According to Wikipedia, accessibility is defined as “the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.” Perhaps a wheelchair ramp comes to mind, as it is arguably the most recognizable accessibility feature; however, there are myriad others. The internet has opened up a whole new range of issues related to accessibility, in particular to the ability of persons with disabilities to access website content and functionality. This is generally described as web content accessibility, a domain that has evolved significantly over the past decade or so.

Accessibility shouldn’t be considered an add-on or an appendage to building a website, in the same way that people with disabilities, such as sensory impairment, aren’t considered an appendage to society at large. I, for instance, wear contact lenses. I am nearsighted to the point that I cannot read words that are more than about 3 or 4 inches away without a corrective lens. Am I disabled? Am I not? The reality is, it doesn’t matter what we call it. The idea that my abilities satisfy some binary moniker like this is a dangerous oversimplification. What matters is that I expect, I dare say I feel entitled, to be able to consume the same public-facing content those with perfect vision can without any undue burden being placed upon me. I can’t imagine visiting Wikipedia one day and finding out that the only way I can learn about the Large Hadron Collider, rather than reading the page, would be to call a phone number for support. Ludicrous, right? So why shouldn’t the same level of expectation apply to folks with vision worse than mine, or to folks with no sight at all? And let’s not forget disabilities outside of the strictly visual—such as auditory, speech, and other physical or cognitive categories.

The reality is that web content accessibility is not a matter of compliance, it is a matter of mentality. And we have to start viewing accessibility as an essential part of the creative and technical process. Something baked in from the very start. “We” being agencies, boutiques, and web development shops as well as user experience practitioners, designers, writers, editors, developers, testers, and managers. We cannot continue to think of a blind person as a “persona” or part of a user group with a distinct set of characteristics, motivations, attitudes, and expected behaviors. The point here is to recognize the individual on the other side of the screen and not fall into the trap of generalizing the consumers of web content. A blind person is a unique individual who deserves the same access to the wealth of information and resources available on the World Wide Web as anyone else. In this regard, we are all part of the same group, that is, people for whom access to public information is equal and unimpeded. And that means all people and all information. That is the mentality shift required.

Ironically, websites are largely accessible by default. Meaning that simple hypertext markup language doesn’t necessarily put obstacles in the way of users. It’s not until we, the people who make websites, begin infusing those sites with sophisticated visual styling and formatting, rich interactive effects, graphical animations and sound effects, videos, and other bells and whistles that we begin to go astray. That’s not to say that this kind of flourish and embellishment should not exist, it’s just that we must consider how different people will experience each of them differently, in the context of their own abilities—and ensure that for any sense-exclusive element that exists on the site, there is an equivalent alternative accessible by another, different sense. For example, if I can’t see it, I should at least be able to hear it, and if I can’t hear it, I need to be able to see it… and so on. In a way, a website without accessibility is no different than a book that is unavailable in braille, or the entrance of a public building without wheelchair access. This illustrates the necessity of thinking of digital public spaces like websites in the same way we think of physical public spaces like libraries.

What has brought so much attention to this topic in the past few years, particularly in the United States, is the change in US law prompted by the Americans with Disabilities Act that went into effect in 2009. In particular, Title III of said act stipulates that a publicly available, consumer-facing website must ensure a sufficient level of content accessibility for persons with disabilities such that they have an equal opportunity to acquire information, engage in interactions, and take advantage of services—with an equivalent ease of use—as a person without a disability. That applies to any publicly available website, not just those whose target audiences are thought to be users with disabilities. The consequences of this law are sweeping, and a number of well-known US companies have paid millions of dollars in liabilities as a result.

That being said, the thrust of this article isn’t concerned with the legal implications of building non-accessible sites. My objective is rather to highlight the ethical issue: it isn’t morally right to develop content that cannot be consumed by the population at large. It’s not only unlawful, it’s downright wrong.

Now there are generally understood best practices for web content accessibility, such as:

  • Providing alternative text for each image that is descriptive
  • Including audio descriptions for video content, as well as captions
  • Ensuring website functionality, headings, navigation, and links are entirely operable through a keyboard interface, without requiring specific keystroke timings
  • Establishing minimum contrast ratios for text and images and providing the ability for users to change background colors, font colors, and font sizes

Those are some of the cut-and-dried pieces that one would typically run into in a cursory examination of access-related issues on the internet. However, there are broader, further-reaching standards that organizations must consider. A modest sampling of wider concerns that must be addressed would include:

  • Designating a website accessibility coordinator and/or committee to be responsible for a continued focus on accessibility issues and compliance with company policies
  • Codifying the organization’s accessibility policy by composing an explicitly stated set of principles to govern organizational activities related to its products and services
  • Clearly articulating objectives and success criteria related to the accessibility policy in a manner that is specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time bound
  • Considering process changes and enhancements to ensure the delivery of accessible content
  • Establishing an evaluation schedule for internal and external teams to assess standards, compliance with standards, and objectives moving forward
  • Designing and implementing a monitoring framework to ensure continuous compliance with the ever-shifting and evolving technology and legal landscapes
  • Ingesting and incorporating ongoing user feedback via usability testing, web analytics, A/B comparisons, and other automated and manual mechanisms
  • Creating an accessibility training curriculum and conducting sessions with the regularity they require and deserve

And that’s just the start. As the industry becomes more aware of web-content-accessibility concerns, it’s important to ask what the root of our motivation is to begin with. A question that is answered quite simply and unequivocally by saying, it’s not only the lawful thing to do—it’s the right thing to do.

For more information and resources related to web content accessibility, check out some of the links below:

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This is almost a ridiculous question given we now live a digital world.  Yet, companies and brands still find it difficult to truly assimilate a digital lifestyle raising questions internally about what to do. Embracing a mode of business that allows customers and employees to dictate and engage the relationship is a philosophy that requires marketers to rethink and redesign their entire model. Unfortunately, marketers and communicators are more apt to adopt few of the elements in a digital framework necessary to gain competitive advantage. In effect, by not implementing the entire ecosystem organizations leave themselves vulnerable.

In our work with brands and organizations, we strive to translate brands into real platforms that envelop the customer experience resulting in an authentic set of interactions benefiting both customer and company.

In developing a digital first approach, it is critical that the following components now comprise the marketing and communications mix:

  1. Data, Analytics Vision – From capturing behaviors, influencer insight, to a social CRM system, the entire customer experience can be mapped and dissected to discover customer decision process
  2. Technology Baseline – Transforming marketing begins with front end development such as usability, interface, and design infusing back end-decision making with data and insight to power
  3. Creative Agility Translating insight and incorporating technology and insight to create precise solutions that shift among stakeholders and segments in clear, engaging ways
  4. Holistic Connectivity – Working the PESO construct (paid, earned, shared, owned) in a manner that leverages each for maximum performance and is fueled by data provides today’s marketer and communicator with a digital design that accelerates their ability to digest multiple information points evaluating impact and performance

To be a digital brand in a digital world requires a design-thinking mentality. The tools, techniques and data are right in front of us. The technology continues to get smarter. The key piece is putting it all together in a system that reflects your business priorities and addresses your customer’s shifting expectations and personal relationship with your brand or organization.

There is no room for a piece-meal solution. In the end, customers are demanding a 360 degree orbit with brands. If your organization is not set up to address or handle such a relationship it will quickly lose relevance.

And once that happens chances of recovery are slim…

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Digital pages.

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We have so many friends who can’t wait to recite lines from the poet Robert Herrick when we sit down to drink a beer, particularly his best-known book of poems, Hesperides (#noteverinourlifetimebutweshouldreadhisworks).

Yet we owe a lot to Mr. Herrick, who arguably created the first-ever emoticon, the precursor of today’s emojis back in 1648.

It went like this in the second line of his poem titled “To Fortune”.

Tumble me down, and I will sit
Upon my ruins, (smiling yet:)

Fast forward a few hundred years and this other guy we HAVE heard of, Charles Darwin, became the first individual to suggest that facial expressions of emotion are the same around the globe—that they are innate.

In 1972, Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist and innovator in understanding human emotion, described the six universal emotions — happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust and fear.  We all realized the power of a visual expression.

Then, poetry and psychology were replaced by keyboards, at least in their emoticon-related impact.  Carnegie Mellon University, Professor Scott Fahlman, created the first smiley emoticon back in September 1982.  Thank you for trying to humanize email Scott.  At least you tried.

Professor Fahlman was motivated to help people laugh on the university’s bulletin board, who didn’t know when to laugh.  When geeks learned they could become comedians via keyboards, whoa….an industry was born.

What we learned was surprising to both of us.

Emojis are more than a millennial messaging fad. They are a language that has been developed for centuries.  If we have 8300 languages in our world, we should consider this one of them.

Emojis represent the first, but certainly not the last, language born of the digital world.


Brittany and Bob

This blog post was co-authored by Bob Pearson, Senior Advisor of W2O.

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Facebook and Instagram are continuing to make updates to their Stories feature, pushing for more interactive user experiences on this placement. Twitter has updated its algorithm for the first time since 2016, allowing users to opt-out of the “Show the best Tweets first” capability. Read on to learn more!

Facebook Announces Facebook and Messenger Stories Ads

  • Facebook Stories ad placements have been in the works for some time now, but Facebook officially announced that this format will be an available advertising placement for brands moving forward. In addition to Facebook Stories, the platform confirmed that they would also be launching Messenger Stories in the near future. Facebook Stories ad placements support every objective that’s currently available for Instagram Stories ad placements, including: reach, brand awareness, video views, app install, conversion, traffic and lead generation. Facebook’s full suite of targeting and measurement capabilities is also available for stories ad placements across platforms.
  • What it means for brands: With more than 300M people using Facebook and Messenger Stories every day, leveraging this additional placement gives brands the opportunity to exponentially increase the reach of its content and create immersive ads for users. Adding additional placements of any kind for advertisers adds value as it increases a brand’s advertising real estate without having to pay more for that space. Additionally, Stories ads provide an immersive and interactive experience with users, which generates stronger results and conversion rates. It could be of benefit to healthcare brands to create an engaging experience with users surrounding an important announcement or medical meeting. Facebook stated that in a recent study, they uncovered that 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story, backing its advocacy for using Stories to promote a product or service with data that is hard to argue against.

Facebook Allows Business Pages to Join Groups

  • Facebook is now allowing some Business pages to join and interact with Facebook groups as the Business Page. Facebook Groups are online communities that bring together people with a common interest or passion and allow for an open discussion on this topic in a closed setting. Facebook groups usually consist of a more niche group of people and is completely private, whereas Business Page is any business’s public Facebook page, completely viewable to any user. Allowing Business Pages to join a group is currently a default setting, so unless a group admin changes the settings of the group Business pages should be able to request to join.
  • What it means for brands: This means that a brand’s page can ask to join private groups that are relevant to their industry or service and interact with users in a more intimate setting.  Interacting in groups from a business page may provide an alternate means to generate exposure, build brand awareness within relevant Facebook communities, and educate or inform users on a topic. In healthcare specifically, brands could join closed groups that are relevant to their disease state, giving them a way to drive meaningful interaction and educate patients.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Mashable

(via Social Media Today)

(via Social Media Today)

Twitter Brings Back Chronological Timelines

  • Twitter is aiming to appease its users and give them what they’ve wanted: a chronological timeline. Twitter announced via its @TwitterSupport handle that users can now disable the “Show the best Tweets first” setting and enable a reverse chronological order timeline. This is the first time that Twitter has reintroduced the chronological timeline to users since 2016, when it shifted towards a timeline that displayed content that was most relevant based on the user’s actions.
  • What it means for brands: Algorithms have a huge impact on the reach and visibility of a brand’s organic content. Now, it’s more important for brands to provide a consistent stream of content on feeds as viewers will be seeing it in real-time. This could be especially valuable for healthcare brands tweeting around medical meetings or clinical trial data announcements as it ensures content will be seen instantly in feeds, versus being showed to a user after the fact based on relevance. Advertisers may see an uptick in organic performance, depending on how many users actually update their settings to have a true chronological timeline.

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, NBC News

(via MarketingLand)

Instagram Launches Shopping in Stories

  • Online shopping is becoming even more convenient! Instagram announced that shopping on Stories is available to brands globally, in addition to the new Shopping channel in its explore tab. Since testing the shopping bag icon in Stories began this past June, the platform has reported that over 90M accounts per month have clicked on this icon to view more about the product. This update is launching in tandem with the “Shopping” tab that will be featured in the Explore feed, giving users additional access to products and clothing that they might be interested in.
  • What it means for brands: Bringing shopping directly to apps is a great way to drive conversions with the click of a button. Giving users the ability to see product details in-app allows them to make an informed purchase decision before even leaving the app and directly links them to the page of the product that they are interested in buying.

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, ValueWalk

(via Marketing Land)

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

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Gaining Relevance in a Connected Marketplace

Melding marketing and communications to achieve market and customer engagement has taken on a whole new meaning and look as the digitization of business has shifted power to customers and employees.  It’s a digital-first world now and the game today is about being relevant as a brand and organization and in so doing being involved in their conversations and even how they live their lives.  For marketers and communicators alike predicting customer desire throughout the purchase cycle is the new normal.

This is completely different than crafting messages and campaigns and unleashing them on the marketplace. It’s now about precision. Precision driven by analytics and insights. Analytics and insights that influence PESO (paid; earned; shared; owned) strategy and execution.

When thinking about integration one should look no further than how Amazon’s Alexa is changing the concept of marketing.

As professionals, there are six areas to organize thinking, planning, and programming to achieve success:

  1. Insights Drive Knowledge:  It’s all about knowing the customers and influencers – really knowing them and how they behave, learn and engage.  Analytics uncovers behaviors, actions, conversations, concerns, and aspirations of consumers and customers. Such insight is invaluable to ensuring products, services, and outreach is aligned.
  2. Customers are Partners: Customers shape and direct the marketing and communications process including product development helping to keep organizations “honest.”
  3. Story Lines and Content Are Essential: If there is one element of an integrated marketing and communications model that rises above all others it’s content. In a time where there is more content than attention, calibrating narrative and content based on consumer and customer preferences determines success.
  4. Format is a Difference Maker: Digital encompasses a plethora of platforms and channels. As such, all content must be designed based on the selection made. Visual, Video, emoji, ads, communications, etc., all have a place. It is also vital to stay current about shifts in platforms and consumer/customer engagement as we are moving at the speed of technological innovation now so what worked even a month ago may need to evolve. Staying nimble, educated and awake here is critical.
  5. Employees are the Catalysts:  Of all the shifts digital has created, the one that cannot be overlooked involves the importance and credibility of employees to the efficacy of your brand and company.  Employees are the most effective catalysts in igniting an integrated marketing and communications effort.
  6. What’s your Higher Purpose?Integrated marketing and communications efforts must include an organization’s purpose beyond commercial goals. Often, such beliefs center around making a difference in the world causing people to embrace the brand in a much deeper manner and differentiating itself from competition.  

Complexity rules business and while its very essence forces innovation the core aspects remain the same. Strategy fueled by insight applied to a new ecosystem whose ultimate aim is value. Gaining attention and comprehension with customers and engaging in an on-going relationship to maintain relevance is the goal of any integrated marketing and communications program. Adhering and navigating the new digital realities will break-through inside and outside the organization.

It’s no longer a choice…but a new way of life!


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

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With social media constantly updating, it can be difficult to keep up! Not to worry, we’ve got all the updates for you on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is following in Facebook’s footsteps by implementing a new ad policy for transparency on political ads. Snapchat has introduced their new Spectacles, which are more stylish, but lack any new capabilities. Facebook has released a new report about video optimizations for users, and Instagram may have a stand-alone shopping app in the works. Check out what’s new in the social sphere below!

Twitter Announces New Policy for Politically-Motivated Groups

  • Twitter will begin labeling in-stream ads from political candidates and those which “advocate for legislative issues of national importance” in order to provide more transparency for users. The tweets will be marked with text reading “(issue)” right next to the “promoted” indication. Topics such as civil rights, climate change, healthcare and taxes are all considered top-level issues that Twitter is considering under this policy. Advertisers who are planning to run ads under these issue categories will need to take a certification process to verify their identity and information. The enforcement of this policy will begin on September 30th.
  • What this means for brands: With healthcare being one of the “issues” identified by Twitter, healthcare brands will need to be more conscious of their content as it relates to the political landscape. With the new indication of “issue” on healthcare brand ads, this could deter users from engaging or clicking on the ad, so brands will also need to be aware of how to present their information in a unique and broad fashion. Twitter has also created the Ad Transparency Center that will enable users to see all the ads being run by any Twitter profile at a given times similarly to Facebook. With all platforms becoming more sensitive towards political content, it is important for brands to complete the right certifications and triple-check their content before pushing live.

Additional resources: Social Media Today, WERSM

(via Social Media Today)

Snapchat Launches Stylish Spectacles

  • Snapchat has announced two new versions of their Spectacles, both designs coming in black-on-black with polarized lenses. While these new glasses come with increased battery life, the technical elements remain the same as the previous models. Though there wasn’t much hype surrounding the first version of Spectacles, v2 owners are capturing 40% more snaps than users with the first version.
  • What this means for brands: Though Snapchat Spectacles have not been the hottest way to capture content, it still shows that users will do whatever it takes to take a photo or video in real-time. Brands need to be more in tune with real-time posting and sharing, as that is what users, especially millennial users, are looking for. These glasses could be the start to a fully immersive AR device, so brands will need to be aware of what’s to come from the social platforms.

Additional resources: TechCrunch,  Social Media Today

(via Snapchat)

Facebook Publishes New Report on Video Ad Performance

  • Research shows that videos are the Facebook format and creative most likely to reach and engage audiences. With the expansion of Facebook Watch to all regions, Facebook published a new report that highlights video performance among various age groups in order to help businesses optimize their video content. Different behaviors mentioned in the report include: user watch time, user age and video creative.
  • What this means for brands: Brands are continuing to utilize video ads to reach their audiences, as they’ve historically been shown to perform the best. With Facebook’s new Watch tool, longer form videos are stored for users to view whenever they want, instead of getting lost in the News Feed. New Facebook data shows that viewers are watching videos 5x longer within the Watch view than they are in the News Feed, so it is worth considering uploading videos to Facebook Watch so users are able to view them later on and in full length.

Additional resources: Social Media Today

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram To Create a Stand-Alone Shopping Application

  • Instagram has been talking about creating a stand-alone online shopping app titled IG Shopping, where users would be able to shop from stores they follow and purchase them directly within the app. Currently only select brands are able to utilize the Instagram story feature to link out to the product they are promoting. With the introduction of a new shopping app, brands would be able to promote an increased number of products for users. Instagram has been slowly rolling out their Shopping Tags to more brands and have also helped brands to integrate Shopify into their accounts.
  • What this means for brands: This proves that more and more customers are looking to social media for a one-stop social and shopping experience, especially younger generations. If this app does come to fruition, brands will have to rethink their Instagram strategy and be thoughtful about how they’re promoting their products on their Instagram to hopefully get users to their IG Shopping page to convert.

Additional Resources: The Verge, Adweek

(via Social Media Today) 

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A funny thing happened on the way to digital. Marketing started looking like Communications and Communications started acting like Marketing. Now for the purists, I’m not juxtaposing the need to uphold corporate efficacy and policy nor am I diminishing the important role of customer experience and sales. Rather, I’m speaking from the perch of rethinking how opinion is formed, where advocacy can be found, how insights shape thinking, and the importance of relevance in an organization’s strategic direction.

The wall that once separated both functions no longer exists. It simply can’t in a digital world where customers and employees are in control. So, what does this  new paradigm mean for professionals in each area? From my vantage point, there are at least 6 specific pathways to explore that now envelop both marketing and communications:

  1. Analytics and Insights are changing how Communications conducts business including strategy, programming, outreach, messaging, and measurement. This has replaced intuition (gut) and outdated metrics resulting in a more strategic approach.
  2. Relevance is the new north star for both. For companies and brands, aligning business with societal and individual expectations is critical to success. But Relevance is also about listening to the marketplace where it resides. Brands can’t communicate relevance, only customers and employees can.
  3. Influence shapes opinion and behavior. Given information patterns driven by social behavior, pinpointing influence along the purchase journey provides a roadmap for cultivating interest.
  4. Story Dominates.  People won’t follow you if they don’t know you.  Getting your story right and integrating it into your product portfolio and service model to tell a clear, cohesive narrative draws people into your organization.  It must begin with a distinct and relatable mission.
  5. The growing use of AI. Changing basic tasks and unleashing creativity are just the tip of technology’s influence.
  6. User Experience. It’s not about tactics and techniques, the goal is to completely envelop the customer in your ecosystem.

Digital changes everything and as such it’s important to see its impact on critical areas of business.  As Marketers and Communicators, this is an unprecedented time to embrace the revolution upon us.  It’s a time of learning, experimentation, collaboration, data, technology, and insight now inform thinking and point-of-view.

But the real benefit is that marketers and communicators are now working together to accomplish one thing: organizational success!

And that’s the most meaningful experience!


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page. 

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Streamlining is on every platform’s mind, with recent updates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn focusing on helping audiences use every function of the apps more smoothly. Facebook is launching a process to help advertisers convert their static imagery into more engaging, video-like ads. Facebook also put a new two-step page authorization process in place to ensure pages are being run by correctly authorized admins. Twitter updated the Lite version of their app to allow for more reach across an additional 21 countries and LinkedIn is relaunching Groups within the flagship app to help users connect. Learn more below about these backend app updates!

Facebook Launches New Process for Video Ad Creation

  • Last week, Facebook launched a new process which enables advertisers to convert their static images into more engaging video-like ads. The new option allows brands to create animated ads without the workload of regular video creation, helping brands who don’t have the bandwidth for high-quality video creation. With more details to come about the actual process of how a brand would start this process, Facebook’s Creative Shop offers a specialized process to get started. Based on the announcement, there will be four different options for this new process: Basic Motion (adding only one or two elements), Brand in Motion (Bringing the elements of the logo or brand to promote brand awareness), Benefit in Motion (Showcasing a product benefit, like a special offer or discount, to life through motion), and Demo in Motion (Focusing motion of demonstrating how the app, website, or feature works).
  • What it means for brands: With video content becoming an even larger factor in ads across all social media platforms, this process could be a helpful option for healthcare brands looking to implement video-style creative into their social campaigns without the heavy lift of developing video content. With all four options created for specific optimizations in mind, healthcare brands can elevate their campaigns with the strategic creative process they are given with the help of the Creative Shop. Stay tuned to see how this process unfolds.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Adweek


Facebook Adds New Authorization for Pages

  • With many discussions of security and what constitutes real or fake news, Facebook implemented new requirements for page publishing for people who manage a page with a large audience in the US. Moving forward, people who manage these pages will be asked to complete a two-factor authentication and confirm their primary country location. If a page manager needs to go through the authorization, they will receive a notice at the top of their news feed. Facebook notes enforcement will follow later in August and if people do not complete the process, they will not be able to post on their page.
  • What this means for brands: The first major part implication of this authorization is that if a brand’s page is selected to undergo this process (i.e. the page has a large audience in the US), the people posting on their Facebook page would need to become authorized or they will not have access to post at all. Facebook confirmed that the enforcement for the brands will be implemented later this month so keep your eyes peeled for the notification and be ready to authorize your country of location. It should only take “a few minutes”.

Additional Resources: CNET, Digital Journal

(via Facebook)

Twitter Lite Expands to 21 Additional Countries

  • After last year’s release, Twitter announced that Twitter Lite is now available in 21 additional countries, including: Argentina, Turkey, India, and Ukraine. Twitter Lite was a result of people around the world not being able to use the regular app because of slow mobile networks, expensive data plans, or the lack of space on mobile devices. Twitter’s answer was to create an app that uses less data by enabling a “Data Saver” mode and that was built for 2G and 3G networks but still has some useful features from the original app, like bookmarking, push notifications, night mode, and threads. The lite app is now available in a total of 45 countries.
  • What it means for brands: As social media continues to keep people connected across the world, different data plans or slower internet connection can keep people from using social networking apps. This new version of Twitter Lite allows Twitter content to reach even more people. Whether a healthcare brand is trying to raise disease awareness in a wider range of countries, or specifically targeting a congress in Argentina, having the possibility of more people on and using the app is a definite plus. It is important to keep in mind that if a brand is targeting in countries using the data saving mode, videos and photos will not load automatically, making compelling copy even more important.

Additional Resources: TechCrunch, Social Media Today

(via Twitter)

LinkedIn to Relaunch Groups in Flagship App

  • After pulling the standalone Groups app in February, LinkedIn will soon be relaunching LinkedIn groups with a range of new features and focus on making the option more integrated into the original app. LinkedIn’s Groups Director of Product, Matali Pattnaik, states that the group experience is fully rebuilt with the goal of making groups easier to access and discover. Group notifications were rolled out earlier this year to test effectiveness and has shown to be an effective way for members to stay up-to-date with their respective groups. Additionally, groups will now highlight conversations taking place within a group in the main LinkedIn feed of members, similar to the feature on Facebook.
  • What this means for brands: Whether it is being a partner to an advocacy group or creating a disease awareness page that focuses on professionals, LinkedIn groups can have an impact on a healthcare brand. In the past, groups on LinkedIn were spammed with group e-mail blasts, which have since been discontinued, and users who wanted to promote themselves or their products. LinkedIn has quelled those two pain points by discontinuing the group email blast option, as well as allowing admins to approve and remove group members on the app. If groups on LinkedIn groups can become as integrated into the platform as they are on Facebook, it would be another opportunity for exposure and reach on the platform.

Additional Resources: Adweek, Social Media Today

(via Social Media Today)

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Marketers, you’ve experienced it before, marveling at a brand for how it’s connected with the marketplace. You feel a sense of respect and find yourself nodding because while it was unexpected, it was real, it was smart, and it made sense. Take for example the recent tweet from Sanofi in response to a tweet from Roseanne Barr. She tweeted “It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting” in response to her highly criticized tweet previously and Sanofi followed up very quickly with this response:

This tweet alone generated a ton of press but more importantly goodwill about the brand. It showcased its smarts and relevance to the market.

Or remember the “most interesting man in the world” effort by Dos Equis.  It captured the entire country’s imagination, lifting the brand to new heights. The challenge for Dos Equis is to continue to stay relevant and keep pushing for a true connection with their audience. Red bull has done a phenomenal job keeping in touch with their audience, elevating the brand beyond the energy drink category.

For any brand to be charismatic and develop true fans, they will embody some, if not all of these 5 traits:

1. Thoughtfully RESPONSIVE

Instead of hiding behind a corporate façade, Zappos embraces contact. In fact, their entire brand is built on customer service, using that critical touch point to spread awareness and grow brand equity. Their call center is not outsourced and remains their central branding arm. Their 24/7 phone number is prominently displayed on their website and their KPIs (key performance indicators) are “time to contact” (how long does a customer have to wait before being in contact with a Zappos representative) and “number of wow gifts delivered” (flowers, cookies, postcards etc.). How can your brand be responsive and instead of hiding behind a tedious user experience, connect and help solve problems for your customers?

2. Create delightful MOMENTS

The Magic Castle hotel in LA has been rated the #1 hotel in TripAdvisor for a number of years and have consistently been in the top 3. It’s a three-star hotel with no restaurant, bar or even an elevator, that’s beaten the fanciest hotels, like the Waldorf Astoria. How? They thrive by creating moments for their customers which is out of the ordinary and brings out an emotion, ingraining that moment into memory. They have a culture of providing the best experience possible for their guests. Free sodas and snacks 24/7, free laundry service, access to the Magic Castle Magicians Club next door and the cherry on top? A red telephone, where you can order up free popsicles by the pool, served up by a member of the staff in a tux and white gloves. Moments are powerful, how can your brand create remarkable moments? (as Seth Godin puts it, “worth remarking?”)

3. Grounded in VALUES

Why do we look up to Patagonia? Most of us will still remember the 2011 campaign where Patagonia bought a full-page ad in the New York Times urging folks not to buy their jacket during black Friday. They even wrote a blog post explaining why they did that and recognizing the potential for hypocrisy in their message as they are clearly part of the consumerism problem. However, the fact of the matter is that Patagonia is thoroughly aligned to a set of core values around the environment. Their love for nature manifests itself through different but connected ways. Remarkable pictures of adventurers and climbers in beautiful landscapes, providing full transparency on where they source and manufacture their products and purposeful programs like Worn Wear to help reduce consumerism and support repairing and swapping of their gear.  They have developed and embraced a set of values that are real and meaningful, so they can actually make decisions based on them. Are you ready to ground your brand in values the organization is truly going to stand by?

4. CARE immensely

There are fans and there are Wegmans fans. If you have not been through the Wegmans experience, you need only do a quick research online or just talk to someone who has and you will immediately understand the power of brand loyalty. Fans of Wegmans swears by the private grocery chain and Wegmans simply loves food and it all starts with its employees. They spend several months training each employee about its culinary offerings and they do it in a deep experiential way. For example sending their butchers to different parts of the world; Uruguay, Argentina to learn about beef, cheese aficionados to Wisconsin, Germany and France to dive deep into where the cheeses in their stores were made. By caring deeply for their employees, it’s no wonder customers feel the love and have no problem returning it. Do you care deeply enough about what you sell and the people working for your brand?

5. Perform REAL actions

Last but not least, brands who attract true fans deliver real value. From Zappos to Wegmans, there perform real actions, whether through their products, services or their culture and corporate programs. Building your brand never ends and even though the architecture of what you say, how you look factors into the full alignment of a brand, ultimately it’s what you do that makes it all real and stick to the minds of your customer.

Breaking through as a brand today has never been more challenging.  Following any or all of these five tenants can move your brand from indifference to charismatic and propel it to new heights, garnering interest, respect and ultimately loyalty.

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