digital strategy, How to, social networks

Top five skill sets of today’s digital strategists

I get a significant amount of natural search visitor traffic [a.k.a. Google] against two key phrases —  “digital strategy job description” and “resigning from IBM“.    Since I resigned from IBM six years ago, I thought I’d offer a quick update on the role a digital strategist plays in today’s advertising industry.

At first consideration, people may think that the bulk of a digital strategist’s time is spent writing digital strategies.  But alas – that is only a small part of the role today.

Being in the position to write a digital strategy assumes that you or your client clearly understands where you have been and where you want to go.  Afterall, a digital strategy & plan is just the careful articulation of how to address a gap to a future digital vision.

But indeed, with the advent of social media and with emerging technology – some organizations do not have clear picture on what the digital future should hold.   So today’s digital strategist must be able to help clients develop a future perspective.   Among future opportunities – and there will be several – a strategist needs to help the client/brand prioritize the opportunities down to a few that will make the most substantive different (based on earlier identified organizational & brand goals).  Then as social media/digital has so many owners, a digital strategist also helps with alignment within an organization. These are great consulting muscles to flex!

Given this, the top five desired skill sets for today’s digital strategist include

  • facilitation experience.  Ability to work with many cross functional groups to create alignment on objectives and plans
  • influence & negotiation.  Ability to properly articulate the benefits & risks associated with digital opportunities.
  • analytics.  Ability to conduct or source research to identify the insights that will contribute to a balanced, thoughtful review of a business.  Ability to distill intelligence from data.
  • project management.  Ability to estimate the scope of efforts required, time & materials and clearly articulate the best project approach to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • synthesis.  [a rare skill]  Ability to synthesize activity, client needs or discussions to distill to the most salient facts.
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social networks, strategy, youtube

#NXNEi 2012 – Recap of “How to win at YouTube”

Today’s session on “How to win on YouTube” at #NXNEi 2012, was moderated by entrepreneurial @GuyGal –  one of the classiest video know-it-alls, with a kicking panel including @CoreyVidal – the guy that Guy describes as a video know-it-all, @epicmealtime ‘s @Harleyplays [who can cook up a mean turkducken filled with bacon as sampled from 2011 1MM subscriber party] [I’m the invitee that brought the TUMs] and @AlexIkonn – who has designed a life of 4 hr work weeks with luxyhair.com.

Below are my really, really quick highlights:

  • Chance – I think this was Harley who recognized that part of his success was chance.
  • Get over not liking twitter. All the social media platforms are connected and help you share your content. @harleyplays #nxnei #ljp #youtube *
  • “It’s your job as a creator to create what’s next.” @coreyvidal at the youtube @nxnei panel #ljp *
  • @nxnefest:  “Figure out who you are as a person and how you want to be portrayed.” -@coreyvidal #nxnei #ljp #youtube
  • @nxnefest: Get over not liking twitter. All the social media platforms are connected and help you share your content. @harleyplays #nxnei #ljp #youtube
  • @sarahbalta:  Do what’s authentic to your brand. “There is nothing epic about a mini.” Response from @HarleyPlays when asked to sponsor Mini Cooper #NXNEi  [this authencity and consistency message was also discussed by @alexikonn]

Also noted:

  • this idea that everything is connected and that the use of other social networks aids the distribution of videos. e.g.  @epicmealtime used their personal networks to vote up their digg, buzzfeed and other submissions.
  • that consistency is key in the delivery & development of a youtube channel.  E.g. epicmealtime is out every Tuesday – reliably.
  • that critical to the success of a channel is maintaining content focus that suits the audience you’ve built.
  • that the first video posts done by those who have had tremendous success – were sticklers for the details – the title, the description, tags chosen, etc.


Post session, I asked a panelist, @alexikonn of luxyhair.com fame,
about the value of YouTube comments.  I often find the commentary on YouTube rather garbage-y given the often anonymous nature of users.  He said – you have to direct a question to the audience at the tail end of the video.  With no direction, the commentary will be useless but once directed, you will have valuable comments.  Great pointer there.  (the same can be said for adding context sensitive URLs ) (a.k.a. clickable URL links).  This made me think of all the brands that slap up a 30s spot on YouTube with absolutely no catering to the channel experience..

A few more thoughts on YouTube success ideas:
– if you use music, give attribution to the artist.  You will see this well done by fan made movie stories.

*Note:  its not always clear who the tweet originator is by the tool I am using.  apologies.

digital strategy, google, metrics, social networks, strategy

Recap on @Avinash: Influence, experience and value #Google ‘s #ThinkPerformance

@iamstevetay 's photo from the dayToday’s Google #ThinkPerformance in Toronto offered a wonderful line-up of trailbrazers from @avinash @simonrodigue @mitchjoel Claira Bara, Matt Ackley and more.

People vocal about emerging trends, how to use data to drive business decisions, vocal on stupid digital experiences, stupid advertising spends and suggestions on what to do tomorrow.  A host of impressive smarketers who measure what matters.   Many of these fine speakers are deserved of stock from Google, from Facebook, from their own organizations for being better spokespeople than many an ineffectual media.

Take one of my favorite speakers +Avinash Kaushik delights the audience with a review of Canadiana – providing a little open season on those online experiences – Canadian Tire, Retail Council of Canada, among others that are not up to snuff.

He begins with a Toronto Star article on “Allowing retailers to stay open on holidays” – a story of Toronto council trying to open retail for nine statutory holidays..  “Why open on Canada Day?”  he quips.. and points out online commerce – that stores are already open 24 hrs a day.   Many in the audience are nodding.  Indeed, Canada’s e-commerce business is expected to double to $30B by 2015.

Already – with these opening remarks, I feel like I’m in a room of my own kind – especially when I hear laughs about “hits”,

Thanks to @drafted_boy for phone capture

“impressions”, “clicks” – metrics that mean absolutely nothing but are still well embedded into company vernacular.  I personally correct every individual I meet that uses the term ‘hits’ – as it is my personal indicator that the person knows nothing of analytics and what they speak.

Avinash’s presentation focused on three elements he is quite passionate about..

  1. Influence
  2. Experience
  3. Value

Influence – this is *not* a discussion of Klout.. (whew but of course not..) Influence was the idea of understanding influence at its roots… where do you find the people who spend time and understand your brand?   He then presented the print newspaper ad revenue over the past 100 years – credit, did you catch it?, given to Mark J Perry’s Blog Carpe Diem.  As Mark J Perry describes it – this chart is “another one of those huge Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction”.   Picture a steep climb and, with the last ten years, the drop.

And just where are the budgets moving to?  23% of consumer time spent is on mobile.  The crrrriiime against HUMANITY – as Avinash declared – is that 1% of ad spend is on mobile.   Print with 6% of consumers time spent has 29% of ad spend.  At this point – he is preaching to the converted.  What will happen when the CMOs finally wake up to the massive waste of budget?  I wonder.

“The day I saw this.. was the day I started to pay for the NYtimes” says Avinash.. as the future of print lies in question if it seeks its revenue from ads.

So.. Avinash is back to his passions – how do you find people (nice reference to Google), how do you influence them (brilliant experience), how do you convince people (and a tie to the importance of creating value).

Experience – I wish I could add audio clips to my blog.. imagine Avinash say.. “I am passionate about developing magnificent, brilliant experiences..” and  “I am ashamed on behalf of the internet” “stop the self-orgasms.. always let me [as a consumer] go first [enjoy the experience]”.

His reference is to Canadian Tire’s interrupt survey which appeared during the purchase funnel asking over 258 options before he can buy what he wanted.  Avinash is quite tough on websites, the financial realities Canadian retailers face in funding brilliant experiences is not the same easy street as American retailers face.. still putting a survey in the purchase funnel isn’t a cost mistake, it’s a stupid mistake.

thx to @drafted_boy

Value  – Now onto metrics worth measuring.  Avinash reminds the audience, just because we can measure clicks does not make it meaningful.   Same with impressions and hits.  Stupppid he advises.   What does it tell us of value?  Nothing.

thx to @drafted_boy

Avinash shares his favorite metrics.. bounce rate, a single page visit, is the same as they came, they puked, they left.  He speaks of more.. but what caught my interest was a few new classifications of old favorites

  • Super Awesome metrics (see pix)
  • Share of search:  a brand’s SEM/SEO key term performance versus your competition.  TD Bank got slammed here for Avinash used about 20 different key terms – “small business loan”, etc and TD did not appear in paid nor organic findings.  Avinash shared a print ad for the Bay (I think) for Nautica clothes – yet a google search for the same item was not turning up Bay results.. As Avinash stated  “no.. you are too far down the funnel.. you are ready to buy..”
  • Task Completion Rate:  Interrupt survey to web visitors – presumably not during the purchase process – asking “were you able to complete your task?”
  • Near term, medium and long term metrics:  ensuring a tiered focus to measurement.  A nice reminder

And new for this year, Avinash suggested four new metrics for social activity.

  • Amplification Rate:  no retweets per post,
  • Conversion rate – comments per post
  • Applause rate – no of favorites per post
  • Economic value – value generated per visitor – eg. visits via social referral and conversions assisted by social.

He showed this plotted by social network – so that we might compare the value generated by network.  This is also found in Avinash’s blog post and worthy read “best social media metrics”

All in all, Avinash kicked off a day long focus on the value of data to inform marketing decisions.

Many thanks to Google for putting together such a valued session.

digital strategy, strategy, thought leadership

#SoMeNite – an evening exploratory on social media’s maturation.

Once every few months @RickWolfe and I host a #SoMeNite; a night of exploration around Social Media’s maturity.

It started off as an effort to gain industry input into the development of an open sourced framework for accessing an organizations’ maturity in social media.  Though the framework has been well received and adapted/modified by the fine folks participating in our round tables, it has also become a conversational spring board for the most recent, topical issues that businesses face in social media.

Open Source Social Media Maturity Chart

I couldn’t possibly cover the entire discussion, but I can share some interesting themes:

  • Can you imagine the death of facebook? google, etc
  • How do you drive social thru the organization?
  • Related to this, the issue of restricted social media access within an enterprise.  [see @schnitzelboy’s post – about the restricted use of social media within the enterprise — “What Star Wars teaches us about Social Media at work”]
  • The difficulty in managing social media and employees participation within it (@EdLynne states – what of organizations with 32, 000 employees?)
  • The importance of including social aspects to product builds – as @simonsmith stated – angel investors will not invest in anything that does not have a social component.
  • The idea that some people / some brands are not “‘social by nature”  (e.g. health brands that consumers rely on anonymous search not social for learning)
  • Does social jump the cue in customer service?
  • A beautiful comment by @xsabaa on whether or not we would pay a premium for an anonymous profile.
  • @xsabaa also commented on the existence of brand fear as the consumer is sometimes a bully in social.
  • And did you know that it takes only 25 letters to move legislation? via @judyforce
  • Managing a community – with insight from @tanyasays
    • the multiple administrators issue
    • the explosion of social networks to manage but social media marketing teams have stayed the same size
    • the need for brands to go into the messy personal territory within social (lovely idea from @xsabaa)
    • role of the ^ – moderator identifier within community management
  • And – within our evening attendees, some agreement that the term “maturity” is premature in describing social media..  [consistent with an earlier #SoMeNite – Is it premature to talk about social media maturity?
About @RickWolfe:  Rick, of Poststone.com, is a specialist in digital conversation (which is to say he creates the right environment for an exploratory conversation that results in meaningful, fresh, and exciting insights).   Thank you Rick!
social networks

How Google + is changing news; a powerful tool for immediate stories

For the first time since I’ve started in social media (2006), I caught wind of a news event from Google +, not from tv, nor twitter.  And this was real time news.

I’ve been following @sarahMidMO, a news buoy for KOMU-TV, from Columbia, MO for 1/2 a yr now.   She is a leader in the integration of Google + hang-outs as part of her regular news delivery.  To watch her integration is to learn about how the tool can be leveraged for business.

Last night Sarah was preparing for a hang-out on air from @jfdesmarais , a journalist from Montreal and in the thick of the Montreal protest, providing a live cam into last nights march.   A hang-out is essentially a video conference call among 10 people.  A hang-out-on-air [or ‘onAir Hang-out] is a live video conference with the ability for many people to view it, but still only 10 can be apart of the live broadcast.  The comment functionality works for all.

I  joined the hang-out on air and particularly enjoyed three minutes into @jfdesmarais’  broadcast, where he gives a great summary of what the Montreal student protest is about.

Meanwhile, because I understand French, I could quickly understand what the hashtag was that he described [#manifencours – which is short for ‘manifestation en cour’].   I could add that to the comment line – while Sarah interviewed.  Then, I could find the event on twitter – translate other comments and fed it to my twitter stream / hangout comments.

@sarahMidMO recapped the broadcast  – and some comments are emerging about the option of hang-outs are aiding in broadcast.   Joshua Barkdull comments – “I have been saying since G+ was in Beta that Hangouts real power was in citizen journalism.”  or Ron Watson [@PawsitiveVybe ] who comments “I think hangouts and the entire Google suite of apps is highly disruptive.”.

Comments go further to discuss the avent of mobile broadcasting.   As Sarah comments “we are all anxious to have mobile OnAir Hangouts as another tool in a journalist’s toolbox.”   

It is quite worth singling out early enterprise adopters to just watch how they use new tools.  Admittedly, I have Sarah Hill and a few other Google + early adopters [I follow the Google circle]  in their own circle so that I can watch how she uses the platform.    This is much like how I watched @cammipham and her use of Hashable, or lately her style in delivering the #RBCchat.

[credit for headline “a powerful tool for immediate stories” goes to @michaeltuckertv]

digital strategy, Facebook, fans / loyalty, influence, social networks

Project Butterfly – Palmerston Group

What does it mean to be social?

This is precisely the question that @danielberkal and Seattle’s Cole + Weber United set out to answer in 2011.
Presented at social media week [#SMWTO], this study is deeply insightful and organized in thought – so much so that I am often sharing the story of Daniel’s presentation around the office and to clients.
What does it mean to be social?  To be interesting and interested.. in an age where social media plays such importance.   In my POV, brands are reaching a coming of age – that ‘doing social media’ is passé and that being social is what’s next.  But how to do this is wonderfully explained by his study.   And it is a presentation that is thought provoking to those who understand a lot about digital as well as for this who know nothing.  It transcends quite nicely.
Conducted in five cities across the US, Daniel & co. invited ten strangers to ‘speed friend’ to understand what makes people want to friend.  Next, he studied individuals with ‘social gravity’ (some would call them social butterflies, and yet, social butterflies do not like that label).  For his team to pursue the butterfly, they asked participants to think of the one individual among their friends or colleagues that people wanted to spend the most time with.  They then only studied individuals who, through multiple, unconnected sources, had been identified more than 3 times.  He goes into great depth into the characteristics and behaviours of people with social gravity – all the while annotating the work through film.   Finally, he takes this study into the online world to compare, contrast and offer valuable lessons for brands in social media.
It is well worth extra effort to see his whole presentation.  In Toronto, he is speaking at NXNE, June 11 – 17.
google, privacy, social networks

Google Privacy – what the fuss is about..

A client asked me what Google’ s privacy policy changes are all about…

If you have any Google related account – you’ve probably received notification of their privacy policy massive consolidation to the tune not seen since the Toronto amalgamation.  Essentially, they are blending 60 privacy policies into 1 policy that covers all their products.   Aye, there within is to be noted.   They state:

Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience for your users across Google products.

In other words, your behaviours in YouTube may inform and result in better targeted advertising in your gmail account.

To get updated on this – I’ve noted a number of excellent blog posts already covering the topics..