Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category


Retailers have always observed people in their stores to gain insight into how to create a better shopping experience. Where does the customer go upon entry? Can she find the right aisle?  Does she read product information or does she grab-and-go? These insights were critical to “winning the customer at shelf” – for both retailers and brands alike.

But while these insights are still relevant today, they don’t provide nearly enough value - or context - to truly bond with today’s socially-connected, location-aware shopper.

Whether it’s for electronics or egg whites, power has completely shifted to the consumer.

Industry wonks have playfully labeled this trend MoSoLoCo. That is, the effects of mobile devices, social media, and location-awareness on all forms ofcommerce. It’s driven by three things:

  • Smarter, faster technology (mobile devices)
  • Access to information and trustworthy opinions about anything (social media)
  • More relevant contexts (location-aware)

Commerce is mobile (mCommerce)

The ability to initiate or complete transactions via mobile is still in its infancy, but usage is already widespread. Oracle reports that 48 percent of consumers research and browse products and services from their handheld. And comScore says 38 percent have used their smartphone to make a purchase at least once.

When consumers are able to learn about, find, compare, buy, and review products and services without breaking a sweat-and when they’re able to perform these actions from any location, at any time, that creates challenges for brands and retailers.

For example, The New York Times recently characterized Best Buy as a “showroom” for Amazon.  And Target, incensed by mobile-social research in their stores, sent a stern message to suppliers:

“What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices without making investments, as we do, to proudly display your brands.”

Adding fuel to the fire is eBay, who created TV ads that embrace showrooming as a way to drive their own business:


There’s been lots of buzz lately around Pinterest, the social bookmarking site that allows you to visually share your interests with others. Like an old-school bookmark, Pinterest lets you save favorite links to refer to later. But it’s better: each URL is represented by an image (or “pin”) coupled with a descriptive blurb. Pinners categorize their pins into themed Boards (Food, Fashion, Kids, etc.) Social sharing via Facebook and Twitter is baked right in, and similar to Facebook, there’s the ability to “Like” or comment on a pin, and to follow users and Boards. Unlike Facebook, Pinterest is an open network, so there are no pesky friend requests to accept (or ignore.) Browsing pinboards leads to endless discoveries – new products, quirky ideas and interesting people to follow. It’s quick, intuitive and oddly addictive.

The really compelling feature of Pinterest is the innate voyeurism of the experience; each collection of images represents a peek into someone’s dream closet. Boards are more than visual filing cabinets – they are wish lists, to-do-somedays, and catalogues of all the things we love. A digital window into your soul.

Pinterest, which has cracked the top 10 social networks, can revolutionize the way we plan weddings, celebrate milestones (new babies, birthdays and holidays), keep track of all of our “stuff” and even help to do some digging on new hires.  While  Googling a potential candidate is common practice, HR can now also check Pinterest to learn more about an individual. (Tip: think twice about curating a “My Firearms” board.)

Some brands are already getting in on the game. Brands that will win followers on Pinterest will engage people by taking them behind the curtain, showcasing the individuals that make up the brand and posting content that is irresistibly sharable. There is huge opportunity for recipe-centric brands (all that pretty food porn), fashion and home décor. Although, anything that can be photographed is fair game. Attention, Nutella brand managers: there are scores of pinners who really, really like your product.

How else can brands take advantage of Pinterest?

  • Marketers can use Pinterest to discover and harness their brand advocates. People are already out there, pinning and sharing products. Brands can follow the people who pin their products, and then feed these people more of the content they want to share.
  • Pinterest is a natural venue for giving fans a sneak peek at new products (and the things that inspire them). Brands can also let other pinners contribute to their Boards, allowing fans to collaborate on future products. Comments create a virtual focus group that provides real-time feedback.
  • Show them how it’s done. Beyond recipes, Pinterest provides  a visual tutorial on your product – whether it’s how to change a tire on your bike, a surprising way to wear a new accessory or making pulled pork using your brand of soda. Brands can create simple infographics or collages that walk people through the steps of a recipe, process, etc.

  • Showcase the individuals behind the brand. Brands can drive traffic to their employees’ Boards to give fans a glimpse of the individuals who make the company tick. Or create a collaborative Board on company culture, office space or local flavor. The ideas are endless.

Pinterest is growing quickly and represents a tremendous opportunity to connect with consumers. Brands can get in on the action by focusing on big, beautiful images that beg to be shared and by taking the time to curate quality boards, and connect and converse with their followers. Go forth and pin!

Follow me on Pinterest @walterama

Working in healthcare can feel less than sexy at times. When it comes to digital, CPG brands get to have all the fun. Old Spice and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese are lighting up the social and viral highways, while healthcare brands (more often than not) stick to their professional, authoritative knitting. The fact is, there is more than one way to be successful in social media, and it all starts with establishing key objectives.

Making Boring Sexy

Making Boring Sexy: Social Media and Healthcare


A few years ago, psychologist Aric Sigman went out on a limb when he stated that the use of Facebook could lead to increased health problems. His theory was that the increased isolationism created by digital media could affect the immune system, possibly leading to heart disease, stroke and even cancer. What he didn’t take into account was the fact that many people are using Facebook as a cathartic outlet to help alleviate their own stress as sufferers or friends and family of sufferers.



It should be no surprise for a healthcare marketer to hear that patient self-diagnosis is increasing at alarming rates. WebMD.com reported a 60% increase in traffic from 2008 to today with Q4 2010 results showing a staggering 86 million users per month. An international report published last year by British health insurer Bupa indicated that 46% of those who searched online for health information were doing it to help them make a self-diagnosis.



This is the first in a two-part series rethinking what it takes to make a best-in-class website.

We get a lot of RFPs for website redesigns. All of them are well-intentioned. Some are granular in detail. Others are more “big picture.”  Some have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. Others haven’t a clue. Some are so procurement-driven they feel like a tax audit.  But they all say “website redesign.” And whenever I see or hear this phrase—website redesign—it conjures up the same image:

Five years ago, I got a note from a former client who had just moved into a new job. I printed it out and put it up on the wall, because it challenged the conventional wisdom of what it takes to truly be best-in-class.


A website overhaul is expensive, time consuming, and requires an enormous commitment from a client and the partner they choose to help them lead it. So with all that’s at stake, why redesign when you can realign? It may sound academic, but there are several critical distinctions.

A redesigned site:

is driven by a creative brief

understands the target

aesthetics first, then content

focuses on form

starts with design mock-ups

pleases mgmt in the short term

A realigned site:

is driven by business objectives

unlocks the key consumer insight

content strategy before aesthetics

focuses on form and function

starts with an idea

accomplishes business and user objectives

More after the jump.


This article that I wrote for the Business Insider is getting a lot of play so I thought I would post it here.  Many seem to agree with the position, however there are certainly some who disagree.  In the end, I am simply trying to challenge all brands to not lose site of the creative idea when working in social media.

Social Media

I’m as big an advocate as anyone when it comes to marketers using social media to engage their customers.  In fact, I’d challenge you to point to a major brand that hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon.
I can tell you that my own agency built social media strategies into nearly every communications plan we developed for our clients in 2010.  Yet, despite all of the momentum in the space, one thing has been gnawing at me—regardless of the platform, brands are all starting to look the same.

Read the full article on Business Insider: http://read.bi/ggNGiH

A friend tweeted today that he was going to start using Quora more…. if he could make the time.

Quora is the social Q&A engine where people write their own answers to questions and post questions of their own.  It’s like Wikipedia–in that it’s continually improving (in theory).

In our business, it’s important to make time to explore emerging things. I try and devote ~10% of my social media usage to trying something new.

But integrating something new into your regular work stream creates a problem. There simply isn’t time.

So here’s a simple solution: apply the law of conservation of social media.

The law of conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

The law of conservation of social media: a fundamental principle of time management that social media usage (for heavy users) cannot be increased without going insane or living in complete technological isolation.

More simply, if you’re adding something new–do something else a little less.

Then get out for a walk and leave your phone behind for once.

Over the weekend, Facebook changed the way your Likes are communicated to your social network. It used to be that if you Liked an item on a third-party site, it would appear on your Wall as a one-line update under Recent Activity. Now, your Like will publish a full story in your newsfeed:


In essence, the Like button now mirrors functionality of the Share button (which Facebook is rumored to be phasing out completely.)

Time will tell how users respond – sure, you might Like the movie “Roadkill” – but do you want all of your friends to know this? Bottom line: be careful what you Like.

Digital is a giftRecently, in a meeting, a senior executive client of mine said something a little unexpected.

“Digital is a gift,” he said.

He went on to say that digital now allows marketers like him and the brands that he manages to break out beyond the same, standard tactics that have been employed year after year, and instead provides unprecedented opportunities to truly connect with consumers.

Digital is a gift. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard it phrased so succinctly, or so perfectly. But that is a great way to look at it.

Digital is a gift because of the potential it delivers to form closer ties with our consumers beyond what traditional marketing tactics, or at times even our products, can develop.

Digital is a gift because of the creative opportunities that it provides. There are so many new forms that our message can take today that never existed before. It opens the door to a wide and ever changing array of creative solutions to the challenges of promoting our brands.

Digital is a gift because it allows people to seek out our brands whenever and wherever they are.

Digital is a gift in the way it allows people to become vocal advocates of our brands, sharing their experiences with friends and strangers alike. It provides an easy path from purchaser to influencer – who themselves can spread word of your brand to dozens, hundrends or even thousands.

Digital is a gift because it keeps us honest. It has shifted to power from the advertiser to the consumer, and the consumer isn’t afraid to call us out very directly and very publically when we let them down – and they have the tools to do it. So it helps keep us focused on better advertising, better marketing, better service, and better business practices overall.

And digital is a gift because it gives us as the opportunity as professionals to continue to learn, explore, experiment and improve our craft. It can be daunting, and sometimes exhausting, but the ever-changing shape of digital requires that we remain perpetual students of ways people use technology and the tools and methods at our disposal to reach them. And we should feel fortunate for that, because, to paraphrase my client, we don’t want to spend the rest of our careers doing the same old thing campaign after campaign, do we?