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the long, unspoken conversation

I recently read this piece from @ScottMonty and thought it well to share here since this one really stuck out in my mind as being an exceptional piece.

Scott Monty’s Weekly Recap from his blog: The Social Media Marketing Blog

To recap his points, they fell under:

Industry News | Content | The Platforms | Measurement/Big Data | Legal Regulatory | Bookmarks/Read-Watch-Listen Later | Commentary

I think all of his posts are well written and provide cutting-edge insight into the industry in which I work. I’ve been reading them for years. Scott was one of my first employers in social business. What I find most interesting is how he ends his piece: “It seems odd that we’re having this conversation in 2013.”

Interpreting his comment not in the sense of we are advancing faster than anticipated, did Scott just get fiesty? Is that some tone of annoyance being detected? Are we all starting to let what seems a mindlessly simple task of how to have a conversation with customers and measure the relevance start to publicly irritate us? Whatever it is, I like it. I like seeing an author exhibit some color of emotion or straight forward statement. And I especially enjoy it when it comes from someone who is a stoic and sturdy force in what can be a highly emotional industry.

Now, keep in mind it’s been an intense week and a long week. I had to roll my jaw off the ground when I read most of those Instagram comments. I suppose it was only a matter of time until group think takes over and nasty comments get flung across the interwebs, and I speak of both fans and industry professionals. Seems no one held back this week. But, I digress. Scott’s latest piece reminded me of very critical thoughts. Things like how to conduct yourself and speak in the public eye 24-7, challenge the industry to adapt through forward thinking, how to believe in what you do and love doing it. How to recognize the smallest helpers up to the c-suite.

What I want to highlight is that resiliency and elasticity of thought make great leaders legends. These are points I must commit my young, 28 year-old brain to remember. Think smart first, clever always, and remember to Lean In when I, even for a moment, think I would be happy being anything less than Managing Director.

I never told Scott this, but the work he and Craig and Karen did in the early stages for the CRM team changed my life forever. I worked 16 hour days (I was only paid for 8) quietly devouring everything. Multi-tasking between reading social-team specific emails and listening to a podcast, skipping lunches to tweet, read market-watch and tech news updates. I did so while maintaining the highest level of work and demanding more of myself everyday…I suppose, in part, because I felt I had so much catching up to do. Memorize names, faces, companies, stock prices that ultimately tracked back to marketing spend and digital developments. All of it. I was obsessed with getting a job with more responsibility because I was finally passionate about something other than zoology and marine biology. Scott inadvertently helped me figure out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I idolized Scott because he helped mold that portion of my life in the way my two mentors before him had helped mold me.

To see him now end his blog pieces with personality, I can get behind that. He’s teaching me something again, and in this instance, with some color. Rough week or not, close friend or colleague from afar, it’s refreshing (and a testament to his swift, literary prowess) to see a benign statement also be a call to action and a call for a reality check. Or so I’ve interpreted.

I could get more personal about my journey and how it was crafted in those early Ford stages. But it’s far more fitting to leave it at…

While I’ve had only a handful of direct conversations with Scott, his indirect 2-way conversations have had a life-changing impact. His recent post reminded me of this and I wanted to share. What a great moment it would be if someone came to me 20 years from now and told me I had that impact on them when they were 25. I hope someday I do.

 

#SocialTV is a Myth

First, it’s not social TV, it’s interactive TV. Meaning, it allows us to interact with the shows we’re watching in an experiential (and hopefully meaningful) way through social touchpoints.

If viewer attention and engagement can be increased through interactive TV, there are serious implications concerning the impact TV will have on current and future generations. This piece aims to discuss trends and insights into the interactive TV landscape now being drawn before us.

As the first buzz word was addressed in the opening, I’ll address the second now: second screen engagement. In the very near future there won’t be second screen engagement. Why? While some recent studies released favorable data on the improved attention and perception spans of those individuals bouncing through two screens they failed to factor in screen exhaustion. iPads are novel at the moment. In two years time they won’t be. So what does the landscape look like? Think adapted broadcast agencies, subsidiaries of primary satellite and digital media services integrating multiscreen functionalities into their 1 screen viewing platform.

Apple TV provides a great example. Apple TV allows the user to scroll through not only a variety of viewing options (Netflix, internet, iTunes, etc.), but the ability to get online and watch YouTube videos in your home is right where I need your mind to go. Example A: You turn on your TV because your show is about to start (for the sake of this story let’s say you aren’t DVR-ing it) and you hit the button on your remote that has a share feature, or perhaps it’s on the bottom of the screen. Something like “Hi Jim, would you like to share this?” You hit ‘Yes’ and then a different lower third prompt appears: ‘Share to: [all of the super icons are listed]’. You take your arrow to Viggle and an adapted Viggle screen now shares the lower third of your screen. You chose which user to sign in as and go through the usual list of sign-in prompts.

One screen. One remote. It’s at this time that companies like Trendrr.tv and the boys at MIT Labs start drooling. Data! Lots and lots of traceable data! For a fee, mind you. What? You thought this was going to be free? No my dear friend. The more synchronous our data points become the more expensive they will get.

Which leads me to the second trends topic: What are Trendrr.tv and Bluefin Labs currently doing that other big contenders aren’t? They provide all the social commentary occurring before, during, and after the TV show a network or production company wants to track. All the way down to exactly how that show ranks for the specified month, if so chosen.

Difficulties/challenges with these programs you ask? When trying to isolate comparisons of Real-time TV vs. recorded drama you’re going to encounter some obstacles. But, for now it looks like these two big hitters are bringing in the big guns. Both companies currently have folks from the Big N and Rentrak holding office space in their buildings. This is a great sign. They’re adapting and building out their suite of services. Nothing makes me happier than knowing they’re committed to improving their abilities. If you’re wondering what MarketWire and SalesForce think of these two, think: in their boots and shaking. This data will become some of the highest priced and most valuable in the near future.

Final futuring analysis: group behaviors and RAMP (Recognition Award & Motivation Programs). Consider how passionate gamers interact and fuse that with a rewards program. What if I were able to, after checking in on Viggle from my TV, to pull up a small screen of my friends’ face (so now my Apple TV has FaceTime) and I can find out what they’re excited to watch? Did they check-in and get more points than me? Perhaps I’m able to turn on a live, light-weight activity feed in the bottom of my screen that shows what my friends are also watching and points they are accruing for watching other TV shows? So now, there’s the element of group competition… and where there are groups of people there are brands, sponsors, and general ad schmearing.

Enter in the fast, catchy, and indiscriminate monetization of those features. 10 of your friends just let their network know they’re watching Game of Thrones through their Apple TV and have just all become eligible for winning an HBO-sponsored freebie? Here’s the catch, it’s not just 1 person earning a badge now; it’s a group of people being brought TOGETHER and getting something as a unit. Studies tell us that this, group rewards, are far more effective than singular rewards alone.

Currently, the Interactive TV landscape is in a frantic mad dash to capture the second screen viewing audience while it’s still boasting high engagement numbers. However, true to our insatiable need for the new, these numbers will plateau and it’s during this point that networks and broadcast companies will be queued and ready to step in with their far more interactive and integrated abilities.

In a world where seconds cost millions and minutes are an eternity, we are again at the mercy of time. How will you make the most of your hours of viewing the tube today?

Social CRM: Forgetting the Color of the Collar

As we move into 2012, it’s necessary to examine the shortcomings and challenges businesses faced when executing a social CRM (sCRM) program strategy. For social perfectionists, or those folks operating at the upper echelon of a socially proficient business ops campaigns, oftentimes the small details of the program design implementation are disregarded. Greater attention is inaccurately placed on the errors made by a select few highlighting their lack of social CRM acumen. The Twitter bloopers and Facebook mishaps reign in an unnatural delight, that while important to analyze, highlight a fruitless obsession with new media culpability and an idealized vision of proprietary ownership (no, Brian Solis and Chris Brogan do not own new media content because they were there first; they are beneficial minds that cleverly found a way to profit from intuitive entrepreneurial spirit of that space).

     While highlighting corporate mis-tweets provides a relevant learning curve to examine how businesses are trying to adopt sCRM in a new medium, it also showcases the social aristocracy whose daily verbiage and passionately sophisticated emotional repertoire have yet to fully trickle into mainstream social enterprise/sCRM engagement. No, (in the past) the major corporation who thought to put some poor girl behind the customer service Twitter page for said major corporation did not provide the same PR, legal, and creative writing tutorials it provided their spokespeople. Call centers are strict, legalese is complicated, add the two together and put them online; well, you’ve just created a labyrinth of interactive complications even the most skilled thinkers would struggle to navigate.
     At this point, there are no experts or gurus of sCRM (founders & creators, yes), only those pioneering a path of best fit grown out of good introductory timing and application. So while it appears we’ve entered a turning point in defining key note speakers and recommended readings, we’ve really only garnered a predominantly niche-specific group of over analytical social content debutantes. And perhaps we ought to foster that mentality and environment; however that such kaleidoscope of thinking is proving disastrous when fostered in the climate of social CRM review. Here’s why: right now, customer service engagement via social interaction channels, is in essence, a boutique service. It’s engineered to be as quickly gratifying as social engagement for personal use while also promoting a sense that the company is nimble by design and clean in operating functions (transparent). The underpinnings promote a space where responses must be creative, honest, agile, all while within the boundaries provided by the legal constructs of the company. And let’s be honest, how many colleagues or interviewees have you met in the last 30 days who seemed keenly attune to that communicative sense of urgency and importance? Faceless sCRM interactions cannot be handled in the traditional call center workspace. In 2012, we will see those teams of individuals diverge into a separate operating space reflective of the service they’re providing and promoting.  Boutique in nature, highly adaptable, and provided with almost limitless resources to proactively manage the unexpected. Interacting with fans and customers, and hopefully brand loyalists, is business as usual. It’s the hiring, assembling, operating, and building of a purely social team that is The End of Business as Usual. (embed link to Solis website).
     What does this all mean for businesses looking ahead to short term social media team growth as well as long term development, monitoring, and analyses of contracted listening & engagement platforms? Since some ambiguity rests heavily in WHAT should be measured, industry thought leaders and program managers grapple with the illustrious interplay between measuring and monitoring vs. execution. Startups battle with the HOW to integrate concurrent with the struggle longer standing companies have to establish metrics of success and growth. In a 4-part series, I’ll look at where examination and insightful critiques of existing initiatives fell short, what industry leaders should be looking at to build a stronger repertoire of meaningful analyses within their own teams, how program change procedures are needed for even the most basic social CRM teams, and best practice touch points to work from moving into 2012 that apply to both small and hugely intricate programs.
 
So, what’s new for 2012? Keep an eye on how sCRM engagement is analyzed, strategists in the social space are going to become acutely familiar with in-house processes and contractual relationship frameworks. The next 6 months will also prove volatile for marketing ad-space on both brand pages and general social accounts. Formatting, structure, and ‘verified’ account options will give companies a run for their money, or in this case social currency. Oh and let’s not forget: the need for the term ‘social’ will most likely be axed as the fusing of traditional 2-dimensional websites and social/interactive web pages gains a dominant foothold in the interwebbed world. 

Pinterest Perks

I had a very interesting conversation about Pinterest this evening and seeing as it’s at the forefront, well was pre- $1bn deal with Facebook & Instagram, of most marketing professionals’ minds I figure why not delve into some notable basics. If you’re in marketing, slightly lost (read: loose generalization), and would like some tips to help your company make the most of this quirky photo pinning site, jump on board the pinterest express.

Why Pinterest is Nifty:

1. Virtual cork board = cool.  2. Capture pictures to a clean format and cross post them to multiple platforms. Ease of use and cool factor, hell yes.  3. Ability to showcase your own work should you not be concerned with losing ownership. Yep, basic but, the cork board formatting keeps it pretty rad.  4. The bookmarklet feature = crazy amount of cool points earned. It’s like playing the game Operation only with digital photos. Click, extract, zap to board!

Don’t have time to send an email to your parents once your vacation photos are finally all uploaded to your computer? That’s okay. Just pin other peoples’ images of places that could be where you were, name a few boards, and you’re off running. See? Endless opportunities, even for the faint of social media heart.

Why Pinterest can be Painful:

It’s another social site. The legal jargon is awkward, confusing (when is not?), and has apparently garnered enough fervent annoyance to form a class action lawsuit. We can ‘like’ a photo, sure. But, re-pin it on a board in a site owned by you? Well, I’ll be a humdinger, you best keep your grimy mitts outta that bag of widgets. Wait, what if I I screenshot a copyrighted image from Flickr, save it, upload it to Facebook, and showcase it w/o cred to the photog? Oh snap, yep, that will surely temple you into “don’t do it” territory.

Annoyed by this? Confused? Perhaps. See that’s why I like to keep my photos where I can see them. On 35mm negatives. Except when I’m taking an iPhone pic of myself making a kissy face in my bathroom mirror, definitely have to post as many of those as possible. For the majority of us, however; we take digital photos and we want to share them (if we aren’t trying to sell ’em) and that makes these sites rather sticky. So just be careful. Think twice, and if your gut says “uh uh” -don’t pin it.

See Mom? That’s why Pinterest sucks. It confuses many of us, it alarms most brands, and it is now seriously popular.

Here’s how you can make Pinterest not turn into a Pin-test of pushing the copyright boundaries:

1. Re-pin the crap that’s already floating around the ether (that doesn’t have a blatant watermark or scream “someone else’s livelihood”), to start. There’s enough there to keep you busy for a century so don’t throw that “but it’s about being unique” garbage at me.

2. Glance over the legal jabber. Have a friend do it, or if you’re wealthy, make use of the retainer the family has with in-house legal counsel. Understand what it’s about. Hell, just read the about section. You don’t buy a nail gun and not read the instructions. If it can hurt you, read the damn owner’s manual.

3. Title your boards with meaningful phrases. You know, like Blanchard’s: Zombie Apocalypse weaponry, or my Mom’s: All the Boats I’ve Rocked. This is marketing 101 folks.

4. If you’re with a company, reiterate: with a company, and your actionable items now include adding Pinterest photos, shares, and tags, know WHY the organization is there to start. You don’t go to a destination and then go “hmph, what do I do here?”. No. You go someplace with a goal in mind. Stop opening useless accounts just because other people are. Streamline your efforts and do shit that’s meaningful to your organization. DO SHIT THAT IS MEANINGFUL TO YOUR ORGANIZATION IN THE SOCIAL SPACE. Sorry, I’m not yelling, I rarely do. That sentence is highly necessary. If your time isn’t spent in meaningful ways than call me. I see the guys on the corner of my street with cardboard signs that would be happy to trade places with you for a day. Hell, an hour.

This is my last point. It matters. Acknowledge it and then do something: Pictures speak to every human being on the face of this human, earthen, blue green mass of revolving energy. Basic level: pictures carry weight of unspoken words. At the complex level: pictures represent the thoughts, beliefs, and ideals of people or groups of people. Pin with pride, not the wave of the popular tide. Especially if you’re with a branded company.

Speak Stupid to Me

The thoughts and opinions seen here are mine and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of my employer, Ford Motor Company.

This is an Op Ed in response to “The Future of Media is Not About the Future of Media At All” by: Steve Parker in: Business2Community.com. Full link: http://www.business2community.com/trends-news/the-future-of-media-is-not-about-the-future-of-media-at-all-069308. Filed under categories OpBlogs.

I don’t know, Steve. Perhaps we could show Verizon a little solidarity when it comes to asking for “Thanks”. Since this is the time of year, or at least the pre-mature beginnings, during which we’re supposed to give thanks, I think it’s necessary to examine your statement in light of not only the holidays but the elemental levels of marketing and social media contained within. I’m going to take apart some concepts and services you touched on and re-assemble them in hopes that someone, somewhere will see the inherent flaw in your statement. (Besides the fact that I think it’s a #firstworldproblem.)

Communicating with your customers is a broad statement, so thanks for making a sweeping generalization and then reigning in social media as a prime example. For starters, and for my own clarification, you want to see/have Verizon maintain an online presence that has a division of it entirely devoted to customer appreciation. Be it, seasonal postcards with a 10% discount and a QR code on it, or a Verizon representative on Facebook telling their vocal customers “Thanks for your support, Bob!”, you flat out are ticked off because you pay a service to a company and they don’t acknowledge your… good customer status? For the sake of this blog, let’s assume I’m spot on. Let’s also acknowledge that while the pure engagement and curation affect of social media is in itself supposed to strengthen brand loyalty and image, saying thank you to every paying customer is not what is only meant by engagement. Saying Thanks is nice, but I would show far more brand patronage if they’re there for me in a time of need than a peaceful time of continuous bill paying.

OK, so we’re good on why you’re peeved, poor customer communication on social media sites. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Or, as I’m going to refer to it: why your point is flawed. Ready? Here we go: Not Every Company Will Find Consumer Engagement Tactics to be Necessary on Their Social Media Sites. Oh, and let’s not forget: Do you have any knowledge of the underpinnings of why they have chosen to refrain from that arena?

I’m glad you’re upset, Steve. Your comments start to chip away at what I’m coining as “The Sterility of Marketing in Two Dimensional Platforms as an Operative in the Over Expenditure of Resources”. Just as we have enough brand garbage, we too, will soon have enough social media garbage. Frankly, I’m glad they aren’t thanking you. If it’s thanks you want, find a different provider, if it’s a point you’re trying to make about the Future of Media, guess what- I think it’s a weak point. Here’s why.

1. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in groups. They’ll complain the loudest, receive faster response times than the smaller guys waiting patiently in line, and generally white wash the ROI data to reflect greater concern-resolution tactics than overall levying for positive engagement rhetoric.

2. Do we know the CBA for what Verizon might spend to assemble, train, and manage a team able to interact with the myriad of customers interacting on their B2C pages? I would love to be able to hop onto AT&T’s Facebook page (or if I was in Atlanta, @ComcastCares account) and tell them I’m a loyal supporter and longtime customer in need of receiving some acknowledgement. However, that’s not the brightest mentality to have. You chose to stick with Verizon, you choose to pay 4K per year for their services; I’m sure if the severity of an experience warranted it and you commented about it on a SM site, they would respond. But in dealing with a business, remember this is a business transaction. It’s not personal, it’s business. They are blatantly telling you their sites are basically comprised of free advertising. And guess what, you went there looking to feel appreciated. And maybe you were a bit let-down. Okay, a lot let-down. #FirstWorldProblem.

So while thousands of people are in the same boat as you, there simply may not be the resources to provide a custom Thank You or have a dedicated team of people interacting and providing humanistic touch for a massive telecommunications provider. The angry mobs will get help first and then on down the line. Let’s not water down social media with every Moe, Larry, and Curly to have a 1:1 conversation about the past six years they’ve grown with the company. You know it. They know it. I’m going to assume if a phone call is made to the Customer Support hotline, someone will acknowledge it. I, as I’m sure you do, also hope that one day a phone company changes its operating MO and functions more like the Virgin Atlantic of the wireless world. Unfortunately, I don’t think we should hold our breath.

3. The Anomalies: There are a lot of smart people that use social media sites to communicate with their favorite brands, brands they feel should improve, or wireless providers they feel should reciprocate the love. If those SM savvy folks all started reiterating the same unified message, I’m sure Verizon would listen. But they aren’t. Everyone has something different to say, 85 languages to say it in, and 365 days to say it. Now you want additional listening tools so they’ll gratify the thankful users? Are we really that needy? That in need of personal gratification? Social media will and is becoming so watered down by the mire of wants, needs, and demands, that soon the concept of transparency will cease to exist. The hopes and dreams of having it exist, squashed. Let’s identify the truly pertinent actions needed and tell those brands to back off and be thankful for their free advertising on sites originally designed to bring you, the user, your microphone.

You know what I’m thankful for? The ability for my communications providers to recognize that they are now sharing a medium once intended solely for me and I provide them with my much appreciated, occasional, feedback. I’ll keep my iPhone thanks reserved to the good graces of the late Steve Jobs and keep AT&T in my thoughts while I bask in the happiness of logging into Facebook on my phone, anywhere in the world, anytime of day, and not asking: Why don’t they thank me? But instead asking, how much longer can they afford not to?

[Social media is about being more personal, more real. Vibrant and alive. Expressing yourself in an unthinkable number of ways but yet, still retaining your identity. Communication is about connecting. Reaching one person or an audience, and giving a clear, concise message. So now, if you’re a person, brand, or company, and you want to communicate via social media, you’re supposed to find an image and convey a message lucidly, even though the magnitude of that task in social media still can’t be fully conceived and the abstractness has never before been so complex. There’s a lot of messages out in that cyber ether and I for one, love that anyone can speak stupid to me. Not just face to face, eye to eye, but from anywhere in the world on any topic they so choose. This will always be incredible. And I am forever grateful for the insight stupid words so frequently afford.]