Today, I took the stage at Internet Week NY to talk about Brands in a Social World. As attention continues to shift to social globally and brands are more popular than ever, the enterprise needs to build systems to scale their operations. I discussed that in detail as part of my five takeaways for the audience that included:
You can watch it in its entirety here:
And, the Q&A session here:
Noah also took the stage on Tuesday for the Internet Week NY panel: How New York Brands are Reinventing Social with our friends Linda Boff of GE, Dipayan Gupta of New York Life, Abe Burmeister of Outlier and moderated by Digiday Editor in Chief, Brian Morrissey. It was a great session and you can check it out here:
And, tonight, we’ll be hosting a special version of our monthly community happy hour SPEAKEASY in partnership with The Webby Awards.
If you have any questions about the above, please get in touch.
Starting Friday the tech world was abuzz with talk of Yahoo! buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion. At the time it seemed like just a rumor, but it quickly coalesced, ending with a press release this morning trumpeting Yahoo!’s “promise not to screw it up“.
We’ve been working with Tumblr since we started and have been one of Tumblr’s A-List partners since they introduced the program in November of last year. A number of our brands are quite active and successful on the platform including American Express OPEN Forum, Denny’s and GE.
Anyway, since everyone is discussing the news this morning I thought I’d share some of my thinking around what this means for Yahoo!, Tumblr and brands.
First off, there is one main and simple reason Y! is buying Tumblr: It’s an entree into social and one of only seven global social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and G+ being the others). With all consumer attention moving to social it would be impossible for Y! To compete without a car in the race.
With that said, there are a few specifics Tumblr brings that are worth pointing out:
Overall this is a big win for social and further proof that marketing is continuing to move towards real-time content creation at the intersection of brand voice and cultural relevance. While everyone is focused (and concerned) that we’re going to start seeing Yahoo! ads on Tumblr, I actually think the opposite is much more likely. As more and more brands come onto Tumblr as organic content creators and pay to promote their content, Yahoo! will find a way for this original brand content to live in the context of the broader platform, giving marketers expanded reach and engagement.
Overall a big congrats to the Tumblr team. It’s awesome to see continued success for NYC startups. We’re excited to continue to work together and see what’s in store.
I was also on WSJ TV this morning talking about the sale. Check out the video:
As part of building a strong and transparent culture, one thing we like to do a lot is take questions from everyone at the company. We are still very young, growing quickly and things are changing fast. We try and make decisions after a lot of thought and we also try to do what is right for our company, our employees and our clients. Nothing else really matters.
Over the past few weeks I read, Lean In, a book I have heard a lot of buzz in the office written by Sheryl Sandberg, whose career I’ve always admired, albeit from afar.
The book was great, and while it is primarily around gender equality in life and the workplace, a very serious topic and one that we can all stand to learn more about, I want to use some of the lessons from Lean In as it relates to the lessons Sandberg learned in scaling a growing technology company. She helped build two of the most impressive companies of our time: Google and Facebook. Her lessons from the book help explain why we make some of our decisions, what it takes to work at Percolate and why we will always do what is right for our clients.
Lesson 1: The most important thing to look for in joining a company: Fast Growth.
In Chapter 4 of her book she talks about wanting to join a technology company. It was 2002 and she had a long list of companies in Silicon Valley that were recruiting her and she had to make a decision on where she was going to go. At the very lowest priority of her organized spreadsheet, because of vague title and undefined role, was a company called Google. She went to then CEO Eric Schmidt and explained her dilemma. The other companies had her managing big teams, with big titles, a defined role and goals. At Google she was the first “business general manager”. When she said this to Eric Schmidt he responded with what she calls, “maybe the best career advice i ever got”:
He covered my spreadsheet with his hand…… Then he explained to me the only criterion that mattered for picking a job was — Fast Growth. When companies grow quickly, there are more things to do than there are people to do them. When companies slow down or stop growing, there is less to do and too many people to do them. Politics and stagnation set in and everyone falters.
As leaders inside the company our goal is to deliver fast growth. If there is fast growth you can grow as people, you can be challenged and you will learn a ton that you can put on your resume as a signal that you know how to build that kind of business.
From Sheryl’s advice, we have to be conscious of two things as we grow our company:
The good news is that most of the time, these two things are actually just one. By that I mean politics are a direct result of slow growth. This is generally why big companies become political, they are slowing down, or more importantly, slowly slipping into irrelevancy. It’s a land grab, fewer important positions and people can get nasty.
As a company we have to always keep our eyes on the opportunities that will drive fast growth, even if they are something we never conceived of doing before. One of the great things my co-founder Noah has taught me is how to question things that I’ve felt 100% sure about. Breaking down what I perceived as absolutes has helped me think in ways I’ve previously thought weren’t possible. This type of thinking has permeated our culture and I believe it has helped us find opportunities. A good exercise to challenge ourselves with is to ask: what is something that we absolutely wouldn’t do as a company and then try to actually do it.
Lesson 2: It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder
Chapter 4 of Lean In is entitled, It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder, and in the opening of the chapter she tells a great story from her 2012 Harvard Business School commencement speech:
When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I knew her kind of socially. And she called me and said, I want to talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook. So I thought about calling you, she said, and telling you all the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that. So instead I want to know what’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it. My jaw hit the floor. I’d hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that. Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Lori’s case. I said, you’re hired. My biggest problem is recruiting and you can solve it. So Lori changed fields into something she never thought she’d do, went down a level to start in a new field and has since been promoted and runs all of the people operations at Facebook and has done an extraordinary job.
Lori saw Facebook as a jungle gym and she took on the challenge and executed in a fast growth environment. There was no clear ladder and that was perfect, it allowed her to fix the biggest challenges the company was facing and it allowed her to take on additional responsibility within the company.
These two lessons are a great way to think about Percolate. We want to grow fast, we want to set people up to succeed and we want to create multiple paths for our employees to grow.
Now with those two lessons behind us, let’s shift the focus to the future and our clients.
To quote William Gibson, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
We believe this quote is true for our clients and we have done our best to lay it out. Stock & Flow. Intersection of cultural relevance and real-time. Scale, Pace and Pattern of media creation has forever changed. Content is the lifeblood of social. And oh yeah, there is this: For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected. Where will they be connected? On social platforms.
We love the future, we want to live there but it does us no good to live in the future alone. We want to evenly distribute the future because we can all see it and we aren’t going to let any barriers to that future stand in our way.
For our clients and from our site entitled, How We Work:
EVERY STEP OF THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE IS CONSTANTLY EVALUATED. CLIENT HAPPINESS IS WHAT DRIVES US.
With our clients, we take this quote as literally as possible. They are coming from a world where messages lasted months, not minutes. Where reach was defined by cities, not continents and where content was a very expensive story that ended after 30 seconds instead of a continuous, pull-to-refresh, stream of media. The process to build these bridges aren’t easy and we know that. But we also know if we don’t build that bridge, someone else will.
Nothing matters more to me than our employees and our clients. We are aggressive in our viewpoint on where we see the world of marketing going and how we are going to get there. If you like what I’ve said above you will most likely also like working with us.
In the spirit of NYC’s bike to work week, here’s some guidance around buying your first bike. Like most things you read on the internet, please take this with a grain of salt, but know that I’ve been riding a bike to work for about 7 years (5 in SF and 2 in NY).
First of all, get excited!
Riding a bike is incredibly freeing. What used to be a 45 minute G train ride from Williamsburg to Prospect Park is now a 25 minute cruise with plenty of scenic brownstones in between. And with the immutable presence of fried chicken in this town, we could all benefit from more exercise.
But aren’t bikes expensive? Not really! Depending on whether you want a used or new bike, you can find yourself a reliable steed in the range of $500. If you consider a monthly metro pass is $116 or even the cost of owning and maintaining a car (gulp!), bikes offer incredible value.
Buying a Bike
Option one – go analog (also known as, support your local bike shop):
Physically going into a bike shop and actually checking out the models is a great way to get to know what you like and see what’s out there. Bicycling.com recommends calling two or three different shops to get a sense of the styles and brands they carry in advance to save time. You can also get a sense of how amenable the shops are to first-time bike owners.
Two bike shops I’ve found to be very good are Velo in the East Village and Bicycle Habitat in Soho. Even if you don’t end up buying your bike there, you can patronize these shops by picking up a light, or a lock there.
For a great first commuter bike, I recommend going single speed. New York is relatively flat, and single speed bikes are easy to maintain with less moving parts to break or have stolen. A bike with a flip-flop hub will enable you to switch to fixed gear. Even if you have greater aspirations of going from being commuter to a proper cyclist, the single speed will carry you through many a long ride up the Westside Highway or around Prospect Park.
Option two – the Internet:
Once you begin to familiarize yourself with brands, you can read up on various reviews. Bike forums are chock full of information and personal feedback around different brands so its easy to start to learn how models stack up in terms of quality.
Option two and a half – Craigslist is your friend:
Once have an understanding of what brands are good and pricing, you can take a much more targeted approach to your Craigslist search. For someone on a budget, Craigslist can be a great path to getting value. Just understand like anything else from Craiglist, caveat emptor.
In my experience – some of the most important factors that play in when owning a good commuter bike are having a good comfortable seat, good wheels and durable tires (saving the headache of a flat).
For seats I really like the Fizik Arione, but everyone’s ‘seats’ are different. You can always go the route of the classic Brooks saddle, but don’t forget the not so classic Nylon chain to help keep it from being stolen.
As far as helmets, my number one recommendation is to wear one. After that, buy something comfortable and not too expensive, because that way you can lock it to your bike without feeling nervous. Giro makes a nice range at accessible prices and if you are looking for something more urban check out Bern.
Comfortable sneakers with a hard rubber sole like Vans, Superga or Chrome will do you right. If you’re aiming for a bit of a higher rung on the style ladder, maybe a good wedge sole will catch the discerning lense of The Sartorialist
Overall – Get a bike you like, that feels good to ride and you’ll be excited to hop on in the morning, or after a long day of work.
So, I’ve Bought a Bike. Now What?
My Go to Streets for Navigating Manhattan are:
North: 1st ave, 6th ave & 8th ave
South: 2nd ave, Broadway & 9th ave
West: Spring Street , 9th St. & 21st St.
East: Grand St, Stanton St., Bleecker St. & 20th St.
A PDF of the 2013 Bike Map for New York can be found here.
Tips & Tricks?
Don’t be a jerk. Running red lights into oncoming traffic, darting in front of pedestrians and riding the wrong way is a fast path to getting hit, or at the least bad karma. And don’t get frustrated with salmon, those impatient cyclists or even roller bladers who feel the need to go the wrong way in the bike lanes.
Reward your new purchase by riding to Ferdinando’s in Red Hook and having their focaccia sandwich. It’s not easy to get to by subway and you’ll never look at ricotta cheese the same way again.
There are no shortage of jaywalkers, double parked delivery vans, and errant food carts to complicate your ride, but if you ride with respect and keep aware of your surroundings, you’ll do great and have a blast. Now get out there and enjoy yourself!
Questions? Say hi on Twitter. I’m @brosbeshow.
Last week I wrote a piece for Forbes titled Social’s Impact On Scale, Pace And Pattern, And What Brands Can Learn From It.
Here’s the intro:
A few months ago I was asked to put together a presentation about the future of social. As would be expected, I was pretty overwhelmed with the topic and turned it over and over in my head trying to figure out the best way to approach the question. Whenever I find myself in a situation like this I turn to my personal intellectual hero and the person I believe to be the greatest media thinker of the 20th Century, Marshall McLuhan. While he wrote long before the web existed, his theories around how media evolves and interacts with culture are more relevant than they’ve ever been.
At the heart of McLuhan’s theories is his most famous saying: “The medium is the message.” Though like most things McLuhan it requires a fair amount of unpacking, at its core is the idea that we’re affected more by our interactions with the medium itself than we are with the content we experience on it. “The ‘message’ of any medium or technology,” McLuhan explained, “is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” In his book “Understanding Media” he goes on to give an example: “The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.” In other words, it realigned personal expectations and culture and expanded the definition of local.
What then, I asked myself, are the changes in scale and pace and pattern that have been introduced by social and what can brands learn from those changes?
Some of my best ideas come from the most unusual places. Often it’s during a run around NYC or while I’m in the final resting pose in a yoga class. Typically, it’s a new reference point that gets me out of my familiar frame of mind and helps me look at something from a different angle. It’s almost as if that moment of shifted focus slows everything else down and allows me to surface combined ideas that might have seemed disconnected minutes earlier.
The principle that great ideas spawn from unusual recombinations isn’t a new one. For a long time people have pointed out that the best ideas are often born out of the collision of seemingly separate things. Cooking, for example, has exploded as a hotbed for this sort of recombining. Just one episode of Top Chef will open your eyes to a multitude of out-of-the-box, strangely mouth-watering concoctions. Even a stroll through a gourmet grocery store will expose you to odd, yet tasty, pairings, such as bacon-infused chocolate or cheese lined with edible ash.
The opportunities for these collisions only seem to increase in urban centers where there’s both high diversity (of people, industries, and ideas) and little space, making it more likely for people and ideas to meld.
In college I took a class called “Paris, Montreal, and New York” that spoke to this idea specifically by highlighting some of the literary geniuses and visionaries of the Beat Generation, such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cohen, and the cities that helped shape them. These three men frequently traveled between these three global capitals of art, music and literature, and some of their best ideas emerged from these diverse cultural immersions and intersections.
All of this came to focus for me lately when I was reading Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From.” The thesis of the book, in essence, is that ideas and innovations stem from unusual recombinations of tangential environments and from a slow build of inputs. It’s not those “Eureka!” moments where great ideas emerge, it is an amalgamation of experiences that shed light on a new way of looking at things. In fact, Johnson often cites urban centers as major sources of new ideas because of the close proximity of diverse subcultures.
So what does this have to do with Percolate and content? Ideas often spark from unconventional permutations of inputs. This is where great ideas and innovations come from and this same rule applies to content. At Percolate, we believe that in order to be a good content creator, you have to be a good content consumer. To do that, we’re helping brands identify the diverse set of sources that make up their interest graphs. The point of this is to help them combine ideas to create new, highly-relevant content. That’s because like great innovations, great real-time content lives at the intersection of seemingly disparate ideas: In this case brand voice and cultural relevance. The best brands make that connection the most effectively, and to do that means paying attention to the world around them all the time.
Is your brand looking for new sources of inspiration? If so, please get in touch.
Have you ever tried to learn a new skill that you know to be valuable, but you can’t find the motivation to follow through? I’m remembering a time when I tried to learn piano and harmonica and guitar, but not only was I mediocre, that’s generous, there was no concert, no group band, no end goal that encouraged me to trudge through the difficulties of learning a new skill. Although, I’d like to argue that I’m simply better at enjoying music more so than I am at making music.
If you read my last post about interning at Percolate, you’ll know that I have been learning about marketing and branding–both new skills with definite end goals of getting better at my job. Since getting hired full-time, I have been assisting in measuring our clients success across platforms, a process that requires an in-depth understanding of the posting and engagement metrics of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, of our tools at Percolate, and of the programming design of our tools.
As was true when I started interning at Percolate, I realized that once full-time I would have to learn a new skill in order to be better at what I do. Fortunately, Percolate is swimming with intelligent people, so I asked our ever-knowing product manager Stacy where I could a) stay updated on the changes made to social platforms’ APIs and interfaces, and b) learn the basics about markup language and coding. She gave great direction.
What is most thrilling about learning to read and speak these languages (forgive me for continuing the language metaphor from my last post) is that there is an end goal: delivering report cards to clients. In order to confidently deliver the data on these report cards, I need to understand how Facebook formats a user ID and a post ID in a single URL. If Twitter makes changes to its API, I need to know what effect that will have on the data we can deliver to clients. By understanding basic markup language I can read raw stats on a post or a user. And once I know these things, I can comprehend the capabilities and limitations of our tools in relation to the platforms that are most important to Percolate. When I encounter a problem or a difficulty, I have the resources–both in people at Percolate and in what I’ve already learned–to power through to find the bug, understand it and fix it.
Unlike piano, I’m still learning about changes to social platforms and markup language. The goal of delivering report cards is real, and they keep coming in. So whenever a developer on Team Percolate feigns being impressed by my work, I take a little victory lap to celebrate that I’ve learned a new skill. And I have to say–it’s pretty fun.
Sound fun? We’re hiring. Come join us.
I began working at Percolate in October after having spent the beginning of my career working for a Fortune 500 company in Columbia, SC. While there, I learned sales, interfaced daily with clients and was exposed to a variety of procedural training. I quickly realized that the job, culture and city weren’t for me.
I’d lived and worked temporarily in New York a couple of different times and wanted to move back permanently. I’d always admired technology companies and been drawn to social media so I started applying to startups that looked interesting and would give me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.
My search led me to Percolate where we’re building multiple products for marketers to create efficiencies in content marketing. Historically, social content creation has been a very manual process from ideation to managing content calendars to publishing across multiple social channels. Percolate’s technology creates a system around the content creation cycle to strip away inefficiencies by streamlining that process and rooting it into software.
Most recently we’ve partnered with Getty Images and Aviary, aiding in ‘Art & Copy,’ to visually inspire clients, mitigate risks associated with copyright law and allow for creative image editing.
My prior experience helped me implement a process-driven approach to my work. From prospecting new clients to sales outreach to client tracking, I’m constantly thinking about how to reach my goals efficiently and effectively, and that always involves products. I use products to systematize my sales process and drive efficiencies.
One product that has helped me manage tasks better is Asana. It helps me self-impose deadlines and provides structure to my weeks.
There are many other tools in my toolbox like Sparrow, Evernote and others that I’ll share in the coming months which are all meant to create a seamless workflow and reduce frictions. If you have any products you think I’d be interested in to help drive more efficiencies, please get in touch at Michael.Harris@Percolate.com.
Welcome to The Friday Five, curated reads about media, advertising, content marketing and technology from @Percolate.
It’s All About Content
Yesterday, Facebook announced Home instead of a dedicated phone like many anticipated. The Verge reports that everything is full-screen, incredibly visual and will be available to select Android devices on April 12.
Twitter Enters Wall Street Through Bloomberg’s Side Door
The New York Times’ DealBook looks at Twitter’s debut on Bloomberg terminals today. This comes on the heels of the Security Exchange Commission outlining rules for disseminating corporate information via social media services like Twitter.
Who’s Putting Ads on Instagram?
It isn’t Facebook, but instead the celebrities and brands that have the largest audiences on the platform.
Brands Favor Social Shares Over Likes
Executives from Ford, JetBlue and Boylan Soda weigh in on the value of likes, comments and shares for Chris Heine’s ADWEEK story.
Percolate + Getty Images + Aviary = Awesome
On Monday, we announced our partnerships with Getty Images and Aviary to help brands create more visual content quickly, and TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha covered the news. We also announced our LinkedIn partnership via our blog on Thursday. Let us know what you think.
LinkedIn has been on quite a tear for the last few months. Beyond the significant product and interface changes, they’ve made a full-on commitment to content. It’s seen in their influencer program, which has been amazing to follow and read, as well as their commitment to groups and company pages, the latter of which saw its first company (HP) break 1 million followers in late-February. This is clearly exciting for us, as we believe content is the lifeblood of social and LinkedIn is the leading platform for professionals. But beyond that it’s fascinating to watch a platform with 200 million global members ship new product at the speed and quality they have.
All of that is a somewhat long and glowing preamble to announce that we’re excited to be the newest member of the LinkedIn Social Media Management program. Our newfound status means that clients will be able to publish, target and track posts on their LinkedIn company pages right inside Percolate. This has been the single most-requested feature from our B2B clients over the last six months and now they’ll be able to publish, manage and analyze across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr using the Percolate platform.
To show off the functionality we’ll use Tidy B2B, a fictitious cleaning company catering to small and large enterprises. To set the stage, Tidy B2B is on the (imaginary) cutting edge of eco/cleaning solutions and using Percolate to raise status around their green, design and innovation practices. Based on what the system knows about them, Percolate bubbles up a story about the London Underground’s carbon-reducing campaign that seems relevant to the brands interests, messaging and UK-heavy audience. The Tidy B2B community manager is inspired to create a post around the story and decides to push it out to their LinkedIn company page.
Since Percolate has already scraped the article’s keywords, the system is able to use those to recommend images that the brand owns or has the right to license through our partnership with Getty Images. Tidy B2B selects one, crops it and adds a bit of context for their LinkedIn audience about why this is relevant to the Tidy B2B mission.
As you can see below, Tidy B2B’s has now published an original piece of content on their LinkedIn company page all within Percolate. Percolate handled the entire workflow from inspiration to creation, editing, stakeholder approvals and publishing.
If you have any questions about our LinkedIn integration or would like to see a demo, please get in touch.
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