Friday, September 30, 2016

GE's Social Prowess

- GE on social
- Watch what Philips is up to in Health Tracking!
- Mobile users do what they do, not what they say
- Living in the Adjacent Possible
- Selling on Instagram
- Whatsapp What’s privacy?
- Amazon Subscription
- Ideas from GSI Search Summit

Bonus: Mark Hurst's Creative Good Podcast:

GE Social

I don't know if anyone's noticed, but GE is doing some really interesting things on their Social channels, often effectively encouraging follwers to generate content for them.

Their Insta account features beautiful, artful photos of science and engineering, shot by award winning photographers. These are often from unexpected viewpoints which make them really compelling and draw the viewer in to read about what the picture is. GE also sponsors #Instawalk, a program where thought leaders, influencers and superfans are invited into their facilities for a tour and encouraged to take photos and instagram them with this hashtag.

Their UN-Impossible Missions video series on You Tube showcases their expertise in experimental surroundings by attempting to disprove popular expressions like 'A Snowball's Chance in Hell'. Another YouTube campaign, #SpringBreakIt leveraged videos of advanced materials testing to spectacularly destroy items like a tennis ball, Travel mug, sneaker, shell, watch and more by crushing, blasting or dropping. It holds the same fascination as the #WillItBlend videos that Jonah Berger talked about at our DigiSummit. Their Pinterest account includes snarky boards like 'Hey Girl' where famous scientists like tesla, edison and Lewis try out pickup lines like 'Hey Girl, what's your sine, cause I feel like we're on the same wavelength or Hey Girl, did we just share electrons? Because I'm feeling a covalent bond between us. Shows off the big company's sense of humor.

On Vine, #6secondsciencefair showcased GE's quick bursts of educational inspiration and again invited viewers to add the hashtag to their own efforts. Vine's shooting star seems to have burned out a bit, but I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that it still has a lot of untapped potential in our short attention span world.

Finally, their GE Reports section of their site hosts Debates, analysis and information using imagry and infographics. This is basically a news publishing site with some third party and guest content thrown in, it never mentions the word 'Innovation' but it demonstrates how active the company is in linking it's work to wider trends. GE publishes frequently and offers a subscription. This is where we're trying to get with our content marketing efforts on the Government and Healthy Society sites, so it's nice to see this validation of our strategy. Philips could also try some similar tactics on our Social Channels.


The Well-respected DigitalTrends Technology site reviewed the newly launched Philips Health Watch last week and gave it a favorable nod. For those of you who may not know, the Philips Health Watch joins the wrist blood pressure Monitor, the connected scale and body temperature monitor as part of the Philps Connected Health Device Suite. And these will be joined by the connected toothbrush next year, all connected through the Philips HealthSuite Digital Platform. The watch has a metal body, a silicon strap and a heartrate monitor on the back, and the main interaction is via the wide metal bezel surrounding the screen. It tracks movement, sleep, calorie burn and heartrate and automatically recognizes when you start exercising, but's not a smartwatch, so there are no phone notifications. It's priced just a little less than Android watches, though it doesn't have nearly the functionality. But the big advantage is the HealthSuite Platform ecosystem.

Most health monitoring tools from other companies give us health measurements because we wnat to be healthier but they don't often give much feedback or coaching. But if you wear the watch and use the connected devices, it's all aggregated, visually in the healthsuite app. And next year it'll get even better because the app will use the data to run coaching programs developed by Doctors and Psychologists to help you reach your goals.

The Suite is not designed for athletes or casual fitess buffs, but for people -- most often mature people -- who have a chronic condition, want to lose weight or have been told by a doctor to change their lifestyle. The multi-data-point picure is an essential part of managing this. The app will see how much you move and progress and, through pre-generated intelligent responses, it will increase your goals incrementally.

It's an interesting product targeted to a rapidly growing niche audience, and it's looking good so far. To be really disruptive, we could provide an API and open the source code to developers to improve the efficiency and experience of the app and bring other data gathering tools into the mix.

The Paradoxes of mobile

Mobile is where everything is moving so it's important that we keep up with how people are using it. Some interesting Stats about mobile browsing, shopping and buying came to light this week from EConsultancy.

Over 90% of mobile users say they would prefer to browse for products on a Desktop/laptop or tablet rather than on their phone, but 65% of these same people regularly browse on their phones even though they're prefer to do it on their Desktops! Same with buying. why? convenience and availability trumps enjoyment. So that means that we need to be constantly working to make the mobile experience as enjoyable and easy as the desktop experience. Sellers who do that successfully are in for a windfall!

The same study found that people browse for products at least twice a week, usually on mobile and that they're 4x as likely to visit a store online as they are offline. And even though they do most of their browsing and shopping on Mobile, they still do the vast majority of buying on Desktops. So that means that most purchase journeys involve multiple devices and that we need to enable that as well.

Finally, all those mobile and desktop shoppers also shop in brick and mortar stores. And when they do, they're still using digital. Do they use in-store kiosks? Store-provided iPads or Digital assistance from iPad-wielding sales associates? Actually 60% of shoppers say their preference is to use Their own devices to look up or compare prices, to get product into, to check availability to find an item in the store and even to check out! But, surprise, only 20% of these same shoppers actually use their mobile when they're in a store. WHY?? Mainly because it's not possible to do most these things with your own mobile phone in most stores. One more thing omni-channel merchants need to enable and one more huge opportunity to differentiate and win in the marketplace!!

Living in the Adjacent Possible

I was reading an article about transformation the other day and came across the fascinating and very cool concept of the 'Adjacent Possible'. According to Steven Johnson, writing in the Wall Street Journal, This is a kind of shadow future, hovering at the edges of the present state of things. A map of all the ways the present can re-invent itself. It's the set of opportunities at the boundries of our reach. Boundaries which receed as we explore them, expanding the possibilities even further. For instance, North America was once an adjacent possiblity to Europe, and once discovered, it opened so many more possibilities, settlement, the West, government by the people, industries that never existed before, mass production, the new technologies that were needed to make these transformations happen.

We are in the midst of an exciting digital transformation here at Philips. Let's be aware of the adjacent possibilities before us and embrace them. To do this, we need 3 types of people. Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners.

Pioneers are designers and engineers who chart new territory. They're comfortable with uncertainty and not afraid to fail, which they do often, but they look at failure as a learning opportunity. They are the inventors, early adopters and disrupters, always playing on the edge of the Adjacent Possible.

Settlers are the people who see and seize the opportunities once new possibilities are uncovered. They're entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who excel at nurturing new products and practices and getting them to scale.

But maintaining scale is hard work and requires the specialized skills of Town Planners. The people who design operations, conduct research, QA, plan, provide structure, governance and leadership.

Clearly, all these roles are equally valuable but they occur more or less frequently depending on the maturity of the company or organization. Which are you? Which would you like to be? And how does each of these roles contribute to our digital transformation? We'll talk more about this over the coming months.

Instagram: The Store

Artistry enhances experience and therefore also enhances marketing. This seems like it should be self-evident, but maybe it's not. I talked about it on last month's call and our friend Maureen Mullens talked about it at the DigiSummit: The Advertising Industrial Complex is teetering because there's too much of it or maybe because too much of it is so bad. Meanwhile, Instagram established itself first as a social art form, and now, more recently as an incredibly successful marketing and even selling platform. Marketers are using Like2Buy, InstaShop or just directing viewers to an instagram page on their site that aggregates the items showcased on instagram for customers to purchase. But one fashion retailer, REVOLVE, has hacked the system by labeling posts on both Instagram and Snapchat with 'stylecodes. These are unique product identifiers like SKUs that can be searched on the retailer's Web site or Googled to get to a commerce page. However we do it, though, we should find a way to direct instagram users to mobile product pages becasue 2/3 of Instagramers have used their phone to make a purchase and 70% are willing to shop on mobile.

Whatsapp changes it's mind about privacy

Whatsapp became a popular Worldwide platform early on largely because of its strong stance on Privacy and individual liberty which grew out of it's founder, Jan Koum's youth in the Societ Union. The fact that it only requires a phone number to create an account, not a birthday or home address, and that it encrypts its users messages so only the sender and receiver can read them, has set it apart from Facebook. So some privacy advocates were concerned when Facebook paid 19 Bn to purchase the service in 2014, because they worried that their data might be misused at some point.

2 years later, those concerns have been validated. Though WhatsApp remains an automomous service and Mr Koum has repeatedly stated his commitment to the privacy of his Billion users, They've recently changed that privacy policy in order to help monitize their business. The company announced a couple of weeks ago that they'd begin to share user phone numbers and analytics data with Facebook as part of an initiative to unify information across the Facebook suite of businesses. Among the changes: WhatsApp plans to allow businesses to connect directly with customers in the same way as they do with Facebook Messenger and Facebook will be able to use a person's phone number ro improve other Facebook services like friend suggestions and better tailored advertising. These wouldn't be surprising if not for Koum's vocal opposition to having advertising on the service. Just a reminder that companies can change their mind about pretty much anything in their user agreement -- even their privacy policy -- as long as they inform the user. But this is a disappointment to people who signed up for WhatsApp rather than Facebook for just this reason. So we might see the FTC jump into the mix on this soon.

Amazon subscription

A New York Times article last month uncovered a situation that many Amazon subscribers may not be aware of. Everyone knows Amazon members can get a discount on products when they subscribe to have them delivered on a regular basis. And I'd bet most of these folks expect that, when they subscribe to a product, they expect to lock in the price. After all, that's the way it works with newspapers, magazines, netflix and beer of the month club. But that's not the case at Amazon. Amazon 'subscriptions' simply set up a timer to create individual orders and Amazon's terms and conditions state, somewhere in the middle of all that text, that the Subscribe and Save discount which is typically 5% or more, is applied to the price of the item at the time each order is placed. Keep in mind that Amazon also has a dynamic pricing model which increases prices for more in-demand items. So it stands to reason that for products that many people subscribe to, prices could go up. And they often do so significantly,

Artificial Intelligence reviews content

I was at the GSI search conference last week and heard David Tsau, the Digital Leader from CDW talk about some really interesting and innovative programs they were piloting to improve the user experience on their product pages. I asked him if I could share some of his strategies with you on this call and he said he'd be happy to have our thoughts and feedback on what they were doing. He made a really interesting point starting out. He said their goal used to be to increase traffic on their pages, but now the goal is to improve the user experience with the expected result being higher traffic and better engagement. So here are a couple of interesting things they're doing...

First of all, CDW is an IT equipment distributor. They sell everything from Network Servers and Routers to Desktops and Laptops to cables and accessories. And they also have a services business that helps customers set up and maintain their infrastructure. But most of their traffic goes to their product detail pages and he noticed that their PDPs were almost exactly the same as their competitors pages, on NewEgg and Zones. So they needed to differentiate their pages from their competitors.

At the same time, his content people were getting frustrated because They create a lot of content, from articles in magazines that they publish to blog posts to Case Studies and more. This content is distributed across a number of internal repositories and external platforms like Tumbler and LinkedIn. But their content wasn't getting good traffic. They were coming to his team to 'SEO this for us'.

Now David knew, as we all do, that's not the way SEO works. It shouldn't be an afterthought, content should be created based on keyword and social insight. If you know what people are searching for, and you make content to answer their need. Then you'll never have a traffic problem. In addition, much of the content was very difficult to optimize for search because it was on a platform like Tumbler which resists search optimization becasue it's hard for Google to index.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do we have these same challenges?

David's team came up with an idea to solve both of these challenges. Rather than trying to SEO the editorial pages after the fact, they decided to link to the articles, blogs, reviews and case studies from their relevant high-traffic PDPs. This would improve the user experience by providing the customer with deeper decision support information, it would drive higher utilization of the content, and, at the same time, it create a point of differentiation from their compeititors.

But the challenge was how to identify which content would work for each product. He only has 5 people on his Digital team and for the first tests, they assigned a few products to each of the people on his team and they each curated 4 articles for each product. They found that traffic to their related content increased dramatically, and conversion improved as well becasue it was easier for customers to make an informed decision. They didn't increase traffic because the Google algorithm doesn't work that way, it assigns authority for inbound links, not outbound links. But by differentiating themselves and improving the user experience, the increased the yield from the traffic they were already getting.

But the content curation process was extremely labor intensive. How could they scale? They ended up using the Watson Alchemy Artificial Intelligence API to analyze over 65K relatively recent articles to determine which articles were most relevant for which products. And now they're just adding those articles to the pages. They're also working on automating the process of adding relevant articles to Web pages.

Now, obviously, this is something we should look at doing with our content and PDPs. But the larger point is to strive for this kind of problem solving. It doesn't take a big team. It just takes a good idea and some open minds.