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Cliffhangers Killed the Modern Commercial

By | Personal, Strategy | No Comments

Commercials are funny little things aren’t they? Sometimes hated, sometimes loved, sometimes searched for but mostly just ignored; commercials have become at times the bane of our existence. Outside of the Super Bowl, when the world purposefully uses services like TiVo to record commercials or social media to find commercials, I find for the most part that commercials are ignored. With commercial viewership numbers decreasing over the past several years some services, like Hulu, have turned to force feeding commercials to us while broadcast networks now build in commercials to newscasts or special interest stories viewed from the web.

Cliffhangers killed the modern commercial
While it is true that people rarely love commercials there are some pretty catchy ones (thanks to clever jingles, great mini-story lines or just downright good advertising) that are often missed as we skip them to fast forward to see the resolve of the cliffhanger that appeared in the show right before the adverts were displayed. While these cliffhangers were useful in the days before TiVo and other DVR services I believe the continued practice is now killing the modern day commercial. Cliffhangers were useful pre-DVRs as they were needed to keep us tuned to CBS for Big Brother (which I am aware has only been on post-DVR) [or insert your favourite show here] so that we would not leave during the commercial break; however, this is no longer a threat since we rarely watch TV live anymore. We simply sit down, open up our playlist, and start watching.

To enforce my theory take the following scenario: what happens when you need to take a break (get water, food, talk, etc) and a cliffhanger comes on your favourite show? I’m willing to bet you skip right through the commercials, see the cliffhanger resolve, then pause the show when it gets to a slow part or before the next plot line begins and take care of your side activity before returning to the TV and pressing ‘play’. Go ahead, think about it, do you this? I know that I, and many others, have this same practice. So what happened to those (hopefully great) commercials? Well, you never saw them and the money spent to buy the impression of that advert on you has been wasted.

It is not the commercials’ fault; however, they do not help
It is easy to blame the commercials themselves for why we fast-forward right through them; we see them as interruptions to our shows and boring marketing ploys that we see right through. But why do we skip them? I challenge the thought that it is not the fault of the commercial but that of the broadcast network and their program directors (and writers by association). Since they purposefully write in a cliffhanger, purposefully place a commercial right before the cliffhanger resolves I (and probably you) purposefully skip right over them to get back to the show. It’s a cycle that used to work; however, this new media generation calls for new commercial adverts, new show writing and new network programming sequences.

Bring back the jingle!
So what is the solution? Think back to the super bowl (or any other sporting event on TV) for the answer. Do they give you a cliffhanger (the 3-point shot with 2 seconds to go) and then switch to a commercial break? No they do not and quite frankly I think the world would revolt if they did! Instead they play the commercials during downtime, when something not-so-important is happening to give us a break. We let the commercials play in the background while we get up, walk around, get drinks/food or whatever we need to do. When we return just enough time has passed to where we catch maybe a commercial or two and the event is back on.

Do we resent these commercials? No, I do not think so. In fact, oftentimes we find ourselves watching them and sometimes if the commercial is clever enough we tell our friends about it or search for it on YouTube to watch it again and share with our social networks! Clever jingles and good graphics make commercials engaging and these tactics work so well during sporting events like the super bowl that I am surprised these tactics have not been adopted for the wider distribution of adverts during TV shows.

Change the sequence, save the commercial
While I acknowledge that most of the commercials during normal TV programming are not quite as entertaining as those during the super bowl I would argue that they do not need to be. We just need a catchy jingle or a fun graphic to give us a reason not to skip over it in order for the company to receive the impression on us it paid for. The solution to me to save the modern day commercial is very simple; quit programming them to display right after a cliffhanger and before the cliffhanger resolves. Doing so would allow us to simply continue to watch our show as normal and instead of skipping the commercials we might be more inclined to just let them play out. After all, what would we be in such a hurry to get back to? I understand that this is a complete mentality shirt for writers, TV programmers and more. So how do we get them to change?

The bottom line
If you take away nothing else from this article take away this and share it with every marketing manager, director, VP and CMO that you can. Why are you paying so much money to run adverts on these TV stations that by their own programming design are influencing the behaviour that causes consumers to skip right over your adverts?

Change the programming, make a jingle, save the commercial. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Corey Rawdon

Impact of Social Sentiment on Sales and Marketing

By | Professional, Strategy | 4 Comments

When Salesforce acquired Radian6 in March 2011 the social business world was all aflutter on what this meant for the cloud computing powerhouse and the Rolls Royce of social media monitoring. Since then there has been much speculation on what Salesforce plans to do with the company and its technology and many hope that Dreamforce ’11 will house the reveal. In anticipation of #DF11 I’d like to look ahead at how social sentiment could impact sales and marketing functions and showcase some ideas on how Salesforce could parlay their Radian6 acquisition into a much larger evolution of the sales process.

Closing the sale is always easier when someone is happy

In today’s world of mass social media marketing, individuals (B2B decision makers and B2C consumers) are hit with general advertisements everywhere they turn from emails, banner ads, page takeovers, sponsored links, promoted tweets and others. Even with well-targeted advertisements it will do a marketer less good to advertise to someone who is sad, angry or melancholy versus someone who is happy, joyful, whimsical or otherwise non-negative. Think about it: it is easier for someone to advertise to you (or talk to you, influence you, etc) when you are happy or at least “normal” versus when you are feeling an adverse emotion such as anger, sadness or hurt. Good salespeople can sense a person’s mood during an in-person or over the phone interaction once engaged; however, how can one do this before the meeting, call or before sending a @mention on twitter or replying to a post on a Facebook page?

Social sentiment monitoring is not just for brands anymore

Brand sentiment analysis and other media insights have helped turn companies like Radian6 and Alterian into social household names. The value brought by monitoring a brand’s sentiment/image in the social world is well worth the price paid for the monitoring services as company executives and community managers are able to see the collective sentiment of their audience and can tailor brand messaging accordingly. This is a powerful tool in a company’s response toolkit and has helped in recovering missed or failed service opportunities and even generated new sales leads. So if we can monitor the sentiment of a brand or company why can’t we do the same for individuals and consumers? We can (and we soon will).

Introducing Social Sentiment Marketing (SSM) for B2B decision markers, B2C consumers

Let’s re-purpose the technology used to measure brand sentiment and instead use it to measure the sentiment of a specific individual. Imagine the power given to sales and marketing teams if they could know whether a person was ready to receive their marketing or sales messaging before delivering it. The salesperson or team would be able to tailor their messaging (or potentially cancel or reschedule the delivery of the messaging) given the current analysis of that person’s social sentiment profile. For example, if my tweets or other social communications are generally negative (using the #fail hashtag, specific words like “sad, busy, horrible, long day”, or a number of factors) it might be in a marketer’s best interest to delay their sales pitch or advertisement to another time when I am more apt to favorably receive their message.

In another use-case if I were looking to start building a relationship with a person over twitter to hopefully lead to a sales or related engagement it would behoove me to not @mention them if they are generally negative that day. Even more important would be to certainly not mention or engage with them in a specific topic that they view negatively unless of course I am attempting to solve that problem. On a more general scale as an advertiser I would rather spend my advertising budget on people who are ready to receive my messaging rather than someone who, according to sentiment analysis, is more likely to ignore or resent it. An interesting twist would be to see the addition of social sentiment being added to other demographic data points when determining the target market for an advert.

How Salesforce might use this to evolve the sales process

Salesforce could use its acquisition of Radian6 to make sentiment analysis involved at almost every step of the sales process. Imagine Salesforce showing you the sentiment score or rating for all of your leads, accounts and contacts. Now add to this the current trends or topics of this record in the social space (think Chatter or even Twitter trending topics) and you have a pretty holistic view of that record before engaging with it. Automated workflows to kickoff social communications and messaging can use sentiment analysis as an input to the qualifying criteria and can now be programmed to look for a time when that person/account has a positive sentiment or just seems to be actively engaged.

This could be particularly useful for sorting leads or contacts at different times of day. If a person seems to be more socially active with a positive sentiment during the morning versus the afternoon it makes sense to prioritize any activities with them earlier in the day rather than later. This data could also be used to determine the best person to contact that day if you have multiple contact options for the account. Moving into cross-channel and mashups we can explore an even more engaging and powerful use case. Using this technology you could have Salesforce automatically create or update an opportunity based on sentiment or context analysis of a record’s social communications and then use Chatter to update followers of that record on the prime opportunity to engage. Adding a mashup into the mix (such as google flu trends for HCPs) could prove even more useful since now Salesforce can bump up the context and sentiment against a predefined set of rules (including mashup content) to create even more informed record or workflow process. The possibilities seem endless.

So what will Salesforce unveil at DF11? It is anyone’s guess really; however, we are certain to see a paradigm shift in the way sales and marketing processes work moving forward.

Leave me your thoughts in the comments or tweet me on Twitter!

Corey Rawdon

Foursquare for Healthcare

By | Professional, Strategy | No Comments

Foursquare Day 2011 (4/16) was bigger, better and bolder (check out that #4SQDay badge!) than in 2010. With over 3MM check ins to the service that day Foursquare experienced their best day ever and celebrated with multiple parties all across the globe. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg even got in on the action by officially declaring 4/16 (or 4/4^2) as Foursquare Day in New York City. Brands and merchants were quick to jump onboard the media promotion and many offered check in specials to drive traffic into their stores and to reward their loyal customer base. But what about companies and organizations without traditional consumers? How can these groups (healthcare offices, financial services firms, municipal services, corporate offices and more) utilize Foursquare and benefit from the increased traffic and usage of the platform to help drive their own goals and messaging? For this post I’ll focus on healthcare and will expand to other groups in future postings.

Wait, what is Foursquare?
Foursquare can be simply defined as a geo-location based platform which allows users to check in to a venue (a la a traditional hotel check in concept, just virtually) via their smartphone or other enabled device. Once checked in the user can be prompted with tips, to-do’s, or several types of specials/discounts for the check in activity or for becoming mayor of a venue (a la traditional top-tier frequent traveler program status). There are many resources extolling the benefits of Foursquare for retail and other consumer-oriented businesses; however, the real power of the platform (and what is the focus of this post) comes in the utilization of the data from people and companies within your Foursquare network to offer relevant information to you upon checking in. Think of this as a note you’d receive upon checking in to a hotel or a new office where someone has called to leave important information for you. Instead of physically receiving this tip in person you receive it virtually via your smartphone in the exact moment it is most relevant. Sure, the mayor specials are nice (I’m the mayor of several venues, see my profile here and challenge me for mayor!) but the platform has many more advantages.

Foursquare and Healthcare
For healthcare organizations like hospitals, pharmacies, physician practices and more who are nervous or quite frankly scared to join the social media space Foursquare can be a great way to get started. In fact, the venues likely already exist on the platform and chances are you have people already checking in to them. Go ahead and check, I’ll wait.

Now that you’ve found some healthcare related venues on Foursquare (NOTE if you have not found some or skipped that part, I recommend you actually do it if you have the app on your phone or are registered on the website) we need to understand how to utilize the platform to empower the users who, like you, have found these venues and are potentially checking in to them. As I mentioned earlier the real power of the platform comes in the crowdsourced tips and to-do’s from the people or companies/brands in your network. For example: when I check in to locations around town I am presented with tips from my friends (or the venue itself) that are relevant and specific to that venue (or another venue in close proximity) that either offer me advice or suggestions. I might be prompted to check out a new vegan menu item from a friend who has left a tip at a restaurant, or ask for a certain room number when checking in to a hotel because a friend has said that that number series has the best views or I might be presented with a recommendation to check out an alternate venue since a friend gave it a great tip!

This tips and suggestion engine can be very powerful in the healthcare space if properly utilized. Take hospitals: the use-case here would be to add helpful tips to people who are checking in (on the app) to make their experience a little more pleasant. You could offer up some tips for times when the cafeteria might be less busy or might make a special offer on food items at end of day, you could provide some tips for parking or for navigating the complex or you might offer a special number, email or website for users to contact if they need help. You could also consider offering up recommendations for nearby restaurants that might offer deals or delivery, maybe a quick rundown of where to find common needs (bathrooms, water fountains, vending) or even a tip on how to make sleeping in that chair just a little more comfortable for the night. Whatever the tip as long as you are offering a suggestion to improve the life of one user of the service you are making an impact.

For physician offices the use-cases differ but the general concept is the same. You might offer a tip on how to talk to your doctor (have notes, be clear and direct, etc), why it is important to give updated insurance information or maybe even quick bios on the physicians. You could even help patients understand potentially busier office hours or maybe the best time to call to get Rx refills. For pharmacies the same use-cases generally apply and you could also offer up other tips like the closest 24-hour pharmacy if the patient needs assistance immediately, a reminder about automated Rx refill or readiness alerts (texts, emails, phone calls) or maybe the best times to avoid long lines at the counter. The overarching point here is to be creative and to add value.

Explore the possibilities
Go create a Foursquare profile for your company, office and claim your venue(s). Once you’ve done that you should start advertising your Foursquare page just like you do your Facebook and Twitter sites (assuming you have them) and have people start following you on the service. Following you on Foursquare is different from Facebook and Twitter in that the communication is technically only one-way in realtime (you to the user) via the aforementioned tips and to-do’s. Once your account is established start creating some tips and to-do’s so that people can find them when they check in to your venue or when they are exploring venues to visit. A user does not have to follow you to read your tips; however, the tip will not be pushed to them upon check in unless they are your friend or follow you.

Foursquare can also be yet another way to engage the audience visiting your venues and to read the comments, tips they have left for others. You could even find that some people have left reviews for your venue on the service itself. You should view this information in much the same way as you would reviews on a website or on a Facebook page or Twitter feed and act accordingly. I’ll discuss social media engagement strategies in a later post.

Feel free to explore Foursquare as a regular user first (in fact, I encourage that if you are not a regular user). If you are new to the platform go out there and try to earn a mayorship or 10 and get involved. Start seeing the power of the platform and then take the ideas presented here and turn them into workable strategies for you at your office to help the people you provide services to daily. Again, be creative, be involved, and be relevant.

Do you have other ideas for utilizing Foursquare in the healthcare space? Have any great use-cases or examples of companies already participating? Feel free to leave them in the comments here for others to learn from!

Other ideation and strategy posts you might find relevant given the context here (Foursquare, Healthcare, Social Media):
Patient Compliance Reminders and Social Media
Flu + Foursquare = Flu Badge

Corey Rawdon

Social Media Marketing and Web 3.0

By | Professional, Strategy | 2 Comments

What if social media marketing was more about using your social graph to learn your socialnicity to better determine what products, services and brands you would be interested in and less about serving you random advertisements based on keywords brands have bought? Herein is the concept of socialnicity, or a person’s social ethnicity (unrelated to a person’s ethnicity), that is used to deliver true social media marketing and not just brand message blasting.

(Author’s note/disclosure: I formed a company in January 2011, Socialnicity LLC, with the intent of turning this idea into a product/service along with another social communications idea. Given the complexity involved in bringing this idea to fruition I have decided instead to offer this posting as a thought leadership and eminence building piece rather than as a product idea.)

Social media marketing is a phrase that I have personally loathed for quite some time now. Every time someone says that they are a “social media marketing (title)” I tend to plan my escape rather quickly! Why? Quite simply: Somewhere along the way I will get blasted with marketing messages that are irrelevant, intrusive and unwelcome. The same sentiment is mostly true for advertisements that are served to me by Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and most any other social platform. Why are these ads so bad? What can be done to make them better? I’ll attempt to answer this below.

The problem with Google:
Google is by far the dominant player in the search market and they have that position for a reason: their ad services platform is the most powerful platform currently in existence (although Facebook is quickly approaching). Google will use the search terms (and your search history) to serve ads based upon what you have directly typed into the search bar. For example: if you search for “web hosting” you will likely get a sponsored link at the top or side-bar link promoting GoDaddy or any number of web hosting platforms. The benefit: these ads are highly targeted and for the most part relevant and timely. The problem: the ad, while relevant to your search query, is not always relevant to you. You might perform a search for “organic dog food” and receive targeted ads; however, Google is simply serving up the ads that companies have paid for. The brand or service could be significantly out of your price range, location or style. Google lacks this context and therefore is limited only to the sponsored ad.

The problem with Facebook:
Facebook has an incredibly powerful ad platform. Based upon the information that you provide to Facebook (including demographic information) you are served advertisements paid for by brands targeted to your demographic. The benefit: these ads are highly targeted and are likely somewhat relevant to you. Based upon your area, age, family status, etc. you can receive advertisements that would typically fit the demographic model you are in. The problem: While these ads can be somewhat relevant the truth is that it is a crapshoot and is based solely on the brand or marketers ability to more closely define what that target demographic is for a product, brand, service. When you fit this demographic the ad is served up to you and sometimes you get a winner but most of the time you get a loser.

The problem with Twitter:
Twitter is a relatively new player in the social marketing market. The Twitter ad platform currently consists of sponsored tweets and sponsored accounts that are shown whenever a user is logged in or when the user performs a search on a term or hash tag. Twitter’s nature as a real-time news and information source is built for this type of real-time information integration and sponsored accounts or tweets for a real-time activity just makes sense. The benefit: Given Twitter’s real time nature the ads that you are served via sponsored tweets or sponsored accounts are likely highly relevant to what you are in engaged in right now. The problem: While the sponsored content is relevant and real-time there is no context around the actual viability of the tweet. You might search for #DF10 (the hash tag for Salesforce.com’s annual conference in 2010) for example and find sponsored tweets that are promoting a platform that is not SFDC; this would be counter-intuitive but since the company has bought the rights to be the sponsored tweet/account for that search you are served the advertisement.

The problem with Klout:
Klout is the newest and likely the most talked about player on the SMM front. Klout has a platform that judges a user’s influence based upon several factors (including twitter followers, RTs, @mentions, Facebook interactions and more) and then serves the user with a score that tells them where they are in their own predefined hierarchy. The idea is brilliant as you are able to quickly judge the reach and influence potential of a given social user at anytime. The benefit: Klout provides a strong platform for analyzing and judging a persons true influence and communicating that influence to brands and other networked users. Klout can then provide a list of “influencers” to brands or service providers who can then provide services to these users in exchange for those users sending out influential messages to their follower base. The problem: While Klout can identify influencers on Twitter, Facebook this does not provide relevancy to the advertisement or service that the influencer can be provided and subsequently filter down to their followers. Take the fairly recent scenario where Virgin America offered free flights to people with high “klout” in the hopes that those users’ tweets and messaging would influence their followers to fly Virgin in the future. The issue arises where the person following the influencer might not ever fly or more so may not be the target demographic that Virgin is after. This is because Klout purely measures influence with no regard for content, location or follower demographic information.

The solution is Socialnicity:
The idea of socialnicity is to use the data within a person’s social graph to determine that individual’s social profile/ethnicity (hence, socialnicity) for use in delivering more highly targeted advertisements. This data can come from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare or any other social platform that can provide interaction data. Your socialnicity would ideally be a floating categorization of you based upon the aforementioned data points. For example: Foursquare data can show where you go (cities, places) and Twitter/Facebook can be used to analyze the sentiment of those places and activates you engage in. This can start to build a profile of your social interactions (Are you an early adopter? Someone who appears to have little or a high amount of disposable income? A constant traveler? A risk taker or someone who enjoys creature comforts?) that can then be used to help serve you not just advertisements based on what you search for but rather items you might not have even known you are interested in!

Use-case 1: Dog food search
Revisiting the Google scenario above when I personally type “dog food” into Google I receive advertisements from Iams, PetSmart, Petco, Target, PetStuffChicago (even though I am in Dallas) and more. If Google knew my socialnicity profile (pretending socialnicity had been created) imagine how much better the advertisements would be? I would personally not have been served the Chicago advert or the Iams advert; however, I might have potentially been targeted with an advert for an organic home-delivered dog food based on my own social profile (something I would have actually considered!)

Use-case 2: Klout Perks
Revisiting the Klout program and Virgin America promotion you probably begin to see the power of this idea (socialnicity). Sure, a person might be influential on Twitter/Facebook; however, what if the product/service you are offering does not align to their profile? The Virgin promotion would have been much more effective if Virgin (and Klout) had known that the person being offered the promotion not only had a high Klout score but also traveled a lot and that they had followers or people interacting with them who also travel a lot. It is quite possible that someone got a free flight that never even flies just because they had a high Klout score (possibly because they constantly share funny cat photos). Conversely if my influence rating is high and I am an early adopter and the people who interact with me also share an early adopter profile tag then it makes sense to offer me promotions akin to early product releases or special events to pre-screenings/reviews rather than promotions regarding discounts on waterparks (which I never frequent).

The evolution: Socialnicity.me/username
At the end of these use-cases is the ultimate convergence of all the data in your social graph to create a singular place in the cloud to house offers and advertisements that are targeted specifically to you and your “socialnicity”. My original concept of socialnicity.me/username would look like an offer or deals page where you would be offered perks based upon your influence in a specific area (almost like Klout but with better targeting) and then deals that would proactively proposed to you based on available data within your social graph. Think of socialnicity.me (or whatever product is created) as a personal shopper of sorts. A trusted advisor that knows what you are more probable to not only like but truly enjoy and be interested in based on you, the real you, and not just some keywords that were bought.

The use-cases are numerous but these should serve as a start to get the thought process going. What do you think? Do you believe this idea could change the face of social media marketing for the better? Let me know in the comments.

Corey Rawdon

Patient Compliance Reminders and Social Media

By | Professional, Strategy | 5 Comments

Ensuring that patients adhere to their specialty-drug therapy program is a manual, time intensive and sometimes ineffective task. The traditional methods of telephone calls and direct mail letters no longer apply to today’s social patient. The social patient needs to be connected within the communications medium they are most comfortable: social media. My idea reaches out and improves communication to the social patient: deliver program compliance reminders in a secure way (protect ePHI for HIPPA compliance) to the patient via a medium where they are most likely to consume the content.

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Flu + Foursquare = 2010 Flu Badge

By | Professional, Strategy | 2 Comments

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers, Flu shot / medical providers and Foursquare product managers listen up; I have an idea for you!

Idea: Pharmaceutical companies and flu shot providers (or the CDC) should partner with Foursquare to create a Flu Badge that would be awarded upon a checkin including the phrase “flu shot”.

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