Did Google Alphabet remember to google the letter “G” before they said, “G is for Google”? We here at W2O Group are all about data mining and sometimes all that requires is the simplest of questions as well as the simplest of search tools.
Twitter’s milestones over the past nine years are nothing short of remarkable. Now Twitter can add another feather to brag about, again changing up the media landscape.
You’ve likely heard (from a little bird?) that Twitter has eliminated the 140 character limit on direct messages (DM). For some, this isn’t a surprise. The social media powerhouse made an announcement via their blog in early June, and public relations (PR) pros couldn’t wait to see what kind of impact this would have for media outreach. This may appear to be a “whoop-de-doo” kind of announcement, but take note: this opens up a whole new method of communication with journalists and influencers alike.
More often than not, journalists will tell you (very adamantly, actually) that email is the preferred channel of communication. But, on occasion, we like to ruffle feathers and change it up. Here are three ways this impacts the game:
Communication with Journalists
Many media professionals are on social media—for both personal and professional reasons. And even a nice ‘I love you note’ will garner some replies on Twitter. But what about a pitching a story idea via DM? Go for it. This new DM format also allows for better, more substantial communication. Being in a “chat” format has opened up more opportunities to engage genuinely.
A key thing to remember is that we’re all human – don’t be afraid to engage in something outside of “work” tweets. Who doesn’t like getting a retweet or two?
Here’s an example: a client wanted to reach fitness influencers (not necessarily individuals who blog), who were heavy Twitter users. Armed with large amounts of followers, these Tweeter’s didn’t have to have a traditional blog or news site to make a big impact on the world of fitness. The challenge? Actually communicating with these individuals, all through their go-to channel, Twitter. The team carefully crafted a DM, getting creative to stay under 140 characters or sending separate messages, and hoped for the best. Those days are long over.
Pushing the Boundaries of Communication
An item to consider: Just because you can, should you? Even if your close friend sends you a 500 character DM on Twitter, chances are you will text him “what gives bro?” Just like a traditional email pitch, if you can’t be clear, concise and to the point, rethink your story.
Look for the changes on Android and iOS apps, twitter.com, TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac. The new format will continue to roll out over the next few weeks. Happy Tweeting!
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.
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.
I recently traveled to upstate New York for a weekend at my family home via train, and I couldn’t help but notice the staggering amount of travelers using multiple devices (me being one). Travelers of ages, from what I estimate to be 8 to 65 years old, were using tablets, phones, and laptops (some were using all at once!). Among these multitaskers were businessmen and women conversing with colleagues on the phone (eavesdropping at its finest); clearly, they were finding it difficult to disengage from the office.
About a month ago, the WCG Corporate & Strategy team released its latest CommonSense… For The C-Suite outlining the overwhelming amount of messages today’s society is inundated with each day, and the effect this is having on work/life balance. Today’s workforce is constantly connected to email and always “on call” in case something pops up. While technology continues to make our lives more efficient, it’s making them quite a bit busier at the same time.
However, being plugged-in 24/7 isn’t all fun and games.
36% of employed Americans believe communication technology increases their workload
34% said it makes it more difficult to stop thinking about work
Office landscapes continue to evolve, and more companies are allowing employees to work remotely (or have axed the traditional office setting all together). Today’s technology is shifting employees’ day-to-day realities as they no longer need to physically be at their desk to accomplish the task at hand. More and more, we’re finding that the workplace is wherever we are.
While this allows us to add flexibility to our schedules, it also increasingly presents challenges for us to find time to unplug and officially “sign off” for the day.
Tips for maximizing your work/life balance, unplugging and making time for yourself
Be Realistic and Transparent
When setting deadlines for work, make sure that you have identified and set aside the proper amount of time to finish the task at hand. If you have other deadlines or engagements you have already committed to, make sure you voice this to your manager and team upfront.
Set Aside Time for YOU
You cannot work for 24 hours straight, every day. Set time aside on your calendar for you! Whether it’s a gym class or a coffee date with a friend, this time should be specifically reserved for something you want to do. Having this booked on your calendar each week (and well in advance) will ensure this time is always dedicated to you.
Create a Routine
Do you wake up at the same time every morning? Do you drink a coffee and read the news, or go to the gym? Whatever you may do, make it a daily “to-do.” According to research from Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes exactly 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic on average. By developing a routine, you can start every day off by checking off an item on your to-do list.
Wow, it’s been a little over 90 days since we joined the W2O family. For any company that is getting assimilated, one of the keys to success is observing the organization and figuring out how you fit in and what you can contribute to the business as a whole. One of the things that attracted us to W2O, aside from the all-star team, was our keen focus on analytics and empowering our services via software. Essentially, we’re saying that we value the ability to be accurate and to scale how we service our customers. This is music to our ears (especially since we help power the software part) and, in my opinion, the future model of agencies (software + analytics + service). But what unites the firm under a common purpose across these three disciplines? Audiences. That is the common bond in our company and our purpose is to identify, understand, and engage with audiences. All kinds of audiences.
I feel like James Michener as I type this post… “it all started when the earth cooled,” but the reality is a little CRM and mass marketing anthropology is needed to understand the future. So to put things in perspective, the concept of communicating to an audience heralds back to the Egyptians who put hieroglyphics on papyrus to make sales messages or announcements. Soon after came the invention of the Phoenician alphabet to ensure messages were accurately delivered between traveling maritime merchants. The next big evolution of audience engagement didn’t occur until the advent of Greek theatre and politics, which might even be considered the earliest origin of mass marketing. It was there in those ancient amphitheaters that messages were disseminated to large or small groups of people through storytelling or one-by-one messages.
It took the mid 1400’s and the invention of the Gutenberg press for another major transformation of audience. Now the ability for ideas to spread and for knowledge to democratize was a function of ink and paper. The ability to get a message en masse became an art form, but was still limited by time and distance. It wasn’t until the 1800’s, the proliferation of newspapers, and then industrial revolution, that we saw the incarnation of mass communication and mass marketing. The science/art of marketing and PR were born to leverage these new tools to reach and influence as many people as possible. Using these blunt instruments of push marketing, they sold products, changed opinions, moved markets, and educated the masses. The science of demography was adopted so that better targeting could be applied to getting the messages to the right audiences, but again, very wide swaths of understanding people. Not until the internet, and especially the invention of cookies and social media, have we had tools that truly help us narrowly understand individuals, but then be able to group them by common behaviors and affinities.
The path from understanding and connecting to blasting messages is irrefutable. But the science of audiences intrigues me and the whole W2O family. With technological advancements we have an unprecedented ability to truly understand people at scale as individuals, and against specific , not a crude clustering based on broad terms. For James and myself, creating the toolset that helps us discover, understand, and engage with audiences is an incredible challenge. Audiences are amorphous entities and vary tremendously between four key factors. The lenses required to hone in on those factors remind me of the tools used by optologists to determine your requirements for glasses.
The first key mechanism for understanding audiences actually start with you, the viewer. Depending on your position within an organization you interpret your audience very differently than your colleagues, despite you working for the same company. Here are some key examples within our team:
Brandon Farley, our community manager, views his audience as all of our users.
Guy Peluso, our sales director, views all wineries not using our software as his audience.
Glen Parker, our happiness engineer, views wineries that are not optimized as his audience.
Marisa Massie, finance, views the people that have their credit card on file as her audience.
It’s easy to see that the audience originates from the eye of the beholder.
The second key mechanism for understanding audiences is how the audiences are being clustered: time, location, behavioral affinities and interests (e.g. wine), someone’s relationship to a brand (customer, advocate, fan, detractor), relationship clusters (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) and more.
The third key mechanism is business intent: how are we trying to get the audience to activate? You look at audiences differently depending on what message you want to deliver so, how you want to engage, what do you need to activate/convert, and/or what do you want to learn?
The last key mechanism is actually my favorite, which I’ll call chiaroscuro audiences. Chiaroscuro is an art form that uses strong contrast of light and dark and is sometimes expressed as “bringing light from the dark.” The art was brought back and represented in the comic book and movie series Sin City. Chiaroscuro audiences are the missing audiences – These are the ones that are not visible, and understanding them is equally important. For example: I launch a new skateboard and I analyze all the audiences. Through my analysis, I find that only men between the ages of 30-45 are buying the product, which means the chiaroscuro audiences of young skateboarders not buying it become the audience we need to analyze, and understand their lack of affinity for my skateboard.
By creating a tool that can adjust all those lenses singularly or in tandem we empower ways to see and understand audiences unlike any firm in history.
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.
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.
As summer interns working at W2O Group, we have the privilege to work on various accounts, develop analytical skills and work with the most innovative leaders in the industry. In addition to these opportunities, we were required to team up for the intern project and develop a marketing campaign to drive awareness for a local non-profit and increase the level of donations made by millennials. Over four weeks, our team collaborated across all offices to research our client, gather analytics and present our campaign to W2O employees and leadership. Initially, the project was intimidating. By the end, we all held a deep appreciation for the extensive work put in and insights gained.
As millennials ourselves, we encountered both advantages and disadvantages as we set out to create a campaign targeting millennials. As we researched various types of millennial campaigns, we quickly realized that our generation appreciates the opportunity to self-broadcast and personalize an experience with brands and organizations. Leveraging this, we decided our campaign needed to satisfy this expectation, while still communicating the organization’s mission in an interactive and compelling way.
We strategized methods to engage and increase donations from the “digital natives”, which encouraged us to reflect on our individual digital and social habits. We considered our inherent skills and relationship with technology to decide which social media platforms would best complement and drive our campaign.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what a millennial will like or engage in down the road because our likes and dislikes change so rapidly.” – Taylor Murphy, Digital Technology Intern
Clearly, our team was composed of only a small segment of the millennial generation, limited between the ages of 20 to 22. While our age range may have seemed like a disadvantage at first, it forced us to combine hard evidence with our individual experience to further our analysis. This allowed us to set aside our biases and expand our research to identify the universal characteristics that define millennials.
After our presentation, Bob Pearson, president & chief innovation officer at W2O Group, asked us, “Would you share this?” A question that resonated with us, we realized that as millennials, we are prominent drivers in the online space that want to share ideas and be heard. Pearson provided us with a takeaway that tied our analytics findings to our campaign ideas. With four simple words, he was able to sum up what our team’s main advantage was—we know millennials because we are millennials.
Aside from learning more about our own generation, we also learned about the dynamics of working on an agency team. Here are five takeaways for future interns working on this project:
Time management is a must
Agency life is characterized by the hustle and bustle of being billable. This is something you realize on day one. When our team was introduced to the intern project in the middle of June, we already had our own client work to keep up with. The juggling of everyone’s busy calendars during this period made Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant our best friend. It was necessary to find the balance between getting work done separately and as a group—two completely different dynamics, but equally important.
Working in a team spread across the country is hard
W2O Group has offices all over the world. If a person on your team works from London, you need to take into account a five-hour time difference or risk calling him or her in the middle of the night. Although we had no one working abroad, our team still had to navigate three different time zones. This was something that was difficult at first, but we eventually used it to our advantage. When team members could not finish something in the New York office, interns in the Austin and San Francisco offices could often pick up the slack.
“The project ended up being a valuable learning experience as we had to take responsibility for our roles and figure everything out ourselves, making it an exciting process.” – Mackenzie O’Holleran, Insights & Strategy Intern
Don’t limit yourself to a title
When teams are assigned the intern project, they receive a project brief and are told to assign various “leads.” There’s an analytics lead, a media and engagement lead, a creative lead and more. Something our group learned quickly was that, overall, a collaborative approach works the best. We produced our best work when we had a cross-over of people working on parts that weren’t necessarily their responsibility. This created a true sense of integration throughout our presentation and prevented us from appearing disjointed.
Everyone’s opinion matters
Disagreements were common during the intern project, but this was not a bad thing. If there were no disagreements, chances are our team wouldn’t have been taking the time to analyze ideas in the first place. Our team’s disagreements demonstrated that everyone really cared about producing quality work rather than making rash judgements and rushing into a decision. Although disagreement was common, we strove to foster an environment where everyone’s opinion was a valued piece to the campaign puzzle.
There will always be people willing to lend a hand
Do not be afraid to ask for help. The sheer number of employees that took time out of there busy days to help us with this project truly speaks to the great people that work here. These employees truly are an untapped resource to utilize for this project, and so much more. Expanding your network at W2O Group is essential and the intern project offers participants the perfect vehicle to do this.
The intern project not only gave us real-world experience working on an account, but it also taught us about the current media world we live in and how we, as millennials, can make an impact. We learned that our age and life experience are not setbacks but advantages. As both interns and millennials, we took advantage of our social media expertise and applied it to a campaign that would target a specific audience. Overall, the intern project taught us lessons that we will take with us as we advance in both our careers and the world at large.
– Andrew Petro, Olivia Zucosky, Danielle Hay
Intern Team Includes: Michael Capone (Digital & Analytics), Olivia Zucosky (Planning Lead), Danielle Hay (PMO), Tania Soto-Lopez (Analytics), Andrew Petro (Account Lead), Daniel Ayersman (Analytics), Mackenzie O’Holleran (Analytics), Dylan Stuart (M&E) and Taylor Murphy (CCX)
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.
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.
TheW2O GroupPreCommerce Summit London 2015 on Monday 14 September in London’s City Hall will focus on how we live, work and create in the digital world, and the challenges of the generational digital divide. With technology at our fingertips, we are living in a time where having multiple online personas is normal; work, life and play meaning that we have never been more empowered to control what information we want, when we want it and how we want it. But is being connected making us more disconnected?
Coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, our event convenes industry leaders, senior marketing and communications professionals, entrepreneurs, influential journalists and bloggers from across a broad range of industries and interests. Our distinguished panel includes: