Next Steps

finding value in your shiny objects

Social Beyond Singular Campaigns

Social currency for a brand can grow in two ways: slow and steady or slingshot

The slow and steady growth is more likely sustainable, but as most campaign metrics (and marketing metrics) utilize a traditional purchase funnel, slow and steady efforts often fail to hit key "awareness" benchmarks.

Slingshot tactics are far more gimmick-heavy and generally reach scale quickly, but they generally go dark a couple of weeks later.  These are campaigns in every sense of the word.  Give out a few free Macbook Pros on Twitter and watch your follower counts soar.  Give away seven free iPhones and watch your brand become a trending topic.  Create that incredibly creative Facebook application or visualization of the conversation, and hold up your scaled short-term engagement as your success.

But is Slingshot-value real social value?  It this where most brand will play in the space?

Probably.  As dirty as it sounds, Slingshot Marketing is going to be much of what we see in social over the coming few months.  The strategic vision, budgets and dedication to doing social right just aren't yet there.  Yet.  But with the inclusion of some basic marketing know-how, your slingshot shiny objects can be of value.

Here are a few basic principles:

  • Build ongoing social support into all activation budgets.  If you can't perform customer support triage, it will be very difficult to inspire a new consumer perspective towards the brand.  This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does require some training and strategic setup. 
  • Build for an ups and downs, not starts and stops.  Your brand doesn't need to be inspiring new conversation everyday, but it does need to be present, real, relevant and responsive to the conversation 365 days a year.
  • Slingshot Marketing/shiny objects should speak to your core brand value.  Don't give away an iPhone when you are selling a low-tech pair of socks.  Connect your shiny objects to the brand value prop.  Make your promotions speak to your messaging.
  • Invest in personalities and relationships.  Always have a twitter account available for following, and a brand page on Facebook where people who engage with the application can gather for current engagements and future activation.
  • Level set with key stakeholders that this is a shiny object, not a full social strategy. 
  • Setup your measurement, learning process and KPIs in advance. 
  • Listen to the conversation.  You just may find a few advocates and opportunities.
  • Setup a follow up lessons-learned session before you start.
  • Always bring ideas for a more strategic plan as a next step.  Neither you, nor your clients will find continued success in gimmicks in place of real marketing.

transparency > authenticity > sincerity

  • Transparency is a state of honest communications.
  • Authenticity is a state of presenting.
  • Sincerity is a state of being.

Transparency Not long ago the market began to buzz about the need for transparency in corporate culture as they communicate in social channels.

This soon translated in brand authenticity, further evolving the humanity of corporate culture and the resultant media.

So what's next?

If we think about human relationships, the truest form of communications is that of sincerity.

Which begs the question: Can a brand be sincere?  What does a sincere brand look like?  What are the components that define brand sincerity?  Are there many/any sincere brands out there in the market?

How would you gauge your brand's presence in social media? 

Where do you believe the social media early adopters like Dell, Comcast, Zappos, SouthWest, GM, Delta, Home Depot, Graco, Jet Blue Verizon and AT&T are best categorized?  Are they transparent?  Are they authentic?  Are they sincere?  Are they human?  Or am I totally off?

Thanks to Paull Young for helping to cull this list.

Photo credit here

Disclosure: some of the brands listed in this post are clients.  The views expressed in this post are personal and do not reflect those of my employer or it's parent company.

Comcast's Carpe Diem Moment

Comcast Corporation

Image via Wikipedia

Comcast had some service issues.  They did the right thing.  They reached out.  The became responsible digital social citizens. 

They are resolving issues. 

Sure, they may be more that they could be doing, there is always room for growth and optimization.

But perhaps the most notable component of this effort (of late) is the amazing New York Times writeup on the Comcast Cares initiative.  This mainstream recognition of Comcast efforts has driven massive spikes in buzz across the interwebs.  Comcast is on fire.

But what are they doing with this spike in conversation?  How are they fueling and enabling brand advocacy?

Ian Schafer suggests, "I would find more 'Franks', and let each of their subscribers know that it's an option."  Great idea.  But I think the immediate opportunity here transcends customer service.

Consider the conversation captured (on Twitter) below:

Comcast Cares Conversations
Comcast looks to be missing out on a tremendous social PR opportunity.

It's one thing to build a social customer service capability. It's another to internalize digital social media across an organization. 

Comcast Cares is a great program.  Here's to hoping that Comcast integrates this dynamic across the rest of their organization.

defining "fair restitution"

Justice Company A messes up.  Consumer B complains. 
Company A offers Y restitutionConsumer B demands Z restitution.

What happens next?

Should Company A give into Consumer B's demands?  Who is the arbiter of fair?  

Where do we draw the line between fair and satisfactory?

In today's relationship oriented market, where consumer loyalty is increasingly more important, how far should Company A go? 

Pandering to the demands of every consumer is not a sound business strategy.  Customer satisfaction and retention are key to doing business in today's marketplace, but where do we draw the line?

How far can/should a major corporate entity go, to issue not only fair but satisfactory restitution to loyal customers?

Disclaimer: the views represented in this post are entirely my own and do reflect those of my employer.  Photo credit.

when a series of tubes go tubeless - the evolving natural web

The Windows Network and Internet icon employs the 'tube' metaphor

Image via Wikipedia

The internet is just a series of tubes, right?

It's a connection, it's a lifeline, that can be turned on and off.  It's a utility.  That's why we need net neutrality, right?

While the world of the internet within the browser or within a dedicated connected application (ex - widgets or Outlook) is far from gone, the time has come for marketers and technologists to look at the internet as more then a channel.  The connected web is the natural evolution of the human experience.

Higher speeds, open platforms, more intuitive development kits, these are all small pieces in a larger puzzle.  There is a greater endgame at play.


  • Social media has evolved via digital connectivity, and it continues to evolve.
  • Video viewing has evolved, and will continue to evolve.
  • Mobile connectivity has evolved, and clearly will continue to evolve.

We cannot look to the future without remembering the past.  The media and technology landscapes have greatly evolved over the past century.  And they will continue to evolve.  But the world didn't turn on a dime, it will not change with a single keynote.

The world is going to continue to change, but without looking through the lens of the historical human perspective, we are doomed to chasing waterfalls.

Dreaming is great for ideation, but insight is what fuels the future.

So what are your insights?  What are the key factors driving tomorrow?

ambient connected experiences - going beyond mesh

The ambient web is a term often used to describe the pervasive web as it lives beyond the desktop browser.  The web lives on our blackberry (and ti my later point, on our Tivos) and we don't even need to think about it, it's just there.  It's an ambient part of our day to day lives.

Livemeshtechpreview But I believe there is more to ambient connectivity than connectivity to the web, or even to devices, alone.  Ambient connectivity is about more than Microsoft Mesh (though Mesh may be a step in the right direction).  True ambient experiences require cross-device, cross-platform, cross-format (or multi-format), pervasive connectivity TO OUR LIVES.  Sure, the internet will help deliver these experiences, but connectivity lives beyond the web - just look at the Wifi syncing feature on the Zune! 

Technology connects our lives.  It is not all about the internet, or about the Mesh.  It is about us, the users.  And while Mesh is a great first step, it still lacks intuition and true boarder-less presence. Think about it: Mesh promises to connect devices, to connect technologies.  But the ultimate ambient experiences will connect more than just technologies to other technologies, but it will connect humans to their own lives.  And that is where walls will will need fall.

Key Takeaway: The Microsoft Mesh platform may be a great first start, but it is not the be all and end all.  The future is not as much about syncing, as asking and delivering.  The future may not be about turning on or turning off, but just being there, maintaining that seamless background.  When technology is there, when it fits into our ambient lives, serving as augmenters rather than disruptors, when it services our lives in a truly ambient manner, the market is going to change.

Technology will change.

Marketing will change.

And our lives will change.

But rather our lives adapting to the technology itself, it will be the technology solutions will be enabling our own human lives. It is not just about connectivity.  It's about ambient solution delivery. 

And no, I don't see this isn't coming anytime soon. 

    But a guy can dream, can't he?

5 Next Steps for Online Video

Olde_tv 5. Grow Up: Get a job, figure out where you're going in life, determine who you are today before you make up your mind about who you want to be.  Cats playing piano are cute, but addictive viewing is going to require real strategic planning.  I would recommend speaking with a life coach, or maybe a college guidance counselor.

4. Get Off The Internet: I feel like every time I want to speak to you, you're in a browser.  Stop tethering me to the desk, to the computer, to a connection.  Let me view my video everywhere and anywhere I want to.  It's cheaper to let me download your clip and only resync for fresh advertising than to restream the same content over, and over, and over again.

3. Be More Than Video:
"Connected Viewing" should deliver something "Disconnected Viewing" never could, useful interactivity.  Think about how much flash powers online (widgets, games etc.) and tell me it doesn't have a place as a semi-transparent overlay.  Let me multitask within my viewing experience, let me click for more info, let me do so much more than "watch"... let me experience.

2. Stop Annoying Me:
 Nobody likes the Amway guy, he's just there to yell in your ear.  So please stop serving unwanted pop-ups in video.  What makes someone think that a bottom-third of the screen animated overlay is any better than a traditional pop-up?  If this is the best format we can come up with, we're in trouble.  Oh yeah, and where are all the variable format ads?  Why do I see the same ads if I'm viewing a 30 second clip, a 5 minute clip and a 35 minute clip?  How about adapting?  Isn't that what mainstream media is "having trouble" doing?  Could it be that even "digital" media has a thing or two to learn about adaptation?

1. Know Me: You know who I am.  You know what I'm watching.  You know what I've watched before.  You know what you're going to suggest to me next.  It's time we get to know each other.  I'm Jon.  Now please pull up the content I will find most interesting, because frankly, I feel like I'm doing all the work over here.

next steps: Windows Media (Player and DRM)

Wmp11Windows Media Player is a mess.  It's slow, doesn't natively bundle a robust codec support base and ties into a less-than-popular DRM scheme.  It looks like a dieing product.  But I believe that Microsoft may be sitting on an untapped goldmine.

Over the past couple years Microsoft has continued to invest in their desktop media player and DRM (beyond the media suite coupled with Vista).  Microsoft has fully revamped the UI and redesigned overall experience, delivering a far better looking player. But the success of their player is going to hinder on the value it delivers, not the wrapper it presents.  A shiny nickel will always be worth less than a crumpled dollar bill.

But there is hope for Microsoft in this world.  Microsoft has one thing that Apple, iTunes and the popular VLC Media Player don't have - advertising.  Wow, that sounded evil.  Let me explain.

Microsoft has:

  • an incredibly powerful network of users and strong desktop penetration,
  • a robust network of content owners (they are a Hulu syndication partner)
  • and their key differentiation: advertisers. 

When properly and strategically leveraged, Microsoft is in the unique position to offer ad-supported downloadable video.  I'm not talking about NBC Direct's poor excuse for ad supported downloadable video.  I'm talking about a seamless experience.  I'm talking about leapfrogging iTunes in their own field.

Microsoft is the best suited company to deliver this eventual reality.

Microsoft's desktop player should become everything that Joost could have been, had Joost had access to first-run mainstream network content.  Microsoft should be providing downloadable, portable (to Windows DRM capable devices) premium ad supported content. 

This would give the Windows Media offering an amazingly unique value prop, one that nobody else could deliver.  Google, AOL and Yahoo! don't have the desktop penetrations that Microsoft has.  Apple doesn't have the advertiser relationships.  And users don't have a free and legal way to gain access to portable content.

Everyone wins.