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The way we consume television has changed rapidly due to technology. We can stream shows or movies via our phones or tablets whenever we choose. Additionally non-traditional programming is becoming the norm. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix are beginning to generate their own content. This week I spoke about the aforementioned notions with Michael Marinello, SVP of Strategic Communications at Turner.

Michael and I dove into current consumer streaming habits, how traditional media is adapting content for these current consumer habits, and how television will evolve to create value for advertisers. Take a listen below.

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

Facebook Spells Out Advertising Principles for Users & Brands

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

Additional Resources: Facebook, Social Media Today

(via Facebook)

Facebook Is Testing In-Feed VR

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

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, Marketing Land, Business Insider

(via Marketing Land)

Snapchat Re-Designs App Structure

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Tech Crunch

(via Social Media Today)

YouTube Takes Its Own Spin on Stories

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

Additional Resources: Business Insider, TechCrunch

(via TechCrunch)

 

Digital is the driving force in business and society today.  Customers, employees, and other key stakeholders possess the power now controlling the relationship with brands, who are moving quickly to assimilate this new reality. As such, companies are reexamining their businesses and determining direction, efficacy, purpose, portfolio, and strategy.  The latter, though, is significant in that it envelopes the entire enterprise and in many respects decides the very future of the business.

Every industry and sector is impacted by this transformation so strategy becomes the catalyst as well as the linchpin to survival and success.

The Digital Effect

When it comes to strategy and digital, four things are emerging:

  1. Customer/Audience Integration;
  2. Products/Services/Services Connected (throughout the business);
  3. Continuous Innovation;
  4. Analytics Driven Marketing and Communications.

Customer/Audience Integration

In a digital world, customers and audiences are fully integrated into your organization.  This means that customer and audience information and insights are well known and shared throughout the organization. Preferences, issues, purchasing habits, product and service usage, competitive interaction, etc. are all important data to ensuring a long-term relationship.

The more integrated customers believe they are with a given brand the more they will work with that brand and share their experience with friends and family.  Customers are now informing other customers or potential customers of their experiences and preferences concerning a brand or product. This new dynamic can be incredibly positive or unknowingly negative to an organization’s viability.

Products/Services Connected  

Depending on your portfolio, connecting products and services in a cohesive manner provides a more holistic solution to customer needs and wants. The more digitally enabled products and services are, the stronger the benefits and experiences are to users and customers.  Further, this connectivity provides fresh data and insights that can be used on product development, customer service, and the purchase journey.

Continuous Innovation

Any strategy today must include innovation in products and processes to improve the overall customer experience.  Information culled from various points in the customer journey including purchase allows for real-time improvements and faster development cycles and turnaround times.

Analytics Driven Marketing and Communications

Digital intelligence provides massive amounts of data and analysis on how customers behave.  Savvy marketers and communicators translate the data into actionable insights that fuel precise messaging, programs, and outreach efforts including predictive modeling to discern future buying habits.   An effective strategy incorporates analytics into its framework enabling a more progressive and efficient means to deploy resources and engage the marketplace effectively.

Business and operational strategy have always been essential ingredients in an organization’s decision-making model.    Digital now widens the aperture turning the entire enterprise into a kaleidoscope of new demand, new value, and new possibilities.   It begins with thinking about the business in a completely different way.  It’s about placing customers first in this new empowered playing field.

Failure to do so negates your strategy and worse, imperils your existence.

Often customers’ first touchpoint with brands is Mobile.

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

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

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

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

1. Understand where you are in your Mobile maturity:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Twitter Adds Transparency Center

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

Additional Resources: Bloomberg, Twitter

(via Twitter)

Twitter Launches New Video Cards

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Marketing Land

(via Social Media Today)

Facebook Increases Ad Transparency

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Marketing Land

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram Adds Go Live with a Friend Feature

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Instagram

(via Instagram)

Snapchat Partners with NBCUniversal for Scripted Programming

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Tech Crunch

(via Social Media Today)

Pinterest Launches Search Advertising

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

Additional Resources: Social Media Today

(via Social Media Today)

 

 

Big additions to social media are upon us! In a nutshell, here’s what’s going on…

  • Snapchat rolled out Context Cards, which enable users to gain information about any business by clicking on their location geotag
  • Twitter created a prototype feature where users can save tweets for a later time
  • Linkedin rolled out sponsored video ads, allowing brands to promote videos in addition to image based posts
  • Facebook updated Workplace to include screen sharing between users

Check out these stories in more detail below and let us know your thoughts!

Snapchat Adds Context Cards, a Significant Shift for the App

  • Snapchat is no longer a passive experience. They have rolled out Context Cards, a new way to get all-inclusive information about the Snap that is being viewed. The Context Cards are connected to a company’s location geo-filter, or on any snap that’s been submitted to the public “Our Story” feed. When users click on the filter, they’ll have access to detailed specifics about that venue, really anything from the location, to ordering a cab to the destination, and this all can be done from within the app. Snapchat has partnered with various organizations such as TripAdvisor and Foursquare to roll out this new feature.
  • What it means for brands: Snapchat wants to be your one-stop-shop. This opens a whole new world, mostly for user convenience, but beneficial to brands as well. When users click on the filter, they’re staying within Snapchat and it gives more opportunity for advertisers to reach greater audiences when users remain on the platform. Offline, brands can also gain traction and traffic, even those that are not advertising, if they’re partnered with Snapchat for this functionality. This also will create an increased demand for influencer marketing. If a celebrity is at a location nearby and is snapping about it, the user will be able to know where they are in an instant and order an Uber/Lyft and be there in no time. We’re sure this will also turn into an advertising opportunity at some point…so stay tuned.

(via Social Media Today)

Additional resources: Snapchat.com, TechCrunch

Twitter Is Adding a New “Bookmarks” Feature to Help Keep Track of Tweets

  • Twitter has created a new feature in which users will be able to keep save tweets and come back to them later, without having to “like” or “retweet’ them. Twitter is still in the process of developing the feature, but they have created a prototype. It can be confusing to tell when a user “likes” a tweet whether they approve of the tweet or if they are just saving the tweet for later. This update is meant to rectify this, and will mostly impact highly active Twitter users who want to go back and reference their conversations/tweets for later.
  • What it means for brands: With the addition of a save feature, tracking for businesses’ tweets may be affected. Without a physical “like” or “retweet,” how will businesses know who is actively engaging with their content? Users may save the tweet for later, but who knows if those users are going to further engage with their content. Twitter says the prototype for this feature still has a long way to go before total activation on the Twitter interface.

(via Business Insider)

Additional Resources: Fortune, Business Insider

Video Ads Are Finally Coming to Linkedin

  • Linkedin announced that is running a closed video beta test for sponsored content with “a limited number of advertisers.” These new video ads will debut on mobile first, with desktop added in the near future. Linkedin said that these videos will appear as stand-alone posts and will include a “promoted” label. Promoted video ads will offer the same targeting options as other Linkedin paid posts. Linkedin said more video view specific metrics will be added in the near future to accompany this new video feature.
  • What it means for brands: Brands are now able to promote videos on Linkedin, as opposed to just uploading organic videos. With this new promoted option, brands can share notable videos with a larger audience set forth in their targeting parameters. This is really changing the game for LinkedIn, moving them away from being so conservative and more so keeping up with the ever-changing social media landscape. Rather than just looking for jobs or uploading a resume, Linkedin is a place to share professional experiences or company values through paid resources, and we all know video content is key for reach and engagement. We’re interested to see how these videos will be measured, but net net, this will be great for leadership and innovative purposes, where blog posts can become vlogs and events can be showcased live. We’ll see!

(via Adweek)

LinkedIn Reveals Geo-filters for Events

  • Along with rolling out video ads, Linkedin has taken a nod from Snapchat and has now created geo-filters for events that allow attendees to add Snapchat- style filters to videos they create within the Linkedin app. These location filters are part of the service’s new in-app video creation feature, allowing users to record and share directly from the app. They’re very similar to Snapchat and Instagram filters in the sense that users at specific events where the future is enabled will have the option of adding a filter to videos they create. Right now, the platform has only tested these conference style filters at a handful of events, but will soon be unveiling additional filters.
  • What this means for brands: Linkedin continues to roll out new features to further themselves as a social platform, rather than just a platform for job searching. With this addition, brands will be able to increase awareness around an event or a conference in a more professional than on Snapchat or Instagram. Not only does having these filters increase engagement for events, but it also can start to make Linkedin the platform of choice for posting updates around conferences, speeches, and other professional development content.

(via Mashable)

Additional Resources: AdWeek, Recode, EndadgetSocial Media Today, Social Chefs

Facebook Quietly Launches Mac and PC Workplace Chat Apps with Screen Share

  • Facebook’s business communications application, Workplace, launched official desktop screen sharing apps. Users of Workplace are thrilled that the app now has this capability and are hoping that soon it will be an option for the consumer Messenger app. Facebook spokesperson Vanessa Chan confirmed the launch of this feature saying, “This was one of the most widely requested features by customers… so we built it.” The desktop app is still in beta, but will soon be available for all those using Workplace.
  • What this means for brands: Facebook continues to dominate the realm of technology. Workplace competes with various business messenger applications such as Slack and Skype and adding this screen share feature just made them more prevalent in the business communications sphere. You never have to leave Facebook, for professional or personal usage!

Additional Resources: TechCrunch, Engadget

(via Engadget)

 

Having built, led, and supported many digital transformation teams during my career—in-house and as a consultant mostly for healthcare companies— the key question that must be asked is – how is the effort designed to accelerate new thinking?

First off, it must be noted that internal Transformation Teams come and go. I actually think this is a very good thing. The pace of innovation is fast, fluid and happening all around us all the time. Most large companies, however, are built for stability, scale and generally are risk-averse. The two are not natural bedfellows, but must coexist in order for companies to survive and thrive.

Once in a while, however, these Digital Transformation Teams evolve into Digital teams. They drop the Transformation moniker, are given a mandate to service brands, and usually report into Commercial Excellence Teams (or similar) in the hopes that they scale the innovation started by their predecessors.

More often than not, however, these follow-on Digital teams become a hindrance to innovation, and here’s why: many were formed years ago when the innovation environment was very different. It was a time when websites were king, banner ads, search and CRM were the only games in town. Many Digital teams that exist today built up expertise around these old models, are still rooted in old thinking and perpetuate themselves by hiring talent with dated skills. Over time, these teams are unable to integrate innovation and eventually evolve into the exact thing they were meant to shake up – i.e. highly-funded internal functions that protect their budgets, interests and headcount.

While a well-rounded, “change from within” philosophy for companies would be ideal, the reality is that these follow-on Digital Teams face strong headwinds. Their “clients” live in a world of short-cycle promotions, high turnover, overreliance on old models that once drove huge profits (i.e. large sales force), and generally espouse an inherent aversion to risk—this kind of environment makes it is almost impossible to attain meaningful and sustainable change.

Having said that, Digital Transformation Teams—when deployed correctly—should be celebrated because they serve a critical purpose: To catalyze change that simply won’t happen organically.

Here are some lessons learned on how to structure these teams based on my experience:

  • Anchor in business needs: Driving pilots that are directly aligned with BIZ PRIORITIES and every pilot MUST be co-funded by the business partners.
  • Set the timer: Digital Transformation Teams are formed for a set term (i.e. 12-18 months max) to drive change and adoption – a clearly defined time window is critical since it puts pressure on the team to be practical and make change happen quickly.
  • Leverage diversity: It should be cross-functional, hand-picked with up-and-comers that have demonstrated they can drive real change wherever they are – and commitment from each should NOT be more than 20% of their job.
  • Find a powerful captain: The team must be sponsored by member of the C-Suite that has real gravitas and is not just a figurehead.
  • Bring the outside in: The team should constantly rely on external thought-leaders to ensure they diversify thinking.
  • Go deep into the talent pipe: HR should partner with the team to diversify the hiring pipe for key functions (especially in commercial functions).
  • Total Transparency: The team actually shares ALL learnings—good and bad—along the way very transparently.
  • The Rule of Halley’s Comet: Like the famous comet, these Transformation teams must come and go, accelerating change and driving it deeper into the organization with every pass.

The above approach has generated lasting impact at several companies I have worked with, and this can still be seen today:

  • One company shifted its go-to-market brand strategy as a result of digital/social research we spearheaded at a very formative stage pre-launch.
  • In another, Market Research have deeply integrated social analytics as part of brand planning process, resulting in a powerful engine driving marketing and communications programming
  • In yet another, HR recruitment strategy shifted their process and budget away from headhunters to digital recruitment efforts, even for top talent.
  • In most organizations, C-level leaders, and other leaders down the ranks, continue to model the behavior they want the organization to have by engaging directly with more customers via social, and do so more frequently and authentically.
  • Finally, internal social engagement platforms have been woven into the fabric of intranets and key programs to accelerate change management programs, facilitate leadership engagement, and unlock best practice sharing.

But the hard reality is that in most cases these groups become cost centers for the business and end up being cut as soon as the appeal wears off, especially since they don’t sit in the brands. That’s OK, as long as they bring value in the sense that they try to drive change from the inside out, bring in new innovative ideas/agencies/processes/tech, etc. from the outside in, and diligently measure and communicate back everything they learn.

The future? Digital/Social Transformation teams will still be part of the marketing and brand landscape as companies strive to shake-up their thinking amid constant upheaval in the marketplace.  As brand teams become more well-rounded, explore how to use technology more effectively, and embrace digital as a cohesive part of their marketing plans including an omni-channel strategic approach, these digital/social skunk works will become more valued and ultimately, embedded in the marketing function.

Every website is identified and accessed by its own Internet Protocol or IP address, which used to be just a string of seemingly random numbers such as /216.58.218.174. You can thank “Uniform Resource Locators” or URLs for a more intuitive and human way to access websites, in this case: www.google.com.

“Top Level Domains” (TLDs) are the “.com” part of a URL, the .suffix swapped with a few letters that help identify that website as belonging to a particular industry, specialty, or organization. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) enabled new TLDs in 2012, and since then a few have caught on, such as .edu and .gov.

The big news for healthcare companies and their marketers is the release of .health. Registration through dotHealthLLC for qualified organizations is available through November 30th, after which the TLD is released to the general public. Big names in payors, providers, and pharmacy such as BlueCross BlueShield, Pfizer, the Mayo Clinic, and CVS have already registered and are using the .health TLD.

Although fewer users are typing URLs, over 1200 TLDs ranging from .pet to .date to .vodka have already been registered by ICANN, and Google claims they have no influence over search results, using them can nonetheless help organizations better identify and protect themselves, and confirm credibility—three needs vitally important to healthcare companies and their HCP, patient, and caregiver audiences.

Benefits also include:

Stake the claim on name and reputation. At the very least, healthcare companies need to realize that if they don’t claim their own .health TLD, someone else likely will. Similar to .com squatting and pirating from the Web 1.0 age, competitors and unscrupulous buyers could conceivably take your domain after November 30th. Now is the time!

Stake the claim on the new and burgeoning .health domain. More than 1500 companies have already registered using this TLD, thousands more to come. So your clients should have first-choice on website name, and take full advantage of this initial industry-only grace period to be ahead of their competitors and differentiate.

Stake the claim on entire disease areas: The opportunity to associate your healthcare company with disease areas is ripe; for example, owning adhd.health, diabetes.health, atrialfibriliation.health, etc. are for those who register early and often. Same rules apply to unique and salient aspects of brands, treatments, etc.

Establish immediate category recognition and company credibility: Akin to .edu and .gov, where users immediately know the kind of website they have visited and feel comfortable with their authority, .health could benefit your franchises and their brands. dotHealthLLC assures a thorough vetting process to build and maintain trust.

Differentiate and gain attention in a crowded market: Specialized companies can use .health to demonstrate their relevance and commitment to healthcare, such as augmentedreality.health, wearables.health, and marketresearch.health, etc. Affixing .health instantly connects your capabilities to a $3.2 trillion annual vertical.

We therefore recommend our healthcare clients register their own .health TLDs as soon as possible by typing this URL: www.get.health/apply, The jury is still out on future .health adoption and credibility, but if the early signs and industry trends continue, then this TLD will become a prerequisite for success in 2018 and beyond.