Posts Tagged ‘Social Networks’

145 Years Young: Digital Innovation at The Met

June 17, 2015

In 1967, IBM founder Thomas J. Watson approached The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a then unheard of offer… to donate computers to the Museum. The Met declined. Ironically, one particular curator doubted that a computer would be a “time-saving device.”

This resistance to joining the technology-driven world may now seem as dated as a piece from the Met’s Ancient collection, given that 2011 marked the year the Met lifted its cell phone ban and redesigned its website for optimal viewing on smartphone screens. And in 2013, the Museum’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, was brought on board to digitally transform the museum experience.

Art and technology have long been bedfellows—from Michelangelo with his chisel and hammer to Ryan TrecartinSree Sreenivasan at BRITE'15 with his mixed-media video installations. Speaking at the BRITE ’15 conference, Sreenivasan, who is also formerly Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer, noted, “Any art you see today is because the artist used the right technology at the right time—the right canvas, the right marble, the right tools.”

Sreenivasan understands firsthand the challenges of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving digital world, particularly at renowned institutions with such historical significance. At BRITE ’15, Sreenivasan shared insights from digital, mobile and social lessons learned during his tenure with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explained that a consistent strategy across mobile and social media platforms, like the one employed by the Met, is pivotal to staying relevant and continuing to meet consumers’ day-to-day desires in this age of constant change and innovation.

It’s no secret that mobile is now more important than ever. In September 2014, the Met launched its first app. Sreenivasan wanted to provide Museum visitors with an app that would speak more directly to their interests, “instead of putting the whole museum in [their] pocket.” Art enthusiasts can track upcoming events, save their favorite works of art to their smartphones and tweet about their favorite exhibitions. Within two weeks of its release, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has been hailed as one of the Apple Store’s “Best New Apps.”

Though his title is Chief Digital Officer, Sreenivasan considers himself to be more of a “Chief Listening Officer,” observing the varying interests and behaviors of the institution’s 6 million museum attendees and the 30 million unique online visitors a year. “That’s a lot of listening,” quipped Sreenivasan.

One result of all that listening was a commitment to creating hashtags for each exhibition. No small feat, considering the Met currently houses over 2 million works of art. Sreenivasan credits the audience who tweeted their wishes for an intuitive way to share their museum experiences.

Sreenivasan notes that audiences are becoming increasingly “culturally curious,” eager to glimpse the behind-the-scenes of installations. The Met answered this growing need by displaying online the restoration of one of its most coveted acquisitions, Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660, by French artist Charles Le Brun.

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris) Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660 Oil on canvas; 110 1/4 × 129 1/8 in. (280 × 328 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2014 (2014.250)

Through the Met’s social channels, fans and followers were able to view this typically veiled process from anywhere in the world. “Instead of working on it in secret for a year and then putting it out, we’ve already started blogging about it.” Viewer comments have ranged from questions surrounding oil paint solvents to expressions of gratitude for the ability to witness art history in the making.

One such commenter said, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating work…. [R]eading about it does not convey the same image.”

Another asked, “How many more do we have to look forward to? I’m anxious to see the work in the gallery, but not so much that I wish you to rush, rush. I am enjoying my time!”

When it comes to choosing social media platforms, Sreenivasan advised that, depending on your business, you don’t always have to be on every network, and “there is no reason to be first [on a social media platform]. Join when it makes sense for you.” Sreenivasan reminded the audience of the potential minefield of controversy that social media platforms can become. “Almost everyone will miss everything you do until you make a mistake,” he cautioned. In the October 2014 New York Times article, Museums Morph Digitally, Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute in London, echoed this sentiment, “I learned not to underestimate museums. They were a little slow to the digital game. That’s a good thing.”

Slow to the digital game, perhaps, but well-conceived. Sreenivasan’s digital strategy at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has allowed this nearly 150 year-old institution to remain a timeless cultural mainstay while continually reinventing how it delivers art to art enthusiasts, based on their desires as they express them, from their smartphones to the front steps of the Museum itself.


The Future of Omni-Channel: Insights, Innovations & Experiences

June 17, 2015

net-a-porterIn this technology-driven age, a common challenge for companies has been integrating new technologies into their existing business models, marketing and operations. This has been said to remain true for luxury brands. Convention has held that digital commerce is for the penny-wise. Research and consulting firm McKinsey dispels this perception. It reported that nearly 50% of luxury purchases are in fact influenced by digital. Warc’s Darika Ahrens aptly notes, “High-end income earners love high-end technology.”

Recognizing this, luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, an early adopter of new technologies in retail, is leading the way in immersive experiences that touch upon all senses to resonate with these digital-savvy, affluent consumers. Speaking at the Center Emily-Culp-BRITEon Global Brand Leadership’s BRITE ’15 conference, Emily Culp, Rebecca Minkoff’s SVP of eCommerce and Omni-Channel Marketing, discussed driving customer lifetime value by delivering multi-faceted experiences derived from technology, insights and organizational structure.

In 2014, Rebecca Minkoff launched its “Connected Stores” in New York and San Francisco. Culp explained that by leveraging beacon technology and RFID tags, Rebecca Minkoff offers consumers an even more personalized, integrated experience. “When [our customer] walks into the fitting room, it Rebecca-Minkoff-Connected-Storerecognizes merchandise and gives recommendations on what to wear [the item] with.” Interactive dressing room mirrors entice customers to browse video and content, order complimentary beverages, save merchandise options to their devices via the Rebecca Minkoff app, and check in-store and online inventory. Customers can even adjust fitting room lighting to reflect the setting in which they would don the outfit (i.e. “SoHo after dark”).

In developing experiences for their omni-channel consumer, the question Culp asks herself is straightforward: “How do we flawlessly execute this omni-channel marketing in such a complex ecosystem?” At BRITE ’15, she outlined four essential points to succeed at this:

  1. Leadership: the ability to embrace smart risk and experimentation
  2. Expertise: building teams with hybrid skill-sets (e.g. creativity combined with an understanding of metrics)
  3. Linkage: breaking down the silos to align the KPIs of different departments
  4. Communication: sharing insights even when they may seem irrelevant to another team. “Maybe they can take it in a different way that another hasn’t [considered],” explained Culp.

In particular, culling data from all touchpoints is at the foundation of their approach. “A lot of people think that data is boring,” she explains. “I inherently think this is one of the most creative and fascinating parts of marketing today.” Quantitative and qualitative insights paint a holistic picture of their consumer. “[W]e can see as she traverses across these different channels what her behavior is and help her make informed decisions when it’s right for her.”

Through research, Culp’s team discovered that their consumer checks her smartphone, on average, 150 times a day, spiking at different points depending on when she’s at work using her computer or at night on her tablet. “The constant is mobile. So for us, when we’re looking at omni-channel marketing… we start with mobile.”

Culp stresses the importance of not employing technology for technology’s sake. It should have a purpose. For Rebecca Minkoff, it’s using technology to seamlessly deliver value to consumers, relieving pain-points and empowering them to make informed decisions while shopping in-store and on any device at any time, anywhere in the world.

Check out Emily Culp’s talk at BRITE ’15 to hear more on developing omni-channel innovations and experiences to drive long-term value.


Beware of Marketers Bearing Plans to Reach “Influencers”

November 17, 2009

Opinion leaders have always been a subject of interest for marketers who hope to build awareness and credibility for their brands. Whether it is Oprah Winfrey, the editors of Vogue, or a successful blogger, earning the recommendation of a third party with an established audience is a well-known route to building brands.

More recently, however, some marketers have been extolling the value of catching the eye of another kind of “influencer.” These seemingly average consumers lack any media platforms or measured audiences of their own.  Yet they are thought to act as anonymous opinion leaders who wield outsize influence in shaping the choices of friends and colleagues who turn to them for advice.  The iconic example of the influencers in the crowd is the East Village hipsters who began wearing Hush Puppies in the 1990s and may have helped spark a return to popular fashion for that dormant shoe brand.

Many consumer trends do spread by word of mouth, and in a break-out trend, there may indeed be some mouths that turn more heads than others.  The problem, however, comes in assuming that you can identify a trend’s influencers in advance and target them for marketing. That was the warning in a speech given Friday to the Marketing Association of Columbia by Duncan Watts, principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research and director of their Human Social Dynamics group.

Watts called the pursuit of unnamed influential consumers the “Holy Grail” of modern marketing and, much like the original grail, the object of an impossible quest.  Based on recent scientific research into social networks and consumer influence, Watts raised several critiques, including:

“Influencers” are hard to define. The term “influencer” is used interchangeably to describe mass media voices like Oprah, celebrity brand endorsers, and anonymous opinion leaders (three very different models of influence). Without being defined, the term becomes a catch-all for any fan of a well-liked brand.

Many different factors may give weight to an “influencer.” A customer may wield influence due to their expertise in a subject, their gregarious personality, their ample network of relationships, or their social status.  In different contexts and for different brands, almost anyone might become the “influencer” in a crowd.

Cognitive bias causes us to give too much weight to “influencers.” We all remember how East Village hipsters started a craze for Hush Puppies; no one remembers the dozens of other fashions that hipsters adopted which never became popular with others.

Consumer influence may, in fact, spread more like a forest fire. Small fires start in wilderness every day. When one of them turns into a raging forest fire, the difference is not in the type of spark that ignited it, but in the conditions of the forest (recent drought, density of fallen timber, angle of slopes, prevailing winds). Similarly, trends that spread quickly may do so because of broad conditions within customer networks that are receptive to the trend – not because of a special type of customers who were the first to adopt.

So is all hope lost for influencing customer networks?

Not necessarily.  Watts and his colleagues continue to research the rich data on social influence now becoming available thanks to technologies like Twitter.

In the meantime, he advocates that marketers pursue a strategy of launching many ideas into the marketplace at once, measuring the response in networks carefully, and being ready to respond in real-time if one of your ideas starts to catch fire.  Clothing retailer Zara, for example, makes no effort to divine what will be “the” color for each upcoming clothing season.  Instead, Zara starts producing products in every color it can imagine, measures what catches on in its stores, and uses its famously nimble supply chain to instantly shift gears and pump out more of that season’s hit.

As the availability of real-time customer data grows, more and more businesses may be able to follow Zara’s approach.

In the meantime, remember that customer advocates are a powerful driver for any brand.  Just don’t base your strategy on thinking you can figure out in advance who your most influential customers will be.


This post originally posted by David on the blog at:

Brands Both Big and Small Can Inspire Their Community

August 19, 2009

I want to highlight a good article posted last week by one our BRITE ‘09 attendees, Abby Strunk, the Director of Marketing and Communications for BBYO, Inc., a non-profit Jewish youth organization. (We are glad you found value in the conference, Abby).

In describing her marketing efforts at BBYO, Abby writes about the trends she heard this year while attending BRITE ’09 and other business and marketing conferences. A common message formed around the idea that a brand’s success will rely, more and more, on inspiring its audience to become “evangelists” for the brand.

What is striking is the realization she came to from listening to various marketing gurus and the efforts of major brands (with their major marketing budgets).

Participating in the conferences referenced earlier is an interesting experience. I have the thrill of Interacting with experts like marketing powerhouses Seth Godin (author of The Purple Cow and Tribes) and Jeff Jarvis (author of What Would Google Do?) and big brands like McDonald’s and American Express with multi-million dollar advertising budgets. While intimidating, I couldn’t help but to feel that we were the lucky ones. We – a Jewish non-profit – had something that some of the world’s best known brands were desperately trying to obtain. We actually have a community of people who have a deep passion and affinity for our “product” – an audience that is willing to take decisive action on behalf of the brand because they want to. The evangelism is authentic.

Stories and case studies from big brands tend to dominate the media, so it is refreshing to see Abby remind us that organizations and brands of all sizes need to adapt to the changes being created by our digital culture. And that, in fact, these changes can be encouraging to smaller players since the closer connections they and their stakeholders have with each other may bring them proportionally greater benefits.

Be brave enough to relinquish control of your brand. Put control in the hands of your community. They will reward you by moving your mission forward.

Right on, Abby!


This post originally posted by Matthew on the BRITE Conference blog at:

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