Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

Friday Five – May 23, 2014

Anthropologie Chooses Pinterest To Launching A First Look At Their June 2014 Catalog
In another example of how important Pinterest is becoming to retailers, Anthropologie chose Pinterest, not email, not their website, not Facebook, to tease customers with the new items that are going to be featured in next month’s June printed/mailed catalog. As part of the Pinterest launch they partnered with Sarah Yates, a noted and influential blogger, that’s already being read by their customer base. I’m clearly not the target, but these shoes are something else http://bit.ly/1vM4g62

How Glamour is rethinking content for the mobile era
Big data. Yep. Big data. That’s what’s driving Glamour’s new approach to content. “Glamour, using data from Parse.ly, Omniture and Chartbeat, saw fashion readers tend to come in around lunchtime and again at night, when they’re planning their outfit for the next day. They tend to read on the desktop, whose bigger screen is better suited to perusing outfits than smartphones.” But, then “around 2 p.m., traffic to Glamour’s celebrity content spikes. Entertainment-seekers typically come from Facebook via their smartphone and look for updates on stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Glamour started posting later in the day, which led to an 11 percent increase in unique visitors and 23 percent lift in pageviews to its entertainment channel.” Simple, smart and strategic. You can’t assume people will consume your content the same way across all screens, devices and times of the day. This is one of the things that makes creating a strong content strategy so challenging.

What Are You Drinking?
No really, what are you drinking. This beautifully built site experience from The New York Times, is a brilliant example of simplifying choices and helping people make smart decisions. I highly recommend you spend a few minutes playing around with the experience. It impresses and inspires.

Saatchi Launches Digital Training Program
Not the first and certainly not the last; advertising agency Saatchi is launching a new program aimed at improving the digital skills of all their employees. It’s not just agencies, it’s also our vendor partners like General Mills who are investing in programs aimed at improving the digital knowledge and skills of employees: http://bit.ly/1vMa7bB – The quest to be digitally fit is continual. It never stops. Hopefully Friday Five is one of many building blocks you’re using to stay sharp.

Doctors Check Online Ratings From Patients and Make Change

About 25% of U.S. adults consulted online physician-rating sites, and more than a third of them went to a physician or avoided one based on the ratings, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That’s a big change from a few years ago. As social media feedback becomes a decision making criteria for patients, doctors are making adjustments to avoid being given more bad grades. My favorite quote from the article is this:

“First we did what anyone would do, we just ignored it,” says Dr. DeNicola. “Then new patients were actually canceling appointments because of reviews and we realized this could be more serious than we thought,” he says.

Be it reviews of doctors, restaurants or hair stylists, social media feedback is here to stay and everyone is taking notice.

Is Instagram Really The King Of Social Engagement?

Managing a company’s social media footprint is challenging. Even as the landscape sees more consolidation (e.g. WhatsApp), it also sees more diversity and fragmentation. It seems that for every acquisition and merger, 10 new social platforms/networks launch to take their place.

As marketers we’re wired to want to be first, fast, innovative, different, unique and game changing. But, as protectors of a company’s brand and accountable for the success of a company’s efforts in social media, we often need to temper our enthusiasm for being first, with being right. This isn’t an easy balance to maintain. The internal and external pressures are enormous. Nearly every social marketing and content leader I know is inundated with questions from internal stakeholders asking why they aren’t doing X like Y brand or how come they aren’t on Z platform. We need only to look at the number of brands looking to mirror Oreo’s “real time marketing” approach to know, headlines and internal stakeholder questions, drive actions.

There’s nothing like a provocative headline to stir up a high volume of emails from internal and external stakeholders. My inbox the past few days, has been filled up with people wanting my take on Nate Elliott’s latest report, proclaiming, “Instagram Is The King Of Social Engagement.”

Interactions With Brands' Posts - Per Forrester

That’s quite a headline. It’s almost enough to make you drop everything you’re doing in social media and transition all of your dollars and investment to Instagram.


At the heart of a great enterprise social media strategy is the ability to answer one simple question, “why?” Yes, a 1 word question. You need to be able to answer why you’re investing in something or why you’re not. The ability to answer why, comes from having a the right filters in place to guide your social strategy.

Before I continue, it’s critical to understand that a solid social strategy can not be created via paint by numbers, nor is it something you can copy and paste from another organization. If twitter works for your organization, great. If Yelp! is critical for your organization, fantastic. What works for us at Walgreens, may not work for your company. We’re also well aware that works great for Red Bull, may not be applicable to us.

When we think about where we need to invest our time, effort, resources and dollars, we ask ourselves 3 simple questions:

  1. Does it have the potential to scale. The operative word is “potential.” Not every social platform scales immediately. And not every social platform that scales immediately has the potential to sustain that scale.
  2. Is it at the perfect intersection of our brand and our customers. It seems simple, but you have to be very honest and critical. “Perfect” is a high bar.
  3. Does the platform allow us to create content that’s:
  • Linked: Discoverable, Connected, Aggregated, Tracked
  • Liquid: Everywhere, All The Time, On Demand, Screen Agnostic, Scalable And Right Sized
  • Loved: Sought Out, Share-Worthy, Memorable

There are certainly other variables we consider, but they’re ancillary to the 3 key questions we ask first.

Being this back to the powerful proclamation that “Instagram Is The King Of Social Engagement”, we didn’t over-react, because we have a great handle on “why.” When I read the headline and accompanying research, I’m perplexed as to why this is news. After all, the law of the web has always been that you can generate high engagement on low volumes. Is that truly any different than knowing that it’s wet when it rains? It’s simply not news.

As I read the original Forrester blog post and then the onslaught of media coverage around that headline, 3 thoughts came to mind:

  1. The base for Instagram brand followers is small. This immediately skews the data. The average brand has under 1,000 Instagram followers, so getting 40 people (4%) to “like” a photo is fairly easy. With FB and twitter, brands often have 100s of 1000s of followers or in our case, millions. With a larger base, the engagement rate always goes down.
  2. “Engagement” has and continues to be a nebulous descriptor. While yes, you can double-tap to like a photo, you can’t click thru to anything in Instagram. If you try to include a link, Instagram converts it to plain-text. If you’re a business that’s not in the business of branding, but rather in the business of direct response, omni-channel retailing, conversions, etc., is liking a photo a valuable engagement? I can’t answer that for you, but it’s a question to ask yourself.
  3. As scale increases, mature ad products become important. For every person who complains about Facebook cutting organic reach to 2%, remember you can pay to reach the other 98%. Also, with Facebook’s advanced targeting, you could choose to pay to reach only a certain audience group. Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms also offer this level of maturity in their ad products. At present ads on Instagram run a brand nearly $1,000,000 a month and similar to when Apple launched iAd, Instagram must approved your ad creative. While these are still early days for Instagram, the data is very clear: advertising on Instagram doesn’t scale efficiently.

The above 3 thoughts, for us, are pretty big. Instagram could be big, it might not be. It might be great for your business, it might not. It might now be right, now, but could be ready in 6 months. Only you have the answer to “why.” But, in a world where page views are monetized, it looks like Forrester and other publications are generating a lot better return on covering this story than most present day efforts by brands in Instagram.

Friday Five – April 25, 2014

The Rise of the Mobile Addict
Hearing the mobile is big, doesn’t come as a surprise. You need only to look around a conference room table as people wait for attendees to enter to know that we’re practically voluntarily chained to our phones. Flurry, a mobile analytics company, conducted an in depth study to understand how people engaged with their mobile phones. The research and analysis uncovered a group of people called “mobile addicts.” What’s a mobile addict you ask? It’s someone that launches an app more than 60 times a day. Apps, like it or not, are the reason we have our phones and they’re the conduit to our experiences on the web. There’s a lot more data and insight contained in the link. I highly recommend you making 5 minutes to check it out.

Facebook Knows Everything About You, And If You Don’t Believe Us Here’s Proof
Ubisoft is launching a new video game called Watch Dogs. The game centers around the character Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and thug. Aiden will identify “targets” of interest and then take them out. Of course, a good hit-man, knows a lot about his target and that’s where the Facebook part comes in. To promote the game Ubisoft has created a tool/app that shows just how much Facebook knows about you. I won’t spoil the fun. It’s a fun experience that shows, how powerful social data is, why privacy concerns exists and why, as marketers, we need to strive for a balance between targeted and creepy…while always protecting the user experience

To Encourage Holiday Sex That Results In Babies, A Danish Campaign Offers “Ovulation Discount”
Despite continually being named for having some of the most happy people in the world, Denmark’s birth rate sits at a 27-year low. This is real concern for Denmark. No really. I’m serious. It’s an epidemic. To fix the problem, a travel agency, called “Spies Travel” used data. Yes, data. They found that Danes have 46% more sex on vacation and that 10% of all Danish babies are conceived abroad. See, real data. Capitalizing on that data, they’re offering discounts to Danes who want to take a vacation for the purposes of getting pregnant. Yes, this seems crazy. But, it’s also insights driven. Playing it safe hasn’t worked for Denmark, the past 27 years. They needed something different. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.

Universities Are Starting to Crack Down on Graduation Selfies
It finally came to this. Perhaps this will be the tipping point for ending the habits of selfies. It probably won’t. But, this just goes to show you how pervasive this consumer behavior is. Not unlike our Danish travel campaign, we have some real insights here about consumers and their love for expression. While the selfie itself may go away, the idea of seeing ourselves in media won’t. That’s a behavior that’s been around for hundreds of years…vanity, it’s definitely my favorite sin.

Facebook activism rarely goes deeper than a single click
From the research study abstract: “Despite the tremendous amount of attention that has been paid to the internet as a tool for civic engagement, we still have little idea how “active” is the average online activist or how social networks matter in facilitating electronic protest. In this paper, we use complete records on the donation and recruitment activity of 1.2 million members of the Save Darfur “Cause” on Facebook to provide a detailed first look at a massive online social movement. While both donation and recruitment behavior are socially patterned, the vast majority of Cause members recruited no one else into the Cause and contributed no money to it.” Let that sink in. It’s really powerful. The answer can’t simply be, “oh, we’ll just put it on Facebook and people will share it.” We need a real insight, a solid story and simplicity. If you want to read the full research, you can download the PDF here: http://bit.ly/1lJgciu

I Want To Believe

By every definition of the word, I’m a mutt. In the classic representation of what it means to be part of the melting pot, that is America. My maternal grandmother is Puerto Rican and Spanish (from Spain). My maternal grandfather is Arabic and Yemen. They brought together a household that balanced traditional Roman Catholic ideals and Muslim beliefs. Yes, you read that right. Then you have my dad’s parents. For as long as I can remember, they argued over whether they were Austrian or Polish. If you know anything about Poland’s complex history, you can understand why that was an argument for 20+ years. The birth certificates said of great grandmother said Austrian, but they and I, for a period of time, spoke Polish. My dad and his family were quite Catholic, though my dad had a much more liberal and worldly view of religion.8

Don't Stop Believing

Think about that. A farm boy from New Hampshire somehow found love with a Puerto Rican, Spanish, Middle Eastern girl from Brooklyn. If that’s not America, I don’t know what is. I will tell you this, family get togethers were always amazing. Only with a diverse family like mine could you have kielbasa, rice and beans, paella, hummus with pita bread and baklava at the same dinner table.

Growing up in Brooklyn, I had friends who were Jewish, Arabic, Spanish, German, Asian and more. My kindergarden seemingly mirrored a United Nations meeting. There was diversity like nothing else I’ve ever seen in my 34 years walking and traveling this Earth.

In 1986 we moved from NYC, the great cultural mecca of the world, to the suburbs of NJ. Now NJ itself isn’t small, but the town I grew up in was Vernon, NJ – population 20,000…diversity, virtually nonexistent (95.1% white).  To say I experienced a culture shock, would be an understatement. I’d also be downplaying it, if I said, I faced some racial prejudice. I was called a SPIC, camel jockey, sand nigger, dot head, porch monkey and a host of other names. I fought when ignoring the barbs became too much. I went to therapy to discuss my anger and resentment. I resented my parents for moving me to the middle of nowhere and for not being able to make the hate from others go away.

There was a period of time when I simply tried to hide my cultural heritage. I embraced KMIEC (said Kim-yeche), a clearly white-European name and I shunned all the other parts of my family that made me, me. It’s fair to say, I had some awkward adolescent years.

In high school, things changed a bit. I was an athlete who had brains. I was never part of the popular crowd, but I also wasn’t shunned by them. For what it’s worth, I think that’s the perfect sweet spot to be in during high school. You can be you, without the pressures of being who the popular crowd expects you to be. I finished in the top 25 of my class and had scholarship offers from MIT, Columbia and Clemson. All great schools. I chose Minnesota. I chose it for 3 reasons:

  1. It was the furthest away from where everyone else I grew up with was going to be attending. Most of my peers were staying on the East Coast, with the majority attending schools in the Boston area.
  2. It had a great Business program.
  3. They gave me nearly a 100% full scholarship.

Let me focus on the scholarship. Come college admission season, I exploited every ethnic loophole that existed. While the majority of public scholarships are distributed to “white” individuals, it’s no surprise that the majority of “need based” scholarships are given to minorities.  I knew how the system worked and I maximized the system to my financial advantage. I graduated in 3 years and with zero college debt, despite attending The University of Minnesota as an out of state resident. A big part of graduating debt free was a benefit afforded to me by University for being an “outstanding minority” who wanted to attend The Carlson School of Management. That’s right, my minority status netted me a nearly 40% reduction in total tuition fees. Add in the scholarships I earned, that were only possible, because of my minority status, and my tuition, room and board was essentially 100% funded.

This was the first and the only time I would ever characterize myself, on a formal piece of paper, as a minority. Upon graduating, I felt ashamed. I questioned whether I’d earned the right to attend the university, on my own merits, or if I was merely someone who fit a quota. This shame and self doubt propelled me to always work my ass off. I believed and still believe, that while I may not be smarter than you, I will outwork you. I try to instill the same work ethic to my kids.

While working at a large agency in Chicago, during the dot com boom and bust, I was advised by Sr. leader that I should make sure my file indicated I was Hispanic, African American (Egypt is in Africa ayer all) and/or some other minority status. I asked why? She remarked, it would protect me during layoffs. The company would never eliminate a person of color like me. I’m dead serious. This was a real conversation. When I explained to her that I had checked the Caucasian box, she shook her head and was aghast that I would eliminate the potential opportunities, advancement and protection that my minority status would have afforded me.

I’ve been working full time since 1997. I’ve never checked a box other than Caucasian. I want to believe that the world is fair. I want to believe that race, color, gender or creed don’t play a role in hiring. I want to believe that companies only hire the best candidates. I want to believe companies only fire or let go the worst candidates. I want to believe.

Fast forward several years and apparently as a person of color, I was supposed to vote for Obama. I didn’t. My mom basically called me a traitor to my race. I tried to reason with her; explaining that I voted for a candidate based on their beliefs and policies, not their gender (I voted Hillary in the primaries) or race. She would have none of that. Obama’s win was supposed to demonstrate to me and my children that a presidency was not of reach for a mixed race family like mine. I quipped, well, seeing as we’ve never had a female president, I guess my daughter can never dream of being one. This was clearly not something we were going to see eye to eye on.

Yesterday, when it was announced that the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in university admissions, I was supposed to be irate. I wasn’t. The color of my skin (a golden brown) should not afford me a benefit, an extra consideration, a better chance or higher likelihood of something happening. My skills, my work ethic, my desire and my contributions, however, should.

When I got engaged (the first time), my mom explained to my fiancé (a blonde hair, blue eyed, Norwegian, from Minnesota), that she would never understand the sting of racial prejudice that may one day be placed upon her future children. She based that point of view on the inability of my father, the 6 ft 1 in Polish Chemist from New Hampshire to understand the pain I suffered growing up in Vernon, NJ.

She might be right. She might not.

What I do know is that my children are taught that nothing is given to them, there are no handouts and every day they need to work harder than the last. As I look forward 10 years, when my daughter is 17 and ready to apply to colleges, I may be faced with an interesting conundrum – apply as a minority (gender, race, etc.) and open up a world of financial aid options or file as a non-minority and potential pay more long term. Dollars and cents vs. stubbornness.

I want to believe that in 10 years, it won’t be a conundrum, because we will have evolved as a people, culture and society. I want to believe that in 10 years, we will neither be granted nor suppressed opportunities because of our ethnic makeup. I want to believe that instead, we will be afforded opportunities based on the content of our character, the effort we have put in and the value we bring to society.

I want to believe.

Friday Five – April, 11, 2014

Facebook announces News Feed cleanup to get rid of spammy messages, “like-baiting”
If you were a fan of content from Upworthy, Thought Catalog or Buzzfeed, you might be in for a change in your news feed. FB, in an effort to make sure high quality content enters your news feed, is cracking down on link and like-baiting. Link-baiting, are articles with a headline that don’t match the content on the page. Like-baiting is when a brand says to fans, “like this post if, you…” – Make no mistake, the best quality always wins. Great quality isn’t spammy or gimmicky. Facebook is trying to make sure all brands adhere to this belief.

A look inside publishers’ content studios
When it comes to creating great content, there is not one-size fits all approach. Every company and industry has a unique culture, set of business challenges and staffing models. This article from DigiDay does a great job of highlighting how publishers (e.g. NY Times) are rewiring their organizations to produce better content, faster and cheaper.

NFC Nails Could Change The Beauty Industry
NFC in your phone? Sure, that’s awesome. But, now, we have NFC in your finger tips. Takara Tomy Arts in Japan has created a line of press on nails that light up when near NFC powered phones. Fad? Or the future of “wearables”?

The Internet Of Caring Things
This is a long read. But, I have a feeling it’s going to be a link you come back to, again and again. This great post from Trend Watching, highlights the future of connected devices, with a point of view, that the best connected devices will be the ones that create and improve our daily lives.

The Steve Jobs email that outlined Apple’s strategy a year before his death
An email, used as evidence in Apple’s ongoing patent case against Samsung, reveals how Steve Jobs planned the next few years for Apple. I share this, not because it’s a Steve Jobs email, but because it shows the importance of betting on behaviors (e.g. People wanting access to all their things all the time) and the need to keep innovating quickly. This passage about the iPad 2 sticks out the most to me:

2011 Strategy: ship iPad 2 with amazing hardware and software before our competitors even catch up with our current model

It’s an interesting concept and something that’s very applicable to us, given our omni-channel focus. It’s not good enough to ship one great product or launch when great campaign. The bar is now, launching several great products and campaigns, with a pace that leaves the competition gasping for air, as they try to catchup.

The Only 3 Times You Should Speak In A Meeting

One of my mentors, who I still call on for advice, shared with me her approach to meetings. I was relaying that info to someone today and it dawned on me, I’d never shared this great advice more broadly.

I think many of us take 1 of 2 paths in a meeting. We speak all the time or we say nothing. Those who say nothing, of course, are given the horrible label of “wallflower.” [sarcasm font] Wallflowers of course aren’t leaders [/sarcasm font]. The other end of that spectrum are people who talk all the time; they yearn to hear their voice heard. Well, at least that seems to be the prevailing thought.


So with that said, as I was entering a point in my career where I was routinely finding myself in meetings with the C-suite, my mentor shared with me her philosophy for when to talk in a meeting:

Speak First: If you’re the first to speak in a meeting, you set the tone, frame up the context of the meeting, outline what’s to be discussed and the decisions that need to be made. As the first person to speak, all other commentary will have to pivot off of your opening remarks. This is a great role when you’re the sponsor of an initiative, but not responsible for overall completion of the initiative or the tasks required to complete it.

Speak When You’ll Own: When you’re responsible for key parts of an initiatives, you need to fight for your fair share of the resources, budget, scope, timing, support and more. You need to both pick your spots and speak in a tone and octave that enables you to explain risks clearly and the reasons you need what you need. Also, since you’re responsible for the “task” it’s critical to make sure people understand you have that responsibility. Equally as important is making sure you understand what’s being asked of you and what scope changes are becoming your responsibility.

Speak Last: The last word is undervalued. The recency effect is very powerful in large organizations. As the person who speaks last you can sum up the key points (which are almost always captured flawlessly by scribes), outline the next steps, assign responsibilities, express satisfaction/dissatisfaction and more. The tone you set when you speak last, often sticks and it’s remembered. The “speak last” approach is something reserved for the person who owns the responsibility for the overall initiative.

It should go without saying, but obviously speak when you’re asked a question too.

I didn’t get this advice til a bit later on in my career. It’s something I’ve been working on for the past year and have tried to lean in to since I returned to Walgreens. Try it out.

What It Takes To Be A Truly Enterprise Social Platform

It’s 2014. I can tweet from 36,000 miles up in the sky. I can turn the lights in my house off and on from my phone. I can adjust the temperature in my house from 1000s of miles away, with just a few taps on my phone. Taking selfies on stage, during a live event is common place. We have public political discourse on platforms like Facebook and Reddit. Edward Snowden can live stream in for an interview at SXSW. With platforms like IFTT I can have have every photo I take on Instagram be automatically backed up to my Google Drive account and then have a text sent to my wife, letting her know they’re backed up. Yeah, technology is amazing. It really is. Tech has evolved to a point where anything is truly possible. We don’t think in terms of “can we do that” – we think in terms of “how we’ll do it.”

With such maturity in technology, business adoption of digital/social and the marketplace as a whole, it’s perplexing that we still don’t have a truly enterprise social platform. Oh, we have platforms. We have no shortage of platforms. These platforms are like tools that go into a toolbox. Ask a social marketer what’s in their social toolbox and you’ll get a wide variety of answers. The toolbox will run the range of small and niche platforms that do 1 thing exceptionally well, to platforms that do nothing exceptionally well, but do everything. You’ll find platforms that you pay for monthly on a credit card and you’ll find platforms that are hundreds of thousands of dollars and billed every quarter.

There are platforms for publishing (Hootsuite). There are platforms for sourcing (Percolate). There are platforms for monitoring (Sysomos). There are platforms for analyzing (Crimson Hexagon). There are platforms for reporting (Simply Measured). There are platforms just to make data look better in the form of dashboards (Geckoboard). We have platforms for everything. What we don’t have is 1 truly enterprise social platform that can do it all, and do it all exceptionally well.

We had the promise of such a platform. Remember the marketing behind…SalesForce’s Marketing Cloud? It was to be the end all, be all answer for a social business. But, it fell flat. Actually, it imploded. Don’t take my word for it though. Marc Benioff, SalesForce’s CEO, at DreamForce 2013, all but admitted, Marketing Cloud never realized its vision. The revenue numbers reported at the end of fiscal for SalesForce back that up as well. I’m not picking on SalesFore, more so, it’s important to note that if a company like SalesForce can’t get it right, you can’t expect others to as well. It’s hard. Social, at scale, is hard.

At any marketing conference, you can bet, leaders of social are discussing the tools/platforms they’re using, with one another. If you were to listen in to these conversations, it would sound a lot like something connected to something via tape, bundled together with rubber brands, with Google docs in there somewhere, filling a gap. It’s a mess. And, honestly, as we close Q1 of 2014, I can’t believe it’s still a mess.

I always say, don’t shake a stick at something, if you aren’t willing to offer a recommendation for how to fix what’s wrong. With that in mind, here’s what I think a truly enterprise social platform needs to have…actually, before I get into that, first let me outline what companies building platforms need to understand:

The “Plumbing” Isn’t Easily Changed: If you’re already working with a suite of platforms and partners, and chances are, you are, changing platforms and partners can be painful. While there are some platforms you can change out with very little pain, the fact is, often times, changing platforms brings upon legacy challenges. There’s also the likelihood that there are some platforms you’d like to retain. With all that in mind, what makes a buyer’s life easier is if your platform works more like a connector than a pipe. If you’re coming into a situation where there’s already existing plumbing in place, your platforms ability to connect and play nice with all the existing platforms that are in place, makes your platform enterprise ready.

The Seat License Model Is Antiquated: There’s simply no reason you should be offering a seat license model, if you’re claiming your platform is designed for the enterprise. A truly enterprise approach would mean that anyone, at any time, from any team, any partner, across the globe, should be able to access and use your platform. What makes your platform sticky in an organization is having it used by a significant number of people. The more people who use, enjoy and rely on your platform, the better. When you charge per seat, what you’re conveying is that you don’t want your platform used at the enterprise level. Let’s use some simple math to illustrate this point. Let’s assume your platform uses a $100 per person per seat per month approach. At a company like Walgreens, where we have 200,000+ employees, you’d in essence be charging $240,000,000 a year. Yes, I said, $240,000,000. Even if I go with a 90% discount, and it’s only $10 a person per month, we’re talking about $24,000,000. That’s insane. Beyond the fact the dollar amount is ridiculous, it also positions your company as someone who nickels and dimes. If you have a great platform, price it like one. Don’t try to compensate for how much your platform lacks, by charging on a per seat basis.

Sell The Platform or Services, Not Both: Building on my nickel and dime comment, don’t adopt a car dealer mentality where after I’ve bought the car you keep selling everything from warranties to undercoating. If you make a killer platform, make a killer platform and charge a fair price for it. If you’re great at enterprise services and strategy, start a consultancy. When you try to sell both, it makes buyers wonder if the reason you’re pushing your enterprise services so hard, is to compensate for an inferior platform.

Ok, now on to what a true enterprise social platform should look like. It’s actually quite simple. A social enterprise platform needs 7 core features:

Light Listening: A light listening feature needs to answer one simple question, “what’s going on, right now.” That’s it, it’s that simple. I’m serious. This feature needs to address the business scenario that often arises, where someone asks, “what do consumers think/feel about X.” This feature takes the pulse of a situation. It’s directional. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. It needs to be accurate enough to offer some directional context.

End To End Publishing: Your platform should allow for the sourcing of content, review of content, editing of content, distributing of content and the evaluation/measurement of content. Many platforms do 1 or 2 of these things really well. But, no one does them all at an A-level.

Rich Analytics: Where light listening answers the question, what’s going on right now, rich analytics answer the question, “what happened.” Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20. Rich Analytics need to be 20/15. If we’ll accept 70% accuracy for sentiment analysis with the light listening portion of a platform, the rich analytics must be 90%+ accurate. You also can’t lock this data behind a wall. It needs to exportable into a wide variety of formats. It should also have the ability to mashup other data sets. For example, a conversation volume chart, is a nice 1st step. If everyone is talking about a specific link on your website, wouldn’t it be great to be able to see your Omniture data related to that link, in the same enterprise platform?

Customer Care Management: If you want to be a serious enterprise player, you need a customer care module. The key here is that module must work as a stand alone feature, because in many orgs, care is handled by a separate team. It also needs to fit into the other modules for situations where an org has 1 team working across all aspects of social, including care. Most platforms can only do 1 of these flows well.

Mobile At The Core: We don’t want to hear it’s mobile web friendly because it’s built in HTML 5. That’s a nice first step. But, your platform better have an app there iOS and Android ready. Simply put, 75% of everything I can do from a desktop experience needs to supported in your app.

Flexible Integration: This is the hardest part. I get it. I want you to integrate with Simply Measured, but you see them as a competitor. I get it. But, I also need you to figure it out. Again, if you want to be enterprise and you want to become the irreplaceable plumbing, you’d better figure out how to play well with a whole host of other platforms and partners.

Multiple User Roles: Probably the easiest feature to nail. Some people need to be administrators, capable of changing, creating, deleting, etc. Others require just read only access. There’s also a host of other roles in between those two end points.

I don’t pretend to know how to build software. It’s not easy. I can appreciate that. I can also appreciate that in the Wild Wild West that has been the last 5 years, in social, it was much easier to build a half baked platform that sorta did 1 thing really well. Clients were lining up to buy your version of Windows ME and there was little reason to think bigger and establish a higher bar for quality of experience.

It’s 2014. Social is growing up faster than we all thought. The bar is high now. It’s no longer amateur hour. I’m sure I missed a few things in this post. But, I’m also confident I hit on 90% of the pain points and requirements, expected by Sr. leaders in social.

You can do better. You need to do better. If there’s one thing history has shown us, the first one to really nail it, wins. In this space you don’t want to be 2nd place.

Friday Five – March 14, 2014

The mobile single-purpose app strategy
Probably one of the best reads I’ve come across in a while. 1 app to rule them all is a concept that can’t sustain and it doesn’t drive growth fast enough. You can see this play out in Facebook’s app strategy. By having multiple apps, they’re able to learn faster, introduce features and then improve the main Facebook app quicker. Google has a similar approach. Amazon, ditto. If you’re thinking about your mobile app strategy and you’re not considering having multiple apps, you might want to rethink your approach.

Soft Skills Are Hard to Assess. And Even Harder to Succeed Without.
Great post. Assessing the soft skills and seeing their value is one of the critical elements that separates good managers from great managers. When you go beyond the things that are highly quantifiable, things get tougher. But, having the “soft skills” is what makes for high potential employees.

Office Depot Puts Customer Experience at the Center of Its Marketing
Refreshing insights directly from a company about how their changing based on consumers needs. The whole post is solid, but this last line is tremendous: “But most of all, Office Depot considers its experience from the individual customer’s point of view. “We treat different customers differently,” he said. “All marketers need to think about customers not as an ID number, but as individuals.””

Twitter Data Shows When We’re Happy, Sad, Hungover
On the one end of the spectrum, this is just cool and yet another example of how much fun data can be. On the other end of the of spectrum, if a brand was pulling the same data and analyzing it similarly, they might change the communication strategy based on the data. For example, if there’s a clear time period when people are hungry and you’re a snack brand, you have a match made in heaven. A tweet is not an insight. Many tweets can be.

Mondelez Inks 52-Country Ad Deal With Facebook
Bonin Bough continues his PR onslaught. I actually think, Mondelez has cloned Bonin so that he could attend all the events he speaks at. Following on the heels of their global partnership with twitter, Mondelez inked another deal with Facebook. One thing you have to admire about Mondelez and Bonin is that when they say they’re going to do something, they actually do it. They’re committed to digital and it shows in everything they do.

Friday Five – March 7, 2014

Getty makes 35 million photos free to use
The internet slays yet another institution. Rather than try and police the illegal and inconsistent use of their photos, Getty is making 35 million photos from their library free. Yes, free. When will music follow suit?

Watch this: Apple’s CarPlay running in a Volvo concept car
While everyone else was talking about the need for a mobile strategy, I’ve been pushing for a “mobility” strategy. Last year, I wrote, “This isn’t about about screens or screen sizes. The real opportunity, the real upside will come from not think about the idea of mobility, not mobile. What makes our smartphones such valued devices is that it’s keeps us connected to all the things that interest us. It’s the portability of information and content that makes our phones powerful; not the other way around.” And, In 2011, I forecasted, “Your car will be able to sync with platforms like Groupon Now, fourSquare and Google Offers. When you pull into a Best Buy, Starbucks or McDonald’s the car will automatically check you in, publish your check-in to your networks and serve you up an offer if one exists. Additionally, you’ll be able to use your GPS to find local and real-time offers.” With Apple’s launch of CarPlay, we’re clearly seeing the age of mobility mature and we’re getting ever closer to the your car being one giant always connected device that enhances and shapes your driving experience. You might enjoy sitting in traffic, now…maybe.

Why is American internet so slow?
Really thought provoking article. Thoroughly enjoyed the reporting and the approach of contrasting our internet speed growth, with that of South Korea. The only point I disagree with is, “We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we’ve seen enormous consolidation and monopolies… Left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight.” While this can happen, the idea that monopolies are bad, is misleading. Disagree? I point you to Google, who keeps on cranking out innovative new features and products, despite have a large monopoly on their core business.

FDA Wants to Monitor Social Media Chatter About Product Risks
A few years ago, there was nary a company in the pharmaceutical or medical deivce industry that wanted to participate in social media. The risk was simply too high. 5 years ago a consumer complaining about their medication would have been seen as an adverse reaction and would then need to reported by the manufacturer to the FDA. Thus companies, simply took an approach of ZERO participation. After all, if they weren’t participating they weren’t able to “listen” and if they couldn’t listen, they’d never know about the adverse reactions. My how things have changed. Now, “The General Services Administration has urged agencies to learn from social media to fine tune their services, noting that intelligence gathered from social media can help agencies deliver services more effectively and, ultimately, save money.” Social and consumer behavior, eats risk for breakfast.

Privacy Groups Call for FTC Investigation on Facebook-WhatsApp Acquisition
People want their privacy back. They want it back now. This didn’t just happen overnight. It’s been brewing for some time. If you’re organization is thinking about making social a key part of your business strategy, apply a consumer lens to all your decisions and ask yourself, “would I want this?”

The First World Problems Of Living With Second World Internet Speed

Cut the cord they say. Just stream everything. Join Netflix. Don’t buy music, just listen to it from iTunes Radio, Pandora of Spotify. Move on to the new revolution of gaming, where platforms like the XBOX One require an always on connection so you can download content…on demand.

In theory this sounds amazing. And the geek in me relishes that promise. As a digital marketer and dad, I’m always connected. It’s part of the lifestyle. This morning, I was checking emails, while both kids were streaming Netflix. There were no hiccups. No congestion. No buffering. Everything just worked. Then again, I was in Minnesota, not at home.

We recently moved back to Chicago. It’s a big city, right? We bought a condo. Our building is awesome. It’s in a fantastic location. It has indoor parking (a rarity in Chicago). The combination of hardwood floors, high ceilings, big windows and awesome views make for the perfect new home. Well, not perfect. Almost perfect. There’s 1 big problem. Get your small violin and kleenex box out. The problem…the bones of the building are a bit old and we’re stuck with DSL. At present, there’s a “Cable Committee” (GIANT eye roll) investigating alternatives, because I’m not the only one feeling stuck in 1997.

Internet Speed By State

So you might say, well, what’s so bad about DSL? Great question, glad you asked. Before I answer, let me take a step back and provide some context. My first connection to the web was via AOL 2.0 on a 28.8 modem. We graduated to a 36.6 and we were blazing! When I left home and went to college I had my first taste of a T1/T3 setup. The entire University of Minnesota was wired for speed! Of course, these were the days when infrastructure outpaced demand. Well, until Napster, Grokster and Limewire appeared. As sharing networks like that gained traction we had finally had a situation where demand/usage matched the speed of the infrastructure. I’ve always been pretty fortunate when it comes to internet speed. Be it Omaha, Minneapolis or most recently, Camden, NJ, the pipe has been wide. At our last place in Camden, we were operating on a 100mbps connection. That’s just ridiculous. More ridiculous, we paid less than $60 a month for that. Today, we get about 12mbps at a cost of nearly $75 a month. Think about that…1/9 the speed for 25% more cost. How does that make sense? It doesn’t, but that’s a topic for another day.

For the past month, we’ve been living the DSL life. Is 12mbps slow? Is it really that bad? Well, based on the current global speed data, that puts us in the company of Aruba, Mexico, Kazakstan and Vietnam. For even more context, that’s just above Guam, Brazil and Qatar, but well below Uruguay, Ukraine and Slovenia. The United States speed average is 21mbps.

Ok, so now I’m off the soapbox. The 460 words above were equal parts rant and context. Similar to my experiment a few years back, when I deleted by Facebook account, at about day 3 of living with DSL, I started to ask myself, how can the experience make me a better and more informed marketer. There are 4 things I’ve taken away from the experience:

  1. We’re years away from a truly connected home that relies on the cloud. It’s not desire. It’s not interest. It’s not consumer spend. It’s something basic: infrastructure. I wrote on the subject of infrastructure strangling mobile’s growth in 2009. It did. It has. And, the recent changes to net neutrality are keeping mobile from becoming dominant. Companies should be “designing” heir experiences to a lower common denominator. Microsoft is the biggest culprit here. The XBOX One was designed as an always on experience. It’s constantly checking for updates and downloads. This was annoying on the 100mbps pipe in NJ. It was damn near catastrophic in the new place. I purchased a new game. Inserted the disc. Instead of playing immediately, it needed to download an update. That update took almost an hour. By that point, I didn’t even want to play. I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. As we think about new experiences to create for consumers, a major filter for me will now be, are we designing it to the right lowest common user?
  2. I’ve become less connected and more selective in what I do on the web. If you’re crippled by speed you have to adjust and change your behavior. For example, I’m back to a behavior I had in the mid 90s. I now setup all my updates before I go to bed and let them do their thing while I sleep. Before, I would have multi-tasked and done these types of things while I was also streaming a Netflix movie, after dinner. Speaking of Netflix, I haven’t watched 1 single thing. The experience is simply far too compromised. We need to create experiences that inspire a consumer to choose interacting with us, than all the other things they could do on the web. That’s a high bar.
  3. I’m thankful I never got rid of, nor did I stop investing in “analog” content formats. The 50,000 songs I have on my computer enable me to not rely on streaming Spotify. The 100 or so DVDs I own mean I’m not stuck waiting and waiting and waiting for Netflix, HBO GO or Hulu+ content. We think the world is digital and that digital provides a benefit over analog. Often times this is true. But, we need to consider that sometimes analog is faster, easier and better. My favorite example is list creating. No matter how cool a list making app is, it’s rarely faster or easier to use than a pen and a piece of paper. That’s what we’re up against, every day.
  4. The future is clearly mobile. I’ve used my cell phone or iPad, both on Verizon, as hot spots, more in the last 4 weeks than I ever have…combined. Seriously. As I looked into options to move off of DSL, the only consistent and real option was to use a LTE whole home device. I think it’s likely, I’m going to head in that direction. With that in mind, the consumption of content will happen more and more, away from home. In my role, it reinforces the need to make sure content is liquid, linked and loved.

Method Cards

This post wasn’t written to make you feel sorry for me. If you do, great. I certainly appreciate it. If you can set me up with something faster, I’d really appreciate it :) – no, this post was more about forgotten technique of walking a mile in your consumer’s shoes. IDEO’s famed Method Cards are designed to get consumers to look, listen, ask or try. As marketers we can get so caught up in the data, spreadsheets, decks and white papers that we forget to simply act like our consumers so we can understand them better. While I can appreciate that, I’d still really love to have my fast internet speed back…

First world problems, indeed.