Sounds are part of life, but when we learned how to bottle it up and share it back in 1877, well, that was the real birth of the power of sound. Thank you Thomas Edison for inventing the phonograph.

Sharing sound stimulates our thinking and triggers our past experiences.  It’s amazing to see how our brains and sound relate.  They seem to remember a lot more than we give them credit for.  And they are often storing away experiences and repetitive sounds that we barely realize, until that same auditory signal triggers us in the future.

We know this is true just by thinking of how excited we can get as our favorite band starts to play songs we have heard hundreds of times.  Less obvious, however, is how auditory “reminders” can trigger us during the course of a normal day.

Why is this important to all of us?

Well, in communications and marketing, we often focus on the written word and the visual image.  Makes sense.  We spend far less time on the auditory experience, even though it can transcend language, cultural barriers and other common obstacles we all face in reaching our customer.  Why wouldn’t we use sound in our normal outreach to social channels for example?  What is that distinguishing characteristic we want to trigger association with us each and every time?

It can become our auditory brand signature.

The auditory cortex part of our brain has the ability to precisely process and distinguish the wide range of sounds we experience.  During this process, we hear certain sounds that cause us to feel a certain way emotionally. We can also distinguish different sounds by the memories they bring us.

If we are building brand value over time, we can then ask “what is the auditory experience that our customers have when they think of us?” “Are we using sound to drive behavior or to establish a signature that differentiates us in the minds of the customer, perhaps without us even realizing it is happening?

There is plenty of evidence that this is worth our time.  Yes, having a great brand involves a cool name, logo and packaging.  All are important visual appeals. However, it’s time to think of how to use all five senses online in a more powerful way. Haptic touch, by the way, is the latest innovation to make us rethink the power of the five senses.

The evidence is there that when done well, the use of sound is powerful.  Whether we look at Nike’s 1988 Revolution ad or the jingles of Intel or McDonald’s or how GM associated with a great song from The Who, you can see the power of sound to get our attention, remind us of the power of a brand we love or help us pay attention to a new product in a way that is more entertaining.

Sound often adds that entertainment value.  It makes things a bit more fun.  And it ultimately becomes a signature that can build brand power.  The next generation of musicians is figuring this out big-time, particularly rappers.  Some rappers are using a certain word, phrase, or another name for themselves that they say in the beginning of their songs. This allows the listener to subconsciously identify which artist is about to rap if they are singing as a group. Some of the most iconic examples include Lil Wayne’s sound of a lighter, DJ Khaled’s phrase “we the best music” or the famous “major key”, and Wiz Khalifa’s funny laugh.

Which brings us back to the main point of today’s musing.  Sound matters.  It is underrepresented in how we market and communicate today, yet we know its power. We all experience it every day.   Do we know what is in the auditory inventory of our customers and why?  Better yet, do we understand how we can align with our customers and improve their joy and happiness with our brand via our auditory cues and sound?

It’s time to discover the full power of sound in our online world.  And by the way, for the skeptics who think that smell and taste will never be online, just give it time.  Entrepreneurs are breaking down the barriers one sense at a time.

Common sense we guess?


Brittany and Bob

This blog post was co-authored by Bob Pearson, Vice Chair and Chief Innovation Officer of W2O.

Curious to learn more about W2O? Check out our About page.

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Last week UK academics and representatives from the NHS and a couple of young people gathered at the House of Commons to take part in a panel run by GlobalNet21 on how we should approach meeting the healthcare needs of Generation Z. More meetup than formal consultation, I quite welcomed the unexpectedly random circumstances that gave the evening a more informal feel then you would expect: the Sri Lankan concurrent event which meant we spent ages in a very busy security queue outside, the change of room, the constant division bells for MP participation and the lack of attendance of perhaps the star of the show, the MP Lisa Cameron (SNP), herself.

None of that mattered much in the end because I was able to catch enough of the opener, the setting-the-scene Q&A between Dr. Sarah Lewis, Research Associate on the Digital Health Generation project, and two young people, Jack and Alex, and heard what they had to say about how Generation Z finds and uses healthcare information. The most important point they highlighted was the difficulty in finding information that they can trust. It was clear they feel they are navigating through all sorts of unfiltered information and it isn’t easy to find credible experiences as sites/apps aren’t advertised adequately. They noted the danger of winding up in bubbles of misinformation but seemed aware of this and clearly had started to craft strategies to mitigate its risk. To form fairly confident decisions, they reported having to constantly check with other sources in order to root out healthcare’s equivalent of fake news. In particular, they called out finding the experiences of others on YouTube as a key place to find information in a way that is not only trustworthy but engaging.

This was perhaps the most important point for me in the session and Hazel Jones, Director of Apps, Wearables and Uptake, NHS Digital, picked up on it and said that she agreed they needed to do more to reach young people through vloggers and were testing concepts using ambassadors. For me, this was the gold nugget I would take away from the event. In my own work researching perceptions around the patient journey, from symptoms, through diagnosis and then onto experiences on treatment I am often staggered by the hugely personal stories shared online by patients themselves and the way online relationships make all the difference to the quality of their lives. As an example, survivors in breast cancer tell others not to Google, not because they don’t want them to find information for themselves, but because oncology data moves so fast, what they are likely to find is already out-of-date and can even cause panic. Here, more than ever, this role of peer-advisor approach is critical. It is on the level of life and death itself, it’s that important.

Unfortunately, the subsequent conversation was directed mostly at healthcare apps. This was a shame as I didn’t see much evidence that Jack and Alex found them particularly valuable. The room was full of people who wanted to mention the buzzwords of big data and IoT and so we got carried off on a discussion on what sounded like what young people clearly want is to be able to track their data, huge amounts of it, and probably all the time. Dr. Emma Rich, Reader/Associate Professor in the Department for Health at the University of Bath tried to reel this in by saying this probably isn’t the future we should be imagining. There are mental health issues that can arise with an overzealous tracking of personal minutiae that we are best to avoid.

Emerging technologies clearly have a key role to play in this but we just need to find better ways to help people find each other to share experiences, and perhaps this is especially true for Generation Z. In this event we only briefly touched on some of what I think are the most important issues. Continuity of care was noted by Professor Andy Miah, PhD, Chair in Science Communications & Future Media, University of Salford and this is of critical importance in accessing services when you live a mobile life, for example, say at university for half the year. You could add digital literacy to that list as well as the emerging consent literacy which we all could use help with.

From my perspective, certainly in our own work at W2O with patients and clinicians, the gaps we see most are not in the technology or the capturing of the data. Where most work needs to be done is around what do the new signals we see in healthcare data actually mean? A cardiologist told me recently that he only wanted to know about a new diagnostic biomarker if it leads to a clinical decision. Whilst it might be interesting from a scientific perspective, it ultimately was just not very useful. Without a sense of what fundamental healthcare behaviours we need to encourage and without the medical evidence to really understand what data points support these over time, we won’t be able to make all this fascinating new data ‘work’ for any of us.

W2O presents Firing-Up Emerging Leaders (FUEL) Forum— an event by and for millennials. After successful events in NYC and LA, we’re excited to bring FUEL to Austin! The focus of the evening will be on how individuals and companies foster the entrepreneurial spirit by highlighting what matters the most to millennials.

The event will feature a stellar lineup of speakers from incredible companies that are fortunate enough to call Austin home including: Facebook, Whole FoodsWP Engine, Baylor Scott & White, MI7, HELM BootsNewsCredZen Monkey, May Designs and A Taste of Koko.

Attendees will come away with:

  • First-hand stories from peers who have used their diverse backgrounds, experiences and knowledge to disrupt the status quo
  • Tips for taking charge of their career path, including the importance of reaching outside of their comfort zone to develop effective leadership skills
  • Confidence in the ability to make a positive impact within an organization, while engaging with a diverse workforce
  • A broadened network of ambitious peers who represent the next generation of leaders focused on fostering and building inclusive perspectives

Sounds pretty great, right? If you’re interested in attending RSVP, we’d love to see you there!

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In a world where the internet is no longer optional, having a social media presence has become a requirement for individual users and companies alike. Technology and thorough research have given us the ability to target our content to precisely the right audience. The only remaining question is: what content should we be putting in front of these semi-captive social users to inspire engagement?

As Millennials have entered the workforce in increasing numbers, it may be possible to leverage their native knowledge of social media to create content that inspires not only a chuckle, but the virtual nod of assent that is a like, share, retweet or comment.

One factor that Millennials report as a deciding factor for engagement levels is whether the content fits into their online persona. Any online action is public, and thus reflects upon the user’s personal image. The increasingly common, carefully cultivated social media life means that for something to be worthy of sharing, it must fit into the user’s personal brand.

A recent ad for Vitamin Water featuring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul struggling through a workout was repeatedly mentioned as one that Millennials were more than happy to share, comment on or tag friends in. Lovers of the show, fans of Paul’s, or really anyone who has ever not truly been 100% enthusiastic about their time on the treadmill (aka everyone) could identify with this ad, and the 15 second bite-sized Facebook clip was perfectly share-ready.

Another ad that inspired engagement among Millennials was the 2017 Heineken ad entitled ‘Worlds Apart.’ Several pairs of strangers from opposite sides of the political aisle each build a bar together while getting to know each other, and are then shown a clip of their partner sharing their social and political opinions, taped prior to their shared experience. When given the option of leaving or talking it out over a beer, each chose to remain and engage in discussion. Regardless of where you may fall politically, this ad inspires engagement. After all, who wouldn’t want to be known for espousing a love of peace-keeping and beer?

What these two seemingly dissimilar ads have in common is the ability to incorporate peoples’ existing interests, like sharing a beer and television, and common enemies such as working out and political divisiveness, so that content is seamlessly integrated into the user’s existing online presence. While the respective products are not necessarily the immediate focus of either ad, both brands received major props for their enlightened involvement that garnered far more attention than placing the product front and center ever could.

Another facet to gaining engagement centers on which channel is utilized. Millennials overwhelmingly admit that they exhibit what are basically split personalities, not just between their social media and their life in the “real” world, but between different social media channels as well. Essentially, a person may have an Instagram personality that is slightly more wild than their semi-reserved Facebook persona, while their LinkedIn personality is so bland it can’t even sit with them.

As a result, the same content that gets unprecedented engagement on Twitter, where Millennials report feeling less inhibited in their social actions, may report next to no engagement in front of the same audience on Facebook, where family, friends and potential employers promote a greater level of self-censorship.

For this reason, content that is bolder, riskier, and potentially less PC (a risk companies should maybe not always be willing to take) may perform better on Twitter, such as Wendy’s replying with extreme sass to customer requests, while Facebook may be the place for the safer content that can be more appropriately shared.

Branding has become so entrenched in everyday life that its power cannot be overstated from a personal, professional or corporate standpoint. Everything we do online is now available for our entire network to see. While we’re all focused on our personal brands, when it comes to creating engaging social media, companies should think less about how the client can fit their corporate identity, and more about how they can be relevant to the client’s personal brand.

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After traveling nearly 2,000 kilometers across nine cities (Dresden, Nϋrnberg, Mϋnchen, Heidelberg, Neustadt an der Weinstraβe, Bacharach, Kӧln, Hamburg and Berlin), we took a break in the Marriott lounge tonight in Berlin to reflect on our key insights into Germany for this special edition of Millennials Unplugged. Here’s our “top zehn insights”.

Germany is younger than the United States….as a country – The United States was formed in 1776. Ninety-five years later, Germany was formed as a nation in 1871. Germany was part of many empires over the years from the Romans to the Protestants, but it takes a while to form a country.

Learning German also means understanding the “dialekten” (dialects) — Understanding language in its entirety is more than just understanding the dialect. It’s the individual words and culture behind the words. To understand a language, you have to understand the subcultures, dialects and know where they are from. In Germany, there are six main dialects:

  • Saxon (Sӓchsisch)
  • Low German (Plattdϋϋtsch)
  • High German – Standard German (Hoch Deutsch)
  • Bavarian (Bayerisch)
  • Berlin (Berlinerisch)
  • Austrian (Ӧsterreichisches)

In Dresden, where Brittany studied German for four weeks, the Sӓchsisch dialect is prominent, of which there are seven sub-dialects. In Sӓchsisch, instead of saying “ja” (yes in English), “nu” is said…and instead of “zwei” (two in English), “zwee” or “zwo” is said. There are also Dutch, Swiss and Austrian dialects of German. More than 40 in all. Wow.

The best branding example – an east German man wearing a derby – The Ampelmann is the symbol shown in stop lights in Berlin, Dresden and other cities in the eastern part of Germany. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Ampelmann icon was discovered and embraced as a part of east Germany that would endure. It is now so popular you can visit the Ampelmann store in Berlin. Yep, Bob has a t-shirt.

Whatsapp is what’s happening – Brittany studied for four weeks at the Goethe Institut with 106 students from 30+ countries. As Brittany was meeting her new friends at the Goethe Institut, the first question they all asked was, “Do you have Whatsapp?”. When Brittany reluctantly replied, “No…”, she then knew she had to download it to communicate with her new friends from Spain, Norway, Finland, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, and more. Moral of the story…when you have an international audience, the main way of communicating is Whatsapp. How many of you communicate on Whatsapp on a daily basis? It’s an important future business tool for all of us.

Facebook & Instagram are the international glue — another surprise to Brittany was when the course was coming to an end, and she and her friends wanted to stay connected, they preferred following each other on Instagram and Facebook rather than Snapchat and Facebook. A real surprise to an American Millennial who lives and breathes Snapchat. Bob is not surprised because he has snapped twice in his life.

Embracing the old and the new – Germany has a very intense history over the last 100 years, which we all know about. What is impressive is how they weave in a continual educational plan in each major city to remind all of us of the past, while embracing what’s next. Germans don’t hide from their history. They accept their failures, embrace their successes and look forward with optimism and resilience.  We can all learn from them in 2017 on how to approach the future and respect and learn from the past.

Emperors were the first sales directors – as we read about emperors based in Nϋrnberg and other locations in the 13th through 16th centuries, we learned that they had to travel all around, going from castle to castle, to maintain and control the land and its people.  It made both of us remember you don’t get much done sitting in your office. In today’s world, you have to get out and see the offices, the people, your clients and customers. If you wait for people to come to you, you lose power in today’s world.  Centuries ago, if you waited, you lost your castle, your empire and probably got killed as well.  Thankfully, the world isn’t as rough and tough as it used to be.

Bier, brot, brat and bretzels — No country has more pride in their beer than Germany. We would argue no country has more pride in their carbs than Germany. You might think they burn off a lot of calories gardening, but our experience shows that this is often “bier gartening”. But hey, there is football, a major passion and a great way to stay in shape. During our trip, we saw Bayern Mϋnchen play Liverpool in Mϋnchen and yes, during the game, we had bier, brats and bretzels. We’re hitting the treadmill when we get back.

Water matters – centuries ago, you protected your castle with a moat. Your city was centered on a river. Your access to the world was based on your proximity to a body of water. On our trip, we traveled on or near the Neckar, Elbe, Rhein, Moselle, Spree and Saar rivers and saw how important water was and is to Germany, both for business and pleasure.

Societal trust can be witnessed when it is real – Germany has excellent examples of how people decide to trust each other in society. For example, when you pump your gas, you pump first, then pay second. No one is watching you. They just trust that you will walk in, tell the attendant which pump you used and pay.

When you are on the Autobahn, and you hit the four gray lines, you can go as fast as you want in the left lane. The cars in front of you will move out of your way. You can trust that the other cars are going to get out of your way. This matters quite a bit when you are traveling over 100 miles per hour. In America, we can’t imagine either of these scenarios happening, yet they are possible.

We hope you also enjoy Germany like we did this summer.

Enjoy, Brittany (millennial) and Bob (boomer)

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Fake news is not a new topic.  It’s been around since the beginning of time.   What is new are our media habits, which make us more susceptible to bias and fake content.

In today’s world, we have so many choices on where we consume our news that we do not have the controls we once had for journalism to thrive.  When Bob grew up, you listened to the networks, the local and national newspapers and they told you what was important.  Those articles were written by career journalists.  Now, as Brittany grows up, millennials get their “news” from a far wider variety of channels, often from secondary sources.

So we asked 22 millennials to give us perspective on what is really happening.   In addition to asking questions about fake news, we also provided 10 headlines for review just to show how hard it really is to decipher what is true or false.  We just wanted to get their perspective on what they are seeing and observing.

Here are our key insights:

Fake news is an everyday issue – the belief is that we are encountering fake news every day and it may be impacting how we think.  2/3 of our audience believe they see fake news every day and 1/3 are not sure.  All that really matters is our perception that it may be happening.

Facebook & Twitter are becoming “News Replacers” – Facebook and Twitter are the two go to’s for news for millennials.  Yes, they check in with mainstream news outlets, but social channels are filling the void and we have a tendency to believe what we read in the channels we visit most often.

Plausibility is a Problem – the definition of plausible is that it “describes that which has the appearance of truth, but might be deceptive”   What we’re hearing is that if you see enough of something, you become unsure – if you keep hearing about a topic, you wonder if it is fake?  Or is it being pushed by people with a heavy bias that is mostly truthful, but not 100%?  Or is it real?  For most topics, we don’t pay enough attention, yet we hear about the topic on a regular basis.  Frequency builds familiarity and with time, some ideas start to seem plausible.

We fill in our knowledge gaps ourselves – if we don’t know for sure, our biases and preconceived notions kick in to help us make our decisions.  We just aren’t often that aware of our own biases.

The lack of journalistic standards in social media is leading to increasing acceptance and/or ignorance of what real news is – if you don’t realize what the standards should be, like ensuring you have two sources that are fact-checked, you don’t realize what you are missing.  We need more education on what the journalistic gold standard means!

Bias can be confused with fake news — 59% say fake news shows an extreme bias on a topic.  This is not a definition of fake, of course.  But what it shows is that with journalists often not being the primary source for news, we are starting to trust and believe anybody who writes/posts online and we are seeing a rise in experts on social media who are highly biased in their views

We often just aren’t sure what we read – one of our headlines we asked about was “Florida Democrats Just Voted to Impose Sharia Law on Women”.  Most people said this didn’t happen, but not everyone was sure. The story is definitely false, but there were bloggers out there trying to say it did happen.  So depending on your informal news sources, you may believe what was clearly false, might be plausible.

Fake news triggers our biases faster – if we already believe a certain way, we are more likely to be accepting of fake news, even if we know this particular article may not be accurate.  Basically, our biases can grow via fake news, which is not a good thing for future rational discussion.  This happens more and more as we narrowcast how we learn, e.g. only going to certain channels to talk with the same group of people and accepting what they say as the truth.

One of our favorite fake news headlines — was “Florida man dies in meth-lab explosion after lighting farts on fire” – most of those we surveyed thought it was false but it could have happened.  We agree…it’s absurd, but it is also so odd you think “well, maybe?”..although it would never have happened to Walter White….Jesse possibly….

Our key insight applies to millennials, boomers and everyone in between.  We need to put more emphasis on journalistic standards for news in social channels and we need to educate our peers on what real news looks like.

Real news trumps fake news… long as we know what to look for.   It’s going to be up to all of us to do a better job on education and even embracing standards in the wild west of social media news.

 Enjoy, Brittany (millennial) and Bob (boomer)

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It’s that time of the year again in NYC – Social Media Week. All of the social gurus from the greater New York City area gather their teams and rush to Midtown West to attend the weeklong event. Those who don’t tweet, amp up their Twitter game, and those who call themselves video-experts, were just hit with VR and AI…so that was a curve ball! Oh, and Snap Inc. dropped their IPO smack in the middle of SMW, not to mention their number one competitor announced Instagram “Stories” ads for all brands on the same day. Needless to say, it was an eventful week!

Who’d We See?

Many great speakers took us through the week, including Megan Summers, Global Head of Production at @Facebook, Alastair Cotterill, Global Head of Creative and Brand Strategy at @Pinterest, and even David Harbour, Tony nominated actor from popular Netflix series “Stanger Things” took the stage. Brit Morin, entrepreneur who is the Founder and CEO of Brit+Co, discussed the power of video and Henry Goldman, Head of News Video at @Buzzfeed gave his input on viral content and what it means for the future of digital marketing.

What’d We Hear?

A ton of insightful one-liners, machine based communications is the natural progression, and everything under the sun on the immersion of video! Some things we knew…most things got us thinking. As social media professionals, our goal is to strategically serve media to the right audiences by leveraging advancements in technology to share content and build experiences.

We learned a bunch from attending social media week, but four key moments stole our attention:

  1. The rise of video, particularly viewership
  2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences
  3. Reaching millennials…because they too, are the future
  4. The new future of digital: machine driven communications

#1. The Not-So Shocking Rise of Video…

…proven by the surprising number of viewers. Last year, YouTube surpassed more than one billion hours of viewership. Not hard to believe when you consider the fact that videos are our main source of information as it allows us to connect with and experience the brand from a visual and interactive perspective. Whether it’s Snapchat Discover, Instagram Live or snackable GIFS, we watch everything from recipes (looking at you Buzzfeed “Tasty”), news, and even advertisements (Instagram “Stories,” anyone?) are all better served as video content.

But, not just any video content. High quality, appropriate to the platform, video content. Over the week, we learned from an array of experts that video content should:

  • Be social, personalized, on demand, and empathetic
  • Capture attention early
  • Be designed for sound off (but delight viewers with sound)
  • Be experimental – play more
  • Fit the platform

All in all, we know video works, we know people are watching, and we’re going to keep creating video because we’re only going to get more immersive from here.

#2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences

So what does this really mean? Back when newspapers and TVs were our only source of news, everyone took their time absorbing information. Now, our rushed and busy society has waved goodbye to the days of long-form information consumption. It’s social media that has provided a large driving force behind shorter, more easily consumed content (give me a 15 second video with 140 characters or less, or I don’t have time for that!).

Of course everything ladders back to video content these days because out of a video, we gain an experience, but we can’t forget about Facebook 360 (like being put in the center of the bustling NYSE during an IPO) or carousel ads (sliding through each course of a meal, thanks to our favorite restaurant). Learning how to make DIY party favors or watching a rally LIVE – experiences. Putting on big, funny-looking goggles and waving our hands back and forth because we’ve just been jet-setted to mars – an experience.

Content is the means of saying something better than we can actually say it.  It is through this content that we have to envision experiences we want the audience to take, and how they run with it, is on them. The beauty is that even if they don’t interpret the content the way we want, they’re still building an experience, and that’s how we know we’re doing it right.

#3. A different approach to reaching millennials

Alastair Cotterill from Pinterest made a bold statement during his session at SMW stating that, “One of the biggest hurdles that marketers face today is creating content that’s personalized and inspires people to act.” He approached this by asking agencies and advertisers to bring BIG, innovative ideas to the platform that do one simple thing: improve the lives of Pinterest users.

Pinterest’s largest demographic, millennials, or the selfish generation if you will, are constantly seeking content that helps “me, me, me.” Brands can add significant value (and find great success in advertising) by creating content that provides the user with an answer or solution that improves their quality of life.

  • How-to content
  • Recipes
  • Short teaching videos
  • Quick and easy resources of information

Social media is no longer a place to just “shove” information. We must provide the user with great value. Millennials are learning as we advance and children are training for jobs that don’t exist yet. The future is here. #bots #AI #VR

#4. What’s all this talk of bots?

We will admit, a huge eye opener was gaining exposure to bots, artificial intelligence and virtual reality this year at social media week. We know that this is where immersion experiences are heading, but to hear the number of brands that are already using these tools to influence their social strategy was really amazing.

We heard from @Viacom and how they partnered with Facebook Messenger to develop their own bot for the EMAs this year. We also learned from the @New York Times that through their VR app, anyone can be a journalist. Users are taken live to the stories of top news scenes and can fully emerge themselves into the 360 video experience.

A true kicker however, was the presentation hosted by @TheEconomist on bots. Machine learning is important to the way users think and process, but in social we have to figure out their place. The challenge, as mentioned by Alan Berkson, is with customer service and managing those expectations. If we give machines control, is it less personal?

Where do we net for now? Berkson says: “The future of bots is anticipation and analyzation.”

Again we find ourselves going back to this idea of shifting to a world of experiences and how the emergence of behavior influenced by the shift in technology is changing society as we know it. We can’t wait to see how this shapes up before next year’s Social Media Week.

In a Nutshell…

We came, we saw, we networked, we engaged, and most importantly, we were exposed to new and insightful approaches to social media. Mastering the art of human connectivity in this ever changing and digitally driven world is key for brands treading through a sea of social users. Reach your audience and see real results by tapping into smart, effective, and consumable content and marketing.

Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors and those involved in making Social Media Week 2017 a success! We’ll be back.

And in case you don’t have time to read our roundup in depth, but can spare a minute to see what our team thought of #SMWNYC in 140 characters or less…

@samhershman – “#Tech hasn’t changed human behavior as much as human behavior has embraced shifting in #tech.” We did this to ourselves, now we have to keep up.

@eileenobrien: “To build a fan base follow the 3 principles of devotion: be unique, build participation & build a service.”

@laurenmoore: “Agencies should help brands advertise in a way that helps consumers live their lives and improve their quality of life.” From @acotterill, Pinterest

@breannethomlison: “Brands have to know what they stand for in today’s world, they must speak up ASAP.”

@jessicavanner: “1 minute of video equates to 1.8 million words in our brain, this is 40k pages of text.” From @mklein_NYC, Global Marketing at Facebook

@christianapascale: “Engagements on Snapchat are totally different than traditional media & much more personal. No more clicks/time on page, it’s about screenshots.”

@alyssagrates: “Make yourself useful (on social media); it’s advice from your mother that was good advice then and is good advice now.”


This blog was co-authored by Lauren Moore. Lauren serves as a manager of Social Media and Search Marketing Strategies at W2O Group, helping clients across healthcare, pharma and tech implement and execute paid social media and search marketing campaigns.

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Last year, millennials were officially anointed the nation’s largest living generation, usurping Baby Boomers’ long-standing title. As more and more millennials reach positions of influence within the workforce, our generation is shaking up the status quo in innumerable ways—from championing for inclusivity and corporate social responsibility, to making jeans at work an acceptable norm.

We’ve also tangibly shifted the way marketers, reporters and businesses communicate and engage with us. As Bob Pearson explained in Storytizing, aligning the right message with the right audiences in the right time and place is more critical than ever. As the first generation of digital natives, millennials represent a particularly unique audience. We inspired organizations to adopt our preferred methods of communication—namely, social and digital media—in order to share their messages effectively

Inspired by this concept, and recognizing the impact that emerging leaders have had on the workplace, W2O Group is excited to host its first-ever Firing Up Emerging Leaders (FUEL) Forum this week in New York, a Social Media Week event. At FUEL Forum, we’ll bring together an ambitious group of young professionals to share advice and discuss the opportunities ahead of us. The event will be headlined by a stellar lineup of speakers across varied areas of expertise (see below), who have proven to be rising stars and trailblazers in their respective organizations

As a platform for millennials to connect and learn from each other, there’s so much potential for FUEL Forum to spark positive momentum for the next generation of innovators and C-Suite leaders. Stay tuned for highlights and insights from the event, and follow the conversation with the hashtag #SMWFUEL.

FUEL Forum Program & Speakers


This blog was co-authored by Jacquelyn Matter, an Account Associate at W2O’s Los Angeles office. Jacquelyn assists with public relations efforts for a multitude of healthcare clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device sectors. She also sits within the marketing and business development teams, where she helps with internal projects and events. Connect with her on LinkedIn or say hi to her on Twitter!

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Recently, Brittany and myself had the opportunity to address the PRSA Georgia Leader Board and the Young Professionals Special Interest Group in a dinner at South City Kitchen in Buckhead.  The subject was “Talkin Bout My Generation: Surprising Truths about Millennials”.

Brittany gave most of the insights in this presentation.  Here is a summary of what she said:

Documenting our daily lives – Although the popularity of Snapchat is constantly increasing, the question of “Why Snapchat over other social platforms?” remains. Through a millennial’s perspective, Brittany explained that Snapchat serves as the greatest hits of the day. It allows us to track everything we do throughout the day and see what our friends are doing throughout the day. From there, our favorite photos are saved and posted to other channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. For millennials, Snapchat is in the moment. Facebook is like a scrapbook. Brittany said millennials also use Snapchat as a quick and entertaining distraction, whether it be to post a story, read interactive articles from media outlets like CNN or ESPN, watch Snapchat live, or send a quick message to a friend. But why send messages on Snapchat when texting still seems quicker and easier? Simple. Snapchat allows for both verbal and nonverbal communication, making a text one step closer to meeting face-to-face.

The definition of a friend – Bob adheres to the notion that if we’ve met and had a conversation, we can be friends on Facebook. Brittany explained this is not the case for most millennials. The standards are the same, but how they approach it is different. Similar to how you talk to someone in person and find common interests, millennials do the same, but online. And they’re comfortable with the same result. For example, when Brittany decides to accept/decline a friend on Facebook, she will look at number of mutual friends, what their interests are, what school they go to, what they’re posting, and any other available information. In doing so, millennials have the same result as a face-to-face conversation. With so many friends, millennials have more reach and are at an advantage for larger networking.

Entertainment habits – At the end of the day when Bob wants to relax, he’ll get comfortable on the couch and watch a movie or TV show, whereas millennials watch content whenever and wherever they go. Brittany explained there’s two different things driving millennials in terms of content: mobile and the moment. Millennials are constantly on their phones and constantly have free moments. Brittany gave an example that if she were waiting at the gate for her flight, she might play angry birds, watch videos on Facebook, or watch a quick episode of Friends on Netflix. Basically if millennials have free time, they’re going to entertain themselves not wait until they get home to watch a movie. But when millennials do sit down to watch something, no matter what is on the big screen, something is competing against it for our attention on the small screen.

From “Call of Duty” to “Duty Calls” – Many of us grew up playing outside with tangible objects and couldn’t imagine growing up any other way. So Bob asked Brittany why do millennials play video games so much? Why not go outside more and shoot some baskets or throw a baseball? The answer is simple. In our world, machines are part of our life. Whether some form of robot or a machine asking us what to do, it’s not any different than how we’ve been playing video games forever. Growing up in a virtual world allows us to acquire certain skills from video games that we can apply later on. Some of Brittany’s friends love to fly drones and create videos for fun. They could soon be operating drones for a business and flying them over crops for fertilization.

Trusting Brands – Having been brought up in an era when big brands were icons, Bob still remembers the Coca-Cola ad, “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” Do millennials experience loyalty to brands? Do they trust brands? In order to please a millennial, advertisements must be real and relevant. Brittany said millennials really dislike when ads pop out at them. On the other hand, Brittany gave an example of an ad millennials do like. At the hotel that morning when Brittany was taking a Snapchat of her breakfast and swiped through the filters to find a Starbucks filter, it let her know Starbucks was one floor upstairs. Now that is relevant. With so many ads and such short attention spans, millennials are also more likely to pay attention to advertisements that pertain to them in the moment.

Entrepreneurship – Millennials were expected to start businesses at a faster rate than any previous generation…yet they haven’t. Brittany listed three reasons why.

  1. We’re smart enough to know we need experience
  2. We have more student loan debt than ever before
  3. No guarantee that when we graduate, we will have the right job…or a job

It’s not that millennials are any less entrepreneurial, but structural economic challenges are getting in the way. So, we have all this great talent inside companies today…. what if we unlocked it?  It’s a great opportunity for today’s leading brands.

Game churning is a warning to brands – When Bob was younger, if he bought a game, he would learn it, play it, and commit to it. Although with the variety of games, apps, and game consoles available today, it’s impossible to pick a game to play…so millennials usually hop on the bandwagon and play whatever their friends are playing. The actual brand name is much less important. Brittany said millennial’s loyalty is to the quality of the game, our friends, and a good experience with the game.

Giving back – As active participants in civic and philanthropic organizations, Bob claimed his generation sees much more “slacktivism” from millennials. The truth is, millennials care just as much, but are more likely to go online – not in person – to voice their support. Brittany explained millennials are actually learning about philanthropy from the time they first use a device. Maybe this will lead millennials to be more interested and involved later on in life when they actually do have the money and time to contribute.

Overall, I want to point out how wonderful it is that the PRSA Georgia Leadership team reaches out and helps to guide and nurture the careers of young professionals in Georgia.  This chapter is a national example of how to “do it right”.  Thank you to Alison Ilg, Elyse Hammett, Denise Grant and the rest of the leaders who are helping build the future leaders of communications.

Best, Bob

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