Tag Archive: Twitter

Friday Five – March 14, 2014

The mobile single-purpose app strategy
http://bit.ly/1hiPYAN
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.
http://bit.ly/1hiNAKj
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
http://bit.ly/1hiOerg
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
http://on.mash.to/1hiOAhv
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
http://bit.ly/1hiPaMp
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.

The 15% Rule Has No Place In Today’s Digital World

Read “Where The Suckers Moon.” Seriously. Before you continue with this post, go to Amazon, add it your cart and check out. Get the Kindle version and the softcover version. Why? Simple; it’s the greatest book ever written about the advertising industry. That’s broad. For the purposes of this post, Randall Rothenberg in a few hundred pages, gives all the background you could ever want or need, to help understand why the 15% model was created and why it’s been so challenging to move off of that outdated model.

In the earliest days of advertising, an agency took a straight commission off of placing and buying media. That commission eventually settled around 15%. There were companies still using this model 10 years ago. Old habits die hard. That 15% commission became a defacto standard for how much an agency should be compensated relative to the media spend. If you spend $10M in media, you shouldn’t spend more than $1.5M to produce the creative needed to satisfy that media buy. Depending on who you talk to or what association you belong to, that 15% is as low as 10% for some categories or as high as 20% in others. But, the general average is STILL 15%.

The model was simple. It was clean. It enabled planning to be easier and faster, because everyone knew the compensation model. It was also a model that was born when we were only planning against a limited number of communication channels: TV (3 channels at most), print, radio and outdoor.

The model worked well for legacy media channels, because the distribution was expensive, but production was relatively cheap. Let’s take a real world example: the cost to create a commercial is roughly 600K. The media cost for a 30-second Super Bowl spot is roughly $4M. This places the ratio of agency spend to create the ad, right at 15%, which is right in line with historical averages used for the last 50 years. It’s also quite consistent with reports from major industry associations and reports.

Today, where we have such high media fragmentation this model falls apart. Marketing in a digital world, requires a completely different set of models and requires us to rethink how we’re spending our money. With digital, distribution is relatively cheap. It’s the creative that’s expensive. Those who understand and embrace this have settled between 30% and 40% for the dollars needed to support a digital driven campaign. It makes sense. The rough cost to create the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet was $2,000. That figure is based on the 15 minutes it took to create and publish the image, multiplied by the list of people who were attached to the Cannes submission for the ad, multiplied by a simple conservative blended rate of $200/hour.

Before we continue, let me clear, I’m not suggesting that Oreo actually paid 360i $2,000 for that tweet. I’m sure the cost to create that tweet, from an already once used image, was accounted for as part of a broader client/agency fee agreement. The $2,000 is a real number however. It’s the real dollars needed to create that tweet as a one-off piece of creative…just like the $600K is the relative cost to create a one-off Super Bowl commercial.

With that said, think about that…$2,000 for 1 tweet. What if you need 8 great tweets a day, every day for a year? Well then you’d be spending $4.38M in just twitter creative. Even with a volume discount of 50%, you’re talking $2.19M per year. AND, that’s just twitter? We know the digital patch quilt world we operate in is much larger than just twitter. We need creative and content for Facebook, Pinterest, your emails, Instagram, your website, Tumblr and so on.

But, for the sake of simplification, let’s just focus on twitter. And more specifically, let’s just focus on a 1 day twitter campaign. The most recent publicly documented cost for a promoted trend is $200K. A promoted trend can generate upwards of 90M impressions as seen my Coca-Cola, more is more generally in the 30M impression range. Let’s split the difference at 50M impressions for an average trend campaign.

Creative wear-out is a reality. If you show someone the same ad enough times they either take action or start tuning it out. With digital display, the rule of thumb is you need 1 creative unit per every 1.5M – 3M impressions. The variance is tied directly to the reach/frequency model you need for your category (eg auto vs. CPG). Twitter, of course, isn’t display. We check twitter several times a day. If anything you’d need more messages/creative units because the wear out would happen faster. That said, since there’s no publicly available data to substantiate that, we’ll roll with the following campaign specifics:

  • 1 Promoted Trend Campaign
  • $200,000 for the cost of the trend campaign
  • The campaign would yield 50M impressions with creative wear-out happening at 1.5M impressions
  • The cost to create an award winning tweet is $2,000

So with the above, we would need 33 creative units/messages at a cost of $2,000 per piece of creative for a total cost of $66,000. At that cost and the cost of the promoted trend, we’ve clearly exceeded the 15% “rule.” We’re at 33% (I did the math for you). If we get our bulk discount of 50%, we’re at 16.5%. Based on my experience, when you consider the cost of the account coordinator to open the job # to the Chief Creative Officer to sign off on the job, the cost is going to be more than $750.

Keep in mind, our example is limited to twitter. We haven’t even started looking at the costs to then produce creative unique to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other large social platforms, across the very fragmented digital landscape.

Screens are getting smaller and more varied.  The number of “media” channels consumers are flocking to is exponentially increasing. Consider that Vine, Jelly, SnapChat, Medium and so many others didn’t even exist a year ago. We’re adding more and more places to visit every day…yet the time we’re spending at those places is becoming more and more fleeting. To me, this means we, as marketers, get even less time to make an impact with our consumers. And that’s why you need award winning level creative every single time. You can’t deliver C-level creative experiences. They all need to be A-level. Creating A-level creative, means making your creative unique to each publisher, placement, consumer segment and person.

For years, traditional marketers have taken issue with a “shotgun” approach to marketing. The argument is that it’s too broad and not focused. Some I’ve worked with, favor a “champagne pyramid” approach to marketing, where you fill up the top glass (usually TV) and only delve into another marketing channel, after the first glass is full. This trickle down approach to marketing spend simply isn’t consistent with today’s digital world; it’s antiquated, but easy to manage.

Is it any wonder that people who cling to a champagne pyramid approach to marketing, still cling to the 15% rule; something created over 50 years ago?

I can’t tell you if the right percentage is 20%, 30%, 50%. But, I can tell you the 15% rule has no place in today’s digital world.

Now, go buy Where The Suckers Moon…now!

Friday Five – December 27, 2013

Big Data and the Role of Intuition
http://bit.ly/1kIxGN3
Harvard Business Review is always a mixed bag for me. Often the content is basic/fundamental, masquerading as brilliant. But, every once in a while you get something like this gem on the need to remember that algorithms, platforms and machines can only get you so far. You can’t set them to auto-pilot and think the work is done. As a marketer you have a big role to play, when it comes to making sense of what all that big data actually means. Sometimes, your gut, is pretty smart.

Buzzfeed’s coverage of Justine Sacco story: An ethical issue?
http://bit.ly/1kIyWzv
Because we’re dealing with the righteous web, let me get out a quick disclaimer. What Justine Sacco tweeted was dumb. It was wrong. It should never have been said or thought. It also pales in comparison to what’s said on Southpark, Family Guy and Tosh.O. I’ve seen a lot of coverage about the Justine Sacco situation. Some of it good. Some of it bad. I came across this article from Arik Hanson and it was decidedly different. It doesn’t analyze Justine, her tweet or even the mob mentality that followed. No, it takes a look at what’s passing as “journalism.” As we saw with the Boston Marathon tragedy, too many people are focused on being first, not focused on being right. First, wins the ratings battle. Being right, but second, earns you a set of steak knives. One other quick note, you know how Forbes or someone will write an article about how more C-suite executives need to be on twitter? When we see situations like this, it’s more reason for not do me on twitter. On twitter, even the average person is a “celebrity” with all of twitter, the largest paparazzi in the world. Think before you tweet. Your job depends on it.

Redefining Advertising: How 2013 Transformed Digital Marketing
http://bit.ly/1kIzQwa
The Google Insights team put together a fantastic infographic covering how much change there was in digital marketing in 2013. While I think there was a great deal of appreciation and understanding, by companies, for the changing consumer landscape; there’s still a significant gap between what’s happening (eg mobile, multi-screen) and spend shifts.

The Trends That Ruled Pinterest In 2013
http://bit.ly/1kIAiKI
When asked about Pinterest, I often smile. As a marketer, it’s a goldmine. Pinterest is 100% about expression. When you look at what people pin, you get a view into their hopes, wishes, memories and aspirations. The Read Write Web team built upon Pinterest’s top pins in 2013 blog post and went a bit deeper. Who knew so many people wanted to visit Iceland?

Why Is Facebook Blue? The Science Behind Colors In Marketing
http://bit.ly/1kIAQQW
I had so much fun reading this post from Fast Company. I won’t steal their thunder. Frankly, their writing is much better than mine. Colors do matter and brands clearly pick them with specific purpose and intent.

The Color Emotion Guide

#Hashtags Are Now The Language That Binds Us

In 2009 I singled out a major problem with twitter…hashtags. That same problem exists today. You and I could be both watching the Grammy’s and tweeting about it. You might be using the hashtag #grammys and I might be using #grammys13. People following each hashtag will be seeing 2 very different conversations, although both hashtags are talking about the same topic.

In 2009, sponsored tweets didn’t exist. It’s existence today and use by companies softened the “chaos of hashtags.” But, the real game changer was the integration of hashtags into mainstream media, like TV shows. If you’ve somehow missed this, turn on American Idol, look at the lower right hand corner and you’ll see a prominently placed hashtag. That hashtag is telling all the people watching to centralize their conversation on twitter against that hashtag. Smart. But, that only helped close the gap; it didn’t eliminate it.

I think the big effort to close the gap came from Nike. No surprise there. Nike is one of the few organizations with the ability to see around the corner, tap into everyday culture and push the bounds of marketing. On January 1, 2013, after being woefully dormant on social media, they came to the party in a big way with their #makeitcount campaign. The hashtag was used in print, tv and of course twitter. But, in the first steps of its kind, it was also used in Instagram. Since launching, Nike’s account rocketed to the top of the most followed Instagram account. More importantly #makeitcount permeated society and became a way people from all walks of life could share their athletic efforts…however big or small.

There’s a general rule in marketing, when Nike does it, the evolution of marketing advances, but people will say, “yeah, but that’s Nike. We’re not Nike.” So the next thing that needs to happen is for P&G or Coke to do whatever Nike did. For whatever reason, that’s the validation we seem to need as a marketing community, before we try something different. Well, if Nike was the first shoe to drop, here’s the other foot:

Coke #showyourheart

Yes, you’re reading that right. It’s a hashtag on packaging. What? Yep, a hashtag on packaging. The hashtag is part of a pretty amazing campaign from Coke, called #showyourheart. It would seem that Coke is really on trend here, especially with Facebook’s very recent announcement that they will begin using hashtags as a way to search their social graph.

Admittedly, as a marketer who likes to push boundaries, I’m jealous of this effort from Coke. I think it’s smart, on trend, a bit edgy and different. That’s why we got into marketing right? Well, besides to drive the business. You get my point. What Coke did wasn’t just smart, it was cost efficient. It’s almost zero cost to change the printing plate to allow for the inclusion of a hashtag. Even if you didn’t want to go that BIG with the inclusion, you could simply replace the URL on the back of the can, box, pouch, bag, etc. with the hashtag…as an experiment. Folks, this is real time test and learn…at almost no cost. It’s certainly a less costly investment than Oreo’s Super Bowl ad with the Instagram hashtag call to action. For those of you who only paid attention to their “dunk in the dark” tweet, yes Oreo had a Super Bowl ad :)

In 4 years, hashtags have gone from something geeky to something that’s nearly commonplace language. What we’re seeing with Coke is the tip of the iceberg. With Coke and Nike invested, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else jumps into the pond. My advice, get there fast, while it’s still new, fresh, different and likely to generate an action. The minute it becomes too mainstream you’ll see conversion rates decrease as consumers are overwhelmed with options. Also, don’t stop at hashtags. We’ve seen the evolution of digital calls to action go from “AOL keyword {insert keyword} to URLs to Facebook icons to, now, hashtags. Something else will replace it.

The big lesson here is look for ways to bind your marketing efforts together. If you want to call it, integrating “paid, owned and earned,” have at it. Personally, I think those are bad labels, but if it’s what you need to think about integrating your efforts, great. At the intersection of culture and communication is the opportunity to stretch your dollars and make your marketing all the more effective.

Get your track shoes on. It’s going to accelerate and change fast. #hashtagsarenowthelanguagethatbindsus

Moments Happen Every Day

As we move to an age of what some are calling “real time marketing” we need to consider how to make our marketing more meaningful. This past Super Bowl was a tipping point for brands who might have been on the fence about social media marketing. Efforts by Audi, Oreo and Walgreens highlighted how providing quick and contextual marketing during an event can breakthrough. This post by Jay Baer does a great job of highlighting how hard it is to do great marketing. Notice, I didn’t say great social marketing or great “real time marketing.” I said great marketing. Getting to great marketing is tough. It takes a near perfect storm of the right brand, the right team, the right opportunity and the right stage.

The key for making a lot of this work is being honest about the social currency your brand has. Not all brands have a natural social currency that leads to a natural intersection of pop culture (eg The Oscars) and marketing. Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning. “Real Time Marketing” or whatever we need to call it, isn’t just about events, it’s about being in the moment…and moments happen every day, not just during the Super Bowl, Oscars or Grammy’s.

I tend to think this is less about real time marketing and more about right time marketing. Real time marketing, as currently conceived, seems almost forced. It’s being fast for the sake of being fast. Right time marketing is more about making sure the right message, is delivered at the right time to the right audience. This isn’t easy. It takes work. It takes effort. It’s a process. It’s a marathon.

It definitely requires some new wiring internally. That re-wiring takes time. But, eventually the muscle memory gets there and it simply becomes the way you create amazing experiences.

As I turn the lens inward, we’ve evolved in the last year. I see progress every day. We, like many brands, definitely stepped up our game following the Super Bowl. For example, this effort by our Campbell Kitchen team during the Grammy’s sticks out as nailing the right moment with the right creative at the right time:

There’s still work to be done. We’re not 100% bright. No one is. That’s the fun.

There’s a certain level of “geek” in all of us. It’s part of what gets us excited when we see a great ad. One of the most challenging things is balancing the inner-geek with what’s right for the business. The inner-geek wants to do the things that are interesting, cool, innovative and headline grabbing. But, I have a responsibility to my team, the great brands I work on and the company who trusted me in this position. The easiest way to temper that inner-geek is to remind myself it’s about driving a brand’s success, not my own personal success.

The First Real-Time Super Bowl

Tonight, I watched the Super Bowl in Florida, during the iMedia Brand Summit. That basically means, I got to watch the Super Bowl with 200+ marketers. It’s a very different viewing experience than watching with your friends and family who aren’t involved in marketing, advertising, technology, digital or social media. I’ll let Mashable and every other major publication cover the lessons learned, best ads vs worst ads, winners vs losers, etc. They’re much better at it than I am. That said, I wanted to touch on 3 very quick observations.

  1. It’s 2012 and not much as changed when it comes to “TV” and digital calls to action. Since circa 1997 digital folks have been begging their clients and traditional creative teams to include a URL in the ad. The traditional thinkers obliged around 2000 by putting the URL in the last frame and in 2 pt font (something a bit larger than legal lines in ads). The argument for not including it throughout the entire commercial or in a larger font is generally something esoteric like, “we don’t want to interrupt the viewing experience” or “adding the URL at the very end is the perfect bookend to the commercial; they’ll be more apt to take action when it’s the last thing they see.” Both are hogwash. It’s 2013 and URLs, when they’re included, are still on the last frame and are still barely above a 2 pt font size. When they weren’t included, hashtags were. Roughly 50% of marketers chose a hashtag to be included in their ads. Awesome. Makes sense, given all the 2nd screen usage during the game. But, 2013 is just like 2000. Yes, hashtags were included, but they were included in the very last frame and in small font sizes. Sigh. As an industry, we still haven’t evolved.
  2. Including paid search to surround your Super Bowl marketing efforts, was something overlooked by many advertisers, 10 years ago. In my favorite example of how much of a mistake it was to forget about pad search during the Super Bowl, check out this post from AdAge about Ford and GM, from 2006. Yes, even 7 years ago, we were still making the same mistakes. This year, I’d say most marketers had paid search accounted for. But, they traded their former misses in SEM with not being tuned in to the real-time needs in social. Here’s a great example of what Oreo, Walgreens and Audi (in my opinion the best presence during the Super Bowl across all touch-points) did during the Super Bowl…when the lights went out. It’s impressive for a multitude of reasons, but to me, what impresses the most, is how well there organizations must be wired to move that quickly. Speed, in social, wins. It always has. But, today, it’s not just speed, in social. It’s speed in everything you do in marketing.
  3. Marketers get more amped about the intricacies of what a brand did or didn’t do during the Super Bowl. The average consumer, in my humble opinion, doesn’t seem to care. When I looked at my own person social feeds on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. it was clear that those talking about the ads the most were marketers, not “regular” people. The regular people were talking about the game, the half-time show and occasionally talked about the ads. When they did talk about the ads, it was generally a simple statement that made it clear they either liked or didn’t like the ad. It makes you think for a second, why do we listen to the arm-chair advice from other marketers, when it’s our consumers who we’re trying to connect with?

I think this was the first real-time and multi-screen Super Bowl. We saw it in the ads, the calls to action, the speed in brand responses and how consumers voiced their thoughts. The bar is higher than it’s ever been. If you’re going to spend roughly $4 million dollars on a Super Bowl ad, you need to think about the real total cost to cover social media monitoring, real-time content, the supporting digital elements, etc. Stepping on to the biggest stage isn’t just the media cost and the cost to produce the spot. There’s so much more. Consider that fact when you plan out, not just next year’s Super Bowl campaign, but frankly, every campaign you do.

Investing In Innovation

I’ve always believed that money follows great ideas. It’s a maxim I’ve seen time and time again over the past 15 years. There’s no secret formula for “finding” dollars. It really is as simple as coming up with meaty ideas that are grounded in insights.

Despite that level of simplicity, the market is saturated a multitude of innovation investment models. They’re generally referred to as innovation investment, because they are supplementary to the “base” plan. It’s because they are supplementary or incremental that they come under such scrutiny. But, it’s also why money follows great ideas.

The 70/20/10 approach, made famous by Coca-Cola, is one that’s widely touted and often quoted. I’ve been in far too many meetings where the 70/20/10 model or some other approach are referenced as how their company should think about innovation investment. But, every organization is different and unique. Simply copying or applying a competitors’ model doesn’t guarantee success. In some cases it may even increase the likelihood that the gap between you and the competition remains the same. Think about it; your company is #2 in the category. You realize that the company who’s #1 in the category uses the 70/20/10 model and you decide to have your company adopt the same model. So now you’re copying your competitor’s playbook. The only problem of course, is, you aren’t your competition. The simple copying and pasting of their model to your organization won’t help you close the gap; it simply helps you maintain it.

At Campbell, we value insights over opinions and believe that in today’s digital world, speed wins. Our decision making model ensures we not only move at the pace needed of the market, our customers and consumers, but that we understand the value we’ll have returned back to us. There’s no single formula that governs our approach, it’s more of an investment philosophy. We’re setting our brands up for long term success by having a digital philosophy that puts our consumers first.

While, I can’t give away the secret sauce, I can say, we have both discipline and flexibility. The combination of the two ensures we have a long term investment approach that enables us to evaluate the opportunities that come up every day.

Our recent partnership with twitter, on the beta launch of their interest-based targeting ad product for Campbell’s Kitchen and our integration of Campbell’s GO Soup with the launch of Angry Birds Star Wars, are just two programs that are byproducts of our philosophy. We invest based on the right opportunity, not based on a formula. Formulas are black and white. The digital world and marketing landscape are grey.

The Gap Between Brands And People In Social ME-Dia

Mind The Gap

The more I view the social media streams of my friends, colleagues and the people on social networksI follow, but haven’t met, the more I’m seeing social becoming a means for broadcasting “ME.” Oh, sure, it’s not just photos of yourself or tweets about yourself or videos with you as the star. But, make no mistake, it’s becoming social ME-dia. It’s becoming more about look at me. Let me break it down:

Instagram: Look at what I’m eating; doesn’t it look tasty?. Look at what I’m seeing; don’t you wish you were seeing it live? Look at what I’m experiencing; you’re missing out.

foursquare: Look where I am; don’t you wish you were here too?

Pinterest: Look at what I want; will you get it for me? Look at my style; aren’t I trendy?

Twitter: Look at how insightful I am about [insert topic]; don’t you share my insight?

Facebook: Look at my major life change [wedding, new home, new car, etc.]; please rejoice and applaud.

I’m not quite sure when this trend started. I don’t know if it’s always been there, but I was blind to it. But, it’s there, staring us in the face. But, here’s the problem. As brands we’re trained to make it all about us. Sure, we wrap it, in a warm velvety blanket called consumer value. Let’s look at this from a traditional brand’s point of view.

Instagram: Look at how great our photo is; won’t you please comment on it?

foursquare: Look at the deal you could get, just by checking in; won’t you tell your friends you’re here?

Pinterest: Look at all the great “things” we sell; don’t you want it?

Twitter: Look at how helpful we are; would you retweet us?

Facebook: Look at how interesting we are, won’t you “like” us?

Have you ever been in a room where two very confident extraverts are having a conversation? It’s funny to watch. You have 2 people who don’t know how to listen…how to make it about the other person. They try to one-up one another…oh really, you just got a new car? That’s great, I got a new house. Oh, you just became VP of something, I just became the youngest partner at XYZ.

Well, that comical experience, of which I admittedly have been a participant of, is strangely similar to the stand-off taking place between many brands and their consumers/customers in social media. There’s plenty of guilt to go around. This isn’t just brands being focused on their own interests. This is also about consumers needing to be less focused on themselves and more focused on actual partnership.

The greatest potential in social comes from unlocking the mutually shared passion and interests between brands and their consumers. Call it what you want…there’s lots of fun buzzwords, like co-creation. This is the gap. This is the gap you have to solve for. But, before you can solve for the gap, you must mind the gap…you must recognize it exists…you must understand why it exists. The reason why it exists will be different for every brand and every consumer in every category. That’s a reality.

But, if we, as consumers and brands, don’t choose to mind the gap, it will widen. If it widens, the potential that exists in social media will never be realized.

Walgreens Launches Social Care

One of the most gratifying parts of my role at Walgreens as head of social media is getting to see other people throughout the organization get excited about the value social media can bring to them, their team, our customers and our patients. When I first started at Walgreens there were so many ideas and so many areas we could prioritize. We needed a strong strategy; something we could rally around; something we could use as a litmus test to evaluate ideas.

As I’ve mentioned many times, for Walgreens, we believe that with social there’s a way to connect our 6 Million Customers with our 250,000 employees every day. Think about that. We have 6 Million customers every single day and we have 250,000 team members that wake up every day ready to help them.

“Connect” was a word we chose carefully. The beauty of the word is that it can enable a multitude of teams to deliver a wide variety of initiatives to keep Walgreens at the forefront of healthcare.

Well, in January, we launched Walgreens Social Care, a cross-team effort to bring even better customer care to our patients. Using the enterprise platforms we chose to manage and evaluate social AND the smarts of our most important asset; our team members we are scaling social across our organization.

We’ve been actively helping our customers in social for years. Even before I joined, our team was proactively reaching out to customers who had a question, wanted to provide feedback or needed help. But, this is a formalization of that dedication to customer care. Walgreens Social Care is just another example of how we’re helping customers by humanizing social media. With more of our customers choosing social media as the first place to turn for connecting with a brand, we felt it was important to launch a more formal destination for them to connect with our team.

Right now, Walgreens Social Care is only available on twitter. This isn’t because we don’t believe care can be provided on other social networks. It’s because we have a belief that insights are important. We leveraged insights from our social media monitoring tools and direct customer feedback. Those insights and feedback helped us understand that when we launched Walgreens Social Care, twitter was the first place to focus. Beyond insights, we also took into account that the twitter eco system is designed for real time personal communication.

Every day we learn something new, this program will impact future decisions about how we provide the best care to our customers. I’m excited to see how we continue evolving Walgreens Social Care and how we can continue to evolve social, as a whole, across our great company. I can’t say enough about our leadership. They continue to support initiatives like this…that we launch as a “pilot,” but a pilot that has a very clear visions for our end state.

Last June, just after I started at Walgreens, I wrote:

From the top to the bottom and across the organization, there’s a belief that social isn’t just an external initiative. We need to make sure we’re setup as an organization to embrace and leverage social. The scope of the role will include leadership across internal, external and supplier initiatives.

Walgreens Social Care is a very clear and honest demonstration of that sentiment. It makes me feel good to know that what I felt then is what I still feel.

We have a long road to go; we all do…any organization that continues to break new ground and boldly enter into social in an enterprise-wide way, has a long road. We can improve. We can get better. We make Walgreens Social Care something bigger, bolder, better and even more valuable. If you have ideas, thoughts or recommendations for how we can become the standard for customer care in social, email me directly. I’d love to get your thoughts.

The Case For The Return On Amazing

Over the past few days I attended the Social Commerce Strategies conference in Las Vegas, NV. Honestly, it was one of the best organized conferences I’ve attended. Well done to the team putting together the entire event.

I had the opportunity to connect with a wide range of organizations looking to turn social into a revenue generator. We heard from Dell, Coke, Travelocity, Whirlpool, GNC, Shop Igniter, Wal-Mart Labs and a host of others. The following is a summation of key take-aways that spanned the multiple presentations, panels and conversations that took place:

  1. Social is an accelerator, not a direct generator: This was a big theme and something the Wal-Mart Labs championed. Social helps you make the cash register ring faster and with greater impact, but the mistake many organizations make is treating it like it’s own revenue channel. This was akin to early eCommerce websites, where the online experience was completely separate from the in-store experience. But, as those sites evolved, the connection between online and store became greater. Social should be considered the same way.
  2. Predictive Analysis: Very impressive presentation from the Wal-Mart labs team. They believe that they can predict an online customer’s behavior with 90%+ accuracy based on the social graph data (likes, dislikes, interests, what they’ve shared, etc.) and shopping history. ShoppyCat, though low in “usage” is considered a success by the labs team because of the increased data acquired and it’s impact on future shopping experiences on WalMart.com.
  3. The Hunt For Social Signals: Social offers us signals that should guide our decisions. What someone does in social leaves a digital fingerprint. But, those finger prints are often ignored because they seem small in the grand scheme of things and we’re usually focused on large social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But, when we look beyond those large networks, we start to see signals, a la cookies, that can help us guide what content to show and when.
  4. Expressions over Impressions: A near continuation of #3, but people are now leveraging social to express themselves. Pinterest is a great example of this. The photos they pin are an expression and representation of the user. The best social experiences enable customers to express themselves. Coke referenced several initiatives for their Vitamin Water brand where they’re experimenting with this concept…some have worked and others not so much. I think Beauty and Photo for Walgreens have huge opportunity under this thinking.
  5. Pay To Play: As social networks look to monetize and in some cases start delivering shareholder value (e.g. Google+) the ability to simply build on the backs of these networks organically is becoming harder and harder. A brand will either need to invest in complimentary advertising to make people aware of their initiative or invest in better and more compelling experiences. Both cost incremental dollars.
  6. Social + Search = Gold Mine: Everyone agrees this is future. Social and search will continue integrating to provide a better and more personal set of search engine results. Brands will need to make decisions based on perceived intent. For example, if I search Walgreens Facebook Promotion, I should be driving someone to Facebook, not Walgreens.com. It seems basic and simple, but few brands are doing this. With only limited dollars to go around, it’s tough to justify driving someone to your Facebook page where the instant purchase opportunity is low. The efforts by Google+, in this area, will be interesting to watch. The prevailing thought and said by the head of social at Whirlpool was, “start thinking about your Google+ strategy and working closer with Google than you ever have before. If you don’t you’ll end up far behind.”

I presented on both a panel and a session called The Case For The Return on Amazing. The slides can be found here:

The video from slide 44 can be seen here:

All in all a good trip with lots of knowledge exchanged.

One think I did want to call out, since it came up in a lot of the offline conversations is that “tinkering” could be the next big thing for large organizations. Companies like Dell and Wal-Mart have teams dedicated to the idea of tinkering. What’s tinkering? It’s the concept of giving a team a problem, they in turn “tinker” and generate ideas. The ideas are rapidly prototype and thrust into social channels for immediate feedback. Bad ideas are dropped. Good ideas stick. And great ideas become something bigger. It’s innovation the way it should be…like a startup!

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Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

spirited conversation. These are my thoughts and ramblings, not those of my employer.
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