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Privacy Issues. NSA, Samsung, Jay-Z

post11More than likely if you are reading this you are aware of the recent debate over online privacy and what is being shared with companies and even the government with the recent NSA scandals. I’ve been meaning to share my point of view for some time on this but decided it was fairly trivial. As an individual I accept the fact that if I use a machine that is connected to a data source, I understand data will be saved and collected. Others for some reason are naive to believe that data isn’t being collected on them when online and they hoot, holler, and complain about the situation. Either way. It’s a choice that must be accepted.

What led me to share my thoughts on online privacy concerns though is the recent controversy on the partnership between Samsung Mobile and Jay-Z to provide 1 million downloads of his new Magna Carta album if they download a special application on their Samsung phone by July 4. Well that day has come and gone and now some of those that wanted to download are balking and bickering over the fact that why does Jay-Z need so much information prior to downloading the music? Case in point is rapper “Killer Mike” who tweeted:

First of all, I am not an avid follower of Killer Mike, but based on his follower base (70K current followers) Killer Mike doesn’t appear to be a heavy hitter in the space, though I may be wrong. In either case, based on what the interweb has used this tweet and other conversation that has appeared online, there is this paranoia that Jay-Z and Samsung is basically as Gawker headlines: “…a massive data mining operation” and even consideration to NSA type data collection.

Are you seriously kidding me?

Has anyone considered that fact that when you install an application on your phone there are basic areas of the phone that an app needs to access in order to function correctly? Of course there are additional areas that help for future development as well in order to provide the best experience. Next time anyone downloads a free game from Android Marketplace, pay close attention to what areas of your phone you are giving access to because in exchange for not paying anything for the app (free) you are giving up certain data.

This isn’t an uncommon thing people! Which leads me to the topic of free.

When this deal was announced and a “free” label was attributed to a “condition(s)” (1. need a Samsung phone 2. Need Android 3. Need an Application to download) how can someone honestly believe their isn’t a marketing spin to this above and beyond the ‘buzz’ that this was getting. Let’s break this down:

  1. Storage– The music needs to be stored somewhere, so the app needs access to this in order to download it to the phone.
  2. System Tools– The description on this can scare someone but it’s not uncommon to get access to this in order to have certain functions of the app run better.
  3. Your location– Depending on how the app functions, this could be a experience benefit or it could flat out data for marketing geo-targeted efforts.
  4. Network Communications– Another area of an app that will determine if I am connected to phone data or WiFi. Not uncommon for music apps.
  5. Phone Calls– Has anyone heard of Ringtones? Though this could scare a sceptic.

So let’s please stop complaining that this is a privacy scandal and a massive data mining operation. In the day and age of big data, this will be the standard that we must make a decision to accept or not. If a business transaction takes place (free product, service, transaction, etc.) happens, data will be collected. The extent of what data will be collected and for what reason needs to be clearly identified. Businesses need to understand that the customer will demand more clarification before they accept ANY data transfer.

If not, a free gold nugget will turn into a rusted bucket fast.

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Debunk Social Media Retail and Sales

post10aSince joining RadioShack 1 year ago today, I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing and hard-working talent that truly embodies the American spirit. As a Social Media practice, we’ve had some great success over the past year and modestly beginning to see our efforts bare fruit. Which leads me to some fundamental success metrics that I’ve championed since joining here at RadioShack.

When I was at an agency and then a brand like Samsung Mobile, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to directly attribute some basic e-commerce success metrics in order to tell the sales effectiveness of Social Media. I had some formulas and was able to proxy sales results, but I wasn’t convinced it was telling the exact story. I was reserved to what the client told me as the final results or reporting of brand metrics and market-share big sky numbers.

Within our Social Media Practice at RadioShack we began setting up a weekly reporting cadence where we looked at always-on metrics such as our Social Channel Health metrics around growth, engagement, click-thru’s, SOV, sentiment, etc. However, what we have been working hard on is understanding how Social Media directly impacts the unicorn of driving direct traffic and sales.

Granted, Social Media at it’s core is not a push, push, sell, sell. It is a long term meaningful relationship that you build with your fans, advocates, and customers. However, those fans and customers follow us because they have either purchased something from us in-store, online or will do so. Therefore, at appropriate times we’ve tested being able to provide offers and discounts that directly help us attribute sales and traffic for our Social Media efforts. So we are driving to make Social Media a money maker and not a money spender.

Make Social Media a money maker and not a money spender.

According to a recent study by Monetate, social is far behind in traditional website traffic vs. conversion numbers, I think it’s the wrong angle to view success.

Traffic Source Data Q4 2012

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Conversion Rate Data Q4 2012

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I saw it as the wrong angle because the above charts showcases social through the lens of traditional e-commerce where social media success is scored based on source of traffic vs action from that source of traffic. I challenge why do we need to drive directly to a website when the reward of an offer, discount, or meaningful product is available within the source itself?

In other words traffic should be driven directly to  a social media platform source. We see the conversion rates increasing to nearly 1% in Q4 2012.

A Social Offer You Cannot Refuse

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facebook.com/RadioShack

We tested this approach by leveraging an ad product from Facebook called Facebook Offers. By having the offer available around the correct context for our fans, the offers were seen as rewards and therefore we saw an enormous success in claims of the offer, in-store redemption  and more importantly the average ticket price significantly increased because we had created that relationship with the social fan and the right moment arrived to shop with us.

This is just one tactic that we’ve seen great success with over the course of the past few months that I wanted to share in order to begin to crack the myth that Social Media + Retail + Sales attribution is hard to demonstrate.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Focus on Relationships to Earn the Trust

Over the course of the past year we focused on growing our social fan base and building relationships with our fans by daily listening, engaging, and monitoring needs that we saw based on their feedback of store experience, products purchased, service inquires, etc. Our fans knew that when they engaged with us we were listening.

  1. Focus on Content to Build Long Term Attention

During a span of a few months as a brand we overhauled our content that was shared on our Facebook timeline. We were very strategic in the content that was posted to find a right balance between what is needed by the business, culturally relevant moments that fans could rally behind and some fun content that was easy to engage with. Majority of our content was planned well ahead of posting to ensure it was posted at the right day and right time for maximum visibility. It sounds like Social Media 101, but honestly I’m always surprised at how many companies both large and small still don’t plan their content out in this way.

  1. Find the Right Offer

The question in the beginning was; “what kind of offer should we provide that would resonate”? We studied previous offers that we shared within digital and in other marketing channels and we tested a few options and saw our $10 off $40 as a great long term reward for our fans. The sales ticket value was large enough to allow them to truly experience the large assortment of products that RadioShack provides. We continue to look at our performance data to understand the duration of the offer and at what points in time should the offer be available.

  1. Reward Fans with a Reason To Shop

We saw a significant increase in the average ticket sale due to the fact that when the moment came to ask our fans to come into our stores and shop with us, it was a moment of reward. The offer was exclusive to our Facebook fans. You needed to be our fan and you received an exclusive code only for you. We wanted to give a special gift not only to our fans but being a friend of RadioShack. Real friends invest more in a relationship.

Real friends invest more in a relationship.

All in all is that this process continues to be a learning experience for us and  each brand will need to understand their customer and shopping behaviors not only traditionally but via social before fully going all-in. The end result is that we are beginning to debunk the fact that Social Media not only is it an immense opportunity to build long lasting relationship and engagement with your customers and fans, but it is a money maker.

Is there a social media sales success story that you have?

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Detroit Auto Show 2013 VIP Tour

After an exciting, gadget packed CES show in Las Vegas I’m excited to have been invited by my old friends from GM to participate in a VIP Tour of the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 14-27, 2013. The Auto Show doesn’t open up to the public until Jan 19, 2013 so I will get a chance to participate in some historic unveilings, behind the scenes access and interview some of my old friends and newer Execs from the current GM family.

It will be refreshing to go back to my ‘roots’ of the Detroit Auto scene as I vividly remember every year as a kid and into my early career working for GM from 2000-2005 taking part in the “Super Bowl” of the auto world. The time of year when all of the major auto makers lifted the sheets off of their jaw dropping concept cars and showcasing innovative technology and sleek lines of their upcoming models.

Since being in the Dallas, Texas area for the past 3 years or so, I honestly can say that I’ve been looking forward to taking some personal time and go back to my hometown and absorb this shining moment for Detroit and the auto industry.

post9I’ll have the privilege of getting this behind the scenes tour of the show from my friends at GM this coming Sunday evening through Tuesday Jan 13- 15, 2013. I’ll be sharing tweets, photos and will try to get some video footage of the awe-inspiring seventh generation C7 2014 Corvette on Sunday night. I remember being at GM and working in the styling studios of Warren, Michigan when the C6 was still in clay form. Now, to see the next generation before many in the general public is truly an honor.

I’ll also get a chance to meet folks from the Chevrolet and Buick design team, for my Texas friends, 2014 Chevy SilveradoChevy Spark EV team, once again tour the GM Heritage Center in Warren (I was one of the few people that toured the facility back when I was part of the GM design team in the early 2000’s) and of course chat with the Cadillac design and marketing teams. I can’t wait to get up close and personal with theCadillac ELR. It’ll be a nice addition to my 2011 Cadillac SRX.

So feel free to follow me on my social channels as I share my thoughts, photos, and videos over the next few days. I also want to share an awesome video of the 2014 Corvette called the Conception. Beautiful.

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CES for the New Year 2013

The new year is upon us. So far, depending on how optimistic or pessimistic you are, 2013 will be a make or break year in so many ways for many Americans. It’s also fun to note that 2013 is the first time since 1987 that there are 4 different numbers in the calendar year. That in itself should give us hope that things will be different!

In my world, January provides an opportunity to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 8-11, 2013. For the tech geek in me, CES is the perfect venue to absorb all  of the new and upcoming technology. To get a hands on experience with what most consumers don’t see until months if not years after it hits the marketplace.

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This year, I will be there with our team from @RadioShack as we scope out the edgiest and most innovative technology that RadioShack will be a part of or will share with our current fan base of over 1.7MM social fans on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and more. We will focus on multiple electronics and new products that we will highlight but more importantly experience what lies ahead for electronics and technology.

Though usually CES is a grinding week of meetings and mass transit traffic, I’m hoping to capture as many golden nuggets of tech as possible, meet up with great people from the industry and capture some great content for our RadioShack fans.

Follow along on RadioShack’s Blog starting Tuesday January 8th, 2013.

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Tis The Social Season

Lately, I have been reflecting on this past year and how as a professional I deal with social media on a day to day basis and notice throughout all of my social feeds my friends and connections sharing their stories and experiences during a busy time of the year. There are various debates and opinions that are shared as well. During this Holiday season as everyone celebrates various traditional and ethnic Holidays, I reflect on the Holidays through the lens of a Christian and what has the most meaning to me. December 25th, Christmas.

It is a special day in my faith that reminds me of the miracle of the Son of God coming to this earth and becoming a person, a baby, like each and every one of us were when we came into this world. It was a special and historic gift.

There are many debates in our current culture as to how Christ is being taken out of Christmas and how Atheist groups purchase Billboards to take the Myth out of Christmas, I choose to maintain and believe in a Holiday that has been part of American tradition since the birth of our nation. During this time not only do we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, but also take a moment to reflect on the special gifts that we have in our lives that we get to cherish even more during this special day.

post7Leading up to Christmas we decided to start a new tradition with our family to watch older Christmas movies. The main movie that we watched this year was the classic story from Charles Dickens of the Christmas Carol from 1938. It was wonderful to be taken to a time where “Merry Christmas” was a delightful greeting that brought warmth and encouragement.

Too often we get caught up with everything other than the true ‘social’ meaning of Christmas. So this year, unlike years before, as a family we sent out our Christmas cards and finished our Christmas shopping early so we can reflect on what Christmas is all about. To reach out and focus on giving rather than receiving. On spending time with family and friends rather than dreading the travel and stress of the Holidays.

No matter what  you celebrate, ever since mid-to-late 4th century December 25th has been recognized as the day where we remember the story of a baby that was born to a virgin mother to be the Messiah of His people and the world.

I believe that God created me and you to have a relationship with Him. He wanted us to be with Him so He gave his only Son to be born into this world as a gift to seal that relationship and love. Because of this, it is the season of coming together, of growing our natural ability to be a social being with loved ones around us.

I want to remember this season and Christmas as a Social day in which God brought Christ and man together to have an authentic relationship with us so that we can experience that Love and share it with all of our family and friends.

Merry Christmas.

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