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Over the weekend, as I was contemplating what to include in today’s post (#2 in the series, 10 lessons from ’10), I opened an e-mail from Digital Buzz Blog — which is an excellent source of news and commentary about all things digital — and in a moment of pure serendipity, there was this beautifully illustrated infographic comparing the ways social media are being used by big business. I love stats — and these are really interesting:

Of the Fortune Global 1000 —

  • 33% have a corporate blog
  • 50% have a YouTube channel
  • 54% have a Facebook fan page
  • 65% have a Twitter account

If you’ve read any of my early posts, you know that I was a skeptic about the whole social media thing for some time — until we started using them ourselves.

Much like our colleagues at the businesses with the behemoth brands, we’re tweeting and Facebooking because that’s where the people are. We all know this, but the user stats of these two social media giants are something to behold. Check out the comparisons in this infographic from Digital Surgeons:

Facebook:

  • 500MM users
  • 30% are in the US
  • 12% update their status everyday
  • 40% follow a brand
  • 51% of brand followers will purchase that specific brand

Twitter:

  • 106MM users
  • 40% are in the US
  • 52% update their status everyday
  • 25% follow a brand
  • 67% of brand followers will purchase that specific brand

With numbers like these, it’s impossible to stay on the sidelines while everyone else is out having all the fun.

So, here’s my Wilson RMS forecast for 2011 — when it comes to using social media to create awareness and to generate highly-sought buzz, we’re just getting started — because the party’s only just begun.

Next up: Direct mail is alive and well and happy to be invited to the party.


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Greetings from Park City, Utah, where the scenery is splendid and the mercury is stuck at the bottom of the glass tube: -9 degrees F at time of writing. Yes, that’s 9 below zero.

And why, exactly, have I chosen to spend a post-Christmas week in a place of such  mind-numbing cold? For the skiing, of course.

I’ve been quite fortunate to have spent the last 5 days on the slopes — with 1 more to go — and I’m making significant improvement in my somewhat unorthodox form as I make my way down the mountain.

Being away from the office and all things work-related for the past week has given me time to develop a bit of perspective. And the physical challenge of navigating moguls and deep powder while bombing down a mountainside has helped bring that perspective into fine focus.

It’s certainly not a revolutionary thought, nor particularly insightful, but whether it’s running a business, creating a marketing plan, or writing a blog post, the more you do it, the better you become.

So, today, when WordPress posted it’s 2011 Post Every Day challenge, I decided that this is my resolution for the brand new year: I will endeavor to post to my blog at least once per week (a new post every day being a bit overly ambitious for me) about something that is relevant, interesting and timely.

After all, the only way to be a better writer is to continually practice writing — even if it’s not necessarily the quickest way to get to Carnegie Hall.

Happy 2011! Wishing you a year of perfection — in whatever you practice.

For me, the challenge is on.

Gotta give it to the Japanese for being more than a few steps ahead of us in developing a multitude of uses for the mobile phone that go well beyond simply… talk.

They were one of the first to widely adopt short messaging (“SMS” or “texting” here in the U.S.) and more recently they’ve introduced us to the wonderful world of QR codes — created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, and designed to allow the contents to be decoded at high speed — for bringing greater efficiencies to manufacturing processes.

And, now the marketers have gotten hold of them.

Afterall, what could be simpler than pointing your reader-enabled phone at a code (get your reader here), snapping a photo of it in all it’s 2-D glory, and then seeing where it leads?

Retail: How about a wine store where one can learn all about the provenance of a wine on the shelf that’s been tagged with a code?

Brand Advertising: Maybe try a “billboard video” that Calvin Klein would like us to enjoy in the privacy of our phones

or my personal favorite —

Financial Services: If you are lucky enough to live in Denver (or travel through DEN, as I recently did) where else but a local bank’s website

would you visit to download a copy of Moby Dick or Treasure Island? Brilliant.

Google likes QR Codes and I must concur. My bet is that they’re going big.

Drop me a line

or give me a call

and let me know if you agree.

I don’t know about you, but my attention span seems to be decreasing with each passing year.

I have been trying for about a month to finish the latest Jonathan Franzen novel, “Freedom” (The New York Times Book Review calls it a “masterpiece” — I heartily agree), but as much as I love the book, I find myself very easily distracted and unable to focus for periods long enough to experience the “zone” —  total immersion in the material — which has been for me one of the great joys of reading.

I am far from being the first to make this self-observation.

Earlier this year,  Nicholas Carr published his newest book, The Shallows, in which he argues, quite persuasively, that the Internet, specifically — and technology, in general –is re-wiring our brains, inducing only superficial understanding.

Does that mean we’re getting stupid?


When Carr first published his provocative idea in a cover story for the Atlantic Monthly magazine in the summer of 2008: Is Google Making us Stupid? he was challenged by the likes of futurist James Cascio, and others, like Stephen Johnson, who think about the impacts of technology on humans.

They argue that “the increasing complexity and range of media we engage with have, over the past century, made us smarter, rather than dumber, by providing a form of cognitive calisthenics.”

I love the way that sounds, “cognitive calisthenics,” almost as though surfing the Internet and checking one’s BlackBerry and downloading magazines onto a Kindle were strength- and endurance-training exercises for the mind.

But, I have to say, spending a little bit of time with The New York Times earlier this summer didn’t provide me with much support for the we’re-getting-smarter crowd’s view.

From general distractedness to impatience and forgetfulness, it seems there are evils awaiting us with each new gadget we add to our connected lives.

And here’s where the rubber meets the road — self assessment.

I took this online test to measure my ability to focus and my ability to switch quickly between tasks. As an inveterate multi-tasker, I was certain of my mastery of both. And then I got the results:

They show that I am, indeed, a high multi-tasker — and this is really not such a good thing: I am more easily distracted — and I am slower at switching between tasks — than those who multi-task less.

 

Does that mean I’m getting stupid? I can’t say.

But it does make me want to put away my keyboard, turn off my BlackBerry and get back to finishing that book.


As I write, I am on my way home from my way second favorite city in the U.S., San Francisco, (and tracking my flight on the go-to site for road warriors, flightstats.com)

where some of the Wilson team and I spent a few days at the DMA2010 Conference & Exhibition.

En route to San Francisco, I spent a couple days in desert-spa-and-resort favorite, Tucson. While there, I went for an invigorating run, one afternoon, in the Catalina foothills, and then mapped my route at mapmyride, the site for those of us who seek quantitative affirmation of our physical fitness accomplishments.

The thing I like most about mapmyride is the point-and-click method of route mapping — with a few clicks of your mouse, the software makes the point-to-point connections and fills in the route and the distance  — with a result that is both visual and numerical. Brilliant.

While running, I started thinking about those mapmyride connectors and their analogous equivalents in the human realm — friends, colleagues and acquaintances who put people and ideas together — and how invaluable they are to the flow of ideas and the transaction of commerce.

Steven Johnson, a Brooklynite, and best-selling author of a number of books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience, released a video a couple weeks ago promoting his latest title Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (available in retail outlets and via download today).

The premise of his book — and the accompanying video — is that great ideas don’t come from a single person having a Eureka! moment, but instead are the product a multiple minds working together in almost accidental ways due to chance encounters made via networked connections. He cites as examples the English coffee houses of the Enlightenment and the Parisian salons of Modernism, and talks about how the Internet is functioning in the same way today.

I was so taken by this video — not just the content, but also the illustrated form, that I had to share it. For my money, it’s well worth the 4-minute investment.

As I came back to reality last week, after an incredible week of biking in Puglia

 

I came across an intriguing article in the Wall Street Journal about people’s decision-making habits or, perhaps more accurately, the tendency of some to delay decision-making due to ambivalence.

As I read it, ambivalence about decisions is a sign of maturity. And as I interpret it, that means I must be quite mature, given my inability to make some personal decisions lately.

You see, it all started with the iPad.  When it was first launched, it looked to me like a glorified iPod touch.  But, as I’ve watched the sales numbers rack up (see the latest eye-popping projections here) and I’ve peered over the shoulders of friends and colleagues entranced with its seemingly magical properties, I began to do research on all the fabulous ways it’s being used for everything from basic PowerPoint presentations to the development of super-slick digitally published content. As I learned more about this marvel of a device, I found the argument for succumbing to iPad-mania growing ever stronger.

Then last Monday, when my weekly must-read, the New Yorker, announced that they will begin publishing on the iPad,

I thought, “That’s it, I’m in.”
And, so I was.

At least until I saw the Research in Motion announcement that very same day about the launch of Playbook, the new tablet for the BlackBerry crowd.

It looks like it’ll have some sweet features such as a camera and the ability to play Flash. Better yet, it’ll connect to and share resources with — what is for me — the ultimate indispensable gadget and a constant companion — my BlackBerry Tour.

So, as I look at it, there are today two very viable contenders for my tablet dollar — the user-friendly iPad with its sleek design and aura of cool v. the much more practical PlayBook with a set of functions that fits hand-in-glove with things I’m already doing all day, every day.

Although it is a truism of direct marketing that choice depresses response, I think my own hesitation is just that, certainly not a decision to do nothing at all. For as soon as I thought to write about this topic, the tablet product announcements began in earnest — including recent announcements from Dell and Microsoft — as they try to grab their share of the spotlight among all the new entrants in the coming tablet wars lining up for battle.

As we witness a proliferation of gadgets which may, ultimately, replace the PC and the smartphone, there are definite benefits to NOT being an early adopter. For as the tech titans battle it out for market share and pile on the features, we all win as consumers.

That much is clearly decided.

I like to think of myself as someone who makes informed decisions. Whether it’s researching flights on my favorite travel site or picking the perfect restaurant for a festive night out, I am completely hooked on the instantaneous access we get to endless streams of information online.

As a consumer, I love the ease and convenience of using the Web to help me with most, if not all, of my daily tasks. But, as a marketer, when I begin to think about all the data sitting in all those warehouses and all those clouds, it gets me a bit overwhelmed.

After all, in the direct marketing world, we’ve been working a very long time to achieve the holy grail –right offer/right person/right time. And, how do we do that? Data.
With so much of it out there — little bits left behind as we course through both the real and virtual worlds — it’s piling up fast. Just ask Google.

So, how do we manage it and make sense of it all?

Apparently, quite nicely, thank you.

I’ve been admiring a company called [x+1] for some time now. They’re doing a lot of number crunching to create some sophisticated algorithms that get marketers awfully close to the holy grail. Even the Wall Street Journal has picked up on it:“Websites are gaining the ability to decide whether or not you’d be a good customer, before you tell them a single thing about yourself.”

Companies like x+1 may seem a bit out there in the realm of direct marketing, but when we consider the meta-trends, we can see “digital” is already happening in many, many places today.

A recently released Winterberry Group whitepaper forecasts that by 2012, U.S. marketers will dedicate $7.8B on marketing data and associated services, with “digital” comprising 10.8% of the mix — over $840MM. The other 89.2% of that spending, of course, will be for offline or “non-digital” data and services.

So, here’s the thing —  in 2008 the number was $10.3B total spending — of which just 3% ($300MM) was digital. Data — and digital data in particular — is proliferating. But, as spending on offline data/services decreases each year, spending on the digital equivalent isn’t picking up the slack. It’s just that much more efficient to handle, manage, manipulate and store electronic information. Period.

It certainly isn’t lights out, yet, for offline data  — nearly $7.0B in spending in 2012 is definitely no small potatoes. But if I’m going to make an informed decision for the focus at Wilson — my money’s on digital.



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  • Chris Cushing: Nice list. Although the most annoying for me is the new corporate catch phrase "bandwidth." Ooh, Makes me shrug everytime I hear it in a meeting.
  • Maile: Sweet write, great site layout, continue the great work
  • Nate: I have DISH Network and a Sling adapter connected to my receiver and I was surprised to see how many devices that this work on with DISH. I know Comca