Facebook’s Adams Discusses the Foundation of (Online) Motivation

Posted on March 23, 2011 by Comments Off

Last Friday, O’Reilly Radar published a great interview with Paul Adams, global experience manager at Facebook, about the very simple yet often overlooked idea that everything we, as humans, do ultimately ties back to — well, human motivations.

In the interview, Adams does a good job talking about the importance of ultimately tapping into human behavior at the core, rather than using a new digital tactic as the starting point for designing social media campaigns and other activities designed to elicit action.Social media

I wholeheartedly recommend you click on over to O’Reilly Radar to read the full article, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll take a few moments of your time pulling out the key quotes that really stood out in my mind.

Although part of my job as a digital consultant at WE Studio D is to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the digital space, the much more important part of my job is to encourage strategic, holistic thinking that drives real action.

In every interaction, it is my goal to get account partners and clients to take a step back and think about the overarching goal of a campaign and whether our strategies are aligned with what would actually motivate people to change their behavior in the first place. Whether the desired change is as small as clicking like on a Facebook post or if it’s something larger like actually putting money down for a product or service, the “why” that motivates the change is infinitely more important than the “how” or “what.”

Here’s what Adams had to say on the subject:

It’s problematic that many businesses focus on existing and emerging technology, and not on social behavior. Thinking about platform integration first, like Twitter or Facebook, or technologies first, like what could be enabled by ‘mobile location’ or ‘real-time updates,’ is the wrong place to start. Often, businesses need to step back and consider what will motivate people to use what they are developing, above and beyond what exists today. Something that I’ve been saying for a while is that human behavior changes slowly, much slower than technology. By focusing on human behavior, not only are you much more likely to create something that people value and use, but you’re more likely to protect yourself from sudden changes in technology.

Similarly, when it comes to interactions and generating true value online, Adams rightfully asserts far too many companies are focused on the wrong things. The “what” and “how” again here need to be secondary to the “why.”

We’re still seeing the fans and followers arms race — businesses trying to gather as many fans as possible. But I think that’s fundamentally wrong. It’s more important to focus on quality, not quantity, of connections.

For example, many brands run competitions on social media platforms. You have to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ that business to enter. So the question is whether they are making connections with advocates of their brand, or with people who simply love competitions. If it’s the latter, then they’re filling their social media interactions and data with noise.

As I mentioned earlier, people are often most influenced by their closest friends. So only make connections with true advocates of your brand, and market to the friends of those fans.

One of the latter interesting points Adams makes is around the unknown — in this case, the future of the mobile space. Further fodder for the simple idea that the “what” and “how” will change, but the “why” should anchor your decisions.

Mobile is going to be a very disruptive space, and I’m not sure how it will evolve. Rather than try and predict which technologies will be dominant, I think the safer bet for businesses is to understand how these technologies will support human behavior and how they will help people do things they are struggling to do today. 

Image by Daniel Slaughter.

WE Products Debut at SXSW Interactive Event

Posted on March 15, 2011 by 4 Comments

At SXSW today, we’re showcasing three great products: Ripple Effect, Social Graph, and Hot Spots. The first two are analytics products that paint a picture of influence for brands or products and the third is an awesome mobile app that tells you where the action is at SXSW.

Ripple Effect tells the story behind the impact that an influential person has across digital channels by identifying the message amplification they achieve in blogs and Twitter. It allows you to determine which influencers speak favorably about your brand and spread positive brand perception by looking at the amplification of coverage online. By gathering engagement information about specific posts and articles, we can tell who had the biggest splash relative to a product launch, event, or communication campaign. This product gives our clients the ability to refine their communication investment. Our analysts take it a step further by providing key insights that inform outreach and message creation.

Complementing the Ripple Effect, the Social Graph gives you an in-depth view of digital relationships based on linking patterns of influential individuals. We’re able to get really interesting insights about how people communicate by mapping the sources they use in their posts and articles. With this information, our clients can understand how topics and brand conversation are spread and the impact of new and up-and-coming influential people. The in-depth social network analysis provided by our analytics team guides engagement strategy and communication planning.

Hot Spots in Austin is a mobile app that answers the burning question: “where are the hot spots?” If you’re looking for the most (or least) popular gathering spots at SXSW, Hot Spots is for you. The best thing about Hot Spots is that it brings local venue check-ins to life in a visual way. It even shows the latest on-line buzz. The app is available for free in the Windows Phone 7 marketplace and iTunes app store so make sure to check it out if you’re at SXSW.

More information about our products is available on our website.

Achieving Social Media Actualization

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Comments Off

Over the past year, we’ve seen a shift in the way our clients are thinking about social media: namely, the conversations we are having today are less about WHY and more about HOW.

This is an important evolution. In the beginning stages of social media adoption, brands tend to be simply concerned with establishing a presence, tapping into the trend. In this phase, social media executions are chaotic, ad hoc — typically don’t accrue to anything. In pockets, processes and best practices begin to develop; however, in most cases, these practices tend not to be adopted consistently across the organization. Then, inevitably, come the ROI questions. To address the ROI question, organizations have to define standard business processes, examine objectives and map outcomes. 


It’s typically somewhere between maturation out of the ad-hoc phase and into the beginnings of process that companies begin to see the delta between the vision and the reality and come to us with the HOW questions.

  • How do we organize?
  • How do we prioritize?
  • How do we create and manage content?
  • How do we centralize measurement?
  • How do we establish and manage governance processes?

In our fourth post on the Influence Toolkit, we look at how our Social Influence System can help companies achieve the organizational structure, processes and governance to fully actualize on the promise of social media.

Many of the companies we speak to face a common challenge: social media is executed in silos with little integration or centralized management. From the audience perspective, the net result is a chaotic experience, with little engagement, often lacking in follow-through and inconsistency in messaging.

The solution starts with the establishment of a centralized governance body within the organization which is charged with social media governance — a Social Media Center of Excellence (SMCoE). This SMCoE team represents a unified integration point for internal stakeholders and also oversees content strategy, ensuring consistency in messaging, experience and engagement among external audiences.

Similar to a modern newsroom model, the SMCoE represents the editorial board and news hub at the heart of the operation. In this context, stakeholder orgs — such as PR, Marcomm, Business Units — are analogous to the news bureaus responsible for the creation of content. Content flows into the hub from the bureaus, where it is reviewed, packaged, published and managed.

Once the SMCoE team is in place, an organization is far better equipped to engage effectively on social media and achieve desired outcomes. Processes and workflows are adapted to suit the real-time demands of social media and governance roles are defined for efficient, actionable decision-making.

What this looks like from the outside is a brand that engages fluidly in conversation across social media channels. The brand builds its follower base organically and is able to drive narratives that are genuinely interesting and generate buzz. It participates in existing conversations in a way that is relevant. And if you engage the brand on one of its social media channels, it responds to your query or concern with the speed and authenticity that an individual would.

Has your company achieved social media actualization?

Shaking Hands With Every Person

Posted on November 12, 2010 by Comments Off

By Melissa Waggener Zorkin, founder and CEO

I have to work harder every day to stay truly connected with more than 800 Waggener Edstrom Worldwide people across the world.  I want to be connected with them because I learn from every one of them, and it is imperative because I make better CEO decisions with their ideas and input – even if it’s sometimes challenging to hear.  Our people also want to be connected to the organization, the leadership team – and, even more importantly, to each other.  We can learn from one another: What are we thinking about what is going on in the world, and how it relates to our business?  What are we paying attention to?  What links are we seeing with what our clients are doing or what influentials are saying?  What is going on in our industry?

Of course, this means lots of traveling, which I love, and it’s a good energy, resulting in a useful give and take with our people.  It also means investing in bringing teams together, something that we must do more of as we continue to localize WE in other parts of the world.  I decided to do the math for how many days of traveling it would take me to have a real dialogue ongoing with everyone, COMBINED with client-travel requirements.  Daunting. 

For many years, all agencywide meetings and e-mail served as the primary means of staying connected.  These are effective at getting everyone aligned around the agency vision; and also for communicating the goals, challenges and opportunities.  But both do not lend themselves all that well to ENGAGED dialogue, sharing customized content/context for locations around the world, and building an honest feedback loop. 

Which is one reason why I not only believe in, and advocate with our clients to make use of social media, but have taken it on to be more active in using social media myself – versus just telling our clients how they should be more active, transparent and engaged via this medium.

I realize that a CEO of a communications agency saying they believe in social media is hardly a shocking concept.  And yes, we have been providing integrated communications programs for many years to our clients, and digital is one of the fastest growing segments of our business.  We have been cited for our progressive work in digital communications services and products as an agency and are firmly entrenched in evolving our capabilities and acumen. 

But we could still be better at connecting, collaborating and sharing around the knowledge within our whole organization.  I firmly believe that if you stop challenging yourself to learn, experiment, sometimes fail … and ultimately improve, you lose some of your credibility when challenging people within your company, as well as clients, to do the same.

To that point, I’m the first to admit that I have much to improve upon and learn still when it comes to being as effective as possible in my own social media use. It’s important to know the ROI on the time I spend doing various things, so I didn’t just jump right in and grab every option available:

-        First of all it takes time; so something has to give.  In my case, I am trying to directly reduce the amount of e-mail I send out in proportion to the time I spend communicating through social media.
-        The more I get engaged in communicating through social media, the more I love it; but there is also ambiguity because I certainly have had my share of surprises and learnings.

For example, at our annual board summit, I (and others) actively tweeted about what we were tackling. We had a screen up in the room where we could see what our people were tweeting about and wanted to know.   We were able to engage a number of our people, and the strongest input was around making sure they all got to hear in real time our areas of investment for the coming year. We turned around an open response and the ROI was that all our people knew what we decided upon in real time. 

I have heard at least one CEO say that it is rather humbling to sit down with your kids, or even more so the 24-year-olds in your organization, to learn the ropes of social media.  I’m enjoying the learning, and have had a number of cool surprises when I am traveling to meet with our people where my social media engagement has actually already opened the dialogue before shaking their hands.

So, What’s Up with Students?

Posted on November 8, 2010 by 2 Comments

Coming off the recent elections, you might be wondering how students feel about politics, their outlook on life and —given the success of Facebook and the movie “The Social Network” — how young people feel about social media content, privacy and employment prospects.

A recent study conducted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide among 802 students ages 16–26, reveals some interesting results.

Key Findings

Students don’t trust politicians:

Compared to adults, students are more likely to have no opinion on President Obama:

While students skew toward being Democratic, more than one-in-four describe themselves as Independent:


Students’ most influential person is their teacher/professor:

Roughly, seven in 10 students are not concerned about social media privacy because they manage their privacy settings:


More than a third of students believe that content posted on social networking sites will not impact their employment opportunities. An additional 20 percent of students report that they wouldn’t want to work for a company that reviewed their social media content and declined to extend an offer:


Despite current economic conditions, students are largely optimistic about the future:


While some may say that students are naive and wildly optimistic, it seems that — given their positive outlook and transparent attitudes toward social media content — students would value marketing communications that are upbeat, yet straightforward and honest.  While they may not want news to be sugarcoated, doom and gloom communications won’t fit their world view.

The Skinny on Election Day 2010

Posted on November 2, 2010 by Comments Off

It’s inevitable. Election Day is upon us, and we all know we’re supposed to vote, according to every tweet and Facebook status update this morning. But do you know what you are voting for? Issues top of mind for me, and likely the rest of the U.S., are below; however, use the digital resources around you to read, understand and research before exercising your right to vote. It’s hard to wrap your head around the mass amount of content out there.I voted

And once you vote, encourage others to do so through social media. Use the hashtags #electionday, #ivoted on Twitter. Also, Foursquare is giving out special Election day badges when you use the hashtag @ivoted. You have the opportunity to have a voice, so take advantage of it.

1. The Economy. The issue that affects us all. Early predictions show that the Democrats will suffer as the party in power, and we tend to think that leaderships could change when the economy undergoes. But it doesn’t change overnight, people. Take a look at the bigger picture and the plans proposed by each party before going check-mark happy.

With Obama’s proposition for investments in our transportation systems to create more jobs, the Republicans reluctantly withdrew their support prior to today’s ballots. President Obama also has promised a deficit reduction plan in 2011, and the Republicans have pledged to cut spending, but neither party has offered a real solution as to how to reduce the current deficit.

2. Healthcare. The new health law is always an issue top of mind, but the Republicans are trying to fight this one out. The law requires that insurers give parents the option of keeping their adult children covered until they’re 26 years old, but, given the many exemptions and twists to this law, it makes more sense to pick it apart through smaller bills.

3. National Security and the War. With a weak foreign policy plan in place, this is the time to acknowledge your concerns. We live in an era where terrorist threats have become the norm and we have soldiers overseas risking their lives daily in honor of our country. Whether we’ve had a Republican or Democratic president in house, we can’t ignore the number of deaths that have occurred.

4. The 2009 Stimulus Package. This proved to be unsuccessful with the majority of the public writing it off as an utter failure. Between the lack of job growth, small business credit, unemployment, consumer and housing prices, and the US Real GDP, the Democratic Party has made little improvements when taking a look at the bigger picture.

5. Immigration. Overcrowding, unemployment, trespassing, violent crime, drug importation, fraud and human trafficking have all reached epic proportions. Conservatives are offended by liberals who claim racism is at the heart of the debate. Every year, more than half a million people enter the U.S. illegally and less than half of them are deported.

Image by unsureshot.

Moments of Influence Study: Word-of-Mouth Among Influence Multipliers is Key to Brand Success

Posted on November 2, 2010 by 1 Comment

In our second post on the Influence Toolkit, we discuss the Moments of Influence™ (MOI) research we conducted with Harris Interactive and USC’s School of Communications & Journalism.

MOI is a quantitative primary research methodology and, in this case, consisted of a benchmark survey among 511 gamers in late 2008.  The objective of MOI was to help marketers choose the optimal mix of marketing communications channels across the three phases of the purchase decision-making process (Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase).

Key Findings

In creating an Influence Channel Index (analytics!) across the decision-making process, we discovered that advertising declines in rank importance the closer gamers got to actual purchase.  Traditional PR channels, such as reviews, played a critical role in the Evaluation phase while digital channels, such as online demos, gained in ranking during the final Purchase phase.

More importantly, as it relates to influence, we found that word-of-mouth (WOM) had the most influence across all three phases of Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase.  Critically, we separated out WOM into “friends” and “family” instead of combining them.  As Solis and Sheldrake have been advocating, the research indicated that friends are significantly more influential than family and that WOM is more impactful versus other channels in the marketing mix.

In analyzing the data from the Moments of Influence research, we also created a segmentation (more analytics!) where we identified a sub-segment of the population that we call Influence Multipliers.  Influence Multipliers are media hoovers and are hyper-connected in online and offline social networks.  We suspect that Influence Multipliers score high on the “betweenness” concept that Stowe Boyd advocates: people who are connected to, or reside closely between, several discrete social networks.  We believe Influence Multipliers act as conduits between various discrete groups of people thereby increasing their influence reach.

We’re currently in the process of creating communities of Influence Multipliers that we can ping for tactical and strategic research needs, nurture with relevant data and activate as brand advocates.

Twitter: Who to Follow? Part 3, The Pipe Organ!

Posted on October 29, 2010 by Comments Off

The Pipe Organ technique is the most complex because it combines as many related tools as possible to make “interesting music.” It might not be the most pleasant sound, but it should give you an interesting mix of users to listen to and engage with. Ideally you will have created a masterpiece, a magnetic sound, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My list will be different from your list, and that’s just how it should be.

OK, I’ll fess up. Over the past year, the Pipe Organ has become more like an automatic player piano as third-party Twitter apps have become incredibly nuanced. BUT I still emphasize the need for the human elements. The robots aren’t yet ready to take over.

The Pipe Organ technique relies on the Springboard, the Matrix, PLUS some third-party tools. Since I started using Twitter a few years ago, the many third-party tools have made this technique much easier. I now rely upon Tweetdeck to do most of my heavy lifting for me.

I spend about 20 minutes a day filtering potential users I want to follow on Twitter. I’ll walk you through a few steps to see how I choose someone to follow.

Instead of using the search box on Twitter, I can create a search as a column within Tweetdeck. This “dashboard” allows me to multitask without having to open a million browser windows. This morning I made a search for “Social Media.”

Tweetdeck adds a column over on the right with users who have this term within their tweets. I scroll down a bit and find the user @prem_k. I’m seduced by the link he’s sharing “Social Media vs Social Customer Relationship.” Now, using the Springboard technique I would stop here and follow him. Since I’m using the Pipe Organ, let’s take it up a few notches. I’ll click his username within Tweetdeck and take a look at his user profile…

He lists subjects I’m interested in too — plus he has a vantage that is valuable to me; he works at an IT consulting firm. I think I could learn a few things from his perspective. But let’s bump it up another notch! Let’s look him up! Let’s see some recent Tweets that include his username. This way we can see if people are re-tweeting him, who he’s engaged with, what else he’s tweeting about.

It looks like many users link to his writings within their tweets. That’s a good sign. THEN (this is the Pipe Organ, not the Cannonball) let’s see which users (Friends or Followers) Prem and I have in common. There are a few services that do this, but I used Twtrfrnd.com for this example.

Turns out we have a few users in common, and they happen to be people whose opinions I respect. So far it looks like he’d be a good user for me to follow. He’d be someone I’d find interesting, would gain value from, and have a strong potential to engage with. BUT I’m not done. Last step, let’s filter his tweets through the Matrix! I’ll use his homepage on Twitter to read down through his tweets.

Then, after witnessing what appears to be a mix of active RT’s, engagements and specific tweets about the topics he mentions in his bio, I’m comfortable placing him on the Matrix…

It seems to me that he’d fit well within the lower-right corner, which for my own preference is where the users I find interesting tend to be.

My last step is to go back to Tweetdeck and click the “Follow” button, and voila! I’m following him. I’m looking forward to seeing if/when/how we engage.

That’s the Pipe Organ technique. It’s a bit complex, but I’ve found that if you have the time it’s many times more rewarding for your efforts than either the Springboard or the Matrix alone.

Please let me know your questions by posting them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Twitter: Who to Follow? Part 2, The Matrix!

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Comments Off

The Matrix is an added layer to using the Springboard technique. With the Matrix, you’re attempting to categorize Twitter users by their personality and style. You would still use the Springboard options to find users, but you’d put them through a filter before you decided to follow them (or not). Based on your own preferences, you would then decide if a certain user meets your definition of “Interesting.” It takes a little more time, but with a little investment you can build a tighter engagement and gain a little more value from your Twitter usage.

Here’s what the Matrix looks like when it’s blank:

Top to bottom on the Matrix is a scale of types of people. At the top is “Spectacular Magnetism,” the people and things we can’t take our eyes and ears off of. Typically, the very top is reserved for active celebrities. People like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga or Kanye West who have huge amounts of people following them on Twitter without having to try. They are spectacularly magnetic. At the bottom are the hard-working Tweeters who are actively posting and engaging on Twitter. Day and night, hour over hour, they are out there conversing, sharing, asking. Through their activity, they gain a magnetism, but they have to work at it.

Left to right is the scale of types of messaging. General is on the left, specific is on the right. A general tweets are links to breaking news, wacky trivia, maybe some useful tips for health, business or money. Users who post these messages are seeking to find the largest possible audience by remaining very general. On the right the messages are more specific; the author is parsing up pinheads, focusing right down to the tiniest details. These messages are meant for a very specific audience, not everybody. These messages are meant to be attractive to a particular group of people, such as those interested in posts from a specific sporting event.

I personally prefer users on the bottom right side of the Matrix. I want the details and I want to hear them from someone who is active. At the same time, some spice is nice, so I follow a few celebrities for fun. Here’s a way to think of the Matrix when deciding who fits where:

Here’s where I’d put some of the folks on Twitter:

At the top is Lady Gaga — 6 million people follow her on Twitter. That’s pretty spectacular. Down toward the bottom is photographer Jack Hollingsworth, who’s made a huge impact from his Twitter account. He’s become the guru, the glue, the maven and connector for photographers interested in the digital space. He is very active with messages and engagements that resonate within a specific field.

Over on the left is innovative entrepreneur and author Guy Kawasaki. He’s dropping leaflets all day (or at least the people who manage his Twitter account are). Trivia, crazy and useful links, news items, stuff flows from his Twitter account nearly endlessly. On the right, humanitarian start-up founder Craig Kielburger. He’s providing us a window into his daily life while describing his passion and relationships within his specific world. He’s pointing out examples of community involvement while sharing his own. He’s not so detailed he’s reached the edge of the Matrix, but he’s definitely within the right side.

As I mentioned above, I prefer users on the right side of the Matrix. So when I’m using Twitter’s search function, or We Follow, I take one extra step. I review how the user is interacting on Twitter and see if it matches my preference. If yes, I follow them. If no, I don’t. And sometimes, I just can’t help it and follow a user like Lady Gaga because the user is so spectacular her magnetism is inescapable.

Please let me know your questions by posting them in the comments area below. Thanks!

The Influence Research Gap

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Comments Off

In the spirit of drinking our own digital Kool-Aid, prior to engaging in the dialogue around the concept of influence in marketing and communications, we conducted extensive secondary research and spent a few weeks listening to the thought leaders in the space — Philip Sheldrake, Brian Solis, John Bell, Mitch Joel, Marshall Sponder, Stowe Boyd, Augie Ray, Josh Bernoff — and read the book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini (fascinating book; thanks for the referral, John).

Naturally, there’s a great deal of discussion around the definition of influence.  Let’s keep the noise down and just all agree on a combination of Solis’ definition — “the ability to cause measurable actions and outcomes” — and Sheldrake’s “the power or ability to affect someone’s belief’s or actions.”

While we can all likely agree on the definition of influence, it’s not likely that we’d all agree on how to create influence (WOM, traditional/social media, advertising, etc.) and what are the most important components of influence (popularity, “betweenness,” scarcity, authority, expertise, reciprocity, etc.).  It’s also unlikely that we’d agree on how to measure those components of influence or agree on what elements are the key drivers of influence (importance rank).

So, this is where I’d like to add my voice and elaborate on some of the tools we use here at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) to create and measure influence on behalf of our clients.  Yes, I’m going to sell while I engage.  Shocking.  I know. 

WE recently launched the Influence Toolkit, and I think we’ve got some cool, unique IP to add to the industry dialogue around influence. 

So, now that we’ve gotten the introduction niceties out of the way, here’s my attempt to poke the social media hornet’s nest:  No one seems to be measuring, or researching, influence holistically.  There’s a lot of discussion of primary research into what influences people and there’s discussion of secondary media research into how to measure the effects of influence, but no one seems to be putting the primary and secondary research together.  Yes, some say 360° measurement, but I’m just not seeing it in action.  Below is our holistic view of the Research Influence Gap.

Holistic Measurement of Influence

The Influence Toolkit represents WE’s effort to bring both types of research together to measure how influence is created; who’s the most influential; how influence maps across media and across online/offline social networks; and what impact that influence has on behavior and beliefs.  The industry is advocating moving toward a more holistic measurement of PR (see IPR’s Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles), but we still have a lot of work to do. 

Over the next week or so, my colleagues and I at WE will create a series of posts around our Influence Measurement IP to further the dialogue around influence and marketing performance measurement.  We’ll begin with our primary research called Moments of Influence™  that we created in partnership with David Parcell at Harris Interactive and Jerry Swerling at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism.

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