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Posts Tagged ‘Industry Events’

MMC’s Samara Finn Shares Highlights from Hispanicize Conference for PR Week!

PR Week

This week a blog post from our very own Samara Finn was featured on the homepage of PR Week! In her post, Samara shared highlights from the recent Hispanicize Conference. You can check out the full post here at PR Week!


From Surprise and Delight to Brand Loyalty

SXSW_digital_rootsImage Courtesy of Digital Roots

According to Tom Zellman and Jacki Halas, both of Digital Roots, there are eight steps to building the kinds of campaigns that can turn occasional consumers into lifelong customers.

During their session at SXSW 2014, How to Build Ultimate Surprise and Delight Campaigns, the pair (whose Detroit-based company offers custom-built software for Social CRM, monitoring and engagement) presented an approach that all begins with listening. If one can cut through the clutter and isolate the “1 to 2% of brand-relevant data” that consumers generate, the insights gleaned can be very powerful, shared Zellman. But first, you have to “find the conversation.”

It’s no secret that the proliferation of Social Media tools has not only impacted consumer behaviors, but the ways companies provide customer support. “90% of customers would rather search online for an answer to a question before dialing into a call center,” said Halas.  The immediacy of response has given rise to a new trend: customer crowd-sourcing. Customers are often turning to their networks first for answers, so it’s easy to see that helpful on-demand content and good customer service go hand in hand.

Once those organic conversations are located, it’s okay to “stalk a bit,” added Zellman. Responding to customer issues in Social Media, in real-time, can be tricky, particularly when the individual behind a grievance hasn’t engaged a brand directly. “There’s a tough line to toe,” he explained. “You want to respect their privacy [but] you want to demonstrate you are listening and provide the highest level of service possible,” and that means you have to make it personal.

The fourth step shared by the duo focused on the need for clear objectives: “surprise and delight efforts typically take one of two forms,” offered Zellman. They appear as “part of a marketing campaign that’s designed to showcase customer stories” or as “search and rescue efforts that help answer questions or quell complaints.” Whichever path one takes, it’s critical that goals be defined before diving in. It’s also important to decide how to surprise and delight. Is your reward a product sample? A free cup of coffee? An at-home visit from a famous popstar? What matters is that you choose something that fits with your brand AND has value to your customers.

Sixth in the process was collaboration. Whether you’re attempting to build advocacy or responding to a crisis, working with others across your organization is key. Understanding desired outcomes will help to “give your campaign flavor,” said Halas. From there, you can “launch and optimize as needed.”

Delivering in a meaningful way came next, with a nod toward immediacy and personalization as the “biggest factors in driving brand loyalty.” The best surprise and delight campaigns are those that take these factors into account and use data and analytics to provide solutions that are both timely and relevant.

With each of the aforementioned observed, you’re well on your way to turning that occasional consumer into a lifelong customer. While certainly not surprised, we were delighted to learn that 33% of the companies polled by Digital Roots are on board with “service marketing,” and we look forward to seeing this trend brought to life in the months ahead.

Content Stole the Stage @ SXSW Interactive

sxswImage courtesy of

The star of this year’s SXSW Interactive was neither app nor gadget. Sure, the event had its fair share of new services and trendy wearables, but 2014′s real hero was content. Even on panels where topics ranged from data to devices, content managed to steal the stage, with much of the conversation focusing on the role marketers play in the processes of creation and distribution.

Whether it bore the label “storytelling” or “native advertising,” the goal of content marketing was never under dispute: it’s all about engagement. Brands want to create content that’s sticky and fosters a sense of love and loyalty; consumers, on the other hand, are looking for anything that brings utility and value into their lives. It’s a tension that few brands have been able to resolve.

According to Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently, the days of self-centered branded content are over: “they’re ads, and ads don’t work in a world ruled by the Social Media-empowered masses.” No surprise there: it’s always been the relationship that matters. The quality of a brand’s content will determine the degree to which consumers and influencers invest, whether they will care or share. And all of that leads to – you guessed it! – engagement.

The role audiences play in distributing content was among the many topics covered during a Q&A between “House of Cards” producer Dana Brunetti and entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg. Extolling the “power of the Social Graph,” the pair discussed a device-agnostic future where streaming content would live and thrive, where actors and actresses with “massive Social Media followings” would be sought and hired.

It’s a paradigm that worked well for Netflix, but can it be applied to channels where influencers and brand coexist?

Only time will tell.

How do Millennials’ Habits Change the Way Content is Made and Shared

millennialsImage Courtesy of Social Media Week

Recently staffers from the Digital Leadership Team attended sessions at the Social Media Week in New York City. One of the sessions, 5 Ways Millennials’ Habits are Changing: How Content is Made and Shared, was a panel discussion with Megan Berry from RebelMouse, Markham Nolan from Vocativ, Adam Ostrow from Mashable, Rich Antoniello from Complex Media, Chris Altcheck from PolicyMic and Samantha Skey from SheKnows. It drove some interesting discussions and we’d love to share our top takeaways.

Official Hashtag: #SMWMillennials

1) Ditch ads and think branded content 

Millennials are used to being bombarded by new content and they’ve gotten really good at ignoring ads. They don’t click them and they don’t remember them. The solve? Try branded content – it appears in-stream, which is critical, and it can work just as well on desktop as it does on mobile. Just make sure that consumers know the content is branded (or sponsored) and keep it authentic.

2) Non-traditional sources and new news

One of the misconceptions brought up during the panel was that Millennials don’t care about traditional news sources. The truth is that they do — they just don’t turn to traditional media as a primary source because they want news before it reaches mainstream media. They’ve adopted social network streams as their main news source.

3) Know your platforms and choose your battle

Millennials are native experts on every social platform and they’ve been conditioned to expect a wealth of options online. They adapt quickly, which means brands need to be nimble. Since the barrier to entry is so low in social it’s harder to stay on top. While you shouldn’t be on every platform, don’t depend on just one either, or your business would suffer if it went away. Be willing to reinvent yourself.

4) Know how to package content

When producing content, always keep in mind the device the content will be viewed on and what the user experience is. The type of media people consume on the go via mobile can be quite different from what they would at home on a desktop. Think of mobile as “lean in” and desktop and “lean back.” For example, watching video on a mobile is not the best user experience, so unless the content is super timely content, many prefer to watch on a desktop. Also, be mindful when pushing consumers to apps, as this barrier might interrupt their experience and turn them off.


A Lesson from Upworthy: How Brands Can Drive Meaningful Conversation in Just Five Steps

sarahImage Courtesy of Social Media Week

At the recent NYC Social Media Week conference, I was lucky enough to land a seat in one of the most popular sessions of the week, a keynote speech and discussion by the CEOs of Upworthy, a site dedicated to bringing to light issues and topics that matter. In 2013, more than 286 million unique visitors visited Upworthy. The socially conscious site has shed light on global problems, curating content from across the Internet and delivering it in a streamlined, user-friendly site. They have inspired a community to both care about and act to solve these problems.

Getting people to care and act is no easy feat and there is much we can learn from Co-CEOs Eli Pariser and Peter Koechly of Upworthy on how brands can drive meaningful conversation. “It’s simple,” Pariser maintains, somewhat tongue in cheek.  “It only takes 5 steps.”

1.     What’s Trending Isn’t Always What’s Important: Brands trying to push through the clutter to reach fans should use caution when jumping on trends that aren’t necessarily important to their readership. Instead, stick with trends that are aligned to your mission.

2.     Metrics for Success: Upworthy boasts more than 5 million attention minutes per day. If you’re more comfortable with clicks, page views, and unique views, Pariser suggests you reconsider your metrics. Brands often focus on getting eyeballs on a page, but it’s more important to hold attention once they’re there.

3.      Get Out Your Checklist: Pariser shared that in a study, only four percent of a million-person sample had read 10 substantial news articles over three months. That number isn’t necessarily shocking. Think about it. Often news is presented in such a displeasing way it’s easier to turn off the TV, close the newspaper, exit out of the browser and ignore it all. The antidote according to Pariser? Make sure your content is compelling, hopeful, emotional, and important. Everything needs to have an energy, Koechly adds, and while content can incite anger or passion it can not be dispirited, directionless, or confusing, or a brand risks consumers turning away.

4.    Data Support What Creativity Drives: Once you’ve garnered attention, the next steps are gathering data and moving forward with a creative strategy that continues the momentum. The heart of everything is editorial judgment and creativity, Koechly stresses, but a brand needs data to effectively guide that creative intuition.

5.    Don’t Simply Look, Ask: Finally, don’t overlook your audience as a resource. Pariser announced that in 2014 he wants his Upworthy community to have more of a voice in directing the editorial calendar for the site. Brands should follow suit, by asking consumers what they would like to see and subsequently giving them more of what they want to help ensure a stronger, more meaningful relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Upworthy’s meteoric rise reflects a changing tide in social media where the headline, “Girls Don’t Run the World. But They Should” is just as captivating and matters just as much to consumers as “What Downton Abbey character are you?” Brands that follow Upworthy’s strategy will be well-suited for the changing landscape of social media, hopefully achieving Upworthy’s goals of  inspiring consumers not just to care but to act.


From Inside The ePharma Summit: Wearables

This year’s ePharma Summit continued to bring out the best and brightest of the industry to share successes, exchange best practices, and talk about some of the new opportunities that exist where the worlds of digital and healthcare meet.

An exciting technology that presents lots of opportunity for Pharma is wearables. These devices, which range from the almost ubiquitous FitBit, Jawbone, and Nike Fuelband, all the way to Google Glass and the Google contact lens that can detect glucose levels in tears, have been around for a few years, but are really starting to become more mainstream. They were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show, too. Wearables are turning people into data centers, with a constant stream of information generated daily. Pharma is in a unique position to help make that data meaningful for patients, doctors and research.

While the future value of wearables in healthcare are yet to be fully realized, ZocDoc took a stab at predicting the future:

Wearable tech – An infographic by the team at ZocDoc

At the ePharma Summit there was lots of speculation about the use of wearables– and the data they generate– in health management, adherence, insurance and treatment. While the verdict is out on how to capitalize on this data and technology, this is an area that MMC, and all of Pharma, is going to be following closely. It represents an area for the courageous Pharma executive to lead.

Millennials: Entitled or Empowered?

Image courtesy of TIME magazine

Last week, I attended a small dinner party consisting of several fellow members of the Boomer generation and one Millennial.  In a room full of marketers who are hard-wired to think in demographics, the conversation eventually turned to the subject of Millennials and a lively conversation ensued as we debated the oft cited labeling of “entitlement” as it relates to this generation.

The overwhelming mood of the room tended toward a judgment similar to this recent piece in the New York Times, that indeed Millennials do consider themselves entitled, due in large part to a generation of parents who constantly rewarded them regardless of their accomplishments.  The theory goes that this has resulted in a belief that the world was not only their oyster, but that pearls abounded only for their plucking.  For this reason, my friends proposed, the economic crisis and the resulting lack of job opportunities have left this hapless and spoiled group of young people rudderless and disappointed by a world that promised them the moon and ended up delivering a somewhat smelly lump of Swiss cheese well past its prime.

While I agreed that between the recession, escalating loan payments and limited job options Millennials have indeed been delivered a future filled with challenges, I had to dissent at the idea that this resilient generation isn’t boundlessly capable of overcoming obstacles.  To prove my point, I referenced my nine nieces and nephews who fall smack within the Millennial demographic.   I’ve spent the last 30+ years enjoying watching them learn, grow and eventually go out to find their way in the world.  It’s fair to say that each one of them shared the Millennial ideal that the world belongs to them, but far from making them complacent, they have each shown remarkable skill and creativity in not only achieving but excelling in careers that they started planning from the time they were in middle school, overcoming any obstacles with humor and tenacity.  They’ve made their way across the country, from New York to Chicago to Colorado to Texas and whenever I’m facing a challenge where I need to understand Millennials better, it’s been terrifically valuable to tap not only them, but their friends and colleagues in a wide variety of fields.

While this n. of nine can hardly be considered a comprehensive focus group, I’m also exposed on a daily basis to MMC Millennials who continually impress me with their entrepreneurial spirit and determination to deliver their best work on behalf of our clients.  Again, nothing stands in their way.

So as I work with client teams to develop programming to market to this difficult to reach generation that eschews traditional marketing techniques, I wonder – just who are we trying to tap into?  Are we reaching out to a self-involved group who needs pampering and rewarding in order to be engaged, or a creative group of self-starters looking to be challenged to show just what they’re made of?  The truth is, no generation can be defined by any one thing.  As marketers, we need to strive to take a broad view of all the things that make them who they are.  So in the spirit of embracing variety, when I consider engaging this elusive generation, I’ll continue to seek inspiration from a financial planner, an auto engineer, an English teacher, a telecommunications specialist, a sales executive, a filmmaker, a packaging designer, a climbing instructor and an animator.  They haven’t let me down yet.



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