DigitalPR With Celestine Achi: July 2015

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10 STRATEGIC STEPS FOR THE DIGITAL CMO OF TOMORROW

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2015 1 comment

Friday, July 31, 2015

 
The functions of digital media have and continue to transform into that which was never anticipated. Most founders of social networks are surprised with the diverse and astounding ways users are able to engage and utilize their platform.

In the developing world, the internet has led to solutions and services even more forward thinking than those in advanced nations, further highlighting the transformative nature of these networks and their capacity to incite change to promote the kind of development countries like Nigeria need.

The adoption of digital marketing as professional tools by CMO’s seems to be fraught with some intimidation, plenty of procrastination and occasional arrogance. Interestingly, no matter which side of the divide you’re on, it is more than ever difficult to deny the impact that digital media has on modern business practices and the opportunity it poses for savvy CMOs to generate broader brand awareness and equity.

Digital has in more than one way disrupted the traditional communication and marketing channels. On the old model, companies were solely focused on achieving a sale and that’s where customer interaction used to end. Retention, Perception and Advocacy were by-products rather than the aim. Today, it’s now about going the extra mile, and caring about the digital community and stakeholders while having strategic thoughts on where digital economy is headed.

Based on my several interactions and selective surveys with some CMOs, I’ve put together ten key commitments that will help CMOs of all stages of digital media leverage on the power that the digital and social media enables.

This content highlights the next strategic seven steps that the smart and digital CMOs must take in order to create a winning and secure marketing strategy.

Re-Think Visibility: As google continue to grow revenue from online ads and AdWords, it is now more difficult for your brand to appear within the top organic listings. Over the years we have seen Google continuously increase the average price an advertiser has to pay for someone to click on their advert and this isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

If one of your top lead sources is Google natural, you need to take action now. Google are continuously making changes to their algorithms making it harder for websites to rank. Just take a look at the Google Algorithm Change History timeline featured on Moz to see just how many updates Google are making each year.

Don’t let Google catch you out. Diversify your marketing channels so you are not reliant on Google!

Have A Blended Strategy: Having a blended marketing strategy is an absolute necessity in today’s digital age. As mentioned, you need to ensure you are not focusing all your efforts in one channel. In addition, certain core marketing channels need to integrate with other channels in order to get the most out of them. Firstly you need to look at your overall marketing strategy and ask yourself the follow questions:

Diverse
  • Do you have several different marketing channels?
  • Are they the right channels for you?
  • When did you last add or remove a channel?

Goal Focused
  • Do you fully understand what you are looking to achieve from each channel?
  • Is your goal to drive leads, sales, signups, etc
  • Are the goals different per channel?

Measured
  • Are you tracking the performance of each channel?
  • Can you tell what is working and what is not?
  • Do you know how long to wait before switching off a channel if it is not working?

Cost Effective
  • Have you worked out what your target Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is?
  • What is the highest amount you can afford to pay for a conversion?
  • Are each of your channels currently delivering within that limit?

Secure
  • Could you afford to lose one of your top performing channels?
  • How many channels are responsible for driving the bulk of your business?
By answering these questions, you should be able to identify where you need to focus your time and effort; which will help establish where you’ll receive the quickest wins and if any changes to your strategy are needed.

The first marketing channel I am going to use is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). On page optimisation is now more important than ever before, but the links and citations to a site still have a big influence on your rankings (whatever Google would have you believe).

Content Marketing: Create compelling contents that are useful, targeted and sharable. By doing this, you are focusing your efforts on getting the attention of your target audience and using them to generate links and citation naturally. Not to mention driving people to your site who could potentially buy from you, regardless of Google.

Once you have created the content, you should be using social media to seed that content within your target audience. Social media platforms are fantastic for giving the content you create a nice push to grow the awareness of that piece. You are simply pointing people in the direction of your content, but if the content is not well thought-out, targeted, interesting or entertaining, people will not share it.

Re-marketing is a very cost effective way of keeping your brand in the forefront of people’s minds. If a potential customer visits your website, but does not complete your desired goal, you can use remarketing to target that customer with a branded advert when they are searching on other websites. This helps to keep you fresh in the customer’s mind, helping to drive them back into your website to convert when the time is right.
White Space Marketing. This is where you don’t follow the crowd, you look for angles that your competitors have not taken and you aim to do something completely different that has not been done in your industry before. For me this is the most effective way to market your business for two reasons:
  • You can be positioned as a market leader within your niche
  • You can uncover a new audience that may not have been marketed to in your niche before

When you are looking for new marketing ideas, one of the first places companies tend to look is at their competitors. You see that they are doing something that looks good and it is logical to assume that if you do the same or something similar, you will be able to get results. This may be the case in some instances, but as mentioned, you don’t know what results your competitor actually got from that marketing campaign, so you could be spending time creating something similar that may not actually work.

You often see examples of companies following the crowd when it comes to competition giveaways. I have lost count how many times I have seen people giving away iPads to the lucky winner! The trick is to look for things that your competitors are not doing, test it on a small scale initially, measure the success and if it works roll it out on a larger scale.

Master LinkedIn: Misconceptions regarding the motivation for being active on social platforms haunt CMOs. Among them, “LinkedIn is only for job hunting,” and “Twitter may be great for listening to our customers, but it’s not an executive-communication tool.” The proliferation of platforms has compounded the challenge of where to focus their efforts. CMOs need to concentrate on LinkedIn plus one other. Why? LinkedIn is now a top destination for industry news, and the search volume on the platform demonstrates that it is now a critical platform for finding solutions to pressing business issues as well as an essential platform for any CMO to master.

Your choice of a second platform is up to you. Working in business-to-business? Create lots of presentations? Investigate SlideShare. Love video? Consider Youtube, Vimeo, Vine or Instagram. Focusing on your preferred platform enables you to build expertise and influence.

Focus on your expertise: The burden of having something “interesting” to say is the No. 1 obstacle preventing CMOs from going deep on social, especially Twitter. Don’t be paralyzed by that—you have reached the pinnacle of your careers based on your professional judgment, and the audience is wide and deep enough in social that an interested one will find you. Decide what you want to be famous for—your specialization could be based on an industry vertical (e.g., software) or aspect of marketing (branding, ROI). Once you have identified your focus area(s), communicate that in your profiles description and use your specialty as a filter for the insights your share on social platforms. While it is critical to demonstrate a point of view (you are a marketing leader), don’t feel that you must originate every insight. Be generous about sharing views of colleagues and others in your category. Your followers will appreciate your ability to curate relevant data and views.

Find your teacher: Digital media is changing rapidly. This context has caused many CMOs to abdicate from using the platform because they feel they are either late to the party or they can’t keep up. The solution is to find a good teacher. The best teachers understand your industry as well as the mechanics of the platforms. They help accelerate learning and, most important, build your confidence—like a coach. A novel approach is to assign a mentor at your firm to guide and compel you to participate on social. Selecting a mentor who knows your industry and your involvement sends a very powerful signal to the firm about your commitment to learning from others.

Do it yourself: By the time many marketers reach the role of CMO, they have learned to build functional organizations, delegate tactics and focus on strategy. Digital media, however, is a contact sport—you cannot truly appreciate its nature without actively participating. I’m not suggesting that you take over the role of social media manager for your organization—I’m recommending that you use the technology yourself. Above all, avoid the temptation to delegate managing your personal updates to a team member. Authenticity notwithstanding, by delegating social, you forfeit the chance to be personally involved in the conversation in your market, and the opportunity to influence it.

Integrate social into your daily routine: We seem poised for more institutions, publishers, and businesses large and small to adopt and focus on the email newsletter as a way to better connect to their audiences. But as with any form of media, it’s not only important to focus on the content being delivered, but to consider how this media can be used to develop a new stream for revenue.

PRCAN, Cihan Group Set for Digital PR Workshop

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2015 12 comments

Thursday, July 30, 2015






Press Release

July 30, 2015
PRCAN, Cihan Group Set for Digital PR Workshop

A three-day seminar tagged, “Digital PR and Social Media Communications Master Class”, organised by a leading digital marketing consulting firm, Cihan Group in collaboration with the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), will hold in September this year at the highbrow Protea Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

In a joint statement by the partners, the intensive programme will run from September 9 to September 11, 2015.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cihan Group, Mr. Celestine Achi, said the workshop, which is the first-of-its-kind in Nigeria in the social media era, will focus intensively on a set of competencies. He said: “The capacity building initiative is designed to develop practical and enduring expertise covering the full range of concepts, skills and platforms required to unlock the power of the digital media to support individual’s reputational goals.”

According to Achi, who is a new media expert, workshop participants would learn to create Digital PR strategy, engage social enterprise, provoke multimedia buzz, utilise digital PR tools, optimise online space for search and excel in digital crisis communications.

The modules are carefully planned and designed for communications, public relations and marketing professionals whose roles include engagements with stakeholders through online social media, while learning is pitched at a level to help individuals develop strategic approaches and sophisticated techniques.




To facilitate hands-on learning, each participant is expected to come with a wi-fi enabled laptop or tablet. In the course of the workshop, participants will cover the core skills and concepts of strategic Digital PR and Social Media Communications.

At the end of the training programme, participants are expected to go home with Digital PR certificates from PRCAN, free access to Cihan Digital Marketing tools, a social media strategy plan to integrate into each sponsoring firm’s marketing mix and one-month post certification digital PR support.

PRCAN president, Mr John Ehiguese said the professional group endorsed the workshop in line with its commitment to the deepening of knowledge of its members and public relations professionals on the client side. “In this digital age, it is imperative to continuously update the skills of those charged with the responsibility of managing communication with diverse stakeholder groups,” Ehiguese stated.

With assurance to deliver quality training during the three-day event, Achi who is also the Chief Digital Marketing Strategist of Cihan Group, is leading a team of experts in their own rights to the workshop. They include Mr. O. C. Vince, an award winning author, facilitator, public speaker, a certified trainer with no less than 15 years corporate experience and achievements in three continents.

On the team also are: Messrs Chuddy Oduenyi and Muyiwa Akintunde. A part-time lecturer at the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Oduenyi is Managing Director of Compact Communications, a leading PR consulting firm. He was Head of Marketing, Dunlop Nigeria Plc and Director, Corporate Communications at Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) Plc. Akintunde, a PR trainer and CEO of Leap Communications, is the Vice President of PRCAN.

Also in the faculty are Mrs. Lilian Nwobu, a blogger, social activist and founder of gistpost.com and lilianwobu.com; and Ikem Okuhu, a PR and communications expert, currently the Director, Reliks Media Limited and Founder of Brandish Online.

The workshop is expected to reposition current thinking in digital PR and social media communications in Nigeria.The workshop is expected to reposition current thinking in digital PR and social media communications in Nigeria.


Jaiye Opayemi Celestine Achi
Publicity Secretary, PRCAN Chief Executive Officer, CIHAN Group
jaiye.opayemi@prcan.ng celestine@cihangroup,net

Online Registeration: www.digitalprmasterclass.com

#digitalprmasterclass

Write Like the Journalist, Think Like the PR Professional and Deploy Like the Digital Aficionado: The 10 Steps to Effective Content Marketing

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You can no longer build an effective digital presence if you do not acknowledge that content is king! Custom content and a content management strategy is the now and future of effective brand communication and marketing.
 
Content marketing is the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channel and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands with the objective of driving profitable customer action – drive awareness and engagement.

As at 2014, over 27Million pieces of content are generated and shared daily while 5 Exabyte of online content is created each day and as content marketing gains traction, many content experts are of the view that it is now mainstream.



It’s no surprise that more and more digital marketing agencies are hiring individuals with a background in journalism and PR rather than marketing. In an age where content is king, the fact remains that for the content to do anything worthwhile, it has to be good. And while a traditional marketer may have the skill set for writing tag lines or the copy for radio ads, most journalists and PR Professionals are better prepared with the skills to make content marketing truly stand out.

When it comes to creating quality content marketing, many advertisers seem to fall into the trap that they are simply producing ads on a digital platform (as many disastrous “promoted content” pieces on Buzzfeed so easily demonstrate). Yet this mentality couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In recent years, many advertising agencies have adopted what is more of a “newsroom” mentality to produce content marketing that will meet this criteria. Writers are not copywriters, but brand journalists. The agency’s goal is not to produce glossy magazine ads or shoot high-concept TV spots, but rather to write journalistic articles and provide other forms of digital content (such as videos and infographics) that appeal to a certain segment of a particular brand’s target audience and help build SEO.





The background provided in journalism lends itself easily to some of the chief goals of content marketing—namely, to provide valuable, interesting information to a consumer. The most successful news publications know that there is more to journalism than reporting on breaking news—stories must be told in a way that will draw in readers and keep them coming back for more.

Brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull have all embraced this mentality by creating videos, providing unique articles and even conducting interviews that are then shared through brand-owned and third-party publishing platforms.

So how do traditional marketers fit into this world of journalistic content marketing? They don’t—at least, not very easily. So the question is, what can traditional marketers do to make sure they’re not left behind as content marketing continues to rise in importance? It’s quite simple, really: Write like the journalist, think Like the PR professional and deploy like the digital aficionado

Here are ten step to getting started down the path to crafting content marketing that works.

1. Define your objectives: Firstly, establish what form of media your content should take, or whether a combination of formats would be better, by conducting an audit of your existing content strategy. Once you have a clear picture of your existing strategy, consider how a magazine, website, app, video or other form of branded content would fit in.

2. Define Write for an Audience: Too often, content marketers merely attempt to regurgitate marketing materials into article format. The trick here is to realize that with content marketing, you are no longer necessarily writing as the voice of the brand—more often than not, you’re writing as if you were a third-party journalist, which makes a direct sell a big no-no. Learn what type of news and information appeals to an audience, and then provide your own unique insight. Which brings us to point number two…

Now you need to build up a picture of your target customer, setting out exactly what you want to achieve with your cross-media content. The tighter your objectives, the sharper the focus and the better the results. Also consider what other communications your customers receive from you and ensure that all your marketing — new and existing — joins up, with as little overlap as possible.

3. Consider targeting opportunities: Targeting different types of customer through segmented content can make the process much more efficient and cost-effective, so consider producing a number of different versions of your publication and digital content. But if you want to segment, is your database up to the task? If you don't have the appropriate data, consider starting with a single title and build in a data-capture mechanism so you can segment in the future.

4. Make a strong financial case: Having regular, high-quality content can be a significant investment for your marketing department, so establish benchmarks for success based on your objectives. Your investment should be based on measurable results. In short: how will the project add to the bottom line? You then need to find the budget, which will depend on the role you wish your content to fulfil. Next, get internal buy-in from all relevant departments, especially if you are expecting them to contribute to the budget.

 
5. Establish your distribution strategy: How will your content reach your customers? What combination of digital media channels would best fit your target audience? From video to infographics and other digital content formats and channels to choose from.

6. Appoint a content marketing consultant (PR Pro, the digital Journalist or digital consultant): Very few client companies have the necessary resources or expertise to create effective content in-house, so you will almost certainly need to appoint a consultant.

7. Measure your success: A piece of branded content will stand or fall on the strength of its results. One of the simplest ways to gauge customer opinion is through a reader survey, either included within a publication or accessed online. This will help you gather information about how well your content is answering the needs of your customer. For more tangible results, you should feature exclusive sales codes or unique order hotlines to get an idea of how well the publication, digital content or website is performing.

8. Look for the Unique Insight: Chances are, there are already several hundred (if not thousand) articles covering the exact same topic you are trying to use as content marketing fodder. And while simply getting a link online does constitute content marketing, getting that article read and shared by an audience does a lot more good for a brand. Even with so many articles that have already been written on a particular subject, chances are there is an angle that hasn’t been covered yet. Find that unique perspective and use it.
 
9. Be Accurate: Creating a solid piece of content marketing often requires its fair share of research. But the sad truth is that there is so much content on the web—especially in the world of content marketing—that is woefully inaccurate. Simply scanning Wikipedia would not cut it for the Washington Post, and it shouldn’t be considered sufficient for your content marketing purposes, either. Make sure any information you use in your pieces is accurate. Established industry leaders are going to provide much more authority to your content marketing than a quote from an unknown blog.

10. Read: No one can become a great writer without reading. And with a seemingly unending source of material available both on- and offline, there is ample opportunity to read—and learn—from other writers. Learning from the best allows you to not only strengthen your own writing style, it will help your content reach and appeal to that oh-so-precious audience that is the ultimate goal of all content marketing.

The story of Windows 10 from inside Microsoft The company's latest trick: listening to its users

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Windows 10 has a lot to live up to. Microsoft has made a lot of promises about it. And oddly enough, we’ve heard most of them before, with Windows 8. Both were designed to acknowledge and embrace mobile and mobile apps, work well on touchscreens as well as laptops, and form the basis of a new phone platform. But there’s a big difference between them: Windows 10 actually does all those things.
 
Three years ago, tablets like the iPad looked like they might be a serious threat to Windows. In response, Steve Ballmer, Steven Sinofsky, and the rest of Microsoft took a big bet on a forward-thinking interface that asked its users to forget their old point-and-click ways and embrace a tiled future. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 were related pieces in a bold strategy to move the company into a future of touchscreens and connected apps.


That strategy flopped. Users roundly rejected the confusing new version of Windows, and without them, developers balked. But the iPad hasn’t killed off laptops, and consumers haven’t shown a big interest in touchscreen PCs yet. Another version, 8.1, attempted to stem the bleeding, but it was too late. The market had spoken. Like Vista before it and Windows ME before that, Windows 8 was the version of Windows you skipped.
 
Read our full Windows 10 review

Now, a new leadership team for Windows under CEO Satya Nadella and executive vice president Terry Myerson are trying it all again. But this time around, the goal is much more ambitious: if they succeed, Windows 10 will be the final iteration of Windows: The one that will be updated like a service, continuously, in perpetuity. The one that finally makes good on all the promises of a synergistic ecosystem of like-minded devices designed to work together.


In a series of exclusive interviews with The Verge, the team behind Windows 10 revealed how they’re doing it, why they think it will succeed, and what they’re working on next. This is the story of Windows 10 from inside Microsoft.


Terry Myerson


Developing in the open


Terry Myerson never imagined he’d last at Microsoft. "I thought I was going to stay here a couple of weeks, but found that I really loved the people."
 
It’s now 18 years since Myerson sold his small company to Microsoft, during which time he worked on Exchange, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone. Now, he’s sitting in front of me as the head of Windows, just days before the software maker launches Windows 10. It’s been two years since Myerson was promoted to the top job, and the release is important to him and the company. Microsoft needs customers to love and want Windows enough to upgrade to it, thereby creating a massive install base to attract developers. The pressure is on.


Myerson is confident without being arrogant — he’s more than happy to tease me about my MacBook. His forthright manner is mirrored in how he chose to release Windows 10: out in the open, bugs and all, even before the company had finished thinking through what it should be.


"You're putting it out there when it's not done."


Microsoft now solicits feedback directly from users in a very public way: over the past nine months, the company has been testing Windows 10 with 5 million "Windows Insiders." Anyone can sign up to test, and the results of Microsoft’s work will go on display today as Windows 10 launches to millions of people around the world.


"It has sometimes been daunting," says Myerson. "You're putting it out there when it's not done, then you're getting all kinds of feedback and stuff that you know is broken." That feedback has been constant and varied over the last nine months, and it will continue over the months and years ahead.


Initially, "there was a lot of hand-wringing around what was that going to be like and were people going to form opinions too early," explains Gabe Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating systems group. "I think we just decided to go for it."


Aul launched his Microsoft career in product support 23 years ago. He went on to help build Dr. Watson, a debugger that gathers error data when your PC crashes, into basically every product at Microsoft.


Today Aul is the face of Microsoft’s Windows 10 testing. He receives Microsoft feedback, praise, and abuse on Twitter daily, but he remains perfectly cool. Even before we start our interview, I start moaning about some Windows 10 bugs I have, and he’s keen to listen, even emailing me a fix for a problem within seconds.


He admits he’s "passionate about quality" after working in product support for years, and it’s clear he genuinely cares. While many will joke IT support is simply a help desk asking a user to reboot their PC, Microsoft has built a whole system to process the feedback it receives for Windows 10. It all gets collected in a database where Microsoft engineers can use tools to analyze it visually. If Cortana starts breaking in France, Microsoft will hear about it, and engineers can detect trends and issues based on pop-ups that appear for testers.


"There was a lot of hand-wringing around what was that going to be like."


Feedback doesn’t always come from within the operating system, though. The Continuum feature, which lets you switch between desktop and tablet modes in Windows 10, generated a wave of negative responses from social media. That’s probably because Microsoft initially ripped out all of Windows 8’s good touch work, a move that surprised testers, before slowly building it back in. "The trash can icon — the feedback we got on that thing..." He cuts short to laugh because Windows Insiders (myself included) were really vocal in comments and online forums about the how ugly the first version was.


Sometimes, Windows customers reached out to Myerson directly, including one during the time when the Windows chief misspoke and the result was that everybody thought Windows 10 would be free. "There's this kid in Bangladesh who somehow got my email address, he runs pirated Windows," Myerson says. "It was a great dialogue. It was more for me a learning experience about how did he pirate Windows, and why did he pirate Windows." The conversation hasn’t changed Microsoft’s stance, though. Windows 10 still isn’t free for pirates.



The new Xbox One app on Windows 10


Taking feedback


To handle feedback, the Windows build team hosts daily "flight ops" meetings to decide which prerelease versions of Windows 10 get released. A "flight commander" takes control of the team, for that day. "He has a red hat that says ‘phone’ on it, and he has a black hat that says ‘PC’ on it," Aul says. "When it’s time to talk about phone, he will take the PC hat off and put the phone hat on. That’s how we keep the room in check."


There’s also a red outfit hanging on the wall, a symbol of a time when one employee came to the ship room wearing embarrassing matching red shorts and a T-shirt (he’s an Ohio State supporter). It became a running joke. Now, if a Microsoft engineer enters the meeting with a bug that’s equally embarrassing, they have to wear something red.


To continue with the red theme, Aul has a 3D-printed red button that’s become something of a Microsoft meme among Windows fans. Aul hits it when a build is ready to be released to the public. "It’s mostly ceremonial, but it actually does send a trigger to the flighting system," explains Aul. "The other thing it does, that most people don’t know, is it says something inappropriate in a Stephen Hawking voice because it’s got a voice synthesizer in there." Aul wouldn’t give me any examples, but quotes are sourced from the team or jokes about his tweets.


Microsoft’s willingness to solicit user feedback on early versions is a big change from the past. During the days of Vista, Microsoft’s lawyers ended up at my doorstep because I dared to write about prerelease versions of Windows. And while Windows 8 had a few public previews, it was largely developed with little consideration to feedback. Windows 8 shipped despite user concerns about fullscreen apps and a lack of attention to keyboard and mouse users. Microsoft’s management seemed to spend more time explaining every new feature in sprawling, technical blog posts instead of understanding why users hated the changes.
 
Myerson has a different philosophy: "It isn't one guy comes down from a mountain with a tablet [saying] what the right product is," he explains. "We just believe the customer feedback shaping the product is how we're going to build clarity and confidence that we have a great product."


Joe Belfiore
 
From apps to phones


Microsoft may have been confident about Windows 8, but the ambitions to push touch computing didn’t work out. Microsoft has been forced to admit several times that it’s aware customer satisfaction rates for mouse and keyboard users are low. Microsoft’s new Start menu isn’t as domineering, it’s just designed to get them to move to Windows 10. "Our strategic belief is, if we have a big audience of people… then developers will put apps in that store because there will be demand," explains Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore.


"We now have all the devices lined up. I don't expect to see the platform change again."


Belfiore looks after the customization of Windows for PCs, tablets, and phones. He spent years building Windows Phone, alongside Myerson. To many fans, he’s the face of Microsoft’s mobile efforts. Microsoft has been constantly resetting and rebuilding its Windows Phone OS. Windows Phone 7 users couldn’t upgrade to Windows Phone 8, and it took far too long for Windows Phone 8.1 to arrive with features that should have been there from the beginning. It’s knocked developer confidence, to say nothing of crippling its chances at gaining significant marketshare.


Part of Windows 10’s big promise is that the same apps can run across PCs, tablets, phones, and even the Xbox One console. As a result, the next phones will have an expansive set of apps from Windows 10 to jumpstart the ecosystem. "We have one common operating system for all the device types that we are making," explains Belfiore. He’s also surprisingly blunt when he characterizes Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, products he was intimately involved in developing. "We've had a couple of, sort of, practice runs with phone and PC," Belfiore says, before pivoting to the presumably brighter future with Windows 10, "We now have all the devices lined up. I don't expect to see the platform change again, in the same way it has before."


That’s encouraging to hear, but it doesn’t help Windows Phone right now. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed recently that the company is restructuring its phone business, scaling it back massively as part of a $7.6 billion write-off from the Nokia phone business acquisition. Around 7,800 jobs are being cut, and Microsoft is planning to make fewer models. "We are going to focus on a few great devices and the most notable being that premium consumer category," explains Myerson, adding, "The direction we will head is the premium-branded lineup." I push him on whether that’s a similar approach to Surface, and he claims "the goal is to have one Microsoft device family that plays this role in the Windows ecosystem." I’m not sure if that means a Surface Phone is in the cards, but it sure sounds like it.


The first example of that one Microsoft device family will arrive later this year. "One's coming. Maybe two are coming, but at least one is coming," teases Myerson, as he hides an unreleased Lumia phone in his pocket. Microsoft is rumored to be working on two high-end devices that will include a new Continuum feature from Windows 10. Continuum on phones lets you use the phone as kind of a PC. You can connect up a keyboard, mouse, and monitor and start using Windows 10 apps. "I think it is the future of the phone," says Myerson.
 
Belfiore is equally bullish about Continuum, but the phone version of Windows 10 doesn’t ship until later this year. "The phone is significantly feature complete, but we'll continue to polish and tweak and iterate the things that still need to work," explains Belfiore. "We'll put features in right up near the end. But in general, the broad feature set is set."


Phil Spencer


Windows 10 and the Xbox One


Windows 10 is also coming to the Xbox in a big way. A new Xbox app for Windows 10 is a significant addition, and it’s one of the best built-in apps available right now. You can stream Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC and use the Xbox controller, and you can chat freely from a PC to an Xbox One with or without a headset. It’s a great addition for Xbox gamers after a rough couple of years. Sales have been second to Sony’s PlayStation 4, but it feels like Microsoft is recovering from the original unveiling of the Xbox One two years ago. "The launch of Xbox One, it was from a brand and a customer pride standpoint… a tough time," says Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox. "A lot of the original ideas around Xbox One didn't meet the expectations that Xbox fans have of what we should do with our product."
 
Spencer, who has worked on products like Encarta at Microsoft, has spent the last year or so getting the Xbox team re-centered on its fans and gaming. It’s an approach that Myerson says inspired the Windows Insider program. "Xbox had this passionate focus on their fans and engaging with their fans and listening to their fans," says Myerson. "Something that Phil Spencer just has at his core is his caring. He lives for those Xbox fans."


"We understand if you're going to go PC to Xbox, we need to get keyboard and mouse working."


Spencer sees Windows 10 as a "massive opportunity" to bring Xbox Live and a single store to people. Today, the Xbox store is separate from the Windows store, but Microsoft is unifying them this fall. That doesn’t mean apps will be immediately available on the Xbox One, though. "Getting to one store where all the content is there will happen a little bit later," says Spencer, meaning we’ll be waiting until next year until we finally see Windows 10 apps on Xbox One. Microsoft’s store isn’t designed to kill off Steam, either. "Five years from now, I want Steam to be incredibly popular and successful. I look at the health of Steam as a harbinger of the health of Windows gaming."


What is coming this year is a Windows 10 update for Xbox One that brings a refreshed UI, speed, and Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant. "You can imagine scenarios of ‘Hey Cortana, what are most of my friends playing? What are most people watching?’" says Spencer. "The next step is being able to help you in-game, of really thinking about scenarios like ‘Hey Cortana, how do I get past this boss?’" Further out, Spencer says that streaming PC games to Xbox One is something he wants to enable. "We understand if you're going to go PC to Xbox, we need to get keyboard and mouse working completely so you could play those games. In terms of where we want to go with our platform, those are absolutely in the scope of things that we want to do."




The last Windows


Myerson and his team have shifted Windows 10 to a "Windows as a service" model, meaning regular updates instead of a major release every few years. It doesn’t feel like Microsoft really knows exactly how this is going to play out, but the Windows 10 release marks a milestone.


The company simply can’t afford to make the mistakes of Windows 8 again


But it’s not the kind of milestone we’re used to. Windows 10, even at release, is not done. Right now, it’s all about updates that fix issues and bugs. If you upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8 this week, then you’ll start to see those regular updates, and they’ll install automatically to keep everyone up to date. Myerson is confident in the quality of Windows 10. "We look at these quantitative metrics and we think the quality's great, and we're continuing to fix more," he says. "We're going to keep fixing. We're committed to listen and respond. Every day we're shipping out new updates with 30 more fixes."


That listening and responding sums up Windows 10. If there’s something wrong this time, then Myerson and his team will be listening. This can’t (and likely won’t) be another Windows 8 or Windows Vista mess for Microsoft. The company simply can’t afford to make those mistakes again. "Our goal is to roll out Windows 10 and build a base of millions of happy and engaged Windows 10 users," says Myerson.


"Happy and engaged" is one of those talking points you hear a lot from Microsoft. Myerson used it nine times in our hour together. But behind the PR-approved phrasing is a simple truth: it’s been a long time since Windows users have been either, and Microsoft needs to fix that. It’s as good a North Star as any, especially when your product development cycle is founded on taking user feedback seriously. If Microsoft can make people love Windows again, then the rest — developers and apps — is easy.


If I’ve learned anything from speaking to the team building Windows 10, it’s that Microsoft is taking user feedback very, very seriously. Everything Microsoft is making — from the Xbox to phones to HoloLens — is based on Windows 10. It’s not just the foundation of this operating system, it’s the future foundation of the company. Microsoft doesn’t have a Plan B for Windows, and it’s proud of the fact: "There's no one working on a Windows 11," Myerson says, "but there's a group of people working on some really cool updates to Windows 10." When Windows Insiders see those updates, you can be sure Microsoft will want to know exactly what they think.

How Facebook's Changing News Feed Could Dictate The Future Of Content Marketing

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Much in the same way that Google constantly refines its search algorithm by launching new updates and making tweaks, Facebook refines how it relates to users by updating its newsfeed display. To the average user, nothing is changing—these introductions are gradual and subtle, designed to be almost imperceptible while still improving the overall experience. However, the rapid-fire nature of these updates in the past few years and the scope of Facebook’s vision for the future are having a profound effect on the future of content marketing and how people use social media.


I want to start by taking a look at some of the significant updates that have shaped today’s average user newsfeed (aside from updates that have filtered out spam and hoaxes).


Increased Search Functionality
In December 2014, Facebook introduced multiple new search features for its users. Among these were a keyword-based search that allows users to look for old posts that were shared with them by certain other friends, and a feature that allows users to search for specific apps. This was the first major leap forward in terms of Facebook’s search functionality, but it wasn’t until 2015 that it developed a new kind of search engine altogether.


In May 2015, Facebook developed a search bar on its mobile app that allows you to search for specific articles on the web that you mean to share. When drafting a post, you now have the option to search the web for the article you have in mind. Here’s the catch—this doesn’t run on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It’s an independent, fully functional web search bar created by Facebook, and it could serve as a precursor to further search functionality in the future.


Neither of these search-based updates have a direct effect on how Facebook populates your newsfeed, but they do play into Facebook’s apparent long-term strategy, as we shall see.


Friends Over Pages
Businesses were understandably nervous when Google announced in April 2015 that it would be prioritizing content from Facebook friends in individuals’ newsfeeds over any content produced by business pages. This is the latest extension of what is objectively a decline in the organic reach of branded posts. Part of this is motivated by Facebook’s desire to sell more advertising; if you can’t get this level of reach for free, you’re forced to pay for it. But more of this is motivated by Facebook’s desire to have each individual’s newsfeed to be as customized as possible to that individual.


Following this update, Facebook introduced a “See First” option in June 2015. Originally, Facebook users were able to filter out certain types of posts in their newsfeed by blocking individual users or setting up specific post filters. Now, users can choose friends and followed pages to “see first” in their newsfeeds. Users can prioritize the types of people and posts they see at the top of their newsfeed, adding to the customizable experience.


New Article Formatting
Perhaps the most significant update in Facebook’s newsfeed came in May of 2015, when Facebook introduced its “Instant Article” functionality. Facebook and publishers alike have begun to notice that articles generate significant volumes of traffic once shared on Facebook, compared to if they were simply left on the publisher’s main page. In fact, many Facebook users simply discern the content of articles through the osmosis-like process of seeing a headline and brief description pop in their newsfeeds.


Rather than fight these qualities, Facebook decided to enhance them. With Instant Articles, major publishers can submit their articles directly to Facebook, cutting out the “middle man” of visiting publishers’ sites. It’s a mixed bag for publishers—they’ll be sacrificing web traffic, but the move could actually increase their number of readers.


Two Goals for Facebook
Facebook hasn’t said much about its motivation for all these updates, other than the standard “improving user experience” type of jargon. But looking closely at the cumulative effects of these adjustments, I would guess that Facebook has two main goals:
To give users a truly customizable experience, so that every newsfeed is specifically catered to the individual user.
 
To give users an all-in-one platform to serve all their online needs.
To the first point, we see the new newsfeed controls, search functions, and article listings. To the second, we see integrated online search, immediate articles, and even buy buttons—which I didn’t even mention above since it’s only peripherally related to newsfeeds.


Facebook is trying to expand the “experience” of a social media platform, giving users more robust functionality while catering to the individual. I believe this sets an important tone for the future of both content marketing and social media marketing, as users will grow demanding of more individualized, custom experiences in the content they read and in the pages they follow. Such a shift is bound to happen gradually, but savvy brands should pay attention and start preparing for this change today.


Customizable Content and Integrated Features
Facebook isn’t alone in these two goals. Google is trying to do more for individual users with predictive search queries and Knowledge Graph presentations. Twitter is offering more live feeds of content, and a news feature called Moments that seeks to uproot journalism at its core. It’s only a matter of time before other platforms get on board.


If you want to be successful when these paradigm shifts hit the market, you’ll have to prioritize your presence on these platforms and create material with a laser-focus on certain types of users. In the meantime, the best thing for you to do is keep reading the news, watching for these updates, and make iterative changes to your strategy as you learn more.


Originally written by Jayson DeMers on Forbes,com

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Young Innovators Competition 2015

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NigerianCommunications Commission is the independent National Regulatory Authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The Commission is responsible for creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.
 
NCC Invites young innovators to compete in ITU Telecom World 2015 in Budapest, Hungary for:


2015 NCC Young Innovators Competition

Description/Benefits
Age limit: 18-30 years old with ability to use technology to transform communities.
The best three (3) entries will be part of Nigeria's delegation to ITU Telecom World 2015, October 12-15, 2015.
These winners will be given opportunities to showcase their innovation to the International community at the Young Innovators corner of the Nigeria Pavilion.


How To Apply
Entries should contain a brief innovation, indicating details of the technology being used and how it directly impacts people's lives. Send your submission in sealed envelope marked: "Nigeria@ ITU Telecom World 2015 Young Innovators Competition"

All application should be sent to:

Ms. Josephine Amuwa,
Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis,
Nigerian Communications Commission,
Abuja.

And by Email to:
Ibrahim Galadima: galadima@ncc.gov.ng

For enquiries: Telephone: +2349461 7061, +23494617066.
Fax: +23494617502.
Application Deadline Date
21st August, 2015.

Twitter to Hire CMO, Debut Integrated Campaign to Kickstart User Growth

Posted on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 No comments

Wednesday, July 29, 2015



Credit: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg 

Twitter has been able to grow its ad revenue despite its struggles to grow its user base -- at least for now. To make sure its decelerating user growth doesn't deflate its ad-revenue growth, the company is planning a big marketing push later this year.

Twitter plans to roll out its first integrated marketing campaign by the end of 2015 and is in the process of hiring a CMO, the company's CFO and de facto marketing head Anthony Noto said during the company's earnings call on Tuesday. Mr. Noto said the campaign will promote Twitter's upcoming Project Lightning, a new feature designed to curate tweets around live events that's scheduled to debut in the fall.

The emphasis on marketing underscores one of the bigger issues facing Twitter's business: It's not attracting many new people to sign up for the social network. In the second quarter, Twitter only grew its number of monthly active users by 12% year-over-year to 302 million people. That figure doesn't include the 12 million people in a given month who use Twitter via text messaging to follow specific Twitter users without registering their own Twitter accounts, which limits Twitter's ability to target ads to that audience segment.

"Our Q2 results show good progress in monetization, but we are not satisfied with our growth in audience," Twitter's interim CEO Jack Dorsey said in the statement. During the company's earnings call on Tuesday, he declined to offer any update on where Twitter's search for a new permanent CEO stands.

In the second quarter, Twitter's revenue rose by 61% year-over-year to $502.4 million. That exceeded analysts' average projection for $481.9 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. And the company's ad revenue, in particular, increased by 63% year-over-year to $452 million, with mobile ads accounting for 88% of that money.

Mr. Noto attributed the ad revenue increase to strong demand and a growth in Twitter's advertising base. But he later said that Twitter has more ad slots to sell than advertisers willing to buy them. The company reported a 53% increase in the number of times people engaged with an ad, and a 6% increase in the average amount advertisers pay per engagement, Mr. Noto said during the earnings call.

To date, Twitter's slowing user growth doesn't seem to have hurt its ad revenue much. But that could change. If the audience deceleration continues, Mr. Noto said, Twitter could run into times where daily demand from advertisers could increase "toward one particular type of ad category," which could be a problem if Twitter doesn't have enough available inventory to fill that specific demand.

The negative implications of Twitter's slowing user growth for its ad business seems to be why Mssrs. Dorsey and Noto spent much of the company's earnings call discussing the need to attract new users and the importance of marketing to help fill that need.

"We're developing a marketing strategy and plan to address" the monthly active user stagnation, Mr. Noto said. He added that even though 95% of people in Twitter's most important global markets are aware of Twitter, less than 30% of them actually use Twitter. "This low level of penetration implies that we have only reached early adopters and technology enthusiasts, and we have not yet reached the next cohort of users known as the mass market." The company is hoping that marketing and a marketing boss will help get it there.

--With contributions from Bloomberg News

Instagram Ads On Track to Pass Google and Twitter With Facebook’s Help

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Proving its an advertising platform that should be top of mind for brand marketers, Instagram will make $595 million in global mobile ad revenue this year, according to eMarketer’s first-ever report forecasting on ad spending by brands on the visual social network, “Instagram 
Advertising: What Marketers Need to Know.”


By 2017, the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app’s global mobile ad revenues will reach $2.81 billion, about 10 percent of Facebook’s global ad revenues. Instagram is also on track to pass Google and Twitter in US mobile display ad revenues by that year.

“Now that Instagram is opening up, there is a lot of pent-up demand,” says eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

“The rollout of new features over the next several months means that by the end of 2015, Instagram will have a host of new ad products for advertisers large and small. In particular, Instagram advertisers will be able to use a full slate of Facebook targeting tools, including the popular Custom Audiences feature. That will be a key drawing card.”


With 300 million users and an average of 70 million photos uploaded per day, Instagram’s pitch to brands on the platform is to be creative, be engaging and be original, as it showcases in its inspiration gallery of brands such as Warby Parker and Chobani that are elevating their creative to capture the Instagram community. It’s also promoting new ad format such as its interactive carousel and PanoGrams, which GM has been testing.

In the US alone, Instagram’s monthly user base grew to 64.2 million people by the end of last year. eMarketer projects that by 2019 more than one-third of America’s population, or about 111.6 million consumers, will be Instagrammers.

Instagram has been running advertising in the U.S. since October 2013 and internationally since last year. While not disclosed ad revenue numbers but, “Facebook remains well positioned to gain significant share of online advertising, particularly mobile advertising,” said Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, according to USA Today. Bhatia expects “monetization of Instagram will accelerate in the back half of 2015.”


Williamson agrees.”The Facebook family is starting to gel, and we’re getting a better idea of how the company’s various properties are coming together,” she tells USA Today. “However, we’re still waiting for indications of how much ad revenue Facebook is getting from Instagram.”

For its three-year forecast, eMarketer notes the majority of Instagram’s ad dollars will come from domestic sources and in 2015, only $30 million in ad revenues have come from outside the US, or about five percent of the total.

And therein lies the rub, eMarketer adds: “Internationally, Instagram’s growth hasn’t been as strong, and other mobile social apps will continue to challenge it. So far, however, brand engagement on the platform has been high, and coupled with a solidly growing user base and new ad offerings, the mobile ad revenue picture looks bright.”

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