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In 2016, it should be no surprise that many doctors have translated their offline influence into social influence, sharing health information with colleagues and patients. While HIPAA and the need to maintain patient privacy are well understood by physicians, what is less understood is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidance on social media. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, the FTC issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC suggests that this be accomplished using hashtags such as #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in posts.

STATNews recently highlighted a few physicians who did not make their relationship with biopharma companies readily apparent when commenting on the company products. When we work with physicians to educate them on using social media, central to this effort is how to use it appropriately, including an explanation of the FTC regulations. The FTC notes that “if there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect and it would affect how consumers evaluate the endorsement, that connection should be disclosed.”

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What’s a Physician To Do?

If a physician is working with a biopharma company and is being compensated for their expertise as a key opinion leader (KOL), we recommend that this be disclosed. One way is to add a hashtag with the name of the company and the acronym KOL (#CompanyKOL) to social posts. This makes it clear that the physician has a relationship with the company. In order to provide this clarity, one of our clients requests the healthcare professionals use #spokesperson in their posts. And, because the relationships between healthcare professionals and biopharma companies can be multi-faceted, another way to highlight the connection is for the physician to add a link to in their bio that explains the details, such as involvement in clinical trials.

It’s also important to note that, similar to bloggers, the physicians are not being paid for their positive opinion, but for their expertise. Consumers want to hear from physicians and learn from them. It’s just important that the context is apparent.

Always Keep Fair Balance in Mind

Many physicians also aren’t aware of the complex Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on promoting drugs. This includes the need to include “fair balance” (i.e. if you feature the benefits of a medication, you need to equally feature the potential risks). The FDA is clear that this requirement needs to be maintained even when there are only 140 characters on Twitter. A link to the important safety information does not suffice.

When working with influencers, whether patients or physicians, we always share the FDA and FTC guidelines so that they can make educated choices when sharing on social. No matter who you are, authenticity and transparency are essential to building relationships via social media.

 

 

It’s rare that we have an opportunity to find out more about what makes CMOs tick, and more importantly to share what’s on their minds. Today, we had the rare privilege of having our W2o Group President and Chief Innovation Officer, Bob Pearson, sit down with three marketing leaders at Overstock.com, Interstate Batteries and Accel Partners at the Holmes Report’s In2Summit.

Here are quick questions and answers (with a huge infusion of wisdom) from Natalie Malaszenko (Overstock), Dorothy Jones (Interstate Batteries) and Larry Yu (Accel). Enjoy!

in2summit panel pic

 

Background and Thoughts on Being a CMO

Natalie: Over my career I have realized the importance of following my heart. Early on, I underestimated how important it was to be happy and passionate about your work. Having that alignment with your job is critical to getting to the next level. During my time at Hewlett Packard, I also learned how important it was to stay focused. Ignore the politics. Do a great job and concentrate on leading the people you lead courageously.

Dorothy: I have led marketing in three very diverse business. My key learning over those three opportunities has been to work with a purpose and to maintain a work life balance. It took me taking two years off to really understand what I wanted to do. During that time, I realized I had a choice regarding the people I wanted to work with/for.

Larry: The length of time people stay at organizations has changed. Making sure that you are picking companies to work for on paper as much as you are picking the people you will work for is underestimated. I’ll talk more about this later but during my early days of Facebook, it was clear that Facebook had a real mission and I now realize the criticality of this to a successful company.

Scouting Emerging Talent (Keys to)

  • No “one type” of marketer. Key to find story tellers. (Natalie)
  • Find people that have flexibility and multidisciplinary experience. Other key is leadership. Can’t teach people to have drive or to think ten steps ahead. When you see the raw gem, you take it. (Dorothy)
  • I have a communications background with a marketing title which speaks to the ambiguity of marketing these days. I like to look at people’s ability to take in data and translate that into the best possible story. Problem solving is also a needed skill. Do employees have the mental agility to figure things out? (Larry)

As we shift toward digital, what are we learning?

  • Everything is measurable which is a good and bad thing. And we are now looking at experience and journey versus single channels/pathways. Sometimes we can over-analyze and make the wrong decisions. (Natalie)
  • Data is your friend. But you can spin it however you want. And Digital is changing so rapidly, it’s critical to stay on top of it/out ahead of it. The whole purchase life cycle has changed. It is more important than ever to be in tune with what’s happening. Brand trust/positive sentiment can change overnight. I learned this firsthand at Susan G. Komen. (Dorothy)
  • How do you protect certain brand assets online? Example: trying to update your company’s logo on Wikipedia. (Larry)

What do you read? How do you learn?

  • I never miss an opportunity to learn from m,y network. At the same time, time is precious. I can’t read my daily “8,000” emails. Instead, I rely on my team to help me filter/seek out the most relevant topical ideas and news. (Dorothy)
  • When I am teaching classes/companies, I tell teams that if you aren’t willing to say, “I don’t know the answer,” you aren’t really learning. (Bob)
  • I ask experts, “who are three other people I should meet/talk to” about a particular topic. I also leans on social/aggregators to stay abreast of current topics. I have also found out how important it is to pick the people with whom you spend your time. (Larry)
  • Everything impacts ecommerce these days (Superbowl, Star Wars, David Bowie’s death so I am a student of pop culture. I also study business people intensely. (Natalie)

Additional Keys to Picking Best Talent

  • Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. (Natalie)
  • Keep language simple and being mindful of not using terms like, “change management” while doing change management (it’s construed as a negative term). I also think about using language I would use with my grandmother who was not college educated to explain things. (Dorothy)
  • Great leaders keep messages clear and simple to make them understandable and repeatable. (Bob)
  • Organizations are very decentralized these days. People work from home more than ever. Orgs are also global. So it’s very important for companies to lock down the values and clearly communicate them. As an example, when Facebook did their IPO, it didn’t go well and employees were rattled. What helped keep the troops together was having  values (and a mission) as a touchstone. Even the leaders at the time were scared and didn’t want to let employees down. But the leaders got out there and helped bring everyone along. One other point is that values need to be organic. They can’t be handed down from the top leaders. (Larry)

Most pivotal part of your career

  • Mine wasn’t magical but was pivotal. “Peace in the midst of a storm” during time at Pepsico in the middle of a divorce. Had a baby (single mom) and working 75+ hours a week. Running a $2 billion division. Remembers running to pick up daughter from daycare, went to networking event with her girl. Took her back to office. At midnight, couldn’t find her and panicked. Realized she had crawled up under desk and fallen asleep. This was not a good “mommy” moment. It was pivotal because it taught her balance. (Dorothy)
  • Got to leave everything digital at HP. No politics among digital leaders within all the divisions at the company. Digital people find digital people and work hard to avoid politics. Had one mission and one cause. Lesson was, independent of companies goals/mission, you can always find people with a common cause. (Natalie)
  • Don’t judge people too quickly. Remembers seeing Zuckerburg at Web 2.0. Saw him on stage with hoodie and was wondering, “who is this guy?!?” Fast-forward two years, I followed my boss to Facebook. I remember one of Mark’s first internal Q&A sessions and was blown away by what he heard. (Larry)

What do you want your department to focus on?

  • What is the mission? A lot of time is spent focused on product but not on the “why” of the brand. (Larry)
  • Be idea generators. Money follows ideas. (Dorothy)
  • Don’t be afraid to kill things that are stale. The world is constantly changing so it’s okay to pause and sometimes weed. (Natalie)

How do you mentor?

  • I make time on the front end while being mindful of time and I always try hard to be willing to take calls/emails or even set up 30 minutes meetings at Starbucks on the way into the office. Sometimes I find just referring someone to the right person or providing the right business insight can be enough. (Dorothy)
  • I choose people that I can ultimately help be happy. My message is keep it simple. And then I work to make them feel comfortable with the idea of finding their own path. (Natalie)

Social media enables celebrities to have intimate and frequent contact with fans. In particular, Instagram has served to give us a glimpse inside the daily lives of our favorite stars. Social media has also given birth to an entirely new breed of celebrities, YouTube “content creators,” who have a huge impact among tweens and teens.

When a celebrity endorses a product via TV commercial or infomercial it’s obvious that it’s an advertisement. Now the lines are blurred. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, in 2009 the Federal Trade Commission issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC clearly explains the rules and makes it easy to accomplish by simply using #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in a post.

Beyonce 7

Beyonce is Crazy in Love with Airbnb

After the Super Bowl, Beyonce shared on Facebook a photo with the caption, “It was a Super weekend Airbnb” with a link to the Airbnb Facebook page. Neither the superstar nor the company will confirm if she was paid for the endorsement or comped the accommodation. If this was the case, then Beyonce would need to disclose that on the post.

Another example is Reese Witherspoon who has started a company, Draper James, and on Instagram frequently shares images of herself wearing the clothing. None of these indicate that she has a financial involvement in the company.

Best FDA Letter Ever

In August 2015, Kim Kardashian and Duchesnay admitted that she was paid for her endorsement of morning sickness medication, Diclegis, via Instagram. The post initially received attention for resulting in a letter from the Food and Drug Administration regarding her lack of fair balance in the post. Kardashian also did not note that there was a paid relationship.

Will the FTC Respond?

These are only the most popular examples, but a few months ago Jezebel identified many more personalities who are ignoring the FTC guidelines. Beyonce, Kardashian and Witherspoon are extremely sophisticated marketers with carefully curated social feeds, so it surprises me that they haven’t been made aware of the potential issues with the FTC. Perhaps it will take the FTC going after a high profile personality to make others compliant.

Less than a decade ago, we experienced an explosion of new social media channels. This led to the birth of the social media listening industry. In the early days, if we could just capture what people were saying, we were thrilled. We stared at pie charts and looked at graphs and learned the basics of what our customers were really doing online.

Fast forward to 2016 and the world has changed. Social listening doesn’t cut it. Audience intelligence is replacing it.

We all know in real life that listening is valuable only if you are listening to the right people. We don’t treat all opinions as equal or react to every comment unless we want to drive ourselves insane. Instead, we are moving toward an ability to identify the exact audience that matters so that we can listen to what our audience cares about and we can know what content it prefers, which channels are its favorites, what time of day its members go online, what their patterns of behavior are and what they mean to our brand.

In 2016, the trend away from social listening and toward audience intelligence will be driven by five changes in how we view listening and its next-generation cousin, intelligence. They are listed here:

  • The Importance of Non-Verbal Listening: When we are in a sales situation, we know that as much as two-thirds of what we learn is non-verbal. The non-verbal equivalent online includes search queries, downloads, retweets and likes, shares and other non-verbal communications that are critical to understanding reality. We must account for behavior in new ways in our listening approach.
  • The Ability to Build the Right Profiles: There are many false positives in listening, ranging from spam to simply tracking the wrong information. Analysts today must be craftspeople who can build profiles that focus exactly on what you want to learn about. These profiles are highly precise and contain a range of keywords and phrases.
  • Measure the Conversation, Not the Instance: When consumers react online they often share and talk across multiple channels over a period of time. Our ability to identify their patterns helps us build the right trail of measurement. Think of a conversation starting in Twitter, going to Instagram and ending with comments on Facebook. If you measure Twitter only, or look solely at Instagram, you have just a partial picture. Consumers follow patterns, so you can see their trails over time. As we do offline, we tend to walk the same path over and over again.
  • Compare and Contrast Audiences: If you are tracking each audience, you can see how it differs on the same topic from another group. What are cardiologists saying vs. general practitioners? What are enterprise IT leaders in cybersecurity saying vs. your employees vs. CIOs? If you compare and contrast audiences, your ability to see new insights greatly increases.
  • Understand Your Data Sources: We need to ensure that the data we are measuring really represents where your audience is. Know what channels you are receiving data from so you can see if it matches up with the location of your customers. And be careful to determine if you are paying twice or thrice for the same data vs. different providers. It’s time for us to engage in de-duplication of data so we don’t overpay for the same data. After all, we need more resources to improve our audience intelligence.

This article originally appeared in the January 11, 2016 issue of PR News.

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel titled, Millennials Unplugged: What Are We Learning from Millennials? Moderated by my colleague, Bob Pearson, the panel was part of an event put on by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and hosted at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Joining Bob on the panel were Natalie Malaszenko, SVP of Marketing at Overstock.com and Founder/Provocateur of MoStrategy, LLC, Maureen Craig.

Bob-Natalie-Mo panel

As the title suggests, the focus of the panel was what we (brands/marketers/communicators) can learn from Millennials. It’s clearly an important topic due to the fact that in the U.S., Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as the largest demographic in the country. This not only changes the way marketers need to market, but also how employers think about the needs of their employees. I spent a little time covering this very topic in one my recent Marketingland articles discussing the real meaning of what it means to be “mobile first.

During the panel, Bob asked (and occasionally answered) questions of Natalie and Maureen. All three did a great job keeping their answers informative and pithy. A few of the key soundbites I took away were:

  • Millennials want to engage with brands differently. They are willing to do it emotionally.
  • It’s important as a brand to have heart, soul, purpose when story telling with Millennials. The key is to the find balance of analytics/insights with gut instincts.
  • Bob mentioned a recent article where Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest announced the visual search tool for the social image site making it a “search engine for experiences.”
  • Metrics are important to understand how customers are consuming content along their journey – but how does this impact how we measure?
  • With so much data, importance on using gut to guide is stronger than ever. Also critical to look at how the consumer’s (and in particular, Millennials) media is shaped.
  • At the end of the panel Q&A, Bob referenced the impetus of the panel which is a blog series he created with his 19 year old daughter, Brittany. The format for Millennials Unplugged is that they pick a topic and then both answer from their own points of view, often with other Millennial voices pulled in.

For the second half of the panel, Bob fielded audience questions through a tool called Pigeonhole. Not only was it a cool technology but made it easy to field questions from the audience in an orderly and weighted fashion (the audience gets to vote on the relevance of each question).

Here were a few that piqued my interest:

How has cutting the cord impacted TV advertising dollars when engaging Millennials?

  • Mo – Millennials get a kick out of Boomers and GenXers anachronistic use of tv (similar to land line phone).
  • Natalie – key word is storytelling. Ads need to be created with storytelling in mind and that ads could/should have life beyond tv.

Beyond the headlines of 3-second attention spans and lack of brand loyalty, what are some positive opportunities for marketers in learning from Millennials’ habits and expectations?

  • Natalie – key is to enable Millennials’ behavior vs. trying to change it.
  • Mo – takes offense at the idea of a three second attention span (not accurate). She thinks of Millennials as t-shaped – tremendous depth and huge reach (via new social/digital platforms). Can apply what they’ve learned from Call of Duty to shopping for groceries. What can we do to congratulate that and take advantage of that?

How do you value sharing vs. reach & frequency?

  • Natalie – don’t diminish importance of reach and frequency but sharing is the ultimate metric. It is a sign of passion.
  • Mo – her company is constantly looking at what it takes to encourage a climate of sharing.

The potential to analyse Facebook topic data has led to several key innovations in the ability to adopt a targeted marketing strategy, according to Kester Ford, Director of Product Marketing at Datasift.

kester ford presoSince 2007 Datasift has been working with social data and social analytics, analysing how audiences are interacting with brands online.  With the recent release of Facebook topic data this research has been transformed in scale and size.  Facebook has over one billion daily active users and, crucially, is a closed network and therefore users tend to be more authentic and less self-promotional, than in open social networks such as Twitter.

However, topic data from Facebook is anonymised and aggregated.   Data never leaves Facebook servers and it is impossible to reverse engineer the content to link it back to individual user accounts.  But, Kester tells us, this does not make it less valuable to digital marketers.  This new data set allows us to understand audiences to answer questions such as:

  • Why are my competitors more popular with Scottish women?
  • What are men under 25 talking about in Argentina?
  • What type of content does my target market share?
  • How do people talk with their friends about saving money?

This targeted understanding of different demographic groups gives us the ability, for example, to build new creative content to address the answers to these questions.  In a world where we constantly hear about the proliferation of data and the importance of ‘big data’, this new data source could be a game changer in our ability to analyse and understand audiences in a way that was previously impossible.  With the ever increasing importance of digital privacy and data protection, Facebook topic data gives marketers access to these scalable insights whilst still respecting the privacy of the individual.

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.

Social Scoop Option 1And just like that summer is coming to an end, but one thing we know for sure, is social media never stops. Most of the top dogs had something to say in August, particularly Facebook and Twitter rolling out many new features in beta-test that we should see available to all users later in the year. Here’s what happened in August.

 

Facebook: Auto-Play Ads Expand Beyond the News Feed

What It Is

Facebook’s video ads will now start appearing beyond the News Feed. In April last year, Facebook launched Audience Network, an ad platform to rival Google’s AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub. It has evolved since then to include auto-play video ads, which has now been made available to 3rd party publishers that plug into its mobile ad network.

What It Means For Brands

With this opportunity, brands will be able to have lucrative ads that are available to their users across different channels (at a price). In addition, they won’t have to worry about users feeling overwhelmed by noise because it reduces the need for multiple types of ads on the platform itself.

Facebook: “Donate Now” Button Available to Nonprofits

What It Is

Facebook added a “Donate Now” Button to their call-to-action options for nonprofits to include on their company Facebook Pages and link ads.

How It Works

All nonprofits have the opportunity to select the “Donate Now” option on their Facebook call-to-action list, making it easier for donators and supports to give back directly from Facebook. When users click on the button, a disclosure note will appear that confirms that this donation is not endorsed by or affiliated with Facebook. Should the user choose to continue, they will be directed to a donation page from the 3rd party site.

What It Means For Brands

This is wonderful opportunity for nonprofits who are active on Facebook to further engage with supporters. The new call-to-action button also gives donors direct access to a donation page, which is a step forward for nonprofits to gain more charitable contributions.

Facebook: GIFs Are Coming to Ads and Page Posts (Maybe)

What It Is

Facebook started supporting GIF media in user posts back in May, but has recently starting rolling out GIF ads to brands/businesses.

How It Works

GIFs are being tested for posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. They will not be supported as Facebook ads in the sidebar, but only as part of a brand’s News Feed post. Facebook is evaluating the user experience with GIFs before rolling it out to all Pages – which it may decide to pull them altogether and not move forward with this new roll out.

What It Means For Brands

Any new capability to advertise, is a new opportunity for brands. GIFs are very loud and in your face, so you have to be careful about the message you’re sharing so that it’s not too “annoying” to users. If Facebook receives negative feedback about GIFs in News Feeds (hindering the user experience), they will be removed. But they are exciting and open a new door to creative adverting, something that all brands should be interested in exploring.

Facebook: ‘LIVE’ is a Step Up in Influencer Activation 

What is It

Facebook recently revealed ‘Live’ for Facebook Mentions, a new way for verified public figures to share live video with their fans directly from their smart phone. With this new feature, public figures can take their fans/the Facebook audience behind the scenes, host live video chats, share announcements, and then some.

How It Works

It’s fairly simple to start a live broadcast from Facebook Mentions

  • Click on the Post and then select the ‘Live’ video button.
  • Add a description to your broadcast (this is very important so that fans understand what you’re sharing), then select ‘Go Live.’
  • Once the broadcast is up, you will be able to see how many viewers are tuning in and you can comment directly on the stream to questions as they surface. Should you want to hide the comments, you can do so.
  • To end your broadcast, select the ‘Stop’ button
  • Once your video has ended, it is automatically saved to your Facebook Page for fans to view later. If you choose to remove the ‘Live’ video content, that is an option as well.

What It Means For Brands

While brands themselves are not public figures, it’s a great opportunity for those that you endorse and partner with to optimize on ‘behind the scenes’ moments at your branded event, visits to the office, photo shoots, during campaign awareness initiatives, etc. Brands should keep ‘Live’ in the back of their social strategies when partnering with public figures to help encourage engagement and promote every branded opportunity. Note – this feature is only available to verified public figures.

Facebook: “M” Will Be Your New BFF

What It Is

Facebook introduced “M” to select users in San Francisco, a virtual assistant that will roll out as a feature within the Messenger app. “M” can make you a dinner reservation, purchase a gift for your best friend, and book your last minute weekend getaways. In addition to using artificial intelligence, “M” is backed by actual people, dubbed “M” Trainers.

How It Works

Facebook users can tap the small button at the bottom of the Messenger app to send a message to “M.” The software will decode the message and ask follow-up questions to the user in the message thread, and send updates to the user as the task is completed. Users will not know if a human or software has helped them. “M” has no gender. Right now “M” doesn’t pull in social data from Facebook to help complete the tasks, but Facebook reps say this could change.

What it Means For Brands

It’s no surprise that Facebook plans to capitalize on this one day soon, but how can it help businesses? If Facebook sees that one business/brand is getting a bunch of inbound requests, it can partner with the business to provide a more direct service over the Messenger app. Businesses could have a presence inside the app directly, boosting the transparency in customer service with consumers. Might not be a bad idea to start thinking about revamping your customer service strategy on social media…

Instagram: Ads API Has Been Activated

What It Is

Instagram officially switch on its advertising API and now it’s ready for business. In most recent times, brands were required to contact an Instagram marketing sales representative directly in order to advertise on Instagram – which was also very rare to get approved and only those willing to spend an arm & a leg were investing.

How It Works

Starting soon, (all) marketers will be able to build Instagram ads and promote their posts on the platform. Instagram campaigns will launch alongside other digital ads and brands will be able to cross-promote, plan and monitor their Instagram activity (including photos that aren’t promoted through paid) using third-party platforms.

What it Means For Brands

Brands can now use the same advanced campaign tools that they are using to monitor engagement on Facebook, which is a huge move in the right direction for Instagram. Brands will be able to deliver relevance-driven ad campaigns that increase ROI by reaching/targeting the right audiences.

Instagram: Thinking Outside the Square

What It Is

Instagram announced that in addition to square posts, users can also share photos and videos in portrait and landscape orientations. Square format has always made it a bit tricky for users to confine their photo into the strict space orientation, prying users to download other apps that “insta-size” photos and videos, to then upload to Instagram. They’ve now moved away from this, because while square made them a bit of who they are, they know that the visual story and freedom to express creativity should come first.

How It Works

When selecting a photo or video, users can tap the format icon to adjust the orientation of the frame to portrait or landscape. Once the photo is live, the full sized version of the image will appear in the feed as planned.

What it Means For Brands

With this new visual freedom, all users (brands included) can pay less attention to the size and cropping of their images, and focus more on the actual story that is to be told through imagery. With video too being more widescreen for viewers, this opens up a new door to cinematography on the platform. Additionally, brands will have more freedom with the orientation of their Instagram ads, which will enable them to capture more of the overall message they aim to convey.

Instagram: What’s This Partnership With Hootsuite?

What It Is

Instagram is quite against letting users schedule posts ahead of time, but Hootsuite rolled out a feature that almost lets users schedule content to be posted to the social platform.

How It Works

Instagram doesn’t allow for uploading via an API, which is why it’s very challenging for users to schedule content. What Hootsuite has done is allow users to schedule content for Instagram, however it is not published from Hootsuite – it is essentially a reminder to post content at a set time and Hootsuite will send a push notification to the user at the time they have set to schedule the content and they will be directed to he Instagram app (the image carries over too) to publish the post manually.

What it Means For Brands

The feature is great for brands because it allows marketing teams to effectively share the same Instagram account (with multiple team members running the channel), as well as managing Instagram campaigns in a more organized manner within a scheduling tool. With everything under one dashboard, you can better schedule, view and engage on social media.

Snapchat: Data-Saving Mode For Those on a Budget + Placeable Emoji!

What It Is

Snapchat’s newest feature allows users to save on data usage by turning on a “Travel Mode” setting. When enabled, all Snapchats, Stories and Discoveries will only be available if users tap them, rather than automatically loading them when users open the app. This is just another way for the platform to connect and appeal to their younger audience who may be on data plans. Additionally, Snapchat also introduced placeable emoji, making it easier to users to add emoji to their snap stories

How It Works

  • Travel Mode
  • Users can go to their ‘Settings’ tab and select ‘Manage’
  • Under ‘Travel Mode’, users can choose to turn on/off the feature to allow Snaps to automatically load
  • Placeable Emoji
  • Users can tap the post-it note button towards the top right of the snap screen, which will bring up all of the available emoji to be placed directly onto the snap. Emoji can be resized and dragged to all directions of the screen and there is no limit to the number of emoji that you use.

What it Means For Brands

The happier people are with Snapchat, the more time they will spend on the platform and the more interested they will be in the content that is being shared. If your brand has a Snapchat or plans to add a Snapchat account to your social strategy in the near future, consider this as another opportunity to engage with fans who are using the platform. Keeping users happy will entice them to spend more time exploring Stories and hopefully following brands on the platform, which is good for you. Additionally, with the new emoji, brands can be more conversational and creative with content sharing on the platform.

Twitter: Keeping Users Engaged With Web Notifications For DM

What It Is

Twitter introduced a web notification feature, alerting users via a pop up window in the upper right hand corner of the desktop screen, that they’ve received a Direct Message (DM) on Twitter.

How It Works

Upon clicking on the pop-up notification, the DM will open and let users read and reply directly, even when they’re in a different screen on their web browser. The company also noted that they’re making a change to their mobile app for Android, making it easier to DM people.

What it Means For Brands

This update is Twitter’s attempt at keeping users engaged on Twitter. Brands will benefit from this notification window because it is a way of staying on top of DM messages from followers, so as not to miss a private message when community managers are not directly monitoring Twitter at that time.

Twitter: Platform Offers Promoted Tweets, Videos & More, Beyond Twitter

What It Is

Twitter is offering marketers the opportunity to advertise their promoted tweets and videos with ads that appear in other apps. This update comes in conjunction with Twitter’s purchase of MoPub last year, which allowed marketers to buy mobile app-install and app-engagement ads on Twitter.

How It Works

Twitter marketers can use MoPub’s network of thousands of apps to extend their promoted tweets and videos beyond Twitter during campaigns, using new ad formats as well which include video, native ads and banners. Marketers can participate in real-time bidding to buy promoted tweet and video ad inventory through MoPub. This new landscape allows for marketers to reach their audience outside of Twitter, but directs them back to their stream for additional messaging, content, and amplification.

What It Means For Users

When a marketer promotes a tweet or video on an app in MoPub’s network, the user will be able to see the promoted tweet and video and then can retweet that promoted tweet by clicking on the tweet within the app, which takes the user back to Twitter to actually share the update from their account.

What it Means For Brands

Currently, when marketers run an ad on Twitter, they reach an audience of 300 million monthly active users – with the new offering, they can potentially reach over 700 million users by running the ad through the Audience Platform. Twitter has made this process very easy for marketers – all a brand needs to do is provide one image or video and then Twitter will handle the placement of the ads on the back-end. While this is just a beta-test right now, the ability to reach users outside of Twitter allows brands to market more strategically and reach their audience in many more avenues. This will also force brands to prioritize a strong mobile approach to paid advertising to reap these benefits. As the testing continues, additional apps will join and open up the market visibility to reach the right users in corresponding apps.

Twitter: Testing, Testing…Funky New Photo & Video Editing Tools

What It Is

Twitter is testing funky new photo and video editing tools in an effort to give users more creativity with their media sharing. A few celebrities (who were present at MTV’s VMA Awards) appear to have access to the unreleased editing feature from Twitter.

How It Works

Photo editing is limited to filters and cropping (for all users) right now, but it looks like stickers, doodles, text and more could be coming soon. It isn’t clear if this new Twitter update will be a standalone app or something that users will see rolling out to their Twitter accounts.

What it Means For Brands

We already know that photo and video updates are rolling out left and right, and we also know that people love filters and stickers. This move from Twitter is a great way to keep people engaged on the platform, instead of opening their photo sharing apps for this type of content sharing. This would be a solid opportunity for brands to engage with their audiences in more unique ways via multimedia sharing, especially customized content for different (targeted) audiences during campaigns or events. More to come on this!

YouTube: Google Wants More Control Over Ads

What It Is

Google wants more control over how marketers buy ads on YouTube, revealing in early August that they will remove ad buying through DoubleClick Ad Exchange (or AdX) before the end of the year.

How It Works

Advertisers, who previously purchased YouTube ads through the software’s programmatic network, will now need to go through Google’s AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager. DoubleClick AD exchange goes through Google’s third-party ad tech firms, and Google decided they want more control over how advertisers buy YouTube ads.

What it Means For Brands

Google’s intention of gaining a tighter grip on how marketers advertise on YouTube will allow the social mogul to invest more in creating the most effective advertising and buying experiences possible. The problem here for marketers is that ad-tech vendors depend on YouTube’s technology to power ad campaigns for brands and agencies and in return of this, brands get better metric data on how well their ads are performing on Google. Now the third-party tech vendors will have to look elsewhere to find video inventory.

For more information, please view a detailed #Social Scoop here.

 

Determining the impact of a fresh manuscript delivered to inquisitive audiences is an elusive pursuit, and difficult to quantify. Traditional methods consider the impact factor of the journal in which the work is published, or the number of times the findings are cited by others. The former serves to imply value by association, while the latter proceeds slowly, over time.

albert photoNew metrics are emerging, however, as rapid and telling indicators of impact at the level of the manuscript itself. Modern criteria such as downloads and shares are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s digital environment.

Thus far, the generally accepted moniker for these emerging measures is Altmetrics; often misinterpreted as “alternative metrics,” the term is actually speaking to “article-level metrics” that explore the activity surrounding a single manuscript, in lots of different places, in real time.

Publishers today can track how often an article is downloaded, or bookmarked as particularly worthy. Discussions of a manuscript on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Wikipedia can be similarly tracked. Indices that might have held only passing interest a few years ago are now finding increasing significance. For example, high “tweetations” for a manuscript may serve to increase an author’s “twimpact factor.”1

Suffice it to say that specific nomenclature within the field of altmetrics is a work in progress. Nevertheless, a study of more than 1.3 million scientific papers found that 22% of all publications received at least one tweet. A fairly intuitive secondary finding was that shorter titles, and shorter documents in general, attained a higher degree of visibility.2

It also makes sense that this study found social science and biomedical papers were far more likely to be shared than papers concerning, say, mathematics. This finding, however, also leads to an important limitation; altmetrics cannot be used as a comparison of impact across different fields of science.2,3 A mediocre paper in a popular field may receive far more attention than a first-rate paper in some more arcane branch of study.

Because of findings like this, it is important to note that altmetrics serve as an emerging standard of audience engagement, and do not necessarily reflect the true impact, or even the quality, of the science itself. In some instances, quite the opposite. Seminal literature from bygone days will receive scant recognition in this arena, while exceptionally high marks will be awarded to the bustling conversations (and schadenfreude) that inevitably swirl around a retracted manuscript.

Many are also quick to point out that the system can be gamed with relative ease. Artificially inflated likes and tweets are readily available to those who might wish to accumulate them by any means possible.

The growth of altmetrics seems likely, the applications less clear. Funding agencies are starting to take note, however, and some academians are starting to incorporate altmetrics scores into their performance reviews.3 As noted by altmetrics.org, scholars are moving their work onto the web in growing numbers, essentially self-publishing by way of scholarly blogs or other forms of social sharing. This conjures up a strange new world in which peer-review is essentially crowdsourced, and impact may be assessed in real time by hundreds or even thousands of conversations that can all be tracked.4

1682120-slide-macleod

For a company like W2O, steeped in communications and hard data, there is certainly value in capturing and quantifying the buzz around a given piece of media beyond the halls of the research community. Determining what that buzz actually means, and how to best extract its value, are the next steps as we follow the evolution of this burgeoning measure of impact.

References:
1. Eysenbach G. J Med Internet Res. 2011;13:e123.
2. Haustein S, et al. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0120495.
3. Kwok R. Nature. 2013;500:491-3.
4. Priem J, et al. (2010) Altmetrics: A manifesto. http://altmetrics.org/manifesto.

Lifecycle of a Technological Revolution_today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

This post originally appeared on The ReciprocityTheory blog.

TREND-AFRICABefore moving to London, I spent four years living in Nairobi, Kenya. A few years back, while getting ready for an anniversary weekend, I distinctly remember receiving a phone call from my boyfriend’s brother (who was in London) asking whether we were safe. Immediately confused, we started scanning the internet to see what happened. Minutes later twitter posts appeared about a terrorist attack at Westgate Mall. The date was September 21, 2013. At the time, it did not surprise me that Twitter had the news before anyone else. But looking back, I see it as a clear signal of the rising influence of social media throughout Africa, a trend that only continues to grow.

It would be a stretch to say Twitter is used by every Kenyan, or that Meru grandparents are posting regular pictures of their kids on Facebook. But since the first tweet was sent from Kenya in 2007 to receiving its own local feed in 2013, over 5 million tweets have been sent from the country. Twitter is the third largest social media platform in Kenya with Facebook dominating and Linkedin a far second. Over 4 million users in Kenya, (around 10% of the population), make Kenyan social media a force to be reckoned with. These online users represent urban populations with growing pocket books, and a thirst for information from around the Globe. Of course, Kenya is one of fifty four African nations with online chatter, and while social media has not penetrated all nations on the continent, the numbers continue to rise. So what does this emerging social media trend in Africa imply for the future of online marketing and communication? Here are a few interesting insights I picked up from the Kenyan market.

  1. Mobile is king. We hear this everywhere, but it is even more relevant in nations like Kenya where development has skipped the personal computer all together. I took a ten hour bus and forty five minute motorbike to visit my friend’s family in rural Kenya near Lake Victoria. While they had no electricity on their compounds, guess what, they had cell phones! The police station nearby had a shop where people could pay 20p to charge their phones. Ninety-nine percent of internet usage in Kenya comes from mobile devices. Personal Computers are too expensive, and electricity is too scarce. As CNN says, not only is Africa a mobile first continent, but it is a mobile only continent. This means mobile marketing is the way forward, and in markets like Kenya, think Facebook and Twitter communication. Not everyone has a smart phone, and Kenyans often access twitter and Facebook via SMS. Safaricom (the largest mobile provider in Kenya) answers immense amounts of customer service via Twitter. In these formats, online chat is available via SMS, a necessity in a country where not everyone can afford smart phones. Realizing this, Google recently started offering g-chat via SMS as well. Do not forget mobile money. Through Mpesa (a mobile product that allows people to pay for things via their mobile phone), Kenya has the largest usage of mobile money in the world. Since credit cards are limited to the extremely wealthy, Mpesa has allowed people around the country to gain access to financial institutions without formal bank accounts. Find a way to connect your products to mobile money, and you can sell to the masses.
  2. Market research is possible, and it must be taken with a grain of salt. With only around 10% of the population in Kenya, there are a lot of people missing from the online conversation. But those who are present are more likely to be your customers – the urban middle class youth. It is also important to note that these youth are incredibly influential on the wider population. But remember there is a huge gap with reference to the elderly, and the very poor, so if you are looking for information on them, social media may not be the best method.
  3. Cultural sensitivity is paramount. CNN found this out the hard way after talking about Obama’s visit to a ‘hotbed of terror’ ~ Nairobi. Nairobians responded with over 75,000 tweets in one day to the hashtag #SomeonetellCNN forcing a senior executive of CNN to fly to Nairobi and apologize. They still are in jeopardy of losing a marketing deal from the Kenya Tourism Board. This means whether you are selling products in Africa or not, be careful about stereotyping a continent, or making assumptions in your communications. People are not forgiving to being stereotyped, and are loyal to brands that show respect. Earn yourself the next generation of brand loyalists, and be smart about how you talk about different nations, there are several twitter wars going on between Uganda and Kenya, and people do not like being lumped in a bunch!

While I was there for the awful Westgate Attack, rather than deeming Nairobi as a hotbed of terror, I saw a nation willing to fight back and use Twitter to do it.

If you want to learn more about how social media is changing the world, come to the #PreCommerce summit in London and hear insights from world-class industry experts and leaders, in spaces from health and technology to government intelligence. The Summit will be a great platform to geek out about how social media helps us understand the world!

Did Google Alphabet remember to google the letter “G” before they said, “G is for Google”?  We here at W2O Group are all about data mining and sometimes all that requires is the simplest of questions as well as the simplest of search tools.

W2O_GoogleAlphabet_R01V2[1][2].jpg

Scott Kramer & Franco Galimberti

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.

Image for Lionel's Summit Post

 

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

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

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

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

A new source of information

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

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

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

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

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

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

What do you do when you’re not working? No matter what the generation, many will consider this same question, especially when the weekends come around. However, when asked who they will be with, Millennials have their own perspective on how peer-to-peer relationships should occur in the workplace.

Older generations are known for separating their work lives from their personal lives, but this is not the case for Millennials. Known as the digital natives, this demographic connects with peers on Facebook and interacts with colleagues outside of normal business hours. An infographic from PGI details how 71 percent of Millennials want their co-workers to be like a second family. To accommodate the growing number of Millennial employees who build their workplace relationships out of the office, organizations and businesses are rethinking their cultural efforts to better attract and retain top talent.

After all, a positive corporate culture is more important to Millennials than money. According to a survey from CNN, a full 60 percent of 2015 grads said they would rather work for a company that has a “positive social atmosphere” even if it means lower pay. A LinkedIn survey also reiterates the Millennials’ need for community building in the workplace. Of all respondents, 50 percent said workplace friendships motivate them, and 39 percent said these friendships make them more productive.

Still, actively creating camaraderie at work is easier said than done. In fact, this is where a majority of cultural efforts tend to fail—when the employer tries to play too large of a role in forcing friendships. In the Miami Herald, workplace consultant, Cam Marston, stated the most successful companies encourage young workers to take charge of creating the camaraderie they want at work themselves.

“Young people are saying we want a happy hour or we want a cooking class and we would like to organize it,” Marston said. “Employers are then facilitating those activities by giving Millennials space on the bulletin board or Intranet and not frowning when requests are made.”

office

W2O Group and its culture committee have a similar perspective on this aspect of employee engagement. According to Lauren Barbiero, media manager at W2O, the culture committee allows anyone in the office to participate or take the lead on things that are meaningful to them. She emphasized that this results in more active involvement because everyone genuinely wants to be involved.

In the New York office, a dodgeball team has epitomized how community building can be embraced by coworkers. Since its inaugural season in the spring of 2013, it has become a staple cultural activity for W2O. Meriel McCaffery, senior manager on the Corporate & Strategy team, said, “It definitely has helped me get to know folks across the company that I never usually work with.”

At W2O, there’s even a committee dedicated to—you guessed it—Millennials. A typical agenda for the Committee of Millennials includes socializing time, professional development activities and discussions with senior leadership. Led by Millennials for Millennials, it’s an opportunity for this group to discuss things that are meaningful to them.

Organizations that want to foster a community-building atmosphere for its Millennial employees need to stop overthinking it. The best relationships are formed when authority figures sit back and let the employees take the lead. Friendship is not something that can be forced. But, when Millennials have an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, their peer relationships will inevitably follow.

We look at the market through the lens of the 1:9:90 audience framework. We didn’t create this model, but we have perfected it over the last seven years in activating influencer programs and the model has proven to be true across all verticals and industries.

facebook live

The “1%” drive the market based on their actions – what they write, what they tweet about or what they say at events and interviews. They are influencers and are seen as subject matter experts for a specific topic. Our algorithms show that there are never more than 50 people who drive the majority of share of conversation for a brand or a topic in a given country or language.

The “9%” are highly active online. They recommend, share, sign up, download, comment and take other actions that let their community of peers know what they think about certain topics. In many respects, this group serves as the “trust filter” for a the rest of the market.

The “90%” are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. This group is satisfied with using search for discovering new products or consuming the content of their peers. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story based on their purchase behavior.

Facebook ‘Live’ is one way to activate the 1%. The social network announced a new feature that enables public figures (athletes, celebrities, influencers, etc.) with verified Pages to share real-time video with their Facebook audience. This new tool allows for authentic conversation from influencer to the online community, in which public figures can share ‘behind the scenes’ moments, photo shoots, at-home activities, etc. to help raise awareness of an experience and/or a branded opportunity. The 9% of active users who see these videos, can like, comment and share the material and set the trust for the 90%. Brands should consider ‘Live’ when partnering with influencers to help reach new audiences, encourage community engagement and promote branded opportunities.

You can learn more about Facebook ‘Live’ here or the below Slideshare.

And just like that, the social updates you knew from June are tweaked, more defined and bound to change again before next month. It’s a beautiful world of social that we live in, but you’ve got to keep up with the trends. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have made some big changes to their platforms in July and we’re sharing the Social Scoop here!

Facebook: ‘See first’ -Good for Users, Bad for Marketers?

What It Is

Last month, Facebook announced it was launching a new feature called ‘See First’ in which users can select who/what they want to see at the top of their News Feed. The concern for brands, is will your Page be on users’ ‘See First’ list

How It Works

  • ‘See First’ allows users to prioritize up to 30 Pages, friends, and/or groups they want to see first in their News Feed
  • Everything is set up through the user’s News Feed preferences, where they can:
    • ‘prioritize who to see first’
    • ‘unfollow people to hide their posts‘
    • ‘reconnect with people you unfollowed’
    • ‘discover new pages’

What It Means For Brands

While this new feature is great news for consumers, it’s not so great for brands. Quality of content is always key, but brands will have to revisit their social strategies and step up their game in order to avoid falling by the wayside. Getting content in front of your followers will be the challenge, but once your brand has made it into your followers ‘See First’ list, you’ll know that your content is impacting the right people. While brands cannot tell their followers to list their Pages as ‘See First,’ there is a twist here. This new update brings changes to Facebook’s algorithm, in which Facebook’s “Discover New Pages” will choose similar pages as suggestions for users based on the Pages they have liked. Brand recommendations are based on user experience now, so targeting the “Discover New Pages” section should be part of your strategy.

Facebook: The Floating Video Has Arrived

What It Is

Video, on video, on video. Facebook understands the power of the video and they’re letting everyone know. This month Facebook is testing out a new feature that allows users to detach a video from their News Feed and move it to a different location within the browser to view while scrolling through other content or to save for later. This is only available on desktop as the feature rolls out to some users.

How It Works

  • The option will be built into the video player so that when users click the icon, the video will detach from it’s original source, and allow users to drag the video to a different/preferred section of the website browser
    • Users select the small box, within the larger box on the video screen in the lower right corner to detach the video and enable it’s relocation

What It Means For Brands

Users can watch more videos at one time, as they can continue to scroll through their News Feed, and pull out the videos they want to reserve for later viewing. This feature encourages users to view longer and remain on Facebook “video” for all of their video viewing needs, so the more video content you produce and share on Facebook, the great chance you have that consumers are watching all of your content.

Facebook: Taking Another Step Forward In E-Commerce

What It Is

Facebook is building shops within Facebook Pages that allow brands to showcase their products directly on their Page. This is another part of Facebook’s push into e-commerce, which also includes money transferring through Facebook Messenger and the buy-button, introduced earlier this year to increase the online experience, from discovery to purchasing on one platform.

How It Works

Within the “Shop” section of the Facebook Pages, businesses now have the opportunity to showcase their products directly on the Page. Users can make their purchases without leaving the site.

What It Means For Brands

This new feature gives brands a secondary platform to connect with its primary audience. Users spend roughly 80% of their time on mobile apps, smartphones, tablets, or computers and Facebook has created a way for brands to utilize this by putting buying options on the Pages platforms.

Snapchat: Talk About Updates!

What It Is

Snapchat is making a LOT of moves (at once)! The days of ‘hold-to-view’ is a thing of the past, users can now “Add Nearby” friends (in bulk) to their snap contacts when in close proximity of others, and a new two-factor security authentication feature makes it harder to hack another user’s account.

How It Works

  • Viewing: Users can simply tap on a snap they want to view without holding down on the picture for the entire viewing time. Users can also tap through snaps or swipe down to close the story.
  • “Add Nearby:” Under ‘Add Friends’ there is now a tab called ‘Add Nearby,’ which allows users to add contacts (either one at a time or in bulk) who are in close proximity to that user.
  • Security: The newest security feature can be enabled from the ‘Login Verification’ menu in the app’s main settings.

What It Means For Brands

This new update makes it easier for users to view content on Snapchat. Again, content is key – advertisers don’t want to worry about their ads being skipped over because users can tap through or swipe down to exit their content without actually viewing it. The ‘Add Nearby’ is a nice opportunity for brands that are using Snapchat to connect with users who are in close proximity to their businesses, and in return, users can discover brands that are on the platform that they may not have realized have a Snapchat presence. Additionally, the new security authentication should be built into a brands social strategy and required for all community managers and admins to keep accounts safe and hack-free.

Snapchat: ‘Stories’ Has A New Look

What It Is

Snapchat has redesigned their Stories section, prioritizing content from media partners over pictures from a friends.

How It Works

  • When users open Snapchat, the updated Stories ‘tab’ features (in this order) personal stories, ‘Discover,” ‘Live,’ recent updates and all stories
  • Users will still see friend content, but they will have to scroll down to find it
  • “Discover’ content still exists on its own tab

What It Means For Brands

Now media content very hard to ignore. Snapchat is continuing to find ways to monetize its app and this is their way of boosting engagement without disrupting the activity from it’s core user base. Surfacing content in more areas of the app will help with ad revenue (more viewing opportunity) as well as boost user interest in branded content.

Twitter: Are Your Tweets Being Indexed On Google?

What It Is

In May, Google and Twitter announced their partnership, enabling tweets to show up in Google search results on mobile devices. Since then:

  • Stone Temple conducted a study that looked at several factors which may be influential in Google’s tweet selection
  • The data showed that tweets from profiles with higher follower counts were appearing more often in Google search results
  • Tweets with higher social authority based on Followerwonk’s metrics for social authority also showed up more often

What It Means For Brands

Of course it wasn’t going to be as simple as just tweeting and having your content show up on the top of Google search results! Google has made it clear that a brand’s Twitter presence and authority will provide major value to SEO. It also means that handles with a lower following and less authority may still be missing out on having their tweets indexed.

Twitter: Say Hello to Auto-Expanded Link Previews

What It Is

Twitter continues to strive for visual excellence, rolling out auto-expanded link previews (to a small amount of users) that will show content previews automatically for links provided in tweets.

How It Works

  • Expanded previews are a new Twitter card opportunity that the platform has rolled out to advertisers (Summary card with a large image)
  • Advertisers must enable the card in order for users to see the auto-expanded links

What It Means For Brands

Brands have a higher chance of engagement when posts include a large image. Tweets with auto-extended links will allow brands to tweet out richer content that’s more visually appealing to followers, but keep in mind, it’s going to cost you!

Twitter: What’s With All the White Space?

What It Is

Twitter has removed wallpapers from users’ home and notification timelines – everything is white. Users can only see background images while logged-in and on public pages (i.e., Tweet pages, list pages, and collection pages).

What It Means For Brands

By removing the ability to have user’s change their background, Twitter has taken away the uniqueness of each user. They have essentially unbranded everyone – so once again, your content is key. There is nothing else that drives people to your Twitter Page at this point, other then your content and brand interest.

YouTube: Mobile Videos Are Lookin’ Good

What It Is

YouTube is focused on ‘mobile, mobile, mobile’ and their latest update reflects just that. They have redesigned their mobile app to optimize a vertical video mode to display better content. In addition, they have streamlined their app to include tabs that focus on a user’s homepage, videos users subscribe to, and account pages.

What It Means For Brands

More than half of YouTube’s views come from mobile devices. With this new update, brands have the opportunity to engage more users with mobile friendly versions of their videos, keeping users on their channels longer from their mobile phones, and giving them the freedom to continue to explore brand channels directly from their mobile device. YouTube (and the rest of the video sharing world) has discovered that vertical videos better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and now brands have the ability to utilize this to optimize video viewing. But just keep in mind – you’ll have to size your videos to ensure they match the new mobile sharing specs.

Special contributions to Chantelle Patel, W2O Shared Media Intern