3 Principles for Successful Engagement in the Digital World

Best Practices for Digital Media

Last week, I had an honor of speaking at the Canadian Financial Marketing Forum with some of the brightest minds in the digital space. We discussed variety of issues facing the industry — from building a holistic strategy to best practices that generate a positive ROI. Here are few thoughts on some of my learnings from the session.

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.

The common theme that emerged from the debates and talks was that the world has changed but not everyone is impacted equally by it. Some can’t live without it. And some aren’t impacted at all.

In some industries, regulations and rules have made it difficult for the change to occur. And for some, no matter what they do, it isn’t working.

There is no cookie cutter tactic that works for everyone. At the same time, we are all seeking ways to be less distracted, more productive and more engaging within our networks.

Tactics and buzz words aside, there are some key principles that have proven to true over the years — no matter who you are, what you do and where you operate.

Less shiny objects

It is much easier for us to chase shiny objects. It requires less thought. It gets executed faster but..

As Seth Godin said yesterday, “A tactic might feel fun, or the next thing to do, or a lot like what your competition is doing. But a tactic by itself is nothing much worth doing. If it supports a strategy, a longer-term plan that builds on itself and generates leverage, that’s far more powerful.”

In our world, vastly influenced by the shiny, fluffy and ideas that are oversimplified, it becomes even harder to filter out the noise from the signal.

Authentic, Approachable and Compelling

Without further ado, I would like to share the top 3 principles that have proven to work for my own programs over the years at organizations of all kinds (IBM, Bell Canada, Enterasys, Extreme Networks etc). This analysis is further validated and influenced by the latest Gallop study on what is working on the social web and what is not.

  • Authenticity: The social web is highly personal and conversational. Folks within social networks don’t want to hear sales pitches. They are more likely to listen and respond to brands that seem genuine and personable. They want to interact with a human, not a logo.
  • Responsive: The digital world is 24/7 and consumers expect timely responses — even on nights and weekends. If you are part of the medium, be truly part of it. If you aren’t available 24/7, make it known so that expectations can be managed effectively.
  • Compelling: Content is everywhere and consumers have an ability to pick and choose what they like — Create interesting content that appeals to busy, picky social media users. Create content that develops affinity. A cause that people want to be part of. (Think IBM’s People for the Smarter Planet, Charity Water Campaigns etc).

“People like to buy but no one likes to be sold to”.

Let’s move from being document centric to becoming more people centric.

I tell my teams to keep this in mind every time they sit down to create content, design digital interfaces or just engage in a conversation. Luckily, the rising importance of design based thinking and processes in our businesses has allowed us to be more sensitive to the user’s needs and desired experiences.


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How Marc Benioff convinced me to buy a Fitbit?

This is a lighthearted story of how social media influences consumer behaviors and accelerates sales. Also a proof point and validation of why executives need to be on social and have a personality. (Hint: No ghost writing, scheduled tweets etc.)

At the verge of Fitbit’s new activity tracker launch last year, like most addicted to tech husbands, I needed a reason to validate — yet another gadget purchase — to my dear wife.

I had read the reviews. I had checked the beautifully crafted copy on Fitbit’s website and had even checked out the gorgeous marketing video. It was convincing but was it going to be another flop? I thought. Was it just a pedometer? Reviews were mixed. Is there anyone within my network using it? After all, I trust them more.

So, I asked on twitter for opinions and one of my beloved followers, Marc Benioff, personally recommended the Fitbit flex. He had been using it for a while. He also happens to be one of the most innovative executives in the world whose passion for wearables is unmatched in the industry.

A little while ago, Weber Shandwick and KRC conducted a survey involving around 2000 consumers that revealed that peer reviews and social recommendations have grown beyond just friends advising each other on the new purchases.

Some of the findings include:

  • 65% of consumers have bought a product they weren’t intending to buy after reading a positive review;
  • 74% of consumers search for reviews online before making a decision;
  • Consumers read an average 11 reviews before making a decision;
  • Peer reviews are trusted by more consumers (77%) than professional ones (23%)

How are you designing your marketing efforts around this?

So it is critical that in your content marketing efforts, you consider the impact of a word of mouth recommendation for your product or service. Not just what you are writing and sharing on the social web but also what your advocates are saying as well.

After all, it may be just that recommendation, an opinion, or even perhaps a comment from someone that matters that closes the deal.

For me — just like my wife said, I am still not as active as I should be but with a Fitbit, she can prove it. ;)

For a copy of the full Executive Report on the survey referenced above, please click here.

True Passion is Contiguous

Likers Gonna Like Facebook IPO

True trait of a leader is to invoke and inspire others to join in a movement.  The ability to communicate, influence and persuade others to do things is indispensable to everything one accomplishes in life.

Check out how a Celtics fan, Jeremy Fry, shows his passion and leadership by truly being part of a moment.  As my friend, Bobby Umar states, “THIS is the kind of passion and fun that is contagious. As was once shown in a TED talk, if he got 2 or 3 others to join him, they could have started a movement“.

Indeed, the most effective men and women are those who can competently organize the cooperation and assistance of other people to accomplish goals and objectives.

Good job Jeremy. Your passion is truly contiguous.

Is your self-worth defined by your likes/follows?

How you use internet and the social web depends on you. The time we spend on social networks can be a waste, or it can make us smarter, connected, empathetic, and aware. It can amplify the good as well as the bad. You can use it to form deep emotional connections or ignore the person right beside you.

We’re so consumed by our phones and social networks, that sometimes we forget to live.

Can we auto-correct humanity is a strong piece on social media and its impact on us. Enjoy.

Where is your media buy cash best spent? 


On Facebook, click-through ratios (CTRs) and share of spend is dominated by News Feed ads, despite a declining CTR for mobile feeds, says a Social Bakers report. Accordingly, advertisers are shifting more and more spend to the News Feed, resulting in higher costs per click (a 40% rise for desktop News Feed ads versus Q1). But all across Facebook, CTR has increased from Q2: Going from 0.247% to 0.302%.