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Whatever you are writing – be it a novel, a tweet, an article –  you can’t land your story without knowing your audience. But as marketers and communicators, how do we best align the right message to the right customer?

According to W2O Group’s Bob Pearson, that’s where the practice of Storytizing comes in. Storytizing, or audience architecture & segmentation, is rooted in using data and analytics to uncover not only what audience segments are saying about themselves, but also what their online behavior is saying about the types of stories that will have the most impact on them.

This was the topic of conversation last week as we hosted our first ever W2O Group GeekATea during Social Media Week London.

geekatea_tea
Fortnum & Mason’s afternoon tea

But first: what is a GeekATea, you may ask? As Annalise Coady, President of our agency Twist Mktg and head of our London office, noted as we kicked off the event, the name is a British nod to our annual GeekACue event we hold during SXSW in Austin, Texas where we celebrate our appreciation of both barbecue and digital communications. It was only fitting in London that we celebrate the tradition of Afternoon Tea as a backdrop to a lively discussion on this ever-important practice of audience architecture.

At this intimate afternoon tea at the renowned Fortnum and Mason, we were honored to have with us:

  • Will Hayward, CEO of JOE Media, biggest premium male-focused publisher in the UK, Board Member of Social Media Week London.
  • Bob Pearson, President of W2O Group and author of Storytizing
  • Lucas Galan, Head of Analytics Productization at W2O Group

The session kicked off with an overview of trends in storytizing from Bob, and then segued into an introduction to JOE Media’s audience strategy from Will. Following, Lucas provided a deep dive into a case study of audience segmentation research conducted by W2O Group and Joe Media about a very specific and, as we learned, underestimated audience segment – the British male.

Will Hayward discussing JOE Media's audience strategy
Will Hayward discussing JOE Media’s audience strategy

Here’s a brief recap of the major takeaways:

Chapter 1: The new media outlet. New media outlets are built based on audience need, not advertisers’ need for reach. The editorial plan is based on the actual needs of the audience. In this sense, a “media outlet” is defined by customers – we decide what matters and where we spend our time. The good news: a brand site could become a media outlet in its own right… if it is authentic, dependable and it truly understands the audience’s needs.

Bob Pearson of W2O Group, discussing Storytizing
Bob Pearson of W2O Group, discussing Storytizing

Chapter 2Habits win. Media sites will succeed and fail as fast as bars and restaurants. Those who succeed will have built audiences that depend on the outlet as part of their daily ritual.

Chapter 3: Media planning will become AUDIENCE planning. Media planning of the past told us where our audience is, but not what content is going to have an impact on that audience. Micro-audience segmentation will lead to hundreds/thousands of segments to address.

Segmentation of the UK male audience, based on research by W2O Group and JOE Media
Segmentation of the UK male audience, based on research by W2O Group and JOE Media

Chapter 4: Segmenting your audience by analytics, not stereotypes, is the future. Audiences are complex and they do not want to be lumped into broad stereotypes. Our analysis of JOE Media’s audience showed that only 17% of men feel that UK media accurately represent the type of man they are.

Example of Starstuck segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis.
Example of Starstuck segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis.
Example of Londonites segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis.
Example of Londonites segment from W2O Group & JOE Media analysis.

Chapter 5: Surveys vs. analytics. It’s not enough to ask people what they want. People tell you what you want to hear if you ask them, observe them and you will get to know what they really think. The power of these combined allows us to figure out how to most effectively activate specific audience segments.

Chapter 6: Be new school. The value of traditional journalism is huge but the economics is no longer there. Operate under the mentality that everything you are doing is “old school” and always be seeking the “new school.” Will Hayward says at JOE Media, they take the best of old school journalism and bring it into the future (stay tuned for a major announcement from JOE Media that illustrates this concept in the upcoming days!).

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With the uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote, Pharma and Biotech companies need to consider a number of unique opportunities to chart future growth in the UK and EU

On 23 June 2016 the UK government held a referendum on either exiting or remaining a part of the EU and 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. Political upheaval and speculation about what this actually means for the UK and the current EU is ongoing, and while we wait for the dust to settle the one thing that is clear is that until the UK government invokes article 50, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

What we do know is this:

  • The UK government must officially invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the process for negotiating its exit.
  • The referendum is technically “advisory” and isn’t legally binding for the UK government to act.
  • To date there has been no indication if/when the UK government will invoke Article 50, so until then, nothing changes.

This was certainly a divisive vote for the country and the resulting uncertainty has heightened emotions and speculation from both camps.  Now, if you view this vote at the highest level, it was a binary vote about whether the people of the UK wanted change (Brexit) or status quo (Bremain). So part of the reason this has been so emotional for many is that change is uncomfortable.

And we are now starting to the see the short-term effects of Brexit described by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, as the UK having “entered a period of uncertainty and significant economic adjustment”. Lack of clarity is leading to a lot of debate combined with fear, uncertainty and doubt.

W2O Group is known for its fluidity (H2O, W2O, get it?!).  We spend a lot of time sitting in discomfort as we challenge ourselves in devising new approaches, alternative thinking and challenging traditional approaches in order to help our clients achieve their objectives. If we look at the Digital revolution, while it created far reaching change to both our clients’ and our own business it created, for many, opportunities. Our aim is to apply this fluid approach and work with clients and the industry to identify the opportunities and minimize the risks as the implications of Brexit become apparent.

So what should our healthcare clients be considering as the situation plays out:

What could Brexit mean for Pharma?

Pharma and biotech companies currently employ more than 222,000 people in the UK and spend some £4 billion each year on research and development.  Prior to the referendum, big UK based drug companies had said that they wanted the country to remain in the EU. Initial uncertainty in the market on the news of Brexit had an impact on pharmaceutical stocks due to major exposure to the European market.  However, the life sciences business sector has shown recovery, but uncertainty remains.  In terms of the geo-political situation three key considerations for the industry include:

  • Potential instability of the UK as an economy (long-term) and the degree to which the UK will continue to be a priority market or part of the EU Big 5, will have far reaching impact from commercial decisions, to reimbursement negotiations, to clinical trial planning.
  • Lack of clarity about the UK’s future relationship with Europe and how this will affect medicines regulations, licensing, R&D funding, and costs for import/export of medicines.
  • Political uncertainty in the UK (short-term) and if/when Article 50 may be invoked and how the sector’s needs will be championed. Key negotiation points that will most impact our clients will be in relation to the “Four Freedoms” which include free movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders.  This is the foundation of the European Union and once the UK is no longer a part of it, how these points will be either included or excluded from a new arrangement will have the greatest effect on our how our clients can do business.

Considerations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU is warranted as it relates to participation in the centralised EMA (European Medicines Agency) regulatory system:

  • Being outside the centralised system could increase the workload for pharma company regulatory departments. As well as necessitating the shoring up of the UK national regulatory body, there will be uncertainty over how or even if the scope of responsibilities will change, both of which could lead to disruption in providing new medicines to patients across the UK and Europe. Our clients should evaluate their current regulatory department SOPs to determine how increased flexibility can be built into their operations.
  • There is speculation that there would be uncertainty within the EMA about the granting of new drug licences or the renewal of existing ones as the default period for initial licensing is five years, followed by an open-ended renewal. The EMA would therefore face a dilemma on whether to approve a drug from a UK company that would not be part of the EU for the lifetime of the licence. Licences may need to be transferred to businesses inside remaining member states and new medicines approved by the EU would not be automatically placed on the British market, but may need to undergo a protracted approval process. Our clients need to be both expediting submission of marketing authorisations and also scenario planning for those that are not yet ready for submission.
  • It could be necessary to relocate the EMA out of London. This means clients should start looking at proximity of regulatory departments to international transport.

Probably the most time-critical consideration is around the new EU Clinical Trials Directive, which was agreed in 2014, introducing a raft of changes that were expected to be implemented by the end of 2017 at the earliest and by October 2018 at the latest, when the new EU CT portal and database are fully functional. The new directive is aimed at the introduction of a simplified submission process that would ease the regulatory burden on trial sponsors by effectively using a single application to carry out multi-site trials across the EU.

With Brexit in the air it now remains to be determined what the impact on CT in the UK will be and our clients need to assess what this could mean for them. Currently, when it comes to non-EU countries operating within EMA rulings there is a precedent with EEA countries which also abide by the EMA’s regulations, so in the best of cases nothing would change.

What could Brexit mean for science, research and funding?

Research funding is one of the few areas where the UK gains more money than it spends.  Of the country’s gross contribution to the EU, £5.4bn (€6.84bn; $7.77bn) can be attributed to the community’s research, development, and innovation activities. But the UK gets back £8.8bn in research grants, so exiting the EU would in theory leave a gap of £3.4bn to be filled. Through programmes such as Horizon 2020 (H2020) and the Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI), the EU provides funding and coordinates research collaborations. UK-based companies without research facilities in other EU countries are likely to lose access to these programmes.

Clients should be looking to emphasise their robust research programs to attract talent and also looking to more closely align with leading UK universities and institutions to establish/maintain a sustainable pipeline of talent, funding and engagement with the scientific community.

What could the impact be on the NHS?

11% of UK doctors and nurses (according to the General Medical Council) hold qualifications from another EU country.  This could mean a loss of non-UK healthcare workers as well as the significant problem of the loss of capacity (a loss of EU healthcare services abroad).

Clients should be looking at devising value-add programmes which support both efficiency and quality of care.  These programmes will be important whether or not the worst fears of the NHS are realised, but it is timely to look at current support programmes and determine if they are truly making a difference, how they can be optimised, and where investment should focus next.

What could Brexit mean for UK public health?

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) is at the centre of a network of communication between EU and EEA member states to monitor, communicate and assist in response to a threat of communicable disease, forming an early warning and response system for the prevention and control of communicable diseases.  The UK will be on the outside of this network which could impact, for example, procurement of pandemic vaccines, where the EU’s greater purchasing power might push the UK down the queue.

Clients who do have vaccine programmes, should look at how these are administered, how they can support the government in shoring up critical medicines, and discuss how to information share in a potentially dis-jointed system.

Everything entirely depends on the direction that the UK government wishes to take when negotiating its exit under Article 50…IF it negotiates its exit under Article 50.  Depending on how negotiations proceed, it may even be possible to keep the UK within the European system for drug approval, and allow UK scientists and companies to continue participating in the EU’s research programmes.

So as we look at our clients’ programming needs for 2017, we are thinking in more dimensions…how we interpret global/EU challenges, how we can help clients confidently move forward with key decisions and programmes/campaigns, how we can support infrastructure changes within organisations, and how we can help UK-based clients do more with less in a challenging environment.  Staying fluid will help define new approaches for our clients’ businesses, helping them to find value in uncertainty.


 This article was written by W2O Group London-based leaders: Annalise Coady President of tWist Marketing; Danielle Whitney, Healthcare Lead EMEA: Effie Baoutis, Medical Communications Global Lead

We started our Twitterendum series asking what would happen if only Twitter users voted in the referendum. We concluded that post by saying:

“Of course, tweets are not votes. Twitter users do not reflect the UK population as a whole. Twitter users account for roughly a quarter of the population (23%) and tend to skew young and urban.”

While we were well aware of the limitations in the Twitter dataset, we were equally curious to see what it could tell us about voting intentions. So, now the UK has voted and the results are in, how did the Twitter model fare?

WHAT WORKED
All in all our Twitter analysis accurately forecast the direction of the vote (whether the location skewed ‘stay’ or ‘leave’) in 248 out of 381 Local Authority Districts (LADs). It inaccurately forecast the direction in 91 LADs, and a further 39 LADs didn’t have enough data so were unable to be placed in either camp.

W2O Group, Brexit Vote, analytics

The predictions for the frontrunners in the ‘remain’ camp were very accurately predicted. Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter, Cardiff, Brighton and Hove, Glasgow, Edinburgh and parts of London, all led the referendum’s ‘remain’ category with a margin of 20% or more. Ceredigion was the only exception, which was forecast as the ‘remain’ frontrunner by the model, but only did so by a margin of 10%. The model accurately predicted the top Bremain locations in England, and only fared slightly worse in Scotland (it didn’t predict as much intensity for remain in places like East Dunbartonshire), and obviously didn’t include places like Gibraltar (where an impressive 96% voted ‘remain’).

Brexit Vote W2O Group analytics

The ‘leave’ camp were marginally less well represented. All leading members of ‘leave’ in the Twitter model were accounted for in the final vote tally, but not with the same level of intensity. Burnley, Hartlepool, Kingston upon Hull and Wakefield scored margins of above 35% in favour of ‘leave’, and experienced similar levels in the model. Predictions for Eastbourne and Oldham were also broadly in line with voting outcomes, albeit less so. However, Twitter frontrunners for ‘leave’ didn’t line up with actual outcomes. Boston, South Holland, Castle Point, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth and Fenland experienced margins of 40% and above for Brexit in voting and had much lower ratios in the twitter model. A large part of this was due to the fact that our model de-emphasised areas with a low Twitter handle representation, a factor in those six locations. Havering was easily the worst call made by the model, which was seen to be slightly in the ‘stay’ camp; final referendum result placed Havering as radically in favour of Brexit, with 70% of the population there in favour of ‘leave’.

WHAT DIDN’T
It wasn’t so much the direction of the vote in LADs that was erroneous, but the extent of the vote. The referendum is a total voting tally, and is called when either ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ passes the winning post by achieving 50% of ballots cast, plus at least one vote, so the actual margin in each area is extremely important. That is to say, rather than determining victory on a per LAD basis, the overall number of votes were the most important. Our model was constructed primarily using unique accounts backing either camp from the LAD, and the percentage of the population they represented. In almost all LADs, Twitter results overestimated the margin in favour of the remain camp, overemphasising victory margins and downplaying the losses, pointing to a firm ‘remain’ victory. London was especially problematic, which we estimated as a single entity rather than breaking it into multiple zones. This effect was greatest in outer London areas, proving completely inaccurate in forecasting the result in the aforementioned Havering.

W2O Group analytics and Brexit vote

YOUNG VERSUS OLD
No matter what the size of the sample, uncontrolled bias skewed the results. Age was a major determining factor for the model’s shortcomings. Simply put, people aged 45 and above were scarcely represented.

Twitter skews young, urban and only accounted for approximately 23% of the population (30% of internet users in UK). Our model forecast a decisive victory, and under the above conditions it was fairly predictive. However, not only did voters aged 18-34 account for only a fraction of the population, they appeared to have voted a lot less (only 36% of 18-24s and 58% of 25-34s voted, according to Sky Data.

As a result, the model’s forecasting generally biased towards a group that leaned towards ‘remain’ (75% of 18-24s voted to ‘remain’ according to YouGov). Whilst this explains the underlying lean toward Bremain, the areas with a disproportionate amount of older voters were inherently less accurate. We can see that for the majority of areas with a disproportionate amount of people above 45, the model predicted completely inaccurate results.

URBAN BIAS
The same bias was was even more present in urban centres, where data was much more concentrated.

When choosing the source of a tweet, we assigned based on self-reported locations in each twitter handle bio.  Overall, twitter users reporting their location were far more likely to identify a major city than a rural place, even if only peripherally attached to it. The result was that LADs containing a major city had a disproportionate amount of content, higher percentage of representation and thus higher scores in our model.

Ultimately, cities likely had even more of a ‘stay’ lean due to high proportion of younger people combined with higher scores due to a larger amount of unique accounts identified.

OTHER MISCELLANEA
We calibrated the model to only include people living UK through analysing self-reported city of origin and the usage of the English language. While this is not necessarily a bad way of representing people who live in the UK, there is no doubt a high number of non-voting migrants in our model. According to a House of Commons Briefing Paper on migration, 5.3 million migrants lived in the UK, 2.9m of which came from the 27 EU member countries. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that this population would have been very active in the run up to the vote. This lends further bias to the ‘remain’ camp, as reflected in Figure 3 above.

IN CONCLUSION
So, Twitter is useful at understanding a very specific audience in a very specific context, but we must be wary of stretching it further. A referendum is a truly seismic event, with all walks of life represented in the electorate. While public and accessible to most, Twitter is far from representative of the UK population as a whole. The value of its data lies in illuminating a particular part of society and in the ease of access and quantity of its data. Size of sample is certainly important (the number of unique accounts observed is much higher than that accessible through traditional polling), but with such heavy bias it ultimately overpowers the ability for the model to make predictions about events encompassing the totality of society. The Brexit result was surprising to many, and shows how easily we’re caught in our own echo-chamber, surrounded by like-minded people and unable to fathom the full spectrum of opinion. Looking at Brexit through Twitter underscores this phenomena and the importance of a balanced dataset if one is to make observations of any kind.

Predictions using data fare well when the underlying elements follow specific rules. Politics can be hard to predict because those rules tend to be opaque, or only sporadically followed. Recent failures in data-driven models of the political landscape (The Brexit result or Trump’s nomination, for example) could be down to the fact that the electorate is ultimately changing the underlying rules on what they will vote for. Making sense of the world using data is an important advantage and a cornerstone to better making better predictions. Nonetheless, when making predictions with data (irrespective of robustness of model and its accompanying data), it is good to remember that the world remains an uncertain place, and to approach predicting it with a healthy dose of humility and scepticism.

On the eve of tomorrow’s EU referendum vote, Britain braces itself for a momentous decision in deciding whether the country should “remain a member of the European Union” or “leave the European Union.”  Week after week we have been tracking the data and while polls continue to show a tight vote we’re ready to make a call on the Twitterendum.

Brexit_GIF3

Come tomorrow, we believe that UK Twitter would crown the #StrongerIn campaign victorious.

BrexitWk26

At least on Twitter, the results are quite conclusive. The Brexit camp enjoyed a lead during a large part of the campaign, with far more outspoken supporters. Every ‘leaver’ contributed an average of 9.63 tweets to the cause, twice as many as Bremainers. However, in the end, raw account numbers proved far more important.

Brexit Analysis

Since the official campaign launch, the #StrongerIn camp has carved a growing lead in the total number of supporters, consolidating its lead in urban centers. This trend accelerated dramatically in the last three weeks, which experienced a sharp increase of unique accounts pledging their allegiance to staying in the EU. The effect of this swing is impressive, with the ‘stay’ camp ending with a 17% lead in unique accounts over ‘leave’ by week 26, having almost doubled its lead in the final three weeks.

Brexit4

So there you have it. A look at extremely an extremely complex political vote through the somewhat reductive lens of Twitter conversation. While the correlation between the Twitterendum results and the actual referendum outcome of the remains to be seen, I’m not suggesting that Twitter is representative of the totality of the British voting public. But it might serve as a good indicator, an alternative tool to augment traditional polling.

We plan to compare the actual results of the referendum to our model and investigate potential connections in the weeks following the final vote. In the meantime, happy voting!

Earlier this month I began to explore the correlation between Twitter analytics and Britain’s possible departure from the EU. Things are heating up in the Twitterendum, but not necessarily getting any clearer. The volume of tweets in the five weeks following our last post was effectively the same as the previous twenty combined. This represents an huge increase in the raw number of tweets, but also in unique contributors, meaning a lot more people are being drawn into the debate.

Brexit_GIF

In spite of the increase in activity, the Twitterendum results remained remarkably static. The number of ‘stay’ unique accounts remained around 10% higher than their opposition whilst Brexiters continued to generate more per capita tweets than Bremainers, around 20% more content.

Week24_Brexit2

In the ‘leave’ camp, Burnley, Eastbourne and South Northamptonshire all doubled down on their positions. The number of ‘stay’ supporters increased dramatically in Woking and Manchester, however, though they are now more contested, both still generated a far greater number of ‘leave’ tweets.

Only one new joiner stood out – Oldham. Instead of making gains in key decisive swings of opinion, the Brexit camp found success in edging several smaller Local Authorities. Doncaster, Sunderland and Kingston upon Hull all moved from ‘undecided’ to ‘leave’.

Similarly, the ‘stay’ camp continued to reinforce its position in university towns and Labour strongholds. All ‘stay’ frontrunners from our last update increased their #StrongerIn scores.

London continued to be the centre of extremely heated debate with the total number of tweets only just favoring the stay camp. However, in terms of unique users it enjoyed one of the highest ratios of Bremainers: Brexiters in the entire country…perhaps unsurprisingly. The animation we’ve included shows London’s gradual movement from undecided firmly into the ‘stay’ camp, mobilizing more and more ‘stay’ supporters with each passing week.

The remaining most populous centers experienced very similar phenomena. Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds all recorded surges in the number of unique ‘stay’ supporters, while simultaneously recording disproportionate levels of ‘leave’ tweets.

Analysis1v2_Brexit2

From this, it seems like the race is rather contested… though the higher proportion of unique accounts means that the ‘remain’ camp is pulling slightly ahead. What will the results show on the eve of the vote? Will there be any correlation between Twitter trends and the final referendum results? Join us next week!

Lucas-Galan-headshotLucas Galan currently serves as the Head of Analytics Productization at W2O Group’s London office. Connect with him on LinkedIn!

 

We live in a world where Basel and Boston, Geneva and Fort Worth, and Zurich and New York City are partnering every day to create new medical treatments, consumer products, technology solutions and services.

Our world isn’t an office-based world. It’s a network-based world.

That’s why we’re opening up a Basel, Switzerland, office. Basel is the heart of the BioValley, which houses more than 900 life science companies and two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. An impressive number of Forbes 2000 companies are located in Switzerland, all of which work across time zones each and every day to meet the needs of their customers.

An increasing number of our clients call Switzerland home – some as their worldwide headquarters and others as their regional center. We have decided to do the same and call Basel our newest home. The network of our clients drives the network we build for W2O Group.

We are pleased to announce that Jeroen Aarden has joined us from Novartis AG to open up our Basel office and build our team there. Jeroen has more than 20 years of digital innovation and online communications expertise. Plus, he’s an expert in business intelligence.

“It was not an easy decision to leave Novartis, where I played a pivotal role in its digital transformation,” said Jeroen. “But in joining W2O Group, I  can now help drive these same types of digital transformations for companies around the world. W2O’s capabilities in analytics, together with its fantastic group of people who offer other critical communications services to clients, positions it as a prime player in this complex but critical and exciting time of change.”

With our new presence in Basel, our 40+ member team in London is thrilled to expand its reach in Europe, as are our teams throughout the U.S. In particular, Colin Foster and Eric Shenfield of Twist Mktg, and I are jazzed to have an office in Basel as all of us have previously lived and worked in that city.

W2O Group looks forward to becoming a productive member of the Swiss business community and reconnecting with many friends we’ve made over the years. More to come soon.

With this quote by Jack Welch, Bob Pearson finished his talk at the W2O PreCommerce Summit in London today. The President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, encouraged the audience to remain nimble to be able to adapt to future trends and changes and shared some of his insights into tomorrow’s world of brands, customers and media.

As described in his book PreCommerce, Bob sees the biggest value for brands in decreasing the distance to their customers and focus on pre-commerce phase vs. the actual point of sale: Only those who are able to listen, will be able to respond and adapt to market needs – maybe even before those needs actually exist.

The digital age definitely enabled brands to be much closer to their target audiences than ever before; however, the structures, relationships and stakeholders, as we have known them for years, will no longer exist in the future. Bob Pearson summarizes this development in four key game changing trends:

  1. Our Definition of Audience Is Changing

If we look at the 1-9-90 model, we can clearly see the former content creators and outlets are no longer as relevant in the online conversation as the 9%, which we define as brand advocates, those who spend their time inside social media channels, who are part of strong peer groups and, who add their views to existing content, that will share the future of your brand’s or company’s story. With this development, the audience is now more important than the outlet.

  1. The PESO model is flipping

As the 9% grow in importance, so does earned and shared media. This requires us to integrate a new media planning model that defines an insight-driven social media channel and influencer strategy, which roles out into campaigns, content and experiences. As part of this model, paid media amplification remains an important part to break through the “noise”, but it will follow conversations and communities more than news.

  1. Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore

Digital conversation is dynamic and to be able to participate, brands need to be agile. Providing customers with what they need, where they need it and when they need it, is a challenge that includes our creative approach. Those brands who are able to use data and respond to trends in real-time, with content dynamically changing based on interest, will make the 365 campaign become real.

  1. Micro Segmentation Replaces “Personas”

Or in Bob’s words “We always knew that top-down persona-driven segments of “five audience types” was wrong”. With each person and each audience having their own media ecosystem, the roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. In order to customize content to their target audiences, brands need to understand how the audience and their attention are fragmented. Therefore, the future media leaders will excel in audience architecture.

About Bob Pearson

Bob Pearson is President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group. Bob has a unique combination of social media, marketing and communications skills acquired during nearly 25 years at three Fortune BobPearson500 companies and a major consultancy. In 2011, he published his book “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together”, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. He is currently working on his next book, which will be available in March 2016. “Storytizing” will focus on the importance of creating a compelling and at the same time relevant narrative for your brand.

Together with panelists Steven Overman, CMO at Eastman Kodak, Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel, and Steve Milton, Consultant and Former Corporate Communications director at eBay, Bob Pearson investigates whether evolution is enough to stay relevant in the new digital economy.

There’s a clear need to embrace digital, but do we need to learn more about it before we start our digital agenda to ensure we do it right?

For Bob’s panelists digital is actually something that needs to be part of the mindset of an organization in order to be successful and impactful. Since the nature of the digital world is dynamic and not stable, we need to start acting, but also remain nimble to be able to respond to changes in the future.

Part of our digital transformation should also be a reevaluation of familiar questions: How do global brand behave in local markets? Do we position ourselves as the known and trusted international brand or do we adapt to local needs? Navigating between the waters of global and local has always been a challenge for companies, but when it comes to digital the core question actually diminishes – there is no local. However, we have to think through more tactical implications such as various languages, servers or how we handle e-commerce fulfillment. We are trying to behave in a unified way, but have to figure out how those things can actually be executed.

Another key question in digital is whether or not e-commerce is becoming channel and platform agnostic by integrating the ability to sell and buy into our social channels. It is actually not a question of if, but rather when we see this development, thinking about markets like China, where the integration of the marketplace into the social world is already reality.

So what can online marketing tech companies do to be more relevant and valuable? With a lot of change we need to have a scientist’s mindset, being curious, trying out new things and failing fast, which is not failure, but a way to gain new insights. Most importantly we need to listen of what people care about and can no longer assume we know.

In 2014, Eastman Kodak Co. named Steven Overman @Stevenoverman, former Nokia Marketing Executive, Chief Marketing Officer and charged him with leading the global brand renewal of Kodak. In this new role, he led the strategic development of a brand that seemed to have missed the connection to the rest of the industry with the beginning of the digital era.

At the W2O #PreCommerce summit in London, he talked about the challenges to adapt long-term strategy to an ever-changing environment and the positive impact of increased connection on our behaviour in a fire chat with James Morley, Managing Director at W2O Group.

James Morley: The Kodak business understands more than most the impact of digital technology.  Can you give us an insight into the impact on Kodak and what it has done to adapt?

Steven Overman: If we go back only a few years ago, Kodak was actually one of the most valuable stocks and companies globally. And some did not want to believe it, but the digital revolution has actually challenged a business model that remained successful for many decades. While we are now looking at platforms like Instagram and how successful it is, we still wonder what the actual business model behind it is. Consumables, as the Kodak product from the past, have been substituted by technology and non-tangible platforms. In order to adapt to this development, we have brought back technology into the family and are now bridging with B2B offerings between digital workflows and analogue outcomes.

James Morley:  At WEF last week there was a lot of discussion about the importance of innovation within business.  How does Kodak deal with this issue?

Steven Overman: Innovation is a very interesting concept, because it is actually against human nature. Within our nature we have a strong resistance to change, and look for safety and stability. However, innovation is necessary to remain sustainable in the future and true innovative ideas only thrive in a culture that brings in fresh thinking and is willing to take risk. For us, we see a lot of innovation come to life by working with our scientists from the labs. They do have this natural curiosity that you need to be creative and think beyond of what already exists.

James Morley: What do you believe will be the biggest innovations for Digital in the next 2 years?

Steven Overman: I actually see one important trend that actually involves the past, the present and the future. When we look at how much our behaviour has changed by an increased level of connectivity, we can only imagine what impact it will have when the rest (64%) of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet. I believe that in the near future everyone will be connected and with this connectivity comes great power for everyone in the ecosystem. The digital revolution not only changed the way we live, work and create today, but also our increased connection creates a conscious and a growing shared sense of what is right and wrong, which impact the way we do business in the future, but also the way we act as empowered consumers, patients and marketers. 

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About Steven Overman

Steven Overman was previously VP Global Head of Brand Strategy and Marketing Creation for Nokia, and is founder of Match & Candle, a brand strategy consultancy. In 2014, he published his book “The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business”.

 

 

We are living in a time where we are ‘always on’ with multiple devices providing us with information but also distracting us and exhausting our time. Technology has become a natural part of our daily life, where having different multiple online personas for work, life, and play is common. It has also become a source of angst.

With an influx of new information and online digital platforms almost daily, the digital landscape is evolving and consumers are now more empowered than ever. Brands can no longer fully control their narrative and need to find and understand the people who are most relevant to their future determining how they consume and share information as well as how they listen to each other as individuals.

This rapidly changing world can sometimes feel both like a massive headache and an incredible opportunity for marketers and communicators. C-suite leaders must be able to adapt to these changes if their organizations are to survive. Staying nimble and being able to predict how the industry will evolve before it happens is all part of the job. What we see from working with our clients and helping them stay one step ahead of competition is that regardless of which industry you are in or who your audience is, we are all facing similar challenges when it comes to digitalization. Being so imbedded in our client businesses is what allows us to build the community where innovators and leaders can come together and share their best practices and learnings.

Breaking away from your everyday routine and meeting those who are walking in the same shoes as you, is a proven method to generate new ideas or new solutions. Following on the success of last year’s Social Intelligence Summit we are excited to host our second annual thought leadership event – PreCommerce Summit London 2015.

The event, coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, will bring together experts from across industries to discuss how we work, live and create in the digital world. We will be considering the impact and opportunities of the mobile generation and will provide perspectives and host panel discussions with key leaders, such as:

I’m hopeful you are able to attend this important forum. Don’t miss the last chance to register to attend the summit on the 14th of September in London via livestream or in person!

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here www.w2oevents.com.

Navigating the future takes more than just educated guesswork. It combines knowledge, adaptability and a willingness to garner new inputs from new sources.

The W2O Group Pre-Commerce London Summit is your personal GPS to succeeding in the future!

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

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

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

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

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

1) Convergence and Agnosticism

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

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

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

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2) Models & Predictive 

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

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

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

3) Delivery Mechanisms

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

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The Future is Up for Grabs!

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

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

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

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

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

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Simon Shipley, Intel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a marketing analyst, my day is governed by digital media. My nights are equally dictated, as I am guilty of sleeping next to my phone, just like 83% of other Millennials. Tech-dependant as we are, I’d expect this “generation of digital natives” to be very fond of online experiences. In fact, according to statista, 85% of UK 16 to 34-year-olds used Facebook in 2014. Can we infer from these numbers alone that digital experiences are always the preferred choice by us Millennials? As you might have guessed, I intend to make it a tad more difficult by contrasting some digital vs. offline experiences:

Education: While traditional education has undeniable benefits such as direct peer and teacher interaction, over 6.7 million students were taking a minimum of one online course in 2011 – an increase of more than half a million year-on-year. Online education will enable people from poorer families or rural areas receive valuable skills. Interestingly, print reading is highest among 18 to 29 year old US students, according to a Pew study, as the text book layout benefits comprehension and distractions and skimming are less likely.

Work: Similar to traditional education, being physically present at work has huge benefits, such as your boss knowing what you are up to. However, home offices will be an important factor in juggling work and family, as a survey in the Microsoft whitepaper points out. Further benefits of home office are a less stressful environment, a quieter atmosphere, commute elimination and increased environmental sustainability.

Dating & Friendships: Dating apps allow us to roam potential partners whenever and wherever we want. Some portals such as EHarmony and OkCupid ask personal questions that supposedly match you to people with similar opinions and interests. Therefore, online dating is a form of offline speed dating, as you don’t have to waste precious minutes getting to know someone to figure out later that their love for cats doesn’t match your allergies. Digital, in this case, gives you a wider range of opportunities, while you will most likely want to meet your online encounter in real life before getting married. Regarding friendship building, technology also works as a facilitator. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 57% of US teens have met a new friend online, with 30% having made more than five. Due to their love for video games, boys are more likely than girls to make online friends.

Family: Most of us can speak from experience that being around your family in person is superior to a Skype call, where the video quality is sub-par. Nonetheless, apps and platforms allow us to reach out more often and share little, yet important moments as well.

The endless list of things we do online includes mobile banking (enabling female farmers in Africa build their own businesses) or sharing hobbies, such as cooking, sports, art and photography. Due to Instagram filters, everyone can now be a “photographer” and we can share our successful or not-so-successful cooking experiences with the entire world. We can also share calories burnt after our first mile or half-marathon and make our Facebook friends envious. Most of all, we can find people who share rare hobbies such as a fondness for pigeons. It’s much easier to find like-minded people online or strangers to talk to confidentially. Privacy goes both ways online: you can be anonymous and share fears and thoughts, but at the same time, you can gossip and insult others without being identified. Negative factors seem to increase online where it is also much easier to voice your opinion to a greater audience. The latest incidence being the refugee crisis in Europe, where a lot of celebrities voice themselves supportively online, but allow fans with negative sentiments to comment and reach this wide audience as well.

As it turns out, the digital landscape is widely complex. Deciding on what experiences are more enjoyable online is further hindered by factors such as your audience’s background, preferences and motivations. As the recent Economist article “Myths about Millennials” points out, “individual differences are always bigger than generational differences.” One should not make assumptions about a group of people just because they were born in the same time period.

Generally speaking, however, digital is always better. Not because we replace real experiences with digital ones, but because digital adds options to our means of communication. Every communication tool in history has had its pros and cons, but the tools have been improving over time. Improvement meaning enhancing communication, bringing us closer together. We started with smoke clouds and can now communicate with people on several continents at once and in colour. We want to share information and experiences – sad moments, achievements and joy. Yes, there are still many improvements to be made, technically and personally (be it privacy issues or us constantly looking down on our phones while walking in the streets). Ultimately, communication is what we’re all about and digital communication is a further added benefit along the way – and not just for Millennials.

After this peek into the facets of digital, I want to invite you to join W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit that is part of London’s Social Media Week, to further expand your knowledge. Hear industry experts talk about marketing’s future and share your opinion on whether digital is always better. You can RSVP here: http://w2oevents.com/

In the past six years, I can count on one hand — one finger, actually — the number of times I’ve attended a conference and not been an active participant in the Twitter conversation onsite. It was 2009, my laptop was at the office, and I did not yet have a smartphone. You can bet that was the last time I traveled without multiple devices, a smartphone being one of them.

As a millennial — yes, one of those — I began my career at a time when Twitter was only for the tech elite, Facebook was still “The Facebook,” and LinkedIn was a glorified resume. Now, similar to how no one can remember a time when anything got done without email, I can no longer fathom — nor want to — a world where social media wasn’t a driving force behind how business gets done, and done well.

In my past life as a healthcare conference producer, social media wasn’t yet the widely adopted medium for communication and collaboration that it is today. Speaking faculties and conference agendas were created from research and whatever publications and articles were available online, and events were publicized via mass email campaigns and cold calling. Just a few years later, the landscape had already changed drastically.

In my next role as an editorial content producer at a technology publisher, hashtags were the new sources for news stories, LinkedIn was the first point of contact, and QR codes were all the rage. To stay timely, topical and relevant was to keep up with the rate of change in social media adoption and use. Today, that thinking still holds true. Only now, the cost of not participating is something that individuals and brands alike can no longer afford.

We’ve all heard that “content is king,” and from a content generation perspective, Twitter is one of the most valuable — and all too often, underrated — sources. If someone had told me back when I was putting together conference agendas that there would soon be a channel that would provide, in real-time, insights on the topics and trends that your target audience cares most about, I might have traded an arm or leg for access. Now, that information is just a screen tap away.

But the wealth of benefits that Twitter provides goes well beyond social intelligence — topic and audience targeting, influencer analysis, idea generation and the like. While it’s true that the incredibly rich data that Twitter provides — when paired with the right analytics, active listening tools and analysis in place — creates an unmatched opportunity for social optimization and ROI-inducing initiatives, to me, the most valuable aspect of the channel has been the relationships that is has allowed me to cultivate. And for that, I could not be more appreciative.

While conferences and networking events might have previously been where industry colleagues would be introduced to one another for the first time, now, these onsite interactions are simply an extension of the relationships that began through a series of 140 character posts. The number of times I’ve approached — okay, ran toward — industry colleagues with whom I’ve connected on Twitter first, and recognized solely from their profile picture, is a bit embarrassing. But the amazing opportunities, incredible learning experiences, professional connections, and friends, that I have made, simply because we were engaged via the social medium first, makes it all worthwhile.

Case in point being earlier this year, at W2O’s #HITsmCIO event at HIMSS’15 in Chicago, where provider innovation, information and technology chiefs gathered together to discuss the proliferation of social media in healthcare. UPMC’s chief innovation officer, Rasu Shrestha, M.D., one of the Twittersphere’s most active — an quite frankly, awesome — digital health leaders, shared that when it comes to hospital and health system use of social media, “it’s less of a question about whether you should do it; it’s can you afford not to.” I would have never gotten the opportunity to meet, know, and most importantly, learn from, Dr. Shrestha in the same capacity if not for Twitter, where his perspective perfectly echoes what we advise our clients, friends, and ourselves, regarding social media engagement.

For House of Cards fans, during one of his infamous first-person narratives to the camera, Frank Underwood noted that “imagination is its own form of courage.” For anyone who has yet to take the leap or see the value in social media from a personal perspective, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it. Imagine yourself interacting with and learning from individuals you had previously only read about, fostering relationships with an unmatched network of thought leaders, and carving out a voice for yourself in the space. It might take a bit of courage to put yourself out there, but just imagine the possibilities.

And for those brands who have yet to harness the power of social engagement and intelligence — from healthcare and digital health, to technology and pharma, through B2B startups to well-established B2C staples — the time to imagine how these social channels can drive opportunity and incredible value for your business is now. Remember, it takes imagination — and courage — to see innovation and opportunity where others cannot, and social media engagement is no exception.

For more information on how social commerce and SoMe intelligence is driving change, enabling opportunity and creating a competitive advantage across the marketing and communications landscape, be sure to follow #PreCommerce on Twitter for updates and notable information from W2O’s EMEA annual PreCommerce Summit, taking place in London on September 14, 2015.

Please see here for more information on the event. In the area? Come join us – registration is free!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London Summit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining Transparency

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

Is this Relevant to Me?

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

Who’s Paying Attention?

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

What’s the Latest?

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

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

And with that I say: Stay Social!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Novel treatments, continuous innovation of healthcare technologies and a virtual limitless food and drink supply in the Western World have improved quality of life for many and resulted in an increase of life expectancy over the few past decades. However, just as we thought we solved the riddle of living longer and healthier, we have started experiencing the repercussions of unlimited food and increased convenience.

People are living longer, but not necessarily healthier. Our modern lifestyles of sedentary abundance are now challenging our health in new ways. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity have seen an exponential increase and reached pandemic numbers.

At first glance, and a recommendation told to every type 2 diabetes patient many times during their treatment journey, it may seem as simple as a change in lifestyle could resolve the diabetes threat.  However, as billions of dollars in lifestyle education materials and programs show, it isn’t as simple as an extra walk around the block with the dog or a few less forkfuls of chocolate cake.

This week a new study published in Nature Medicine shows the results of one such research effort. I am one of the lead authors on the study which opens the path to potential new pharmacological strategies for the treatment of diabetes.

What are the findings?

The new study takes a closer look at the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Firstly, we aimed to identify novel drug-able markers that differ between diabetic and non-diabetic cells. Secondly, we tested whether there are additional mechanisms that contribute to the death of these cells, which ultimately leads to a lack of insulin, a hallmark of diabetes.

The results of our study identify a specific marker, known as the miR-200 family.  This marker is found in increased amounts in the insulin-producing cells in diabetes patients. We show this increase of miR-200 is functionally important and causally linked to pancreatic cell death. In fact, artificially increased levels of miR-200 induce pancreatic cell death, thus lowering the number of cells available to produce insulin and leading to the development of diabetes.

We have also found, in addition to the potential pharmacological relevance, reducing the amount of miR-200 can improve diabetes. This is due to the protective effect of miR-200 reduction, shifting the balance between cell survival and cell death in the favour of cell survival. As a consequence, the number of insulin-producing cells is increased and the body can better control blood sugar levels.

This means that if we can create a drug to block the miR-200 pathway in the insulin producing cells, then we may be able to slow or reverse the impact of diabetes (along with those often touted lifestyle changes).

What’s next?

Innovation of diabetes treatments has been slow over the past years compared to other disease areas. Studies like this one are of critical importance and may lead the way towards new drug targets. It remains to be seen whether all of them fulfil their promise, but it is an important step in the right direction.

Ultimately we will be only be able to cure diabetes if we combine the power of communication and science, thereby educating on a healthy lifestyle as well as providing state of the art treatment options.

 

Reference:

Belgardt B-F*, Ahmed K*, Spranger M* et al. The microRNA-200 family regulates pancreatic beta cell survival in type 2 diabetes. Nature Medicine, advanced online publication, 18. Mai 2015. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3862

 

Diabetes, both type 1 & type 2, is characterised by elevated blood sugar levels and a failure of the body to control these. In the case of type 1 diabetes, this is due to a lack of the hormone insulin; whereas, in type 2 diabetes, the body has become resistant to the effects of insulin. At the centre of blood sugar regulation is one critical hormone, insulin, which is produced in the pancreas and upon food intake is secreted into the blood stream instructing the tissues and organs such as muscle, fat and liver to remove the sugar from the blood stream. If this process is impaired, a metabolic imbalance results, which, when uncontrolled, leads to co-morbidities such as kidney and nerve damage, eye disease as well as cardiovascular disease.

 

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As part of our continuing growth strategy to build strength in our digital and analytics offerings, to meet the needs of our clients in EMEA, we’re pleased to announce that Refreshed Wellbeing, a digitally based creative communications agency for health & pharmaceutical brands has joined the WCG fold.

With a background in both consumer marketing and professional healthcare sector expertise, Refreshed Wellbeing has extensive expertise in delivering  integrated pan-European digital marketing campaigns working for clients such as –  Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Grunenthal, Johnson & Johnson,  LEO Pharma, Mentolatum, Pfizer and Roche.  Additionally the acquisition brings digital creative, together with media planning and buying capabilities that further enhance our insight led strategic approach, combined with 360 engagement, as well as additional regional knowledge that will support the work we do in more than 50 countries.

We’re also pleased to announce that as part of the deal, Refreshed Wellbeing co-founder, Carl Engelmarc, a well-known digital strategist and integrated branding communications expert will be joining the WCG EMEA management team. He has over 20 years marketing experience in Rx, consumer health and FMCG.

This is another exciting milestone for WCG in Europe.  Earlier this year, Holmes Report named us as the Digital and Specialist Agency of the Year. And in March 2013 leading analytics group, Mettle, joined us to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. This acquisition of Refreshed Wellbeing augments our strategic and creative capabilities, as well as providing additional strength to our engagement offerings through the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model.

We look forward to creating “what’s next” with our new Refreshed Wellbeing colleagues.

– Annalise Coady, Global Practice Lead – EMEA
WCG, part of the W2O network of agencies, is an independently owned and operated full-service marketing services organization. What sets us apart is our uncompromised belief that analytics (re)empowers brands to make more insightful, better decisions, eliminating the “guesswork” of traditional marketing services.