Blog

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!

It is, by now, hackneyed to say that we live in the age of data and that businesses are reacting accordingly. Nonetheless, the adoption and intensity with which data is implemented continues to grow. Those who have boldly embraced it, putting data at the heart of their decision making, have reaped the benefits: higher ROI on marketing, better and more effective spending, a deeper understanding of reputation and audiences… in short: optimised, evidence-based decision making.

“Yesterday’s ‘good-enough’ is no longer good enough.”

At W2O, analytics is at the heart of our business, leveraging data to our client’s advantage is part of our DNA. Analytics is embedded into every corner of our service offering. By embracing the importance of data analytics in informing our recommendations to our clients, we continue to justify our place as strategists and key advisors.

However, as this adoption has escalated, so too have the requirements and expectations of clients. In response, analytics has undergone massive, disruptive changes radically transforming the discipline. New technologies and ways of capturing data have gone from niche to commonplace in a matter of months, and by the same token, the level of insights and depth that are expected from analytics has been continuously pushed forward. Yesterday’s ‘good-enough’ is no longer good enough.

As such, passivity in the analytics we offer isn’t an option if we want to continue to be ahead of the curve. Not only is internal R&D extremely important, but as possibilities and methods proliferate, it is increasingly important to have a holistic evolving view of not just what is out there, but of what is possible. Here’s three trends which I think will be most important in the second half of 2015:

1) Convergence and Agnosticism

The breaking down of established analytic discipline silos will continue. It is no longer a matter of one technique versus another, but of optimising and layering analytics to yield results. The combination of social media analytics, marketing techniques, social sciences will become commonplace, and clients will expect you to be familiar in navigating multi-disciplinary data stacks.

By the same token, data sourcing will continue to be agnostic. Rather than relying on a single vector of data acquisition, multiple sources of data can be used together to strengthen the accuracy of analytics, the depth of insight or the validity of a model: broadening the spectrum of what is possible.

Business Insights Analytics will become a much more multifaceted discipline, leveraging methods and foraging through multiple data feeds to offer unparalleled intelligence. Techniques and platforms no longer matter, only insights and answers do.

Analytics Image

2) Models & Predictive 

As a direct consequence of this convergence, the burden on creating models to synthesise multiple datasets and translate complexity into actionable and understandable conclusions grows.

While complex modeling and predictive regressions can be powerful, as for all complex models, it can’t be fully convincing without qualitative analysis to support the results and drive an insightful narrative. It is in this relationship that truly responsive research can be forged. To be able to run complex analysis, we must be aware in 2015 that one-off data analysis is not an option. We need to think ahead about how we can use our key clients’ data to inform the evolution of their market and be able to predict certain outcomes with relative certainty. This will call upon a much wider set of specialist personnel that we may have to leverage: from data scientists, sociologists, marketing experts, data visualisation experts and good-old strategists, the make up of our analytics practice is extremely diverse.

“Techniques and platforms no longer matter, only insights and answers do.”

3) Delivery Mechanisms

The main three tools for insight delivery to our clients are becoming outdated. Dashboards, presentations and reports will have to give way to new initiatives to communicate results previously unexplored. The always-on nature of our lives, layered with the ubiquitous presence of interactive high-resolution screens will give birth to a new line of data presentation, one that oozes the visual quality, accessibility and interactivity of our modern environment but still contains the distillation of analytical thought, guiding the user through the heart of the insight. Watch this space!

Analytics Image #2

The Future is Up for Grabs!

Many more things lie around the corner, both known and unknown, that will have a radical impact on the future of the industry. The stakes are high, and this isn’t a future that’s coming in ten or five years, but a much more immediate maturation and this still very much up for grabs. If it hopes to remain competitive, a successful company will have to combine institutionalised innovative thinking and dynamic problem solving, while keeping a close watch on market developments and successfully creating a multifaceted ecosystem that attracts a wide combination of disciplines and professionals. Not an easy feat. But then again, if you’re already working analytics… you wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you’re interested in how those data and insights are affecting all of us every day, W2O is hosting a summit in London on Monday the 14th, which you should definitely attend if you can make it, or live stream if you can’t. It’s free!

We will be taking a look at how digital technologies and data have changed the way we live, work, and create. We will also be asking some questions about the ‘duality’ of digital, evaluating whether these developments have been of benefit or a detriment to people and brands. Don’t miss it.

London PreCommerce Summit Image

As some of you who work with or follow W2O Group know, we as a company place a heavy emphasis on thought leadership. Not only do we create content regularly for this blog, speak at events and deliver client “trend” presentations, but we also host our own events throughout the year. To that end, our London PreCommerce Summit is happening next week on Monday, September 14th (this coincides with London’s Social Media Week). You must be on the registration list if  you are interested in attending so please reach out to me or RSVP online here ahead of time.

To give you a little sneak peek into some of the content at this year’s event, I interviewed client and PreCommerce speaker, Simon Shipley. Simon is also the Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel. Now onto the questions!

simon_shipley
Simon Shipley, Intel

Aaron: Simon, how has your role evolved at Intel over the last 14 years?
Simon: I started off in a channel sales role where myself and 5 others defined and mapped out our indirect customers who bought from our authorised distributers. We met with over 2500 companies in the first year. After a few other sales roles I moved into a country marketing and then an EMEA marketing role. The role has changed from traditional marketing but has always had a strong digital focus; even back in 2008 we made the decision to spend 65% of global marketing budget spend to digital. Since then, things have just exploded – channels, capabilities, data, metrics, management, you name it. I’ve witnessed not just the arrival of social networks, but their evolution from novelty to curiosity (marketing-wise) to platforms with advanced monetisation models. It is often remarked upon, but with good reason – it’s been a huge shift. Closer to home, we (Intel) have recently been building out our platform for storytelling to have a more direct relationship with our audience. Overall I would say my role alongside those of my colleagues has required us to be more even responsive to change (forget trying to stay ahead of any curves!) and that there is an interesting dynamic with the speed of change that I have spent more time with fellow brands discussing common problems and opportunities

AS: I noticed the role “Innovation” in your title. I know that’s an important word to Intel. How do you “innovate” in your day-to-day job?
SS: Actually I am slightly ambivalent about the word ‘innovation’ in my title but it provides a useful focal point on how we look at change and our ability to do things differently over time. There is a perception that innovation is about big sweeping changes delivered at scale. Whilst these occasionally happen, innovation is more often about small continuous changes and improvement that added together over time amount to something significant. I am a big fan of Dave Brailsford, the Team Principal at Team Sky and the approach he continues to take in elite cycling with the “aggregation of marginal gains” that has led to extraordinary success. In my day-to-day job we continually look to drive improvements no matter how small by pulling out insight, being observant and unafraid to learn from those who I think are doing things better. It’s about staying curious, really, and also being prepared to fail occasionally. I am lucky to work in a company whose culture supports this.

AS: What are three changes you see happening in the consumer tech space over the next 3-5 years?SS: There will be so much change and three to five years is a very long time in technology space.

  1. Intelligence is coming to devices that will make them contextually aware of us and their surroundings. This has profound implications for what our tech will be able to for us, how we interact with it, and – importantly – how we feel about it and react to that.
  2. Wireless charging – unless there is a big breakthrough in battery life I see wireless charging of devices will become the norm. In fact, irrespective of this, I think it will become the norm. The impact of this could be massive as we have the potential to be even more mobile, both within the workplace as well as being out and about.
  3. The power of big data will have an impact on individuals in areas like personalised healthcare that could revolutionise treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Cancer based on genomic analysis by handling and ordering massive sets of data to develop treatment that can be matched to an individual need.
    There are also all the factors of data privacy whether government legislation or consumer expectations.

AS: You are speaking at our upcoming PreCommerce Summit – what topic do you plan on speaking about?
SS: I will be talking about the strategic imperative for companies (or brands) to own their own data: the sheer amount of options on the market with regard to data automation is staggering, and while each of them maybe a potential solution, there are arguably too many solutions to be able to know which ones best meet a marketer’s needs. This in turn creates process challenges, and it is our job as marketers to maintain a clarity of focus on what we are, in the end, trying to achieve. This will in some cases require changes to our skill set.

AS: What is the last book you read (business or pleasure). Describe it in 2-3 sentences. And most importantly, would you recommend it?
SS: That’s an easy one. I have just finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to my children. I think it is the moment in the series of the books where things get much more interesting, with the characters and plots both acquiring more depth. Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

And there you have it. Thank you Simon for taking the time out of your busy day to answer these questions. We’ll see you next Monday at the Summit!

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!

Social media is my quickest way to discover my world daily. I use it as an aggregator for work-related knowledge, client monitoring, traditional news, my personal interests for everything from tech to fashion, my boys’ schools and sports teams, networking, my close friends and more. There is a reason behind each like or follow.

I always tell people to consider the websites they visit each morning. Maybe you go to the New York Times, Amazon to see the deals of the day, your kids’ school page and ESPN. If you have all of those in your Facebook feed and/or a Twitter list, you would have one source to see all the things that interest you. Build out your interests in one place. It’s a huge time saver – think your news in real time.

As social media became popular, billions of people shifted their habits. For example, as Facebook became a go-to, brands wanted to be there telling stories just like the Wall Street Journal is. And brands can have a two-way conversation with people versus marketing via TV, for example, which is one-way. This was all fascinating to me and quite relatable. I see social media for brands as the modern newsroom to create stories – perfect as content consumption is still on the rise. And for one’s personal brand, brands have a unique opportunity to give the nine-percent sharable content.

For context, I initially hated that my major at Xavier University would be in “Electronic Media.” What’s electronic media? I was focusing on television and radio, but “electronic” seemed so odd. In the years to come, I would simply tell people that I majored in communications with a focus on television to avoid the confused look on their faces. Now electronic media makes total sense. So ironic.

Television news was perfect for me right out of school. I can remember the high of constantly scouring the newspaper and feeds for a story – thinking it through to make the content relevant to our audience. The news feed was never-ending and in real time. There was always something to read and learn. Who knew how this would prepare me for a life in digital marketing of the future? And I’m especially grateful for the skills that I honed using video and pictures to help tell my stories.

Like news, social media happens in real time. Brands can’t wait until tomorrow to react, because the trend will probably be old news or in modern terms “not trending” anymore. I help brands to plan out their posts in an editorial calendar, but leave room for agile, responsive content. Think of it in terms of how CBS has “60 Minutes” for stories that they have more time to develop versus the evening news each night. Both are important. Both are agile though.

A newsroom approach is a shift for brands who are often still chained to traditional marketing mindsets full of TV commercials, banner ads, etc., or working in silos within the organization. Telling stories with a newsroom approach partially means not just telling stories about yourself. Nobody “likes” that guy, brands; he gets defriended. It’s more about working the conversation at a cocktail party, or with your boss, asking the right questions and adding to a great topic with your point of view or related experience. If your story is good enough, others will want to go research it more and share it. Think water cooler conversations. Influencers talking about a brand is always better than the brand saying it themselves.

For activation of the influencer, there is not a day at work that goes by that I don’t utilize my television newsroom skills, which led me into PR, marketing and technology. I need the story or point of view to be sharable to live on. When social media was born, I felt like somebody rolled together all the things that I loved into one. Brands are still evolving with the change in mindset. I feel lucky to coach them on thinking social and digital first as the social assets can’t just be chopped from that multi-million-dollar TV commercial. For influencers and targeting of content, social also now requires the funding that traditional marketing has paid for years for influence. Yes, that means paid social that’s smart thanks to analytics for a laser-focused ROI. And shifting marketing dollars for social because you get what you pay for even in social. And what about employees as brand advocates – have you tapped them?

It’s a very exciting time to work with brands. They are being reborn in a new space that changes quickly. Early adoption and being flexible to try new things has never been more prevalent and necessary.

The fruits of my efforts are literally at your fingertips for you to consume while second-screening during a movie on Netflix, while waiting to pick your child up from ball practice, picking a restaurant from a food blogger, while Googling brand info during that pre-commerce moment and so many other places. I love change. My job won’t be what it is today in five years, but it’s my duty to be ahead of wherever we go. Influencers will continue to influence more as people consume more content than ever. I’ll find new ways to serve creative whether that’s on SnapChat, Tinder, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or who knows what. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up each day and the last thing I do before I fall asleep. I’m watching and thinking about what we should do next.

On September 14th, during London’s Social Media Week, a global panel of social experts from across industries will converge in London for the #PreCommerce summit, hosted by W2O EMEA, with a special focus on how we work, live and create in the digital time. If you’re on that side of the pond, don’t miss it. Thanks for learning how social media has forever changed my world and your world through our clients. Keep evolving. You’ll always have a new story to tell.

headshotColleen Hartman, a 1993 “Electronic Media” graduate from Xavier University, can be found on Twitter at @Miss_Colleen and on various other social channels. Be sure to see her LinkedIn profile which documents her journey from newsroom to PR to marketing to sports to technology to the combination of all of those which she now calls social media. She is a director for W2O Group where she finds success helping brands use sharable, visual social media with a newsroom mindset.

If you’ve been in a communications role for a decade or more, chances are you have lots of experience in traditional comms. In recent years, there’s no question that social media has had a significant impact on communications. While social media has overwhelmed many communicators with a dizzying array of platform choices and a firehose of data to make sense of, it also provides them with new ways to connect with reporters, influencers and customers more efficiently than ever.

Over the years, one thing hasn’t changed: communications is fundamentally about building relationships. To me, social media augments ways communicators can build those relationships. Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t replace phone calls, email conversations with or face-to-face conversations with reporters. But many times, a brief back-and-forth discussion on Twitter or via the comment thread in a blog post can go a long way to answering questions from reporters (and many times, your customers too). This is especially true if your company uses its social presence to respond to news-related items.

One thing that has changed: press releases aren’t what they used to be. While there’s still a place for them (company earnings information, acquisition news, corporate reorganization updates to name a few), social media platforms provide companies a more efficient way to communicate news. The problem is that not enough companies use social media to communicate and respond to news.

I’ve blogged about what I think it takes to be an effective communicator in 2015 (see here and here). Hint: combine that newsworthy sensibility with a little bit of tools and technology. It may require you to step out of your comfort zone, but doing so will yield solid results.

One example: a tool I mentioned before called Nuzzel. It’s a website/ mobile app that highlights articles people you are connected to are sharing. While that’s useful on its own, the real power is that you can use it on any public or private Twitter lists you create. See my Pioneers private list in the Your Custom Feeds section near the bottom right in the image below. In my view, that alone makes creating Twitter lists worth the hassle. Imagine clicking on one link to see the stories that 25 of your top reporters are sharing, or the 17 strategic topic influencers, or the top 15 subject matter experts in your company. All it takes is to create those private (or public) Twitter list, then connect your Twitter account at Nuzzel.com. From there, you are one click away to seeing what’s being shared most on Twitter or Facebook at any point in time.

Image for Lionel's Summit Post

 

If you’re not sure who the online influencers are, or if you need help identifying the topic conversations that are most relevant to your brand, W2O can help. Our analytics services are built to help communicators and marketers understand the online conversation that’s happening about your brand, identifying strategic topics that affect your brand (and that you can impact) as well as identifying individuals who are most influential about your industry, your competition and your brand even as they change over time. Those are people you need to foster relationships with. In many cases, those influencers are reporters you already know. Engaging them via social will deepen the existing relationship—especially when you focus efforts to adding value to their online conversations.

On September 14th, a global panel of social experts from across industries will converge in London for the #PreCommerce summit, hosted by W2O EMEA, with a special focus on how we work, live and create in the digital time. Social media has forever changed our world and it’s our responsibility to evolve with it! More on what to expect from the event here. Register for free here, or by clicking on the image below.

London Summit

sam hershman blog postI was recently asked if social media impacts the way I live because it is what I “do” for a living, or if what I do for a living influences how closely I pay attention to the impact of social media on society.

So my simple answer? Social media is my job and social media helps me do my job. I don’t think there can be a clear cut divide between how social media impacts my life vs. how it impacts my job because it is no longer the future of communications – it just is how we communicate.

Every morning I wake up, reach for my iPhone and immediately open up as many apps as possible to scroll through all the activity that happened in the social sphere overnight. Of course I’m looking on Instagram to see where my favorite food bloggers went to dinner so that I can add to my (lengthy) restaurant list, who Snapchatted me about their latest adventure (that I may or may not find interesting but reply back with a Snap of my own story, of course) and what breaking news and social media updates are trending on Facebook (processing how this news will impact my workday – as a Social Media Strategist). Is this not how most millennials start their day?

Last year, a reported 83% of Fortune 500 Companies are active on Twitter, 80% have a Facebook Page, and 97% are present on LinkedIn. These numbers are growing rapidly each year, and it is pretty much a given that social media engagement should be built into a brand’s marketing strategy.

So that’s where my team comes in – we are the experts who help build these strategies and manage engagement, directly communicating with followers to represent and support the growth of the brand.

To break it down, here’s some tricks of the trade that should be considered in a day’s work:

Defining Transparency

Nothing is a secret anymore, and as long as you have Internet connection, anything you want to share, is shareable. This can be great for several reasons: transparency, breaking news, it’s instant customer service for brands, to make a statement, etc. But here’s the kicker – since everything is SO closely watched these days, everything that you say can come back to haunt you. Defining transparency on social is a must across any industry, especially for brands – and don’t forget about personal accounts! In the world of social media, you are always representing your company, your organizations, your family, your friends, yourself.

Is this Relevant to Me?

Even something so random and miniscule to the average person’s everyday life, can go viral in a matter of seconds thanks to social media. So what does this mean? Just because others are sharing it, doesn’t mean that you should necessarily get involved. If it’s something that is relevant to you and you can promote it in a way that makes sense for your audience, then go for it; it could be a nice opportunity to jump into that conversation. But do recognize that there are some things better left untouched. Each day, I pay attention to what others are sharing and learn how to translate that into what my clients should be sharing, and what they should steer away from (and that’s when I think…thank goodness someone else did it first).

Who’s Paying Attention?

No matter who you are or what you’re doing on social media, it is critical to understand your audience. For personal accounts, odds are that’s just your friends and many of your “closest” acquaintances. For brands, recognizing who your target audience is helps reassure that you’re sharing content that is interesting and relevant to your followers.

What’s the Latest?

Every day, a new social update is “announced, rolled out or launched.” Staying on top of these social changes is very important, not only to someone who is in the social media industry, but also for users with personal accounts. So much of our work and play revolves around social media, and you don’t want to fall into a trap where you didn’t know that Facebook came out with Facebook Messenger and you don’t know how to inbox your friends anymore with important info, or that Pinterest rolled out a “Buy Now” button and you can very easily buy your top pinned items right from the platform with one click. It’s more than just “social media,” it’s connecting with friends, a world of online purchasing, a way of discovery. Starting my day with a social sweep set’s me up for success.

On September 14th, a global panel of social experts from across industries will converge in London for the #PreCommerce summit, hosted by W2O EMEA, with a special focus on how we work, live and create in the digital time. Social media has forever changed our world and it’s our responsibility to evolve with it! Register for free here.

And with that I say: Stay Social!

Something about changing one’s environment — whether it be in a different city, state or country — always has a way of impacting perspective. It could be the architecture, the food, the temperature, different dialects or foreign languages. Some of it is psychological as we are bombarded with new stimuli that our brain isn’t used to. Often it is a combination of things but at the end of the day, it can lead to new breakthroughs.

Photo Credit: Simon Ling, W2O Group
Photo Credit: Simon Ling of W2O Group

Recently, I had the luxury of spending the better part of two weeks in London. For several of those days, I worked out of our 45 person London office. While I had met most of the folks from the office at least virtually and another handful in person, I had never had the chance to hunker down and interact with them in their native environment. Nor had I had the chance to break bread with them, drink coffee with them, visit clients, grab a pint, sit through team meetings or listen in as they tried to explain to one another the exact meaning of American phrases like “navel gazing.”

While I knew that the team there was exceptionally smart and hard working, I didn’t realize to what degree this was true until I had the luxury of invading their space. Fortunately for me, they were kind hosts and went to great lengths to make sure I was able to get the most of my trip there. The good news is I did… and then some.

If you’ve been to London before, you know just what a global city it is. Our office is a true reflection of that. With members from Spain, Lithuania, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia and a dozen other places I’m leaving out, there is a real international feeling to the office. Most of the conversation happens in English but occasionally you can hear French, German and Russian spoken — sometimes to colleagues, often to clients. I occasionally caught myself listening in… not that I could catch much of what was being said (my french is decent as is my Russian but I only know about 20 words in German so I was dead in the water there). It was fascinating.

During my London stay, there were numerous lessons learned. Some were inferred from my time in our London office, others were taken from interacting with clients, friends and colleagues while I was there. In no particular order, here we go:

  • If you work in London (or EMEA for that matter), you work a long day. While the mornings may start off a little more casually than in the States, people are generally in the office between 8:30 and 9:30 and then are often expected to be on calls until 8:00 or 9:00 PM at night to accommodate New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It gets worse if one’s book of business includes clients in Asia.
  • To the last point, there ends up being a weird lull in the first third of the day in between the 30-45 minutes of email cleanup in the morning until about 2:00 PM when the east coast starts to come on line. It took a couple of days to get used to this lull but once you do, it is an incredibly productive time that can be used for local meetings, client work and thought leadership. The closest thing I’ve seen to it is on the west coast around 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM where ET and CT have wrapped up and the UK still sleeps.
  • I mentioned the international piece before when I was describing our office but I am truly amazed at how international London is. And it’s not just tourists. Business people on the Tube, street vendors, waiters. You hear a dozen different languages and can see from the clothing, hair styles and culture that you are living in a true melting pot. I know NYC is similar to this but to me at least, it feels like more of this is driven by the service industry and its natural employment of so many immigrants. If you want to be global, a London presence is a must have gateway into EMEA.
  • The Subway or “Tube” as it’s called is the lifeblood of the city. While NYC is similar in its dependence on public transportation, I was amazed at the profound impact the Tube strike had on my first couple of days in London. Part of the problem is that the roads in London are so narrow, traffic is bad even with most of the commuters using public transport. When one of the major people movers shuts down, traffic grinds to a halt. Worse yet, estimates show that the shutdown causes £50 million in lost business revenue. Ouch!
  • Due to the “global” first approach (particularly in our office), better thought through frameworks and processes seem to arise. This is a necessity as any work done needs to potentially scale into dozens of other markets and languages. If the process is flawed out of the gate, it only gets worse through iteration and repetition. A great example of this is an easy to understand statement of work (SOW) template that my colleague, Laura Mucha, put together that clients love AND it contains a staffing plan making it easier for teams to kick off new projects.

There are easily ten other things I picked up on my travels but these were a few of the more obvious ones. I should be back in the UK in September so keep your eyes open for more observations then.