What’s your brand backstory?

The accelerating nature of technology and media convergence will have a resultant entropic effect relating to the perception of “brand” within and outside an organization. This premise will underpin several forthcoming blog posts. This blog post will discuss how this entropic effect affects brand storytelling.

Craft your backstory

For easily a decade 1000Watt Consulting and Matthew Ferrara & Company have been challenging real estate organizations to define and embrace their unique stories. From executive tier discussions centering on core values and culture, previous and present technology choices, to operational issues, they have helped elevate their clients and the real estate industry at large in immeasurable ways. A decade of listening to these auteurs—accompanied at times with the privilege of sharing a dais here and there with them—has been particularly instructive around the concept of “brand.”

However, it was not until recently listening to Marc Davison (of 1000Watt) and Matthew Ferrara on two separate occasions that I fully realized some of the foundational constructs underlying a “brand,” particularly its “story.” Both occassions (at the Wothshop 5 and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World conferences) focused on the core elements of storytelling and brand narratives. In particular, Davison elucidated the power of the backstory of a brand in his unveiling of the new Harry Norman Realtors web and mobile presence (soon to launch publicly). What I took away from his presentation is that the backstory of a brand functions as an anchoring element and values-driven catalyst to all facets of a brand’s expression—internally (privately) and externally (publicly). It’s the backstory of a brand that is one of the most critical components of ensuring brand consistency across the new media convergent universe.

Media convergence theory posits that:

[C]hanges in communications and information technologies reshape and change everyday life, altering patterns of creation, consumption, learning, and interpersonal interaction. New technology redefines media content and alters human interaction with social institutions such as government, education, and commerce. citation

Implicit within this definition is the concept of entropy. And as the impacts of media convergence continue to manifest (e.g., more time spent on media and devices than there is in a 24-hour day ) the potential for attenuated, particlized, and repulsive effects on brand messaging increases. Without some tethering or unifying aether, brand continuity will decrease, brand consistency will atrophy, and consumer trust of your brand will wither.

So what is this unifying aether? The backstory of your brand.

A useful definition of backstory is:

[A] history or background created for a fictional character in a motion picture or television program…similar background information about a real person or thing that promotes fuller understanding of it. citation

The latter half of this definition is the salient element for branding considerations. This element was poignantly made clear by Davison as he discussed the brand-level archetypes and triptych-like features of the new Harry Norman branding with the audience at the 2016 Leading Real Estate Companies of the World conference. While touring a branch office, he noticed a portrait of Emmaline Norman, who founded the company in 1939. Inspired, Davison began digging into the historical record and story of the company, unearthing several core values and cultural facets (artifacts?) that implicitly grounded the company from its inception. From these facets, 1000Watt created linguistic and visual narratives that described and framed the company in a new light. This revitalized linguistic and visual symmetry, interacting holistically, created the backstory for a new expression of the Harry Norman brand.

So how does this backstory ameliorate the potential negative or complicating impacts of media convergence? In its purest, elemental nature this backstory is device, medium, and platform agnostic. And this is the crux of the argument. In this elemental form, the backstory remains unaltered and unaffected by accelerating changes in media and technology. The brand backstory operates as a sustainable catalyst for consistency and continuity around your brand.

Photo credit: Very Quiet

Ten Mobile User Experience Issues Affecting Your Brand


“Mobile first.” “Mobile only.” These are grand visions and mantras bandied about at industry conferences, consultancies, and within the confines of many brands’ marketing departments. What issues and implications ought a brand consider when undertaking an mobile-first initiative? What issues drive a consumer experience where the user truly is mobile-only in her mindset? How have brands like Burberry, Durex, Macy’s, Google, and Movistar leveraged mobile to create a mobile user experience that enhances their brand reputation with their targeted audiences? This lecture delves into these issues:

Some top considerations and implications discussed in the lecture:

  • Whether to design for HTML5 or native app
  • “Real time” personalization is becoming a consumer expectation
  • Native apps still give brands the most control over consumer experience
  • Consumer “experience” is more than a mantra, it’s a core value, a philosophy

Zero Moment of Trust Drives Brand Loyalty

Zero Moment of Trust is a critical factor in earning consumer respect and loyalty via your digital brand presence. Zero Moment of Trust is akin to Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), which is Google’s concept related to how consumers retrieve and process information via a digital device and make a purchasing decision therefrom. What trust indicators can you leverage across your Web and mobile brand presence to imbue a sense of trust when consumers interact with your brand? This presentation discusses the key trust indicators that you need to pay attention to when considering how your brand appears to consumers.

Digital marketing analytics overview

This lecture gives an overview of digital analytics. We explore core concepts, storytelling with analytics, cross-functional team development and support, social media analytics, mobile analytics, and consumer trust. I also introduce the concept of Zero Moment of Trust (which obviously relates to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth).

Primary source for the lecture: Digital Analytics Primer, written by Judah Phillips.

Why brand communities matter to real estate brokerages

When a brokerage firm creates a targeted brand community within an existing social network (such as Facebook), it enables that firm to understand the psychological motivations of its targeted clientele that underpin brand loyalty and brand love. According to this research paper, Brand communities embedded in social networks, brand communities have three traditional characteristics: consciousness of kind, shared rituals and tradition, and moral responsibility.


Consciousness of kind relates to social identity theory (see discussion below); essentially, members feel connected to each other (in-group) and separate from outsiders (out-group). The feeling of in-group belongingness creates an identity, individually as it relates to the group and for the group itself. Through shared rituals and traditions members create their own meaning of community experience. Shared histories, brand-related stories, core values, and a common language create cohesion and resonance. Moral responsibility centers around such activities as members coaching other members on the proper uses of the brand and integrating new members into the community.

There are three aspects of social identity: cognitive (noting similarities with members of the group and differences to members of other groups), evaluative (perception of group self-esteem), and affective (positive emotions towards other group members).

In the study, the researchers profiled the Canon Digital Photography Facebook group and Canon Camera Malaysia Facebook business page. The researchers found high degrees of feelings of belongingness and brand love; for example:

“… I am loyal to Canon though. They have been the leader for a very long time. Plus, if I switched to Nikon, I would have to leave this group.” And, “If you could choose [one Nikon and one Canon product] which would you go for—The 7d, because the other one is Nikon”

Further, the communities had a set of rituals, brand love stories, established jargon, self-policing activities, and gentle chiding on proper communicative decorum and etiquette; for example:

“What is SS?”—“Shutter Speed. Sorry about that.” And, “In all the time, I have never seen anyone in here displaying the attitude and ill manners that you have displayed in this series of posts. In spite of this, everyone has treated you with dignity and respect and done their best to answer your question. Please mend your way.”

Moreover, moral responsibility as it related to integrating new members, conducting product support activities, coaching on buying decisions, and technical discussions were prevalent; for example:

“Please, be SMART CONSUMERS […], don’t just rush go out buy 550D […]. You own it today or you own it next week, it’ll still be around.”

Finally, there was a high degree of social identity within the two communities; for example:

“Thank you all so much for this invaluable advice!! It is so nice to have a helpful group to pose questions to […]” And, “This forum has been amazingly helpful-worth being on Facebook for it.”

The managerial benefits of leveraging existing social networks to facilitate targeted brand communities are several:

  • Easy and low cost access to huge numbers of consumers.
  • Ability to build long-term relationships between and with groups of members.
  • Highly efficient customer-to-customer based information exchange and learning.
  • Brand insight and intel.

With respect to real estate, a brokerage firm could consider creating a brand community targeting millennials transitioning from renting to first-time home buying. This community would focus on the core services offered, the process, transactional issues, and lending and financing issues. This community could facilitate conversations around success stories, pitfalls, and testimonials. It could also include pictorial representations of new first-time happy home owners and operate as a go-to forum for continued engagement post-transaction. Of course, with any community, there will be negative and potentially legal issues raised, but this is nothing that a properly trained community manager cannot manage or take offline. An example of a vibrant brand community started by a brokerage is DreamTown’s Pride of Ownership community.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

What real estate professionals can learn from Dominos Pizza

Domino’s Pizza owns the pizza conversation over its competitors, literally, with a continuous rollout of its progressive mobile app and web presence. Want to order a pizza via the in-car, voice-activated console of a Ford? No problem, go for it. Want to order a pizza via your mobile device via “Dom,” which is the Domino’s version of Siri. Done. You want to see the progress of your pizza order on Dominos.com, you’re all set. Listen to this NPR story, Domino’s Becomes A Tech Company That Happens To Make Pizza, for an excellent overview of Domino’s tech dominance.

Domino's Pizza order stats board
Domino’s Pizza order stats board

According to the NPR story, Domino’s has adopted a “Silicon Valley” approach to its technology deployment process. Essentially, Domino’s is in continuous rollout mode using agile development methodologies (for an overview of these methodologies, read Inspired by Marty Cagan). This process has allowed Domino’s to leap-frog its competition.

So how does this Domino’s story relate to real estate? Several entities in the real estate space have leveraged these software development methodologies to great gains; for example, Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. And brokerages have amazing opportunities to do the same.

If a brokerage manages an in-house development staff, then it behooves this brokerage to send its key developers and managers to a Marty Cagan conference on agile processes, and then fundamentally change—if necessary—the way in which it manages this department. Moreover, this brokerage should consider creating a product manager layer within its org chart to further facilitate this internal product development process. Finally, this brokerage should consider creating internal mission teams like Spotify created.

These agile concepts are fundamental “Silicon Valley” like processes, where deployed properly can definitely create a culture of customer-centric internal product development and rollout. Alternatively, if a brokerage does not manage an internal development staff, then this brokerage should hold its development vendor accountable to delivering products and services in a manner that aligns with the agile approach. Otherwise, this brokerage is likely to be at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the marketplace in terms of technical capabilities and offerings.

Zero Moment of Trust

Ask almost any real estate professional what compels a client to work with them or personally refer them, and that professional will probably say something like “They trust me.” This is also backed up by research from the National Association of Realtors (see Exhibits 4-17 and 7-8, 2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). But more often than not, this “trust” is predicated upon in-real-life, face-to-face interactions. The challenge, however, for modern real estate practitioners is how to imbue a sense of trust via a mobile or web presence. What is the Zero Moment of Trust for a prospective client to make the decision to contact or divulge personal information to a real estate brand or agent via a mobile or web interface? How does a professional break through the scrim of the screen to convey this sense of trust?

Zero Moment of Trust
Zero Moment of Trust

The Zero Moment of Trust concept builds upon Google’s concepts around Zero Moment of Truth (“ZMOT”). ZMOT describes how a set of search-related activities, from whatever device, informs a consumer at the point of decision regarding a product purchase. In previous years before mobile commerce was so prevalent, this search-influenced and aided decision making timeline could extend to hours and even days. However, within a mobile commerce environment–enhanced and influenced by mobile-enabled search–a consumer’s purchase decision making timeline is near instantaneous.

For example, a decade ago a consumer, sitting in front of a home computer, likely would have browsed through several websites, over several hours, as part of her decision making process. Whereas today that same consumer could be sitting in a cafe enjoying a cortado and decide to purchase a pair of shoes, use Google to conduct a search, sift through relevant search results, find a nearby boutique as well as sift through Zappos results, compare both retail outlets via their online presence and ratings, and decide to purchase via Zappos…all within the time it takes for her to finish her cortado. This latter scenario effectively captures the core concepts embodied in Google’s ZMOT argument. And similar to shopping for shoes, consumers use search to find properties for sale or rent as well as find agents with whom they may want to represent them. But it is at this point that ZMOT breaks down in real estate. For ZMOT is a great construct for how consumers make product purchasing decisions, but it is a weak construct for how clients decide to work with a professional. And it is at this moment that Zero Moment of Trust comes into play.

The client-professional relationship is centered around trust. Thus, there is a second layer of trust-based decision making activities a consumer undertakes in evaluating a professional. Further, much of this evaluation occurs within mobile and web related contexts. And for the real estate professional, whose first interaction with a client is more often than not nowadays bound to these contexts, how trustworthy he or she appears within these contexts often determines whether a prospective client will contact them. Thus, the question becomes how can a real estate professional immediately convey a sense of trust within these contexts? How can a real estate professional leverage Zero Moment of Trust? The answer to this question resides within the realms of user experience (“UX”) and user interface (“UI”) design and how to leverage mobile and web trust indicators.

According to these research reports, How do users evaluate the credibility of websites (.pdf), An overview of online trust: concepts, elements, and implications, and What instills trust? A qualitative study of phishing there are three primary mobile-web trust indicators: performance, design, and information. Performance trust indicators center around platform speed, page load times, and overall functionality. Design trust indicators center around balanced UI, ease of navigation, continuity, consistency of UX across devices, and intuitiveness. Information trust indicators center around simplicity of message, forthrightness (i.e., no trickery), usefulness, and client ratings and testimonials. These trust indicators must all sync as an integrated whole to immediately convey a sense of trust to a prospective client, which will prompt this client to do something (for example, request a showing, contact an agent for a CMA, etc). To help illustrate these concepts, following are visual examples as to how some brands outside of and within real estate are using trust indicators to impute trust to viewers:



Take-away: Balanced design and ratings directly on the booking page imply trust.

Michael Saunders & Company

Michael Saunders & Company

Take-away: The nexus between elegant design and the nuance of language (e.g., use of “Serene beaches” rather than the location of these beaches to enable a visitor to search these locations).

These brands explicitly or implicitly leverage Zero Moment of Trust principles. I encourage you to browse through the two websites mentioned above (via your desktop/laptop, tablet, and mobile phone), paying particular attention to how they use design and language to convey a sense of trust. These two brands have leveraged several trust indicators to gain and maintain marketshare and win consumer mindshare.

Emotional and motivational elements of successful word of mouth marketing campaigns

According to this thesis paper, Triggering Factors for Word-of-Mouth (.pdf), there are six types of emotions that will drive sharing of messages and content in a word of mouth marketing (WOM) campaign:

Surprise: Suitable for all sorts of marketing campaigns. Most efficient when complimented with another emotion.

Joy: Suitable for a younger audience. Efficient for fun brands and/or when a company is renewing their brand image.

Sadness: Suitable when short-term consumer involvement in a campaign is desired. Efficient for Social Marketing.

Anger: Suitable when short-term consumer involvement in a campaign is desired. Efficient for Social Marketing.

Disgust: Suitable when targeting an audience of young males.

Fear: Suitable when short-term consumer involvement in a campaign is desired. Efficient for Social Marketing.

The authors report that “surprise” is the most prominent emotion in making a person more likely to spread a message, share a story. For example, the element of surprise was what Zappos employed when it launched it’s free overnight shipping campaign in the last decade (yeah, saying this sounds weird to me too), which launched Zappos’ brand equity into the stratosphere. Of course, Zappos was prepared for the crush of new customers through proper testing, targeting, and training and so profits followed as well.

But emotion is not the sole reason a person decides to share; motivation is a critical component too in a WOM campaign. The authors detail the following four motivational factors working in a WOM campaign:

Product-involvement: The consumer is strongly attached to the product and therefore feels the need to talk about it.

Self-involvement: The consumer needs to get encouraged and recognized by others, using the product as a mean to accomplish this.

Other-involvement: The consumer wants to share a positive experience to the receiver.

Message-involvement: The discussion that appears from marketing incentives such as advertising and commercials.

The authors produced this handy graphic to illustrate the typical components of a WOM campaign:

Figure 3 from "Triggering Factors for Word-of-Mouth"
Figure 3 from “Triggering Factors for Word-of-Mouth”

The authors further extrapolate motivation in that consumers have a need for inclusion, affection, and control. Out of this set of motivations, inclusion (the needs for individuation and to belong) is the most important motivational factor in a person’s decision to share. Thus, the authors imply that effective WOM campaigns will incite emotional triggers around surprise and joy while appealing to a person’s need for belongingness and individual recognition.

Photo credit: Jonathan Powell

Privacy considerations in mobile app development for real estate

Real estate mobile app developers, and the brokerages that deploy these apps, will gain a competitive advantage and consumer trust by adopting privacy aware best practices in their app development processes. As I detail here discussing a recent guidance document published by the California Attorney General, state and federal regulatory oversight will continue to increase with respect to privacy issues in mobile apps. Thus, brands that incorporate privacy best practices will more easily pass regulatory muster going forward. Similarly, as consumers become more aware as to how their personally identifiable information (PII) is shared, leased, and sold, they will trust brands that make privacy controls a priority, easily accessible, and understandable within mobile apps.

Photo credit: codepo8

8 Resources on Storytelling and Content Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Eight resources on storytelling and content marketing strategies and tactics:

  1. Altimeter Group “Content: The New Marketing Equation
  2. Wiki “Storytelling
  3. Extreme Content Marketing by Red Bull
  4. Gartner on Storytelling Marketing
  5. Barclay’s Storytelling Initiatives
  6. Five Tips for Storytelling Marketing
  7. Seven Tips on Integrating Storytelling Into Marketing Strategy 
  8. Hootsuite Advice on Storytelling

Big data corporate culture fosters success

According to this Harvard Business Review article, leveraging big data positions a company to make big revenue gains and achieve higher customer satisfaction. The HBR article noted five management challenges for those companies pursuing a data-driven decision making culture:

Simply having more data, better data does not necessarily make a company successful. Rather, companies that have leaders who know how to ask the right questions, set clear business objectives, have a clear vision, and facilitate a corporate culture that embraces data-driven decision making will thrive.

Talent management
Data scientist are an important team asset, but so are designers skilled at data visualization. Most importantly, data scientists and data artists must be comfortable “speaking the language of business and helping leaders reformulate their challenges in ways that big data can tackle.”

Firms will have to embrace open source software as a core component of their tech infrastructure and strategy.

Decision making
Cross-functional cooperation is key to success. Team members that know how to collaborate is important as well as team members who have requisite problem solving techniques.

Company culture
A data-driven company does not ask “What do we think?” Rather, it asks “What do we know?”

Are modern real estate brokerages in the data business and just happen to be selling real estate? This question is similar to how Zappos describes itself as being in the customer service business and just happens to sell shoes (and, now, many other types of products). Obviously, as a core element of long-term success, brokerages must deploy traditional means to empower a more delightful and meaningful home buying and selling experience for both its clients and agents. But when looking ahead will the most successful brokerages thrive when their systems and support infrastructure becomes more data-driven in addition to their leadership team becoming more data minded? I think the answer is yes.

Photo creditSebastian Sikora

Luxury real estate marketing and branding tips

The most successful digital marketing brands create multidimensional personalized experiences.

According to this research paper Luxury Brands in the Digital Age, Exclusivity versus Ubiquity,  there are four dimensional factors to consider in digital luxury marketing: financial value, functional value, individual value, and social value. The authors cite Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, and Viktor & Rolf as top digital luxury brands that embody these elements. A more in-depth analysis of this report is located here on my ekreckoning blog.

Photo credit: gounie

Using research circles to develop innovative product and services for an aging baby-boomer population

This research article, Laggards as Innovators? Old Users as Designers of New Services & Service Systems,  challenges the notion that elderly users of the social web are generally laggards in this medium and, thus, not viable sources of relevant input when using service design methodologies to design products and services that meet their needs. Service design

[I]s the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers.” Wikipedia citation

“New service design” basically incorporates social networking and crowd-sourcing concepts into this process. The authors of the study found that a widespread view existed amongst service system designers that elderly or senior users were “technophobes” or technology laggards and, thus, had no relevant input when using modern service design processes. Yet, there is an under-served market with respect to the aging baby-boomer population. The researchers argue that there is a great opportunity to service this market using human-centered design processes in a variety of industries across several product classes. For example, there are several unsatisfied needs for this market that “relate to fundamental aspects of a dignified life, such as being able to buy furniture they can use in their homes, being able to stay in their neighborhood in the center of town and in generally leading as independent and normal a daily life as possible.”

The researchers offer several tips on how to involve the aging consumer segment into the design process using the concept of a “research circle”. The premise of the research circle differs from a focus group in the sense that a focus group is designed to get “get feedback from people on their attitudes towards new products, services or ideas” and is a fairly structured process. A research circle is more long term in nature, and employs a researcher who facilitates collaborative group problem solving. The figure below describes the process:

Stages applied based on research circle method and milestones
Stages applied based on research circle method and milestones

The researchers point out that the process they’ve defined is not geared towards getting aging users to adopt a new product or service. Rather, the process is to gain insights and information from this group so as to deliver innovative products and services that meet their needs.

How big data and statistical teams support brands that operate as media publishers and producers

David Armano of Edelman Digital, in this post, makes a compelling argument that brands will have to create and nurture internal team structures that resemble big media companies so as to deliver compelling and meaningful marketing in the future.

In his post, Armano describes what he calls “the social-creative newsroom” and discusses how Oreo has incorporated this concept:

Oreo has done with its Daily Twist initiative, where in honor of the cookie’s 100th anniversary, agency teams get together daily to decide how to riff off of relevant, often newsworthy, subjects that, by day’s end, produce a new piece of clever, highly shareable visual content that’s sent out into the digital ecosystem.

This social-creative newsroom process that Armano describes has synergies with SCRUM software development. Indeed, the social-creative newsroom process–as embodied in the Oreo use case–is essentially a “SCRUM creative development” process.

Armano identifies three core roles of the creative newsroom: community managers, editors, and creative producers. I would suggest adding a big data and statistical (“BDS”) team to support the creative output. The BDS team is responsible for delivering the necessary daily or hourly input that the creative team needs so as to make logical, informed, and timely decisions in their daily creative SCRUM.

For example, the BDS team could provide input such as semantic analysis, characterization, and categorization of Twitter hashtags, which could aid the creative SCRUM team in responding to positive, negative, or neutral brand sentiment as it relates to a branding campaign. Similarly, the BDS team could perform spatial-temporal data analysis of social media, which could support immersive mobile experiences delivered via a native app. For example, refer to section 7.6.4 in the latter cited paper and imagine a series of rich media delivered to users via NFC on their smartphones when the user is at a particular locus (e.g., Big Ben or the Palace of Westminster). Now imagine if the rich media content was personalized based on a user’s identified interest categories (e.g., a military history buff would receive rich media content tailored to his or her interest).

The possibilities and applications of a BDS team are virtually limitless, which is why the creative-social newsroom (or nerve center) needs to drive the creative SCRUM process. The newsroom provides guidance, context, meaning, and consumer relevance to the input provided by the BDS team.

Related posts: Creating agile entrepreneurial teams promotes creativity and innovation , Creating a culture of creativity and innovation

Photo credit: aussiegall


Consumer experiences with retail set consumer expectations in real estate

Before a consumer decides to purchase a home (whether first time buyer, move up buyer, etc) how many times has he or she purchased products via Amazon, Zappos, iTunes, or visited Target or an Apple Store? Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. And in some cases likely tens of thousands of times. Think of the experience these entities deliver, the baseline expectations their consumers bring to the door when they begin their real estate experience.

What are these core baseline expectations? First, consumers expect integration between mobile, web, and social channels. Second, consumers expect stellar and insightful customer service. Third, consumers expect seamless integration between one and two above.

The ability to manage one’s own experience with the brands mentioned above–whether searching for products, skimming product reviews, downloading products, using an immersive mobile shopping experience within a store environment–is a key driver of their ability to consistently delight their customers. Additionally, if a customer service issue arises, these brands’ customers expect insight and knowledge about their interactions with these brands. For example, if I as a consumer reach out to the customer service department of one of these brands I understand I will have to provide some baseline validation as to my identity and explain my customer service issue, but I also do not want to explain my entire history with these brands. The customer service representative has my history at his or her fingertips which gives that representative an opportunity to engage me at a higher level, more efficient level, and more satisfying level. The brands mentioned above consistently deliver on these expectations, which is seen in their stock prices, their loyal customer bases, and general goodwill.

Real estate brands should study how these brands deliver on customer expectations. Additionally, real estate brands should strive to create support structures, systems, and training programs that give their sales associates the best opportunities to delight their clients, the best opportunities to deliver an exceedingly excellent experience. In essence, deliver an Amazon-like, Zappos-like, Target-like, and Apple-like experience. It’s this service delivery differential that drives personal referrals, client loyalty, and goodwill.

Photo credit: Patricia Turo

Factors underpinning creative leadership and innovative leadership

What constitutes creative leadership? What constitutes innovative leadership? How do these factors–creativity and innovation–influence a firm’s competitive advantage? These two articles, IBM’s Capitalizing on Complexity and Organizational Creativity: Building a Business Ba-Haus?, provide interesting insights.

In a previous post I discussed how firms can foster a culture of creativity and innovation. Innovative firms nurture the following:

  • High levels of interaction, discussion, and debate
  • Interpersonal and intergroup relations defined by trust, cooperation, and a sense of safety
  • Senior management that’s open to new ideas and improved ways of working, and proves its openness by encouraging such actions and funding them when meritorious

Indeed, IBM found that mid-market CEO’s consider creativity as one the most important leadership qualities. Creative leaders encourage experimentation, calculated risk taking, and are more willing to take on complex issues to drive deeper strategic and systemic changes. Further, these CEOs consider creativity as an essential element for successful leadership in an increasingly complex business environment. The IBM study found that creative leaders:

  • Invite disruptive innovation
  • Encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks
  • Are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communications styles so as to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers

In the Bauhaus article cited above, the authors point to the following factors as influencing a culture–a “climate”–of creativity:

  • Involvement: To what degree are people challenged, involved and committed to making contributions to the success of the organization?
  • Freedom: To what degree are people able to decide how to do their jobs, take independent initiatives and make decisions?
  • Trust: To what degree do people trust each other, as well as feeling safe in being genuinely open and honest with each other?
  • Time: To what degree do people have the time to think, explore and test new ideas and ways of doing things?
  • Playfulness: To what degree do people feel it is OK to have fun when working, be playful and humorous?
  • Conflict: To what degree do people engage in interper- sonal conflict, prestige and territory struggles?
  • Support: To what degree do people encourage, warmly receive and professionally support ideas?
  • Debate: To what degree do people frequently share, con- sider and discuss a variety of viewpoints?
  • Risk Taking: To what degree do people regard failure as an opportunity to learn and feel able to take risks in trying new things?
The factors above foster a culture of success by creating a firm environ where employees AND management feel comfortable making mistakes and are rewarded for calculated risk taking. Further, these factors promote an overall sense of trust and compassion, which in turn promotes a culture of excellence, discipline, and execution.

Photo credit: 50 Watts

Big data hyper-hypo-hyperbole or reality?

Is “BIG DATA” hype? Have we over-sugared ourselves with too much big data candy? I’ll dodge the answer and instead present you with four interesting resources addressing this issue.

First up is a great Big Data intro video shown at the 2012 SAS Analytics conference. What I like about this video (even though it could have been cut by 30 seconds) is that it really frames the issues well.

Second, is an excellent article on big data recently published by the Harvard Business Review. This article points out that big data will make an impact, but not in the traditional sense. “Traditional” big data analytics focuses on prediction, but in the future big data will have more transformative impact on areas such as mobile-location analytics, personalized medicine, and artificial intelligence.

Third, in this blog post on big dataJason Rushin notes that

In this era of digital everything, nearly every marketer has access to more data than they can reasonably handle. A single web visit by a single customer can result in thousands of data points across items viewed, locations, durations, browser, referral, clickstream, frequency, etc.  Couple that with device, payment methods, demographic data, product attributes, not to mention data across your other channels, and any retailer is quickly drowning in data.

Rushin points that regardless of the size of your data set, your inability to act on this data set is what matters. He advises you to look for solutions that can readily supply BI value and insights.

Finally, I encourage you to spend 40 minutes and watch this video presentation by Jim Stogdill on how corporations will evolve leveraging big data (tasty tidbit: hear how a corporation is compared to a nematode).

Responsive web design or native mobile app?

Responsive web design or native app? With limited development budgets, the vagaries and proclivities and peculiarities of iOS and Android development platforms, it’s a valid question. I believe you need both.

Responsive web is your catch-all, your mobile safety net. You can absolutely create a responsive web mobile experience that’s elegant and delivers a great user experience that helps drive consumer engagement. But if you’re concerned about developing loyalty with your customers, you need to consider developing a native mobile app that works synchronously with your responsive web mobile platform.

If a consumer takes the time to download and install a brand’s app, when they can otherwise get a similar experience via that brand’s responsive web environment, that behavior is an early indication that they’re inclined to be a more loyal customer over time. The key in this scenario is to reward these types of customers with a better experience than they would otherwise get via your responsive web platform.

For example, I recently received this GoPro message inviting me to download an app that allows me to wirelessly control my GoPro HD HERO2 (something I cannot do via GoPro.com):

This app gives me a better experience with my HERO2, but also gives GoPro potential opportunities to interact with me at higher levels such as messaging me directly (if I accept to interact in this manner), sending me more targeted offers, inviting me to special events, etc; essentially incenting me to engage with them as a brand. It also gives GoPro a base of loyal consumers that GoPro can leverage to form strategic alliances. For example, GoPro could form an alliance with EpicMix so when I ski at Vail Resorts I receive special co-branded offers from both brands, GoPro sponsored VIP parties at Vail Resorts, etc, thereby increasing my trust and love of both brands. Finally, the GoPro app could keep track of my usage history and send a record of such to GoPro.com so when I login there I feel I am further tied to and invested in the overall GoPro experience.

Photo credit: Howard Dickins


Speaking on visionary innovation

I have the pleasure of speaking at the GIL Silicon Valley innovation and leadership summit, hosted by Frost & Sullivan. My session focuses on developing an integrated IP focused organization, which relates to fostering a culture of creativity and innovation. Here is a list of core research I’ll discuss during my session:


Research on visual data mining for use in sentiment analysis

Below is some recent research on visual data mining.

Mining emoticons to assess sentiment

Detection of genuine reviews of products or services using visual data mining

Using visual data mining techniques to generate interactive news flow visualization across social media streams

Proposed UI to better visualize and analyze sentiment

Visual analytics in interactive and security systems

Personalized agent recommender systems in real estate

Personalization in product recommender systems in industries outside of real estate will soon impact how consumers choose—or will want to choose—real estate professionals on brokerage sites. The basic concept: How would Amazon.com recommend a real estate professional? To answer this there are two basic sides to consider: customer behavior within a system (and increasingly outside of the system; see what RETargeter is doing) and attributes and behavior of the real estate professional.

At a very basic level, recommender systems track and log consumer behavior and then match appropriate products and services based on this behavior. The key is that these products and services have particular attributes that “match” the behavior of the consumer. For example, assume Consumer A purchased five historical novels over the past five months, a recommender system likely would recommend another historical novel as a next purchase. So how could this impact real estate professionals?

First, assume a brokerage has a system that logs consumer behavior (login times, locations searched, favorite properties, map searches generated, etc). Second, assume a brokerage has segmented its agent base by basic factors (such as top neighborhoods serviced by the agents, top 10 zip codes serviced by the agents, lifestyle attributes, designation, luxury expert, waterfront expert, client service satisfaction ratings, MLS performance, etc). Next, the real estate professional recommender system could work similarly as to how a book recommender system works. And I know that some listing aggregators already offer this type of service, but these services on generally pay-to-play. What I am suggesting is that brokerages need to do something similar with their system and offer it free-of-charge to their agents.

For example, lets assume Consumer B registers and saves a luxury property overlooking a lake, the system could automatically “recommend” agents who work the zip code of luxury property AND are luxury agents AND are waterfront specialists. Next, let’s assume Consumer B clicks the profiles of each of the recommended agents, he or she will then see overall performance ratings, specific testimonials, and specific customer satisfaction ratings. The benefit to the consumer is that they’re presented with the “best” professional based on their interest, which supports customers-for-life marketing best practices. The benefit to the real estate professional is that they’re in front of the consumer faster and in context to the search process. This type of a process promotes a personalized experience which is key factor in capturing consumer mindshare. And, indeed, there is research that supports this proposition.

Creating agile entrepreneurial teams promotes creativity and innovation

This Vanity Fair and Forbes article details how Microsoft stifled innovation in product design and development by using a rigid and hierarchical performance review process. Microsoft used a review process known as “stack ranking”, which forces each business unit designate a percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average performers, and poor performers.

Here’s what a former Microsoft employee said about the process:

If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review[.]…It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.

Interesting how a fairly routine process like performance reviews can seemingly have a profound impact on a company’s success. In a 2009 post I detailed steps companies can take to foster a culture of creativity and innovation; creative and innovative companies have (1) high levels of interaction, discussion, and debate, (2) interpersonal and intergroup relations defined by trust, cooperation, and a sense of safety, and (3) senior management that’s open to new ideas and improved ways of working, and proves its openness by encouraging such actions and funding them when meritorious.

Similarly, this recent research details how small firms can effectively compete with larger firms when the small firm CEO works closely with internal teams. The researchers found that if a firm wants to excel at product innovation then the CEO should work closely with R&D department employees. If a firm wants to excel at process innovation, then the CEO should work closely with managers and non-managerial employees in the production department. The optimal mix, the researchers found, is where a firm creates small agile teams within the respective divisions and the CEO is routinely involved in leading the initiatives these teams are tasked with tackling. The researchers, however, did not measure the effectiveness or quality of the innovation output, only that ideation generally increased. Nevertheless, it seems to me that a small firm would have a better shot at out-performing its competitors with a surplus of ideas rather than a dearth of such.

Photo credit: Budzlife

Creating and sustaining a culture of creativity within web-based services

This article from the International Journal of Design, gives a great overview of factors systems designers ought to account for when developing web-based services consumers use to create or co-develop products. As more services migrate to the “cloud”, user experience design is paramount to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As examples of creative-driven web services using “online configurator software”, the authors point to Timbuk2 and Chocri. It’s not an unreasonable premise that more and more of these types of web-service based companies will continue to proliferate, especially considering the future promise of social and mobile commerce. Thus, designing a user experience that’s satisfying is a key growth and loyalty building strategy for these types of brands. The authors point out nine factors that promote creativity (see Table 1 in the article):

  • Challenging work: Step-by-step instructions with increasing challenge
  • Autonomy: Tools that promote exploration
  • Community support: Chat rooms or galleries of recent work
  • Permission to take risks: Incorporating slogans that promote risk taking and having real-time help
  • Goal setting: Incorporating a progress bar
  • Positive effect: Use of positive images and colors
  • Mastery experience: Allow direct manipulation of tools
  • Sufficient resources: How-to sections and tutorials
  • Encouragement: Consistently reinforce that users are capable of completing the task; use images and verbiage

In each of the nine sections outlined above, the authors provide further research and practical examples. And the researchers make one final, valid point: be transparent. Clearly indicate copyright and other intellectual property policies and explain these policies in plain language that the average consumer will understand. Transparency promotes trust and loyalty.

Photo credit: Bitterjug

Location based services yield more accurate rankings than algorithms used by top review-ranking sites

It’s always fun to find cutting edge research that—when applied—has the potential to disrupt established business models. The subject matter of this research (.pdf download) has the potential to do just that: disrupt review-ranking services like Yelp and Zagat.

The researchers point out several negatives with these review-ranking services: they’re subject to expert bias, spoofing the system (i.e., marketers posting the reviews as opposed to genuine users), etc. As an alternative model the researchers developed a service called “SocialTelescope” which leverages location based services to track user interactions.

SocialTelescope used geo-tweets generated by Twitter users who also used services like Foursquare to discern popularity of locations. The basic premise is that the more check-ins a place has the more popular it is. Users are not taking any other action aside from checking-in to demonstrate their vote for a place.

Understandably, there’s also a qualitative issue to address: even though someone checked in they may still have hated the experience and, thus, a review site is more accurate (the premise being that a purposeful and explicit action taken by a user is more meaningful and accurate). However, the researchers tackled this issue by focusing on a inferred methodology:

 SocialTelescope does not consider all users to be the same, when computing popularity of a location. Instead, users are assigned a score based on their expertise on the search keyword. For a given search key- word, SocialTelescope assigns expertise scores to users as the number of times that user has visited any place that matches the search keyword. The intuition behind computing expertise is that, say, when ranking restaurants that serve seafood, people who visit lots of seafood restaurants can be considered seafood connoisseurs, and so their choices can be given a greater weight.

The researchers compared their results against the review-ranking sites and found that SocialTelescope was at least as accurate as these sites. The potential for disruption resides in the fact that a new company can now leverage location based services at a fairly low cost and return results that are just as accurate as their competitors. Thus, the barrier to entry in this space has been significantly lowered. I highly recommend everyone who is an analysis junkie to read the entire paper, as the researchers have done an excellent job describing their methodology and made great use of visuals.

Photo credit: TechCrunch


Privacy expectations regarding mobile apps, insights through crowdsourcing

This research article, written by a consortium of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Rutgers University, outlines core issues related to users’ expectations regarding privacy and mobile apps. The researchers used the concept of mental models to frame their study.

Here’s how the researchers describe “mental model”:

All people have a  simplified model that describes what people think an object does and how it works (in our case, the object is an app). Ideally, if a person’s mental model aligns with what the app actually does, then there would be fewer privacy problems since that person is fully informed as to  the app’s behavior. However, in practice, a person’s mental model is never perfect.

The researchers posited that when there’s a disconnect between a user’s mental model as to how an app operates with respect to information users would regard as private (e.g., location or contact records) users view such an operation as illegitimate and, thus, a breach of privacy. To address this issue the researches formulated a new concept in mobile privacy called privacy as expectations, where they determine these expectations via crowdsourcing. Previous research has focused on using automated analysis to discern users’ privacy thresholds. But the researchers argue that this purely analytical method is flawed and, thus, proposed a crowdsourcing model.

The end result of their study yielded a proposed interface when downloading apps:

Figure 2 from research article

Having a clear and concise understanding of privacy issues relating to apps during download (like Figure 2 above) improves a user’s experience. Using such an interface gives users notice and choice. I agree with the researchers that this model of displaying privacy issues related to downloading mobile apps is a bit of a break-through in regards to the issue of users’ controlling their privacy, and deciding when and under what circumstances to give up their privacy.

Photo credit: Michael Francis McArthy

Houzz.com survey details home improvement and remodeling factors that matter most to homeowners

I am delighted to publish this guest post by Houzz.com . The post details interesting stats relating to home remodeling and improvement. If you’re not familiar with Houzz.com, it’s a cool site that curates compelling, visually-driven content combined with advice and discussion forums. I decided to publish this submission from Houzz.com because it includes data and statistics that can help homeowners make more informed remodeling and home improvement decisions. I have not received any in-kind payment or gifts from Houzz for publishing their guest post. There are two sections to the guest post: a discussion of the Houzz.com survey data and an infographic.


UPDATE: In addition to the regional information originally detailed below by Houzz, they’ve included some national stats. Again, I view this information as useful data points for homeowners and real estate professionals.

Byline: Liza Hausman, Houzz.com

The recent survey of nearly 30,000 Houzz users nationwide found that homeowner priorities when it comes to remodeling and decorating are focused on improving their own quality of life rather than considering the next buyer.

Among homeowners planning to build, remodel or decorate in the next two years, 86 percent cited “improving the look and feel of the space” as an important driver for remodeling projects, while only 47 percent cited ”increasing home value.” The gap between these priorities was consistent across all income levels and demographic groups.

The study also found that 68% of homeowners get their primary ideas and advice when it comes to remodeling and decorating online.

These trends – a long-term outlook and reliance on information found online –   explain why real estate professionals’ are turning to visual technologies and tools like Houzz to help bring to life the potential or vision for a home. As one realtor noted, “If a clients tells me she’s pregnant, I create an ideabook on Houzz of nurseries. If a client is relocating to DC and concerned about space, I create an ideabook to show how to create a home office in a small space.”

In the next two years, 72 percent of homeowners surveyed plan to decorate or redecorate, 40 percent plan to remodel or construct an addition, while 10 percent are planning to build a custom home. Custom homes are particularly popular in the South. Top U.S. cities for custom home builds are Jackson, Mississippi where 21 percent of homeowners surveyed are building the home of their dreams from scratch, and Houston, TX and Little Rock, AR, which both reported 18 percent of homeowners planning to build new.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular remodeling projects among Houzz users, with 48 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel, and 45 percent redoing a kitchen in the next two years. Midwesterners have the highest budgets for kitchen and bath remodels at $30,500 and $13,600 respectively, while the South is allocating the least at $23,800 and $11,600.

57 percent of Houzz homeowners planning to complete a project in the next two years will hire a general contractor, 35 percent a kitchen or bath professional and 32 percent will hire a carpet or flooring professional.  Thirty percent are planning to hire an architect, 26 percent an interior designer and 24 percent a landscape architect or designer.

About half — 52 percent — say they will save money by completing some projects themselves.

In fact, even upscale homeowners are taking a hands-on approach to building, remodeling and decorating projects. The survey found that while 45 percent of homeowners at upper income levels ($150,000+) are choosing to hire an architect, interior designer, general contractor or another remodeling or decorating professional to complete a project in its entirety, an equal number of them are combining professional help and DIY efforts, a proportion only slightly smaller than the 49 percent taking this combination approach in lower income brackets.


Central Virgina Homeowners Prioritize Style Over Profit

Even as new and existing home sales and prices climb, Central Virginia homeowners are prioritizing aesthetics before profit, according to a recent Houzz & Home Survey conducted among users of the Houzz app and website. Houzz is an online platform for home design and remodeling, with more than five million unique users of the site and iPad app each month

The recent survey of nearly 30,000 users nationwide found that homeowner priorities when it comes to remodeling and decorating are to improve their own quality of life. In Central Virginia and the South Atlantic specifically, 85 percent of homeowners cited “improving the look and feel of the space” as an important driver for remodeling projects, 69 percent cited “improving the flow and functionality” and only 46 percent citing ”increasing home value.”

Among Central Virginia and South Atlantic area homeowners on Houzz, 74 percent plan to decorate or redecorate, 40 percent plan to remodel or construct an addition in the next two years, 14 percent plan to purchase a new home, and 8 percent plan to build a custom home.

Kitchen remodels and bathroom remodels are the most popular major projects among South Atlantic homeowners surveyed, with 34 percent of respondents redoing a kitchen and 36 percent planning a bathroom remodel in the next two years. Area homeowners are budgeting an average of $25,400 for a kitchen remodel and $10,700 for a bathroom remodel, 6 percent and 5 percent below the national averages respectively.

The majority of homeowners in the South Atlantic region taking on projects are hiring some help. 61 percent of area homeowners planning to complete a project in the next two years will hire a general contractor, fifty percent will hire a carpet or flooring professional, twenty-seven percent a kitchen or bath professional and twenty-seven percent also said they will hire a landscape architect or designer. 23 percent will hire an interior designer, while only nineteen percent are planning to hire an architect.  More than half — 52 percent — say they will consider saving money by completing some projects themselves.

In this economy, prioritizing livability over return on investment may seem like an irrational approach, but people today are looking at their homes as a long-term sanctuary, not a quick flip. This new rationale is also reflected in homeowners’ approach to financing.  When asked if they are planning to take a line of credit to fund their remodeling projects, 75 percent of homeowners in the Central Virginia/South Atlantic area said “No way.”  They’d rather cut back on vacations or other major purchases to make their dream home a reality.



Mobile app ecosystem allows real estate brokerages to deliver excellent consumer experiences

Over the last year or so there’s been an ongoing and well-publicized debate between proponents and opponents of real estate property listing aggregators and whether brokerages have ceded too much “control” over the consumer relationship to these entities. In my mind this is a debate with no clear winner and no clear loser, as both sides make excellent and valid arguments. This wonkish debate can continue, but it’s time for brokerages to take action within the mobile environment.

It’s clear that some real estate property listing aggregators have done an excellent job with presenting real estate related information in a novel manner. Many of these aggregators are well-capitalized, have taken SCRUM software and product development to new levels, and continually evolve. These companies have done a really great job monetizing the consumer and agent experience within their brand environment. As such, these entities have seemingly taken ownership over brokerages’ property listings, the consumer experience, quick response times, and engaged and informative customer service. They are a seeming Juggernaut of continued market dominance.

Yes, these entities have garnered a significant piece of consumer mindshare since 2005. But this continued quasi-dominance will not continue forever. And to this point, brokerages need to stop focusing on and obsessing over what the property listing aggregators are doing. Brokerages need to look inward. Brokerages need to look to their core values and creativity as a brand and build on those values and that creativity. Last time I looked real estate brokerages still have the same opportunity as aggreagators to delight consumers with an exceedingly excellent experience, and continue to deliver on this experience, thus gaining customers for life. When brokerages consistently deliver on this value proposition, consumers “reward” them with their business and referrals. Real estate is a still a local, relationship-driven business.

I will concede the point that some property listing aggregators have brilliantly leveraged brokerages’ property listing assets and created compelling social+web+mobile presences. But brokerages have always had an opportunity to similarly deliver something unique, compelling, and useful to consumers. The Internet is the Great Leveler of the Playing Field. Given this, what should brokerages focus on now in their drive to deliver an excellent experience? Build another listings portal? Embrace Facebook as a primary advertising venue? Build a kick-a$$ mobile app? Here’s a proposed answer: brokerages should consider all of these tactics, but should focus on creating a series of mobile apps that leverage a rich database of property, demographic, lifestyle, neighborhood, and predictive information.

According to this Mashable article, mobile is the ascendant platform of choice for consumers. Thus, brokerages should focus now on leveraging this platform. Brokerages should define what is “broken” (with the consumer experience value chain) with mobile apps released by the various real estate listings aggregators. Similarly, brokerages should define what’s “right” with these apps. Disregard or “fix” what’s wrong, and make better what is right. In other words, “build a better mouse app.” ;-D Next, brokerages should analyze what Sawbuck Realty has done with its HomeSnap app, as this informs brokerages as to what makes a successful app. According to this Scobleizer interview, the HomeSnap app was the top real estate app on iTunes for a period of time. What makes the HomeSnap app so successful with consumers? Simplicity + Motivation. This is a concept proposed by Stanford University Professor BJ Fogg. The HomeSnap app is simple to use (take a photo and retrieve information about the home) combined with satiating a consumer’s curiosity—motivation—to “know” the details about a home (what was paid, what’s the history, etc), delivered in a manner that costs the consumer as little time as possible.

Simultaneously, brokerages should focus on building the richest database of home-related data thus created. This database would focus on compiling core up-to-date and ACCURATE property-related data, neighborhood-related data mashed up from several different data sources (like EveryBlock, NabeWise, StreetAdvisor, Walkscore, etc) and then normalized, combined with socialgraphics and demographics and psychographics (supplied by companies like Facebook, Acxiom, or Experian), and further enhanced by behavioral and predictive analytics. This database will power the mobile app ecosystem. This database could also power a website that’s very SEO-friendly and optimized for mobile, but the website is secondary to the mobile app. Sounds weird? Yes, to me too. But consumers are telling us with their purchase patterns and platform utilization patterns that mobile is precedent. Thus, brokerages need to play to this whim.

Finally, an integrated CRM would underlie this mobile app ecosystem for brokerages and agents to use. The key is for the mobile apps to tie directly to a CRM module so brokerages and agents have an opportunity to immediately respond to consumer inquiries. The mobile app ecosystem would promote collaborative CRM and drive consumer brand loyalty. And it is this latter point where the mobile app ecosystem has the ability to transcend—jump the chasm if you will—traditional modes of service delivery in the real estate industry. Brokerages are better able to control the overall experience via a mobile app. By allowing consumers to control their experience via personal settings (e.g., notification via text but not email, or notification via message pop-up but not text, etc), brokerages are tapping into the consumer DIY meme (i.e., having “control” over their brand experience). More importantly these behaviors not only inform brokerages as to how to segment their database for true one-to-one marketing opportunities but deliver an excellent service experience to the consumer when he or she decides to engage the brand. Integrate a mortgage services component and a transaction management and notification layer, and the experience gets richer. The consumer wins. The brokerage and its agents win.

Finally, what happens when a deal closes? A brokerage can give the consumer an option to continue the relationship across a variety of complimentary, meaningful, and informative channels such as refinancing opportunities or co-marketed offers with entities like Home Depot, Target, etc. If a brokerage has delivered an exceedingly excellent experience for a consumer through the entire home buying or selling process, that consumer has an incentive for the brokerage brand experience to continue. All delivered through the mobile app ecosystem.

The opportunity for brokerages is here just like it was in 2005 when the “age of the aggregators” dawned. And like then, brokerages can grab an opportunity now to deliver on consumer expectations.

Photo credit: w00kie

Designing a visual experience as a form of content marketing

A duck on a ledge says what?

happy duck

I took this photo after reading this Mashable article which discusses, in part, how “visual storytelling” is an emerging marketing trend. What’s the story behind the duck? Did I, via the duck picture, add to the narrative of this Norwegian brand? With the debut and popularity of Pinterest and Instagram, brands are rethinking their presence and how they deliver an experience based around sharable visual imagery.

In addition to discussing this marketing trend, the Mashable article delved into the overall issue of “designed experience”. The article discussed many of the benefits of incorporating “designed experience” and “web beautification” principles into app development and marketing. Yet the article offered little guidance on how to kick-start such an initiative. Luckily, I found this research which offers such guidance. Key take-aways include:

  • Understand that effective personas describe a mentality and behavior not an actual person, they are archetypes
  • Personas do not equate to market segmentation but define attitudes and behaviors and, thus, help designers in generating ideas and solutions
  • Effective personas focus on a single purpose (effective apps do so too)

Finally, the research article points out that when applying personas in the design process, product/service developers and managers should develop a task flow for a particular persona. This task flow is a critical step in the process because it defines user engagement points and an optimal sequence of steps a user may take. If designers/developers understand the optimal sequence of tasks, they can improve design elements to make it easier for users to accomplish tasks; this equates to a better experience.

Social CRM eLoyalty Context-Aware CRM

Below are three excellent research articles on social CRM and related topics.

This research paper (out of Australia) delves into the nexus between mobile consumerism and eLoyalty programs. A key finding is that companies can increase consumer loyalty by leveraging mobile devices (via apps, I posit) to highly personalize a consumer’s brand experience while facilitating a highly responsive and insightful customer service environment to answer questions, resolve complaints, etc.

Here’s a great nuts-and-bolts presentation by Gartner on fundamental CRM concepts. The presentation includes a vendor analysis and recommendations on implementation. But the feature I liked the best is the discussion on context-aware CRM.

This report is an excellent analysis of social CRM concepts, including an informative discussion of the risks associated with undertaking a corporate-wide social CRM initiative.



Social influence social reality

Below are three interesting research articles that focus on “influence” within social networks:

Determining Influential Users in Internet Social Networks The study proposes a model for determining weak friend links from strong friend links within social networks. This is important because strong links indicate who is an influencer within a network.

Spontaneous emergence of social influence in online systems This study, reported in 2010 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, analyzes the popularity of games within Facebook. By analyzing 100 million application installations, the researches found that once games crossed a break point threshold with respect to popularity with individual users, social influence directly affected overall popularity of a game. And games that did not experience this “social influence effect” essentially disappeared from the online community environment at rates far higher than would otherwise occur in an offline environment. This is important for two factors: (1) here’s an interesting case-study as to how Facebook makes its (“our”?) data available to analyze that wily creature home sapiens, (2) when launching a new product/service within a social network, it behooves a brand to focus on strong influencers (see study above) in terms of product development and outreach.

Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison In this study, the authors found that effective viral campaigns within social networks are dependent on hubs (subnetworks of “strong” influencers) and bridges (pathways between “strong” subnetworks). This is important because by targeting hubs, and nurturing activity within these hubs, brands have an opportunity to exert some control over social influence. Of course, this puts pressure on brands to ensure that their product/service is excellent, incorporates elements that appeal to their targeted hubs, etc. If the product/service fails in this regard, it will suffer (see second article above).

Social search versus Web search

This article by CNET, Why Google is Ditching Search, prompted me to look for empirical research supporting the author’s premise. And I found this gem of a research paper, #TwitterSearch: A Comparison of Microblog Search and Web Search.

The Stanford and Microsoft researchers compared how individuals use search in Twitter versus traditional Web platforms like Google and Bing. What the researchers found:

  • Web search can leverage social search to discover additional search queries that are temporally and contextually related, thus delivering a more relevant set of search results
  • Social search influences the perception of online reputation
  • Web search can leverage the hashtag and tagging concepts central to social search (especially Twitter and del.icio.us) to identify and deliver non-spam results that deep link to further relevant results
  • Web search can leverage social search to understand what issues are trending, the nuances of these trends, and then relate these discoveries to search queries and thereby deliver a more relevant result

We’re already seeing these types of things integrated into Google’s search platform through its integration of G+ . And now Twitter and Google are engaged in a PR smack-down .

Similarly, these findings above suggest there is increased opportunity within CRM systems. The researchers found that individuals bounce between social and Web search as they narrow their queries. If a brand is leveraging a social platform (via Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc) and focused on SEO, and consumers find consistent redundancy in results for their queries via both search platforms, the likelihood that this consumer will reach out to this brand increases. And if this brand is capable of tracking the source of the lead (what platform delivered the lead) in conjunction with tracking the query that generated the lead (what was actually searched), then the brand can engage the consumer with a higher level of insight. This type of process necessarily promotes high consumer satisfaction (and increased likelihood of lead conversion).

Photo credit: visualpanic

Recent research on social CRM principles

Following is a series of research articles focusing on social CRM. These articles explore different facets of the concepts underpinning social CRM.

Interactive digital advertising versus interactive community (download). This article focuses on what motivates individuals to participate in social networks and what causes these individuals to respond to social advertising.

Advertising on Facebook. This is a well-written article on Facebook advertising best practices, strategies and tactics.

Customer engagement and Facebook pages. This is an in-depth article focusing on many nuances of how to leverage Facebook business pages to increase customer loyalty.

Value-based CRM. This article explores the relationship between marketing, IT, and finance to deliver an effective CRM solution. The authors make some great recommendations as to how finance departments can work with marketing and IT departments to set proper metrics tied to corporate business objectives.

Value based CRM aligning marketing IT and finance functions

This article discusses values-based CRM concepts in regards to aligning marketing, IT, and financial functions. An interesting point made by the authors

[F]ocusing just on the ability of IT to support strategy and processes bears the risk of not utilizing the full potential of innovative technologies[.]

It’s clear there is a critical interdependence between both marketing and IT departments. As marketing seeks to “engage,” “relate with,” and “delight” customers in the continuous battle for share-of-mind and share-of-heart, relegating IT to the sidelines as bench support is not a good strategy. Rather, incorporating IT vision is a critical component in setting strategy. The complexity of consumer interactions with a firm’s brand, demands increasingly sophisticated infrastructure and data management tools to ensure that a firm can meet the needs of these consumers.

Similarly, firms ought to align financial management goals within this marketing-IT milieu. Financial concerns, in this context, center around setting proper marketing metrics to measure ROI and lifetime value of a customer. The paper points out that

[A] number of financial concepts (e.g. capital asset pricing model, portfolio theory, and real option approaches) have recently been transferred to customer portfolios…Such “marketing metrics”, based on these approaches and thus taking a future-oriented, long-term, cashflow oriented, and risk adjusted perspective, allow for an identification and measurement of the economic value contribution and the ROI of marketing[.]

To enable such penetrative insights, firms need to leverage data mining tools to create timely (i.e., near real-time) metrics to be shared across business to ensure uniform adherence to meeting clients’ expectations.

Opportunities in online lead capture and close

Here’s a short article from the Harvard Business Review on lead capture. The stats:

  • $12.5 billion in 2005 to $22.7 billion in 2009: The amount of advertising dollars spent generating leads
  • 2,241 U.S. companies: The number of companies measured in the study to test lead response time
  • 37% of the companies responded within one hour, 16% responded within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours to respond, 23% never responded
  • 42 hours: The average response time by all companies measured
  • 7X: If you try to contact a potential customer (i.e., a “lead”) within one hour of receiving a query, you are nearly seven times as likely to qualify that customer as those individuals who wait two hours
  • 60X: By contacting a potential customer within one hour of a receiving a query, you are more than sixty times as likely to qualify that lead than individuals who wait 24 hours

Take-away: The fastest to respond wins the opportunity to serve a customer. Insight: Once you’re earned that opportunity, keep delighting that customer by remaining responsive.

Innovation in social analytics

Data analysis is the new plastics. Remember this scene from the movie the The Graduate?

Below is a curated list of articles from this week of innovative social analytics and business intelligence initiatives.

In this article from O’Reilly Radar, we learn that social network analysis is amalgamation of social science analysis such as sociology, political science, psychology, and anthropology combined with traditional mathematical measurements. At it’s core, social network analysis measures relationships between people and organizations. But cutting edge research is also looking at ways to leverage social network analysis as a form of early warning system for natural disasters. Much social network analysis has been regressive in nature, the future will focus more on real time analysis.

And speaking of real time analytics, the article from the Washington Post makes the argument that real time results may have a significant influence on the up-coming 2012 elections.

Perry is done,” came a Twitter posting from a viewer called (at)PatMcPsu, even while the Texas governor struggled to name the third of three federal agencies he said he would eliminate as president. Another, called (at)sfiorini, messaged, “Whoa? Seriously, Rick Perry? He can’t even name the agencies he wants to abolish. Wow. Just wow.

The key point to remember is that the “real time citizen” is no longer content to remain passive. Additionally, will the “real time citizen” quietly wait for poll stations and voting counts to close in other states before announcing the results of his/her own state? Will be interesting to watch how quiet or loud Mr. and Mrs. Real Time Citizen will react in 2012.

Finally, social app analytics start-up Kontagent snagged $12 million in a Series B round. According to an interview with Kontagent’s founder, what makes Kontagent unique is that does not perform “traditional” social analytics function (such as conversation monitoring, tabulating likes, etc) but performs deep analytics, with a focus on teasing out profitability KPIs, and has a team of data analytics and data visualization scientists working to help clients understand, interpret, and make informed business decisions based on Kontagent’s proprietary data visualization techniques.


eLoyalty and customer relationship management and customer care management principles

This e-loyalty research paper helps clarify the roll of online customer service in creating customer loyalty (“e-loyalty”). The paper focuses on the Austrian mobile industry but the findings are applicable to many industries, including real estate.

Two broad categories frame customer loyalty: customers who become your repeat purchasers and customers who become promoters of your brand. Superior customer service across the pre-purchase, acquisition, and post-purchase stages of a typical transaction is the differentiator for brands.

The Internet consumer, more and more, is demanding personalized and targeted customer service. Data acquisition strategies, such as registration forms, tying information to a user’s social graph, etc, enable companies to perform this customization and targeting while supporting broader electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) and electronic Customer Care Management (eCCM) strategies.

The researchers conducted a variety of online surveys, crunched the numbers and found that timely and personalized responses to customer complaints was a key influencer on whether a customer would switch mobile carriers. Extrapolating this to other industries one can posit that brands which leverage unified technology solutions to enable quicker and more informed customer service will undoubtably have a competitive advantage.

User participation in a QR quirky world

This video, The World Park Campaign, illustrates an excellent use of QR to not only drive a marketing result but reward users’ participation with something delightful. The focus of the campaign was an immersive marketing experience to drive wider participation and learning within a NYC park.

Similarly, read about what Bjork is doing to take participation with music to new levels. What Bjork has done is create a way to interact with her music via an app; for example:

Bjork fans with iPads or iPhones (there’s no Android version yet) can download a main app for Biophilia that’s free. You tap on it and open up to a black background with white, glowing starlike objects. Using your fingers to swipe and tap, the universe expands and turns, and bits of music and songs emerge.

Each song has its own star. You tap on it, and you can buy its app for $1.99 from the iTunes Store. Each one has essays about music and science, and each interacts with its song in a different way. Take “Thunderbolt,” whose arpeggiated bass line you can change by tapping on a lightning icon.

“You change the speed of the arpeggio, or the range,” Bjork says. “Basically, you’re like this crazy lightning bass player.

It’s the participation economy. Participatory media is the message (visit here for reference point).

Consumer engagement and participation using QR

I thought this kiosk flyer below, which I found pinned to a wall somewhere in Estes Park, Colorado, is a novel use of QR.

QR Kiosk Flyer


What I like is how the purveyor has conveniently arrayed the subject matter. As a tourist, I especially liked the choices put before me and the prospect of interacting in an interesting way with the “place” the QR took me. And it is on this latter point where I was let down. The “Arts” QR simply took me to a website, listing a series of events with more links to click. Understandably, having this list of links is definitely a convenience and I would not have visited the site but for the QR. However, I cannot help but think that an opportunity was missed that could have “rewarded” or “delighted” or “surprised” me with some experiential marketing. For example, the QR could have landed me on a page inviting me to play a video that has interviews with local artists and events organizers…let me feel their passion, let me understand their love for their community…grab my engagement by letting me know the impact of my participation. Then I’d be much more likely to click the links related to each event. Further, since these arts events are seasonal, this is a process one can repeat. In real estate one could use QR in a similar manner by showcasing a homeowner interview, interviews with shop owners, or a narrated neighborhood tour. How do you/would you use QR?

Disruptive technology and its impact

The research article Demystifying Disruption: A New Model for Understanding and Predicting Disruptive Technologies delves into several topics related to understanding and predicting disruptive technologies. An interesting facet of the article is how it outlined three domains of disruption: technology disruption (when a new techology outperforms a dominant technology), firm disruption (when the market share of a firm leveraging  a new technology exceeds that of the largest firm using a previously dominant technology), demand disruption (when the total share of products in the market based on a new technology exceeds that of products based on a previously dominant technology). The authors also focused on the method of attack:
A lower attack occurs when, at the time of its entry, a new technology performs worse than the dominant technology on the primary dimension of performance. An upper attack occurs when, at the time of its entry, a new technology performs better than the dominant technology on the primary dimension of performance
The authors tested the following hypotheses:
  1. Technologies using a lower attack (potentially disruptive) come primarily from entrants
  2. Technologies using an upper attack (sustaining breakthrough) come primarily from incumbents
  3. Technologies using a lower attack (potentially disruptive) are priced lower than dominant technologies at entry
  4. The hazard of disruption is higher from an entrant than from an incumbent
  5. The hazard of firm or demand disruption is higher if a new technology uses a lower attack
  6. The hazard of disruption is higher if a new technology is introduced by a small firm
  7. The hazard of disruption is lower if a new technology is introduced by a small firm
  8. The hazard of disruption is higher if a new technology is lower priced than the dominant technology at entry

What the authors discovered is that contrary to popular belief, incumbents in certain markets drive disruption as frequently as new entrants. In fact, in their study the authors found that:

only 8% of all technology disruptions and 25% of all firm disruptions were caused by entrants using a lower attack

– and –

although 47% of all technologies adopt a lower attack, only 16% of all technologies cause technology disruption and only14% of all technologies cause firm disruption via a lower attack

Interestingly, the authors note that a firm’s internal culture is responsible for undertaking an attack, rather than responding to an external threat. That’s why creating a culture of innovation and creativity is a key factor in successfully introducing a sustainable disruptive technology.

Google+ Integrated into Google Apps, Huh?

This morning I envisioned a headline on Mashable that could, someday, read: “Finally…Google+ Integrated into Google Apps”. The Enterprise Google Apps community has been waiting months for this to happen.
Google+ surfing in an ocean of business
Surf with Google+
And still…we…wait. Once this happens, though, here are some ways Google+ will rock my business world:
  • Allow me to use one network (rather than several networks) to communicate with nearly 2,000 sales associates. This necessarily will increase my personal productivity. And with this productivity increase I’ll have more time to focus on providing more value to these 2,000 sales associates.
  • Give these nearly 2,000 sales associates one network to use (rather than several networks) to collaborate, share ideas, and help each other. They are THE community. Google+ in Apps will further unleash the collective brilliance of this community.
  • Leverage the Google+ social nervous system to achieve several business objectives by aligning fundamental community management concepts, principles, and processes within a social business ecosystem (as brilliantly illustrated by @davidarmano).
The tectonic plates of Google’s product development teams need to align and unleash the Pangaea of a social business platform for its Enterprise clients. Sooner rather than later, please, Google. Opportunity awaits us both.
Photo credit: gordontarpley

Demographic shift, Google stealth social network, rich media

Three blog posts that recently piqued my interest:

Wake up, the demographic shift is flattening us. Although targeted at catalog marketing executives, what Kevin Hillstrom has to say is relevant to the marketer in us all. Here’s the essential take-away:

Right now, “The Big Shift” is steamrolling us.  We are essentially addressing the 55+ audience, and wondering why our businesses are eroding?  We must begin investing in the 18-44 year old audience, if we want to remain relevant in 2020, while optimizing profitability from catalog mailings to the 55+ audience.

Very poignant observation, and very applicable concepts to the real estate industry.

Is Google building a stealth social network? Well-reasoned argument that Google is doing this, and that Google’s +1 initiative is part of a series of tactics Google has recently deployed to continue playing its ground game in the social sphere.

Rich media + display ads + social = advertising perfect CTR-engagement metric storm? “Rich media” (aka multimedia) has been around for some time. Similarly, rich media has had periodic bursts of hype and utilization for over a decade (anyone who was in the email marketing space around 1998/1999 will recall the covey of rich media vendors present at the variety of “internet conferences” that occurred during the same time period). Well, it seems rich media is back again (like a poltergeist?) and advertisers seem excited (according to the article). What’s interesting to me is whether there’s an opportunity for enhanced engagement via a rich media ad conduit that will support social CRM initiatives.


Creating a culture of participation while leveraging a culture of creativity and innovation

Previously I wrote about creating a culture of creativity and innovation. The salient points to remember in such an initiative are: foster a high level interaction, discussion, debate and have a leadership team that nurtures such an idea generating ecosystem.


Related to this topic is a fascinating research article I found that focuses on creating a culture of participation (.pdf). The article discusses collaborative design projects (as in architecture, landscape design, etc), but the premises are transcendent to many industries:

  1. Creativity is an inherently collaborative and social activity and social-technical infrastructures facilitate such by organizing people around shared concerns as opposed to shared location
  2. Diversity (as facilitated by shared concerns) promotes new ideas, insights, etc, by building bridges between local knowledge sources and exploiting “conceptual collisions” (related to Von Hippel’s studies in innovation at MIT).

The article elaborates on a couple of case studies and points out the following areas for further exploration: (1) the role of curators—as supported through technological infrastructure—to organize “living information repositories” (see related article on how the BBC uses data mining principles to enable more informed curatorial choices) and (2) enhanced tagging mechanisms that support heuristic knowledge discovery activities.

Additionally, there are two blog posts that relate to the themes raised above, courtesy of Daniel Rothamel and Rob Hahn respectively, essentially “create, then debate”  and “embrace your inner auteur“.

Photo: Håkan Dahlström



Decentralized online social networks, spatial properties of location based social networks, and geo-social cascades research

Three papers for your geeky enjoyment (all .pdf):

Online Social Networks: Status and Trends is a great summary of current research and opinions regarding the current and future status of social networking. Section five has an interesting discussion of decentralized online social networking services and applications.

And here’s some excellent work, creativity, and analysis from University of Cambridge, University of St. Andrews, and Imperial College London researchers:

First, Socio-spatial Properties of Online Location-based Social Networks, which is a total geek special and offers a detailed analysis of the spatial properties among users of Brightkite, Foursquare and Gowalla. Here’s a peek inside:

We provide evidence that mechanisms akin to gravity models may influence how these social connections are created over space.

[Gravity models] have long been used to model connections in spatial networks such as trade flows across countries[.]

Second, Track Globally, Deliver Locally: Improving Content Delivery Networks by Tracking Geographic Social Cascades delves into how tracking geographic social cascades could aid in the development/exploitation of…

[P]re-fetching of Web content, caching of normal HTTP traffic, datacenter design and placement and even to devise security mechanisms.

This research also relates to a better understanding of social cascades generally (i.e., understanding how information flows through links in social networks) and improving the performance of content distribution networks.


Web app versus native app, nexus with email marketing basics

Summary of three articles focusing on the battle over whether to deploy native apps or web-based apps and where email marketing fits in the mix.

Will mobile apps soon be dead? What’s not so black and white about the “native versus web app” debate? Each article makes great points relative to each side of the argument. The most prescient point, and one that I think will gain the most traction over the next few years, is the concept of hybrid apps; that is, web-based apps that leverage downloadable features.

App withdrawal? This article focuses on keeping a mobile strategy focused on business-building basics. And the “basic” the article chooses to focus on is: email marketing. The author makes a simple, salient point: ensure that any email campaign you execute is mobile viewable (including sites relying on outbound links from the source email). Email marketing may still be an ugly stepchild when compared her app sisters, but it still drives relatively high conversion metrics if properly deployed. The article includes great email-to-mobile marketing tactics.

Favorite quote from the articles:

“[F]or every ‘Angry Birds,’ there are 1,000 angry developers.”

Related post:

Collaborative CRM strategies and concepts



Research from CISCO, innovation in business intelligence services, and predictive Web data mining

Below are three articles discussing emerging analytical theories on the nexus between Web+Social+Mobile:

Executive Primer: CISCO CIO Summit (.pdf): Excellent primer on how The Cloud, generally, is affecting enterprise IT strategic direction. Two gems: Chapter 6 “Together, the Customer Is Everywhere and Everyone” and Chapter 10 “Scenario Planning: Are You Ready?”.

Business Intelligence 2.0:  Are we there yet? (.pdf): Excellent paper focusing on innovation in business intelligence; includes and excellent benefits analysis chart.

Toward Emerging Topic Detection for Business Intelligence: Predictive Analysis of ‘Meme’ Dynamics (.pdf): This is for analytical geeks only (:-D). The paper discusses the problem of monitoring the Web to spot emerging memes. Essentially, using predictive algorithms to tease out future memes, which would be useful to brand managers in terms of seeding current campaigns with flavors of the future as dictated by the algorithm. The risk is that it can get a bit tautological.


Social media ROI, where’s the ROI in that?

What’s the ROI of conversing with someone while queued to buy a PEET’s coffee? What’s the ROI of engaging other parents and teachers at a monthly PTA meeting? What’s the ROI of swapping stories at a monthly book club meet-up? Common sense tells us these interactions are inherently unquantifiable, yet immensely important and powerful.

Now compare this line of thought to the recent Fortune.com article that digs into some reasons why Facebook–in its current iteration–may not be as valuable to marketers. Essentially, Fortune points out that despite the fact that 1 out of 8 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook, marketers are still trying to determine whether buying ads on Facebook is worth the investment given that Facebook ads perform half as well as banner ads. This said, certain firms like Virgin America have had positive experiences with Facebook and a social presence generally (could this success simply be that their service is stellar, and the promotion of this stellar experience hearkens back to Godin’s concepts around making something remarkable?)

So what about the conversation? Or “MONETIZING THE CONVERSATION”? Fortune cites a Razorfish Liminal study pointing out that customer “relationship” management (er, CRM), as a concept to interact with customers, is shifting:

It’s not enough anymore for marketers to have a top-down mentality, simply making sure they have a presence on multiple channels, but to understand what makes some customers still use an 800 number, while others reach out to brands on Facebook.

Here’s the problem: the above assumes your customers want a relationship with you. They don’t. Yes, they will engage with you, yet only if it is on their terms. The findings in “Liminal” demonstrate that, in the future, marketers will need to find ways to sustain those engagements over time, regardless of channel, whether they are traditional, emerging or new.

Wow. Customers don’t want a relationship with a brand? But want engagement? Multi-channel marketing strategies tied to understandable analytics that yield actionable business intelligence is a must, it seems. Enter Stage Right: Gahlord Dewald.

Research on new media social influences and context

I recently dug up predictions Gartner made in January 2010 about IT and new media (Gartner’s recent predictions are referenced here [.pdf]). The two 2010 predictions that piqued my interest are:

  • By 2012, Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and Web socialization.
  • By 2015, context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the Web.

social hub reverb

Following the “Facebook as hub” meme as a research concept, I came across empirical studies focusing on the Web and “socialization” of family units (i.e., new media as a “hub” within the family unit). Similarly, I wanted to see if empirical research existed that explored how “context” is defined or determined via computer science. I found two interesting studies:

Relating to tech-media “socialization”:

Media, Communication and Information Technologies in the European Family. A couple of key findings:

  • (Finding 1) Two tech-media trends contribute to familial tension. Trend one: families using emerging media to generate and reinforce communal experiences. Trend two: increasingly personalized consumption of media used in private spaces. These trends consistently collide and cause familial tension.
  • (Finding 2) Promoting media literacy (which one could extrapolate to mean “Internet literacy”) is a key policy concern given “today’s technologically convergent, globalised market” and is critical to ensuring that individuals have the means and methods to participate in all spheres of society.

Facebook—despite its autocratic set of rules—could be seen as an enabler of promoting “new media literacy”, essentially a democratizing and leveling tool regarding “Web socialization” globally.

Relating to “context”:

Context-Aware Recommender Systems is an excellent academic article exploring how a recommender system uses “context” as a primary factor to deliver relevant results. The authors distill “context” using six vectors: data mining, e-commerce personalization, ubiquitous mobile data, database management systems, effective information retrieval, marketing and management processes. Further, @briansolis authored a great post, Behaviorgraphics Humanize the Social Web, where he essentially argues that understanding behavior is a key factor in determining and understanding context, which will enable marketers to more meaningfully and relevantly communicate with individuals who are within social networks.

Photo credit: ViaMoi


Debuting Hank and Frank, wannabe SOcial MEdia consultants

Hank and Frank are wannabe SOcial MEdia consultants. Their job is to do one thing: To Awesome U Up! Below is Episode 1 of their new YouTube series. Enjoy. Hopefully you’ll get a laugh or two. ;-D

Awesome U Up! Episode 1: How NOT to Grow Your Twitter Followers (YouTube link)