Info-Currents August-September Issue: Apple’s gesture OS, Social Headphones, Massive Open Online Courses

Emerging trend: Gesture controlled operating systems are coming to Apple. Rumors of Apple acquiring Israeli firm PrimeSenseare abound.       
Implication: Apple’s next generation products will work with the snap of a finger and respond to body movements. The new i-Series will offer stiff competition to Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo’s Wii.
Action: Embed your brand in lifestyle and entertainment apps that can help users manage their health, household and free time with such 3D technology.
Emerging trend:  Smart companies are embedding sharing technology into gear. Miami-based Muzik has released headphones with share buttons that allow consumers to send their song choices to their friends on Facebook, Twitter and beyond.  
Implication: Social networking will bleed into everyday devices, bringing a new dimension to location-based marketing.
Action: Create experiences around alternative communication platforms – glasses, bookcases, frames, or windows – where consumers can send messages about their observations. 
Emerging trend: MOOCs – massive open online courses – are generating new revenue streams for traditional education institutions, such as Georgia Tech, University of Texas, University of Virgina, among many others.
Implication: Affordable education will be available to upwardly mobile segments. Online US universities’ student body will be increasingly global.
Action: Training is the new branding. Offer expert content through online education platforms to spend quality time with your target audiences. 

Info-Currents June Issue: Measuring Pins and Photos, Facebook Hashtags, Soft Science Skills

Emerging trend: Systems that analyze visual social media, such as Curalate, add new dimensions to measuring online behavior. 
Implication: Photos generate significant interaction in social media. The ability to capture words and images will increase the value of online content and highlight those influencers who speak through images.
Action: Not everybody wants to write. When drafting your content marketing strategy, balance verbiage with visual images. Allow your followers to be able to clip and share those images on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere.
Emerging trend:  Facebook will mirror Twitter’s power in trending topics by adopting hashtags.
Implication: Facebook will become more useful to those who want to generate awareness on brands and issues. The hashtag streams will expand closed-in friend networks and increase Facebook pages’ search visibility.
Action: Identify words people are most likely to use in reference to your topic. Use these as hashtags consistently across all of your social media platforms.
Emerging trend: As hard technologies (i.e., machine-based) become automated, soft technologies (e.g., social technology, behavioral sciences) gain value as they still rely on human interpretation and creativity.  
Implication: Qualitative analysis skills, humanities education, and the ability to process emotion will be critical to business success.
Action: Supplement hard science curriculum with social sciences and humanities. Watch for executives who can fuse analytical thinking with emotional intelligence and a sharp eye for observations.
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Get The Most Out of Your Social Customer Care Channels

Standing with empty paper cups in hand, we looked for a recycling bin. Much to our dismay, the grand coffee chain did not separate its trash. “Unbelievable!” we thought and approached the counter. “Nope, we don’t recycle. Can you believe it?” said the employee, agreeing with our protest. My friend turned around and shoved the cups in mixed trash and said, “I’ll Tweet about it!”


That is one frustrated, social media savvy customer who knows she will get the attention of the brand and many others who’ve gone through similar experience, if she posts a mere 140 characters online. Her expectations are not only high because she wants the coffee chain to be green, but also because she wants a solution through immediate and open dialogue.


This is the changing face of customer care in the age of social media. Monitoring online conversations and responding in near real time has become an essential step in maintaining brand health. The complexity of setting up branded social media customer care lines may seem like added cost to an already robust system that handles queries through phone, email and mail. Companies need to have a perspective on the business impact of their social care channels, before determining their role in the customer service chain.


Social media customer service channels can reduce churn, increase satisfaction and bring in new customers:


·                           Reduced churn: Solving customer problems and preventing customers from discontinuing a service helps maintain a steady customer base.


·                           Repeat sales: High customer satisfaction yields loyalty as renewed purchases.


·                           Cross-sell, up-sell opportunities: The solution to a customer problem may be a product bundle or an alternative service. Social care specialists can serve additional products/services to customers depending on need and tone of conversation.


·                           New customers through positive word of mouth: Resolved cases and happy customer hash tags fortify brand reputation and convince readers that they would be equally well treated if they were to purchase from the company.


Besides expecting benefits, companies also need to ask some hard questions to build social care channels that make business sense for their target audience:


1-     Who are the social media savvy customers, seeking a dialogue online?

a.      What is their history with the brand?

b.      Do they tap into offline channels as well?

c.      Among online sources, which social media platforms do they prefer?


2-     What questions/issues typically make customers turn to social media channels?

a.      What are main topics?

b.      What is the volume for each key topic?

c.      In what problem stages are these questions? Will they need extensive follow up online and/or offline?


3-     What is the cost of assisting a customer through social media, considering staff and technology systems?

a.      What are key skills for social care specialists? What kind of training will they need?

b.      How many staff members are needed to assist in social media conversations?

c.      What is the process in which social care specialists will monitor online buzz and respond to customers?


The opportunity in social care is in addressing customer needs through efficient systems that deliver value fast, at reduced cost to the company.


This post has also been published on NM Incite’s blog. Click here to read more on social media trends and business implications.

Posted via email from dotwom’s posterous

Water is Everything

charity: water is truly the master of online word of mouth. Check out their latest campaign, Water Changes Everything, that educates audiences about the connections between an everyday matter such as water and macro issues such as education, food security, sanitation, women’s issues, healthcare and economic development.

The campaign first caught my attention on Facebook with clever depictions of what lack of water would mean for us in the developed nations.


Then I found the trail to the web area where they have six key messages you can Tweet and/or like, each one of them opening the viewers’ eyes to the impact clean water can make in a country’s economic development and public health. 


Between these messages and the photos on Facebook I generated four tweets and three likes, which turned into four additional re-tweets. In other words, one enthusiast created more than 10 messages through direct involvement and pass-alongs. Randomly peppering like buttons on a web site does not guarantee online buzz. Yet giving a community of advocates strategically packaged, byte-size messages can turbo-charge word of mouth. 

Posted via email from dotwom’s posterous

Kanye Creeps Up on Healthcare Reform – on Twitter!

I could not resist sharing this image when I saw the little red dot in the Twitter word cloud. Our friends at Motivequest have been closely tracking the healthcare reform debate buzz online. The image below shows the various topics and key words mentioned on Twitter, related to this issue. “Obama” and “reform” are obviously in the lead. But what’s that red dot? Kanye is still in the mix! He’s slowly edging towards the center. Obama, watch out! He’s going to steal the stage!

Twitter’s Real Value

Recently I was speaking with a Columbia MBA student who wanted to know what I thought of the “zillion dollar Twitter deal.” I think we are all excited about the idea of seeing glorious Internet deals coming back. Remember, when you asked for VC money for hypothetical business plans and inflated numbers and you got a few more millions to just go and try things? While I am not sure if Twitter is worth a “zillion” dollars, I do think it deserves significant investment.

Twitter is more than a 140-character message update service where people rant about their latest activities. It is a very adept tool at collecting consumer data and mapping networks. As social media tools such as Twitter become mainstream, we’ll see more talk about personal CPM. Today we go through many calculations and estimations to figure out how influential an Internet user is, how far they can drive a conversation, how many people follow their word and take their advice. Twitter is revealing plans to track retweets. That’s very much like seeing the list of people who quote from articles and reference other people’s work when advocating new ideas. It’s a simple way of gauging authority. Retweets show how an idea is embraced and spread by Internet users. As simple as it may sound, I think that’s a significant development in cataloging Twitter-based information.

I see Twitter as a powerful tool that will be able to show us how authoritative and powerful a given blogger/Twitter user is. Its advanced features will add a new dimension to online research about brand-related dialogues.

Twitter Opera

This is not a joke. The prestigious Royal Opera House, in partnership with Deloitte, used Twitter to get audiences to write the plot line for an opera. Check them out @youropera. The crowdsourced opera will be performed as part of the Deloitte Ignite Festival in the next few days. You can follow the journey of the Twitter Opera on the ROH’s blog. A snapshot of the plotline, which I am copying from their blog, is as follows:

“At the end of Act One, Scene One, William is languishing in a tower, having been kidnapped by a group of birds who are anxious for revenge after he has killed one of their number. Hans has promised to rescue him. The Woman With No Name is off to her biochemistry laboratory to make a potion to let people speak to the birds.”

May sound a bit quirky, but it sure helped ROH find a new audience segment and draw younger people to their theatre. After all, the opera was originally intended as entertainment for the masses – no?

What Iranian Protestors Are Showing Us

Twitter is hitting mainstream. I am saying this not because I am looking at some numbers, but because I am getting asked aboutit outside of work by people of different professional backgrounds – none of whom work at agencies. These folks first ask me what Twitter is and what it really does or mean. I say it’s about networking and tapping into the power of loose connections and shared knowledge.

When it comes to twiter, don’t just think marketing. Think politics, think rural vs urban, think cross-polinations across schools and schools of thought. The way protesters in Iran kept communicating through Twitter and got tips on where to be, which streets to avoid, how to act is a very vivid example of how powerful this simple tool can be. Is it because it’s using the latest technology? No, not just that. Twitter’s power lies in people and ideas they can share at the speed of a few clicks.