2015 and Beyond – The Future of Social Media

Social Media Week

Last week, I attended a Social Media Week NYC Presentation by Suzanne Fanning, President of WOMMA titled “2015 and Beyond – The Future of Social”

The Highlights:


Craft your social strategy by asking 3 questions:

  1. Who are your fans?
  2. Where are your fans?
  3. Why are they your fans?

Spend 1/5th of your total marketing budget on social engagement

When determining content, remember, there’s 3 kinds of videos that resonate:

  • Functional or informational (how to do something)
  • Emotional (sharing joy, empathy, etc.)
  • Social (whatever elevates your social status within your network)

Lastly – Suzanne’s Top 10 rules for marketers:

  1. Start with people and not the platform
  2. Provide an experience
  3. Be creative
  4. Find ways to love them
  5. Ask the right questions and listen
  6. Be visual
  7. Give them great content
  8. Have a sense of humor
  9. Make it easy to share
  10. Measure what matters
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Word of Mouth Marketing – It’s More Powerful than you think

ROI OF WOMLast week at Social Media Week NYC, I attended a WOMMA panel that explored the quantifiable benefit of Word-of-Mouth marketing titled, “The ROI of WOM: A First Look at “WOMMA’s Return on WOM” Brand Data Study”

Why Study WOM?

65% of marketers believe that WOM is the most effective form of marketing.

WOMMA estimates annual spend at 6 trillion dollars.  

That’s a ton of spend for a channel where most marketers are unsure of their return.

 Key stats:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 3.24.05 PM


  • WOM amplifies paid media by 15%
  • WOM drives 13% of sales on average
  • Offline WOM produces 2/3 of the impact, online 1/3
  • WOM has a more immediate effect than paid media
  • An offline WOM impression drives at least 5x more sales than a paid impression and as much as 200x for a higher-consideration category

For more details on the report or methodology – contact WOMMA at http://www.womma.org/ReturnOnWOM

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Evian aces their sports marketing challenge

wimbledon logo

Amidst all the World Cup frenzy this June and July, there was another global sporting event taking place across the pond.  Even though it gained less notice and prime time mentions this year, the activities at Wimbledon’s All-England Club were no less impressive.

Even though I was rooting heavily for team USA and classic underdog Costa Rica in the World Cup, I was also excited to flip the channel, catch some tennis matches and see Federer challenge Djokovic to 5 sets yesterday afternoon.  When I saw what one brand was doing, I thought it was so well played (!) that I wanted to share:

The brand is Evian – who ever since Smartwater signed Jennifer Aniston as spokesperson – has been trying to shed it’s too-French, too-snobby image.  How? By projecting youth while still remaining upscale with its Live Young / Life Young campaign (hence, the adults-as-babies recurring theme):


To exemplify their life young promise to the sporting crowd, Evian leveraged Maria Sharapova’s role as Evian ambassador and added hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks to the mix:

Seeding the campaign: The Kick-Off with Rizzle Kicks:

I give Evian credit for allowing the duo to make the above video their own while still fitting in the babies theme in a relevant, more realistic way.

To spread the message across social, Evian activated a contest with musical acapella group Vive Vocals whereby if you tweeted @evianwater with the hashtag #LetsPlay, they might sing your tweet live during the Championship week.

The Contest:


The On-going Editorial: 


Sophie Allard, Evian senior brand manager said: “This fun, creative campaign taps into the tennis fever that has gripped social media and should be a great source of engagement for our social followers around the world.”

I don’t disagree with Sophie’s point – soliciting UGC content, giving away physical + social currency prizes that are relevant to an event seems good enough…I just wonder if it would’ve been more compelling to have the duo Rizzle and Kicks rap the tweets.  Taken further, these could air later in the season or be played in and around the stadium / on-shelf to create longer legs and a more complimentary ecosystem around the campaign.

Lastly, on-site, Evian created another competitive environment seemingly made for court-side.  The game? Table tennis.  The challenge? Longest rally makes it onto Evian’s own ‘Leaderboard’.

The On-site Activation:

As a stand-alone activation – this was superbly smart.  Associate Evian with the sport of tennis in a fan-accessible way that is branded distinctly Evian.

In conjunction with the other campaign elements, again, I would’ve liked to have seen some pre-seeding of this element prior to Wimbledon.

Could Rizzle and Kicks have played a bit of table tennis in their video?  Could the agency – We Are Social – have teased out ‘Leaderboard’ scores/ names during the championship? Or given fans a chance to win tickets / en-suite seats to both watch Wimbledon and have a chance to play table tennis on-site?  Could they have erected another table in the middle of London and created a live-feed between the two ‘arenas’ so fans could appreciate Wimbledon off-site and on?

Since I don’t reside in London, there could have been other off-site activations (though I haven’t been able to find any press mentions of any.)

So while I perhaps would like to see tighter orchestration of the umbrella campaign (e.g. channels echoing each other’s high points without every channel resorting to being matching luggage), I still give full marks for Evian’s ability to:

1) Reinterpret “Life Young” in a fresh, yet congruent way

2) Execute a multi-channel campaign where each channel’s media ‘fit’

3) Generate conversations and viral moments that captivated tennis fans

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Aereo: The Supreme Court Got It Wrong

On June 25, 2014 the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS v. AEREO, INC., FKA BAMBOOM LABS, INC.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call it ABC vs. Aereo.

The decision, handed down 6-3 against area effectively denies consumers the right to use an antenna of their choice to access live over-the-air broadcast television.

Sadly, the Supreme Court got it wrong.

[I’ll leave my thoughts aside for now on how infinitely unwise it is to have 9 senior citizens providing over this nation’s internet laws – no matter how intelligent they may be.]

The truth is, the decision against Aereo flies in the face of America’s entrepreneurial spirit, relies on an arcane law dating back to the 1970’s, is a massive setback for average consumers like you and me, and strengthens the monopoly-like powers of mega-sized cable companies.


ABCs: The spectrum of airwaves that broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS, Univision) use to transmit over-the-air programming is free – the U.S. is not the U.K. – we don’t pay for our public television channels. Brands do.  They’re called TV commercials and in-program product placements.  So, much like roads and public parks and tap water, network television belongs to the American public – it’s a free service all inhabitants enjoy.  Yes, premium services exist (cable/ pay-for-tv/ movies exist just like toll roads, private parks and bottled water exist), but if you choose not to pay for those products/ services, the basics are just fine, thank you.

Aereo: Aereo is a start-up that allows monthly subscribers to stream local network TV and store episodes in a queue much like a DVR / tivo device.  The cost? $8.99 a month.


Cable companies – threatened by the trend known as “cable cutting” (whereby people are unsubscribing from exorbitant cable packages and choosing a la carte subscription services like Aereo, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO (via Xbox))  – pressured broadcast companies to sue Aereo because they were losing a lot of subscribers.  They couldn’t sue Hulu because well, NBC owns a stake in Hulu.  They can’t sue HBO because HBO, along with ESPN are the 2 giant reasons most people buy cable these days.  And well, Netflix is Netflix – 80% of internet data transmitted around the world is streaming content provided by Netflix.  That and well, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black (to name a few series) are so phenomenal that going after Netflix would be tantamount to political suicide.

So, Aereo.  The little up-start owned by Barry Diller.  ABCs claim? The start-up was ‘performing’ (read: poaching signals from the air, then showing them to subscribers) without paying for them – thereby infringing on their right to ‘publicly’ show their channels.  (Note: you can be an Aereo subscriber and a cable subscriber – and how another market entrant infringes on someone’s ‘public’ right is beyond me).

Aereo’s defense:

It merely provides ‘virtual antennas’ to users (today’s equivalent of yesterday’s rabbit ears) for television signals that are free to all.

Who’s right?

Well, if cable companies legitimately paid for these network signals and Americans, like their Brit counterparts had to pay for them, then I could see that Aereo represents a sort of Napster to the TV industry and perhaps should be forced to shut down.

But is that truly how the TV broadcast industry works?

No.  Americans don’t pay for network TV.  The court looked at it in a different way (that’s the law for you).  The question was – does it choose content for you? Does it act like a video shop / library – allowing you to rent content based on a membership card you own, or is it like a video-on-demand service (i.e. Netflix) where you can only watch pre-curated content?

Since Aereo is streaming all free channels over the airwaves, and doesn’t not choose the programming (i.e. Univison could be showing World Cup soccer or a local sitcom), it’s akin to a video shop/ library – providing access to content that the member chooses.

Justice Scalia in his dissent stated, “In sum, Aereo does not “perform” for the sole and simple reason that it does not make the choice of content. And because Aereo does not perform, it cannot be held directly liable for infringing the Networks’ public-performance right”

Back to free-market practicalities:

Cable companies’ arguments that Aereo steals a signal for free when they “own the copyright” is bogus.  Their transmitting signals just as Aereo does.

And remember, they’re mad because they say Aereo makes money off of something they shouldn’t.  The dirty little secret cable providers didn’t mention to the Supreme Court is that they too charge users to access these public channels if these users aren’t cable subscribers.  Total price? $10 a month plus taxes, fees, etc.

Note: this is a new pricing feature cable companies have introduced only in the last year.  From 2009 – 2011, I never had cable.  Yet, I could faithfully watch NBC, ABC, etc. in my apartment by using the cable as an antenna to my roof (note: Dishes are not allowed, rabbit ears wouldn’t work).  I was using the wire that went up to the roof like an antenna – and I enjoyed free network TV.

Suddenly, in 2014, after I stopped subscribing to cable, my ‘free’ network TV access shut off within a month.  When I called the cable company (since I’m an internet subscriber) they responded, “pay us $10 a month to unscramble the signals, or we won’t allow you to see network TV since you’re leveraging our antennas”.

Antennas… signals… broadcast through the air.  Sounds oddly familiar to Aereo’s value proposition, right?

Aereo provides me with an “antenna” to capture broadcast signals through the air just like Time Warner promises me they can.

The difference? Aereo delivers me more services (TV + DVR) at a cheaper rate – $8.99 versus Time Warner Cable – $19.98 for both services.


While this may seem like a minor case, it’s going to have larger ripple effects down the road.  Younger generations are demanding and inventing services that give them access vs. making them owners (Zipcar vs. car ownership, Rent the Runway vs. luxury fashion goods).  Cable companies’ one-package-fits-all model is outdated, too expensive, too impersonal and too clunky to last long in this world without judicial protections like the gift the Supreme Court just handed down.

As consumers increasingly reject the one-offering-fits-all of service companies, whose to say they won’t invent other ways to cut out cable providers cable and internet services altogether?

Much like Napster’s dissolution helped usher in subscription services like Spotify &  Beats music, so too will Aereo’s dissolution create a new wave of inventions that circumvent cable.

The question is, what will the ABC dinosaurs do when their business model around them implodes from players / services they never saw coming?

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This mobile tactic would scare the crap out of me

Like most of you, I carry my phone around pretty much everywhere.  It’s my radio, my connector to my friends, my GPS locator, my phone book, my watch, my game center, my social media hub, and my alarm clock.  So barring a sleepless night or a too-bright-sun shining in my room, it’s typically the last thing I see before I go to bed and the first thing I see when I wake up.

Data says I’m not the only one who lives like this:

  • 84% of millenials sleep with their mobile phone right next to their bed
  • 60% feel anxious without a mobile phone

As much as I’m fond of my phone, I can also be a klutz (my nickname in college was Grace). So I protect my mobile: I’ve bought a crack-proof case for it (or 3 over its lifespan – they wear down – really!) and do my best to not let it fall on the ground.

CheilOpenTide figured out a way to do this to your phone:Photo-TaiKang Moment (2)

Kill. me. now.  I got a pit in my stomach just imagining my phone in that shot  And not just because I’m holding out for the new phones that will theoretically release in September (this would dash that dream in a heartbeat) – but because of the hassle of fixing a broken screen or the whole dealing with broken glass issue.

Thank goodness this image isn’t real cracks in ascreen, but rather, it’s the appearance of cracks brought to you by Taikang Life Insurance for a second or two before showing their new mobile ad:

Cheil OpenTide Scares Users With A Broken Screen

“Accidents can happen anywhere, at anytime. Click to get insured”

The idea was to catch the attention of viewers at that split moment when they are panicking about their dropped mobile phone.  The agency calls it “situational advertising”.  Instead of staking out a position in the marketplace, they relied on timing – garnering a 120% increase in purchase conversion rates.

How does this tactic sit with me?  Uncomfortably so.  I like effective marketing strategies and I applaud the innovative use of leveraging apps that rely on a handset’s gyroscope to feel any gravity acceleration.  And yes, a viewer’s phone could have theoretically broken.

Though I’m unsure if preying on someone’s short-term panic is the right approach long-term.  Do you want to sign up with a company when your first interaction with them was in such a negative emotional place?  I’d prefer not.

Than again, life insurance/ accidental insurance is a category that people seldom think about except in major life moments…it’s really hard to get people to act unless you are selling fear in some way.

What’s really telling is that dropping, then damaging one’s phone may now qualify as one such major life moment.

I’ll head-nod the tactic as smart – it did deliver results – though I’m still much happier reassuringly glancing at my phone on my desk, slightly chipped case still firmly in place.

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Delta’s Strategically Smart Move

Recently, Delta Airlines – in partnership with LinkedIn – launched a program they’re calling the Delta Innovation Class.  The program offers aspiring professionals like you and me the chance to spend time with someone they’d love to have as a mentor (currently, Sean Brock is the mentor du jour on deck).


The twist?  You mentoring session occurs in the air – you fly with your chosen mentoron a flight they’re already scheduled to take.


Putting aside fellow passenger’s experiences (it could be mildly annoying to fly next to two people talking non-stop on a flight or weird to board a plane where Delta films two of the people on board), the concept seems pretty cool from a participants point of view.

What I like is that Delta is achieving something smart strategically:

They’re potentially starting a new conversation about the value of time spent in the air.  They are getting participants to reappraise the value of their flights/ preferred airline carrier by adding a new dimension to what could be valuable about flight.

From a targeting perspective – this program may very well appeal to driven, business-minded individuals – and more specifically, the large class of entrepreneurs/ small business owners whose allegiances to an airline may not yet be cemented by lifetime status. For employees of larger companies – it’s an opportunity to create positive associations for travelers who typically spend more flight-per-flight vs. leisure travelers.

From a marketing standpoint – it may help diffuse some negative sentiments about Delta’s proposed frequent flier program changes (which, along with American Airlines’s 2014 changes, has leisure-only travelers griping at every cocktail party I’m at lately).

DeltaSkyMiles 2015

From an ROI standpoint – 3 considerations stand out:

a) the cost is minimal – Delta is giving away assets that are variable costs (seats) if a flight is already partially-full.

b) the location is an under-leveraged owned, free asset – Delta owns its planes and theoretically, has the rights to film/ promote anything that happens inside them.  Why not capitalize on the very brand assets fliers spend the most time with?

c) this lays the foundation for future business-building activities.  If it works, Delta may gain permission start engaging customers in dialogues about future business value-add services they could sell/ offer at premium pricing (even to regular class passengers).

It remains to be seen if this ‘takes off’. Will DIC become an expanding, on-going initiative for Delta and LinkedIn or will it fizzle out as an interesting marketing experiment for both brands?

Either way, I’m submitting my votes for mentors I’d love to see added to the program. @Delta – can I please fly with Hillary? Sheryl? Marissa? Madeline? or Indra?  Or all 5? That’d be lovely…

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#Mobile Apps: Engagement Trumps Reach


I saw this Mashable graphic in my LinkedIn feed Thursday & I think it’s misleading.

Here’s why: Yes, these apps have the largest reach of all mobile apps.  But ‘reach’ is a metric that is most commonly used to measure TV/ mass advertising.  It assumes a one-way purchase funnel where repeat/ mass exposure guarantees sales/ results/ brand power.  Using ‘reach’ as a proxy for any kind of value in today’s consumer-driven culture is as old, as well, 1980’s sitcoms (though I do love a good Golden Girls episode).

Interestingly, reach can help you with folks that aren’t digital marketing professionals:

Candy Crush

Take King Digital – maker of the wildly popular Candy Crush, whose stock debuted at $22.50 a share (NYSE: KING).  The day of it’s IPO, the stock fell more than $2, and currently trades below $20 – leading to a derisive criticism from Forbes, Yahoo Finance, etc. (When the headline is “King Digital Entertainment’s IPO Sets the Wrong Kind of Record“, you know it’s bad).

So what might be a better measurement?

Start with people.  We’re emotional creatures. Yes, we make rational decisions, but fundamentally, we gravitate to brands, products, experiences, and people that engage us. Whether it’s a good feeling, an excitement, a passion or habitual compulsion, it’s nevertheless engagement.

Most mobile app advice columns define engagement as: “getting what we need and getting out of the app quickly!” While this is no doubt an important element, pure utility misses the larger context of the world we inhabit.

So what elements make an app truly engaging?


1. Personal  2. Sociable. 3. Value-Add. 4. Communal. 5. Bridge between online & offline.

Let me dig a little deeper:

1. Personal: You want an app that feels like an extension of you – it’s why we personalize our ring tones, home screens and phone cases.  Look at how instantly personalized the We Heart It or Pinterest image collections feel: They tailor the type of content fed to us while adding related suggestions to create a personal, yet not-too-intrusive browsing experience.

2. Sociable: Really good apps incorporate an element of sharing – not just an add-on Facebook like or tweet notification, but some element of inter-connectedness between users in the online world.  Think: Foursquare‘s point total comparisons between you and your friends.

3. Value-Add: This isn’t limited to being useful, it’s about adding a usefulness to your life you wouldn’t have otherwise.  Giving you some benefit (time, money, pleasure, convenience) you wouldn’t get otherwise.

My favorite app for this is the Delta App.  Besides advance notifications and automatically checking me in for return flight segments, the app will also add me to the upgrade request list automatically.  If I call a Delta rep from the app, they automatically know my name when they answer the phone…that kind of customer-first functionality and utility drives my desire to use the app whenever I can.

4. Communal: An engaging app also creates passionate communities of users and advocates online and offline.  One that I admire?

Lyft – the car-hailing service based in San Francisco. You can argue that apps like Uber are just as just as value-add, but the Lyft app makes everything seem more connected by incorporating sociable, personal and bridging the offline and online.

As you add money to a driver’s suggested fare (tip + fare) a balloon rises higher and higher; transforming tipping into a fun activity.  You rate drivers or riders with stars & leave reviews as you are paying (the reviews are an update they added based on community feedback).  The added security of seeing public ratings and reviews increases the value-add way beyond what Uber does.

Offline, the Lyft community is as passionate as they come.  Pink mustache drivers just have more fun (it helps that they’re a ton of folks earning extra income outside or or in place of full-time jobs).  And fellow commuters/ citizens believe in their small business-makes-good ethos. At the airport, another commuter literally applauded me for using Lyft as I exited the cab.

5. Bridging the offline and online: You can incorporate all of the elements above, though to be truly engaging, an app that creates a richer experience IRL or blends our offline and online experiences cements it as an engaging app.

One that fits the bill for me? The Citibike App in NYC.

Yes, the app has a few time-lapse bugs, but if you’re riding from one station to another, it gives you real-time information ahead of time if there are bikes or docks available at the station you’re headed to.  It can track your ride time so you know if you need to dock your bike.  You can absolutely use Citibike without the app; but using the app in conjunction with your annual bike rental just makes your experience richer.

Now given all these criteria – what gets my vote as an engagement all-star?

***** INSTAGRAM *****


1. You can take a photograph and morph it just for you. You can be a voyeur without someone knowing if you’ve seen their images or not.  By following your friends or photos you like, your Instagram is personal.

2. You can share at large or to a few friends. You can “heart” or comment your friends’ photos.  You can grow your digital following.  The app seamlessly connects with other social networks.

3. Value Add: You can improve the look of your photos beyond what your smartphone allows with a few swipes and menu options.  Your photography seems better – or perhaps more bragworthy with the addition of the #nofilter tag.


4. By requiring approval of people to see your photos, you can create circles of ‘private communities’ to share family/ friend circle photos. Or, take a move of out of ilovetexasphoto‘s playbook and rotate ownership amongst passionate Igers to create a truly communal, robust, rich, diverse feed.

5. With hashtags, Instagram is one of the easiest channels for marketers to use to gather user generated content.  It makes contests easier to enter, participate in and enjoy (bridging your offline experience with online participation).

Need more proof on how engaging this app is?

Windows Phone’s #2InstaWithLove Campaign

Witness how Windows & Nokia leveraged consumers’ love of Instagram  (see below) to influence them to create an app for the Microsoft OS [Full disclosure, Nokia USA is a client].  It wasn’t because of Instagram’s large reach.  Rather, it was a result of the active voices of Nokia fans who wanted their favorite (read: most engaging app) on the Nokia phone.

Add up all of the elements above and you start to see that maybe ‘reach’ isn’t the end-all-be-all in the mobile app world.  I’d argue engagement provides a truer, longer-lasting measure of value – for consumers and brands alike.

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