As Vehicles Become Smarter, Traditional Suppliers Ramp Up Focus on Driverless Tech

By James Amend

Automakers have a map to future  mobility, and the industry’s long roster of suppliers will play a major role in getting them there with a plethora of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

It is estimated that innovations from auto parts makers will account for 69 percent of value-added content in 2025, up from 30 percent in 2012. Delphi CEO Jeff Owens said his company examines the challenges confronting its customers and then composes a portfolio of solutions to choose from, either an à la carte or a system-wide option.

“We think about it in terms of what (OEMs)  need. What types of problems are they trying  to solve, and how can we be of value?” Owens said.

The approach led Delphi to recently acquire Ottomatika, a spinoff out of Carnegie Mellon University, to strengthen its advanced autonomous driving products. The automaker also bought Control-Tec, an expert in
telematics and cloud-hosted analytics to help OEMs find elusive quality bugs during late-stage vehicle testing.

Delphi is also working with MobilEye, an Israeli company focused on computer vision systems and mapping, on a fully autonomous technology package slated for commercialization in 2019-2020. The partnership underpins a large-scale, one-of-a-kind pilot program Delphi is conducting on the streets of Singapore.

But the United Kingdom-based supplier, which operates a sprawling R&D campus in Troy, continues to focus on more traditional customer demands, too. For example, it will begin offering a plug-and-play mild electrification option next year for an efficiency gain of up to 15 percent at a fraction of the cost of full-hybrid technology. Together with a next-generation cylinder deactivation technology under testing, fuel savings could rise to 25 percent.

Japan-based Denso, one of the world’s four largest automotive suppliers, is working on arguably the most critical element of autonomous vehicles: keeping the person behind the vehicle attentive, or “in the loop,” as its researchers say.

“Understanding attention is critical in  determining if the driver is in the loop. If we can sense when a driver is out of the loop, we can alert them to get back in the loop,” said Pat Bassett, vice president at Denso’s North American Engineering Center in Southfield.

Denso has established an entire laboratory dedicated to gaining a deeper understanding of driver attention levels and designing an interface that will safely disengage and reengage drivers during autonomous operation.

The company has also partnered with Detroit’s NextEnergy, a technology accelerator, to help the supplier scout out advanced mobility and smart city technologies still under development. The collaboration also will create networking, startup engagement and relationship-building opportunities with NextEnergy clients.

IAV Automotive Engineering, a Northville engineering house historically associated with engine development services, has its hands in the autonomous vehicle space through a partnership with Microsoft and its connected highly automated vehicle driving (CHAD).

CHAD combines Microsoft Azure and Windows 10 technologies for a forward thinking vehicle-to-infrastructure connection, where data can be gathered from connected vehicles, traffic-light sensors and wearable devices worn by pedestrians to enhance safety.

Andy Ridgway, president of IAV, said the technology will “pave the way for a safer, more intelligent vehicle of tomorrow.”

Other suppliers aggressively bent on filling future technology demands from automakers include American Axle & Manufacturing, BorgWarner, Brose North America, Magna International and Visteon.

A year ago, American Axle opened its Advanced Technology Development Center in Detroit. Now with more than 200 employees, the Center allows for greater synergy and collaboration in technology benchmarking, prototype development and advanced technology development in electrification and light-weighting.

“We are trying to drive mobility innovation here. We want to stay out in front of the competition and put our customers in the lead. We are deeply invested in Detroit, the mobility capital of the world. We never stopped believing that,” said Bill Smith, AAM executive director of government affairs and community relations.

The Brose product portfolio fulfills and anticipates current industry trends. The mechatronics specialist for doors, seats and drives continuously develops smarter and lighter versions of its solutions. Brose developed an expertise in its drives business division, supporting the electrification of drivetrain and demanding emission regulations. The company received a lot of interest when introducing its hands-free vehicle access solution since technologies related to autonomous driving require a combination of systems and sensors, as well.

BorgWarner of Auburn Hills has become a one-stop shop for automakers seeking vehicle efficiency gains. It offers a suite of advanced combustion technologies; hybrid vehicle systems spanning mild to full hybrid solutions; fully electric propulsion units; electrically operated turbochargers to boost efficiency; and all-wheel-drive systems that require less energy.

Canada-based Magna International, an industry leader in powertrains, safety systems and other big-ticket components, is developing a technology that monitors a driver’s heart rate to determine if they are becoming drowsy. The innovation, which relies on sensors embedded in the seat cushion and back rest, has not come to market yet, but is seen as an integral piece of safe autonomous driving.

Van Buren Township-based Visteon is redefining the driving experience with innovative instrument panel technologies such as SmartCore, which integrates advanced infotainment, instrument clusters, head-up displays and advanced driver assistance system domains.

The company’s dual organic light-emitting diode display technology saves automakers money by allowing them to retain existing human-machine interfaces — or the connection between the driver and the car — while adding the portable-device functionality drivers increasingly expect.

James Amend is a senior editor at WardsAuto in Southfield.

Accelerating Innovation: Tight-knit entrepreneurial ecosystem helping to boost state’s economy

By Melissa Anders

A large and growing network of incubators, accelerators, research facilities and startups is driving Michigan forward in its campaign to position itself as a leader in the next-generation technology and mobility race.

Business accelerators and incubators help startups get off the ground by providing guidance, services and resources they might not otherwise know how to access. While these organizations can offer access to capital, their main focus is on other types of assistance such as mentorship from experienced industry leaders, networking, market research, office space and general business support. Since so many startups fail, entrepreneurs turn to incubators and accelerators to help them beat the odds and grow into successful businesses.

These organizations are helping to bring new technology for automotive and the Internet of Things (IoT) to market while promoting Michigan as a forerunner in not only automotive, but also IT, data and advanced manufacturing.

“It really is an ecosystem of service providers, catalyst connectors and then corporate partners and investors who help these companies grow,” said NextEnergy president and CEO Jean Redfield.

NextEnergy offers a wide range of services, including R&D demonstration programs, labs, incubator space and business consulting.

Each year a cohort of eight to 15 companies or pre-startup research teams go through NextEnergy’s seven-week accelerator program called I-Corps Energy and Transportation. Participants learn the “lean startup” methodology and are sent into the field to conduct as many as 100 customer interviews in an effort to speed up the commercialization of their technologies.

NextEnergy provides participants with a network of about 100 industry advisors to help along the way. Upon completion, a number of participants have found their first customer or pilot opportunities and/or earned investment or government funding, Redfield said.

The Macomb-OU INCubator is a more traditional business incubator that is operated in conjunction with the city of Sterling Heights, Macomb County and Oakland University. Its incubator space is located in the Velocity building in the Technology Advancement SmartZone of Sterling Heights.

The incubator has assisted companies in a wide range of industries, such as cybersecurity business Blackbourne Worldwide and LogiCoul Solutions, which develops technology to improve lead acid and lithium ion batteries.

Velocity also is home to the Michigan Cyber Range, a space where companies can perform cybersecurity tests. This area has become increasingly important as automotive and defense companies deploy more connected and autonomous vehicles. Most small businesses can’t afford their own labs, so they can rent hours on the range, says Vicky Rad, Macomb County’s deputy director of planning and development.

The county offers guidance to companies in their early stages as well as once they are ready to mature and graduate by helping them find permanent office space and a talented workforce, Rad said.

“It’s kind of like the unspoken gem in the room as companies understand the value of having somebody to help guide them through the process,” she said. “Historically the companies that are here in Macomb County all started off as a startup at one point and they’re definitely our bread and butter, so we want to continue to see that growth.”

More than 9,300 people have attended events hosted by the Macomb-OU INCubator since 2012. It has helped create more than 220 high-tech jobs and retain about 360 jobs, according to its website.

Across the state, Seamless in Grand Rapids pairs IoT startups with major Michigan-based companies in the office, consumer product, retail, health care and transportation industries. Seamless provides a soft landing spot where startups can collaborate with these West Michiganbased enterprises to test and commercialize emerging technologies.

While other accelerators promote startups that strive to disrupt major industry players, Seamless bills itself as a commercialization program that intentionally builds collaboration between enterprises and startups, said Mike Morin, chief operating officer at Seamless and parent organization Start Garden.

Fourteen startups have been through the program in just more than a year. The intensive program compresses about 18 months of work into 12 weeks, saving the startups both time and money, Morin said. Upon completion, they can enter further development contracts, sourcing agreements, or technology licensing agreements. For example, Seamless connected AlSentis, a provider of innovative touch recognition technologies, with office furniture maker Steelcase and auto supplier Faurecia. The companies became investors in AlSentis and are working to deploy products utilizing its technology.

Melissa Anders is a metro Detroit native and freelance writer.

Navigating the Social Media Maze

Factors to consider for channel selection

By Kevin Ketels
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

My 12-year-old son does not watch broadcast television. He has several favorite YouTube channels and interacts with the world through Instagram. If your company wants to remain relevant to the U.S. consumer in our evolving media landscape, you need a plan for social media.

Social media can be a powerful tool for reaching your customers, and its usage is growing exponentially. The percentage of individuals in the U.S. with a social media profile grew from 24 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2016 (Statista). Despite concerns about the reliability of news shared via social media, more than 62 percent of U.S. adults reported social media as a source of information (Pew Research). For better or worse, we are increasingly interacting with others and experiencing our lives through the lens of social media. For the current generation of children, it will be second nature.

As more users jump onto this fast-moving digital bandwagon, it is no surprise that many new social media channels have become available. Figuring out which channels to engage can be overwhelming.

Factors to consider when evaluating social media

With so many options, many marketing managers are asking how they should prioritize. They need to consider which channels are the best match for their target audience, product messaging, social media capabilities and capacity. Not all channels are equal, and different channels may be more or less appropriate for a particular business or message.

MORE: Hear more about social media marketing resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Below are some things to consider when deciding which social media channels are the best fit for your company. Also, check out this Social Media Overview for a description and demographic characteristics from a sample of the most popular channels.

  • Number of users: Generally, you want to get the most bang for your buck. How many active users does each social media channel have? Facebook is the largest, by far. Higher numbers are better, but don’t disregard a less popular social media option that may be closely matched with your target audience. Also, is that active user number trending up or down?
  • Channel content: What type of content is shared on each channel? Personal, news, entertainment, art or business? Make sure the content and tone of messaging on the selected channel is compatible with your brand.
  • Channel format: In what format is the content shared? This can be text, pictures, video, etc. Some marketing messages are better delivered in specific formats.
  • Demographics: What categories of people use each social media channel? Consider gender, race, education, income, etc. Match this up to your target audience to find the most compatible social media option.
  • Time: Most importantly, how much time does your organization have to manage your social media channels? Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Social media marketing is much more than throwing something up on Facebook or Twitter once in a awhile. It requires strategy, planning, content creation and execution. If you don’t have enough dedicated resources internally, limit the number of social media channels you support or seek outside help. A poorly maintained social media presence, or a company that is nonresponsive when contacted via social media, can give a negative impression of your brand.

Social media isn’t the answer to all your marketing challenges. It should be one of the significant tools in your arsenal that helps establish relationships with your target audience.

Kevin Ketels is president of Kyrris Marketing and an adjunct professor of marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.  

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1,000,000 views later. My secret to social media success.

By Eric Thomas
Senior Partner and Brand Specialist
Saga Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

My Social Media Stats (Built in 15 Months):

Blog views: 1,697,925 (and counting)

Linkedin: 4,501 Followers

Facebook: 3,601 Friends

Instagram: 1,048 Followers

Published or Cited by: New York Times, Free Press, Metro Times, Next Shark, Web Designer News, Deadline Detroit.

Speaking: TEDxDetroit, IDSA Design Conference, Pancakes and Politics, Creative Mornings, Black Women’s Expo, P.U.L.S.E. Adult Literacy Conference, Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016, The Start Up Effect, Millenials Change at Microsoft, Launched / She Is Project, Urban Consulate, Branding Your Story 101, The PR MANdate, PRSA of America – Video Storytelling, Biz Grid Live, Appearances on the Karen Dumas Show, Appearances on Brenda Perryman

It has been 15 months, 32 blogs, and over 1.6 million views (not counting republishing) since I first started sharing my thoughts on LinkedIn. The success of my blogging has changed my life. But this didn’t all happen by mistake. This is actually the result of an experiment that popped into my head in the Spring of 2015.

My business partner and I were revamping our marketing agency and realized that it was our opportunity to create something that the world actually needed. The Storytelling Agency — Saga . A hybrid between a marketing and branding agency, it leverages our unique cultural identity and experience in business development. We decided to get back to basics. How do humans communicate? What makes them tick? How do ideas spread?

This started us on a journey to create a brand, build a skill set, and develop a circle of influence that fit the type of impact that we wanted to make. If you are trying to change career paths, build a company, or develop a media presence these are the steps I used to go from “that graphics guy” to “Storytelling Expert” in a little over a year.

The Law of Random Collision

The universe in all of its vastness is mostly atoms and matter, colliding and creating new things. True magic happens when there is density. I fundamentally believe that everything in the universe operates this way. Everything from bumping into an old friend to life its self is a result of happenstance. Greatness happening is a matter of creating more opportunities for that greatness to happen. Simply put, you’re more likely to go viral if you create more chances for yourself to go viral. You’re more likely to be seen if you’re in the public more often. This sounds simple, but it’s a crucial part of creating a brand that we don’t see as a part of our career strategy. So how did we leverage this universal law to build our brand?

Build and Activate a Network

March 2015 I had about 1300 Facebook friends, 300ish LinkedIn Connections, no Instagram, and a basically dead Twitter. I had to decide where to focus my energy and what to build up. Two master networkers in my life, James Logan and Lakyra Shackelford, kept telling me about the power of Linkedin. My expertise was mostly business based, so that became the home for my professional identity. Facebook was by far my largest network and much more informal. It’s where I could be myself and build an audience in an organic way.

On LinkedIn I reached out to people that made sense for my network who seemed to be thought leaders or success. I sent each person a personal message about why we should connect. I did that for 5 months before I even published my first blog. Why blog where there are no readers?

Important point: My channels might not be your channels. Think about where you can make the most impact with the skills you have. Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all different and require different strategies and strengths.

MORE: Check out more ways to grow your social media following and tell your brand’s story at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Produce. Provide Value. Be Authentic.

David Ogilvy, sometimes regarded as the father of modern marketing, placed a heavy emphasis on writing. He often preached that great campaigns started at the written word. I figured that writing a blog would be great practice to creating the types of campaigns I dreamed of. My biggest challenge? I didn’t know how to write yet, or so I thought. The last time I wrote anything was before I dropped out of college almost a decade prior. One day my business partner and I realized, “Hey, if people like the things I say, maybe they’ll like them if I write them down too?” But what to write about? The things I care about. I can’t be the only one that worries about these things.

“Write the way you talk. Naturally.” – David Ogilvy

People will always parse words and even data, but it’s hard to rebut your genuine lived experience. Taking something you’ve studied and worked in for years and filtering that through the unique lens of your identity creates the type of content that can’t be copied. Most importantly, it can make topics that have been covered before fresh again.

“Experience + Expertise is a powerful combination.”

The Virality Equation

Content + People + Timing

First, if you don’t produce you won’t be seen. Second, if no one is around to see what you create then it won’t be shared. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to snapchat it, does it really matter? Thirdly, going viral is like a lightening strike. It happens when you least suspect it, but only when the conditions are right. The bulk of my LinkedIn audience came from being a first mover on the design disaster that led to Steve Harvey botching the Ms. Universe contest. How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s Universe is by far my most read blog.

Analytics for my blog “How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s “Universe”

Analytics for my blog “How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s “Universe”

I wrote this the night it happened, published it at around 2AM and woke up to thousands of reads. Much more than my typical average of 200 or so at the time. I didn’t just cover what happened, I provided a solution, based on my particular skill set, complete with a redesign. 1.5 million views on LinkedIn is rarified air. As far as I can find I’m in the top 20 most read ever. Even the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, weighed in and shared it.

Stay Relevant. Take a Stand.

Even with the international reach of my Steve Harvey blog, nothing has had such a profound impact on my daily life like Why I Hate Detroit. I’m stopped almost daily by someone that’s read it. It’s become the way I’m introduced. Though the Linkedin post only got a little north of 130,000 views, one could speculate that it’s been much more widely viewed. It was republished in the Metro Times, published in an abridged form by the Detroit Free Press, and covered by Deadline Detroit and Mlive. I landed television interviews and it was even cited by the New York Times which resulted in a call from Soledad O’Brien. Not bad for an opinion piece that I thought was too long and frankly too dangerous for my career to post. Why all the shares and love? It was honest, grounded in facts, rooted in my experience as a life-long Detroiter, and most of all timely. Even Dan Gilbert, reigning king of Downtown Detroit, told me he thought it was a good read.

“No Brand with values is for everything or against nothing.”

At the end of the day, speak openly and authentically to your tribe. They will reward you with loyalty.

Set Goals. Leverage Success.

When I first started blogging I set a modest goal. 1,000 reads per month. If I could expose 1,000 people to my personal brand each month I’d be happy. At this point, that would be 15,000 reads. I’ve exceeded that goal by a great deal. Next was to speak at conferences and become a thought leader around storytelling.

In the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to lead storytelling workshops, speak at the IDSA Design Conference with heroes, present at TEDxDetroit, share a Crain’s 20 in their 20 award with my business partner, sit on numerous panels, and elevate the relevance of storytelling in business from a buzzword to a business function for many businesses in the city of Detroit and beyond. More importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to share a story of success and opportunity while representing my community and neighborhoods like mine in what I hope is a positive and authentic way.

When setting out to build your brand, be honest and realistic. My goal was to move the needle significantly within 2 years. I think I’m well on my way. Even overnight successes don’t happen overnight. Aim, strategize and get closer every day. It’s time for me to switch into the second phase of my grand experiment. I hope you use what I learned in Phase 1 to build strong and impactful brands.

Eric Thomas will deliver the closing keynote with his business partner Marcus Burrell at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

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The Trump Effect: New Year’s Eve Job Expo Michigan Hiring Surge


Ready to jump start the new year with 100,000 new positions available Michigan employers enter 2017 hiring the best and brightest candidates. Currently hundreds of jobs are available for candidates interested in launching a dynamic new career before 2016 ends. Employment predictions indicate employers are optimistic about the election of business tycoon President-Elect Donald Trump, so far it looks like the energy will only kick up in 2017 with the hiring market exceeding expectations within the first six months of the new year. wants to give job seekers a head start in their job search by hosting their annual 12th New Year, New Job Expo on Thursday, December 29 at the Embassy Suite Hotel in Southfield from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. over 40 metropolitan employers will be onsite ready to interview applications. The upcoming job expo is “free” for all job seekers to attend, bring plenty of resumes and dress for success.
It’s not too late to renew your career goals for the New Year. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, we want to motivate job seekers to meet and greet with recruiters instead of sending blind copies of their resume online.

Several free job workshops will be available for people interested in rewriting, renewing and restarting their career.

Workshops Include:

10:15 am – 10:30 am, How To Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring
2:00 pm-2:15 pm, How To Discover Transferable Job Skills
2:15 pm-2:30 pm Mystery Shopping the New Part-time Career.

Resumes are being accepted for positions in Engineering, Information Technology, Skilled Trades, Seasonal, Manufacturing, Production, Industrial, General Labor, Customer Services, Retail, Management, Restaurant, Accounting, Banking, Office Support, Clerical, Data Entry, Call Center, Installation, Technical, Machining, Electrical, Mortgage, Financial Planning, Insurance, Education, Truck Driving, Real Estate, Nursing, Rehabilitation, Human Services, and other career fields

For information visit our website at

Recap: New Year, New Job Expo
Thursday, December 29, 2016 | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Embassy Suites Hotel – 28100 Franklin Road, Southfield, Michigan

Editor’s Note: Mich. kids need biz leaders’ help

The Detroit News

By Ingrid Jacques

December 14, 2016

It’s common knowledge that Michigan’s schools are doing sub-par work to prepare its students for a competitive world. Test scores keep sliding, as our neighboring states are managing to do better.

So must Michigan. And the business community and other groups are taking notice. That’s an important voice that has been largely lacking so far.

The state has put in place higher standards and more meaningful accountability for students and teachers. To reap results, it must stay the course now. That’s the message a newly formed coalition, which includes the Education Trust-Midwest, Detroit Regional Chamber and Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, wants to spread.

A new federal education law, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, gives states and local districts much more discretion over school accountability. And the coalition is offering state Superintendent Brian Whiston and the State Board of Education some guidance as they put together a plan for complying with the law.

The coalition says it wants the state to focus on academic excellence for all students, closing achievement gaps for underserved students and transparent information for families.

“It’s no secret that not enough of our students are adequately prepared for life after high school,” stated Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Chamber.

“The success of our region depends on the success of our talent. It is critical that Michigan’s ESSA plan prioritizes equal access and opportunity for all students.”

It’s a message that needs heard.

View the original article here:

Welcome to the Age of Ephemeral Marketing

By Eric Hultgren
Director of Marketing
MLive Media Group

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

As marketers we have spent years, and in some cases careers, crafting campaigns that stick in the mind of the consumer. These campaigns could have been commercials with catchy jingles, logos that burn into the zeitgeist of an entire country, and products that define a decade or if you were lucky, a generation.

In 2006 the marketing industry was introduced to the idea of media that was social and in the past decade has adapted to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. But four years ago an app appeared on the scene that once again turned the marketing world on its ear, Snapchat.

Comscore ranked Snapchat as one of the fastest growing apps in its 2015 mobile report along with Uber, Tinder, and Fitbit. The largest demographic on the platform are millennials and with $200 billion in annual buying power marketers are working hard to connect with them. The idea behind Snapchat is simple at first and perhaps why it has been so easily dismissed by brands and marketers alike as the “thing” that teens would use to send provocative photos to one another. But the idea of ephemeral marketing, or messages that disappear after 10 seconds, not only opens a new lane of content creation, but it more closely mirrors the way in which human beings interact with one another when a device is not a part of the equation.

If two people meet at a coffee shop and begin a conversation, when that conversation ends it is not recorded for all eternity as a series of 0’s and 1’s, instead it disappears as a fleeting moment between two people in which they begin to build more moments together that evolve from a singular meeting into a full fledged relationship.

Isn’t that the goal of your marketing? Turn people into customers, customers into advocates, and advocates into magnets to bring their friends to your brand through word of mouth (WOM)?

A study done for the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found that “most marketing firms do not see social media as a vehicle for cultivating and winning customer loyalty” (Nadeem, 2015) This statement is not reflective of how a brand should act in the marketing space in 2016 or certainly 2017. In a post-Snowden era, customers want a footprint in the social media landscape that isn’t overtly tracked and re-messaged the way it might on Facebook or Instagram. Thus, it should not surprise marketing practitioners that Snapchat should be, if not part of the marketing mix in 2017, at least be something with which the marketing team experiments.

Before a strategy can be crafted it is important to understand where the app came from in order to predict the trajectory of its next 12 to 16 months. In the summer of 2011 Evan Speigl, Bob Murphy, and Reggie Brown launched an early version of the app at Stanford University. In its earliest iteration it was called Pictaboo and by the fall of 2011 they only had 127 users. A disagreement among the three founders led to Reggie Brown being removed from the company. At that point, Speigl and Murphy changed the name to Snapchat.

Toward the end of 2011 the team noticed that use of the app spiked between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., which was when high school students were in school and flocking to the app that made their photos “disappear.” Those photos were called snaps. Snapchat crested past 100,000 users in the beginning of 2012 and they received funding from Lightspeed Ventures to build a server system to address the growing user base.

Snapchat’s next evolution was the video snap in which Facebook responded with the “poke” that emulated Snapchat down to the “ephemerality” of the poke disappearing. The poke did not stick but helped raise the awareness for Snapchat who experienced its second growth spurt and by February of 2013 was seeing over 60 million snaps a day. By the summer of 2013 users sent 150 million snaps a day and Taco Bell became the first brand to join the platform.

Taco Bell was one of the first brands to launch a Snapchat account and announced it on its Twitter account, just another step toward this moment of ephemeral marketing.

In the fall of 2013 Snapchat stories appear which is when Snapchat allows users to string together 10-second snaps that stay in narrative form for 24 hours. Snapchat stories were the app’s answer to a timeline. In November of that year Facebook reportedly offered to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion dollars. Evan Spiegl turned the offer down as Snapchat had yet to monetize the platform.

A year later, Snapchat introduced “our story” which was Snapchat’s first attempt at curating snaps around live events like the Super Bowl, The Grammys, elections, or holidays. In January of 2015, Snapchat would launch “Discover” which would be a curated list of publishers who create an always-on daily refreshed channel guide with media partners like Vice, ESPN, The Food Network, CNN, VOX, and MTV.

MORE: Learn about Snapchat and other upcoming social media innovations at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Next, Snapchat introduced geofilters so users could continue to customize their snaps with stamps that would help to add context to the images the users’ friends would see. McDonald’s was the first brand to launch geofliters at all of their locations, a move that Taco Bell would emulate –  they recently created a Quesalupa filter for all the stores for the launch of their new food item.

Snapchat also understood that the platform could be daunting and confusing at times, so they launched a “safety center” in conjunction with three non-profits in order to create a place where teachers and parents could learn about the platform and how they could better understand how their children might use Snapchat and the pitfalls to avoid.

That brings us to the modern era of marketing where brands have access to more information about their customer than ever before. Yet, few brands seem to execute social strategy with any sort of depth and even fewer understand the potential that a platform like Snapchat can provide those who adopt early. In fact, 95% of businesses have social media accounts but fewer than 50% of them use them with any regularity. When you speak specifically about Snapchat, that number drops as many brands just don’t understand how to execute on the platform.

Earlier this year, Buzzfeed did a piece where author Ben Rosen enlisted the help of his 13-year-old sister and her friend in order to understand the platform better. In the course of the experiment Rosen asked his sister’s friend what her parents thought: “Parents don’t understand. It’s about being there in the moment. Capturing that with your friends or with your expression.”

Snapchat is the idea of being in the moment that most brands struggle with and why after this tweet was sent out in the Super Bowl of 2012, many brands rushed to create war rooms for this sort of ephemeral marketing:

Oreo tweet screenshot from the Super Bowl and how it relates to Snapchat as the new age of ephemeral marketing

So what makes Snapchat so different? Aside from the ephemeral nature, the platform actually works in the opposite direction of every other social medium out there. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest scroll from the top of the screen or device towards the bottom as new content arrives like a waterfall into the various “newsfeeds” of those platforms. Snapchat swipes right to left and up to down giving a depth to the platform that becomes both more immersive and harder to pick up intuitively.

So why should you pay attention?

First, because 78% of the population is using social media in the United States and second, because the 150 million users (60% of them under the age of 30) on Snapchat are highly engaged with the app. These users send snaps to their friends and are looking for fun and entertaining content that they spend time on the app with. In fact, two-thirds of users on Snapchat create content daily (10 billion streams of video a day) and upwards of 12,000 photos are shared every second on the platform.

To put that in perspective, it would take you 10 years to watch the snaps that will be created in the next hour and when it comes to sharing photos Facebook and Instagram cannot even compete with that volume even though Facebook has a user base that is ten times the size. In a recent study from Edison Research, it found that Snapchat is currently the most powerful social medium in the United States with the ages of 12-24 and is the second most used social media application in the United States overall. There is even research from the University of Michigan that shows using Snapchat makes the users happier.

What should your brand do on Snapchat?

We spoke with Jill Thomas, vice president of global marketing at Cinnabon who said, “we are very, very clear about who the brand is – the voice and message. We have one brand voice. So what that means is you have to trust those with a role in our social voice to do the right thing.”

Once you understand your voice, what should you create?

There are two ways you can go here. You can create a new story every day like Cinnabon and Taco Bell might do, but for some brands that might be a bit daunting. The other option is to storyboard a bit and put out content on a consistent basis, just not every day. Cyrene Q is a Snapchatter who creates really elaborate snap stories 2-3 times a week taking the time to hand-draw her content:

Many people are familiar with Snapchatter Cyrene Q, who creates elaborate snap stories by taking the time to hand-draw her content.

The lesson is to be intentional with the content. According to Thomas, “the team is so highly committed and engaged because we all have a shared passion for the brand. For me, that comes from the responsibility of managing a brand that is beloved by the consumer… we all feel a responsibility to our brand fans to do our very best.”

Of course, you are still going to get the questions about return on investment, and again Jill Thomas sums it up nicely. “Anybody who is trying to do the math – doesn’t really get the beauty of it. (But yes, we do math and understand what we can about the interaction.) When you are early into something you don’t want to get bogged down with that. Also, I don’t need those numbers to tell me that Snapchat is the right place to be. Ask any 16-30 year old and they’ll tell you. Maybe other brands aren’t asking the right questions?”

Eric Hultgren will moderate a panel discussion at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

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Chamber Continues to Urge Lawmakers to Reform Michigan’s Energy Law, Looks to the New Year

As the 2015-2016 legislative session comes to a close, the Detroit Regional Chamber continues to advocate for strong, pro-business policies in Lansing. With only one week tentatively left, the Chamber is urging lawmakers to pass a comprehensive reform of Michigan’s Energy Law (Senate Bills 437-438), which would set new procedures for building new plants, ensuring adequate infrastructure, require alternative electric suppliers to provide greater guarantees for their power supply, increase the percentage of electricity that must be generated from renewable sources from 10 to 15 percent, and establish new net metering regulations for customers who generate their own power.

In addition, the Chamber continues to monitor legislation that would assist Detroit’s collection of city income taxes (Senate Bill 1127) to ensure that taxpayers are adequately protected, and House Bill 5578 that would alter the assessments of large retail properties.

In a recent victory for Michigan’s automotive industry last week, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation expanding the regulation of autonomous vehicles, maintaining Michigan’s role as the leader of the mobility revolution.

Looking towards 2017, the Chamber will be re-introducing other reforms that have made substantial progress but were not able to reach final passage in 2016, including comprehensive reform of the Michigan Tax Tribunal (House Bill 5765) and equitable treatment of taxpayers with the Department of Treasury (House Bill 4461).

The Chamber will also continue to educate lawmakers on innovative tax incentive proposals that spur economic development in the region, including an expansion of tax increment financing (TIF) to encourage large, transformational projects (Senate Bills 1061-1065).

Detroit Regional Chamber Joins Coalition to Focus on Equity and Excellence in Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

The Detroit Regional Chamber joins the Michigan Students Achieve Coalition to ensure Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, focuses on academic excellence for all students. The Coalition, announced last week, will provide recommendations to the ESSA plan, being prepared by the Michigan Department of Education and is expected to be completed in the spring. The plan will be used to comply with the new federal education law, passed in 2015, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and focuses on the opportunity and responsibility for improving outcomes, accountability for all groups of students and improvement actions on the state and local school districts. The other coalition members include: Black Family Development, Detroit Branch NAACP, Education Trust-Midwest, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Urban League, Michigan Alliance for Special Education, Michigan Association of United Ways, Michigan College Access Network, Michigan State Branch NAACP and the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan.

“It’s no secret that not enough of our students are adequately prepared for life after high school,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of The Detroit Regional Chamber. “The success of our region, depends on the success of our talent. It is critical that Michigan’s ESSA plan prioritizes equal access and opportunity for all students.”

Learn more about ESSA and the Coalition’s recommendations.


Transit debate rolls on after tax rejection

The Detroit News

By Leonard Fleming 

December 12, 2016

Jeanie and Paul Kurily say their minds are made up.

The Northville Township couple — retired, in their late 60s, living on what they describe as a fixed income and “overwhelmed” with taxes — were among the majority who rejected the Regional Transit Authority’s millage last month.

And word that RTA officials hope to soon embark on a “listening tour” to hear opponents who voted against expanding regional transit prompted a stark warning: They aren’t interested.

“It’s the museum thing, it’s the zoo thing, it’s the millage for the school thing that they just pushed through here. It’s not that people don’t want to give to other people. It’s the fact that we just can’t afford it,” Jeanie Kurily said of why she voted against the RTA millage. “We think it’s a foolish waste of money.”

As transit leaders and advocates eye their next moves — which could include bringing back a millage to fund regional transit expansion as early as in 2018 — the RTA will seek to engage voters like the Kurilys who opposed the $4.6 billion millage. The tax would have paid for three bus rapid transit routes, a rail line from Ann Arbor to Detroit, a unified fare card system and shuttle service to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, among other changes.

RTA officials said they will spend the coming year engaging critics and speaking with officials from U.S. transit markets that have faced similar failures only to come back and be successful.

Michael Ford, CEO of the RTA, said he understands some voters won’t change their minds, but he still wants to take the time to engage them to “glean what we can learn.”

“We’ve got a challenge, I’m not denying that,” Ford said. “But I think as we continue to talk to people and understand their concerns and really do our due diligence to try to explain and show how things do evolve with good public transportation.”

But Paul Kurily isn’t buying arguments that favor more taxes.

“We’re not stupid, we’ve been getting taxed to death by politicians all of our lives,” he added.

The 20-year millage would have cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $120 annually, RTA officials estimated.

Metro Detroiters already are subject to a few regional taxes, including a 10-year 0.1 mill property tax for Detroit Zoo operations, which was renewed in August. It generates about $5 million from Oakland County, $4 million from Macomb and $2.4 million from Wayne. In 2012, voters in the three counties approved a Detroit Institute of Arts tax that provides the DIA with $23 million annually, about 70 percent of its operating costs. That 10-year tax will expire in 2022.

The Kurilys said the RTA should seek more federal or state dollars instead of going after property tax money. Ford and RTA officials say the authority cannot leverage more federal and state dollars without a master plan with a funding source.

Ford noted that although the transit millage lost by a wide margin in Macomb County and narrowly in Oakland County, it passed in Washtenaw and Wayne counties. A vote must equal a simple majority when all counties are combined to win.

Millage supporter Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Ford and the RTA board might need to alter the master plan and explore other ways to look at taxation.

“Maybe we need to rethink this, realizing that we still have to solve the problem, but is there another way of solving the problem?” he said.

Baruah insists mass transit improvements must be instituted in Metro Detroit to help grow it economically and get people to and from jobs.

“If you’ve never lived anywhere where good mass transit was a part of the environment, you don’t know what it does for you, you don’t know what it does for the economy, you don’t know what it does for your neighbors,” Baruah said. “It looks just like a tax. I certainly understand people who fall into the camp of, well, this isn’t really useful. I get that.”

Kelly Rossman-McKinney, who served as a spokeswoman for Citizens for Connecting our Communities, an advocacy group that pushed for the millage, said she’s not surprised by the Kurilys’ concerns, which echo many critics.

But she’s convinced some minds can be changed if RTA officials do the “important work to determine exactly what more needs, particularly in Macomb County, and what did voters need to hear that they didn’t hear.”

“Was the millage too high? Was there a skepticism about the ability to coordinate multiple systems? Was there a message that we did not discover out there in all of our research?” Rossman-McKinney said. “The RTA needs to do its own soul-searching to ensure did they really put together a plan that would be well-received by the majority of voters.”

Ford said he already has had conversations with other cities that had millages and failed and then came back to pass, such as those in Seattle and Atlanta. But he said Metro Detroit is much different because “we are starting here from the ground up.”

The Kurilys, for their part, say they aren’t budging and worry millage advocates will come back stronger. So they are hoping any future opposition “will be a little more well formulated and a little more vocal.”

“I think we were lucky to get it defeated,” Paul Kurily said.

View the original article here: