May seem like an odd collection of experts, but these innovative thinkers from different industries are handing out nuggets of social and digital gold. Here are a few articles I’ve read recently, full of fantastic advice for brands and retailers.

The Connector: Meet the Woman Behind HBO’s Social Scene
Christine Champagne for Co.Create / Fast Company

As a TV-lover and social enthusiast, the social TV and second screen trends fascinate me. HBO is a big innovator in the space, launching their HBO Connect platform last year while most networks were (are) still just figuring out Twitter. The network uses the platform to engage fans through a variety of different social networks – and not every network is right for every series, says Sabrina Caluori, vice president, social media and performance marketing at HBO. HBO takes care to understand the audience of each program, and determine where and how they’re most likely to engage. Fan art forums on Tumblr, for example, work well for Game of Thrones but not Girls. Know your audience and speak their language – brands would do well to follow the network’s philosophy.

Stores will never die with omnichannel retailing
Heather Taylor for Econsultancy

This is the second article I’ve shared recently featuring Toys ‘R Us CEO Jerry Storch.  Love his point of view on the future of retail in a marketplace facing offline-online price wars, mobile-assisted in-store shopping, showrooming, etc. The brick-and-mortar store will never die, he says – rather, it will adapt.  Shopping is becoming (or really, has become) an omnichannel experience , including online, offline, and mobile all in the same encounter. But no one channel need kill the others, Jerry explains; each has unique benefits that will complement the others. When retailers encourage shoppers to use every channel in unison – and design their omnichannel experiences to meet every need, everywhere – everyone wins.

How to Win the Word of Mouth Game
By Jennifer Overstreet for Blog.Shop.org

Our advisor Andy Sernovitz always has sharable things to say. In his talk at the Shop.org Summit, he gave his thoughts on the commonalities of talkable moments, and why brands should strive to deliver them. His big points: word of mouth topics are always portable, repeatable, and emotional. You get the first word about your brand – but word of mouth always gets the last. And be there to capture enthusiasm at the first moment of delight. The full article contains all of Andy’s advice; I recommend the quick read.

The New York Giants are set to defend their Super Bowl title, but the team is already winning at social media
By Christopher Heine for Adweek

Social meets another passion of mine: sports. Pro sports have built rabidly passionate fanbases, and through them completely dominate television media. Smart teams like the New York Giants now have social in their sights as the next channel to take over, and are using their social presences to feed fans’ passion and deepen their engagement. Brands and retailers can learn from their example, following tactics like releasing exclusive content fans can’t get elsewhere, featuring tweets in broadcasts and inside stadiums, and running truly creative and engaging campaigns with sponsors.

CEOs Who Use Social Media Boost Company Image
By Chad Brooks for BusinessNewsDaily

Hat tip to my colleague Ian Greenleigh, who shared this article and is citing the study in his upcoming book, The Social Side Door. The study finds that 81% of employees from of companies of all sizes believe that CEOs who use social media are better equipped to lead companies in today’s social/digital market. Also, 89% agreed that social CEOs “can build better connections” with customers, and 66% said they could do the same with investors. But here’s the real genius of executive social media use: “When asked what benefits C-Suite engagement in social media can lead to, 78% cited Better Communication and 71% stated Improved Brand Image as the biggest positive benefits.”

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