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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

 

 

 

With the 2013 version of SxSW Interactive in the books, it’s time for a look back on highlights, key trends (or lack of) and links to some of the awesome content we collected during the several events that we hosted during the event.

For starters, there really weren’t any big technologies that shined through at this SXSW like we’ve had at past events. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but likely more of an indication that it’s becoming harder and harder to break through all the noise at SXSW Interactive. There was a larger corporate presence than ever this year and that will likely be a continuing theme over the next few years as companies continue to embrace, grow and operationalize social, digital and mobile into their corporate DNA.

Social Commerce Summit

For W2O Group in particular, we had a very successful set of of events that kicked off with our Social Commerce Summit on Thursday, March 7. During this six hour event, we had 19 speakers each give 10 minute TED-like talks. The talks covered a range of topics including love, marriage and creating brand passion. We know it’s a lot of content but we hope you’ll take the time to watch the video (or at least read the highlights in the blog posts) from the speakers below.

We also had a few nice write ups from the event by former PR Week/current Holmes Report writer, Aarti Shah (here) and friend of W2O, Lisa Grimm (here).

In particular, we would like to thank our sponsors, Sysomos and BazaarVoice, for making all of our events during SXSW possible. They were (and are) great partners.

 

W2O Group Open House/Live from Stubbs Video Podcasts

While there weren’t any breakthrough companies this year at SXSW, we did have a number of themes crop up during our Social Commerce Summit and then again during our Live from Stubbs podcast tapings during our open house on Friday, March 8. In particular we heard a lot about big data, mobile, analytics and the operationalization of digital across the organization from many of our speakers/guests. There was also a significant amount of interest in our partner, SnapTrends, technology that provides for location-based analytics, a topic that W2O is quite bullish on.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be embedding the Live from Stubbs videos in blog posts on our Common Sense blog. In the meantime, you can check out all of the videos on our Youtube channel here. You can also read my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty’s summary of our interview with Youtube’s Jeben Berg, here. When Kyle is not podcasting he is the VP of marketing at local analytics firm, 21CT who was kind enough to sponsor our Live from Stubbs videos. I would also like to thank local video production and strategy company, UPG for all of their brilliant work with both the Live from Stubbs videos as well as recording/editing all of our Social Commerce videos.

Geek-a-cue

Of course SXSW wouldn’t be what it is without a party. And party we did at our 4th annual Geek-a-cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (ranked best BBQ in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine). Fortunately the rain held off this year allowing us to eat fantastic BBQ, enjoy the brilliant music of local favorite, Monte Montgomery, share a few beverages, take funny photos in our photo booth and play a little Corn Hole out behind the tent.

This short video shot and produced by UPG does a wonderful job of summing up this fabulous event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TYROYXApk[/youtube]

We also need to thank Natalee Norwood and Spoiled Doves for producing our Geek-a-cue. Without all her creativity, foresight and elbow grease, this event wouldn’t be what it was. Thank you to Aaron and Stacy Franklin and the Franklin staff for use of their venue and all the mouth watering BBQ they served up with smiles on their faces.

Digital Brunch

Capping off the week, we hosted a digital brunch at our East Austin offices. In spite of threats of rain, the springing ahead of the clocks and a lot of hung over SXSW attendees, we still enjoyed over 125 visitors to our new offices. The petting zoo, chair massages, drinks (alcoholic and caffeinated) and gourmet brunch courtesy of local restaurant/catering company, Dai Due, probably didn’t hurt.

Biggest thanks of all go to the dream team at W2O Group of Erin Disney, Stephanie Layton, Blaire Borochoff and Katrina Hallowell for their months of hard work putting these events together. Huge props also go to our CEO, Jim Weiss and President, Bob Pearson for making these events possible. Last but not least, a shout out to all of our W2O Group employees who volunteered/attended as well as our clients for being an integral part of our SXSW experience. Thank you!

Last but not least, we also had a little fun with our #sxswpickuplines this year. Details are here. Video that put the cherry on the cake is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6kVwM2Gp8[/youtube]

It is hard to not love and respect the amount of energy Mason Nelder has for digital media. Over the course of the last few years Mason has laid the groundwork, and begun to develop a best-in-class social business capability at Verizon. Utilizing an approach based on an analytics infrastructure that is progressive for the Fortune 500, Mason is setting the stage for Verizon to be thought of as a leader in the area of social business.

Mason’s #socialcommerce talk was chalk full of takeaways, but here are the three biggest from my perspective:

  • Building a social business capability takes people and money – As an industry we are often quick to search for a tool that helps us scale faster, but the reality is that people are an equally important component of any social business capability. That people component could be in the form of people doing the work, but also in the form of internal buy-in. Without people, a social business capability will not get off the ground.
  • Failing fast – At WCG we are constantly trying to push the envelope and create new things. Sometimes ideas don’t materialize, and the idea needs to be scrapped. What’s important is learning from what didn’t work, and then applying it to another project. Mason espouses that same POV during his talk, and during his day-to-day activities at Verizon.
  • Innovation, Innovation, Innovation – Mason highlights Steve Jobs as an innovator in his field who helped create something (in the case of Mason’s presentation, the iPad), and then made it more mainstream. Mason suggests that the goal of any social business program should be to build the capability, and then make sure the rest of the organization adopts that philosophy.

We loved Mason’s witty, funny and informative presentation. The capability he is building at Verizon  is nothing short of spectacular. Make sure you watch Mason’s presentation and listen to the subtle social business tips that he highlights.

As many of you reading this blog know, SXSW Interactive has evolved into one of the largest interactive conferences/gatherings in the world. As such, over 100,000 digitally minded folks from Fortune 500 companies, agencies, startups, etc. come to Austin, TX from all over to network, attend panels and catch up on the latest trends. Many of these attendees are influential bloggers, heads of social media and journalists who report back on who is doing what in the interactive space.

Because a significant number of our clients at WCG are now involved with SXSW Interactive, over the last five years we have developed a series of events during SXSW that complement all of the activities that go on during that time. Our signature event, the Social Commerce Summit, takes place on March 7 (Thursday) from noon to 5 PM and is packed with speakers from well-known brands like Verizon, Intel, 3M, Susan G. Komen and Hersheys. We will also have thought leaders from companies like SocialMedia.org, Waze, BazaarVoice and ThomVest Ventures providing industry insights. This event will be attended by about 200 customers and other industry thought leaders. A cocktail reception will follow.

In addition to our Social Commerce Summit, we will have three other events including our Geek-a-Cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (rated best BBQ in America last year by Bon Appetite Magazine). The attendees of this party will be similar to that of the Social Commerce Summit. The final two events are open houses at WCG’s downtown and digital offices.

Here are eventbrite links/descriptions of the events:

  • Thursday, March 7th: 12-6:30pm
    • Social Commerce Summit, Stephen F Austin Intercontinental Hotel (701 Congress Avenue); Summit from 12-5pm, Cocktail hour from 5-6:30pm
      • E-mail me at astrout @ wcgworld . com to request a pass (limited availability)
  • Friday, March 8th: 10am-12pm
    • Open House, downtown office (101 W. 6th Street, 3rd Floor) — The exciting draw here in addition to hanging out with some of your favorite WCG-ers will be ongoing Live from Stubbs podcasts with thought leaders in the space and a book signing with author (and client), Ekaterina Walter. We will be giving away 50 copies of Ekaterina’s New York Time’s Best Seller, Think Like Zuck to the first 50 attendees.
  • Saturday, March 9th: 5:30-8:30pm
    • 4th Annual Geek-A-Cue at Franklin’s Barbecue (900 E. 11th Street)
      • E-mail me at astrout @ wcgworld . com to request an invite (limited availability)
  • Sunday, March 10th: 10am-12pm
    • Digital Brunch, W2O Digital office (3000 E. Cesar Chavez) — We will have an espresso bar, adult beverages, massage chairs and most importantly, digital brunch being served by rising star, Chef Jesse Griffiths, owner of Dai Due. We will also be giving away chapters of Chuck Hemann and Ken Burbary’s new book, Digital Marketing Analytics.

As you can imagine, space is limited at these events so please make sure to RSVP soon. And if you do RSVP and decide after that you can’t make it, please be courteous and let us/me know that your slot is available.

p.s. We’ll ultimately have 3-4 sponsors but so far, we are excited to have Sysomos and BazaarVoice as our first two. We greatly appreciate their support.

One of the most enduring story lines in Technology has been the ongoing “conflict” between IT and end users.

On one side, the stereotype tells us that we have strict, security-minded IT people keeping tight reins on which technology can be used when and by whom, resulting in a lowest-common-denominator approach that restricts user freedom and creativity. The reverse stereotype shows users who can barely function without the IT help desk always by their side, calling every 24 hours with the same basic questions and issues (e.g. “my computer doesn’t work” or “the Internet is down” and the timeless classic “I can’t print.”)

Reality, as always, lies somewhere in between.  Most IT staff is focused on innovation and productivity, helping provide the latest tools and technologies to propel the business while also installing controls to protect users from undesirable people and behaviors.  Most end users who are reasonably savvy about their laptops, phones and tablets can solve routine issues on their own and only need guidance with new software or new processes. Yet the story line is so pervasive because it speaks to the very human battle between centralized control and individual freedom — a dynamic that drives many of our political, social and cultural tensions throughout history.

It’s this evolving dynamic that has us so excited to announce our newest client partnership with BMC Software, a well-established market leader providing software to manage technology systems and services for tens of thousands of businesses worldwide.  While not always visible to users, BMC’s software helps IT leaders manage generations of technology and tap into all the important trends shaping the future – mobile, social, cloud and big data.

The coolest thing is that success hasn’t dampened their drive to innovate. In fact, BMC, which already generates more than $2.2 billion in annual revenues, is poised to boldly re-invent their entire space with hot new products like the “MyIT” app – which instantly gives power back to users while ensuring appropriate controls for the organization. The new products will essentially re-balance the dynamic between IT and end users, helping us all find the middle ground that liberates user creativity and productivity while freeing IT from the shackles of non-stop reactive help-desk duty.

For people like me who have been marketing enterprise technology for 20+ years, that’s a pretty exciting mission.  The BMC partnership is exciting in other ways:

  1. BMC has savvy, experienced marketing and communications leaders committed to innovating and integrating across their functions. They’re not content with traditional, siloed approaches; are ready to push the envelope via digital and social channels; and yet keenly focused on what really works for a global B2B player.
  2. BMC ran an efficient and transparent RFP process complete with pop tests that simulate the client-agency working relationship. The resulting contract is value-based with budget tied to results — not hours. And in choosing WCG, they’re banking on a team of analytics, content, engagement and strategy experts — not the usual merry band of PR generalists. We believe this will become a dominant model for marketing services going forward.
  3. This is a significant win for WCG’s fast-growing technology practice, which is on track to surpass $10 million in 2013 revenues after only two or three years of focused investment. BMC complements an awesome client portfolio that includes HP, Intel, Qualcomm Life, Software AG, Surescripts and Verizon. In many ways, we believe we’re building out the next-generation agency — fully vested in multi-disciplinary and multi-channel integration, digitally and socially native with analytics at the core.

Bottom line: We’re thrilled that BMC has selected us as a “second sales force” and can’t wait to help advance their mission. We believe we’ll invent new models together that can re-define how technology clients and agencies manage global engagement efforts. We’ll learn a lot in the process, and plan to share our progress along the way.

Over the last two or three years, it has become crystal clear that South by Southwest Interactive is THE event to attend if you are interested learning more about the latest and greatest trends in digital, social and mobile. Equal parts innovative startups and smart corporations, the crowd of 25,000+ people that flood Austin, TX in mid-March each year understand that they are in for five action packed days of intense networking and education.

The double edged sword with SXSW is that there is SO much good content — many times too much — that it’s often hard to figure out which sessions to attend. One of our goals at WCG/W2O is to help curate this process for our employees, clients and partners. Because the decisions on the panels making the final cut is still a few months off, we thought it would be helpful to start this journey by teeing up some of the panels that our customers and employees (including myself) have submitted.

Below, you will find four panels that we have collectively submitted. By clicking on the title of the session you can get much greater detail about the session. If you think it’s interesting, we encourage you to vote for it on the panel picker page. If you really like it, feel free to share it with your network:

More Than Pills

Who says patients deserve a voice in healthcare? Well … actually Healthcare does. The trick is: how do you make this happen? Traditionally, the industry has been slow to adapt to the connected age, marginalizing patient input on life-changing solutions and treatments. But innovations from Sanofi, US Diabetes’ Patient Solutions are now realizing the future of healthcare: open, two-way conversations, and success determined well beyond sales. Know how they did it? You only think you know … but Michele Polz, Head of Sanofi Patient Solutions, lets you in on a secret that’s revolutionizing patient interaction.

Speaker: Michele Polz, Sanofi Patient Solutions

 

Social COE: Extending Social Across the Enterprise

The biggest problem that many large companies face is scaling and codifying social media across the organization. During this advanced panel, experts from Intel, Verizon and Fidelity will talk about their experiences, insights and best practices in creating social media centers of excellence within their organizations during this panel.

Panelists:

 

Paradise By The Dashboard Light: Success in B2B
Mitsubishi Electric is teaming up with WCG to for a talk discussing analytics and integrated marketing and how Mitsubishi is utilizing unexpected tactics like augmented reality and iOS apps to penetrate the HVAC market in the U.S. Mitsubishi is already a dominant force around the globe and the U.S. Mitsubishi team are proving that social and digital are viable marketing channels for even the most industrial of B2B markets. Even better – they’re measuring everything including revenue growth to their efforts.
Panelists:

 

The Power of Patient Perspectives
In this panel, ePatients who have started companies and charities will discuss how patients have grabbed the reins to begin changing the $2.3 trillion world of care. (Organizer: Brian Reid W2O Group)

Panelists:

Because we at WCG/W2O are all about making the conversation a two way street, we encourage you to not only vote on any/all of the panels above (you can do so by clicking on the title of each session) but go ahead and post your own session or others that you find interesting in the comments below. Note, we work with a lot of smart clients/people and one of our jobs during SXSW is to help curate the best of the best to our clients. Documenting them here makes that a much easier job.