Archive for “May, 2008”

Making Online Videos at Mesh

This was my first attempt at making an online video. Impressed? I thought so. Before I went to Mesh I brought my camera with big plans to create the most wonderful content. I thought that after the workshop (Making Online Videos) by the MGI crew I would have this awesome video. Well, truth be told a lot of work goes into making great online videos and I was missing some of the equipment. I did however learn a lot of tricks of the trade that I will be taking into consideration with the next video I make.Here are some of the tools you should have and why you need them (in order of importance):

Camera – yes, I had one. Not a fancy HD kind but they said that just having a camera is good enough for beginners.

Microphone – This is a must have if you want to have decent audio. They explained that a camera mic can pick up all that ambient noise and then you miss out on what the subject is saying. My original plan was to interview people but I switched it up because I didn’t have a mic.

Tripod – Dizzy much? I definitely will invest in one. Especially for those far away zoom in shots; it’s even harder to stay steady for those.

Bounce board – It’s one of those things that looks like you would use it to tan. I definitely could have used better lighting in some of those shots but I certainly would have looked awkward carrying it around. Their advice was to shoot in the sun when possible.

Why is video so important?

Just like with blogs, people are learning to become content producers and, in some cases, online video shows can look as professional as anything you might find on television. There is a lot of opportunity for organizations to reach out to these influencers. You can listen to what they say about your company or product, your company can even sponsor or advertise on their show. From the production aspect, video could be an alternative for your company to express and engage its customers online. Just look at the success of “Will it Blend?

In the panel “Video is Everywhere” all three speakers agreed that the future of television is online. Dina Kaplan, co-founder and COO of, explained that a major part of their business model is not only enabling people to host their shows but also connecting influencers with advertising dollars. There are plenty of opportunities to reach out to your audience through online video.

Rules to Live By

Just slapping together some clips, throwing a few powerpoint-like transitions and finishing off with cool music isn’t your way to the top (yes, glaring example of my video; I know). Producing a good show takes time, practice and staying true to the rules below.

1) Content is king. Can we drill this home enough? Nowadays it doesn’t matter what you are producing, a blog post, podcast, even your product. If it sucks, people will tell you.

2) Educate and Entertain. The MGI media crew have a formula they call E squared, education x entertainment. You want your audience to learn something as well as be entertained. The lesson doesn’t have to be as complex as chemistry but they should be able to walk away with at least a tidbit of new information.

3) Tailor your content. This is the beauty of having so many online options and niches. Do you like knitting? Origami? Steam punk? Make a show about it because, more than likely, there are a lot of people like you that enjoy the same topic. The bonus, as a content creator, is that you get to work on something that you are really passionate about.

4) Engage your audience. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. By participating in different communities you promote your show. This doesn’t mean spamming and leaving links to your show everywhere. Haven’t you learned? Instead, leave comments on other shows and participate in conversations related to the topic of your show. The people you engage will check you out and if you followed rule #1 you’re set.

5) Be regular. As in distribution. Your audience should expect when you are putting content out there. If it takes you two weeks to produce a decent show then take that time. It’s more important to follow the rules above and to be consistent.

*MGI media recorded the workshop; you can check it out here.*

SAP Sapphire Orlando

Two weeks ago I was the guest of SAP at their annual North American ecosystem conference – Sapphire Orlando (there’s also one in Europe, but it conflicted with Mesh, where I’ve spent the last two days connecting with the best and the brightest from Canada’s web community).

I’m always pleased to be at these events; I enjoy hearing what SAP is doing and where they’re going as an organization, and it’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues. Here’s a selection of some of the things I had the opportunity to hear and learn about while I was there, as well as something that came out of the Berlin event as well.

From the Communities (SDN, BPX) session lead by Zia Yusuf and Mark Yolton:

There was a good discussion around what constitutes success in the community space. Naturally, the easiest (and most unequivocal) measure of success for any organization is an increase in profitable revenue. I think it was Mark, however, who pointed out that there are also soft gains that should not be ignored, and which tend to arrive first; “I have the roller skates, you have the key”-type connections made between community members.

One of the challenges in assessing the ROI of these kinds of platforms and initiatives is that it is very difficult to track ideas as they move through organizations. An idea generated by a connection made through an SAP community may eventually implant and sprout into a profitable project or partnership. How can you practically tie that back to the community? Is an overzealous insistence on ROI, ROI and nothing but ROI both not subtle enough to embrace the real benefits and a potential risk factor?

Underfunding community and collaboration initiatives will have negative economic impact, especially given the rapidly accelerating pace of innovation. A thought that occurs to me as I write this: perhaps instead of insisting on demonstrating ROI as the only meaningful metric (don’t get me wrong – it is meaningful, but it’s just not the only meaningful one), what about a calculation that establishes negative ROI? What revenue are you missing out on if you don’t invest in communities of innovation?

Probably the most interesting keynote of the three-day event was the final one – Hasso Platter, SAP’s Co-Chairman and Chief Software Advisor, (assisted by the amusing Ian Kimbell, who always seems to find a way to mention David Beckham) gave us a charming and substantive run-through of some of the new Business Objects functionality (widgets!), Business By Design and the new Blackberry CRM app, but most interestingly for me, repeatedly asked the crowd for feedback on SAP products in order to improve them.

I wondered, however, how exactly users would be able to provide this input? Frankly, the importance Plattner placed on user input in developing solutions that met business needs fairly screamed out for some sort of official social media channel, whether it’s a robust public collaboration space like the ones used by Dell, or Starbucks (in need of some SEO help, BTW) or a softer backchannel via product manager blogs. Except that SAP doesn’t (yet) have any of those things outside of SDN, which is developer, rather than user-focussed.

This week, something I came across as I watched my colleagues broadcast content from Sapphire Berlin really made me wonder if the senior leadership at SAP have a good understanding of Web 2.0 and its potential. James Governor of Redmonk was tweeting SAP CEO Henning Kagermann’s keynote a few days ago, and posted the following excerpt,

“i am not buying into the Web 2.0 thinking you can build a business to run your entire business on without some complex systems thinking”

Kagermann is obviously making the point that companies need infrastructure providers like SAP in order to run properly, but to make (what appears to be) a fairly negative and broad statement about the value and legitimacy of Web 2.0 in general is an interesting signal. Is he suggesting it’s just a fad, not worth SAP’s attention? Impossible to know without the context of the entire speech, but I hope not (for SAP’s sake).

Finally, I also had the pleasure of attending a session with Marty Homlish, SAP CMO, Susan Popper, SVP of Integrated Marketing Communications, and Chris Powell, Vice President, Global Marketing Strategy, Planning and Marketing Intelligence in which they debriefed us on Chris’ recent project that saw the entire global marketing organization invited to a two-day virtual online event. By all accounts it was very successful, and I look forward to more conversations with Chris about some of the metrics gathered and the analysis conducted. That meeting was worth an entire post all its’ own; one will be forthcoming in a week or so.

[Full disclosure: SAP is an SMG client]

Doug Walker Joins SMG Team as Director of Client Services

dwalkerheadshot2.jpgI’m very pleased to announce that Douglas Walker, Managing Director of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society (yes, really) and highly regarded blogger/podcaster/ad industry veteran, has joined the SMG team as Director of Client Services effective July 2nd, 2008. Doug has over 15 years’ agency experience, is a seasoned pro, and will be a tremendous asset in continuing to help us grow our business. Here’s the blurb from his official bio:

Doug Walker has seen the power of viral and word-of-mouth communications first hand. He has conducted a unique experiment to become the world’s leading authority on the subject of “Rock Paper Scissors“. The experiment was a massive success and led to interviews by hundreds of media outlets including Rolling Stone, CNN, BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Today Show to name a few. He is the author of The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was the subject of a feature film documentary at the 2007 Calgary International Film Festival (Audience Choice Award) and runs the annual World Championships of Rock Paper Scissors in Toronto.

Prior to joining SMG, Doug was Experiential Marketing Manager at Venture Communications, and was responsible for developing the agency’s online and digital practice. He’s spent more than a decade developing and implementing online strategies for some of Canada’s highest profile brands including General Motors, Molson Breweries, IBM, Microsoft, Rogers AT&T and Scotiabank.

Responsible for leading and managing SMG’s global client services, Doug will divide his time between SMG’s newly established (and centrally located) western office in Calgary, Alberta (“SMG West”) and our head offices just outside Toronto, Ontario.

Please join me in welcoming Doug to the SMG team!

Benefits of Online Social Networks

We all understand the value of social networks. They help us find jobs, apartments, even friends. Online social networks allow us to connect in the same way but geography is no longer an issue.

One of the most popular sites, Facebook, allows us to stay in touch with our friends, and find new ones, from all around the globe. Another example is LinkedIn, which helps us to discover jobs, business opportunities and get expert advice no matter where we are. Even online photo sharing sites, like Flickr, have groups based on specific interests. These kinds of sites allow us to focus on our interests and not on our location.

Enjoy this video from Commoncraft, Social Networking in Plain English, to get a better understanding of the benefits of online social networks.

Ford Motor Company and social media

What good is having a blog if you can’t toot your own horn? It’s even better when someone else does it for you.

Geoff Livingston at The Buzz Bin posted his video interview of our client and Twitter colleague Whitney Drake. Whitney is Ford’s Global Communications Manager and in the video she touches on Ford’s participation in social media. Our work with Ford has been extensive, challenging and very rewarding and just like Whitney we are looking forward to the future for Ford in this space.

Clay Shirky and the Cognitive Surplus

This short video was taped at Web 2.0 Expo in late April. I was there, but unfortunately wasn’t in the audience. Nevertheless, I came across this a few days after the conference was over, and was blown away. I have a vested and personal interest in the “why’s” of social media – I am always looking for answers to the big questions, the questions that ask whether this is as transformative as we all believe it to be. Shirky goes a good distance in explaining some pivotal motivations for our changing online behaviour with an explanation of what he calls the cognitive surplus. Take a look for yourself; I guarantee it will be the most informative and thought-provoking 15 minutes of your day.

C'mon, haven't you heard of a blog?

Okay, so if you are reading this blog you probably know what a blog is. So sue me for writing this post but I like to remind myself and others of the basics.

This video from Commoncraft, Blogs in Plain English, makes some strong points, not just for beginners but for all of us. The most important lesson is about how blogs create relationships and that “bloggers often work together” to “inspire and motivate”.

Our team at Social Media Group thrives on those two principles and we definitely hope that our blog inspires and motivates you.