Friday Wrap #24: Big Data, digitally mature companies, content hubs, new story forms, and more2012-11-09
(c) Can Stock PhotoIt’s time to wrap up the week with a look at some news and other posts that caught my eye. The complete listing of items I’ve bookmarked from which to select Friday Wrap items is, as always, at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.
Election results secure Big Data’s place; are you ready?
There was no hope that I’d be able to produce this Friday’s Wrap without some reference to Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election. The role Big Data played in President Obama’s victory is important to review, regardless of which candidate you supported, or even if you’re outside the U.S. and really don’t give a damn. In a Time Magazine piece, Michael Scherer parts the curtain to provide a detailed look at how quants helped secure the election for Obama, crunching torrents of data to find insights that allowed the campaign to target just the right audiences with just the right messages. Lest you think there’s political motivation behind my inclusion of this article, rest assured: This type of data analysis will be routine in marketing and PR. The only question is whether your organization will embrace it before your competitors do. Within Obama’s campaign, a team of dozens of data crunchers held regular briefings on their findings for the President and top aides; the insights “helped Obama raise $1 billion, remade the process of targeting TV ads and created detailed models of swing-state voters that could be used to increase the effectiveness of everything from phone calls and door knocks to direct mailings and social media.” Don’t think that applies to the work you do? My prediction: Mid-to-large PR and marketing agencies and companies will include quants on their staffs in very short order.
Still unable to convince management to invest in digital? This’ll help
At the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) symposium yesterday, attendees heard results of a study that indicated senior management and members of boards shrug off social and digital media as a marketing thing. This research offers some insight into why some companies just haven’t embraced social/digital technologies throughout the enterprise. If you can’t convince your management to get serious about digital, a report from Capgemini Consulting—produced through a multi-year collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business—could help, since it addresses the outcome that is most important to senior leaders and directors: profitability. The study found that “digitally mature companies are, on average, 26 percent more profitable, have a 12 percent higher market capitalization, and get 9 percent more revenue from current assets,” according to a report in Business Insider. What makes a company digitally mature? Digital intensity (significant and well-thought-out investment in digital technology and capabilities) and transformation management intensity (shaping the practices, governance and future of the company around digital efforts). Examples of digitally mature companies include Volvo, Burberry and Nike.
Instagram profiles now available on the web
Instagram profiles can now be viewed on the Web. According to a post on the mobile photo-sharing service’s Help Center, you can see your own—or anybody else’s—profile, share photos and view others’ photos by adding the username to the URL instagram.com. For example, mine is at instagram.com/shelholtz. The pages are open to the public unless you set your profile to “private.” The Help page offers instructions on how to alter privacy settings, block specific individuals from commenting on your photos and taking other degrees of control over the web-based content on the site.
The roster of companies creating content hubs continues to grow
More and more companies are producing their own videos, releasing interviews with top executives and offering insights into their organizations through content hubs, websites dedicated to sharing content and distinct from their primary web presences. Business Insider calls these hubs “a way to present a carefully crafted message to consumers, and change the way traditional media interacts with companies,” according to story author Max Nisen, who points out that hubs are accounting for a growing share of the $16.6 billion content marketing business. Among companies embracing the concept: GE, Credit Suisse, Target and Barneys. In the past, I’ve written about similar efforts from Best Buy and SunLife, among others.
A new story form shows promise for adding user-generated content to your content marketing strategy
As content marketers compete to grab attention for their content, keeping an eye on innovations from mainstream media can be instructive. Consider The Grey Lady’s development of a new story form for “Covering Syria’s War,” as documented by Bill Mitchell for The Poynter Institute. The effort behind the curated collection is half finding videos from non-journalists and half verifying them. The format includes (as shown below) the video hosted by YouTube or another third-party platform, a brief summary of what the video appears to show (including a descriptionof who uploaded it, if that information is available), a text box containing “What We Know” and another labeled “What We Don’t Know” that lists unanswered questions about the video, “Other Videos” related to the video displayed, tweets reolated to the video and links to related Times articles. It’s a compelling approach to user-generated content that can support your content efforts.
Personal responses everyone can see
In mid-October, UK-based feminine hygiene company Bodyform responded to a Facebook comment criticizing the company for deceptive advertising (i.e., its products will let a women engage happily and enthusiastically in all manner of physical activities during their periods) with a funny video directed at the fellow who left the comment. The video went viral and Bodyform earned kudos from customers and pundits alike. Now, The New York Times reports the idea of videos aimed at an individual can attract big followings. The Bodyform video made it into the coverage by Andrew Adam Newman, who starts his report by detailing a hidden-camera video featuring the mascot from the mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers chain following a woman around at a farmer’s market. “Brands increasingly are using social networks in more idosyncratic ways to win over fans through acts of whimsy,” he writes.
Going beyond the Augmented Reality gimmick
When I bring up Augmented Reality (AR), I’m often greeted with eye-rolls and remarks about how gimmicky it seems. While there are plenty of gimmicky AR tools, Yelp’s Monocle and several other AR apps and resources have proven genuinely useful to me. So I was pleased to see Gemma Ball writing about practical applications for AR on the Future of Retail Alliance site. Ball, writing that only a quarter of retailers plan to introduce AR in the next two years (according to an eBay study), notes “Brands and retailers have a real opportunity to explore and gauge the potential applications that suit both the brand and the customer.” Examples include using AR to establish a “purposeful connection” between physical and online shopping and providing added content and resources to an in-store visit.
Delicious reinvents itself again
Since AOL spun off Delicious—a property it neglected since acquiring it—its new owners, AVOS, gave it a facelift with a curation tool that it then abandoned. Now, the social bookmarking site is being updated yet again. AVOS announced a new demo site where you can take a look at what’s in store. According to Drew Olanoff, writing for , “It’s clean, fast and goes back to the Delicious roots in a way…With a focus on discovering things and not just saving links, you might actually find some interesting news on the new Delicious.” According to the Delicious team, “We’ll make it easier for users to not only save their own links, but to discover the most interesting bits and bytes on the web by leverage the crowd-sourced wisdom of our community.” It’ll also be easier to navigate the site and accommodate mobile access. Find the demo site here.
Microsoft launches hub for small business centered around Skype
Microsoft has opened a commercial networking site “where small businesses can promote their products and services and interact with potential customers and partners primarily using Skype,” according to Juan Carlos Perez, writing for CIO. Skype in the Workplace is free, and some 500 small businesses are already tapping into it as part of a six-month beta period. The site “will show entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses how they can use Skype to increase sales, find new customers, market their wares and connect with experts for advice.” If you were wondering what Microsoft had in mind when it acquired Skype, Skype in the Workplace is at least part of the answer.