Archive for “November, 2009”

Join SMG in Calgary for the Managing Social Media Conference March 2010

Part of being involved in social media is about passing on what you know and sharing what you’ve learned. For us, that means giving talks, seminars and webinars. For you, it means putting faces to SMG names and hearing industry-leading case studies with the opportunity to ask questions and learn how to apply practices to your organization.

Look out Calgary. SMG’s Leona Hobbs will be heading west this March for Western Canada’s most comprehensive social media conference presented by  The Canadian Institute; Managing Social Media: Practical Solutions and Legal Strategies for Maximizing Success and Minimizing Risk. She is part of the Faculty along side the likes of Joseph Thornley, Chairman & Chief Officer, Thornley Fallis and 76design, Peter Hartl, Manager, Corporate Web Communications, TELUS, Diane Begin, Communications Specialist, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Rob Cottingham, President, Social Signal and Bradley J. Freedman, Partner & Intellectual Property and Technology Law Practice Leader, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP among others.

Leona’s presentation is called “Oh No, It’s Gone Viral!” What to Do when Things Go Wrong. She’ll cover proactive approaches to handling crises online so your ‘OH NO’ is more like, ‘oh no, good thing we got this covered’. Leona will also talk about correcting inaccurate or misleading statements about your brand online, using social media to protect your brand and defend your business and using social media to be a part of customer conversations rather than a passive bystander.

The conference is targeted towards VPs, Directors, Managers, Officers, Specialists and Coordinators of Corporate Communications, Web/Electronic/Intranet Communications, Marketing, Public/Community/Media Relations, Brand Strategy and Development, Chief Privacy Officers, Compliance Officers and Mangers, Communications, Marketing and Technology Lawyers, Employment Lawyers, Human Resource Professionals and Social Media Consultants. That’s a lot of people. So why not get your department to budget a little extra room for your attendance as an early holiday ‘surprise’?!

Canadian Institute Managing Social Media conference runs from March 9-10, 2010 at the Carriage House Inn, Calgary.

Social Media Roundup for November 27, 2009

I see a little silhouetto of a clam.  No…no, wait that’s just the Social Media Roundup.

This week, the Muppets helped YouTube’s recent rollout of 1080p HD video with a fantastic rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  Since that one’s already making the rounds, I thought I’d kick off the roundup Beaker-style.

The Invasion of the YouTube Directors from Mars
Following in the footsteps of short-film to big-screen District 9 director Neill Blomkamp comes the latest YouTube sensation to catch the eye of Hollywood: Federico Alvarez.  $300, 6 months, a few friends and 50 extras came together to produce a stunning apocalyptic 5 minute short and now his phone is ringing off the hook.  Proving once again that if you want to be noticed, you should do something worth noticing.

Wikipedia is the Most Influential Site in the World [citation needed] RWW is once again checking in on ://URLFAN to bring us this year’s “Most Influential Sites” with Wikipedia leading the way for the second straight year.  While an interesting metric, I’m not sure I’d count “Number of mentions on blogs” as my sole descriptor of “Influence.”  YouTube (URLFAN’s #2 influential site) probably wouldn’t be my first stop if I were looking to buy a new lawnmower, for instance.  However, Wikipedia’s top spot is doubly interesting given the recent stats showing their editors are fleeing in herds.

Photoshop this Unlikely Corporate Partnership [Photoshop] Sponsorship is not a new idea for blogs and the like, and Fark has been no exception.  There was the Yardbarker Sports tab, the Blender on Fark Showbiz tab, and now the Geek tab brought to you by…USA Today?  Leaving aside for the moment the fact that both of the prior sponsorships are now defunct, a glance at the approved articles in the Geek tab for the past week shows not a single USA Today sourced link.  This should end well.

Vee Haf Vays Uff Dealink Mit Google.
Worried about personal privacy, government officials in Germany are looking to ban the use of Google Analytics. Key to the argument is Google’s storage of personal data in the US, so expect the big G to purchase a small German city for server storage in the near future.

You May Monitor For Crises, But Do You Monitor For Opportunity?

There’s an old fable about a shoe company that sends two executives to a remote region of the world to study the prospects for expansion.

The first reports back in utter dismay, ‘It’s a bust. We will get absolutely creamed if we go here – no one wears shoes.
The second reports back in utter triumph, ‘They have no shoes! Tremendous opportunity here – we can totally win!

Every day on the social web you have opportunities.

There are connections that can be made. There are evangelists waiting to be spurred into action. There are customers waiting to be won over. Whenever someone is openly talking about your brand, that is a chance to join in the conversation.

Much of the discussion surrounding social media monitoring is focused on the crises. On ensuring there are no houses on fire. And yes, that’s important; dreadfully so.

However, disaster is easy to find. Disaster comes crashing through the front plate glass window with sirens blaring.

Averting disaster is a cost savings. But recognizing and acting on an opportunity, that’s value creation.

Would you go through that door? by The RocketeerOpportunity comes late in the night. Taps lightly on the back, kitchen door. Never rings the bell.

You need to dig deeper and listen much more intently if you are going to uncover the opportunities. More importantly, you need to be ready to act when an opportunity presents itself. Have you defined what it is you are looking for? Does your communications team have a mandate to act when opportunity presents itself? Have you empowered all of your employees to act by presenting a well defined social media policy?

Opportunity is waiting for you out there – will you find it?

Social Media Roundup for November 20, 2009

It’s the Social Media Roundup!  The only roundup that can be seen from space.*

*viewability dependent on access to internet connection, computer, and space shuttle. Exclusivity not guaranteed.

Alright, just squint a bit at around the 1:53 mark in this week’s fantastically retro kickoff video, and you might be able to see our offices, at least.

Powers of Time
Jakob Nielsen has an analysis of the Powers of Ten in User Experience that deserves a read.  It’s a bit hefty, but provides great insight on a number of levels.  Considering Google’s recent announcement that it is considering adding load time to the PageRank algorithm, this is some timely discussion.

From the Alanis Morissette Files
Twitter’s rollout of its new retweet functionality has met with resistance…which is being broadcast by retweet…on its new retweet function.  Isn’t it ironic?  However, the new, improved retweet has the effect of dulling the tweetstorm by collapsing the echo into single tweets.  User outrage just got a bit quieter.

And Now For Something Completely Different…
Hot off the press at Smashing Magazine comes an insightful look at how some designers have chosen to differentiate their blogs from the templated norm by taking the magazine approach.  Certainly not an approach for everyone, but I’ll admit the extensive article held my attention longer that it would have with a more traditional layout, so that’s something.

Oh, Canada: Frank, Firm, and Always Most Courteous.
The CBC understands the importance of honest, direct, and open engagement.  Proof?  The quote below appeared in the CBC staff magazine…

Our relations with the public and with those with whom we deal in business must be frank and firm on all occasions but they must also be always most courteous. We are in a rather vulnerable position because the public expect much of us. This, in a sense, is a compliment. The confidence which we enjoy places a heavy responsibility on all of us. It is not proper anywhere to ignore the complaints of even the remarks of individuals, friendly or otherwise. In our case it is disastrous.

…in 1944. It’s clearly this strong historical footing that moved Facebook to adopt the Canadian government’s privacy changes this week.  That and the actions of the Privacy Commissioner on behalf of the 12 million Canadians on Facebook … and fear of a poutine embargo.

Are You Sure You Want to Unfriend Oxford Dictionary?
Drum roll, please?  The New Oxford American Dictionary (as opposed to Ye Olde Oxford Colonial, presumably) word of the year is…Unfriend.  The definition, I believe, is “What one does to those who chat/tweet/facebook overly often about last year’s word: hypermiling

Just because it's a crowd doesn't make it wise

In fact, sometimes it’s just a mob. And mobs can be very ugly.

Photo courtesy of O'Reilly Media

Photo courtesy of O'Reilly Media

danah boyd’s keynote yesterday at Web 2.0 Expo was a prime example of a mob mentality. Behind each of the speakers ran a live Twitterstream, which pulled everything tagged #w2e. In boyd’s case (she was the last speaker) the audience used it to at first criticize and then make fun of her delivery. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see the stream in order to use some of the feedback productively. All she heard was the laughter of the audience (read her perspective on it here). It was an extremely uncomfortable experience, and, frankly, it really pissed me off.

Those of us in this space are always talking about the importance of transparency and unvarnished feedback, and the wisdom of crowds. What the audience did at Web 2.0 yesterday technically fit into those boxes. Hey – she wasn’t doing a great job, they were having their say! – but it was also mean and rude. Getting on stage in front of a room full of strangers is a high-pressure experience, no matter how much you love the rush. Having that audience start inexplicably laughing at you? That’s the stuff of nightmares.

I’m not going to say that boyd’s talk was fantastic. It was too fast, it was dense, and she did read from her notes. But even still, the crowd knew that what they were doing was wrong – they knew they were a mob; every time anyone posted a tweet calling out those who were mocking Boyd, the room seemed shamed, quieting significantly (full disclosure: I sent a few myself).

So, in closing: the “old” rules of human decency still apply in this new space. If you tweeted something during danah boyd’s keynote you thought would generate a chuckle, you’re a coward. If you truly wanted to improve the experience, you should have had the courage to stand up, raise your hand, and ask her to slow down a bit.

Your Blog Isn't Special And You Have No Followers

There is a quaint notion surrounding social media that ‘everyone is special and every voice matters’.  This viewpoint is a powerful one: that every voice has an equal footing and every one deserves an equal audience.  Every blog post, every tweet, every Scribd and Digg and Delicious item on the net needs a watch.  Needs to be thought over.  Responded to.  Engaged with.

Whether you have a million readers or just a dozen,” goes the refrain, “your voice is just as important.

That’s a very nice, warm and comfortable notion.

But it’s wrong.

The plain truth of it all when it comes to social media for your organization; some people matter, some people don’t.

Okay.  Now that we’ve broken the taboo and put that out there, let me see if I can speak over the din and wailing and gnashing of teeth in order to clarify.

Communications and Marketing do not have unlimited funds and one-on-one relationships can scale only so far.  You want to leverage the network of the people you build relationships with to act as an amplifier for your message and to serve as a qualified filter for information flowing back into the organization.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is a real problem being discussed online, then it doesn’t matter who points it out, you need to act as soon as you can to fix it.  But as anyone in customer relations can tell you, there are legitimate complaints and then there’s whinging, whining and just plain old trolling.  With limited time, money and staff you want to be sure that you don’t get sucked into arguing with every person on the Internet with an opinion and a blog.

Consider: Is the complaint arising from a customer?  Do they speak directly to your customers?  Is there any chance on this great, green earth that they or their audience could EVER be your customer?  No?  Well then shuffle them to the bottom of the queue.  It’s okay.  Really.

When you have a message to communicate, you are looking to get that message as far and wide as you can.  Who do you want delivering that message: a blogger with one hundred readers or a blogger with a hundred-thousand readers?  Or better still, a blogger whose audience consists of several bloggers with a hundred-thousand readers.

You want your message to be in context and to come from someone with credibility on that subject.  Now a blogger like CC Chapman, Chris Brogan or Mitch Joel could blog at length about the benefits of using some brand of organic yarn in knitted goods and a sizable audience would see that message. But I question how many of their readers would actually be interested in, let alone accept their opinion on the matter.  Were I counseling a manufacturer of yarn on social media, I would suggest that a post from Amy at Indigirl holds much more weight than a post from CC, Chris or Mitch.

Talking in the abstract, it’s easy to toss around platitudes about connecting with everyone.  But for anyone with a budget to manage, prioritizing who you connect with is key.

Social Media Roundup for November 13, 2009

It’s the Social Media Roundup, and SMG is a year older, wiser, and awesome…r.

That’s right, SMG celebrated 3 fan-damn-tastic years of awesomeness last week, with special guest – the endangered caribou!  I’ll let the stars of the video kickoff for the week say it better than I:

So now that THAT’S stuck in your head, on to the news.

Authenticity vs. Transparency, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Toplessness
Augie Ray has written a great post about the recent trials and tribulations of CEO Chip Conley of Joie de Vivre hotels.  Chip posted a picture of himself topless at Burning Man (with…something on his head) on Facebook and some of his employees took offense.  What followed sets up a nice case study for the distinction between personal authenticity and transparency.  (Seriously, what IS that on his head?)

Sign Up Now to Enter…But Not on Facebook
Last week, Facebook made revisions to its Promotions Guidelines which dramatically restrict the methods by which companies can run contests and the like on their fan pages.  Among the restrictions: you will only administer the promotion through an app, you must submit materials for review by Facebook at least 7 days in advance, and the prize may not include dairy products.  The lactose intolerance lobby has some clout, it seems.

Rupert, Rupert, Rupert
Rupert Murdoch is making headlines (and getting plenty of free advertising, to boot) by threatening to remove all NewsCorp properties from Google within the next few months.  To which Google responded: meh, alright. Now, if this is a ploy to fire up the search wars again by selling exclusivity to Bing or Yahoo! then I say interesting play, Mr. Murdoch.  Otherwise, I’m in Google’s camp.  Meh, alright.

My blog is better than your twitter!
Joel Postman has a post up on Social Media Today that sums up most of my thoughts on the value of twitter vs. blogs.  The one other advantage in the blog’s corner that I’d add is the permanence factor.  The twitter stream is so quick and broad that your tweet is swallowed up and downriver before you know it. The search options are coming along, but dollar for dollar, I’d put my money on something that I know will be findable and there until the ablogalypse hits.

SMG Turns 3 – Saving the 'Bou

The last few months, SMG has been working with a coalition of environmental groups (Forest Ethics, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and Canopy) on a campaign to help save the Woodland Caribou and protect their habitat –Ontario’s Southern Boreal Forest.

Last week a couple of tweetups were held in order to draw more awareness for the issue and drive people to to voice their opinions and ask Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to enact the legislation to protect caribou habitat.

In London @BillDeys was so kind to include the ‘Bou during the monthly Geek Dinner meetup at the Black Shire Pub.

In Toronto, SMG celebrated our 3rd anniversary party with a Save the ‘Bou Tweetup at the Pilot Tavern. The ‘Bou Bash included DJ set by @modermod and the infamous @RannieTuringan Photo Booth (Photos from the night will be available on the photojunkie photostream soon, we promise!)

Thanks to everyone who attended and tweeted for the ‘Bou! We all loved reading all of the tweets on the big screen and catching up with some of the best folks in the social media space in TO!

SMG’s role was to set the groundwork for the campaign and after a successful event in Toronto, we have passed the baton back to the groups to continue on in the fight for the right for the ‘Bou to party. To continue following the progress check out the ‘Bou on Facebook and Twitter.

As of today, we have just over 1100 emails sent and every single one counts! So if you have friends and family who you think this cause would be important to, please pass along the site and let’s Save the ‘Bou!


"Rudolph, Imma let you finish, but the Caribou is the best animal (shrug) @savethebou" via @collindouma

New swag: SMG GelaSkins for your iPhone

No doubt about it, the SMG-ers are addicted to mobile. So when we were heading into conference season and needed new SMG company swag, Maggie had the brilliant idea of partnering with Toronto-based GelaSkins to create SMG-branded skins for iPhone. We’re a bit fussy about “promo” (it musn’t be junky or cheap and should serve a useful purpose while making sense for your brand). As users and fans of GelaSkins ourselves we’re totally thrilled with the SMG skins turned out.

SMG GelaSkin

They were officially launched at our 3rd Anniversary #SaveTheBou event last week and are on the ground in Denver at Defrag 2009 this week with Maggie. If you’ve got one of the SMG GelaSkins on your iPod, would you please send us a pic of them with their new lovely swag?  Tag it SMG-swag and twitpic, flickr, or just email us. We’ll create a collection of the who’s who in the industry all showing off their lovely iPhones made lovelier through our SMG GelaSkins.


So that’s our new tchotchke. Despite our focus on all things social media, we think cool, memorable swag is an important part of event marketing. What do you think?

When PR and Marketing Collide Webinar Audio Replay Available Now

Our team of experts on last week’s Social Media Today webinar decided to add more colour to the palette by not only leaving marketing and PR blended on the communications canvas, but adding IT, Human Resources and <gulp> customer service to the mix. What did you think dear listeners?

If you missed it, the Social Media Today webinar was moderated by Maggie with participants Peter Kim, Managing Director, North America at Dachis Group, Cathy Brooks, communications expert and founder of Other Than That and Paul Gillin, writer, speaker, online marketing consultant you can click here to give ‘er a listen.

The topic was When PR and Marketing Collide but it began with a marriage proposal from Robin Carey, Social Media Today to Maggie Fox. See? Our social media experts are deeply committed to joining forces in efforts of mass collaboration. A lot of ground was covered including predictions of where social media is going in the next 18-24 months.

The panelists pretty much agreed that the introduction of social media has interrupted the traditional flow between earned and paid media but are they truly stepping on each others toes? Should social media be opened right up for employees or simply shut down due to lack of training and its unpredictable nature? The conversation that transpired may surprise you.

We are living in the 21st century, but it seems like our audiences are responding to marketing from the past. Back to the Future? Hear why. Predictions are, that moving forward, more money will be spent on earned media and social media. Want to know why? And how does 17th century marketing even blend in the digital age?

If every employee is a broadcaster at home or at work, who should really speak on behalf of a company especially in the face of new communications rules by the FTC? And does social media place every employee into a customer service role? As if this webinar didn’t sound interesting enough, measurement, ROI, integration of paid and earned media was also discussed.

Head over here, turn up the volume and feel free to send us feedback!