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Author Archive: Scott Monty

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This Week in Digital – 11/6/2013

Twitter's IPO pricing, Instagram's first ad, the growth of Google+, who owns the Internet, the company hot on the tail of Facebook, the most important social metrics to large enterprises, measuring the impact of content, teens are finding other social platforms, branded content and the Fair Use Doctrine, Forrester's hit job on Facebook and more, it's This Week in Digital & Social.

A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, digital communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Digital & Social Magazine.

Industry


  • The 10 companies that own the Internet shouldn't surprise you: Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo! round out the top four, with Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba following closely behind. [Mashable]

The Platforms


Measurement / Metrics / Big Data



Legal / HR


Content


Bookmark / Read / Watch Later

  • A really worthwhile read on companies, strategies and disruption tactics through the analogy of cups of water. [Medium]

Commentary

Facebook's surge - in its sales numbers and stock price - over the last quarter has been impressive. But it would seem that it's not seen that way by everyone. Forrester analyst Nate Elliott released a report and An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg in which he took the social network leader to task for failing marketers.
At question was the performance of Facebook relative to other marketing metrics.



Now you can see that the deviation between the marketing tactic with the highest satisfaction (ratings & reviews) and lowest satisfaction (Facebook) was all of 0.30 points on a 1-5 point scale (3.54 vs. 3.84) in the survey conducted of 395 marketers. It's been many years since I took an analytics course, but on the face of it, I'd question the conclusions drawn from such a small point spread among so relatively few survey respondents.

Mr. Elliott painted with a broad brush: "while lots of marketers spend lots of money on Facebook today, relatively few find success," without giving any examples of such. And he accused Facebook of "focusing too little" on "driving genuine engagement." I've got news for Mr. Elliott: that's the job of marketers, not of Facebook. Joseph Jaffe agrees with me in his MediaPost piece Facebook Isn't Failing Marketers - Marketers Are Failing Marketers.

Sheryl Sandberg decided to lean in to Elliott with her own response, sharing numbers and statistics that show marketers continue to be satisfied and are spending more money with the social network. And none other than Doug Schoen (of the venerable Penn Schoen Berland) points out the sampling, statistical and analytical foibles in the survey, noting that this is one such survey that has "been used well beyond [its] value and purposes."

But that didn't stop Forrester and Nate Elliott from doing the same thing to Twitter.

Image credit: axis (Flickr)
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PR Advice From A Former VentureBeat Writer

[Guest post from Conrad Egusa - Ed.]

To begin, many thanks to Scott for the opportunity to guest write this article.

Today, PR for companies large and small is arguably more important than it has ever been before. In this article, my aim is to deconstruct the PR process, with the hopes that you can better optimize your company’s opportunities for PR going forward.

This article comes from experience as a writer for VentureBeat, as the Co-Owner of the largest English news publication in South America, Colombia Reports, and as the founder of the marketing firm Brownstein & Egusa. If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them in the comment section.

Overview of the PR process

When a company has an announcement it is looking to make, it notifies the media through a press release. A company will either send this to the email address of a journalist, or will contact a general publication address, as an example tips (at) techcrunch.com.

The challenge for a company is, in the course of any given week, a reporter may receive dozens if not hundreds of pitches from companies looking for the same exposure.

Before your company can reach its target audience, it is your job to get past the person on their computer, overworked, stressed and tired of reading emails that are often not targeted nor relevant.

In this article, we’re going to explain how you can best do this, and how you can get your company featured on top publications. As an overview, with this PR process the following structure applies:
  1. Recognize which stories to reach out to journalists for
  2. Create a compelling press release (starting with the first line)
  3. Secure an exclusive from a top publication
  4. Email hundreds of other publications to further coverage
  5. Repeat this process every 3-4 months with a new announcement

Not all news is press-worthy

When you are first beginning to approach PR, it is important to identify a story announcement that you will reach out to journalists about.

Unfortunately, it is rare that a journalist will want to write about everything that is happening in your company. As an example, although there are exceptions, if your company re-designs its Home Page, it is unlikely that TechCrunch will want to cover this.

Maintaining an active presence in the press is important, however you can lose credibility if you reach out to journalists with stories that are not likely to be covered.

The announcements that most often get reported on are below. If you do have any of these announcements, we recommend you make sure to capitalize on them for PR:
  • Company launches
  • Fundraisers
  • Product launches
  • Acquisitions
  • Market benchmarks (e.g. 250,000 mobile downloads)

It starts with the first sentence

After you have identified your story, it’s important to begin developing your press release, which is the medium used to explain your story to journalists.

When your company is looking for press, what is important to remember is that your email and press release needs to sell the journalist the story, in order for him or her to write the article to an audience.

In life, however important the first impression may be, you will have the opportunity to make up for failure. This is not true with press releases.

The first sentence needs to encapsulate everything that follows it, because if it fails to do so in a convincing manner, the chances the rest of your press release get read are slim to none.

The first sentence of any press release needs to answer: Why should the reader care? This is what is referred to as the “storyline,” where a company explains what about itself or its product is important to an industry and a readership and why.

An example of a storyline is the following:

After 2 Years Of Development, Stanford PhD & Partner Raise $500K For Lingua.ly, Aim To Change Way Languages Are Learnt Online.

The key is to be bold and gripping: Not overly vague, however not overly specific. Remember that you are trying to captivate that tired guy scanning his emails for compelling story material.

In one sentence, a reader/writer needs to know whether there is anything worth writing about, and whether there is a good enough story behind it to justify reading it.

Social proof

One of the most important factors in your success is your ability to provide social proof in your press release. Remember to assume that journalists know nothing about you or your company.

If you graduated from a well-known school (Stanford, Harvard), worked for a certain company (Facebook, Twitter), received a certain award, or have anything remarkable about your background, you should include early on.

You can see from the story line above, that we led with the fact that this company’s founder was a Stanford PhD. Your aim to grab a journalist’s attention as soon as possible.

It ends with a lot of information

Nothing will help a writer more than if he or she feels he has all of the information needed to write a quality story (and that he or she will not need to spend additional time finding other data points).

Once you’ve provided an outline of what you think should be emphasized, you job is to provide information. As much as possible, if you provide this in an un-biased format, a journalist will consider your information more credible. If you’d like, we breakdown a specific example press release here.

Approach PR with an exclusive

Modern news is a cutthroat, hectic industry, in which every publication is competing to break stories.

If you’re most companies looking for press coverage, we recommend you offer one of the more well-read outlets exclusive access to your story announcement.

A tired, overworked writer checking his email is not going to jump on any story he senses is being shopped around to 20 other tired writes just like him. However, offer him the sole chance to break a piece of original content, and you can better have his attention.

For most companies, exclusives provide the opportunity to raise profile and get coverage from the right sources.

Think of public relations like a domino set. Knock over the wrong one, and nothing happens. But get the right outlet to publish your story, then smaller ones will follow. If you’re lucky, a mainstream media outlet will pick up the coverage from the industry-specific sources they use as feelers.

Continue coverage

Once an exclusive is secured and the article is online, we recommend you email hundreds of other publications to further coverage. If you’d like, we spent 100 hours collecting a free tech reporter contact list, with emails and Twitter handles, here.

Your aim for PR is to have something important to report at least every 3-4 months. If you can do this, you won’t be in the top 10% of companies for PR, you will be in the top 1%.

Many thanks again to Scott for the opportunity to write this guest post. If there are any questions I can answer, please post in the comment section or feel free to write me at conrad (at) brownsteinegusa.com.



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This Week in Digital – 10/23/2013

Budgets shift to video, the top 10 apps worldwide, the common thread between US and Chinese consumers, Brazilian mobile habits, Facebook video ads are coming, Yahoo! finds its content mojo, teens disclose their most important social network (it may surprise you), content marketing needs help, the future of the business model and more, it's This Week in Digital & Social.

A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, digital communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Digital & Social Magazine.


Industry



  • Which are the top 10 countries with the most digital natives? It should be no surprise that China ranks first with 75.2 million, followed by the U.S. with 41.3 million. India and Brazil follow with 22.7 and 20.1 million each. (Mashable)
  • What do consumers in China and the U.S. have in common? They demand honesty and ethics from global brands. Listen to an in-depth 5-minute discussion about the report. (Cohn & Wolfe via For Immediate Release)
    • Transparency stands alongside price and quality in importance in the decision-making process for consumers.
    • Mistrust in companies' transparency remains.
    • Consumers don't just vote with their feet, but with their friends, families and influence.
    • Chinese consumers are the most demanding of businesses.
    • CEO = Chief Ethics Officer.
  • Mobile usage in Brazil cuts across income and age groups, as middle class consumers have caught up with mobile use of higher income consumers. What are they using their mobile devices for? Primarily social networks and communication, maps and navigation and music, videos and photos. (Interactive Advertising Bureau via eMarketer)




The Platforms

Source: Statista

Measurement / Metrics / Big Data


Legal / HR

  • Samsung was fined $340,000 for posting negative comments about competitors and positive comments about itself on sites in Taiwan. (The Verge)

Content


Bookmark / Read / Watch Later

  • Excellent two-part series on the Evolution of Community Management - Part 1 and Part 2. (Marketing Magazine of Canada)
  • Superb presentation by Jeremiah Owyang of the newly-formed Crowd Companies on The Future of the Business Model - people's needs have changed and there will be changes in business models that reflect the new reality. (Slideshare)

Commentary

We're betting that you guessed Instagram when we asked you "which social network has replaced Facebook as the most important for teens?" If you did, you'd be wrong.



According to the latest Piper Jaffray semi-annual "Taking Stock with Teens" survey, teens say that "friends" have the strongest influence over their purchase decisions currently, but that "Internet" is rising in influence. More than half have indicated that Twitter is the most important, surpassing Facebook and then Instagram.

But here's the clincher:
Only 23% of teens cited Facebook as the most important, which is down from 33% six months ago and 42% a year ago.

The anecdotal information I hear is that the reason teens are considering other platforms is that their parents and brands have disrupted the Facebook experience for them. This may be a concern to the social network leader.

"Facebook's got nothing to worry about," I hear you saying. "After all, Baby Boomers have more spending power than Millennials." While that's true, it won't be true for long.

According to the study "What Happens when Millennials Get the Wallet" by Berglass + Associates and Women's Wear Daily, Millennials are set to outspend Baby Boomers by 2017. That should give Facebook and marketers everywhere reason for pause.

So what's the answer? It can't be more advertising. It has to be more personalization. The Piper Jaffray survey also indicated that teens are shopping less in single brand, vertically integrated stores and more in multi-branded, multi-category and online retail environments. This means they'll need two -way conversation, content that matters to them that they can easily share, and experiences that draw them in.

Of course, Twitter may not hold the title for long. Which is why it's important to have a well-rounded digital strategy that transcends platforms.

Image credit: circulating (Flickr)
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This Week in Digital – 10/16/2013

An 800% increase in social media use, the mystery of high cable bills is solved, Twitter goes heavy into television, privacy changes for Facebook and Google - and a surprising partnership between the two behemoths - social media ROI is dead, the demographics behind the major social networks, key skills for anyone looking to succeed in marketing, a lawyer gets the last laugh and more, it's This Week in Digital & Social.

A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, digital communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Digital & Social Magazine.

Industry

  • Most advertisers will be boosting spending in mobile (64%) and digital (51%) next year, but the digital formats are of interest: social media, video sites and video ad networks are among the top three categories under consideration for increases, whereas portals such as Yahoo! are plateauing. (Advertiser Perceptions via eMarketer)



The Platforms



Measurement / Metrics / Big Data


Legal / HR

  • Case law: a racing team sued a parody site and its connected Facebook and Twitter accounts - and lost, showing that sometimes common sense needs to triumph.
  • Just for fun: Crease and Desist chronicles one of the best back-and-forth exchanges between lawyers ever. (Now I Know)
  • An add-on to Facebook's Graph Search can turn it into a recruiting engine for companies. (Mashable)

Bookmark / Read / Watch Later



Commentary

It's almost a given now. Some members of society share (and overshare) so much information on social platforms that they leave little to the imagination. So-called "lifestreaming" was popularized some 6 years ago, but the ubiquity of Facebook, Twitter and the like has made the concept all the easier.

Andy Warhol famously said, "In the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame." But with the amount of personal details that we make readily available to the public, the opposite is closer to the truth. And why shouldn't it be? As humans, we all have a need to feel heard and acknowledged. The public sharing and affirmation that come with it would seem to be a natural extension.

However, recent announcements by Facebook and Google (mentioned above) should make users think otherwise. To their credit, both platforms have informed users how to avoid such privacy pitfalls with instructions of how to set up posts or how to opt out. But in reality, how many average users will take the time to not only understand the nuances but also to make the changes to their accounts based on the instructions? Certainly, Facebook and Google are hoping that few will - indeed, their advertising models are based on that.

Marketers should hope for the same, as shared personal information is what makes Facebook so highly targetable and Google ads so human and personal. If large numbers of users defect from these practices or platforms, it may be of concern to marketers.

In an era where "everything that happens in Vegas stays on Google," it's risky to have such a loose grasp on privacy. There may be ramifications much farther down the road that no one has yet foreseen. Then again, if you don't want your online ramblings, rants or antics to be public, perhaps you shouldn't be posting them online in the first place.

Photo credit: eyemage (Flickr)

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This Week in Digital – 10/2/2013

Facts about Twitter emerge from its S-1 filing, AdTrap may change the face of the Internet, Facebook and Cisco collaborate on free wifi with check-ins, Instagram announces the debut of advertising, Bing will serve images from Pinterest boards, UM's Wave 7 study indicates increased global engagement, real-time media maps from bit.ly and more, it's This Week in Digital & Social.

A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, digital communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Digital & Social Magazine.


Industry



The Platforms


Measurement / Metrics / Big Data


Legal / HR

Content

  • The 12 tenets of content creation as an infographic. I'll save you a click: listen, make a list, address every question, research keywords, pay attention to titles, talk about the competition, use the "vs" format, write about "the best," be clear and concise, keep on creating, and be fearless. (MarketingProfs)
  • The Ideas Lab website is a bold experiment in brand journalism that is branded and owned by General Electric and run by Atlantic Media Strategies. (Nieman Labs)

Bookmark / Read / Watch Later

  • Eight elements to help brands forge a stronger emotional connection with consumers include such things as typography, color, motion, framing/composition and personality, among others. (FastCo Create)
  • Link shortening service Bit.ly has created a real-time media map showing the prominence of various publications by state. Select newspapers, radio/tv, magazines or online and determine which outlets get the best pickup in which markets. (Bit.ly)

  • UM has released Wave 7 of its longitudinal study, an ongoing assessment of social media on a global scale and the findings are intriguing. UM surveyed 48,945 active internet users aged 16-54 in 65 countries and developed the following insights, among others:
    • The need to be responsive and "always on" is greater than ever, with a 71% growth in Chinese microblogging platforms alone.
    • Professional social networks have grown the fastest over the last year as individuals use them for career opportunities.
    • About 70% of respondents showed concern over the amount of personal data online and 43% are supportive of brands using behavioral data for targeting purposes.


Commentary

This marks three weeks straight in which we've had a commentary piece about Twitter. Given their big news around their IPO, it's not surprising. This week, Twitter made its IPO filing with the SEC and there were some valuable insights to be gained from the 200+ page S-1.



Here are some of the most relevant facts:
  • Trading symbol will be TWTR.
  • Twitter has more than 215 million average monthly users worldwide, with about 1/3 of them in the U.S.
  • About 75% of Twitter's revenue is from the U.S.
  • The company is hoping to raise $1 billion with the public offering.
  • Twitter is not yet profitable, bringing in $253.6 million in revenue in the first six months of 2013 and posting a net loss of $69.3 million over the same time period.
  • 65% of its revenue is generated from mobile advertising.
In addition to outlining its breadth and reach, unique and relevant content discovery, the ability to break news and cover live events, and capability as a distribution channel, Twitter also enumerated risks inherent to the business, including:
  • Competitive products that attract Twitter's users;
  • Influential users that flock to a competing product or service;
  • Inability to convince and convert new users;
  • Users perceive a decrease in the quality of the content;
  • Failure to innovate and improve products;
  • Inability to present content that is useful and relevant to users;
  • Users become disenchanted with the experience based on frequency, relevance and prominence of ads.
While the majority of Twitter's revenue comes from advertising, they also offer access to their stream of publicly-available data to data partners (commonly referred to as "the firehose"). Yet they make a comparatively passing mention of it and that portion of the business accounted for a mere 15% of their revenue in 2012 ($47.5 million out of $316.9 million total).

In an era when Big Data is more than just a buzzword and metrics seem to be more important than ever, I think it's odd that Twitter would continue to rely so heavily on advertising as main source of revenue. Certainly it's important, but if they make it too much a feature of the platform, they may sacrifice the very growth they're trying to simultaneously achieve - particularly when they note that growth and ad revenue are the two biggest challenges right now.

Image credit: Twitter

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This Week in Digital – 9/25/2013
A significant percentage of Americans are not online - and of those who are, 20% are banned from using Facebook at work, Twitter makes some big announcements with CBS and the NFL, Facebook begins to make its way into China, how Asia startups differ from Silicon Valley, the FTC begins to take interest in native advertising, content's role in crisis communications, Amazon tweets a press release and more, it's This Week in Social Media.


A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Social Media Magazine.

Speaking of which (shameless plug alert), please check out my Red Couch interview with Flipboard in which I share Ford's approach to digital, audiences and content, and share some of my other passions that have resulted in Flipboard magazines.



Industry





  • Why would mobile users want to share personal information with brands? The top three reasons are fairly logical: to receive relevant discounts or offers (47%); to receive information or alerts I've requested (45%); to resolve customer service issues (36%). Interestingly, 17% said there is never a good reason. (TRUSTe via Marketing Charts)
  • Marketers can be harsh self-critics. A survey by Adobe shows a gap between important areas and marketers' proficiency in these areas. Most notable: marketing measurement (47% gap), content management (40%), creativity and innovation (42%), customer response management (42%) and personalization and targeting (40%). (Marketing Charts)


The Platforms


Measurement / Metrics / Big Data

Legal / HR

Content


Bookmark / Read / Watch Later


Commentary

With Twitter making even more news this week (aren't they in a "quiet" period?), it's not surprising that another company not only made news that included Twitter but made that news on Twitter.

Yesterday, Amazon announced it's new Kindle Fire via a press release that was composed entirely of tweets. In just 14 short bursts, it announced the availability and features of its newest device via its @AmazonKindle account.

Was this a smart move or was it merely a stunt to get attention? One could argue that it was both. It certainly did raise attention, but frankly, when journalists - digital and traditional - are overwhelmed with deadlines, being pressured to crank out ever more content, and are using Twitter to a greater degree in 2013, they probably appreciate something that doesn't require them to sift through a company press release.

At Ford, we began using Twitter as another communications tool on the days we announce quarterly earnings. Our summary of material in our press releases comes out through the @Ford corporate handle with the #FordEarnings hashtag as well as the $F symbol, to pull it through to StockTwits. It's an additional service, but it provides the right amount of information to the right people in the right places.

Maybe Amazon is onto something.

Image credit: Ian Roberts (Flickr)

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Context is King

Scott Monty | September 25, 2013

Context is King

In 1996, Bill Gates famously said, "Content is king." To a large degree, he's still correct.

In 2006, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble wrote Naked Conversations, which largely prefaced the era of social business that we now find ourselves in. While it was centered around blogs and the ability for companies to have dialog with customers (and presumably to listen to them and learn what they want), it paved the way for social media to play a larger part in business communications.

It's now 2013 and Robert and Shel have the answer for where we're heading next in The Age of Context. They set it up by identifying the five forces in play: social, mobile, data, sensors and location. This isn't some futuristic Space Odyssey with computers with artificial intelligence; this is what we're living in right now - even if the dots aren't completely connected yet, these forces already exist everywhere around us. It can legitimately be said that now, context is king.

In the book, the authors delve into a wide array of examples and companies that are bringing these five forces to bear on their businesses - from Uber to Apple, Philips to Google Glass, and many many more. They're simply too numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say that between Shel's journalistic background and Robert's grueling schedule of interviewing entrepreneurs and executives, the book is extensively researched.

Because it's a contextually relevant to me, I'd like to take a look specifically at the Ford examples they used in the chapters around transportation. While they claim that Google's self-driving car generates 700 megabytes of data per second (incidentally, the 2013 Ford Fusion generates hundreds of megabytes of data per second already, and has over 16 million lines of code - more than Twitter and Facebook combined), they also estimate that the cloud would melt down if every vehicle generated that level of data.

I was pleased to see a smattering of Ford technology mentioned in the book. The authors certainly couldn't cover everything (there's too much, and frankly, it's not an infomercial), but they covered MyKey, one of the most popular innovations we have. MyKey allows owners to program a key fob that limits the top speed, radio volume and radio stations, and has persistent seatbelt reminders and early low fuel reminders. They also mentioned Ford's investments in Zipcar and TechShop, as well as the SYNC and MyFord Touch hands-free infotainment systems that put your phone at the center of your connected car, conforming to just about any device that is brought in.

Of course, the driverless car gets a lot of attention. It seems to capture everyone's imagination these days. What few people fail to realize is that at Ford - as well as at a number of other automakers - the dots are already in place, waiting to be connected. For example, on my Fusion, I have BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) that indicates in my wing mirrors when there's a vehicle I might not be able to see, with Cross-Traffic Alert, so I know when vehicles are approaching either side of my car from the rear. Active Park Assist can help me park my car hands-free. Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist keep the car moving at a speed relative to the car in front of me and help to steer the car back in the lane if it drifts out. 

All of these are technologies that can be pieced together for autonomous driving. Of course, as I told Shel, the great part about our vehicles is that people still have fun driving and prefer a hands-on experience. I'm sure that over time and for specific purposes, the "driverless" scenario will become more comfortable to people. But I'm not sure that many will simply climb in the backseat. Given the unpredictability of other drivers around us, it's probably a good idea for drivers to remain close to the wheel.

One of the things I've often heard Bill Ford talk about - as he passionately explains how the company is still delivering on his great-grandfather's promise of affordable transportation for all - is that Ford's role in the world of mega-cities may not be to provide more vehicles, but to help enable better mobility. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-grid communication will help crunch the data, using sensors and location to contextualize the driving experience and give feedback to drivers and/or their vehicles via real-time updates. It's really not that far out.


Shel and Robert also did well by interviewing K. Venkatesh Prasad, who is one of Ford's technical wizards. He leads our Open Innovation efforts, is part of our technology advisory board and spends a portion of his time at Ford's Silicon Valley office in Palo Alto. Prasad agrees that the car is the ultimate mobile device, going so far as to call it "a cognitive device."

This is important in the Age of Context, as we can't rely solely on our own human perception and interactions any more, especially when we're driving. Ford vehicles with SYNC have the ability to listen to texts and send up to 15 pre-programmed responses without the driver having to touch his or her phone - as well as the ability to put the phone in a "do not disturb" mode. But think of how much data is already being exchanged by the car and the plethora of third-party services that are out there. Making more of these automated and tuned to our driving habits (and preferences, as the car continues to be personalized) could keep drivers contextually connected with the information that's relevant without requiring them to lift a finger.

There's no doubt that Scoble and Israel are ahead of the curve when it comes to all of the possibilities out there. They proved it seven years ago with Naked Conversations, and they're likely to prove it in an even shorter period of time with The Age of Context, as the world seems to be evolving at an even quicker pace. Here's hoping that you get to experience even a fraction of the cool companies and products they've outlined in the book.

Pick yourself up a copy. But see if you can get it for cash so they can't contextually track you. ;-)

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5 Ways to Combine Email and Social Media to Grow Your Business
Guest post by @MattLBrennan


Even in 2013, email is still very much alive. A well-built email list can often be a business’s most engaged online audience. When you understand how to interact with email readers it opens new doors for your business.

Building that list becomes hugely important. Don’t give in to temptation and just add anyone you can think of. Instead, you have to create and showcase your value at every opportunity. That’s the best way to entice people into signing up for your email list. But like anything else in digital marketing, it’s not an “If you build it, they will come,” type of project. You need to promote your brand. Social media offers great ways to maximize the effectiveness and reach of your email campaign.

Promote Your Giveaway

Do you have an ebook, white paper or some other offering in exchange for an email address? It may be time to post or tweet about it. Now’s not the time to get too self-promotional, however. It’s the time to outline a common problem, and how what you offer fixes it. You don’t have to stop there, either. If you have Facebook or Google+ business pages, use your ebook cover art for a profile picture. Make sure the only way that people can access your offering is in exchange for their email address.

Utilize Bio Real Estate

Most social networks have valuable “about” sections for you to fill out. This is a great place to link to the opt-in page for your newsletter. Again, it’s not about self-promotion. It’s about telling people what type of value you provide, and what they can expect in exchange for their email address. An email newsletter can be one of the best mediums a business has available for providing constant value in their content. Showcasing that link in your most prominent social real estate emphasizes its importance. 

Post When Published

Hopefully, you’re providing a valuable message written in a personal format for your newsletter readers. That’s something that should resonate with your social audiences as well. You’re giving them a window into a new source of information, which may be of interest. Show people snippets of that value, and let them know where they can find more of it. You may want to simply ask your social audience if they missed the recent newsletter, and some highlight from it. Then post the link to your opt-in page. Reachmail gives great examples of how Twitter is a great platform for email promotion.

Stress Community To Your Email Subscribers

It’s important to push the value of your social networks to your email list. Sure, you can give readers ways to reply to you, but social media is still a better way to build a community, where anybody can talk with anybody. You can do this by overtly encouraging people to join one of your social networks, or simply by providing social icons on your newsletter, or links in your signature space. Once you can start to see the signs of a large and interactive email list, it may be a good time to start a Facebook group or G+ community where people with similar interests can interact with each other and connect. This is just another way to provide great value.

Offer Deals To Your Newsletter Subscribers

If you have a product that generates great interest, use your social networks to post about the special deal for email subscribers. At that point, you’re showing your social audience why it pays to be on your email list.

Conclusion

Remember, people are guarded about giving their email away. Nobody likes an inbox full of spammy offers that mean nothing to them. That’s why showcasing the value that you provide is so important in everything you do with email. Your social media networks serve as a window into that value.


About the author: Matthew Brennan is a marketing writer based in the Chicago area. He regularly writes about content marketing, blogging, and engaging with your audience. He has been published on ProBlogger, Soshable, and Business2Community. Connect with Matthew on his website, www.matthewlbrennan.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+.


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This Week in Digital – 9/18/2013

Anger spreads farther than joy, manufacturing companies get social, CEOs are more interested in digital, why Twitter's MoPub acquisition is a big deal, how Facebook keeps you coming back, keeping your personal data safe, a like is free speech, the 10 Commandments of content marketing, the rise of resilient corporations and more, it's This Week in Social Media.

A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.

Each week at Ford, I compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, social media, mobile, communications and marketing in order to keep the wider team up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in their jobs. These are those links.

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that might be helpful, I'd encourage you to add some via a comment below. And if you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links by subscribing to the This Week in Social Media Magazine, which is now available on the Web.

Industry



The Platforms

Measurement / Metrics / Big Data

Legal / HR

Content


Bookmark / Read / Watch Later

  • It's true: believe it or not, blogging and Twitter are making us smarter. Writing in public, whether it's in the form of blogs or microblogs, is forcing us to be clearer, smarter and more convincing. (NPR)
  • The future of media and Medium's role in it, according to founder Ev Williams, is to help filter out the crap. Learn how. (GigaOm)
  • Meet the Resilient Corporations. What’s a Resilient Corporation? It’s one that minimizes risk, moves quicker, and can grow faster than others. This includes crowdsourcing, building a social business, and being responsive to market changes. This is the future of successful businesses. (Web Strategy Blog)
  • Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg of All Things D have announced that they and Dow Jones will not be renewing their contract at the end of 2013. The two have plans to continue their publishing and conference hosting, but have not yet named a destination or any investment partners. (All Things Digital)

Commentary

Last week was an extraordinary week for Twitter. Announcing their IPO (via a tweet, no less) kicked off a flurry of news coverage, commentary and punditry that stood in stark contrast to the 140 characters of the initial announcement.

Amid the skepticism about yet another social media company filing for a listing and the inevitable comparisons to how the Facebook IPO went, the fact is that Twitter is a resilient company that has managed to change with the times and find its simple little service more adaptable than any other platform.

It's a personal communication service; it's a breaking news medium; it's a photo and video sharing mechanism; it's a music platform; it's a way for hollywood stars to share personal information with fans; it's a way to measure television viewing habits; it's a crisis communications tool; etc.

Image credit: Scott Beale (Flickr)

And that's been the challenge with Twitter all along: for people unimaginative enough to understand its potential, it's often been derided with such inanities as, "Why would I want to tell people what I'm eating for lunch?" If you can't think of a use of Twitter beyond that, then I agree - you're probably too boring to be interacting with people on Twitter.

We currently have no idea what the revenue stream looks like for Twitter, or what business model they'll peg their future to. But I personally wouldn't count them out, as they've shown a high degree of chameleon-like qualities for changing as the times and market conditions have required. I'm confident they'll continue to thrive.

And maybe they'll even throw me a few shares to compensate me for inventing the term "tweetup."

Image credit: Steve Garfield (Twitter)
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The Incipience of Viral Videos


Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis has taken the world by storm over the past fortnight with its video The Fox. With an electro-thumping beat backing a legitimate question from nursery-rhyme devotees everywhere ("What does the fox say?"), the video has done a rare and admirable thing; pierced the ears and hearts of the online world to achieve viral fame within two days of its release – and it has only continued to grow.




Like Gangnam Style before it, The Fox taps into our appreciation of the quirky, the visually unusual, a memorable chorus or refrain, and an upbeat rhythm. The result? A moment of cultural zeitgeist that, for a limited time, has those with an internet connection and access to a list of online friends humming the same tune. The ability to capture lightning in a bottle fascinates agencies, brands and would-be YouTube stars, who try to discern a prescribed formula for viral success. But the fact is, it's neither simple nor guaranteed.

If it were, then we'd see far more cross-cultural examples and we wouldn't be so captivated by these standouts. Why, then, do we continue the quixotic efforts to mine such fool's gold? Chalk it up to the human need to chase the seemingly unattainable, the desire for fame and the need to break through today's digital clutter.

The challenge is that, when we try too hard, consumers can tell. If we stay true to ourselves and our audiences – as Psy, Ylvis or Red Bull do – we have a much better chance of creating good content that is authentic and consistent with our brands. While Oreo's "dunk in the dark" tweet during the Super Bowl captured marketers' fascination with tapping into real-time marketing, it's but a single execution that is referenced too often.

It's time for marketers to move beyond the me-too approach to content creation and to embrace (or redefine) the uniqueness and richness of their brands, delivering what's right for their audiences.

But I still wonder what the fox says.

Image credit: Mathieu (Flickr)


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