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Lifecycle of a Technological Revolution_today

With the revolution of media and technology disrupting the marketing industry, and business models altogether, marketers are trying to navigate through the storm. On the communications side, TV dollars are shifting to digital. But, digital ads aren’t nearly as effective nor transparent as we want them to be. The traditionally distinct and siloed roles of marketing communications (once upon at time, just known as ‘advertising’) and PR are converging.

Because of the advent of social media, and the frustration with traditional and digital advertising, marcomm is moving into earned media with influencer marketing, native advertising and more responsive campaigns and editorial content teams. Because of the rise of the new influencer – everyday people and celebrities using blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope and other platforms to create personal media companies – PR is expanding beyond traditional media relations and ‘the pitch’, and into influencer marketing, sponsored content and responsive editorial content teams as well. It’s a race to the middle where the lines are blurred. That’s why agencies and publishers are partnering to create wholly new content companies that service brands.

If we take a step back from the race, though, things haven’t changed much since 2009. The big three: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had launched and matured as three distinct and valuable social communications platforms for users. Since then, other social platforms have launched – Foursquare (and Swarm), Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat, Meerkat and Periscope being the most touted. But, each of these just feels like an iterative evolution of the discontinuous leaps that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube made. Platforms, and the content they enable, shifted to become more visual, shorter and ephemeral. When Meerkat and Periscope launched, didn’t it feel like they already existed? And, the fundamental rules for how to engage audiences on those platforms is the same; we must adhere to the Reciprocity Theory.

So, I actually take a contrarian point of view: innovation has slowed in media technology. We’re at the tail end of our current technological revolution’s lifecycle, moving past the discontinuous revolution and into the iterative evolution. While folks in the industry are making claims that: “Advertising is dead.” Or that, “Data will tell us what content to make, so we don’t need creatives anymore.” I’m claiming that we need creative more than ever. The discipline just needs to evolve too. As the roles of advertising and PR converge, storytelling becomes an even more critical discipline for marketing.

Just pushing the message through TV and radio and print and display ads is lazy creative and lazy advertising. Great creative has always been about great storytelling. Now we just tell that story across new media platforms/channels in partnership with the new social influencers and in partnership with our customers. Sometimes those influencers and customers are the same. Great creative (‘the story’) is the glue that holds the story together, wherever we’re telling it. It’s what inspires people to participate.

In the late 2000s in the entertainment industry, we began exploring transmedia storytelling. This is where we would develop a core story – characters and the world in which they lived. And, then we’d plan out those stories across media (books, graphic novels, movies, TV, web series). It was a shift away from the linear model of: writer publishes book –> studio buys book and makes movie –> network turns movie into TV series. Instead, we developed it all at the same time. They lived together as extensions, or chapters, of the same story instead of separately as different and distinct adaptations of the story. This style of storytelling became particularly popular in the fantasy/gaming/comics genres, as we could delve deep into the story of a world we were creating.

Now, in marketing, we have the opportunity to take the same approach. How do we create a core story – the story of our brand, which reflects the story of our customers and employees – and tell that story through new (and traditional) media platforms and people? Like a vision, the story we tell requires an intuitive leap of faith. It must inspire. It must create new possibilities. Is that so different from great advertising fifty years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. But, in an increasingly ephemeral world, wouldn’t it be nice to have some moments that impact and last?

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This post originally appeared on The ReciprocityTheory blog.

When we look at millennial habits, social networks have become a remarkably important part the Millennials’ digital life.

We all know “The Facebook” first started as a community platform for college students. Today, the social network has over one billion registered users that connect and share information on a global scale.

Similarly, Twitter began as a source of ‘microblogging’, in which users could send out 140-character blurbs on anything they wanted. It has now transformed into one of the fastest and most viral opportunities to communicate breaking news and information.

A new source of information

Social media is becoming more than just a place for people to connect. It’s a reason for discovery, it’s a way to absorb knowledge, it’s shareable.

A survey conducted by the American Press Institute measured the use of several social networks as pathways to news-like information. Interestingly, they found that each social network is now considered a news platforms my proper definition.

Eighty-eight percent of Millennials surveyed stated that they occasionally got their news from Facebook, while Pinterest (36 percent) and Twitter (33 percent) were close to follow.

More often than not, Millennials engage more actively with news that’s already on social networks than developing their own social content. They tend to click on regularly read news that has been shared or viewed by people they know, which is ironic, since the original purpose of social media is to provide users the opportunity to connect with people to see what they’re talking about or interested in.

The fact that more Millennials are looking to social networks as a trusted source of information makes social media an extremely powerful tool.

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

In addition to being a resource for news and information, social media has also exposed Millennials to different opinions and views. This generation is constantly looking to social media for insights into purchasing decisions, political views, and social views.

Goldman Sachs Data Story on Millennials found that 34 percent of people aged 18-35 turn to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Unsurprisingly, this generation tends to do more online shopping than in the store, and brands that have little-to-no social presence are often overlooked when making purchasing decisions. If they aren’t being talked about online or among their social network, people will move on to brands that have a presence.

In recent years, political candidates have seen the impact social media has on Millennials’ lives and they have started to use that in their favor. President Barack Obama is one of the first presidents to have an active social media presence, in which he uses Twitter to inform and connect with his supporters.

Snapchat is a social platform that has seen a fast growth among the younger audiences, 71 percent of its core user base being between 18-24. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently joined the social messaging app in a move to reach this audience, those who will potentially be voting for the first time in the 2016 elections.

Most recently, we have seen social media set the stage for social activism. Many Millennials are now looking at social networks as a way to raise awareness of philanthropic efforts and initiatives, because they can reach a larger audience, at a faster rate.

In 2014, NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was taken out of Gaza for reporting the killing of four Palestinian boys by the Israeli Defense Force. The lack of media reporting on these issues in Gaza was quickly noticed, and the hashtag #LetAymanReport was developed to alert the world of the situation. Within 24-hours, Mohyeldin was back in Gaza and continued reporting on the whole story.

Similarly, events such as the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to shed light on issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Millennials have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions like no generation has before them and social networks give them the power to do so.

Also notable is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took to social media to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease marked by degeneration of the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. The social campaign, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, raised $115 million last year. It was so successful that the ALS Association has partnered with major organizations, like Major League Baseball, to implement the challenge every August until a cure is found.

Millennials have the power to inspire, facilitate change, and illicit choices.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and they don’t plan on slowing down. Social networks give them a platform to connect, learn, share, and educate. Their affinity for technology and their passion to have a voice has reshaped the way they view and use social media. In a time where you can Tweet, share a status update, Instagram, Vine, or Snap thousands of people at any moment, the Millennial voice is more important and impactful than ever.

I recently had the pleasure of attending eMarketer’s State of Mobile event here in New York.  It covered how marketers can leverage current mobile trends and was split into two parts:

  • Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer’s Chairman, presented data around mobile usage and offered tips on mobile success for marketers.
  • Eva Papoutsakis Smith of Pinterest discussed how the social media platform is used and how brands can leverage it.

eMarketer’s Geoffrey Ramsey 

We’ve all heard countless times over the years that this will be the year of mobile. While mobile devices now play a huge role in our lives, 2016 will be the year when mobile overtakes desktop in ad spending.

Blog eMarketer chart Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 3.10.24 PM

People feel lost without their mobile device and marketers have reacted accordingly by increasingly investing in mobile ad spending.

With the emergence of location-enabled mobile devices, location has become the new computer tracking-cookie. This means that real-time marketing has become right-time marketing. As eMarketer’s Cathy Boyle said, “location is the cookie of the mobile world.”

Blog chart eMarketer Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.26.41 PM

Marketers need to create relevant content that will serve consumers’ needs of a particular time and place.

The app store may have over a million apps available to download but 80% of our mobile time is spent with five apps: Facebook, YouTube, Maps, Pandora, and Gmail. Therefore, rather than try to change existing target behavior perhaps marketers can explore ways to participate in existing app behavior. For example, perhaps a marketer covers a Pandora commercial free day.

The eMarketer feature for US mobile ad spending can be found here

Pinterest’s Eva Papoutsakis Smith

Blog post eMarketer Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 3.17.44 PM

Pinterest’s Eva Papoutsakis Smith joined the conversation for the second part of the session. Pinterest can be accessed across a variety of devices including desktop, tablet, and smartphone. However, it’s chiefly accessed via mobile devices, with 75% of Pinterest activity happening on mobile.

While many view Pinterest primarily as a social media website, Smith conveyed their vision as being “an individual and personal tool for users to plan their future.” The platform enables people to dream where they want to go, what they want to achieve, and what they want to buy.

Also, while the platform is very visual, pins that include text often perform better than those without text.

Transactions may not take place on Pinterest but it plays a major role in eCommerce. A whopping two-thirds of all pins are for a brand or a business!

Product pins don’t just have to be product or service based, as it could also be collecting informative content. For example, a patient could utilize a Pinterest secret board to gather information and/or articles on a medical condition. (A secret board is only visible to you and people you invite to it).

If a brand is already on Pinterest perhaps show appreciation by mentioning people by name in the description of a pin, exclusive LTO offers, etc. How about giving those in your community some love? If a brand is not yet on Pinterest, they might be missing out on becoming an aspirational brand that people hope will become part of their lives. Why not join Pinterest to become more available so that people can include you in their future aspirations?

 

October was a big month for social media, with updates and new features across all channels. Keep your clients up-to-date and socialize what’s new! If you would like to be featured in the November updates, please let us know!

What you need to know in October:

  • Users Can Now Edit Facebook Posts
    • Facebook users can now go back and edit posts (including status updates and images) after they have been posted. All engagement on a post will not be lost, as opposed to previously deleting a post/comment. http://w.cg/16pz9S
    • Why it matters: While this feature is only available to users and not brand pages, brands must be aware of what fans are posting to ensure they do not change the copy after the comment goes live,
    • What you have to say about it: “This new feature makes it easier to make changes on the go – which is entirely necessary in today’s world. I would imagine I am not alone in making most of my Facebook status updates from my mobile device and am looking forward to be able to edit those when needed, no matter where I am.” – Kendra Cassillo, Account Manager, Health, Los Angeles, CA
  • Facebook Graph Search – Updates
    • Facebook is making it easier for users to search for topics of interest. This update will make almost anything posted accessible to other users and keeps Facebook conducive to real-time conversation. http://w.cg/16pzhAV
    • Why it matters: Facebook is becoming a one stop shop. Brands can easily follow conservation about their products/offerings via Facebook, as well as understanding what fans are saying about competitors. The more time users are spending on Facebook (to seek information), the greater the opportunity to reach fans.
    • What you have to say about it: “This is a much-appreciated update for marketers, providing an alternative to Twitter as the go-to source for trending news.  We’ll be able to conduct real-time searches for publicly shared content. This offers a wealth of new competitive insights and consumer research that can be quickly gleamed through keyword searches into everything from competitors to  product attributes and all things important your friends and followers. For local market perspective, you can search by location to garner conversation threads for a particular city, offering insights for market-specific campaigns. From an engagement perspective, the new content searching enhancements provide quick and painless ways for brands to tap into timely events and conversations with posts that are relevant in the moment.” – Peter Duckler, Director, Earned Media, Los Angeles, CA
  • Facebook Simplifies Ad Buying
    • Facebook is simplifying the ad buying process by asking advertisers to choose their objectives from a list of options and then selecting where the ad will appear on Facebook. http://w.cg/1aWZxkt
    • Why it matters: The easier it is for brands to advertise, the more inclined they will be to do so. Advertising leads to more social recognition, which boots levels of engagement. The advertising will do the talking, while brands watch to see which campaigns are most effective.
    • What you have to say about it: “Previously, a lot went into implementing the most effective Facebook ads. It looks like Facebook is now taking steps to demystify their ad buying process by walking users through some of the more confusing steps and decisions. This is going to make it easier for clients to get their ads in front of the audiences they want. It’s also going to be easier for users to find out which images and campaigns are most effective. So ads are demystified, and our jobs are made easier. This is win-win! – Todd Dwyer, Analytics Manager,  Austin, TX
  • Facebook Ads – Across Platforms
    • Facebook advertisers can now target users across multiple devices, from desktop to mobile, thanks to a new self-serve tool that brings retargeted ads to Facebook’s mobile app.  http://w.cg/1bGNSrM
    • Why it matters: Companies can target consumers who visited their website or downloaded their app, but didn’t make a purchase.
    • What you have to say about it: “Companies are going to be able to reach consumers who may have visited their site, but didn’t necessarily make a purchase. I can see customers getting annoyed with this because they don’t want updates from a company that they are not purchasing from. Ads going on people’s mobile phone will be frustrating because with mobile, the ads are removed and scrolling through the feed is less distracting than on a desktop. I appreciate not seeing ads on my personal devices.” – Gage Grammer, Marketing Associate, Austin, TX
  • Twitter Allows DM from any Follower
    • Twitter users can now opt to receive direct messages from any of their followers. http://w.cg/Hx8fOz
    • Why it matters: This opens lines of communication between brands and their followers and influencers, making it much easier to connect with influencers, receive contact information, etc.
    • What you have to say about it: “This is key for brands who utilize social media for influencer outreach and real-time feedback. For clients like Verizon, who have spent a lot of time and effort establishing relationships and connections with influencers via Twitter, this new feature is a much needed update and opening for more meaningful conversations with both influencers, followers and potential customers in a social, yet a bit less public, forum. It’s amazing to me that this was not an update earlier since so many companies have a strong Twitter presence today.”- Lauren Barbiero, Associate, Media and Engagement, New York, NY
  • Twitter Suggests Followers Via Mobile
    • A Twitter update will now suggest which accounts a user should follow by sending push notifications via mobile. http://w.cg/18GTC1r
    • Why it matters: Your brand wants to be a top player in the “suggested follower” game. The more real-time/relevant conversation produced by your brand, the more users will be able to relate and pick-up on what you’re saying, thus, gaining followers and becoming a suggested account to follow.
    • What you have to say about it: “What you have to say about it: “I think that this is a nice, straightforward way to potentially characterize ROI for clients. Since Twitter’s suggestions will be based on engagement, this will be a great opportunity for us to encourage our clients to produce more engaging content to improve their “suggestibility”, and subsequently, to reach their potential audience.” – Jane Hurh, Analytics Associate, New York, NY
  • Embedded Tweets Now Include Photos
    • In an attempt to maintain its real-time marketing appeal, Twitter announced that embedded Tweets will now feature photos. http://w.cg/1aWZOE1
    • Why it matters: Strong visuals are more important than ever. Fans can now scroll through their feed, without that extra click to view an image, and will stop to pay attention to the photos that strike their interest and are above average. Your brand wants to be that brand.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think this speaks to how interactive media has become and appealing to all audiences. When reading a news story I want more than just great writing; I want to see a side-bar with a photo slide show or maybe a 90-second video along with it. Twitter is reminding users that this is one-stop shopping and I love it.” – Christiana Pascale, Healthcare Associate, New York, NY
  • Should Your Company be on Google+
    • While only 35% of big companies are on Google+, they are benefiting via Google. These brands are gaining SEO, properly utilizing hashtags and ahead of the YouTube game. http://w.cg/16zyiPb
    • Why it matters: Sooner or later Google+ is going to be a great platform for brands to have, especially if fans can’t comment on your valuable YouTube content without it. Your brand will also be more searchable, which will boost engagement amongst competitors. If your fans are on it, you might consider it as well.
    • What you have to say about it: “There’s more to engaging stakeholders than the tool you use to connect. It’s about understanding where your stakeholders are, how to meet them there and inspire them forward around what your brand or company offers. Learning about their current behaviors and interests will make the engagement more authentic and effective, helping them to make easier purchasing decisions. Google+ might just be the right platform through which your brand or company can engage, but it shouldn’t be just because it’s the second most-used social network worldwide.” – Abigail Rethore, Director, Corporate Strategy, New York, NY
  • YouTube Comments Ranked, Personalized
    • YouTube is rolling out a new commenting system powered by Google+ which aims to fix the issue of spamming in comments. Comments will be ranked based on several things, including if the commenter is in your Google+ circle. http://w.cg/Hx8usY
    • Why it matters: Influencers can comment on your videos, ranking higher than spam comments, keeping relevant comments higher and conversation between brand and influencer easier to track/follow.
    • What you have to say about it: “I’m interested to see how Google+ based rankings will play out. I worry that Google+ relationships don’t have enough data to make an automated algorithm deliver relevant content and that Google is forcing the channel onto consumers. In addition, adding the ability for brand pages to blacklist certain words will likely make brands more willing to engage, but this could also be a detriment to organic conversation – brands could potentially blacklist competitors’ products, or negative comments about the brand. This provides them with some ease of mind, but could also strip away honest conversation (which is ostensibly the reason that people like to engage online in the first place). – Stephen Yoon,  Manager, Corporate Strategy/Analytics, New York, NY
  • Pinterest  Expands Pins
    • Pinterest announced that article pins will now include the headline, author, title, a brief description and link, right on the pin, making it easier for users to save, organize and share articles. http://w.cg/17ZX33Y
    • Why it matters: Users can pin now, read later. This means that instead of browsing over your content and forgetting about it, they can pin it and it will be saved for them, expanding the content users save/read about your brand.
    • What you have to say about it:  As an avid pinner, it is frustrating when I do not understand the story behind a great photo or where the content originates. Pinners can now access more information on topics they care about from sites – and sources – they trust, knowing that the click-through won’t take them to a dead link. The photos uploaded with these expanded pins are going to need to continue to compete with Pinterest eye-candy and not rely on the links and copy to get attention of readers, because let’s face it, it’s hard to focus on too many words when you staring at a gorgeous shot of homemade lasagna that is made with only three easy steps.” – Jessica Carlson, Account Director, Chicago, IL

For more detailed information, please view our deck

Samantha HershmanErin Weinert, Amanda Cillo, & Michel’le Roddy, Consumer Team

 

 

 

The Consumer Team is introducing “Socialize,” the latest and greatest social updates you can find. We want our clients to be up-to-date with the latest in social media and we want them to hear it from us so each month, we’ll be sharing the new stuff, the next big thing and what’s hot. In September, we have taken a dive into Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube to socialize what’s different across all channels and why it matters.  If you would like to be featured in the October updates, we would love to hear what you have to say.

What you need to know in September:

  • Pinterest Announces Promoted Pins
    • Pinterest will begin rolling out paid advertising in the form of “Promoted Pin’s” in users’ top results and search categories. Ads will be clearly labeled and no money will be collected from advertisers during the testing phase. http://mashable.com/2013/09/19/pinterest-promoted-pins/
    • Why it matters: Another way for paid and earned to work side-by-side in helping to increase the search results of branded Pinterest pages.
    • What you have to say about it: “Recently we have seen a number of brands seeking out Pinterest as a key channel for connecting with their audiences, so it was no surprise that the platform has decided to make the move to incorporating paid advertising. As an analyst, I hear time and time again that brands are starting to see higher site referral traffic through Pinterest so it’s a natural fit for the site to embrace e-commerce and advertising opportunities.” Natalie DeNike, Analytics, Austin, TX
  • Video Auto-Play Within Facebook
    • Facebook launched a test through mobile that will auto-play any user-uploaded videos when scrolling over. The video will stop playing once it slips off the screen. http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/12/facebook-tests-silent-auto-play-for-user-videos-in-mobile-feed-foreshadowing-video-ads/
    • Why it matters: Moving in the direction of automatic playing of paid content (ads). Content being uploaded to Facebook with auto-play may increase interaction & views. The more views / interactions, the more likely that videos will be seen in other’s news feeds.
    • What you have to say about it: “That’s just more interruption. At least Vine is muted initially when scrolling through. This might as well be another disruptive ad.” Spike Jones, Group Director, Austin, TX
  • Facebook Makes Conversations More Accessible
    • Select users will be allowed to search all public Facebook posts by using keywords and data strings. Rollout will begin with a small group of media outlets such as BuzzFeed, CNN, Slate, etc. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/facebook-offers-new-windows-into-social-conversation/?_r=0
    • Why it matters: Future focus on targeted advertising, based on public and private information. This introduces another layer of analytics to understand what people are saying about brands and the content, and/or demographic information in private networks.
    • What you have to say about it: “Facebook’s new search features will provide much more depth to our analytics work with Verizon—particularly for unanticipated events like the NSA. We’ll be able to draw real-time insights into what users are talking about and the ways in which they’re communicating (e.g. Hashtags, video, images, etc.), as well as overall demographic information. Not only will our reporting become more robust, but our recommendations into Facebook engagement and best practices will benefit also.” Sarah Masel, Analytics Manager, New York, NY
  • Twitter’s New “Verified” Filter
    • Twitter introduced two new filter tabs to users with verified profiles; filtered (shows mentions based on algorithm to cut out spam) and verified (shows interactions with other verified profiles). http://marketingland.com/twitter-gives-verified-users-new-spam-verified-only-filters-for-mentions-58876
    • Why it matters: For users of verified accounts, you can filter conversations from other verified accounts – meaning you can/should have more meaningful interactions, faster (less spam).
    • What you have to say about it: “From a brand standpoint, I think the introduction is very helpful. As more brands continue to build an online presence, the ability to filter and organize relevant conversations allows for greater and speedier responses from the brand as they can hone in on the important interactions most impactful to their community.” Melanie Weiss, Account Manager, Los Angeles, CA
  • Offline Viewing Coming to YouTube
    • YouTube announced their new feature that will allow users to watch videos while offline. Content will refresh when internet connection is available. http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/19/youtube-offline-video-for-mobile-explained/
    • Why it matters: Pretty big deal – no internet connection required to watch videos. Think of this like DVR-ing your content for offline use.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think this development speaks to the ‘consumer is boss’ mentality.  The ability to download videos and view them at a time that’s convenient for you – where you may not have wifi, internet or phone service – makes it that much easier to consume content.  It also will be good service for emerging markets where internet access may not be readily available or mobile communications are lagging behind” Pete Collins, Group Director, New York, NY

For more detailed information, please view our deck.

Samantha Hershman & Erin Weinert, Consumer Team

 

The evolution of social media from something “your teenagers did” to something that brands use to connect with key stakeholders has been nothing short of amazing. As evidence of that evolution, take a look at the audience figures for the last couple of months for some of the most popular social networks

It is those latter two statistics that have brands buzzing these days. Regardless of what conference room we are in, or what client we are talking to, the conversation inevitably leads back to content marketing and the importance of visual content therein. Why do brands care? Sites like Instagram and YouTube are still seeing tremendous growth, while Facebook and Twitter have stagnated. Millenials, a key target for many brands are flocking to these sites in droves instead of Facebook or Twitter. Most importantly, sites like Pinterest are proving successful in driving people to websites where customers can ultimately make a purchase. ROI…ROI…ROI.  Bob Pearson, W2O Group President is fond of asking, “If we were to take away all of the written text about your brand online would the visual content still tell the story you want told?” In case you were wondering, the answer to this question is most often ‘no.’

So how do brands start to answer ‘yes’ to the question that Bob is posing, aside from using channels like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube? One of the ways brands can leverage multiple visual assets within unit is a Content Capsule. The Content Capsule is the brain child of Tim Bahr, CEO of NextWorks, a strategic partner of W2O Group. The content capsule is a unique platform for content delivery across the PESO model of media (paid, earned, shared and owned). Tim and I sat down to talk about the content capsule, and how it fits into broader content marketing program.

Why do you think marketers are showing such strong interest in Content Marketing?

Smart marketers realize that consumers are not interested in ads and promotional material; especially when they are online or on mobile devices.  A .01% click through rate on display ads pretty much tells that story. Online and mobile consumers, who are in a buying mode, are most often seeking information to help them make a buying decision.  Marketers now recognize this as a huge opportunity to provide valuable and relevant information on their products and services that can help people buy their products.  That’s exactly why content marketing is the top priority for most marketers today, and why many believe it will be the most important area of marketing in the future.

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

I think the move toward content marketing is a very significant advance in marketing and the entire business/customer relationship.   We are finally starting to recognize the intelligence of our audiences.  We can’t just talk at them anymore with promotional messages that they have not requested and have no interest in.  They can just simply turn those messages off.

To successfully deliver a message to an audience in the digital world, where the user controls the receipt of messages, the message must be informative, relevant and provide value.  That outcome of this new means of communicating will be greater engagement and stronger customer relationships.

What do you think is key to successfully delivering content to an audience?

First you should know what the audience wants.  Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.  Then you need a distribution platform that can deliver content to the audience wherever and whenever that want to receive it in an engaging and interactive manner.  Finally, you must be able to monitor all interactions with the content so you have metrics that can help you continually update and alter content to meet the specific needs of your audience and ensure you remain timely and relevant.

How does the Content Capsule platform deliver this type of audience engagement and measurement?

The capsule platform is an interactive canvas that allows marketers to tell complete stories with videos, images, presentations, links and transactions in one self-contained, branded and highly sharable unit.  An audience can be taken on a journey from assessment through engagement to conversion without ever leaving a company’s content.  Capsules allow marketers to easily launch content campaigns across owned, earned, shared and paid media on all devices.  And, because every piece of content within a capsule is monitored and measured, a marketer can respond in real time to audience interactions and update content while a capsule is in distribution.  When content is updated, capsules embedded and shared across the digital ecosystem all update.  This creates an opportunity for ongoing programming of relevant content to multiple audiences across all platforms. Here are some examples of content capsule platforms we have built for other clients.

BMC

P&G

During this week’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio Tim and the NextWorks team will be demonstrating the capsule platform for attendees. Make sure you stop by and check it out.

If the title reads like an old Batman comic, it might be because the online retailer Zappos is becoming a force for improving the sometimes tenuous connection between e-commerce and social media. Or it could just be the funny brand name.

Zappos rolled out “PinPointing” this week, a service that lives on their site and recommends products based on the photos their costumers ‘Pin’ on Pinterest. In a single step, the online apparel store, run by Amazon, has integrated social media properties with its online store, tested a new business model AND found a way to utilize Pinterest’s impressive 20 million users.

Zappos’s goal with PinPointing is to improve engagement and brand exposure by increasing the number of Zappos product pins on Pinterest, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales. The company plans to measure the conversion metrics, especially in lesser-known departments like Wedding, Couture and Housewares (areas that align nicely with Pinterest’s demographic and content), to measure the success of the service.

To use PinPointing, users go to the site and enter their Pinterest account name. Zappos generates recommendations based on prior pins, using brand, material, color and product keywords to inform product suggestions.
While there are still some glitches to work out with the technology (a Pinned photo of a grey dress with blue sandals might bring up a recommendation for grey men’s jeans and grey sneakers), PinPointing could solve the business model puzzle for Pinterest.

Here at WCG, with our emphasis on Social Commerce, this is an especially significant step as Zappos experiments with the monetization of a new platform. PinPointing, which incorporates Pinterest’s platform of organic referrals, shows there may be a more subtle way for Pinterest to make money than taking the route of Ad Revenue. Even with existing business models for social media, there’s been no clean solution to merging the interests of online sales and social communities. But Pinterest, with its high volume of organic referral traffic, may just be the perfect social media channel to bridge that gap.

Over the last few years communicators have had a ringside seat to the biggest shift in their profession since, well, the creation of broadcast television. Consider for a moment that Facebook has now crossed 900 million users , Pinterest reached 10 million unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever, and Twitter has 140 million active users and what communicators are faced with now is a burgeoning community of creators not consumers. Sure, the largest online population is still those who consume content but the numbers of people who contribute and share is growing substantially. This has several implications for communicators, not the least of which is factoring in new channels into the mix.

The other, and this is less something we can control is the number of people looking to break into this business for companies or agencies. Unfortunately, the social media space is moving at a pace that far outstrips the availability of quality talent. I don’t mean to be unfair about this, but the number of people who have executed social media campaigns for the Fortune 500 is small. It isn’t a matter of setting up a Facebook page or managing a Twitter account. The best social media professionals are part marketer, part behavioral psychologist, part businessman/woman and part number cruncher. Ah numbers. You knew I was getting there eventually, right?

If the talent gap in social media is huge, the analytics talent gap in those spaces is equally as big. Whenever you tweet, like, comment or click you are creating a data point for someone to analyze. It is not that simple, though. Analyzing those top-level metrics is only one part of the equation. Can you take those metrics and turn them into a communications or business insight? Many people know how to collect data and put it into a presentation. Fewer people know how to collect the data, put it into a presentation that highlights insights that improve the business or a communications program.

This is not going to be a trend that slows down, by the way. I am seeing a greater number of agencies and companies looking to hire directors and vice presidents in the hopes of raising their respective games in this space. Will it work? I suppose only time will tell, but hiring a leader of analytics DEFINITELY makes sense. Unfortunately, as someone who has been looking to fill these roles at three agencies I can tell you that they do not grow on trees. Most of us have various backgrounds that do not necessarily scream “analytics.”

How do we make sure that we have a greater talent pool to pick from? Well, colleges and universities are starting to do that for us by creating analytics programs, but there is still more the existing community can do to combat the problem. Some of those things include:

  • Understanding what goes into a proper analytics job description. Knowledge of social monitoring tools is important, but not nearly the only thing we should be looking at to evaluate candidates. The ability to navigate Microsoft Excel, using web-based tools like Google Insights and optimizing presentations are also important.
  • Have an open mind. There are not a lot of people who have extensive experience in social analytics. Sometimes you have to step outside of your hiring comfort zone to hire the right person.
  • Some skills DO NOT show up on a resume or LinkedIn profile. Are you naturally inquisitive? If the answer is yes, and I can snuff that out in an interview (you would be surprised) you have a big leg up in the process. When was the last time you saw “naturally inquisitive” on a resume? I know I haven’t. This speaks a little bit to bullet #2, but the skills of an analyst don’t easily translate to the traditional resume or LinkedIn profile.
  • Evangelizing on behalf of the space. If you feel comfortable blogging or speaking on the topic of analytics and are currently employed by a company or agency, do it! Potential employees need to hear from people already in the space more often than they do. Those of us already doing the work are extremely passionate about it. That passion translates. Trust me.

The talent gap in social analytics isn’t going to close overnight. Neither will the talent gap that my friend Jim Storer talked about within the community/social strategist ranks. There are some tangible things we can start to do, though, to close that gap. Some of those things I have highlighted above. Others will come over time as the existing talent pool gains more experience. The situation isn’t dire yet, but it will be if we don’t start addressing the problem now. What do you think? For those of you in a hiring position, are Jim and I crazy?

My first job in journalism was working on what we called the “speed desk” at a wire service. In addition to jumping onto whatever breaking news was happening, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to produce summaries of news that other publications had written but that my outfit hadn’t yet covered. The summaries were written with two very specific rules: the original source had to receive full credit, and our summary had to — in some way — advance the story by adding some sort of context or additional detail. Simply re-writing someone else’s scoop was unacceptable.

We didn’t have a good name for that process, but it was similar to the effort now known as “curation”: the collection, organization and re-broadcast of the ideas of others. In 2012, curation is a key part of the information-processing cycle as we come to terms with the fact that there will be more devices connected to the Internet by the middle of the decade than there are people in the world. All of those devices are spitting out gobs of information, and sifting through that information has become a calling unto itself.

My colleague Aaron Strout outlined why curation is so important to companies last year, and there seems to be little chance that trend will diminish (a fact that the rise of Pinterest demonstrates).

As a result of the growing need for — and market for — curation, there have been increasing efforts to develop rules for making sure that the process of curation is ethical. The most recent is the “Curator’s Code,” a thoughtful way for bloggers and others to signal both the source of a story (in Twitter parlance, the “via”) as well as the person who brought it to the attention of the curator (the “hat tip”). The ethics is straightforward: as we collect and re-broadcast information, understanding where the information came from (and how it traveled) is critical in establishing credibility.

But for all of the attention the Curator’s Code has received — it was a SXSW highlight and was featured in the New York Times, among others — it set an unfortunately low bar for curation. Proper attribution is a noble goal, but it doesn’t solve one of the fundamental issues of content sharing in the brave new social world: it actually increases the volume of information we’re exposed to, because yesterday’s hot story on Mashable isn’t being published just by Mashable. It’s being RTed and Facebooked and G+ed by thousands and thousands of people, often with no additional context.

Which brings me back to that first job, curating for hours before the sun even rose. The fundamental rule that guided me then — add something of value — seems every bit as important as the “Curator’s Code” in ensuring that the benefits of curation (organizing information, broadening the reach of information) don’t degrade into just more noise.