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Dark Side of Wearable Tech, Competitive Analytics, Google Glass Journalism – All You Need Is

March 26, 2014 | Written by

                                   allyouneedisblog22

Google is jumping all-in on wearable technology, but will it manage to make wearable devices more appealing to the masses?

Our weekly digital roundup is back and this week it tells you “all you need” to know about Google’s new Operating System (OS) for wearable tech, why marketers aren’t using comparable analytics and much more.

 

Google has recently announced Android Wear, a new version of Android designed specifically for wearable devices such as smart watches.

According to Google, Android Wear won’t be just an operating system; it will evolve in to a whole new range of devices and apps, going well beyond just telling you the time.

As Google explains on its blog, Android Wear shows you information and suggestions you need, right when you need them.

In other words, it can send the latest posts and updates from social apps to your watch, just like your Android for mobile does to your phone.

But the real innovation is its ability to provide straight answers to spoken questions. The technology behind Google’s voice recognition software has advanced significantly over the past couple of years and now Google is ready to put it to good use in its latest range of OS and devices.

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Android Wear will compete directly with Samsung’s smart watch, Galaxy Gear, which will soon stop running on Android and instead use Samsung’s own operating system, Tizen OS.

But competition,  doesn’t seem to be a real obstacle to Google’s new tech. Galaxy Gear was the first smart watch to launch on the market and despite having no competition, its sales disappointed both investors and analysts.

The question that many are asking now is whether a new OS or even a new device can really make smart watches appealing to a wider audience, rather than just to wearable fans and early adopters. Is there really a need for a fourth screen?

 

More data is now being captured than ever before. Every click, every download and every retweet contributes to data that is growing at an increasingly faster rate.

T larger the amount of data available, the more complex and costly this data becomes to analyse.

A recent survey conducted by social media analytics platform Socialbakers shows that 86% of marketers consider competitive social analysis important. However, less then a third is using competitive analytics to guide their social strategies.

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Source: http://www.socialbakers.com

This means that many brands are creating their social strategies without looking at what competitors are doing, how they are performing on social media and what will be more likely to give themselves an advantage.

Why are so few brands are investing in social media monitoring tools that provide competitive social media data?

The answer is simple. These tools are still too expensive, or better, not yet cost effective for brands that often have limited digital budgets.

Is your brand investing in competitive social analysis? Let us know why, and why not, in the comments below.

 

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All the journalists out there will probably be exited to hear that there’s a new technology coming that has the potential to disrupt the industry.

For those who haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Google Glass: a wearable spectacles-like device that is hyped to change the way we communicate, access information and engage online.

What’s even more exciting is that aspiring journalists will have the opportunity to get to grips with Glass before it hits the shelves.

The University of Southern California will soon be offering a new course named “Glass Journalism”, where students will be tasked with thinking up new ways for journalists to tell stories using augmented reality and Google Glass.

Web-journalism professor and founder of the course, Robert Hernandez, explains that journalists have been followers when using other technology like mobile and social media. But with Glass, they have the opportunity to be pioneers and be right at the forefront of the technological revolution.

Over the duration of the course, students are challenged to use their industry insights to create apps for Google Glass that help enhance both storytelling and story consumption on the platform.

But where journalism goes, PR follows.

In a world where PR professionals outnumber journalists 4 to 1, and where attracting journalists’ attention is harder than ever, it isn’t hard to imagine that many savvy PRs will enroll to “Glass Journalism” in the attempt to acquire one of the industry’s most requested skills: the ability to target and engage journalist in innovative and more effective ways.

What’s your take on “Glass Journalism”? Do you think it will catch on? Share your views below.

Till next week…

Gabs (@gabrielegenola)

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An experience like no other

February 4, 2014 | Written by

As part of Ruder Finn’s work experience programme, we ask all students to blog for us. 19-year-old Charlotte Swinson’s time here has come to an end and she reflects on her two weeks in the Ruder Finn offices.

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I am very sad to be coming to the end of my work experience at Ruder Finn, and an experience it has unquestionably been.

The unnerving reality that my days as a student are very nearly over, and that very soon I am going to be entering the working world has been made all the less daunting in the last two weeks.

These two weeks have taught me things that you just cannot learn at university. My friends convinced me I would be doing the stereotypically less sophisticated tasks that are always associated with work experience, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn this would not be the case.

I found myself partaking in PR tasks such as media scanning and media clipping. Even little things like using excel, a proper email account and a sophisticated filing system have been educational.

On a wider level, I got used to the “nine to five” working lifestyle, commuting, working in an office environment, and the early mornings (which of course for many students are unheard of!).

Having never done a work placement such as this, I was unsure what to expect. When asked what you want to do after university, many people will probably not know the answer; I was no different. Even if you do have an idea of the type of industry you may want to go in to, how can you be sure if you haven’t directly experienced it?

What I wanted from this work experience was to get a real feel for the PR industry, and thanks to everyone at Ruder Finn I have. It is definitely a career path I would like to pursue once I have graduated.

Fingers crossed you may have me back for more work experience; I am not ready to leave yet!

 

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Twitter: the virtual picket line

December 23, 2013 | Written by

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You may think that that micro message of 140 characters, sent into the ether as a meaningless mass of prose, is never to be seen again. Well you would be wrong. Twitter is a social change behemoth.

The tweet is fast becoming a useful instrument in the protester’s toolkit. Many of us know that social media played a role in the revolutions across the Middle East, but at the weekend, another voice of dissent spoke up.

Just over a week ago, freelance writer Suey Park spearheaded the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick which ignited a debate on how Asian women are portrayed. #NotYourAsianSidekick trended worldwide and many of the experiences expressed by Suey Park were shared by women across the world.

Protests and voices of dissent are nothing new – the miners’ strike of the 80s are permeated in the minds of many, while the anti war protest against the invasion of Iraq was the largest peacetime demonstration in the UK.

What is interesting however, is the way social is now being integrated into these calls for social change. There are 1.19 billion monthly active users on Facebook and Twitter has over 200 million active users worldwide. With a reach so vast, it is little wonder that these platforms are now being woven into the fabric of societal change.

Politics is often a tricky subject to tackle, more awkward still is the discussion of discontent. Could Twitter and social media in general be the future of protesting? Judging by recent events it may well be.

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All you need is: four 2013 trends that you may not know of

December 18, 2013 | Written by

allyouneedisblog22

Do you think you know everything about digital in 2013?

While everybody is wrapping up and revisiting this year’s major trends, Ruder Finn has decided to end the year by doing what we do best: telling you what you need to know that you didn’t already know.

This week’s Ruder Finn digital roundup looks at four undervalued trends that characterised 2013 and tells you why they shouldn’t have been overlooked.

Why Pinterest is the real social media underdog of 2013.

Social media, as an industry, has changed significantly over the past year.

Facebook announced that its number of users dropped for the first time, Twitter filed an IPO and became a public company, Snapchat went from being a sassy photo sharing app for teenagers to a $3 billion tech giant, and this was all extensively covered by newspapers and blogs across the globe.

Pinterest didn’t get quite as much visibility this year but the young social platform’s unstated achievements have proved that it can compete with the big dogs.

First of all, Pinterest has hit 10 million unique monthly visitors and is continuing to grow. In fact, Pinterest’s share of overall visits increased by 66% year-over-year, more than any other social network.

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Moreover, Pinterest has proven its ability to drive traffic to publishers.

According to a recent study by Shareaholic, Facebook accounted for more than 10% of overall traffic to publishers in September 2013.

This isn’t surprising as Facebook is the largest social network and has the highest level of engagement.

However, the young online pinboard drove 3.68% of traffic to publishers, almost three times as much as Twitter, which ranked third.

Moreover, while Tumblr and even Twitter are still struggling to be profitable companies, Pinterest has announced the introduction of a new revenue stream to its service, the so called promoted pins.

Advertising seems to be an inevitable milestone in the life of any social media but Pinterest has claimed its ads will be different. Ben Silbermann, chief executive and co-founder of Pinterest, said they are determined to avoid banner ads and promised that advertising will be transparent, with all promoted posts clearly labelled as such.

To close the circle, the social network has also launched their own analytics service known as Pinterest Web Analytics. A tool that allows users to see how many visitors the content-sharing service is referring to their sites, as well as provide insights on relevant metrics such as number of re-pins and likes.

It’s been difficult not to get distracted by the noise that other social media players have made this year, but it’s important to end 2013 by giving Pinterest the credit it deserves, as it may be the best channel for your next digital campaign.

The future of advertising started in 2013

2013 has been a year of change for advertising.

Digital ad spend surpassed $20bn in the first half of 2013 and several social media services such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram launched their own advertising service.

But the real change, which could be the future of advertising, seems to have been overlooked.

This summer Google was granted a new patent for a Google Glass-based ad system, know as “pay-per-gaze,” which will allow the tech giant to charge advertisers for the number of times someone looks at their ads.

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How Google can actually do that is the interesting part.

Google’s latest tech jewel, Glass, will be able to accurately track the movement of your eyeballs and assess how long you’ve been looking at an advert. But this is just the beginning, as the wearable device is so precise that can track pupil dilation to understand your emotional state while watching the ad and will use this data to evaluate the success of advertising campaigns.

Although Glass won’t actually be available to the public till next year, the impact that pay-per-gaze had on advertising in 2013 is huge, as it paved the way for a new advertising option on Google AdWords and a more efficient way for businesses to measure the impact of their campaigns.

Video: quantifying the scale of one 2013’s biggest trends

The past twelve months saw the raise of the competition in the video download arena.

From Netflix expanding abroad, to YouTube launching pay-channels, to Tesco implementing its video download service, to Sky entering the market with Now TV, everyone has been trying to get a slice of this highly profitable market.

Now that the year is coming to an end, can the scale of this trend be quantified?

According to Experian Hitwise UK [a Ruder Finn client] online video exceeds one billion visits a month.

In just two years, visits to view sites are up by 70%, a huge increase, which is partly influenced by the more widespread adoption of mobile devices.

Experian have shown that the average visit time for video has increased by just under three minutes. Again, impressive when average visit time is down in general across the web.

This is great news not only for video download/streaming providers but also for brands, as 16% of people heading straight to e-commerce sites after leaving video sites.

As the data confirms, 2013 has been the year video showed its real potential and as investments increase, it’s likely that video will continue to grow significantly in the years to come.

Why privacy represents the dark side of 2013

2013 has been a year of fast technological advancement, which saw giant leaps being taken in sectors such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence and wearable technology.

But 2013 also carried an untold story. A story that is slightly uncomfortable and that doesn’t really go with innovation and new technology. The story of privacy concerns.

Although technology improves every year, it seems that that privacy is still seen as a problem in the eyes of consumers.

Either due to personal reason or business concerns, the UK privacy index shows that almost three quarter of smartphone owners are concerned about their privacy.

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Moreover a recent study by Statista shows that the majority of American adults still prefer to remain anonymous online.

63% of them regularly deletes cookies and their browers history, while 36% avoid websites that ask for personal details.

This shows that technological development finds a limit not only in the resources available but also in the people it serves, as their privacy plays a key role in determining the success of new technologies.

This is something that both marketing and PR professionals will need to acknowledge in 2014, as only by deeply understanding consumer’s privacy concerns they’ll be able to develop truly engaging digital campaigns.

What are your underrated top 2013 trends? Share them with us in the comments below. Till next year… Gabs (@gabrielegenola

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The 12 days of PR-mas

December 17, 2013 | Written by

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As we approach the end of the year I’ve been inspired to write about one of the great PR myths, and bravely debunk it – using the medium of Christmas Carols.

We’ve all heard it; we’ve probably even said it ourselves! Yet we all know it to be a lie, a myth, a fairytale. What is the fable we live by you ask? What could have such power over us?

A cousin of the famous, “Summer’s traditionally a quiet time in PR” this particular myth lulls us into the worst kind of false security. We actually start to believe it ourselves despite our instincts telling us otherwise!

The spirit of Christmas, the thought of all those delightfully cheap Christmas jumpers, the assurance of more chocolate than any human should safely eat, and the sweet sweet promise… “Things quieten down around Christmas”.

*scoffs* *spits out coffee* *falls over*

So, once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, let’s explore what actually goes on in the bitter sweet short three weeks of December. Being in the CorpTech department here at Ruder Finn this has a distinctly tech tint to it, but similar applies across the board – don’t worry, it’s not all work – there is some merriment in there too…

All together now!

On the first day of PR-mas my true love sent to me:
12 Piles of Christmas Cards
11 Charitable causes*
10 New year predictions
9 Colleagues on holiday
8 Christmas jumpers
7 Biscuit boxes
6 Best of breed awards
5 Year-end revieeeews!
4 Retail predictions
3 Planning meetings
2 Client dinners
and the biggest consumer tech trade show of the year….(CES)

*Cheers* *Laughter* *Sobs of Joy*

Whilst the magical “Christmas Calm” is yet to bless the PR world in my experience, we get through every time with the help of chocolate, parties, more chocolate and good old fashioned team work.

And what could be more Christmassy than that?

*We’ve got something awesome going on this Christmas for a local organisation…more on that later

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ALL YOU NEED IS: The rise of paid content

December 12, 2013 | Written by

allyouneedisblog22

Is content still the thing that matters the most on social media?

According to Facebook, this may be no longer the case, as the social network believes that the reach of organic content is set to decrease.

This week All You Need Is looks at how paid is overshadowing organic content on Facebook, what Google’s new ads mean for marketers, the benefits of using cost per engagement and much more.

Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads – Ad Age

Facebook has told partners to expect decline in organic reach, as the social network is working to deliver a more meaningful experience for users by cutting out spammy, non-engaging content.

If Facebook shows content that’s supposedly more relevant, lower reach shouldn’t necessarily be an issue, as the people reached are more likely to interact with that content and generate higher levels of engagement.

But this isn’t exactly how Facebook sees it.

In a recent document entitled “Generating business results on Facebook”, the company strongly advises marketers to consider paid distribution to maximise their investments on the platform.

A Facebook spokesperson explained: “We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

Does this mean that in a sea of low quality content, good posts don’t stand a chance unless you put money behind them? Some would say so.

As Facebook is promoting paid as the preferred way to get results, brands may have to start thinking whether it’s time to change their social strategies. Is it still worth investing as much time and resources to create compelling content? Or should that money be spent in advertising?

Google +Post Turns Google+ Content Into Web Ads – PC Mag

Google has launched +Post ads, a new advertising method that lets brands promote content from public Google+ pages on Google’s display network.

While brands may not have interest in advertising on Google + – both because the platform is relatively new and their follower base is smaller – they’re likely to see the opportunity to promote social content across the web as a more appealing option.

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First of all, brands have, for first time, the chance to reach an audience beyond their followers and create ads that engage, as consumers can talk to the brand directly through the advertising.

Ad-comments allow people to share their thoughts and emotion right while their looking at the advert, which is likely to result in higher engagement.

Google claims that +Post ads get 50% higher expansion rates than average, referring to the frequency with which the reader hovers over an ad for more than two seconds to expand it.

Secondly, +Post ads are run through Google Display Networks tools which allow brands to better target their audience and pay only when people click/engage with their ads.

For Google, +post represents a huge opportunity to generate a new stream of revenue and significantly increase usage and engagement on Google+ by drawing consumers to the platform once they click on the ad.

For now, +Post ads is in beta for a limited number of AdWords advertisers, including Toyota and Cadbury, but if the service lives up to the expectations it’ll likely be rolled out to the wider business arena soon.

Facebook Steps Up Artificial-Intelligence Efforts With New Research Lab – All Things Digital

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Facebook is planning to expand its efforts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a branch of computer science that studies and develops intelligent machines and software.

In order to do so, the social network has hired AI expert New York University professor Yann LeCun.

As LeCun stated on his Google+ page, his role is to expand Facebook’s research laboratory dedicated to artificial intelligence and to bring about major advances in this area.

But the sudden appearance of AI on Facebook’s agenda wasn’t completely unexpected.

The initiative comes as Google also increased its investments in the field by hiring leading AI research scientist Ray Kurzweil to head its AI and deep-learning efforts.

Moreover, the amount of content posted and shared on social media is growing exponentially and it’s becoming increasingly harder for social giants, such as Facebook, to make sense of the data available.

Facebook and other social media are aware that if they want to keep being profitable they will have to meet marketers’ demand for new and more accurate insights that only AI seems to be able to provide.

According to Professor LeCun, Facbook’s AI project is long-term, which means it may take years to see some results. But will AI grow quickly enough to meet marketers’ insatiable need for consumer insights?

Is CPE the Best Way to Quantify ROI? – Mashable

Are impressions really a good metric for evaluating the success of your digital campaigns?

Millions of impressions may seem a lot but sometimes this metric is something that says very little, as it fails to answer what impact the campaign/ad had on the audience and ultimately to precisely identify the return on investment (ROI).

This is the reason why marketers are beginning move away from using cost per thousand impression (CMP) in favour of cost per engagement (CPE), as this metric allows look not only at how many consumers saw an ad but also at how many took action because of it.

Adopting this approach allows brands to quantify their ROI more precisely but it also changes the way campaigns and ads are crafted.

As engagement becomes the new goal, ads need to be more meaningful and better targeted if they’re hoping to generate a reaction from consumers.

A successful example is KOA, a national campgrounds franchise, which, together with ad agency LRXD, used a high-engagement, low-cost approach for its 2012 campaigns.

By using Facebook apps, interactive games and prizes for participation the agency increased incremental business by 4.7% and online bookings by 11%, the highest number of reservations in the company’s 51-year history.

Is your business using the CPE metric? Share with us your most engaging ads.

Till next week… Gabs (@gabrielegenola)

Image credit: cs.pomona.edu

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How the new generation of doctors are trusting digital in healthcare delivery

December 6, 2013 | Written by

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For healthcare professionals, as for all of us, technology is now an essential part of everyday life. We accept that our doctor will use a computer to access our medical files, technologies such as X-rays, CAT scans and ECG monitors are commonplace. But how much of our medical care is being taken over by digital technologies and is everyone happy about it?

There are some exciting digital technologies emerging and it is easy to see that some of them are already or are going to be a real asset to the medical profession.

The emergence of apps is an exciting area of digital development for healthcare professionals (HCPs) as they’re easily accessible and have a range of possible uses.

For example, back in 2010 the Daily Mail reported that iStethoscopes were set to replace the real thing in hospitals. After pressing the iPhone to the chest, the app would produce a phonocardiograph display.

However, despite the initial hype, this hasn’t taken over the market. Medical students are still taught the good old fashioned way – meaning we get to retain our stereotype of a doctor with a stethoscope round their neck.

Making an app successful

Some apps have had more success, generally the ones that can provide reliable information on-the-go to save medical professionals having to carry numerous large books around the hospital with them.

Examples of popular apps include:

Although more experienced doctors may not be rushing to change the status quo and start relying on these apps, the younger generation that found them invaluable during their training are much more likely to continue using them throughout their career.

A recent article in the Telegraph discussed how patients are growing accustomed to doctors using mobile technological devices during consultations, and how it is a huge benefit for the doctor to be able to instantly access up-to-date information at the patient’s bedside.

Another way apps can be used is to collect feedback from patients / service users. As the Guardian discussed back in June Birmingham Children’s Hospital is utilising such an app in an attempt to collect feedback in an acceptable and easily utilised way for the young patients.

Whereas the chances of a teenage patient flagging down a member of hospital staff to give honest feedback on their experiences are probably negligible, the opportunity to submit comments as you think of them, via your phone, which is probably more like a semi-permanent extension of your arm, seems a lot more likely.

Health tablet apps

Aside from apps, there are some really innovative uses of digital technology in medical devices. One such example is the iSnake, a new surgical robot to be developed at Imperial College London.

As the name suggests this device is intended to incorporate intuitive manipulation technologies allowing surgeons to carry out complex and demanding procedures that would previously only have been possible using invasive surgical approaches.

Not everyone views this digital growth as progression though, and some have expressed that the growing reliance on the internet is encouraging the deprofessionalisation of medicine.

Surveys consistently show that 60-80% of people have used the internet to obtain health information. Critics say that this unbalances the doctor-patient relationship by providing patients with a wealth of information that is now easily accessible to them.

But, this can be seen as a positive thing. Readdressing the power imbalance can help make patients feel empowered rather than helpless. The internet allows patients to actively do their own research; providing them with an opportunity to ask questions that there may not be time for in their rushed 10 minute doctor appointment. It’s often after you’ve left the doctor’s office and the information starts to sink in that all the questions suddenly spring to mind.

The internet also provides a great opportunity for health promotion and education – online support groups can vastly improve the lives of people with health conditions by providing information and support that is not limited by opening hours, location, cost of access etc.

The digital money-saving doctor

There is often discussion around the difficulties of finding the time to see a doctor, fitting it around work schedules and the lack of available appointments. But again, technology can offer a solution – we are already seeing a growth of teleconsultations and online specialist clinics.

While I wouldn’t advocate swapping ‘real-life’ doctors for online substitutes, these alternative avenues can offer patients a broader portfolio of healthcare access and may be able to target those who would otherwise slip through the net.

Digital First is a Department of Health initiative which aims to reduce unnecessary face-to-face contact between patients and healthcare professionals by incorporating technology into these interactions.

The aim is not to replace HCPs with technology. Instead it is about using technology in healthcare, where it can deliver high standards in a way that is more flexible and convenient for patients, and at a lower cost.

Currently 90% of all interactions in healthcare are face-to-face and every 1% reduction in face-to-face contact could save up to £200m.

Potential benefits of revolutionary digital technologies are numerous and the government and the NHS are joining forces to invest £1 billion in technology over the next three years to improve patient care and ease pressure on A&E departments.

The funding should lead to an increase in various different technologies, for example, ‘electronic prescribing’. This means computer generated prescriptions can be sent by doctors directly to pharmacies, with barcodes that are unique to each patient. This could reduce errors and improve patient safety.

The growth of digital has improved so many areas of our lives. It’s exciting to see how it is currently improving healthcare delivery, and how it will continue to do so in the future, especially as the tech-savvy generation become the doctors of tomorrow.

Moreover, these new technologies demonstrate that the scope of healthcare PR is no longer just focused on pharmaceutical companies, but it now also encompasses digital and technology companies, and their input into the wider healthcare delivery system.

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Why data analysis by Ruder Finn and IMGROUP can help brands enhance their social customer service.

November 28, 2013 | Written by

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Christmas is just around the corner and the UK’s major retailers are gearing up to make a final impression before you’ll decide where to swipe your credit card.

But are £7 million advertising campaigns and jaw-dropping prices still enough to get the biggest slice of the market? This year, customers want more. They want to be listened to and they want brands to engage with them on a more personal level.

2013 has been the year of the rise of social customer service. More and more brands across the globe have been engaging on social media and answering customers’ questions.  As the conversation grows the benefits have become more visible and businesses have begun to incorporate social media into their customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.

The monitoring and insight team at Ruder Finn UK have been following this trend closely and have developed a framework that helps brands assess the performance of their social customer service and engagement, as well as benchmarking it against that of competitors.

Our latest work, commissioned by multiple award-winning data insight and information management consultancy IMGROUP, looked at how successfully major UK bricks and mortar retailers are using social media – in this case Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus – to provide customer service.

Using powerful analytics tools, such as Sysomos and Socialbakers Analytics Pro, we collected data on the relevant customer service metrics such as average response rate, response time and engagement rate.

We then applied our analytics skills to evaluate the effectiveness of the retailers’ online customer service and engagement and to provide insights on areas of success and improvement.

The result was an in-depth report analysing the relevant metrics and assessing the overall performance of 10 retailers across their main social channels, before ranking them on the overall effectiveness of their engagement and effectiveness for customer service on social media

We believe that the importance of social customer service will only increase in the next few years and that our combination of technology and analytics skills will not only support brands to develop more meaningful relationships with their customers through social media, but also show the value that monitoring brings when crafting PR stories, such as those produced in collaboration with IMGROUP.

Image credit: HQdesktop

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INSIDE mHealth: Why mHealth apps need to adapt to fierce competition

November 26, 2013 | Written by

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Want stay up to date with the rapidly changing world of mHealth?

INSIDE mHealth is the monthly roundup from Ruder Finn that lets you do just that by delivering the latest news, trends, facts and stats direct to your screen.

This month’s INSIDE mHealth shows you what fiercer competition means for mHealth apps, why Apple’s Siri may soon become your new GP, the challenges mHealth faces in developing countries and much more.

THE HEADLINES

Over 50% of healthcare apps are downloaded under 500 times – Forbes

The Intercontinental Marketing Services (IMS) Institute for Healthcare Informatics has published a new report on the usage of mobile health apps.

Interestingly, the report explains that health apps do not fit well with the greatest areas of spend in healthcare, which is those patients facing chronic diseases and those patients over the age of 65. This is because smartphone penetration is lowest among this group, with only 18% of the US population using them.

Some additional key findings from the report show that:

· Over 50% of mobile health apps are downloaded less than 500 times

· Of the 43,000+ mobile health apps assessed for the report only 23,682 were classified with a legitimate health function

· Five apps accounted for 15% of all downloads

· More than 90% of the apps tested scored less than 40 on a scale of 100

These findings suggest that although there are a plethora of patient apps out there, the majority of these are, firstly not as popular as you may think, and secondly, may not actually be useful for improving people’s health.

However this doesn’t mean that these apps are useless, but rather it shows that competition is increasing and it’s becoming harder for mHealth apps to get visibility in the iTunes and Google Play store.

The report noted that in order for healthcare apps to be more successful and endorsed for patient use they should both provide a healthcare benefit and cost less than the same service provided by HCPs. Also, robust security and privacy assurances should be put in place to encourage greater patient uptake.

This report is encouraging as it shows that download patterns of mHealth apps are starting to mirror those of games and utility apps, where 20% of all apps account for 80% of all downloads.

This competition will hopefully push developers to create increasingly creative and user-friendly apps able to deliver a strong healthcare outcome at a low price.

The full IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report can be accessed here.

Paging Doctor Siri: A Hands-Free Way to Ask All Your Medical Questions – Mashable

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Imagine being able to ask medical question at anytime from anywhere and getting an immediate answer from a doctor.

Thanks to a new app called TalkToDocs you can now ask Siri or Google’s voice reader health related questions and receive an answer straight away.

The application is developed by HealthTap, a service that provides a network of over 50,000 trusted doctors to answer medical questions online. These answers have been stored in HealthTap’s fast-growing database and are now being used to provide direct medical advice through TalkToDocs.

As the network of doctors and the number of questions answered grows, the app will become increasingly more accurate and reliable, perhaps to the point where we’ll be able to get answers without necessarily having to pay a visit to our doctor.

This could provide huge relief to the NHS, which is struggling to meet demand, and help increasing awareness of the importance of prevention, which is the pillar of mobile healthcare.

mHealth: Technological change at the frontline of healthcare – mHealth News

Mobile healthcare is a fast-growing trend but it’s still too often identified with running and dieting apps.

But mHealth is much more than just fitness and its benefits aren’t only limited to developed countries.  It can revolutionise medical care in growing economies as well.

In a recent blog from the Huffington Post, mHealth was highlighted as a method of tackling health and diagnostics in South Asia and Africa.

For this to become standard procedure across all developing countries, mHealth will need to be associated with the various initiatives and processes taken by governments around the world that are placing mobile technology into the hands of frontline health workers.

Moreover, mHealth developers will have to up their efforts in partnering with charities or NGOs to deliver tech that will help volunteers without a medical background to carry out basic tests and guide diagnosis.

Although mHealth is no replacement for a qualified doctor yet, mobile technologies offering health information, that is otherwise unavailable, could help save thousand of lives in developing countries.

The 6 Biggest Innovations in Health Care Technology in 2013 – Get Referral MD

2013 has certainly seen great technological advance for the healthcare industry. The year is now coming to an end but the most influential healthcare technologies we’ve seen will continue to improve healthcare delivery in 2014 and beyond.

Here is a flavour of this year’s most promising innovations:

1. Microchips modeling clinical trials

Microchip modeling allows scientist to reconstruct the complicated interface between organs and capillaries on a micrometer scale.

These microchips resemble human live tissue and this will allow scientists to obtain more accurate results than those obtained through animal testing, as well as spare the lives of countless animals.

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2. Wearable technology like Google Glass

Thousand of patients in developed countries still die every year, as the technology and knowledge necessary to save them isn’t accessible to their doctors.

However, the continued adoption of wearable technology, such as Google Glass, will improve communication and the real-time sharing of skills and knowledge between medical professionals, which will allow them to save more lives.

3. 3D printed biological materials

Using 3D printing for medical purposes could help solving chronic health issues and complex procedures such as organ transplants.

This technology is still far from perfect but it’s certainly growing fast. The 3D Printshow 2013 in London showed the first 3D printed human body part: a functioning human ear constructed with real cells.

Other uses of 3D printing in healthcare that could have an important impact include are embryonic stem cells, printing and studying cancer cells and building skin and tissues.

If you want to find out the other main tech-healthcare innovation of 2013 check the full article.

THIS MONTH’S MOST RE-TWEETED

WHO

Innovations in e-learning, eHealth, mobile health, social media can help to train, deploy, support #HealthWorkers http://t.co/M2WJwPxupZ

1 Nov 2013

uMotif

Clinicians’ assumptions of #mhealth #digitalhealth barriers often wrong. Great slide @nihr_mindtech event #mindtech http://t.co/M38lUvOjdl

11 Nov 2013

Gates Foundation

How a fingerprint could help revolutionize global health: http://t.co/xbOCeGwSDJ #mhealth

4 Nov 2013

GlobalMusic4 Life

Life is about choices. https://t.co/uCQzAhbAzl #share #mhealth #obamacare http://t.co/vlL8NBbq5U

14 Nov 2013

Medical Thriller

“The Dark Side of #Digital #Medicine!”☆☆☆☆☆SECRET THOUGHTS#Medical #Thrillervideo http://t.co/mPxox1g8ts #mHealth #ACA #starbucks

14 Nov 2013

KS

An extraordinarily useful healthcare app that works all over the world: http://t.co/7tCYckUKqP #nhshd via @ntoll

27 Oct 2013

Scottish Enterprise

Innovative technology to improve healthcare gets big boost with opening of new Digital Health Institute in Edinburgh: http://t.co/EMNDZDtVqW

29 Oct 2013

THIS MONTH’S BEST INFOGRAPHIC

This infographic by Rock Health shows the impact digital has had on medical patients and how it has improved healthcare delivery.

70% are confortable communicating to their doctor remotely and 30% of people now use a computer or a mobile device to check for medical and diagnostic information.

But this is just the beginning as digital and mobile healthcare have the potential to dramatically change healthcare delivery in the years to come.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

· Opportunities in the mHealth Landscape breakfast seminar by Pinsent Masons

WHERE: London

WHEN: 27 November 2013

· mHealth for Behaviour Change Masterclass

WHERE: London

WHEN: 4 December 2013

· mHealth Summit

WHERE: Washington DC, USA

WHEN: 9-13 December 2013

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What digital means for the ABPI Code of Practice

November 25, 2013 | Written by

This post was joint authored by Jessica Lowrie and Saba Alimoradian.

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One of the challenges in working in healthcare and digital healthcare PR is the regulatory framework any communication has to adhere to.

There are several codes of practice, but broadly the one golden rule to keep in mind is that pharmaceutical companies – and by default, their agencies – can’t advertise prescription medicines direct to the public. How, then, can you inject the creative into a campaign when you’re limited in what can actually be said?

It’s a simple enough clause, but even around the regulatory guidelines there are still grey areas, especially in the growing number of digital channels. All at Ruder Finn are trained in the codes of practice, and it’s led to some interesting discussions, both internally and with the governing bodies.

The main body is the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). Their code of practice is administered by the Prescription Medicine Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), who do so at an arm’s length from the governing body.

The Code aims to ensure that pharmaceutical companies operate in a responsible, ethical and professional manner – and by association the PR companies representing the pharmaceutical companies.

The digital divide

Each year, we hold refresher training for RF staff on the code, and this year there were plenty of questions that followed around digital communications. A week later we were discussion these questions in more detail with the PMCPA’s Heather Simmonds in an online webinar, organised by PM Society.

The main message from Simmonds was that, while there is no specific guidance for individual digital platforms, the overarching principles and guidance of the ABPI code can be applied in all circumstances. Again, this comes back to the overarching message of not promoting prescription medicines to the general public.

Inevitably there were plenty of questions, specifically around the likes of Twitter and Facebook, and newer social platforms such as Pinterest. Simmonds advised to stick to the principles behind the code, but acknowledged there were specific questions that the code didn’t address.

Furthermore, Simmonds highlighted that although there may be uncertainties associated with applying the code on digital media this does not necessarily need to restrict the usage of digital media in healthcare PR. She urged people to be creative – digital media can be used as an innovative tool if the person or agency administering it has a comprehensive understanding of the code.


The future of the Code

What became increasing clear throughout this webinar session was the need clarity within the ABPI code of practice in the digital world.  Digital is a fast moving and ever-evolving industry, and the code appears to have acknowledged the need to advance with it. For a start, there is an ABPI code Digital app due to launch next year.

The regulation of the code is based on precedent and unless complaints are put forward then the PMCPA will not get involved.  With the rise of social media networks and increasing power and ability of the Internet, it undoubtedly makes it difficult to issue guidance on the very specific and complex cases in digital PR.

Ultimately, the guidance the PMCPA can give comes when they’re required to make a ruling on a specific case and there have been examples where they’ve ruled on digital communications (see their website for more details).

The acknowledgement of the ABPI to address the involvement of digital media in healthcare communications reflects a wider shift in the power and usage of digital media.

In the coming years, expect to see many more questions posed by pharmaceutical companies and their agencies, plenty more guidance from the regulatory bodies and a few new technologies and social platforms that add extra shades of grey. Far from being restrictive, it’s an exciting time to be working in healthcare communications.

Image credit: www.pmcpa.org.uk

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