Cue The Future

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"I'm living in the future, so the present is my past" -Kayne West

How two companies overcome the biggest challenge in marketing (repeatable success stories)

“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world, and we’re not gonna get a chance to get people to remember much about us… no company is.

So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”  – Steve Jobs describing the biggest problem that marketing squares off against, even today in 1997.

It hasn’t gotten better for marketing departments in the last 13 years — this problem has gotten much worse. The world we live in is far noisier and far more complex with every passing year, and this trend is continuing.

As our society progresses technologically, the amount of things vying for our attention grows exponentially. It gets progressively harder for marketers to get our attention; to tell us the stories about their brand that they want us to remember. Today, consumer attention is currently split across so many places that it’s even harder to do this on any one channel.

This trend works to decrease the value of marketing contact databases across time. People are paying less attention to their inboxes over time, less attention to their feed readers, less attention to ad spaces — so the relationships you build with consumers on any channel decays naturally. Consumers are moving to Facebook, Twitter and Mobile right now, but in time they’ll move on from there too.

Consumer attention is no longer captive — it floats free, between a flotilla of competing locations. Welcome to the Splinternet.

Marketing in the Splinternet era requires making sure your paid and earned media is unified to tell effective stories to your target audience across multiple channels.

Investments will be required in building audience relationships with consumers on multiple channels. Because we’re in the splinternet, each new channel you invest in acts as a hedge against the eventual dwindling attention in pre-existing channels.

I believe in the future of marketing, and embrace opportunities like this every day at Involver for marketing ourselves, developing our products, and educating our customers. In that vein, here are two examples you can emulate from companies who have developed fantastic marketing campaigns that embrace splinternet marketing: Dropbox and the Golden State Warriors.


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68 People Like This…

Facebook Likes are the new audience interaction. More than 50 people liked my post on Facebook simplifying their Facebook Page management tools on the Involver blog, yet only one person commented.

Now, granted, this is also indicative of a few other factors, most importantly: the topic matter wasn’t very evocative, there was nothing to create a vibrant discussion. But I found it interesting how popular the “like” action was. It also made me wonder, how many people shared comments or discussions along with the articles (or would if they were prompted to do so).

I’d love to see next-generation blogging platforms (Echo, Disqus, Intense Debate) aggregate comments and discussions back from Facebook in a better fashion than they do today. Because none of these do a great job of this today, I’ve started using Facebook as the sole commenting system on this blog. I use Facebook Comments to do this. I’d love to see this plug-in work more natively with pre-existing comments or non-signed in users. It’s not perfect yet, but this plugin is definitely on the right track.

The ability to import Facebook comments into the WordPress database and vice-versa is listed as an upcoming feature. That feature is going to make switching to this plugin much easier for most bloggers.

Anyway, if you’re interested in learning more about Facebook’s new management tools for Facebook Pages, read about it on the Involver blog.

Meet the new Involver

It’s my great pleasure to unveil something we’ve been working on for the last little bit, 3 simple announcements from my company:
We announced this morning some really exciting news, parts of which have been previously unearthed by Venture Beat, Xconomy, and the WSJ. Involver has taken 8 Million dollars in additional financing from our investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Western Technology Investment, and Cervin Ventures. While we are currently profitable, this capital will help us more quickly meet ambitious goals for our products and our team. In fact we plan to hire 130 people, including 80 engineers, in the next 15 months.

Along with this endeavor, we’ve refreshed our brand. You can see our new wordmark below, it’s one of many aesthetic changes. I’d love to share more about this process later, and perhaps we’ll do so, but what’s important is that we now have a gorgeous site with way more product information, functionality, and other “about involver” stuff.  Go check it out.

Finally, we’re also announcing some pretty impressive growth numbers. We now serve over 100,000 customers, have deployed 200,000 applications and interact with over 325 Million fans. Our scale is unmatched in the industry and speaks volumes about the types of technical challenges we’re tackling. If you’re interested in helping us tackle those challenges and increase those numbers by two orders of magnitude, you should apply.

We were right about Bing + Facebook!

Today, Bing announced it has become a Facebook Instant Personalization partner, and is going to start using like data to change the way you comprehend your search results on Bing.

This is an incredibly smart move that I’ve wanted them to take for ages. In Social Data for Search Giants (a blog post I wrote here 1 year ago), I wrote the following:

Facebook could offer a Facebook Connect implementation specifically for search engines that allowed them to check URLs against a database of friend’s posted links.  This would allow the search engine to enhance relevancy. Think of it like this (forgive the quick/ugly mockup):  http://skitch.com/tylerwillis/bswcr/presentation2

Now, I’m not going to sue Zuck and try to get on the Winklevoss retirement track. But, I think it’s fun that the actual implementation wasn’t too far off from my prediction. Here’s the examples back to back:

———– FWIW:

in the spirit of social design, I did a quick review. What did I miss from the final implementation?

  • I forgot Faces. In 09, I assumed that privacy concerns would keep personalization information limited to text. Swing and a miss — we now know that people want faces. They want to see who did what. Your social network is not made of equals, identity and context are very important for social interactions.
  • Places not Products. I thought they would initially roll this functionality out for places – instead they are rolling it out for products. In hindsight this is obvious because product pages have way more likes and are far easier to identify and organize sanely.
  • Too much info. I assumed Facebook would move to display comment and other meta data around posted links. It doesn’t look like this will be in rev 1.

Envisioning the future of Facebook Groups.

I have a ton of respect for Facebook’s product team, they consistently launch innovative products that pull their users, often kicking and screaming, into more engaging experiences. This requires two key skills:

1. Vision: predict what your customers want before anyone knows they’d use it. The next big thing looks like a toy.

In my opinion, Zuckerberg, Cox and others on Facebook’s Product team should be given the inaugural Henry Ford award. Facebook delivers what it’s customers actually want, despite their lack of knowledge that they want it. This is daily occurrence for fb: Closed Networks, NewsFeed, Profile Redesign, Open Graph, Platform, Pages, Internationalization, Chat, Privacy, Groups — and the list goes on.

2. Know when your customers are ready for the next bite-sized part your vision. Without this part, you aren’t successful, you are ahead of your time.

Facebook’s location patent was filed years before the launch of places. The “Awesome Button” (now Open Graph’s Like button) was built, to a launch ready state in November of 2007.

With that history in mind, I watch new product updates with fascination, and each new release inspires me to think about what might be next.

After the jump, reposted from Involver’s comprehensive post on Facebook Groups, is my take on what could be possible in the future.

Facebook could integrate Groups, Events, and Places to create a rich experience for users, with compelling value for brand marketers, business owners, and event hosts.

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About the Author

Tyler Willis is the Vice President of Business Development at Unified, which builds enterprise marketing technology for brands and agencies.

This blog is about how the future will affect technology, marketing, and the things we care about most. Learn more about Tyler.

Speaking

Tyler is a featured speaker and instructor for The American Marketing Association, and is a popular speaker on topics related to social marketing and how technology is changing our lives.

Recent engagements:
- South by Southwest
- American Marketing Association
- TMP Directional Marketing Client Summit

Email for Speaking Requests.

Lightweight Update

I write infrequent (quarterly at most), semi-formal updates of what I'm doing and thinking.


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