Archive for “November, 2011”

SMG Webinar – The Social Enterprise, Dec 8


As companies accumulate more and more experience working in the new two-way communication environment imposed by social media, they encounter new, often unforeseen challenges. Companies must consider new organizational structures, a new approach to content and develop new company policies in order to be successful, just to name a few.

Social Business is a hot topic in social media circles these days, which is why I’ll be presenting a webinar lecture at the Seven Days of Executive Education (7DEE) for the folks at Internet Revolution.  During this talk, I’ll be sharing insights gained from SMG’s applied experience  helping Fortune 500 companies re-engineer themselves for a successful future.   The webinar will take place on Thursday, December 8, at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Interested in hearing more? Then register yourself by clicking here!

What to tell a group of MBA students about a career in Digital Communications

I recently realized that I was a veteran in this industry. I know, it should have tweaked to that fact a little earlier, but I was recently on an industry panel, talking about women and leadership to a group of students who belong to the Women in Management Association at Rotman’s School of Management, at the University of Toronto. The fact that I could remember working on early MSN projects back in the 90’s, when “broadband was going to be big” was a bit of a reality check. When did MBA students start looking so young ?!

Reality really hit home this week, when I was visiting that MSN client in Montreal. We have been through four iterations of our business lives together, with him on the Client side, me on the Agency side… with both of us, circa 2011 now working in the social media area of the business.

If I were asked – would I do it all over again? Would I choose to build my career in digital communications, if it were early enough to still become a management consultant?

Thinking of those MBA students I was talking to at WIMA, my answer to that “Would I do It All Over Again” question would Yes. Absolutely.

I can honestly say, after being one of the first to come out of the multimedia program at the Vancouver Film School 15 years ago, yes. I have three excellent reasons:

  1. I still genuinely get a kick out of it. I like working on a variety of projects, and think it’s important work. Perhaps it’s not solving the problems of world hunger, but in my time I have done my share of work on important social and business issues, and this career has offered me the opportunity to work with clients on those issues in a meaningful way.
  2. As an emerging space, the sector has allowed me to be entrepreneurial. Throughout my career, I have been in a variety of entrepreneurial businesses, as an entrepreneur, business lead or strategic partner. I have worked in large organizations as well, but the emerging nature of the sector encourages this entrepreneurial spirit. You have to know if that works for you- but it’s been a huge plus for me.
  3. This industry has given me an opportunity to interface with the world. OK, I know that sounds corny- but by its very nature, digital communications is international. There are no borders. And lots of different types of people and organizations are interested in how digital communications will impact them. The industry has allowed me to explore a variety of different boards, associations and organizations both within Canada and outside of Canada. As I get older, that is the piece that I find the most exciting- and I think digital media provides an excellent vehicle for Canadian companies and individuals to engage with the business world outside of our borders. This is key to our strength and growth as a country, and in digital communications- especially in Social Media, we live that reality every day.

And as a parting word to all those MBA students at WIMA, it’s important that women in business are engaged in this field. In general, I think it’s important for there to be a diversity of people and voices present at the digital communications table — after all, we are shaping the cadence of this important and still emerging global communications platform. We should all be there.










SocialFresh Baltimore – Wednesday!

SocialFresh is one of my favourite social media marketing conference series; generally held in medium-sized markets, it’s refreshingly free of the “usual suspects” on the conference circuit. Organizer Jason Keath always curates his events with extreme care; in other words, the content is also GREAT.

I am therefore extremely pleased to be speaking at my second SocialFresh – this time Baltimore on Wednesday, November 30th. The event is nearly sold out (check here for any remaining tickets). Here’s my session description (in the Advanced Social Media track) – if you’re attending, please be sure to stop by and say hi!

The Great Content Disruption: How Content Marketing is Changing Everything

Disruption. It’s one of the most common buzzwords used to describe the social web. But when we use it, we have largely been referring to technology and platforms – broadband web access, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. But what about content? In some places, there’s too much, in others, not enough – causing major problems for established business models. In this keynote presentation we’ll explore how content is emerging as a major challenge for marketers and how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way content moves across the web and how it can effectively be used to earn attention in a billion-channel universe.

Hope to see you there!

Social Media Roundup for November 25

This week the roundup covers changes to Facebook’s Sponsored Stories ad unit, the shiny updated Facebook Insights (with handy infographic), Klout’s explanation of changes to their algorithm for influence and how it works by a couple of their executives. And we wrap it up with the news that through Facebook we’re only 3.74 degrees away from anyone (what does this mean for poor Kevin Bacon?).

Facebook Ads in the Ticker

This week Facebook began showing ads in the Ticker in the form of Sponsored Stories. When Sponsored Stories ad units were launched last year, they only to showed up in your News Feed and then this summer they expanded into the Games Ticker. Since Facebook didn’t receive significant complaints, they expanded even further to include them in the standard Ticker, which happened this week. These ads will be subtle — the only difference from the regular content is that they will be labeled “Sponsored”. Some people see this as a sneaky approach to getting people to click on ads. But as long as these ads aren’t flooding the Ticker, I think it could be a positive shift in advertisements because the ads will include some social content or context. It will be interesting to see what the further reactions to this roll out will be. What do you think of this change?

Facebook’s New Insights

Facebook also rolled out their new insights this week. All of the analytics are presented in a visual format, giving Page administrators a more organized and detailed look at the analytics about fan interaction and engagement on their Page. The insights tab is further broken down by “Likes,” “Reach,” and “Talking About This.” The “Likes” section will help you narrow in on your target market, making sure that your tone, voice of brand and content are resonating with the right people by providing detail about the demographics of your fans.

The “Reach” section shows you the number of people that have seen your content and then this information can be leveraged by looking into which days had the most reach and what you shared on those days. Lastly, the “Talking About This,” section shows you who have reacted to content on your Page so you can better target your content.

The new algorithm focuses on “People Talking About This” or the number of “stories” your Page is producing and in turn creating shared content. A story is: when someone “Likes” your Page, posts to your Wall, “Likes,” comments or shares one of your posts, answers a question, mentions your Page, tags your Page, checks in at your Place or recommends your Place. Admins can now obtain insights into what type of posts have greater chances of going viral (the number of people reached multiplied by the number that actually took action).

Take a look at this Infographic for a little cheat sheet:


Klout on Algorithms and their Business

Klout has been taking heat over user privacy and the legitimacy the algorithms they use for determining an individual’s online influence. Klout actually changed their algorithm last month and Social Media Today author, Rohn Jay Miller interviewed Klout’s CEO Joe Fernandez, which you can read here.

Also check out this video of Klout’s VP of Platform, Matt Thomson at the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas talking about their business and its mission. I found it interesting to hear that they consider themselves more consumer-focused than business-focused. They say that individuals can know whom they are influencing and then identify brands that they may want to connect with and reach out to. I like this angle, put the power in the influencer’s hands because they are the ones that have achieved their influence!

4 Degrees of Separation?

You’ve heard of the six degrees of separation right? Well it just got smaller, thanks to no other than the world’s largest social network, Facebook. New research shows that we are now only 3.74 people away from knowing someone. Facebook’s study looked to see if modern technology made it easier to connect with people worldwide and of course the answer is yes, resulting in cutting the six degree rule almost in half. It really is a small world after all!






Movember – The Stachy Stache agenda in social

Movember, the “scratchy stash” season is nearing an end.  I for one am delighted by this annual expression of manliness.  I love seeing men walking around looking “unfinished” (my description for men sporting the rugged look) for a great cause.  I hear the process of growing a moustache can be quite painful, scratchy, itchy, gross and awkward – so kudos to all those who are powering through these “challenges” to create awareness and raise support for prostate cancer.

Social Media has served as a vital channel to generate both awareness and funds for this cause.  An untold number of males are using social media to express themselves and spread the word.  Moustached males adorn avatars and Mo Galleries are popping up everywhere. Now,  NHL players have joined the party and even  Justin Bieber is rocking a bieberstache too.

Movember is now a global discussion. Three years ago social mentions about the initiative were only across 23 countries – in 2011, we have about 100 countries engaging their followers and friends about Movember.  Our contribution to a recent article on the National Post’s “Enthusiasm for Movember Sprouts in Canada” covers some of the social statistics of the cause.

According to the article on the National Post social media has played a significant role in the fundraising efforts with more than $40-million in donations last year coming through email, while another $6.7-million came through Facebook links and almost $140,000 by way of Twitter.  Social media is definitely adding value to this grassroots movement.

Happy Stachy Mo Funs!


Social media adoption, the serendipity economy and flock behavior in communities

Okay, okay – the title is obscure. I’m pretty sure you know what social media is, but the serendipity economy? Flock behavior in communities?

Don’t worry – there’s a connection, and I will explain…

Last week I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, where I managed to catch an amazing session with Daniel W. Rasmus called “The Serendipity Economy“. I found myself compulsively live-tweeting throughout Daniel’s talk. His thesis is essentially that our legacy, industrial-age approach to economics does not fit within our modern knowledge economy framework.

Think of it this way – value in manufacturing is realized the moment a product is created, whereas in a knowledge economy, the presentation I just created has no value until it’s presented. Additionally, because the knowledge economy relies largely on human networks, forecasting much of the value derived is basically impossible (imagine the number of variables. It’s like weather modeling, times a billion!) instead, our challenge is discovering unanticipated value as it happens – and then replicating it (you can download Daniel’s whitepaper here).

Twitter visualization

Image courtesy of Yoan Blanc

Anyway, it was an amazing talk, and one of my biggest takeaways had to do specifically with social media. Daniel rightly noted that there is a huge disruption when you introduce a horizontal technology (i.e. social media) into a traditional vertical structure (i.e. most large organizations), particularly as it relates to adoption. Social, ideally, needs to get to the point of being as widely used as, say, the phone or the PC. Problem? It’s much more skills-based, much more complex and we also don’t have years to roll it out.

So, what’s an organization to do?

In a conversation with a client the very next day, I mentioned Daniel’s presentation, and as we discussed adoption of social media and the very real challenges with integrating horizontal technologies into vertical organizations (so well put!). I was suddenly reminded of something I read in both the MIT Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog and Fast Company, and subsequently did a presentation on in late 2009. My presentation was called “Disrupting Traditional Leadership: Flock Behavior in Communities” and it explored research that showed it was possible for a very small number of leaders to move very large entities, if only you have the right criteria in place:

  1. Distribution: The leaders must be distributed throughout the organization in a fairly consistent way in order to touch the maximum number of individuals. Their own networks must not leave any significant pockets untouched by their mission, vision or goals.
  2. Allegiance: The people in the leaders’ networks must be absolutely loyal. That means the leader must be persuasive, and when he or she moves, their network moves with them, as do the networks surrounding their network… you get the idea.
  3. Communication: To get everyone to move at the same time and in the right direction, messaging about the mission and the action to be taken must be communicated to all leaders and then to the loyal members of their networks quickly, efficiently and consistently.

Interesting model, which raised all kinds of questions for me, including whether it could be deployed to achieve significant change in unexpected places… like large, vertical organizations, who are deeply challenged by quick-moving, disruptive change.

I’m really excited about the continuing challenges presented to us as we help our more progressive clients fully integrate social into what they do. The adoption discussion is a priority for 2012, and our team will be actively exploring new models in an effort to help make our partners more nimble, flexible and just better at leveraging social media. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Community Manager? What's that?


community management

Community management is a hot topic in social. In fact, there are 48,258 people who list Community Manager as a title or Community Management as a keyword on LinkedIn.

So it’s a hot space – I know this because I work with clients everyday supporting community management. I’ve got a bird’s eye view, so here goes my rant about what is a community manager.

Community managers have been around for years. Really, people have been managing digital communities in some form or another since the dawn of message boards and chat rooms. Not until the mass adoption of Facebook, Twitter and the like has it become a defined profession – and rightly so.

An active social media program in an organization disrupts traditional departments and silos. No one feels this more acutely than the community manager. Everybody (and their dog) has their own definition of what a community manager does because there are a number of demands and responsibilities that fall within the community management title.

According to the Community Management Round Table (in their State of Community Management 2011 report), the top attributes of a Community Manager are “The desire to be helpful, someone who is concise and credible, a sense of humor, curiosity, fearlessness, influential, persuasive, diplomatic, patient and mature. The expertise required for the role of community manager is strategic business acumen combined with exceptional communication and people skills.”

What do I think?  A community manager is a passionate strategic thinker who is a content creator and a moderator, a listener and informer. Essentially, it is someone who encourages conversation and engagement around a product, brand, issue or cause. I asked my Twitter and Facebook networks to tell me their definition of a community manager. As expected, quite varied:

  • @jeremywaite: A community manager should be in-house. No one else will be as passionate about your brand
  • @Sparkle_Media: in-house community management is a goal: a person/role to add to client team; interim & freelance CM’s can add bandwidth
  • @nav_een: CM should be patient, thick-skinned, creative, wordsmith. I agree with @sparkle_agency that CM should be in-house.
  • @heyneil: The catalyst for conversation in brand social spaces, the moderator of objectionable content and the person who escalates questions or issues to appropriate people within the organization. Also, the person who filters the brand team’s request for activity in the social spaces using best practices.

There’s so much juicy stuff in those comments from folks in my network. What’s your take? Is Community Manager a profession that’s here to stay or just a trendy job title for something else? When should (could) Community Management be outsourced?

Social Media Roundup for November 18, 2011


Google+ Pages continued…

Last week, Google announced new Google+ Pages for companies. Since then, top brands, including Pepsi, Hugo Boss, and Toyota have started to build their Google+ communities. What’s next?

This week, Google announced a series of new features that will make Google+ Pages even more attractive, and easier to use for brands.

Third Party Tools To Help Manage Google+ Pages

For those companies using platforms like HootSuite and ContextOptional to manage multiple social networks now integrate Google+ Pages. This feature will help populate Google+ with more brands as many organizations already use Social Media Management tools for their daily social media activities.

Trending topics and other improvements to the Google+ search

According to Mashable, Google+ has quietly rolled out trending topics within Google+ search this week. Just like Twitter trending topics, Google+ lists the top 10 most discussed topics within their platform. In addition to that, there have been other improvements to Google+ search as well. Users are now able to search within their own posts, their circles or their entire Google+ network.

Google+ Search

Google also tweaked the search page slightly. One thing that caught my attention is that Google+ Search now defaults to “most recent” rather than “best of”. This is Google moving back into real-time search (since their high-profile split with Twitter in July).

Average Facebook User [Infographic]

The average age of a Facebook user is now 38. New stats and facts from a new Infographic designed by JESS3 that looks at the average Facebook user’s daily activities. The Infographic shows that Facebook users are still the most engaged  – 52% of the users use the platform daily, and more than 20% of users are engaged with other people’s content.

Future Steve Jobs?

At TEDxManhattanBeach last month,  a 12-year-old boy named Thomas Suarez impressed with a speech about his journey to become an app developer and how he founded his own company. The video came out last week and has received over 1 million views on YouTube.  People are referring to him as the next Steve Jobs, as he shows charisma rarely seen in people, let alone people his age.

From the YouTube introduction:

Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay of Los Angeles. When Apple released the Software Development Kit (SDK), he began to create and sell his own applications. “My parents, my friends and even the people at the Apple store all supported me,” he says, “and Steve Jobs inspired me”. Thomas points out that it’s hard to learn how to make an app. “For soccer you could go to a soccer team … but what if you want to make an app?” He’s started a club for fellow students at school, where he shares his knowledge of programming. Thomas articulates his vision that students are a valuable new technology resource to teachers, and should be empowered to offer assistance in developing the technology curriculum and also assist in delivering the lessons.

Social Media Roundup for November 11, 2011

Google+ Business Pages

The big news this week has been the much-anticipated release of Google+ Business pages. The pages function in a similar way to that of a regular Google+ profile, allowing the administrator to add people to circles, share, +1 comments and photos and host and join Hangouts. As with a profile, the owner can perform all of these activities and only the owner. The rule of only one person “owning” your business page makes it hard  for your company’s social media team to distribute duties since only one person will be able to update the account. As one blogger put it, “if the brand needs to say something to customers in a high-touch, high-service business like ours (we have customer service people posting and answering phones and talking on chat 24 hours a day 365 days a year) they will need to wake me up to get me to post something? Really?”

Another drawback for the business pages is the inability for fans to directly post on your wall, as currently they can only offer comments on a post that you have already made. Isn’t one of the main initiatives of business pages that customers can interact with you?

Pages can follow people but can only do so once they have been followed. But once you have been added, you can add them to a specific circle and tailor your communication based on location, interests or other relevant categories, which is a great feature. You can also lock posts within a certain circle, making the content exclusive to them. Another way of making content exclusive is by hosting a Hangout with say your breaking stories, enticing people to want to be a part of your Hangouts if they want the inside scoop. The Muppets got creative with this feature by offering a chance for followers to chat live with Miss Piggy.

What will you offer in a Hangout with your company? Get creative, the possibilities are endless!

I do think that Google+ business pages have really great potential to be a strong brand communication tool. Facebook pages obviously have a head start with their already existing communities, but Google+ pages have a one up with its search features, I mean its parent company is Google! Google+ Direct Connect will immediately take you to a Google+ page just by putting a “+” in front of your search query and once you are there you are given the option to add the page to your circles.

Although this feature is not widely available to all pages yet, once it is, it will be a very direct and easy way for fans to get information right from the brand, creating the opportunity for Google+ business pages to be a strong source of information and brand communication.

As for hosting giveaways and contests, Google+ has banned these actions and are currently only allowing you to display a link to where your promotion is hosted. I can understand that Google+ is doing this to protect themselves from any potential liabilities associated with promotions but since Facebook is now allowing Apps for hosting promotions, it will be interesting how long this policy lasts and how it will unfold.

Videos on Social Networks

How often does your company create and share videos? What kind of content are you putting in them and are you seeing positive results in return? If not, check out this Infographic for some insights.

Also getting a lot of attention this week has been the use of social media for bullying. Teens have a very dominant presence on social networking sites, which opens a new channel for them to be bullied; sadly making it a reality that bullying doesn’t end when the school day does. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the Family Online Safety Institute and supported by Cable in the Classroom found that the majority of teens using social media are having positive experiences but unfortunately there are still those that are facing negative experiences. Below are some of their findings.

It’s unfortunate to see that younger teenage girls and black teens are having the hardest time on social networks but its not all bad news: 27% of teens online will defend the victim who is being harassed and 20% will tell the person to stop being mean and cruel.

Social Media as News, SMG in the news

The new media paradigm:

The fastest way to get a news story out is on twitter.

Every journalist is using social to communicate and look for a scoop.

Social media is a big story behind elections, social movements and the occasional publicity crisis.

It’s symbolic of the fact that each and everyday we’re witnessing the convergence between social media and mainstream news sources.

Further proof of this convergence is the fact that every two weeks, you’ll find Social Media Group in the newspaper of all places (digital editions too!)  Bi-weekly, we’ll be contributing social media data and analysis to the folks at Postmedia relating to current events, both lighter fare and important issues.  We aim to be the Angus Reid of social media research!

To see what we’re up to, just click on our contribution to the viral global spread of the Occupy movement on Twitter, or last week’s gem,  Beaver versus Polar Bear as the Canadian national animal (infographic below).

Like the work we do for our clients, our goal is to inform, provide insight and occaisionally offer some entertainment!  Enjoy!