Jay-Z Writes New Rules for Music Millionaires

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Jay-Z says he’s writing new rules. But for whom?

The multi-millionaire rapper created a firestorm of PR by launching an innovative deal with Samsung to distribute 1 million copies of his new Magna Carta Holy Grail album through a special app exclusively on Samsung phones before the album went on sale publicly July 9. Samsung reportedly paid $5 for every album, meaning Magna Carta Holy Grail sold $5 million before a consumer purchased a single copy. Samsung became a music distributor overnight. And the Recording Industry Association of America was inspired to change the way it tracks the sale of digital albums to account for the 1 million units sold instantly.  It’s no wonder Jay-Z has been tweeting about creating #newrules, and Billboard has gushed about “Jay-Z’s New Blueprint.”

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Essentially, two big brands, Jay-Z and Samsung, are distributing music together as Jay-Z and Nokia did 10 years ago. But how repeatable is the Jay-Z model for the entire music industry? The example of Radiohead is instructive. Radiohead, another Continue reading

The Passion of Mark Zuckerberg: A Conversation with Ekaterina Walter

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Mark Zuckerberg has captured the attention of the entire world, as he proved once again with today’s market-moving, stop-what-you’re-doing-and-pay-attention announcement about the launch of Facebook Graph Search. He is, of course, famous and infamous — the symbol for a social media phenomenon that has revolutionized the way we live but also a lightning rod for an ongoing debate about individual privacy in the social age. Does Mark Zuckerbrg have anything worthwhile to teach business leaders, or is his success a unique, unteachable combination of circumstance and individual talent? In the newly published Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO, Ekaterina Walter argues convincingly for the former. In a highly readable, warm discussion about Zuckerberg and Facebook, she asserts that Zuckerberg can teach us the value of passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships. Hers is a highly instructive book that even Facebook critics — as I have been from time to time — should read.

Walter demonstrates how the rise of Facebook reflected a deeply personal passion of Zuckerberg’s for connecting people in an open world — one that gave him a single-minded focus that led to the launch of the world’s largest social network. In my favorite chapter, on the value of partnerships, Walter shows how the symbiotic relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg has made him a better leader. But since this is a book intended to help business people become more effective, Walter imparts lessons from the Zuckerberg/Sandberg relationship, such as the importance of forming business partnerships that combine imagination and execution.

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What makes the book more valuable are the lessons that Walter shares from brands that demonstrate the ethos of Zuckerberg — companies ranging from TOMS to Zappos. Her examination of businesses that demonstrate passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships elevates the book from a read for Facebook watchers to a useful guide for anyone in business.

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Social Business for the CEO

How do you talk with CEOs about social media? Speak the language of social business.  A new book by Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim, Social Business by Design: Transformative Social Business Strategies for the Connected Company, will teach you how.

Social Business by Design shows how social media can have far-reaching impacts beyond its commonly known applications for marketing and customer service. The book makes a bold assertion that companies can transform all aspects of their business through social media, including HR, Operations, and R&D. For instance, Kim and Hinchcliffe, both Dachis Group executives, discuss how organizations have successfully used social for product co-creation through a network of crowd-sourcing partners.

“Until quite recently, social media were viewed either as a consumer activity, with marketing as the most useful activity for a business to be engaged in, or something workers used inside the company to collaborate, and occasionally for product innovation or customer care,” they write. “However, social media have now infiltrated every aspect of business operations, and perspectives have expanded to consider four major and interrelated activities: customers, the marketplace, workers, and trading partners.”

It’s no wonder that Social Business by Design advocates for the development of multiple community managers – and not an overworked marketer to manage your Facebook account, but seasoned executives who understand the nuances of knowledge management (for internal community management) and relationship building (for public facing community management).

To get a better sense of why Kim and Hincliffe wrote Social Business by Design and to delve into the ideas behind the book, I asked Peter Kim to discuss the book in the interview published here. Check out what he has to say – and then get ready to embrace social business.

What inspired you and Dion Hinchcliffe to write this book? 

Dion and I have been thinking about the concepts in the book for years. He comes from a technology background, I have a marketing background, and we’re both business strategists. The world has seen the rise of all things “social” over the past decade and brands are just now going on the record to report measurable outcomes as a result of participation. Now that external social media and internal collaboration technology have matured, we felt that it was time to crystallize our thinking and experience to the world in a framework of ten fundamental principles of social business for beginners and experts alike.

Social Business by Design urges companies to act as social businesses. What is a social business? What are your one or two favorite examples right now?

This is an important question, David. Many attempts to define social business are recursive and/or focus on an activity, not an entity. An effective definition needs to describe what something is, then what it does. We believe that a social business harnesses fundamental tendencies in human behavior via emerging technology to improve strategic and tactical outcomes. From that starting point, you can then consider implications on business activities like consumer engagement, employee collaboration, and supply chain management. A great example of a social business in action is IBM; among the multitude of proof points they offer, their developerWorks community saves $100 million annually in support cost deflection.

What’s the difference between acting as a social business and adding social media features to your company’s activities such as sales and marketing?

Social media are tools that offer new approaches to sales and marketing. In isolation, use of social media doesn’t constitute social business – for example, anyone can add a Facebook page or Twitter account to a campaign. Acting as a social business requires a change in the way companies operate, including designing programs so that anyone can participate and integrating social tools and techniques deeply into the flow of work. Process and culture change are key.

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New Intel site challenges assumptions about how we shop

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An Intel Core Processor isn’t the sort of product a consumer can test drive before buying — or is it?

As described in Brandweek, my employer Razorfish recently launched for Intel a new website that makes it possible for consumers to learn more about Intel Core processors — not through a “how to” description but via an interactive experience that includes a product test drive.

According to Malia Supe, Razorfish client partner on the Intel account, the Razorfish design team was guided by a single goal: convince consumers that the right processor is key to their purchasing decision, and do so in three steps: Explore, Test Drive, and Shop. That’s because computing power ranks high on the list of considerations for buying a new device, but it’s not apparent to consumers that choosing a more powerful computer starts with choosing the right processor.

“With the new Intel Core Experience, we want to focus on the needs of mainstream computer users who might not understand or care about the role a processor plays in their purchase decision,” Malia told me. “These consumers trust Intel as a brand, but they need help understanding why the processor is important to their overall computing experience.”

So here’s how the site works: you are asked to identify the most common way you use a computer (via two simple questions). Based on your input, the site recommends the best processor for your needs. For instance, let’s say you identify music as one of your computing needs. From there, the site will ask if you need computing for listening or creating music. If you’re a listener but do not need the computing power to create content, the site might recommend, say, the the Intel Core i3. Then with a click of a “start shopping” button, you can shop for a computer or laptop with that processor.

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In all the site identifies five activities to guide your Test Drive: music, photography, home computing, entertainment, and gaming.

According to Malia, “Our approach to the site experience is something new for both consumers and the industry: put the processor ahead of the computer as a starting point for making a purchase decision. We are guiding consumers from the inside-out of the computer, which really turns on its head the conventional thinking about how we shop. Designing the experience around consumers’ passions, such as music and photography, is the key to our approach. No matter their passion, consumers can see how their behaviors drive processor recommendations, and they can identify the ideal processors for their needs.”

The team designed a simple, no-nonsense site: no fancy graphics, just a focus on quickly guiding the consumer to the right computer matched with the most suitable processor. Accordingly, the navigation moves the visitor along a linear “Explore, Test Drive, and Shop” journey.

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The clean design reflects a deliberate strategy on the part of Intel and Razorfish, Malia said. “We wanted to create an experience a consumer would not expect from a high-tech company, free of detailed specs and technology jargon,” she said. “We also wanted to demystify the processor.”

The site also employs an interesting approach familiar to web designers, the liquid layout. The size of the site retracts and expands automatically to fit the size of your computer screen, using a Flash application that Razorfish designed for Intel.

The Intel Core Processor Experience site is a natural extension of the Intel/Razorfish relationship. “Intel repeatedly asks Razorfish how we can apply innovation to redefine Intel’s role with consumers, and our team thrives in an innovation-focused environment,” Malia added.

I think the Intel Core Processor Experience site is a good example of building a brand through an experience as opposed to a message. And yet the experience need not be chock full of bells and whistles. So far early data show lots of repeat visits and dwell time especially on important areas of the site, like the shopping functionality.

If you have any questions about the work, let me know. Your comments are welcomed.

Razorfish report dispels social myths

If you’re trying to build a brand through social media or influencers, chances are you’ve experienced a steep learning curve.  Well, don’t feel so bad — you have plenty of company according to a new report launched by my employer Razorfish.

According to Fluent: The Razorfish Social Influence Marketing Report, companies still have a long way to go in order to build their brands effectively through social.  Consumers surveyed by Razorfish report widespread indifference to brands in the social world.  For instance, about 60 percent of consumers don’t bother to seek out opinions of brands via social media.

The notion that brands are finally learning the social ropes is among the Social Influence Marketing myths that Fluent dispels, as discussed by my colleague Shiv Singh, the report’s principal author and editor.  Another interesting finding: consumers believe television is more trustworthy than social media advertising when purchase decisions are made:

So what gives?

The problem is actually not all that complicated: marketers are treating social just like TV, as a broadcast mechanism.  So actually we should not be surprised that consumers trust TV more than social ads.  TV has been around for decades.  Consumers are more comfortable with TV in many respects.

We believe the answer is for companies to take advantage of the participatory nature of social and to develop an authentic social voice built on humility and genuine interest in consumers.  Comcast is trying to do so through its responsive Comcast Cares account in Twitter.  (Speaking as a consumer, I’ve used Comcast Cares to address problems with my bill, and Comcast really does care.)  Comcast doesn’t use Twitter to tell you how great it is but to participate in the conversation we’re having about Comcast. Comcast is acting like a brand that does instead of a brand that just talks.

Razorfish works with a number of companies that also demonstrate the right way to build a brand in the social world. I’ve blogged about a number of them, such as Intel, Levi’s, and Mattel.  For instance, to build brand awareness among gamers and designers, in 2008 Intel worked with Razorfish to launch the Digital Drag Race.  The Digital Drag Race challenged designers to create short films using the Intel Core i7 microprocessor.  Intel employed social media influencers (including Intel’s own Michael Brito) and media (including contest entries posted on YouTube) to generate buzz among the design and gaming community.

Fluent is also significant for introducing the SIM Score, designed to help marketers measure the effectiveness of your brand in a world where social influencers hold sway.  The SIM Score, created with the help of TNS Cymfony and The Keller Group, measures how much consumers talk about your brand and how positive or negative those discussions are.  In Fluent, Razorfish applies the SIM Score to companies ranging from GM to Capital One.  Although the SIM Score focuses on the online world, in two industries we correlate the SIM score to the offline world, too.

Check out what Advertising Age says about the SIM Score.  For other outside perspectives, blog posts from Guy Kawasaki and Dave Knox are also informative.

Let me know what you think of Fluent.  Please also visit Shiv Singh’s blog, Going Social Now, where periodically Shiv will provide deeper commentary on Fluent.

MillerCoors: a bold product launch in a recession

Recently Christine Overby and Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester Research speculated that a recession is the best time to innovate — a theme of the 2009 Razorfish Client Summit and a position taken by BusinessWeek and WIRED.  MillerCoors is the latest example of a company that proves the point.  Rather than retreat during recessionary times, MillerCoors is plowing ahead with the launch of a new product, the cold-activated can.  And my employer Razorfish is helping MillerCoors through a bold digital marketing campaign.

As reported by Stuart Elliott in The New York Times, at the heart of the campaign is a playful website, the “National Glacier Tracking Center,” that allows you to follow the progress of a dramatic cold front in the Rockies that causes (make-believe) glaciers to break free and launch themselves across the United States.  You can follow the paths of the glaciers as they work their way to major U.S. cities in time for the launch of the cold-activated can on May 15.

The message: Coors Light is pretty freaking cold.

But the microsite is just part of the effort.  Content from the site will also be reproduced as banner ads on properties such as ESPN.com, Pandora.com, and Weather.com.

A glacier menaces Manhattan

As Razorfish Creative Director Tim Sproul mentions to Stuart Elliott, the campaign is all about making an emotional connection with the consumer.  Rather than explain the innovation behind the cold-activated can, the campaign uses humor to associate Coors Light with a refreshing break from the heat.  It’s an approach that Razorfish has employed many times for MillerCoors — for instance, the creation of a comedy video series, Callin’ It a Day, designed to raise brand affinity with young men of drinking age.

MillerCoors has something in common with Intel.  Both companies have worked with Razorfish to launch new products during a recession — the cold-activated can for Coors, and the Core i7 microprocessor for Intel.

Who says innovation has to wait until an economic turnaround?

Think Social Influence Marketing and innovation during the recession

According to a new survey by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 77 percent of marketers will reduce their advertising campaign media budgets.

The ANA isn’t the only organization forecasting bad news for the marketing industry.  Forrester Research recently predicted that marketing budgets will see typical decreases of 15-to-25 percent as enterprises decrease their spend on information technology goods and services.  Basically the message to marketers and their agency partners (like my employer Razorfish) is this: we’re in a recession — deal with it.  In this blog post, I’m going to answer three crucial questions on the minds of marketers and agencies as we deal with the recession.

1. Are we witnessing an industry implosion a la 2001-02?

Times are tough, to be sure.  But we’re not experiencing the digital marketing sector meltdown of 2001-02. Back then, the industry was bloated with digital services firms, and, what’s more, they concentrated too much client work on risky dot-coms.  When the dot-coms imploded, we saw a natural winnowing out.  Today, the players are more stable, and so are their clients.  I don’t think we’re going to see a wave of business collapses as we did during the dot-com implosion.  Rather, as Razorfish Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lanctot recently stated, we can expect big players like Razorfish to continue to grow via targeted, smallish acquisitions around the world.

2. What happens to social media during a recession?

Social media used to be perceived as the marketer’s nemesis.  Now suddenly social media is the marketer’s best friend.  Why?  Because marketers realize that amid an economic downturn, it’s a lot more cost-effective to use social media channels like Twitter to build awareness among influencers.

But that doesn’t mean marketers will take a smart approach to social media.  In fact, I believe that social media will separate the savvy marketers from the followers during the recession.  The followers will settle for remedial, poorly formulated applications of social media in the name of saving money (“Let’s just post a video of our new product on YouTube, link our company announcement on Twitter, and call it a day”). But savvy marketers will take a more systematic approach to employing social influencers and media to achieve their marketing and business objectives — a strategy that my colleague Shiv Singh identified as Social Influence Marketing in 2007.

Savvy marketers will emerge from the recession more effective for having embraced Social Influence Marketing.  They will move beyond the role of strategic counselor to the enterprise (although that role is important) and become active participants in Social Influence Marketing (e.g., by blogging and joining communities that matter to their clients).  Savvy marketers will figure out how to make their company brands more authentic and true to their cultural values by listening to their own employees’ blogs and Twitter posts.  They will stop worrying about employees “subverting their brand” through the proliferation of blogs and instead learn from their own brand ambassadors.

This journey is starting now as the recession forces marketers to take a closer look at deploying social media as a cost-effective way to build their brands.

3. What’s the best way to market ourselves in a recession?

Conventional wisdom says that during down times, you place more focus on ways you can help marketers achieve efficencies and measure ROI — like the Razorfish RIAx offering, which tracks the performance of rich media.  But a recession is also a time to innovate (especially if your competitors are not) so that you’re ready to flourish when a turnaround arrives.  In the December 2008 Wired, Daniel Roth asserts, “When the economy is in turmoil, the time is ripe for ambitious innovation.”  He cites numerous examples of companies like Siebel that took advantage of slack times to generate new ideas that helped them leapfrog competitors who were wallowing in cost cutting.

Moreover, when Intel announced its new Core i7 chip as the recession became more evident last year, Don Clark of The Wall Street Journal noted that the new product roll-out was “the latest sign that development cycles run counter to business cycles at high-tech companies.”  (Razorfish helped Intel with the effort through our involvement in the Intel Digital Drag Race, which generated buzz for the Core i7 among creative designers and games.)

So why innovate during slack times?  As Sean Maloney of Intel said in The Wall Street Journal, “You recover from a recession with tomorrow’s products, not today’s.”  And according to Daniel Roth during lean times, materials and labor required to experiment can be found for less money than during boom times.

At Razorfish, we’re using the down time to experiment with new ideas, too, like the Generational Tags we developed to measure consumer behavior on social media sites.  At our 9th Annual Client Summit April 21-23 in Las Vegas, “Art of the Idea,” we’ll examine the relationship between innovation and ROI.

How are you dealing with the recession?

Intel, Razorfish launch Digital Drag Race

How do you make a computer microprocessor cool?

Intel and my employer Razorfish tackled that challenge November 17 at Dog Patch Studios in San Francisco with the public launch of Intel’s new Core i7 microprocessor — which is the most significant update to the engine that runs your personal computer since Intel launched the Pentium Pro in 1995.

Intel describes Core i7 as the fastest processor on the planet. Unlike any other processor Intel has produced, the target audience for the Core i7 consists of creative professionals — animators, game developers, videographers, and the like. The creative community represents an untapped audience for Intel. They don’t particularly care about understanding the details of how a computer chip works. So how do you reach them?

Our approach: conduct a “Digital Drag Race” November 17 during an event where the Core i7 was formally launched. We supplied two graphic designers with computer equipment powered by the Core i7 and gave them 70 minutes to create a 17-second movie that expresses the theme of “innovation.”

Getting ready for the event

Our designers, Eric from Brooklyn, New York, and Clint, from Los Angeles, squared off while journalists and industry analysts mingled with Intel executives, played with video games powered by the Core i7, and created their own virtual performance art thanks to a fun little station provided by Organic Motion.

Sitting side by side, Clint and Eric worked feverishly on their design pieces. Eric’s creation borrowed from elements of anime to tell a playful story, whereas Clint relied on a more conceptual, moody approach. After reviewing their submissions, a panel of judges awarded Eric the “judge’s choice” in front of an audience of analysts, media, and bloggers.

Clint and Eric racing

Afterward, both Eric and Clint shared with me the challenge and excitement of participating in the event.

“This was hard!” Clint indicated. “Normally I don’t design movies on a whim. I had to change my mindset to do this Digital Drag Race.”

Intel’s Pat Gelsinger discusses the Core i7

Eric agreed. “The hardest part about the Digital Drag Race was totally changing the way I way I work. Normally a designer figures out an approach to a film well in advance of execution. Making up a design as I went along inside 70 minutes was fun and challenging.”

And this is where the Core i7 came into play — making something fairly impossible happen in about one hour.

“I was impressed,” Eric told me. “The entire experience was snappy, and I could work quickly.”

Added Clint, “This Core i7 system was really good because I was able to make decisions and grab assets immediately.”

Eric and Clint after the Digital Drag Race

Razorfish will host another Digital Drag Race January 9 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Participants will be chosen from candidates who are submitting sample work. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know.

So what makes the Digital Drag Race special?:

* Making something you cannot see — a microprocessor — come to life through an experience.

* The value of tapping into community to reach a new audience for Intel. Intel and Razorfish have employed Facebook to find candidates for the Digital Drag Race, we’ve made assets available to designers on a community site, and we’ve posted submissions on a dedicated YouTube channel. Moreover, Intel and Razorfish employees have been discussing the event on Twitter, Facebook, and in their own blogs.

* The importance of integrating digital and offline.

Check out some of the reaction in the blogosphere here, here, here, and here. So what do you think of the Digital Drag Race?