Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY COST YOU YOUR JOB?  Tickr enables you to monitor external comments as well as activity on company-owned social accounts. The question then becomes: what crosses the line in terms of employee behavior? This excellent New York times discussion covers the bases:

http://http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/04/02/should-social-media-activity-cost-you-your-job/

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Hat tip to Kiss metrics for putting together this clear and concise infographic about mobile’s impact on B2C commerce in 2012 and near future.

Here are some key takeaways:

1. Velocity of adoption

Though according to allthingsd.com, only about 20% of all web traffic in the US originated from a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) in 2012, Gartner expects that over 50% of web traffic in 2013 will shift to smartphones and tablets. If both allthingsd.com’s and Gartner’s numbers are correct, that would be a pretty significant shift, especially given the sudden acceleration of that change.

Relevance: Whether Gartner is reading more into the web-enabled device mobile-to-computer curve or not (see infographic above), the shift to devices is coming. It doesn’t really matter if that change happens in 2013, 2014 or 2015: It will happen. Consumers are increasingly likely to search for, find, discover and access your website from a mobile device than from a laptop or desktop PC. Even if that number only increases to 35% in 2013, that is 35% of your potential market. How much is that worth to your business? How many consumers are you potentially turning off or not properly converting by pursuing a digital strategy that is better suited to work in a 2010 digital environment than a 2013 digital environment?

Fix: Companies currently thinking of and designing their brands’ digital experiences and/or e-commerce sites primarily for laptop and desktop users need to adjust their strategy asap. The web is no longer about computers. And we aren’t just talking about website design but search, purpose/utility, UX/UI, e-commerce and social features.

2. 2011-2013: Mobile Sales Explode

Speaking of e-commerce, key indicators like Black Friday sales show an increase of 40% in online purchases made from a mobile device between 2011 to 2012. The number of online shoppers using mobile devices to make a purchase on Black Friday increased by 166% between 2011 and 2012. Paypal also reported a 190% increase in mobile payment volume between 2011 and 2012.

Relevance: Consumers aren’t only accessing websites from mobile devices with greater frequency and in greater volume, they are also becoming increasingly comfortable making purchases from their mobile devices as well. If you are not actively working to make your products easy to purchase via mobile devices, you are leaving money on the table. E-commerce is now indivisible from mobile commerce. What’s your strategy?

Fix: You basically have two options to make this work. The first is to create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping purchasing experiences for your customers (see Nespresso example below), or you can work with key retailers to ensure that they create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping and purchasing experiences for your (their) customers. Two examples:

a) Direct-to-consumer sales: Nespresso.

Nespresso sells espresso machines and espresso capsules/pods for those machines. Though every Nespresso product can also be purchased via Nespresso’s website, the company also created a mobile/tablet app that allows customers to order items (especially the capsules) on the fly. The process is quick and easy and is a lot quicker than opening up a browser, looking for a website, navigating through it to find the right page and finally order products.

b) Distribution model: Amazon

Amazon’s web experience is already pretty stellar but their app also allows shoppers to scan bar codes, search for a product by snapping a photograph of it, and so on. Everything about Amazon is geared towards ironing out hurdles between the search/shopping phase of the digital experience and the purchase/order phase of the digital experience. In addition, Amazon has been known to experiment with themed, seasonal mobile and tablet apps like the Santa App they launched in December 2011 (see below) to help children help tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

3. Adjusting expectations

44% of mobile app users who will ultimately make in-app purchases take 10 visits to finally take that step. 33% will make a purchase between their second and ninth visit. 22% will become customers after using your app only once. 22% isn’t bad, but remember not to try and set unrealistic goals for your digital team. And remember to design your app around realistic consumer behaviors and not in opposition to them.

Relevance: If your mobile app doesn’t enable and drive some kind of transaction, you probably haven’t designed it with the right objectives in mind.  Also, if your mobile app doesn’t make your customers’ shopping experience easier or better than it was before you launched the app, then it probably doesn’t offer enough value to be effective. Don’t just focus on what you hope customers will do but on why they should want to do it in the first place.

Fix: Don’t create an app just “to be in mobile.” Create an app that improves your customers’ lives in some way and/or solves a problem for them. If you are a retailer, it could simplify the shopping/purchasing/ordering process. If you are a utility, it could help customers pay their bills, browse services they don’t currently know, manage their utility usage, etc. If you are an insurance company, it might (in addition to scheduling payments) provide tips, real-time assistance and even file claims. (Think about car accidents, unexpected visits to the emergency room, etc.).

Note: Having a presence on social media channels can play a crucial part in the process of value creation we just outline. Listening to your customers (and your competitor’s customers) with the help of digital monitoring tools (yes, like Tickr) can help you identify pain points/areas of improvement. These could be turned into your mobile app’s key value-add features and make the difference between your app just being there and your app being a commercial success. Ideally, your presence on social channels also drives a healthy dialog between your company and your customers (don’t just listen to what they’re saying: also respond, ask for their advice, acknowledge their contribution to their process and reward them for their help), but even if you haven’t built that type of social practice yet, active listening will make a world of difference in your app’s ideation process. Don’t just guess. Go find out. It’s easy to do now. All you need are the right tools.

That’s it for today. We hope this post was helpful. And if you aren’t using Tickr Command Center yet, check out what we can do for you here.

You can also come say hello on Facebook and Twitter. We won’t spam you with useless marketing content. Scout’s honor.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team.


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In our last post, we talked about the need for companies to start thinking beyond social marketing. The reasons are simple:

1. If all your business does on social channels is market itself, anyone who isn’t already an ardent fan will eventually tune you out.

2. Social marketing is not social business. If you want to truly establish social business practices (and there are clear business advantages to doing it), you are going to have to incorporate social media into critical, non-marketing functions outside of marketing. (Say customer support, business development, community management, HR, etc.)

Last time, we focused on customer support. Today, let’s take a look at crisis management.

The first piece of knowledge we want to put on the table is that PR crises today are not like the PR crises of yesteryear. Because of social channels, they now snowball at an exponential rate. Whatever the cause may be (an insensitive tweet fired off by your digital agency, photos of your CEO hunting elephant, one of your drilling rigs blowing up off the coast of Florida or your airline breaking guitars), the mechanics of the crisis management game have changed. Without a digital crisis management action plan, you’re dead in the water. Worse, without a digital monitoring practice, you’ll never even know what hit you. So what do you say we take a quick look at how crisis management looks to the eyes of a company whose social business investment includes more than just marketing?

Not too long ago, @KitchenAid’s had to deal with a PR crisis of its own. We took some screen shots of what it looked like on our own dashboard. If you aren’t familiar with what happened and what the crisis was about, you can catch up here (just remember to come back).

Let’s start at the beginning:

1. Discovery

The more vigilant you are, the easier it will be to avoid major PR disasters. It really isn’t complicated. And thanks to modern digital tools, all it takes to set up an early warning system for your company is the will to do so, and a little bit of forward thinking on the part of your brand or product management team. (If you don’t want to do it internally, you can easily work with your agency of record to set something up.)

In the case of KitchenAid, the crisis was identified early. This allowed management to start working on it in that first hour, which is critical given that Mashable first reported on the incident about an hour after it happened.) Speed matters.

Tip: Since you can’t necessarily anticipate what a PR crisis will be about, it’s difficult to set up keyword searches in advance. Usually, monitoring your brand and product names will have to do. However, note the increase in volume of mentions in the above screenshot (to the right of the vertical orange line). Do you see it? It looks like a wave. Using a monitoring tool that provides some measure of data visualization can help you spot sudden changes in the volume of mentions. Such a change doesn’t have to be negative, but it is a warning that something has happened and that you need to look into it.

You may also want to see where the complaints are coming from and how they are spreading over time. One of our screens comes with a handy map you can zoom in and out of, so whether you are a global brand looking to gauge the overall impact of a PR crisis over time or a chain with retail outlets across several regions, you can pinpoint the precise location of brand mentions anywhere in the world and see exactly where your trouble spots are (center of image). You can also click on those points of mention and see exactly what was said and by whom. A menu also lets you select what channels you want to monitor on the map, so if you only want to look at Twitter and blogs, you can do that. Tickr Command Center also plots the number of mentions per channel (top right of image below) so you can get a sense for each channel’s impact on the crisis itself (and its resolution). Handy if you need to prioritize your efforts or just like to have extra points of data in hand when you deliver your report to the powers that be.

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2. Analysis

This is where it helps to have a PR professional in place who understands the mechanics, culture and language of digital crisis management, and a digital team that is capable of executing on a coordinated response. Monitoring alone can’t fix it. (Hey, we can only do so much.) Competent and well-prepared humans have to handle the response.

Tip: Your response should be quick. By quick, we don’t mean 24 hours like in the good old days. We don’t even mean 2 hours. We mean inside of 10 minutes. The quicker the response, the shorter and smaller the crisis. It pays to be vigilant and ready.

Tickr Command Center lets you drill down into particular time segments to see (live or retroactively) how conversations about your product or brand are evolving:

3. Response

How a company first responds to a crisis will set the stage for everything that comes afterwards. Here is a quick primer on how to respond to a crisis quickly and effectively:

  1. Introduce yourself. Use your name and your title.
  2. Frame the situation for the public. State the facts. What happened? When did it happen? What is your actual position in regards to the crisis? Apologize. Don’t spin. Don’t lie. Establish trust and leadership.
  3. Communicate to the public what comes next and what they should expect.
  4. Communicate to the press the response schedule and structure, and the means by which they should obtain information from you.
  5. Communicate developments and milestones with the public as they happen (the frequency will depend on the crisis). Err on the side of giving them too many updates. Make them feel that you are dedicated to fixing the problem in the most expedient and transparent way possible.

To KitchenAid’s credit, this process is precisely the one that was used by Cynthia Soledad and the company’s crisis team, and it worked. Note that the crisis abated shortly after KitchenAid’s official response. (See red line in the screen shot above.)

4. Management

There are essentially two main pieces to the management phase. The first is a continuation of the “update the public” function that began in the response phase. This can involve the creation of a crisis page and a Twitter account alongside existing communications channels. (BP did this during the Deep Sea Horizon crisis.) The second is the direct interaction between the company and the public across social platforms. That is where community management, the creation of discussion groups and tabs, the publishing of fact sheets becomes very important. In some cases, (like the posting of an offensive tweet) a quick explanation of what happened and an apology will do the job. In other instances, the problem goes far deeper than that and will require more work. (Examples: An investigation by a major news organization just uncovered that your company employs child labor in a number of countries around the world. A report from a global ecological watchdog paints your company as being a major source of air or water pollution. Your CEO has just found himself connected to a damaging corruption scandal. These sorts of things won’t just go away with an apology.)

Whether your crisis can easily handled with an apology and a few hours of work on social channels or will require months of heavy lifting and changes made to your business practices, by engaging with the public and listening to their complaints, a company can identify key topics they need to focus on. These topics will frame the conversation that the public ultimately wants to have with the company. The more focus exchanges have, the more likely it is that they can be shifted from pointless noise to purposeful signal. Here, listening with purpose will make all the difference in the world.

Once a company has identified topics and themes, it can dig deeper and identify specific complaints that relate to them. Once these complaints have been clarified, the discussion process can now be shifted from conflict to collaboration. Remember that every complaint simply identifies a problem. Once a problem is identified, all the company has to do is acknowledge it, drill down into the specific objections, and ask the public how it would solve it. In doing so, the company moved the dynamics of its relationship with an angry public from conflict to collaboration.

The next step is to rededicate your company’s focus to fixing the problem. Even if the best you can realistically offer is an incremental process that could take years, start that process. Show that the issue matters by turning the change into an initiative. Pledge to work on it. Recruit the help of the public. Partner with them. Make them part owners of the solution. Reward them for their help.

In the case of KitchenAid, the problem was far more easily solved, but it’s important to understand that while some PR crisis may only turn into a rough few days, others can cost companies everything. It’s important to have measure in place to make sure that each type of PR crisis is handled properly and that as little as possible is left to chance.

5. Post-crisis monitoring & advocacy

This part is simply the follow-through. Now that the crisis itself has ended, it’s time to button things up. What did you miss? What did you learn? What comes next?

Don’t let the deflation of the wave of mentions be your only guide. News cycles are short-lived nowadays. People will grow bored of a scandal or PR crisis after a few short days, no matter how effective a company was at addressing and managing it. But just because people have moved on to another topic doesn’t mean that your troubles are over. Don’t mistake changes in the volume of mentions for resolution. Your image may have been tarnished even if you aren’t the hot topic on Twitter anymore. That’s just as dangerous.

Note: If the root cause of the crisis was not resolved, it will stick. It will become part of the brand’s story. It may even become the defining feature of the brand for years to come – a stain on its reputation that won’t easily go away once it grows roots. You don’t want that. A crisis can’t just go away. It has to be resolved.

In the case of KitchenAid, here is what things looked like two weeks later:

The only way to find out if it has been resolved or if it has just gone away for a while is to monitor conversations about the brand once the crisis has subsided. There is a short term piece to this, and there is a long term piece as well. You want to gauge the impact of what you’ve done, and make adjustments along the way until you can be certain that the crisis, its cause, and the expectations of the public have been worked through. Once that’s done, look for people who are not aware that you have resolved the problem, and politely, kindly engage them. Show them the progress you’ve made. Link to what you have done and what you are doing. Inform, inform, inform. Whom you inform, when, how and why cannot happen in a vacuum. Monitoring for specific types of opinions and conversations can help you target the right people at the right time with the right information. This allows you to get your message across quickly and effectively without requiring major media buys and hit-or-miss campaigns. Think major cost-savings, sure, but think also of speed and effectiveness.

We hope that was helpful. So again, the point today was threefold:

1. Run you through the 5 phases of a digital crisis as seen through the eyes of a digital crisis management team that uses Tickr Command Center as one of its tools.

2. Show you yet another reason why creating social business practices (or having a “social media strategy”) should focus on a lot more than just creating and publishing social marketing content.

3. Illustrate the real value of looking at social media investment and activity beyond just social marketing.

If you aren’t using Tickr Command Center yet, check out what we can do for you here. (There’s a lot more to it than what we showed you today). Bear in mind that a tool like Command Center doesn’t need to necessarily replace other monitoring software. Most of our users tend to pair Tickr with a half dozen or more other digital management solutions in order to amplify their capabilities. Definitely try us out.

You can also come say hello on Facebook and Twitter. We won’t spam you with useless marketing content. Scout’s honor.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team.

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Last week at Dachis Group’s annual Social Business Summit in Austin (#SBS2013), several hundred digital professionals from all over the world came together to hear about how far Social Business has come in the past year and how far it yet has to go. (Great way to kick off #SxSWi if you ask us.) Among the speakers were Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Estee Lauder‘s Marisa Thalberg, Livestrong Foundation‘s Doug Ulman, Deloitte‘s John Hagel, Oracle‘s Erika Jolly Brookes, Edelman Digital‘s Michael Brito, Altimeter Group‘s Brian Solis, and Olivier Blanchard, who has been helping us with a few things around here.

One of the central themes of the event, at least from our perspective, is that businesses cannot truly become social businesses if all they focus on is social marketing. It isn’t that social marketing isn’t important. It is. It’s very important. But as Olivier put it in his session, many businesses today may be putting too many of their social and digital eggs in one basket. There is far more to Social Business than just marketing. Customer service, community development, business development, sales, human resources are among the many business functions which could benefit from an injection of “social.”

(We also couldn’t help but notice how Tony Hsieh never once mentioned Facebook, Twitter, Social Media or even marketing in his session. Instead, he emphasized culture, community, and people coming together organically to build things worth building.) There’s a much bigger conversation there about what “social” means, but for now, let’s stick to the subject at hand: Social Business. More to the point: For businesses to realize the full potential of Social Business, they need to focus on more than just Social Marketing. Today, we want to focus squarely on Customer Service. Why? Two reasons:

1. We have seen time and time again that real-time monitoring of brand, product and keyword mentions turns up a healthy batch of opportunities to fix problems for customers in a timely, cost-effective, and even impressive fashion.

2. Since it costs 6x more to acquire a new customer than to retain one, it makes perfect business sense to spend a little time focusing your social business efforts on customer retention. In other words, when a customer complains about something, be there to do what you can to fix the problem. Don’t just let them walk away angry (unless you owe your competitors a favor or something).

Our visual aid today is a wonderful infographic by the folks at BlueWolf, who were kind enough to compile data from Gartner, Aberdeen, and International Data Corporation and put it all together in one convenient place. (Top of post.) Here is what jumped out at us:

Missed Opportunity

Only 20% of Fortune 500 companies actively engage with their customers on Facebook (real engagement, not just marketing-related).

58% of people who have tweeted about a problem have never received a response from the offending company.

In 2010, only 25% of enterprises were using social channels to respond to customer service issues. By 2020, the number will be 90%. Given that this shift is an inevitability, why wait? What is the upside of being among the last companies in the world to focus on social customer service? What is the competitive advantage of being the slowest to adopt a new technology we know is as important as email and the telephone were in their time?

87% of customers demand and expect better customer service than what is available to them today.

Small efficiency improvements in customer service can improve customer retention by a factor of 5x-10x.

The Cost of Not Being There

17% of customers will abandon your company after only one negative customer service experience.

40% of customers will abandon your company after only two negative customer service experiences.

85% of your business could be lost solely because of bad customer service.

A 1% improvement in first call response (a staggering 52% of inbound calls are not resolved in the first call) results in an average $276,000 in operational savings. (SQM benchmark.) That’s just a 1% improvement. Imagine a 5% improvement. In other words, imagine shifting just 5% of your inbound calls to social response channels; or better yet, catching just 5% of the customer service opportunities you are currently not monitoring for on social channels.

3x as many internal resources are required to acquire a new customer than to retain one. (It’s a lot easier and cheaper to retain customers than it is to replace angry ones with entirely new ones. Every customer you lose because of lousy customer service is terribly costly to replace.)

The Changing Mechanisms of Customer Service

Though social channels in customer support currently only account for 13% of interaction volume (against 40% of inbound calls, 29% in person, and 18% email), demand is outpacing capacity enough that it is expected to grow 53% in the next year alone.

Monitoring of social channels for negative mentions and opportunities to help a customer in need used to be difficult. Today, it is simply a matter of wanting to be there.

One of the main reasons why so much focus has been placed on social marketing is that most social media program owners hail from the world of Marketing, Advertising and PR. According to a 2013 study by Altimeter group, only about 1% of social media program owners came from customer service backgrounds. This imbalance has likely been the chief reason why social customer service has, until now, not received as much operational attention as it should have. It’s an easy fix though, especially when you factor in ever-improving community management tools, social CRM solutions, and multi-channel monitoring suites (like Tickr’s very own Command Center) currently on the market.

Thanks again to the folks at BlueWolf for the infographic. Great work.

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: Feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

And if you haven’t tried Tickr yet, you should. (It’s easy. Just click here.)

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Ever wondered what people actually do on their smart phones other than talking, texting and accessing email? A study by BBDO and AOL just published in the Harvard Business Review’s January-February 2013 issue gives us a glimpse into that. The main lines:

46% of non-phone/text/email time was devoted to consuming non-news-related content. In contrast, only 19% was spent directly interacting with other people (presumably on social networks).

The share of time devoted to seeking information on a product or active shopping was only 12% (126 minutes per month on average). but note that light (or passive) discovery, which is the process of receiving recommendations from peers and being exposed to marketing content or word-of-mouth content occurs mostly in the 65% of non-phone/text/email time during which smart phone users are passively interacting with both content and their network, and during the phone/text/email time not included in this particular infographic.

What does that tell us?

1. Don’t let the 12% fool you. In the context of an infographic like this, it’s easy to forget that the act of shopping is merely the culmination of a process of discovery, desire and validation which ultimately ends in a transaction. If smart phones users only spent 6% of their time actively shopping wouldn’t suggest that they are buying less products. It might only mean that the mobile transaction and checkout process is more efficient. So don’t sweat the fact that shopping is dwarfed by “me time” and socializing.

2. Whatever smartphone users do the most indicates where mobile attention-share is. If you have a marketing message to share, adapt it to mobile users’ behaviors. (In other words, just be where they are.) If your ideal customers spend 46% of their time consuming cat videos and gossip columns, it may not be a bad idea to either shift some of your advertising dollars there or create/sponsor/share/syndicate that kind of content.

3. If the second most important block of time consumers spend on their smart phones is dedicated to socializing (on social media platforms), it isn’t a bad idea to run passive searches on certain keywords that are relevant to your business and/or industry. (Brand names, product names, product categories, etc.) How many people are talking about you and your products? How many people are talking about your competitors? How many people are looking to purchase a type of product that you sell in the next few hours? In the next few days? In the next few weeks? If you haven’t yet established this basic level of monitoring, you are handing over a significant portion of your sales to those competitors who are actively looking for opportunities to create connections with consumers via mobile channels and converting those connections into sales.

Note that the study metered the average “socializing” time block at 410 minutes per month, which at 13-14 minutes per day, only accounts for a portion of the time consumers spend interacting with others on social channels using all of their devices.  For reference, recent studies (like this one) put active Facebook usage in the US at about 26 minutes per day (8 hours per month). That doesn’t include time also spent interacting with other people via Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Quora and other platforms.

4. If you are a B2C business and you are not making it as easy as possible for consumers to discover your business through social channels and “me time” content channels, your marketing/business development strategy is not 2013-relevant.

5. If you are a B2C business and you are not making it as easy as possible for consumers to do business with you on their mobile devices, you are going to lose business. Hotels, airlines, restaurants, car rentals, retail, and so on. Your mobile commerce platform must be slick, intuitive, pain-free, and fast. We can’t really help you with that, but we can help you with the monitoring part (number 3).

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: Feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

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Filed under: and now, for something completely different… Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of so-called case studies involving digital influencers, awareness campaigns and free swag. Just a few straightforward observations (maybe even insights) about this little-spoken-of confluence of fashion design and digital navel-gazing that the cynics among us might point out could very well be a sort of marriage made in heaven. While that’s neither here nor there, here’s what we got out of that information:

1. Leverage events.

Events like New York Fashion Week (and design houses participating in them) are now leveraging social media to increase their reach and penetrate markets. Case in point: Marc Jacobs gained over 5,000 new Twitter followers in one week by leveraging its digital presence during the fall event. Michael Kors gained an impressive 15,000 in the same time frame. Victoria Beckham (while not in Paris watching DB play for PSG) managed to gain 53,000 followers that week.

If your industry has big events, use them. It doesn’t matter if it’s CES, the Oscars or the Detroit auto show. Starting today, your business is going to have a digital/social media plan in place before you attend your industry events. Not taking advantage of this magnet for media coverage and attention borders on negligent.

2. Rethink the world of the catalog.

Badgley Mischka & Bergdorf Goodman, understanding the potential power of Pinterest (think demographics and layouts) previewed their new collection exclusively on the platform. The result: almost 40,000 net new followers for their Pinterest account, after posting only 42 items. Cost of printing: zero. Cost of mailing: zero. Cool factor: high. Virality quotient: high.

Well played.

3. Context is king.

Sometimes, a product is just a product. But anything that speaks to both an appreciation for original design and its owner/user’s sense of cultural identity is bound to be incorporated into someone’s photo feed. Enter Instagram. Whether you think the whole thing is an orgy of vanity or a cute little phase humanity is going through right now doesn’t matter. Fact is that people like to take pictures of themselves and of their stuff and post those pictures on Facebook and Instagram and wherever else they can. Some companies approach this with suspicion if not apprehension. Others embrace it completely. The fashion industry finds itself in a very unique position in regards to this whole cultural phenomenon because its entire existence is predicated upon people wanting to look good and be socially desirable. In other words, if Pinterest is a natural extension of the catalog, Instagram and Facebook are the natural extensions of people’s own private catwalks and red carpets. Some numbers:

Over 650,000 people follow Burberry’s Instagram account. 500,000 people follow Marc Jacobs’ Instagram account. Gucci: 350,000. Kate Spade: 300,000. And so on. You get the idea. And don’t cringe (especially you serious photographers out there) but 73 Instagram photos from New York Fashion Week were accepted into Getty Images’ library. Yes… times, they’re a-changin’. It isn’t a bad thing either: empowering people to share your products in a way that gives them both approval and context creates a free engine of discovery and recommendation. You want net new customers? You want to get people to covet your products and get off the fence about buying them? Well there you go.

4. Understand your key channels.

Sure, most of the channels you want to focus on are no-brainers: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on. But there might be some niche channels you need to leverage as well. For the fashion world right now, one of them seems to be Pose. The platform a) uses a user co-creation model to curate collections of “looks” that users can browse and b) integrates a shopping into the experience.

What’s the big deal? 1,000,000 users and 120 million images viewed per month.  How many people are opening your emails or taking time out of their day to come by your website?

Plant seeds in all the smart places. Not just where everyone else is planting theirs either. Plant them also in places where people come specifically to find the kind of stuff you want to sell.

5. Use infographics no matter what your industry is.

No need to go into lengthy explanations about this one. We would have probably never even heard of Pose had it not been for that infographic.

Lesson: It doesn’t matter if your business only sells peanut-shucking machines to the tabby aristocracy in the Democratic Republic of Catistan (yes, it’s… a real place): use infographics to help potential customers discover your company and your products.

6. Use hashtags.

One of several common denominator in all of those wins: the use of specific hashtags. Now, wait a minute… we know what you;re going to say: hashtags aren’t necessary or cool anymore. Well, half of that is just nonsense. While it’s true that they aren’t necessary for monitoring purposes, they are nonetheless helpful. Here are three reasons why: Identity, virality and measurement.

Identity: they provide context for social content. Virality: they’re social objects that invite participation and sharing. Measurement: necessary or not, they do make monitoring, measurement and reporting a little easier for your digital team. Using the attached infographic as an example, imagine how much of a pain it would be to effectively track every mention of New York Fashion Week without the #NYFW tag. By creating official hashtags, you help bring clarity and order to what might otherwise be an incoherent mess of social mentions.

7. Monitor digital channels for key activity.

Monitor and measure mentions, followers, comments, shares. Do this qualitatively and quantitatively. Measure that against visits to your websites, visits to your stores, impact on sales volume, brand awareness and brand sentiment. Use the proper tools. Use the proper methodology.  Treat this stuff like the job it is and not an afterthought. Treat social channels as the product discovery channels they are and strive to understand the mechanisms by which your social content and activity ultimately drives sales. It isn’t that hard, but it’s work and when you treat it like work, it pays off. Big time.

We hope that gave you some cool ideas to work on. And if our Command Center app can help, all the better. Big thanks to ebay deals  and Mashable for the infographic.

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: Feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

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Yesterday, we introduced you to a handful of new features involving common data sources like Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and Yelp! You guys seemed to like that, so we figured that we should also mention – for those of you who haven’t worked with the enterprise version of our product – that Tickr can be made to work with data from pretty much any source you want.

In other words, if news sites, blogs and social media feeds aren’t enough, you can feed Tickr whatever else you want to. It can be internal data like sales numbers and volume of phone calls into customer support. It can be marketing-specific metrics like share of voice, web traffic, conversions and  even Klout scores. You can basically plug anything you want into Tickr and plot it on a timeline.

Let’s look at three examples of what that looks like. First, here is a basic version of what a purely quantitative custom Tickr screen:

Tickr mockup 002

Note: the above example is just a mock-up to illustrate the functionality. The data isn’t real. You can also go watch a live version of it here so you see how it behaves. (Most of the tabs and links have been deactivated but you’ll get the idea.) The point is to help you visualize what Tickr can do outside of the standard functionality that you are probably used to. Think comparative analytics, data correlation, market intelligence, product line comparisons, competitor monitoring, and so on. Your imagination is the limit.

If you prefer a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, you can build your report to look more like this:

tickr mockup 003

You can go see the live version of that mock-up here. Same thing as before: the data isn’t real and some of the functionality has been turned off. It’s just an illustration of what Tickr can do with a mix of standard and custom data.

In this example, pay particular attention to the tab titled Correlation Score (in green). If you’ve ever tried to map ROI paths along a timeline, guess what: Tickr can do that. (Note: if you want to, we can talk about how to properly measure ROI in a future post. It’s an important topic and we can definitely help you with that too.)

The screenshot below looks a little more like the Tickr overview screen you are used to, but if you look carefully, you will notice that it is a quantitative/qualitative custom configuration that combines news, stocks, unit sales and Tweets along a common timeline. As always, the timeline is completely searchable.

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If you are an executive team, a PR firm or a CEO working on a big announcement (like a major government contract, a much anticipated new product release, a major acquisition or a quarterly earnings report,) having the ability to simultaneously monitor mentions of your brand in the news and social channels and see in real time the impact that this event is having on leads, website visits, sales and even stock price, is pretty powerful. (Sorry… long sentence.) The point is that Tickr lets you do that. We’re a lot more than just a handy monitoring platform.

If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to contact our customer support team. If you don’t feel like being quite that formal, it’s okay to approach us on Facebook and on Twitter. That’s what we’re there for.

Until we chat again, we hope we’ve given you a lot to think about.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team.

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While we have your attention, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest (going on right now):

The categories are non-profitjournalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a brief case study or summary of how you used Command Center before mid-March.

Make it as simple as you want. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most creative and/or interesting case studies/summaries will win. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! So sign up here and have fun playing with Command Center.

 

A lot goes into building tools like Tickr’s Command Center. There’s a lot of tinkering going on, a lot of tweaking, a lot of getting under the hood and adding new and better stuff. In a way, we’re kind of like the wrench monkeys of the digital world: we spend all day tinkering in our digital garage, building badder, hotter, faster stuff. (By the way, you probably don’t want to wear white around our offices. Fair warning.)

Anyway, we spent all weekend supercharging the hot rod, and we’re pretty happy with the results. Here’s what’s new this week:

Twitter controls:  Until now, you could browse tweets in our timeline but not respond to them without first clicking on the source and accessing the actual tweet (in Twitter). We didn’t like the extra step, so we got rid of it. You can now reply, retweet or favorite a tweet directly from Tickr. Status: All users
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Flickr: You can now also add a Flickr source when creating a new Tickr page. Status: All users
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Yelp! We can also add Yelp business locations, though for now, this feature is only configurable on the back end. We will let you know when this feature will be made available to everyone (hopefully soon). Status: Enterprise
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Pinterest: We can follow Pinterest boards. Like Yelp!, this is only configurable on the back end for now, but we hope to change that soon. (One step at a time.) Note:  Tickr being mostly focused on monitoring and analytics, the beta currently only allows a user to follow a board, not to repin or like. We will let you know when we add additional functionality and when we make this feature available to all users. Status: Enterprise
We have a lot more exciting new releases scheduled for the next few weeks, so stay tuned and Tickr on.

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While we have your attention, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest while you still can:

The categories are non-profit, journalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a brief case study or summary of how you used Command Center before mid-March.

Make it as simple as you want. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most creative and/or interesting case studies/summaries will win. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! So sign up here and have fun playing with Command Center.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

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Well, what do you know, we just got a little bit of unexpected press, courtesy of How Magazine and designer Martin Oberhäuser, who has been pretty key in the development of Tickr since its inception. The terms you are looking for right now are complex information design and interface design. 

There’s probably an article about long-distance collaboration models begging to be written too, as Martin spends most of his time in Hamburg and we’re based in California.

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Martin’s philosophy, in his own words, basically boils down to this: “Information is beautiful, and life without information is impossible. But it needs someone to filter the mass of information around us and turn it into something readable and usable.” We couldn’t agree more.

Check out Tickr screenshots featured in the March 2013 issue of How. (Insert happy faces here.)

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If Martin’s work seems familiar, it’s because he’s also worked on projects for IPG Mediabrands, Deutsche Telekom, Magna Global, Labbler, Brockhaus, Airbnb, Cisco, and Popular Mechanics. Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are that you have already seen his work outside of our little world of digital monitoring and mission control centers.

You can check out Martin’s beautiful portfolio here. And if you aren’t already reading HOW, you really should add it to your reading list. It’s been on ours for years. We’re suckers for anything that deals with design and design thinking. In case you were wondering, we’re also big fans of Fast Company, Inc., I.D., Print and Dwell.

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While we have your attention, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest while you still can:

The categories are non-profit, journalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a brief case study or summary of how you used Command Center before mid-March.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most creative and/or interesting case studies/summaries will win. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! So sign up here and have fun playing with Command Center.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

If you have been reading our blog these past few months, you have probably noticed that we spend a lot of time talking about digital mission control centers. Given that our product generally ends up being used in a digital mission control center setting and that most of our clients are engaged in some phase of either developing or expanding a digital mission control center, we are in a unique position to observe, discuss and provide insights on the inevitable adoption of digital mission control center by every agency and brand in the world inside of the next three years. This trend may have been accelerated by a single event which took place during the 2013 Superbowl.

A quick recap: Superbowl Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens are leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 with only 13:22 left in the third quarter. Suddenly,the NOLA Superdome experiences a power outage. Moments later, Oreo tweets this ad with the caption “Power out? No problem.”

Clever, right? Yeah, we thought so too.

The result:

Oreo tweets

The biggest boost in mentions and follows for any brand at the Superbowl. Compare that to any other Superbowl advertiser.

The same image received over 20,000 likes on Facebook, and the marketing, digital and advertising worlds were abuzz with Oreo and 360i’s marketing clever little guerrilla coup during the Superbowl.

Why is Twitter relevant to this conversation? Well… Judging by our own monitoring of the Superbowl, the lion’s share of brand mentions and real-time conversations about the Superbowl happened on Twitter:

Tickr Superbowl 2

This isn’t to say that Twitter is more valuable than Facebook or that social networks are more valuable to advertisers than traditional media channels like TV and radio. This isn’t that kind of post. What we are observing is that every channel has its own unique value, and when it comes to amplifying the impact of a particular event to promote a product or brand, Twitter tends to be a high volume, high reach, high velocity channel.

Look at it another way: what Oreo managed to do in under five minutes with a few computers and an agile social content team was both more effective and considerably cheaper than most multi-million advertising spots broadcast during the game (including its own). There were virtually no production costs involved. There was no media buy involved either. (Note: the average Superbowl ad was reported to have cost around $4M this year.)

Will this ultimately turn into more sales for Oreo and Kraft? Maybe. Maybe not. Only time will tell. You could ask the same question of any of Superbowl Sunday’s ads and the answer right now would be the same: we don’t know yet. All we know is that the impact of this one little piece of real-time marketing was a measurable win in terms of reach, in terms of social sharing, in terms of generating positive product and brand sentiment, in terms of positive brand engagement, and, last but not least, in terms of its overall cost. If anything, that’s a very good start.

So how did Oreo and 360i pull this off? Well, Buzzfeed’s Rachel Sanders has a quick recap of how this little win came to be:

“We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity,” agency president Sarah Hofstetter told BuzzFeed. “Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes.”

Wait… 360i had a what where? A “mission control center?” Set up at the office? You don’t say.

This is the part where we sit back in our awesome 100% recyclable ergonomic chairs, cross our spectacularly muscular arms, and smirk at you without actually saying “we told you so.”

Bonus: digital mission control centers don’t have to cost anywhere near $4M either.

To be fair, there is a lot more that went into this win than a mission control center: a leadership team brave enough to give its digital, brand and agency teams the go-ahead to build a clever social engagement campaign (remember Oreo’s “Daily Twist”), the right digital team to execute on that plan, the right collaboration processes, the right resources, the right tools, and the right environment. You need it all. But it is no accident that the first thing that came up in the Buzzfeed interview was the mission control piece of the puzzle. Having one has become a tactical imperative. It’s as simple as that.

Our guess is that every brand and agency who had a “we wish we had thought of that” moment on Monday morning is now looking into finally building something similar to what 360i and other forward-thinking agencies already had in place for the big game. This is how digital marketing is done now.

Every evolutionary leap needs a catalyst. We all just witnessed one. Cool, huh?

Other screen shots from our Command Center‘s Superbowl monitoring adventures:

Tickr Superbowl 4

Tickr Superbowl 7

If you are new to this topic, we invite you to do a quick search for some of the articles we have already posted here on the topic of digital mission control centers (how they work, why they matter, how to integrate them into your business, how to use them to track campaigns and/or PR crises, etc.) and of course find out why most of them already incorporate Tickr. You’ll want to use other tools as well, by the way. We’re only one small piece of the puzzle.

(If you aren’t familiar with our new Command Center edition, here is a 1 minute video that touches on the basics.)

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Also, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest:

The categories: non-profit, journalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a case study (or summary) of how Command Center helped you with a project. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! The sooner you register, the better. (Sign up here.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team