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Last week in pictures

November 10, 2011 — Leave a comment

Batman and I headed to lovely Los Angeles to speak at BlogWorld and New Media Expo

Batman + Jason Falls + Nathan Wright…

Batman + Oscar De La Hoya…

Batman + Magic Johnson…

Batman + Leonard DiCaprio at opening of J. Edgar at the Chinese Theater…

Santa Monica Pier at night…

Batman + Santa Monica Pier…

Batman + In-N-Out Burger…

Batman + the Hollywood Sign…

Astronomers Monument at Griffith Observatory…

Batman + Albert Einstein…

Batman + downtown Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory…

Batman + Pacific Ocean…

And then hopped a flight from LA to NYC…

To attend the PR Week 40 Under 40 award luncheon…

And that was plenty for one week, eh?

Cross-posted from Social Studies

I’m here at BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Los Angeles ignoring the beautiful palm trees and weather in favor of sitting inside and listening to compelling speakers present on the latest digital, social and interactive marketing trends.

Tom #1: Data-Driven Insights
I was impressed by the opening Social Media Business Summit keynote from Tom Webster at Edison Research, who leads exit-polling for elections, among other things. Tom’s focus was on ways to sort through sheer amounts of data, research, studies and trends.

Tom says social media is great for casual listening but isn’t quantitatively effective in driving research and insights. Essentially, social media is great for asking questions but isn’t the best at ascertaining answers.

Tom has found that reframing issues and questions allows for brands to achieve better answers. Rather than asking, “What do you want,” he suggests asking “How can XX make your life better?” Then brands can track those answers and map out a strategy. Notice, this doesn’t say rely on broad trends or generic studies.

While it’s fine to acknowledge the latest eMarketer hype, Tom says all the data coming out about the best time of day to tweet, publish a blog post, or the best place to place a link in an article makes him cringe. He says these types of question assumes that there is obviously a best time or a best place.

But what if it is an incorrect assumption these can or should have obvious results? Instead, Tom recommends conducting scientific studies to confirm or disconfirm these assumptions.

Data for “content creation” is inherently incurious, he says. It takes time and disconfirming things to find the right answer. And Tom uses the word “incurious” as a vulgarity!

For example, a study came out that showed press releases distributed at 1 a.m. were the most effective. This study spread like wildfire across the social web and quickly became folklore and accepted as fact. But this study made an assumption that there actually is a best time to distribute a press release, and (according to Tom) the people sharing the results of this study were relying upon flawed “science.”

Instead, Tom recommends marketers “do their own work.” Rather than align strategy with another organization’s research or logic, he suggests analyzing where one’s customers are, determining what motivates them and driving your own research.

Tom #2: Mo-Money, Mo-Mobile

Another compelling session was Tom Hayden’s session on mobile engagement. Yes, another Tom. My schedule picking strategy was to only attend presentations from guys named Tom (or Thomas or Tommy), and I succeeded.

This Tom says marketers should focus on mobile behavior and not mobile technology. When you think of mobile behavior, consider what we do, how we live and why we use mobile in our lives.

Tom says humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time, to stare at screens full of synthetic illumination and host prolonged conversations through text. Mobile allows users to more natively incorporate brand integration into our normal lives.

Mobile integration is evolving to the tipping point (50 percent of users will have smart phones by January 2012). But when a new user acquires a smart phone for the first time, they aren’t installing FourSquare and Instagram. Rather, they are using it for what they are familiar with from their “desktop past” — email, web surfing and possibly chat.

And that web surfing? It’s mostly search. Tom says 70 percent of mobile search ends up in an offline action within two to three hours. Again, this goes back to mobile behavior, not the technology. Desktop surfing is rarely integrated with an offline action. This was a key takeaway for me as I consider mobile strategy for clients.

Below is Tom’s outline of mobile friendly sites and mobile ready sites:

What is mobile friendly?

  • Condensed content (4-10x reduction of desktop site)
  • Navigation limited to 2-3 actions beyond the landing page
  • Quick load time (you have less than 30 seconds)

What is mobile ready?

  • Responsive design (device detection and customized content based on user)
  • Data feed (API – location, device, A-B testing, time/date) with CRM and/or profiling platform)
  • Cross-platform tested (iOS, Android, RIM, Windows, Palm and across multiple years and OS updates)

Another variable to consider when planning mobile programs is that fact that humans are not only staring at screens less, they are typing less. Touch screens are harder to type but easy to facilitate face to face (e.g., FaceTime, Skype, facilitating an IRL meet-up). So we’re moving back to a preference of face to face while lessening our focus on the written word.

Of note, this is why people put “sorry for typos” on their mobile signature. Tom says we’re apologizing for bad technology and subconsciously will shift to avoid it. I know personally I have significant issues typing on my iPhone and iPad, and that’s why I’m actually typing this post on a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad.

Tom showed Forrester data that illustrates barcode scanners are the fastest growing app right now — beating weather, games, navigation and music apps. As native QR apps come out in operating systems, this is a technology that is happening and won’t go away anytime soon.

Humans are comfortable with the cameras on their phones and will understand how to scan a QR code as that technology grows. However, it’s important to include multiple mediums to reach the masses (URL, SMS, QR, etc.). Tom recommends including opportunities to scan, text and click in communications with potential or current customers, then keep good track of the metrics to adapt campaigns.

I asked a question about mobile commerce and its adoption. Tom says that even though Google Wallet and other start-ups have pioneered the space, there are technological barriers PLUS human behavior barriers that will delay widespread adoption of using your phone to purchase goods on a consistent basis.

Specifically, retail stores have one kind of credit card scanner that can scan every single brand of credit card, but the acquisition of unique technology for mobile commerce is complex and expensive. I personally think barcode technology will be a good stop-gap — allowing anyone with smart phone to scan and buy something, billed back to their phone plan. I guess we’ll see!

What’s your strategy for navigating data overload and trend-based laziness? How are you rethinking mobile strategy for a changing culture?

Leave comments over at Social Studies

My new post on Social Studies:

This was my third year at BlogWorld New Media Expo, and it just gets better and better.

Sure, there are plenty of cewebrities, blogerati and scenesters, but BlogWorld continues to bring out some of the best in social media and social marketing thought leadership.

Congrats to the show promoters, the speakers and attendees who got my brain running and thinking about new and exciting possibilities in social marketing.

My biggest takewaways from the conference (via notes I took in 140 characters or less):

  • Even the best businesses have negative customer comments. Don’t be the boy who cried “FAIL”
  • Humans don’t scale. We only have so much bandwidth. Humility and honesty go a long way in biz/personal
  • “By the end of the year, we’re going to talk about Twitter lists, not follower numbers.” -@scobleizer
  • Social isn’t just about marketing/PR. This is a cultural shift. It’s about people and relationships.
  • Twitter lists has mega-implications for PR/journalist relationships. @scobleizer already on 211 lists.
  • Kids are creating multiple MySpace profiles for friends and other ones for their “real” friends
  • Google Profiles, Sidewiki, Wave are part of a stealth social network. It’s not a destination. It’s a zen attack.
  • Corporate sites should be the hub of a robust Web strategy that goes to where the conversations are outside .com.
  • Develop active listening program AND THEN empower a customer advocacy program to tell your story, defend you, etc
  • PR is curating disparate SM monitoring databases that should be connected to corporate CRM for customer support
  • Five years from now URLs won’t matter. Information will come together in a new way we can’t yet fathom. -@jowyang
  • Entire crowd is focused/stuck on SM ROI, and you can sense the aggregate frustration at the implicit vagaries.

I want to touch on that last tweet. In Jeremiah Owyang‘s “The Future of Social Media and Business” presentation (great breakdown here), the audience asked many questions about legal, ROI, lead-generation and the culture of fear that surrounds investing in new technologies and strategies without a guaranteed pay-off. Mr. Owyang didn’t have answers beyond his analysis, partly because the answers people were seeking aren’t easily answered in a large forum. The future of social media, by its very nature, will not and does not mirror traditional advertising strategies nor the metrics that fuel them.

Companies who today are seen as innovators in the social media space — whether it’s micro-media customer support, humanistic corporate blogs or social network engagement — didn’t get where they are by betting on a sure thing. Social media has changed the game. Even if Nielsen says X millions watched a primetime show last night, we know a key percentage had a laptop open at the same time. And although I can back up that assertion by pointing to the top Twitter trends on any given evening, most companies cannot quantify that “buzz” directly into sales to the point they can justify a spend with guaranteed results.

Rather, an online conversation is just as valuable — possibly more valuable — than a point of sale impulse display or a print and broadcast advertising buy with guaranteed impressions. The reason Mr. Owyang couldn’t give us the 1-2-punch for selling in social media is that 1) it doesn’t exist, and 2) even if it did, it would change tomorrow.

What can we do in the interim?

  1. Innovate
  2. Set measurable objectives
  3. Benchmark
  4. Evaluate and adjust
We must change this perception of fear into a lens of opportunity. The control isn’t coming back, and neither is the sure thing.
BlogWorld has me pumped and even more passionate about the possibilities. I’m not waiting around for the sure thing; are you?

Comments locked. Please leave comments over at Social Studies.