Jun 25 14

Clarifications to a podcast – I was recently mentioned (quite positively, me thinks) in a podcast. The speaker made a few mistakes though…

by Joseph


Drew Sanocki mentioned me in EP #49: Bold eCommerce Predictions with Drew Sanocki of DesignPublic.com up around 36m14s. I was flattered and noted a few mistakes in what was said. I offered the following as a comment (hasn’t appeared yet) so I’m publishing it here in case others are similarly confused.


Hello and thanks for the mention.

Just so there’s no confusion, my name is Joseph Carrabis. You can get most of the scoop on me on LinkedIn. The book is Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History. Interested listeners/readers can pre-order V2: Experience and Expectation in NextStage’s KnowledgeShop.

I’d consider myself a researcher rather than sociologist.

The tool you’re mentioning is our Evolution Technology (ET). We currently have four patents on ET and there are more in the queue. ET is considered both base and disruptive. One use is monitoring online behaviors and in doing so, ET does use transient cookies to store things like pagename, sitename and so on.

However, ET neither uses permanent cookies nor gathers any personal identifying information whatsoever.

ET has been independently validated to 98% accuracy determining visitor age and gender while they’re navigating a site. Its ability to identify individuals across websites is due to its ability to recognize an individual’s thought patterns — what we call neuroprints, like fingerprints of the mind — when an individual is on different properties. This ability comes from most people being able to fake just about anything except how they think. How an individual makes decisions, shows interest, demonstrates attention, etc., is the same (at a neural level) regardless of what site they’re navigating or what device they’re using. Again, this is covered in V1: Science and History.

The “job” example you mention is also covered in V1: Science and History. It took about 30 seconds to determine that visitor’s job based only on how they interacted with our site. We don’t have a “jobs” page per se. ET pops up a request that you contact us if it determines you’d get along well here and we have an opening that matches your abilities. It asks no questions, there are no forms to fill out.

Mouse movements comprise about 10-15% of how ET makes its determinations. Its accuracy drops to 83% if the visitor bounces and it works on most commonly used digital platforms (desktops to mobiles, etc).

Our company is NextStage Evolution. We’ve been in business since 2001. ET currently gathers and tracks online behavior in over 100 countries. Companies often come to us to

  1. create custom tools for their use based on ET
  2. advise them on entering new markets or cultural marketing based on our extensive cultural behavioral database
  3. because we’re lots of fun to work with, …

Hope that helps and again, thanks for mentioning us.

Joseph


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Jun 2 14

Introducing NextStage Surveys

by Susan Carrabis


Many of you may have seen the survey that Joseph sent out. If not, the English version is at http://65.98.76.91/, the Italian version is at http://65.98.76.90/ and you should definitely take them.

This post is introducing one of NextStage’s undocumented services – Surveys. NextStage has been doing surveys for over seven years with over 7,300 results to date. We’ve helped companies both large and small from inception to conclusions. We maintain stringent levels of confidentiality for both our clients and survey participants, and our pricing is highly competitive.

NextStage offers:

  • Survey Design
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Survey Hosting

All surveys are designed to get the maximum out of a minimum number of questions. NextStage works closely with clients

  1. to learn what they want to know,
  2. and design a survey that will gather the required information
  3. without revealing what’s being studied (to insure that results are genuine and not biased by the moment or recent events).

Not only do clients get the standard analysis – the pixel in the pie charts – clients also get the Evolution Technology (ET) analysis of the participants as a whole and by any number of segmentations, many of which only NextStage can provide:

  • Rich Personae Analysis (How to get them to think the way you want them to think, what motivates them to act, how they will act and when)
  • Veridification (Were participants responding truthfully and to what degree were they not?)
  • LifeLining (Did the participant poll others before responding to a question?)
  • PiggyBacking (was more than one person “at the keyboard” when taking the survey?)
  • How were participants thinking when responding to the survey?
  • What will cause them to act/not act?
  • When will will act/stop acting?
  • What questions caused the most internal debate?
  • What questions were the most important?

And remember, NextStage’s ET gathers all this information without asking, only by observing, with 98%+ accuracy on your survey platform or ours. In addition to handling all aspects of online surveys, NextStage can offer guidance and staff training for companies doing their own phone or in-person studies, depending on client needs.

Get in touch with NextStage before you do your next study and we’ll help you get way more bang for your buck. FYI NextStage Members get the customer 25% discount on all surveys.

(this has been a public service announcement brought to you by those kind folks at NextStage Evolution)


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Mar 4 14

NextStage gets Patent #4 and Releases NextStage’s Experience Optimizer Tool

by Joseph


NextStage received its fourth patent on 18 Feb 2014. This patent is “… focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device.”

First, about the patent (and we didn’t write this, someone else did):

“Joseph Carrabis and NextStage Evolution, LLC were awarded their fourth US patent today (18 Feb 2014). US patent 8,655,804 is focused specifically on harvesting demographic data from the way a user interfaces with an electronic device. Whether using a keyboard, a mouse, a touchscreen, or eye movement, users reveal themselves in their interactions with these devices and Joseph’s software listens. With simple mouse movements within a web page, this software can determine age and gender of a user with over 95% accuracy. Ethnic background, economic status, home state, native language, and political party affiliation can all be determined in seconds of device interaction. This technology has set NextStage Evolution, LLC apart from all other neuromarketing technology on the market.”

The actual patent intro is a bit more technical:

A system and method for determining a characteristic of an individual is provided. The method includes determining at least one nonconscious element of an interaction by the individual and correlating at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic of the individual. The system includes a computerized medium having a human interface system situated to facilitate interaction with the individual and produce a quantity of data corresponding to the interaction. A programmable device is in communication with the computerized medium and is situated to use at least a portion of the quantity of data corresponding to the interaction with the individual to determine at least one nonconscious element of the interaction with the individual. A correlation system is situated to correlate the at least one nonconscious element with at least one identifiable demographic characteristic and output a quantity of resulting information. …

NextStage Experience Optimizer ToolNow that we have this patent, we’ll be officially releasing our NextStage Experience Optimizer (NSEO) tool.

NSEO analyzes people using any device and sends instructions back to the device (or wherever the client wants the instructions sent) on how to improve the user’s experience.

First, how does ET and NSEO do this?

NextStage's Experience Optimizer Tool 'talks' to visitorsWell, ET and NSEO do it pretty much the way you’d do it if you were talking with the person, and we mean that literally.

Imagine you’re sitting down with someone and the two of you are looking at the same thing, a restaurant menu at lunch, for example. The other person has been to this restaurant before and with other people.

Now imagine that you’re talking about what’s on the menu while you make up your mind. The person sitting with you is listening and making suggestions based on what they’ve learned from dining with other people in the same restaurant, in other restaurants and so on. Eventually you make a decision on what to order for lunch. The other person’s suggestions helped you make your decision and you don’t think of their help as help per se although you will remember the good lunch at this restaurant and suggest it to others.

NSEO and ET do much the same thing. NSEO looks at, listens to, etc., the same content a visitor’s looking at, listening to, etc., and pays attention to how visitors interact with that content. Simultaneously, it’s matching this visitor’s behavior and interactions against every other visitor to the same content, visitors to similar content, visitors to all content and so on.

Based on what it’s learned about this visitor and what it knows about all similar visitors to this content and all similar content, it suggests changes to the content’s presentation, things like “Adjust the colors”, “Adjust the font”, “Use different language”, “Use different images”, “Place the images here and here instead of there and there” and on and on and on. The amount of suggestions NSEO makes is based on the number of visitor states (described below) the NextStage client is interested in. We provided an elementary example of this to an audience in 2000 and documented several examples in Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History (available at Amazon and in the NextStage KnowledgeShop, and everybody should have at least two copies. Also, V2 is due out this year if you’d like to pre-order). My favorite among the examples in V1 is:

IV.2 – The Investors Heard the Music

One of the early incarnations of the NextStage Evolution website self-modified in real time based on how individual visitors were interacting with itq. Two people could be sitting in the same room but using different computers to browse the site and ET would deliver content customized to each visitor’s unique cognitive, memorization, and comprehension styles. These styles are collectively called the “{C,B/e,M} matrix”, meaning “cognitive, behavioral/effective, motivational matrix”.

The {C,B/e,M} Matrix is, quite literally a shorthand notation for how people interact with their world. What is covered is very rich and detailed and can be summed up into three basic categories; Cognitive (“How do they think? What do they think about?”), Behavioral/effective (“What do they do that demonstrates how they think?” and the way I use the word “Behavioral” has next to nothing to do with how the term is used in the industry today, me thinks) and Motivational (“Why do they think the way they do? Why do they demonstrate it the way they do?”).38,49-51,53-56,58,59,63- 65,67,69,70,106,122

Differing {C,B/e,M} matrices were demonstrated when two investors called up from their office in San Francisco. I was sitting in my office in Nashua, NH, and they had asked for a demonstration of ET.

“Have you been on our site?” I asked.

Yes, they had, of course. So?

“Are you near a computer hooked to the internet right now?”

Yes, they were. So?

“Log onto the site. Pick any page off the menu you’d like to visit and tell me which one it is, okay?”

Okay.

I navigated to the same page they were on. “I’m going to describe to you what I’m looking at. While I describe it to you pay close attention to what’s actually on your screen. You’ll notice some differences.” I started reading some of the text.

Yes, the text on their browser was slightly different.

I started describing the size and placement of images, as well as image content.

Yes, in some cases they didn’t even have an image I was describing, often they had one I didn’t have, etc., etc.

Then, while I was talking to them, their browser started playing music.

“You didn’t tell us your site had music,” one of them said.

My response didn’t make sense to them at first. “ET determined that you weren’t paying attention to the website and were focusing on an auditory stimuli, so it started playing music in the hopes of bringing your attention back to the website. It’s attempting to substitute its own auditory stimulus for the one you’re focusing on.”

“Why would it do that? There aren’t any auditory stimulus in the room.”

I remember both the emphasis and the lack of grammatical expertise on the investors’ parts. My explanation stopped them cold. “Yes, the auditory stimulus is that you’re talking to me. ET doesn’t know that you’re talking on the phone, but it can determine that some sound event — in this case our conversation — is where your attention is focused. It wants you focused on the website, so it’s playing some music in order to draw your attention away from this phone call and back to the screen. Like a child, ET wants to be the center of attention.”

I heard them click onto another page and the music stopped.

“How come the music stopped?” “Because your attention was focused back on the website. It didn’t need to play the music anymore in order to get your attention.”

A brief discussion ensued in which they expressed a great concern about my ability to access and distribute fertilizer.

And the music started playing again.


q – Self-modifying sites are what now might be called “morphing” sites. I have a challenge with the term “morph” due to the concept of Turing machines. A site, like you, should modify its behavior based on who it’s communicating with. People (and true Turing machines) routinely modify their behaviors based on who they’re communicating with, but only the psychotics “morph”, ie, become a completely different being.

Back then people couldn’t believe or understand. What a difference fourteen years make, huh?

Second, what types of instructions are sent back?

The instructions can be as simple as the individual’s gender and age (two variables), visitor “states” that NextStage’s Evolution Technology can determine at better than 98% accuracy, according to an independent validation study. Most online business can make do with our standard nine (9) states:

  1. Branding level (are they branded? Are they debranded?)
  2. Confusion level
  3. Conversion trigger (what will cause them to convert?)
  4. Curiosity level
  5. Decision maker status (is this person going to make the decision or will someone else make the decision based on the visitor’s recommendation)
  6. Decision status (where are they in their decision)
  7. Decision strategy (what will cause them to convert)
  8. Interest level
  9. Intender status (when will they convert)

More demanding requirements (security, privacy, …) can have up to ninety (90) visitor states delivered. How many states are delivered is part of the deployment discussion, and how the instructions are used is based on business rules, etc.

We offer guidance but don’t do any client coding, it’s up to the clients’ dev teams to build code around ET’s instructions and act upon them. ET will send back instructions based on what the clients’ goals are and what we’re willing to provide (if you haven’t read our Principles, now’s the time). The simplest incarnation is changing the css of a visitor’s browser session based on some simple rules.

What does NSEO cost?

It won't cost an arm and a legNextStage Experience Optimizer‘s pricing is based on amount of traffic, how often you want it to send information back, what types of information you want sent back, … pretty much the regular things. It won’t cost an arm and a leg and if your operation is a good cause, we can negotiate lots of things.

You can see a presentation, Introducing the NextStage Experience Optimizer, I gave on the NextStage Experience Optimizer for free in our KnowledgeShop (viewed best in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and anything but IE9, evidently).

And now, a chuckle

What’s kind of amusing about this is that NSEO is actually what ET (our patented technology) was doing when we originally built it in 1999 and no one was ready (as I’ve said many times, CEOs were telling us “What do I care what my customers are thinking?”). Now the world has caught up and we’re going back to our origins.


Jan 13 14

Welcome to 2014!

by Joseph


Are you looking for the NextStage sites and wondering where they went?

Don’t worry, they’re still here, simply changing. We spent much of 2013 modifying ET and that means the backends of our sites, when the time came, were going to go through lots of changes.

Those changes are going to be put in place through much of 2014, so while the front ends may not change much (yet, they will change this year), the back ends are changing greatly. The sites will come and go as we hook in and test ET’s new abilities in real usage environments (including mobile).

In the meantime, enjoy our various blogs (and we plan on adding a few new blogs, too!).

FYI, we’ll probably be making announcements along the way via any of Twitter, The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed or


NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group


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Aug 8 13

If You Bug Them, They Will Come

by Joseph

Okay, the truth is, if you bug them, they’ll buy more. But that wasn’t as catchy a title.

NextStage completed a 1½ year study of whether business increases or decreases when you tickle (I originally used the word “annoy”) your customers with repetitive marketing.

What’s your guess? Tick ‘em off and they’ll book for a competitor? Are you like me and NextStage, proudly proclaiming “We only do permission based marketing because it’s more respectful to the consumer!”

Well, if you are in that “respect the consumer” camp, hopefully you’ll learn as quickly as we have.

I mean, research is research and numbers are numbers and 5,000 consumers can’t be wrong.

We studied 5,000 consumers’ habits across 4 main message vectors (email, social, phone and direct mail) in 3 industries (personal care, gourmet foods, politics). The study was specifically designed to identify that borderland where people shift from positive action ($$$conversion$$$, plain and simple) to negative action (removal from list, unopened emails, stop following, stop taking calls, recognizable drop in direct mail response, …) so that our clients would know things like periodicity, response-timing, best engagement practices, cross channel techniques, blah blah blah.

Much to my chagrin (and several others of us here. We were having one of our regular weekend getaways) we proved that regular “annoyances” increase business from 25-100%. Yes, there are several factors involved and it’s not as simple as “Spam the heck out of them!” but still, to discover that people want to be tickled? And that the simplest messages got the best results?

Essentially we discovered that we could create an itch that consumers were happy to scratch. Who knew that direct mail is hot in certain demographics? Or that certain ethnic groups favor one channel over others by 50:1? Or that some groups like regular tickles and others respond like crazy to irregular tickles?

NextStage got this project based on our past research in optimal blogging frequency (yep, people still read blogs…I hope) and email newsletter design.

So get ready. We’re planning to tickle the heck out of you.


May 22 13

Shooting the Message Because of the Messenger

by Joseph


You receive an email or tweet or TXT or some such from someone you know. Do you read the message because you know who sent it or because the subject line or first few words or glance catches your attention? Most people probably aren’t aware of their selection criteria. Let me invite you to be more aware (and let me know what you discover, thanks).

An interesting social phenomenon on the rise (NextStage has catalogued anecdotal evidence since 2007) indicates that an increasing number of people decide whether or not to pay attention to a message based on information content, not their relationship to the source.

Please note that NextStage has done no formal research on this. We do keep track of anecdotal evidence, though, and the number of anecdotes dealing with this phenomenon increased steadily albeit slowly from 2007 to 2011. It doubled in 2012 and we’ve already catalogued more in the first five months of 2013 than in all previous years put together.

The curiosity is around whether or not this increase in information-sort over social-sort is due to information bias or not; People are more connected than ever. Does that mean the value of social ties is less than in the past? Are we indeed too social to be social?

Or has the proliferation of content caused us to determine social value by information value? If so, keywords, taglines and the like are going to become very expensive because that’s all marketing will be. Consider how many commercials there are in which the entire conversation between actors is nothing more than a series of soundbytes.

This also means a message’s source can hurt the message’s success in a social system; people will shoot the message because of the messenger. More than that, the value of influencers will decrease sooner rather than later. An influencer’s information quality must remain high because consumers are sorting by information value, not information source. Eventually everyone will have the same “influencer” status within their social circle.

This is going to put a whole new spin on social and related marketing, me thinks.

Patrick McGoohan as The PrisonerI mean, the heck with whether or not you’re a free man (or woman). Just tell me your number or go away.


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May 8 13

Here Are Your NeuroMarketing Options

by Joseph

I was at a conference recently and took many turns through the exhibitors’ booths.

I took many turns through the exhibitors’ booths because I had no idea what I was doing at the conference. I’d been invited and someone else was paying my way, and I hoped seeing the wares presented would offer some insight into why some group would contact me to attend on their behalf and essentially pay me to do so.

Before going further, let me state that I don’t remember any NextStageologist saying or writing “We do neuromarketing.” It’s been said about us often enough and I’ve publicly written that I think people say we do neuromarketing (skim down to “3. What the heck is a NeuroMarketer?” in the link) because 1) it’s a term du jour, 2) they don’t know what else to call us, 3) they’ve called us many pleasant and few unpleasant things in the past and seem to think we change as do the buckets they want to put us in, …

People say “But you guys do so many things” and that’s true. Our response is “That’s because the brain does so many things. The brain doesn’t only make decisions or only control breathing or only look at pretty people or only guess about the future and if the brain could only do one thing we wouldn’t have evolved much beyond amoeba. We do lots of things because, like the brain, we have no limits.”

Okay, we have some limits.

But, as I was typing, some of the vendors did…something…at the conference. I watched. It looked a lot like what I’ve been told is traditional, historical neuromarketing. You know, traditional and historical, like the stuff going back a year or more ago?

It was fascinating.

Now before going any further, none of the people shown here claim to be neuromarketers and that includes NextStage. I merely offer these as examples of what others who call themselves “neuromarketers” do.

Here are some of your NeuroMarketing options…

Option 1 – See the Brain in Real Time

Cap Showing the Brain in 3D

The fellow in the picture above is brilliant. He and his team (if I understood correctly) have developed a cap that generates a image of an individual’s neurophysiology in real time. The medical implications of this are incredible.

But it’s not neuromarketing as I understand it. Seeing the brain work is not the same as knowing what the brain is working on. Seeing specific brain areas associated with likes and dislikes is not the same as knowing what the brain is liking or disliking. Tomograph, fMRIs, neurographs, etc., of heat and blood flow in the brain while showing a picture of a brand product is not the same as that individual wanting, desiring or avoiding that brand product. They are, at best, proxies. There may be a direct connection or they may not be. A dislike of a particular brand might have more to do with a bad memory of someone who used that brand than the brand itself, and building a campaign on such evidence is…is…a really interesting way to spend your budget.

But credit where credit is due, if I ever get a brain lesion, I want the guy in the picture above in my corner.

Option 2 – If the Device Fits, Wear It

The video below is of a young woman being fitted with a device that allows the wearer’s brain to interact directly with an image on a screen. Doing that is impressive. The device itself is nicely designed and packaged. The gentleman in the video is someone trained by the company that markets the device. He’s a trained professional. After two minutes and twenty seconds he still hadn’t gotten the device to work correctly, and he’d applied enough saline solution to make Brylcream proud because this time, a little dab wasn’t doing ya.


Fairness time; lots of people at this conference sat down to have this device placed on their heads. I talked with several of them who wanted to take part but couldn’t because the device couldn’t read their signals reliably if at all.

Option 3 – You Can Find A Company that Claims to do NeuroMarketing

A long standing NextStage client was told by his GM to go talk to the GM’s friend who had started a neuromarketing company. You could tell they were a neuromarketing company because they used “neuromarketing” on their site a lot.

I asked the client how it went. Here’s the conversation:

“Hi! I’m speaking with these guys today, …, it looks like they are taking a similar theoretical approach as you, although their execution is paleolithic compared to yours.”

Be sure to tell them that.

“The guy is a friend of the GM. The GM hears me say the word neuromarketing, this guy says the word neuromarketing, GM says lets all meet. I say, ‘Why would I let them put headbands on 5 people when I can learn way more about EVERY one visiting a site without looking like Olivia Newton-John?’ I can assure you that basically I’m going to tell them they’re in the stone ages. No reason to drive the ford Edsel when you have the rocket car sitting in the garage!”

(a few days later…)

How did it go with your GM’s friend?

“The neuro guy was a joke, an entrepreneur who saw a cool graph on a screen, no plan, no insight, no training, no business plan, not even an elevator pitch nor the brains to run it.”

Hmm…but he has money? Maybe he’d like to buy us out…?

“He doesn’t have that kind of money….”

Sorry it was so ungood. And may I quote you?

“Quote me?”

Yes, I’ve been working on a response to all the neuro blather and would like to include an anonymous note about someone who went looking for neuro solutions and came up short.

“No problem ;)”

(and here’s to hoping you, dear reader, have similar luck)

Recapping thus far

Thus far we’ve seen the need for devices that may or may not work for everyone, require a skilled professional to place on the test subject’s head correctly, are limited to subjects who basically raise their hand and say “Yes, I’ll wear one of those”, and people with pretty websites, high level friends and are a joke (so said the client, not us).

First, what happens to those people who raise their hands but can’t make the device work? How many will be satisfied with “Here’s your $20 and sorry your head’s not the right shape” or “Here’s your $30 and your brain’s not giving off any signals we can detect” or “Here’s your $50 and our equipment doesn’t seem to be working right now, no need to come back later because it won’t work for you, then, either”?

You’d probably go with a variant of that last one but then you have people walking around telling others how their incredible noggins broke your fancy-dancy mind-reading headgear.

And if people can train their brains to do what’s required, how long do you think it’ll be ’till companies start selling “Brain-Trained” individuals for testing purposes, or offer “Brain-Training” courses and all so that, when the neuromarketing goblins come a’knockin’, your results will be through-the-roof kind-of good?

And you thought buying Fans, Friends and Likes was scummy?

And do remember, none of the folks in the above images claims to do “neuromarketing”. At least they didn’t claim to when I asked (and I did ask and I did ask permission to video and photograph so I could use the video and photographs on one of my company’s blogs). I took the pictures and video because the folks shown above do things that other companies have called “neuromarketing”.

Second, the GM’s friend. Let me repeat myself. “The GM’s friend.”

Option 4 – In the Time You’ve Been Reading…

In the 1-5 minutes you’ve been reading this post, NextStage’s Evolution Technology has analyzed the behaviors of anywhere from 3-25,000 individuals. It has determined how they think, how they make decisions, what types of things convince them, whether or not they believe whatever they’re viewing, whether or not they accept whatever they’re viewing (belief and acceptance are two very different things), when they’re likely to spend money and what needs to be changed on a client’s digital property so that they, the visitor, will spend money on the client’s digital property or in their brick&mortar store. You can get an idea of what NextStage’s Evolution Technology can determine in our example NextStage OnSite reports, you can get an idea of where we’re currently being used on our NextStage SampleMatch Countries listing and you can get an idea what people are saying about everything we do in our Comments section.

And remember, we don’t do “neuromarketing”. We just give you results. From your entire online audience. There’s a lot of neuroscience in what we do, true, and there’s also a lot of anthropology, linguistics, sociology, psychology, mathematics, and other sciences in what we do.

That’s why I prefer to offer that NextStage does NeuroAnalytics rather than NeuroMarketing because we’re more interested in how to use what the brain does naturally to make your marketing work.

As one happy client wrote in my LinkedIn Profile,

I’ve been working with Joseph and his tools now for several years. As a “digital analytics professional”, there are several phrases I can use to describe the man and the technology he creates related to my field of work: game-changing, mind-blowing, visionary.

I don’t use those words lightly. I’ve seen the future of advanced analytics, and it’s the next generation technology Joseph has invented and continues to develop.

How do you measure website engagement? Page depth? Time on site? Top viewed content? Satisfaction surveys? These are proxies for what we in digital analytics think reflects visitor engagement. Now imagine a tool that you could put on your website that silently measures engagement by actually determining how visitors feel about content, without having to ask them.

Then imagine that the same tool can then alter visitor website experience on-the-fly and present more engaging content. Then imagine watching your conversion rates go through the roof.

It’s not fiction or magic. It is a real tool, it is real science, and you can use it on your website to drive real extraordinary business results.

And that’s just the tip of Joseph’s iceberg. He’s continually creating new tools, new technology, and new thinking to enable marketers to measure and enhance the effectiveness of their work in ways that haven’t even been thought possible before.

I consider myself lucky to have met Joseph, and I am continually awed and humbled by the man. If you’re in business and want to do better, I’d suggest you get to know him and his marketing toolbox as well.

If nothing else, you’ll at least get a few good jokes out him!

Ta-Da!

Apr 10 13

NextStage’s Social Interferometer Determines Candidate’s Best Position in Social Campaign

by Joseph

NextStage has been researching many aspects of social networking and related social behaviors on- and off-line since 1983. Several businesses make use of our expertise by asking us to help them create social marketing strategies and campaigns, and help them put together social marketing teams.

One piece of this work involved a three year research project to determine what social strategies were and were not successful. This research ran from 2009 to 2012 and involved monitoring the social marketing success of over 400 US and Canadian companies. The results were documented in 9 ways to guarantee a winning social campaign and 10 ways to guarantee a losing social campaign.

We quickly learned that the best starting point for a social campaign is to find the correct, best person to take on the social media/marketing campaign. Higher likelihood of success comes when that correct, best person has a team of similarly correct, best people working with him or her and that’s a completely different question that most businesses aren’t designed to answer.

There’s a lot that goes into the technical side of social marketing. Most of that can be learned given enough time.

But the social mindset side of social marketing? Does the person think socially? Do they understand either intuitively or through study how social networks function, what triggers them to act as they do, how to recognize real versus temporary influencers, …?

That was a totally different question. Companies are very good at recognizing managerial talent within their ranks and from a talented pool. Recognizing managerial talent that also has a strong social mindset is something else.

NextStage Social InterferometerNextStage developed a questionnaire based tool, the NextStage Social Interferometer, to help businesses determine what a candidate’s best position would be on a social marketing team; should they lead? would they be a good strategist? could they advise?

NextStage’s Social Interferometer is specifically designed to determine the questionnaire respondent’s best position on a social marketing team. The questions and their order is based on based on our research, studies and 1000+ interviews with people who’ve had positive ROI (their income greatly exceeded their spend) from social campaigns.

The complete NextStage Social Interferometer questionnaire takes most users 2-4 hours to complete and can be thought of as a second-level interview. Alternately, it can save social campaign/marketing job seekers people lots of pain by letting them know ahead of time how successful they’re likely to be, or what role they should apply for in a social marketing effort. We strongly encourage users to take more than one (1) hour and less than eight (8) hours for accurate results.

Enjoy!


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Aug 29 12

A Twittering (and Related Social Platforms) Update Part 4 – Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v … (If you invest here, do you need to invest there?)

by Joseph

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral MetricsThis is the fourth post in a six part blog-arc about some recent research NextStage has done regarding Twitter and several other social platforms. Some of these posts appear on my BizMediaScience blog due to tone. This post is a little more researchy and we figured it should go here. We’re also wanting to spread the love a bit.

These posts will cover

  1. Followers
  2. Watches
  3. “You don’t follow anybody”
  4. Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v …
  5. Private v Public Personae
  6. “You rarely point to someone else’s writing”

This post deals with the reason for this blog-arc, the marketing functionality of different social networks and NextStage’s research. We first discussed these concepts during our SNCR NewComm Forum 2008 presentation, Whispering to Be Heard: The Art and Science of Buzz Marketing so you can appreciate that we’ve been looking at this for a while.

Twitter v LinkedIn v Facebook v FourSquare v Pinterest v …

NextStage is completing a study on the sociality transfer between social platforms. Specifically, we’re investigating community detection by groups and individuals, how they determine which platforms serve them best, hence marketers can determine which social platforms will serve a given audience and message best. The end goal is an equation that determines cross-pollination between social platforms, as in “If you invest here, do you need to invest there?”

I presented The Social Conversion Differences Between Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the Providence eMarketing Con on 13 Nov 2011 and explained that the greatest marketing cross pollination efforts at that time would be a Twitter-LinkedIn effort.

More so than any other effort. Twitter to LinkedIn and back.

The reason is due to Twitter and LinkedIn users having {C,B/e,M}s1 that are much closer to each other than the {C,B/e,M}s of any other combination, therefore a Twitter-LinkedIn campaign allowed for lower marketing costs (same material would engage both audiences) and allowed for multiple touchpoints in this single cross-audience (multiple touchpoints generate more activity than single touchpoints in a given audience).

NextStage Compatibility GaugeMore recent research was done quite differently from the above and dealt with sociality (the ability to recognize node-specific communities and a blend of community detection and recognition). If you recently received an invitation from a NextStageologist to join them on a social platform, you were part of the research. Chances are you were invited to join one of us on some social platform because you’ve generated an extensive “paper” trail — you blog, you publish whitepapers, you have more than one profile somewhere, you comment on other people’s blogs, you have an online resume, … and that paper trail could be analyzed by our Evolution Technology (most often NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge) to determine if you would or would not link, befriend, pin, tumble, so on and so forth, and what platforms you’d accept/allow contact on.

See how painless research can be?

Truth be told, some NextStageologists received a warning message from Facebook: we were attempting to befriend people we didn’t know and, evidently, enough Facebookers complained that several of our accounts got flagged. We could either quit Facebook, take back all our Friend Requests, take back all Friend Requests made to people with whom we had few friends in common, … Evidently research isn’t painless for everyone. The fact that there are people on Facebook who follow some of us on Twitter but won’t befriend us is worth a post in itself, don’t you think?

But in any case, the results are fascinating.

And if the results are all you’re interested in, click here.

Theory to Practice

One of the things we theorized, tested and put into some of our tools (NextStage ClientProspector and NextStage SocialInterferometer which are currently only available to Members (we’re hoping to make the SocialInterferometer public soon), NextStage LoveFinder which is publicly available and NextStage JobProspector (still in development) is that {C,B/e,M}s can fit together like puzzle pieces, sometimes like hands in gloves and sometimes they’ll grind against each other like gears shearing teeth as they clash.

This puzzling-glove-clash determines how messages will be communicated by smaller networks through larger networks — how groups can thrive within groups. Kind of like being part of a organization while having a group of closer friends within that organization. Everyone takes part in the organization’s activities and the closer group will engage in its own activities beyond those provided by the organization.

We’re interested (and you should be interested, too) in how messages within the smaller, closer groups get propagated through the larger groups. Let me give you an example.

Figure 1 - A network of 1Let’s say I have something I want to share. Immediately, I can only share it with myself. This is demonstrated by that one, little, solipsistic dot in the middle of the image on the right. I may have a great idea, an incredible product, a wonderful service, a great story, a good vibe, whatever. Immediately it’s just me who knows about it.

Oh, what to do?

Figure 2 - A small network of friendsWell, the first thing to do is tell a few friends.

But remember your own experiences sharing great news with others? Do you tell the first stranger you meet? Do you go looking for a stranger, someone you don’t know from Adam?2

Chances are you don’t go the Adam route. Chances are the first people you share your news with are close associates, people in your tribal network. People in your tribal network may be physically right next to you, a few feet away, a few doors down, in the next city, state or country.

What makes them participants in your tribal network is that you and they have lots of similar if not shared experiences and that you tend to respond similarly if not near-identically to anything that comes along. In other words, they’re in your tribal network because their {C,B/e,M} is either identical to or real close to yours. Because of this, you trust them to rejoice with you when you share your good news or give you solace when your news isn’t so good. This circle of friends is known as a psycho-social distance3 of 1 in social mechanics and the tribalness is called homophily.

Figure 3 - The network is growing!So you get feedback from them and it’s positive. So positive, in fact, that they want to tell some their friends and you risk sharing your joy with people just a little outside your normal social network. Now we’re dealing with people at a psycho-social distance of 2 from you and 1 from your friends.

Figure 3a - The network is growing circles!And some of those people at psycho-social distance 1 from you? The folks with similar and not identical experiences? They’re the people who’ll transmit the message to people who don’t quite know you at all (think of reTwittering a tweet). These people are more interested in the message than you, they are captured by the meme more than your personality. These people show up in the image as different colored dots.

Figure 4 - My gosh! Look at all those people you more or less know!Okay, now those people who don’t quite know you are spreading the message through their networks. These folks are psycho-social distance 3 from you. Notice that there’s more than three colors in the image? That’s because each time the message leaps a psycho-social boundary it does so by transforming a little (they don’t call it viral for nothing). The message (at this point some people will call it a meme and that’s incorrect. The message and the meme will travel together at this point and the two are different) has probably morphed slightly by going from your {C,B/e,M} through the next person’s {C,B/e,M} then through the next person’s {C,B/e,M} so on and so forth.

Figure 5 - And look what's happening to your great little thought!This is the point where marketing goodness happens. People start interpreting the original message. The source message and the meme it contains separate. The meme continues with none to very minor changes — it is the viral core of the message, that part that gives the message meaning in so many diverse markets and with so many different audiences. It does this by adapting a little bit but in ways that make big differences. Think of a virus that affects some people but not others that changes its viral sheath a bit. Now those previously unaffected are affected. Your good idea is doing the exact same thing only doing it to get inside people’s heads instead of their lungs or gut.

Those little bits and big differences appear because by now that meme has been slightly modified by everybody who hears the message. They’re all adding their little flare to it and it travels much like whispers in the childhood game “operator” (some call it “telephone”). The best known modern demonstration of this is the “spin” politicians’ surrogates put on their don’s gaffs and guffaws: they can’t control the message so at least get the best meme on it so that distortions and deteriorations are minimal and deniable. This is why the best spins are five words or fewer. Memes, the messages’ viral cores, are much like biologic viruses — the smaller they are the less stoppable they are (remember this if you’re in marketing or its close cousin, propaganda).

Figure 6 - And now everybody knows you!And if you’re lucky and you’ve done your work well and you know what you’re doing, your source message hasn’t changed all that much from its original form, has gone viral and you’re message is now making its way through groups and minds that you couldn’t imagine.

And it’s “making the rounds” because people who are now interacting with your message think completely differently than you think, their {C,B/e,M} so foreign to your {C,B/e,M} that you wonder how they learned about your message in the first place.

Now, take a good look at that last image. See that there are different subnetworks within the greater network? And that each subnetwork has its own subnetworks of different colors? That’s how small networks can propagate a given message through larger networks. The pictures from top to bottom are examples of community awareness (figures 1 and 2), detection/sensing (3, 3a and 4) and recognition (5 and 6). Without these steps your message ain’t going nowhere.

NextStage's RichPersonae Wheel of FortuneWhat we hypothesized, tested, put into some of our tools and what is demonstrated by those who linked, befriended, etc., and who didn’t is the puzzling-glove-clash of the {C,B/e,M}s that in NextStageology look like the sundial-like images in Looking for Love? Now You Can Find All the Right Places! (On the Evolution of Tools) (an example is on the right). Go to that post, look at those images and you’ll see what I described above writ in NextStage’s RichPersonae notation (NextStage’s RichPersonae are a systematic way of working with {C,B/e,M}s).

In short, the ability to predict who would connect with whom, on what platforms and in what time period.

Truly fascinating stuff (we thinks)! The ability to know who/where your viral message will get the most “push” and in what directions (kind of like viral vectors), how it will travel and where it will go!

Now you can literally pick your viral marketing targets.

Take-Aways

All in all we targeted platforms based on 2010 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape, the 2011 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape and the 2012 CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape. if nothing else, CMO’s presentation methodology has improved. We also included some unmentioned platforms because various NextStageologists use them.

  • Facebook is best for small, local businesses because The Human Touch4 — consumers’ directly interacting with brands — is doable
  • Facebook can be used by large businesses best if they create a destination page that provides local connectivity to local brand agents for local audiences. This is simply a reframe of the above
  • LinkedIn is excellent for B-B sales and promotion (be prepared for LinkedIn to increase its Spam factor exponentially)
  • 4Square, Pinterest and Twitter are best for special offers and give aways
  • Pinterest and Twitter are best for announcements and offers
  • Other platforms investigated haven’t demonstrated any specific uniquenesses yet. They may be amazingly affective for a given business and a given audience and in the whole they didn’t rise to the levels of those platforms mentioned above.

Note that none of the above deals with {C,B/e,M}s? The above is based on the type of personalities that will respond best to those platforms, when those platforms are used to communicate the specific types of information listed.

It’s also possible to specifically target the audiences’ psychologic, behavioral-effective and motivational types that frequent those platforms but an explanation of that is well beyond this post (contact us if you’d like more info).

By the Way

If you’re reading this and would like to link to me or befriend me or whatever, please do so. I always enjoy the company. Of course, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., etc., have all largely become marketing platforms, so there you go. The audiences on all platforms are splintering as demonstrated by the plethora of platforms and into the various rapidly spawning groups that are now crowding each platform (remember those images up above? Notice that they’re similar to the growth of online social platforms? Ever hear of culture-death? All communities fail to thrive when they exhaust their resources).

But those differently purposed groups are basically my xWatches organized by the subnetworks themselves. They are self-organizing which means without a strong, central message/meme they will fail. I provide the xWatch categorizations for my messages so my audience knows how to handle the information I’m given them, which message to which interest and so on, as explained in the SNCR NewComm Forum presentation mentioned above.

Marketers beware.


1: You can learn more about {C,B/e,M}s in the following links:

2: The truth is you will tell people who don’t know you at all if the information you’re sharing either violates or is in conflict with your Core and/or Identity. You’ll share with unknown others to seek validation of the conflicting and/or violating information. You can’t go to people you know with that kind of data, they’d never believe it. The only option left is to have it validated out of your network. This allows you to start creating new networks (if you like the information) or ignore opinions (if you don’t like the information). In either case, you’re giving yourself time to integrate the new information before sharing it with those you trust.

3: You can learn more about psycho-social distance in the following links:

4: You can learn more about The Human Touch and how it applies to social networks in any of the following:

Jun 7 12

NextStage Is Awarded Patent #3 – “System and method for obtaining subtextual information regarding an interaction between an individual and a programmable device”

by Joseph


NextStage Evolution received its third issued patent in four years on June 5, 2012. In a patent atmosphere that is making it increasing difficult to patent software-based technology, NextStage Evolutions technology continues to set itself apart from the pack while establishing a perimeter around its novel system. The third patent, US Patent No. 8,195,597, is specifically directed to the psychometric link a computer user develops with the machine interface focal point on the screen (e.g., the arrow or cursor) and the body language that can be interpreted from how the machine interface focal point is positioned relative to the information presented by the computer. Demographic information, consumer interest, opinions, and preferences is translated from machine interface body language to actionable business information with NextStage Evolutions Evolution Technology.

We got Patent #3Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yes, this is an important one. Not to downplay patents 1 and 2, this is the one that I’ve jokingly described with “Every time you have a thought, you’ll owe us a nickel.” You can read the full patent on the USPTO site. It deals with how humans non-consciously communicate with devices and describes the system behind how people create community with whatever’s in their immediate environment, something I described in Reading Virtual Minds, Volume I: Science and History.

Others may want to put a focus group in an fMRI, have them wear funny hats, pay a team to follow individuals through shopping malls or put up a survey and hope the right people are answering (they’re not). All we need is your visitors to be themselves and do what they’d normally do the way they’d normally do it — no hats, no machines, nobody following them around, no annoying popup questionnaires, no nothing except your visitors doing what they would normally be doing on your digital property each time they visit.

I gotta tell you, understanding human behavior’s a lot easier when you get everything else out of the way and just deal with the humans and what they’re doing right there at that moment. You get a lot more information about your visitors when you let humans be humans and not laboratory subjects.

And again, thank you, thank you, thank you.


 

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