Archive for the ‘andrew bowins’ Category

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Image via Wikipedia

So I want to talk a little bit about getting control of the organization and control of the dollars you need to get the job done.

More than ever in my career I find myself, as a communications executive, fighting for a seat at the table with senior management, and acting more and more as an adviser, fighting for relevance as a “new model marketeer.” And it’s tempting to turn this into a debate over who controls social media….

In fact, there’s already been a tremendous amount of attention in the blogosphere and trade press to the question of “who controls social media,” and whether it’s marketing or communications, and on the importance of getting people out of their silos. And that’s important so I don’t want to denigrate it – people do need to get out of their silos if those silos are built around a media model that no longer works.

But, ultimately, “who controls social media” probably isn’t the right question, because mobile and social media are channels just like print is a channel and I don’t know that anyone is going to fully “control” them within any organization.  Does someone own newspapers in your company?  I doubt it. A major UK newspaper recently reported that “director of social media” has become the latest must-have for companies, but honestly, that’s the result of lazy thinking by some CEO who knows there’s something called social media, he doesn’t know what it is but he knows he needs somebody who does, so he says “let’s get a director of social media.” In the short term, it may help you get up to speed, but it will generate a lot of turf wars and in the long run it makes about as much sense as a “director of newsprint.” Successful companies are approaching this more thoughtfully, integrating mobility and social media into everything they do.

 Whatever the organizational structure, it is our responsibility as communications officers to establish discipline in the company’s messages, and that’s especially important if we’re going to deputize people – as we must – to act in real time, without a lot of layers of review and approval. In my own company, at Nokia, we’ve got something like 70 people who are performing communications functions online but who aren’t in the communications group. I’m less worried about reorganizing the company than I am in just making sure we can enforce consistent message discipline and transparency across the board, no matter who they report to.

If we, as communications leaders, are going to play that role, we need to demonstrate to management the indispensability of these new channels, and our own effectiveness in using them.


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Lady GaGa concert

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, I am starting to enjoy the regular writing on this subject and the ideas that have been stimulated in the process. We left off last time with a challenge about the tools we need. Today, I want to rant a little on what I have learned from Lady Gaga and how it impacts me as a PR pro.

In short – if you’re not using those tools in real time, and as real communication tools, especially after you raise your customers’ expectations, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.  Not only with your customers.  At some point your company’s board of directors is going to want to know what you are doing to manage the risk associated with social media.  In fact, at companies like Nokia, IBM, Novartis and others, the stakes in social media have been raised so high that their boards are now requiring a thorough review of the risk associated with social media and a mitigation plan for each.  This truly represents the elevation of social media to the highest levels of the enterprise.  I should point out that none of these companies have chosen to avoid or hide from the new realities of social media rather they are confronting the opportunity and its risks head on much like they would any other operational risk associated with their business.

Believe it or not, we have a lot to learn from Lady Gaga. You think she’s not a business? She’s building a brand, just like all of us are. Forbes quoted a media expert saying “she is directing every frame of her music and her life imagining what clips will appear on YouTube and what people will Tweet after she appears on the VMA’s (That’s Video Music Awards for those of you over 35.).”

In addition, a comprehensive social media campaign for her, orchestrated by Universal Music Group, featured daily Facebook and Twitter updates, a blog and more. She became the first living person with 10 million fans on Facebook…  Now she has 27 million Facebook fans, and more than 7.8 million Twitter followers. The payoff? 11,500 mainstream media stories cited her just in 2009. Sure, it’s easier for a pop star than a detergent manufacturer to generate buzz, but remember: she was dealing with a very crowded field, and used a carefully orchestrated strategy that is all business.

Of course, more conventional companies are moving more aggressively into social media. Nissan invested heavily in it for the debut of its new electric car, the Leaf. The car has had its share of problems, primarily availability issues. But a combination of micro-site, Facebook page, and Twitter presence is helping Nissan gauge marketplace attitudes, manage expectations, and respond to criticism.

 And Old Spice last year, a mature, even stodgy brand, revitalized itself with one of the fastest-growing online video campaigns in the relatively brief history of such things. I’m sure you’ve all seen the “I’m the man your man could smell like” campaign. It started with simple TV ads, which went viral on YouTube, and follow-up videos and tweets. The result: Ad Week estimated the campaign reached 110 million, “surpassing the reach of traditional broadcast.”

Now, a lot of you are probably sitting there thinking, “Sure, that’s easy for you to say. You work for a mobile company. This stuff is your bread and butter. But how are we going to do this? How are we going to staff for it? Where do we start?”

Stay tuned for the answers in my next rant…..

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How can we maintain control of our brands?

no control












In fact, the lesson we’ve learned over the past years is that we cannot fully control our brands anymore (it’s quite possible we were never in control, but now we can actually see and hear our lack of control more readily).

The digital ecosystem is too complex, the opportunities for third parties to interfere too numerous, to really exercise control. Instead, we need to think of ourselves as moderators and participants in the constant conversation flow about our companies, their products, and their brands.

But this is not a reason to throw up one’s hands. If things are spinning out of control, they are not spinning out of our ability to influence. And social media has provided the greatest “touch point” opportunity on the planet. Facebook in particular has succeeded in bringing hundreds of millions of people together onto a common platform, and the worst thing you could do is fail to participate — at least consider participating – in some way.

One way to “control” the message is to attempt to drive that activity from social networks to your own, branded web sites. But increasingly, we at Nokia think that is a mistake. Instead, more and more we are “fishing where the fish are,” and “syndicating” our content on social media platforms to engage and motivate consumers to take action directly from there.

For too many companies, the response to the new mobile and social media environment has been simply to create apps. “Get me an app so I can check the box,” seems to be a common attitude. But it is not enough. We are seeing the device screen itself become an important place for communicating with our customers through text messages, for instance. Last year, we sent 1.1 billion messages to mobile users directly from our servers, and customer response has roughly matched the conversion rate we get from direct email.

In this new environment, it’s critical to map and understand how consumers navigate a “digital ecosystem” in which lots of intermediaries help shape their opinion. Product review sites, forums, social media, and all sorts of other digital influencers stand between us and our customers, and if you haven’t studied that digital ecosystem and mapped out how your own customers are negotiating it, you’ve already let the situation spin out of control.

You need to know all those touch points where your customers are being influenced. You need to be engaged in those conversations in relevant and valuable ways. And you need to be responding rapidly.  If digital communications have created a need for rapid-response capability, the increasing use of mobile creates a need for immediate response capability. That’s especially true as mobile devices increasingly gain the ability to monitor and transmit information in real time. If your organization can’t do anything or say anything without layers and layers of review and approval, you’re going to be “dead in the water.”

One of my favorite examples can be found in how the various European airlines reacted to the air space closings and flight cancellations caused by the volcanic eruptions in Iceland last year. The Website Travel 2.0 compared how well – or how badly – different airlines used social media like Twitter to keep customers informed and ease rebooking.

KLM got the highest marks. It deployed Twitter for rebooking requests, Facebook for FAQ and other information, and a combination of YouTube and Facebook for a video message from the CEO. Lufthansa and British Airways were also praised, though less lavishly. But Air France was sharply criticized for ignoring YouTube entirely and giving Facebook and Twitter short shrift because they weren’t the “official” company sites (Remember what I said earlier about fishing where the customers are, and not necessarily trying to drive everything to your site?).

In particular, Air France was chided for having a “Follow Us on Twitter” banner on its web site. “Why would I follow you on Twitter?” Travel 2.0 wrote. “So I could not be updated?”[1]

In short – if you’re not using those tools in real time, and as real communication tools, especially after you raise your customers’ expectations, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

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Smart Phone Bandit

Image by Ribbit Voice via Flickr

Okay after a a couple more days of thought, I have a few more random ideas to express. I think this blog may end up being a keynote if all goes well. I would love to get your ideas and feedback. So with that, her is part two of my thoughts and rants. :

Section 2:

With the growth of 4G networks, we’re going to see a lot more streaming video, including exponential increases in user-generated live video. That’s already happening.

But a little further down the road, I believe we will see two major breakthroughs reach the marketplace:

[Hold up a piece of paper.] Here’s a simple piece of paper. Nothing special. Except it does one really extraordinary thing. [Fold it in thirds, and put it in your inside breast pocket.]

So far, that’s the one thing we haven’t been able to do with our electronic devices. Either we’ve got a screen that’s small and really portable, or a screen that’s big and not so easily portable. Tablet computers are trying to split the difference, but you still can’t fold an iPad and put it in your pocket, and typing on one is no picnic, either.

I predict that within the next two years, maybe three, we will see some long-talked-about solutions for this problem come to market, and they will take three different forms. One is a foldable or scrollable screen that would come closer to replicating paper than anything we’ve had so far. Another is technology that would permit easy projection of the image from your mobile device onto any surface, and allow you to manipulate the projected image the way you currently manipulate the touch screen on a smart phone or tablet.

Yet a third approach will be wearable devices. Of course, that’s not entirely new – we’ve had wearable earpieces for some time. But these would be wearable – similar to eyeglasses but less intrusive– and would provide a large-format visual experience in a very compact and portable way.

Of course, there are drawbacks, not the least of which is that there are many circumstances where providing someone with a more immersive experience may not be the best idea. This sort of thing could make the problems of texting while driving seem tame by comparison. And you have to wonder whether we want people walking down the street or standing at the edge of subway platforms while they’re engrossed in the latest movie, a football game, or . . . well, I leave that to your imagination.

The other major technological development will be major advances in making telepresence mobile – I personally am very excited about this. Some of you may be familiar with HP’s “Halo” telepresence technology, which is currently used in fixed locations, primarily for videoconferencing. It’s a wonderful technology, but its usefulness is limited by its restriction to those fixed locations.

Now, imagine if that technology is freed from the conference room to travel with you. And you can talk to and “hang out” with your wife and kids, not just in a life-like video conference but in a far more realistic telepresence. You can watch them play soccer in that game you just could not make. You can go shopping with someone and help them pick out clothing. The possibilities for virtual companionship – and the opportunities those present for communicators – are nearly endless.

There will continue to be a profusion of apps for smart phones and other mobile devices, but when you really think about it, the app is more a device for entrepreneurs to monetize their inventions than an efficient way to provide computing capability. In the next 1000 days you can expect to see a shift away from the profusion of all these individual apps that clutter up your devices to more intelligent, adaptive applications that learn from their users and proactively meet your personal needs and solve your problems.

Obstacles remain. Some are financial – as with apps, products based on these new technologies eventually need to be monetized or they won’t remain in the marketplace. And we need to see more seamless interoperability of devices. It’s getting better, but our devices are still siloed. It’s cumbersome to get your laptop to talk to your phone, and it’s still nearly impossible to have them talk to your refrigerator or your car or the thermostat in your house. That will change, but perhaps more slowly than we would like, and the benefits of universal standards will need to be worth their cost.

Meanwhile, we can expect the mobile social media phenomenon to grow. And here I mean not only Facebook and Twitter, but the broad range of interactive communications that are tying people together, as Facebook attempts to become more of an email and IM platform. People will not only be sharing opinions, pictures, and experiences instantaneously, but we will see an increase in the automated sharing of information, such as the location-based alerts provided from Foursquare or alerts that convey health status or other information.

As these advances in technology make communications more mobile and more immersive, and as social media provide people with ever more opportunities and modes of interaction, how do we as marketers and communicators maintain control of our messages? How can we maintain control of our brands?

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