” to be very fond of online experiences. In fact, according to statista, 85% of UK 16 to 34-year-olds used Facebook in 2014. Can we infer from these numbers alone that digital experiences are always the preferred choice by us Millennials? As you might have guessed, I intend to make it a tad more difficult by contrasting some digital vs. offline experiences:

Education: While traditional education has undeniable benefits such as direct peer and teacher interaction, over 6.7 million students were taking a minimum of one online course in 2011 – an increase of more than half a million year-on-year. Online education will enable people from poorer families or rural areas receive valuable skills. Interestingly, print reading is highest among 18 to 29 year old US students, according to a Pew study, as the text book layout benefits comprehension and distractions and skimming are less likely.

Work: Similar to traditional education, being physically present at work has huge benefits, such as your boss knowing what you are up to. However, home offices will be an important factor in juggling work and family, as a survey in the Microsoft whitepaper points out. Further benefits of home office are a less stressful environment, a quieter atmosphere, commute elimination and increased environmental sustainability.

Dating & Friendships: Dating apps allow us to roam potential partners whenever and wherever we want. Some portals such as EHarmony and OkCupid ask personal questions that supposedly match you to people with similar opinions and interests. Therefore, online dating is a form of offline speed dating, as you don’t have to waste precious minutes getting to know someone to figure out later that their love for cats doesn’t match your allergies. Digital, in this case, gives you a wider range of opportunities, while you will most likely want to meet your online encounter in real life before getting married. Regarding friendship building, technology also works as a facilitator. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 57% of US teens have met a new friend online, with 30% having made more than five. Due to their love for video games, boys are more likely than girls to make online friends.

Family: Most of us can speak from experience that being around your family in person is superior to a Skype call, where the video quality is sub-par. Nonetheless, apps and platforms allow us to reach out more often and share little, yet important moments as well.

The endless list of things we do online includes mobile banking (enabling female farmers in Africa build their own businesses) or sharing hobbies, such as cooking, sports, art and photography. Due to Instagram filters, everyone can now be a “photographer” and we can share our successful or not-so-successful cooking experiences with the entire world. We can also share calories burnt after our first mile or half-marathon and make our Facebook friends envious. Most of all, we can find people who share rare hobbies such as a fondness for pigeons. It’s much easier to find like-minded people online or strangers to talk to confidentially. Privacy goes both ways online: you can be anonymous and share fears and thoughts, but at the same time, you can gossip and insult others without being identified. Negative factors seem to increase online where it is also much easier to voice your opinion to a greater audience. The latest incidence being the refugee crisis in Europe, where a lot of celebrities voice themselves supportively online, but allow fans with negative sentiments to comment and reach this wide audience as well.

As it turns out, the digital landscape is widely complex. Deciding on what experiences are more enjoyable online is further hindered by factors such as your audience’s background, preferences and motivations. As the recent Economist article “Myths about Millennials” points out, “individual differences are always bigger than generational differences.” One should not make assumptions about a group of people just because they were born in the same time period.

Generally speaking, however, digital is always better. Not because we replace real experiences with digital ones, but because digital adds options to our means of communication. Every communication tool in history has had its pros and cons, but the tools have been improving over time. Improvement meaning enhancing communication, bringing us closer together. We started with smoke clouds and can now communicate with people on several continents at once and in colour. We want to share information and experiences – sad moments, achievements and joy. Yes, there are still many improvements to be made, technically and personally (be it privacy issues or us constantly looking down on our phones while walking in the streets). Ultimately, communication is what we’re all about and digital communication is a further added benefit along the way – and not just for Millennials.

After this peek into the facets of digital, I want to invite you to join W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit that is part of London’s Social Media Week, to further expand your knowledge. Hear industry experts talk about marketing’s future and share your opinion on whether digital is always better. You can RSVP here: http://w2oevents.com/

In the past six years, I can count on one hand — one finger, actually — the number of times I’ve attended a conference and not been an active participant in the Twitter conversation onsite. It was 2009, my laptop was at the office, and I did not yet have a smartphone. You can bet that was the last time I traveled without multiple devices, a smartphone being one of them.

As a millennial — yes, one of those — I began my career at a time when Twitter was only for the tech elite, Facebook was still “The Facebook,” and LinkedIn was a glorified resume. Now, similar to how no one can remember a time when anything got done without email, I can no longer fathom — nor want to — a world where social media wasn’t a driving force behind how business gets done, and done well.

In my past life as a healthcare conference producer, social media wasn’t yet the widely adopted medium for communication and collaboration that it is today. Speaking faculties and conference agendas were created from research and whatever publications and articles were available online, and events were publicized via mass email campaigns and cold calling. Just a few years later, the landscape had already changed drastically.

In my next role as an editorial content producer at a technology publisher, hashtags were the new sources for news stories, LinkedIn was the first point of contact, and QR codes were all the rage. To stay timely, topical and relevant was to keep up with the rate of change in social media adoption and use. Today, that thinking still holds true. Only now, the cost of not participating is something that individuals and brands alike can no longer afford.

We’ve all heard that “content is king,” and from a content generation perspective, Twitter is one of the most valuable — and all too often, underrated — sources. If someone had told me back when I was putting together conference agendas that there would soon be a channel that would provide, in real-time, insights on the topics and trends that your target audience cares most about, I might have traded an arm or leg for access. Now, that information is just a screen tap away.

But the wealth of benefits that Twitter provides goes well beyond social intelligence — topic and audience targeting, influencer analysis, idea generation and the like. While it’s true that the incredibly rich data that Twitter provides — when paired with the right analytics, active listening tools and analysis in place — creates an unmatched opportunity for social optimization and ROI-inducing initiatives, to me, the most valuable aspect of the channel has been the relationships that is has allowed me to cultivate. And for that, I could not be more appreciative.

While conferences and networking events might have previously been where industry colleagues would be introduced to one another for the first time, now, these onsite interactions are simply an extension of the relationships that began through a series of 140 character posts. The number of times I’ve approached — okay, ran toward — industry colleagues with whom I’ve connected on Twitter first, and recognized solely from their profile picture, is a bit embarrassing. But the amazing opportunities, incredible learning experiences, professional connections, and friends, that I have made, simply because we were engaged via the social medium first, makes it all worthwhile.

Case in point being earlier this year, at W2O’s #HITsmCIO event at HIMSS’15 in Chicago, where provider innovation, information and technology chiefs gathered together to discuss the proliferation of social media in healthcare. UPMC’s chief innovation officer, Rasu Shrestha, M.D., one of the Twittersphere’s most active — an quite frankly, awesome — digital health leaders, shared that when it comes to hospital and health system use of social media, “it’s less of a question about whether you should do it; it’s can you afford not to.” I would have never gotten the opportunity to meet, know, and most importantly, learn from, Dr. Shrestha in the same capacity if not for Twitter, where his perspective perfectly echoes what we advise our clients, friends, and ourselves, regarding social media engagement.

For House of Cards fans, during one of his infamous first-person narratives to the camera, Frank Underwood noted that “imagination is its own form of courage.” For anyone who has yet to take the leap or see the value in social media from a personal perspective, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it. Imagine yourself interacting with and learning from individuals you had previously only read about, fostering relationships with an unmatched network of thought leaders, and carving out a voice for yourself in the space. It might take a bit of courage to put yourself out there, but just imagine the possibilities.

And for those brands who have yet to harness the power of social engagement and intelligence — from healthcare and digital health, to technology and pharma, through B2B startups to well-established B2C staples — the time to imagine how these social channels can drive opportunity and incredible value for your business is now. Remember, it takes imagination — and courage — to see innovation and opportunity where others cannot, and social media engagement is no exception.

For more information on how social commerce and SoMe intelligence is driving change, enabling opportunity and creating a competitive advantage across the marketing and communications landscape, be sure to follow #PreCommerce on Twitter for updates and notable information from W2O’s EMEA annual PreCommerce Summit, taking place in London on September 14, 2015.

Please see here for more information on the event. In the area? Come join us – registration is free!