Archive for “March, 2012”

Social Media Roundup for March 30

Michelle McCudden is a Manager on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group.

The Timeline Deadline is Here

Today Facebook will implement the mandatory switch to Timeline for Pages. If you’ve been reluctant to make the switch, here’s some good news to ease you through the transition: It looks like Timeline will actually benefit your page. A study from Wildfire this week showed that Pages with less than 1 million fans are seeing a big boost in engagement from switching over to Timeline, with sizeable increases to comments, likes and People Talking About This. Larger pages have seen a smaller boost, but are still benefitting. We’re looking forward to more data after the switch this weekend. In the meantime, it’s been interesting to see what some brands are doing to take advantage of that Cover Photo real estate:

Another awesome use for Timeline? Tracing your brand or industry back hundreds or thousands of years. Two of the best examples are the New York Times, which begins its Timeline in 1851 with the paper’s first issue, and Spotify, which traces the history of popular music back to the year 1000.


Pinterest’s New Terms of Service

Last weekend, Pinterest rolled out their new policies, with updates to the  Terms of Service taking effect on April 6 and updated versions of Acceptable Use and Privacy policies taking place on March 23. Among the changes are new tools for reporting alleged copyright or trademark infringements, the prohibition of pins or boards promoting self-harm (targeting “thinspo” boards, among others), and an update to the Terms of Service to remove the word “sell.” (Pinterest recently came under fire for their stated right to sell any content posted to Pinterest, with critics sighting concerns about copyright and ownership.) The new Terms also state that users aren’t to post any content that would infringe upon the rights of the creator, as a means of protecting Pinterest against charges of copyright infringement. How tightly this will be enforced remains to be seen. Check out John Herrman of Buzzfeed’s projection of what a board without copyrighted content might look like:

Understanding the Twitter Bug


A big story this week has been Twitter’s confirmation that there is, indeed, an “unfollow” bug, making it appear that you are not following someone that you had previously followed. Since Twitter’s redesign late last year, it’s much easier to see if someone is following you or not, thanks to the “FOLLOWS YOU” that appears next to their name.

While there’s some speculation that the bug is the result of the December redesign, others (myself included) seem to remember it starting earlier. Twitter reports that they’re working to fix the bug.


New Free SMG Whitepaper: Unleash the Power of Content Marketing Part 1

SMG Content Marketing Logo

Today, we’re thrilled to release part one of our latest whitepaper: Unleash the Power of Content Marketing: Strategy and Considerations for Operations.


Truly a labor of love, when we sat down to write this whitepaper (it is jointly authored by Leona Hobbs, Michelle McCudden and myself), our vision was to provide a guidebook for marketers looking to execute content marketing programs inside their organizations.  Drawing on the expertise we’ve gleaned working with our clients on content marketing programs, we quickly realized that we had enough for two (or more) whitepapers.

So, we’ve split them up. Part one covers Strategy and Considerations for Operations – this is our best counsel and advice for leaders and executives about how they can set their teams up for success in the execution of content marketing programs. Part one of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing covers:

  • How to define your program
  • Building the case for change
  • How to structure operations
  • Content marketing and the sales funnel

Please take a look at an excerpt from Part 1 of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing and if you like what you see, download the entire thing. We’re always interested in conversation, so we look forward to hearing back from you. How does this whitepaper match your experiences as you plan strategy and operations for content marketing?

Oh, and Part 2 of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing covers concrete steps for achieving excellence in execution of content marketing tactics. Its scheduled for release in a couple of weeks.

Yet Another Ill-Advised Tattoo


Cam Finlayson is a Director, Client Strategy & Innovation at Social Media Group. 

Rumour has it that Nokia is currently working on a new product idea that will ensure you never miss an important call or email. The patent, filed by Nokia back in September, outlines a device consisting of thin material that can be applied to the skin that will vibrate when triggered by a magnetic field sent via a device such as a smartphone. Or, as some folks on the internet are calling it: a vibrating tattoo.

When you break it down, this is got to be one of the wackiest product ideas in a long time. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Nokia is looking into any and all opportunities to make up some of the valuable ground lost to Apple, Blackberry and Google over the last ten years.

Personally, I’m of two minds about Nokia’s product idea. From a tech standpoint I’ve gotta say that the concept is pretty cool. However, it does raise some concerning questions regarding where technology can lead us.

What’s most unsettling to me about this idea is how it illustrates our desire to stay connected and a growing dependency on smartphones. Have we actually come to a point where the anxiety of missing an incoming call or email has led to the need for this type of product?

I hope we’re not there yet, and if I’m right the market for this type of product will be quite small. That said, as smartphone adoption reaches critical mass, the lines between technology and culture begin to blur.

First, it was the infamous Crackberry that stole our 9-to-5 workday and cleverly redefined our understanding of work-life balance. Now we have a Finnish phone maker attempting to reinvent how we stay connected with their devices.

To put things in perspective, I encourage you to try a little experiment. Over the weekend, try to go a day without your mobile phone. If that’s not realistic, try to go for a couple of hours.

Those of you that keep your phone in your pocket or close by 24/7, will likely experience something really freaky: at some point you’ll either think you hear your phone ringing or will feel the sensation of your phone vibrating. This is commonly known as Phantom Vibration Syndrome—a fact that I learned a couple of months ago during a self-diagnosis with the help of Google.

For those of you eagerly waiting for Nokia to market this vibrating tattoo, count me out; I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the phantom ringing in my leg.

Best Thinkers Webinar Series: Women and Social Media: Passion + Purpose = Conversion

Join Maggie Fox on Tuesday April 3rd at 12pm EST /9am PST for an exclusive live webinar from Social Media Today on Women and Social Media: Passion + Purpose = Conversion.

Are social media sites the “killer app” for reaching a female audience? And where do female web users congregate? The great growth surge seen by social photo-sharing site Pinterest is driven by women, rather than the males who more often make up the demographic of geeks and early technology adopters. And BlogHer’s latest annual study, Women and Social Media in 2012, found that women who read blogs actively make more purchasing decisions based on that social weapon of choice than on Facebook and Twitter.

Clearly, women lead the social and spending uses of certain regions of the Web. Maggie and panelist Elisa Camahort Page, Co-Found & COO of BlogHer will explore these new realities and more, discussing:

  • Women who hold leadership positions in social media companies
  • How women are making a difference in the world through the Web
  • The implications from these numbers for online and offline cultural change
  • How an analysis of women’s use of social tools could impact your marketing plan

Interested in joining the discussion? Register HERE!

Cutting through the noise


Brandon Oliver Smith is Research and Insights Analyst  at Social Media Group.

This past February, a meeting of digitally minded people took place in 12 cities across the globe. The goal was to discuss emerging trends in social and mobile media. The meetings, called Social Media Week, featured an event hosted by SMG at our Richmond St office in Toronto. Here I spoke about content, and cutting through the noise in the digital age. This topic was inspired by my background in independent music and arts.

While in Junior High, Grunge music was huge. At the time, it seemed like every one in my class was wearing flannel shirts, listing to Nirvana and like any 13 year old, I desperately wanted to fit in. The only thing was, I never really liked Grunge. In fact, at the time I was secretly infatuated with early electronic music emanating from inner city Chicago and Detroit, a sound considered “weird” by the majority of my classmates.

The day I decided to follow my own tastes rather than those of the crowd is still a memorable one. I was put on a path to seek out new and interesting forms of expression. To accomplish this, I had to adopt a type of pseudo investigative journalism that involved a considerable amount of “crate digging”, zine reading and word-of-mouth from other like-minded fans.

As Internet technology evolved, the challenge of finding enough new content to satisfy my thirst became much easier. Hanging out in record stores was replaced by all-you-can-eat file sharing services and online music stores with hyperlinks that begged for discovery. Zines were replaced by blogs curated by taste-makers and trendsetters and with the rise of social networks, connecting with likeminded others was faster and more scalable than ever before. Web technology made it not only easier to find new content, but advances in affordable technology created an environment where the tools required to produce content were increasingly available to everyone.

Undoubtedly, advances in technology have transformed the way we both create and consume content. I always thought of these advances to be steps in a positive direction, until I started becoming overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content available. To make matters worse, not only was there an ungodly amount of content waiting to be consumed, the signal to noise ratio of great to filler began trending in a concerning direction.

The irony here is that after all of these advances in technology, the fundamentals rules of how trends and ideas spread have not changed. We’re now in a position to create and consume a seemingly infinite amount of content, but to uncover unique gems, we still have to roll up our sleeves and dig in the (proverbial) crates.

3…..2…..1….We have liftoff of the new iPad.

This post by Wangari Kamande a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

When traveling to the moon, you better ensure your aim is true at launch, or else you will miss it by a mile. The same is true when launching new products or marketing campaigns, you want to ensure that your product or message meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Now, thanks to social media, brands can have an “early warning detection system” that can alert them of any previously unidentified issues.

You can be certain that Apple, who largely eschews social media marketing, is paying attention to what people are saying online about the new iPad, launched on March 15th.   (The last thing Apple wants is another antenna-gate.)

As reported in the Financial Post’s Tech Desk (and featuring data from SMG’s Research & Insights) team, there was a lot of online discussion about the new iPad.  But a deeper, more focused search quickly uncovered some product challenges and customers who were unsure about whether their device was operating to standard. A small, but vocal group of consumers complained about a yellow tint to the screen, overheating, or the fact that the covers Apple made for the iPad 2 do not fit the new tablet.

For Apple, this represents a great opportunity to quickly diagnose issues and jumpstart remedial action, if necessary with the goal of ensuring consumers are getting the brand experience they were paying for.

Social Media Signals

The signals and value that come from listening represent a big opportunity for brands. One of my favorite quotes is from the Author Harvey Mackay, he says, “You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.” Make the decision to listen today; it will serve your brand well.

Was SXSWi Worth It?

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

After years of envious tweets and serious SXSWi FOMO, I finally made it. 2012 was my year! I scoured the schedule for days before stepping on the plane to Austin, eagerly added every single nerdy Foursquare meet-up/event to my calendar and created a ‘how-to’ list for each SXSW/Austin-specific Foursquare badge. (I do that with every new city I visit. #nerdalert)

After Day One was complete, I was somewhat disappointed.

I think at one point I was certainly the SXSWi target audience, but 2012 was all about mass appeal, big companies and bigger sponsors. Opinion: SXSWi is no longer a hotbed for cutting edge new ideas or a small group of big thinkers. It’s a huge group of people looking to learn more (just like so many other marketing/interactive conferences.)

SXSWi 2012 was bigger than ever. According Austin360 the festival said its official paid attendance count for 2012 was 24,569, up from 19,364 in 2011 (nearly 27%) and 14,251 in 2010. (This isn’t surprising considering the over-crowded halls at the Austin Convention Center and the 3.5+ hour wait in line to pick up my badge.)



  • None of the sessions I attended that directly related to my day-to-day work provided new insights or takeaways. I had no “Eureka!” moments, no inspiring “I can’t wait to try that!” moments, not even an “Oops, I’m doing it wrong” moment.

Maybe I missed out on the really valuable sessions. At any given time, there were three or four sessions that I wanted to attend and had to choose but one. Maybe I chose wrong.

I have a friend who found great value in the mentor sessions and networking events and friends who had a blast at the parties. (Something that was lost on me because I’m sorta lame and need my sleep.)

Verdict: I’m not sure I’ll go back. If I do attend a future SXSWi, I think I will focus on networking, mentor sessions and the big talks/keynotes. I may not come away with huge learnings that apply to my field, but I’ll likely end up with some valuable new connections and perhaps a touch more inspiration than this year.

Why I Love the Cloud

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group.

The “Cloud” is a word that is being frequently used by both companies and individuals. Corporate adoption is taking off, with small to medium businesses projected to spend $68 billion on cloud computing by 2014!

The Cloud is a buzz word right now, meaning people tend to use it very often, and sometimes out of context. The cloud can mean a variety of different things, such cloud computing, or cloud storage. Over the last couple of years, the cloud has continued to evolve as the use of mobile devices and tablets increased. The cloud isn’t just a backup system, but a method for syncing and sharing files, music, photos, and videos no matter where you are.

Consumer cloud storage is offered by many companies, such as, SugarSync, Dropbox, Box, and of course, Apple iCloud. They all offer similar functionality, both PC Mag and 9to5Mac have great comparisons for those who are interested. This post centres on consumer cloud storage, specifically SugarSync, and why I dig it.

Personal Use Case

Let’s go back to 2002, a time when the Euro was born, and Ja Rule was on top of the charts. I was in university and decided that I was going to buy my first digital camera, the Kodak LS420. “This thing is amazing!” I thought. Thinking back though, the camera was expensive, slow, had a terrible LCD, and an even worse white out flash – but it was mine (and it still works).

A few years passed, and thanks to my trusty Kodak, I built up quite an extensive collection of digital memories. Friends and family marvelled at how I could store so many pictures on my computer without having a scanner! Then it happened – my hard drive failed without warning. At the time I didn’t have a backup system for my precious data. I lost everything. Years of pictures, movies, and memory-sparking files were wiped out in seconds. Data recovery efforts failed, everything was gone.

It’s Just Easier with the Cloud

The problem I had would have been solved 100% by the cloud. Although I have accounts with the brands I previously mentioned, SugarSync is my primary platform. It allows me to sync important files or folders from my personal PC, work laptop, and mobile devices. Any changes made are automatically updated in the cloud. My pictures and movies would have been safely, and securely stored on remote servers, which could have been easily downloaded again once I fixed my computer.

File syncing also makes working remotely much more convenient. For example, I wake up sick and can’t make it to the office but I have a presentation that needs a few changes before it is due to a client. Solution? Download the backup from the cloud, edit, send, voila!

How many people do you know that have lost their cell phone, and along with it, all of their contacts? With the cloud, contacts can be stored and backed up wiht ease – I personally use Google Sync on my iPhone.

I’ve written about SmartTVs in a previous post called the Connect Evolution. The cloud is a new addition to SmartTV functionality with Samsung recently announcing native SugarSync support on any AllShare capable TV. Most big brands are sure to follow suit and offer their own TV cloud integration soon. Lenovo has also partnered with SugarSync, so their PCs and tablets will include cloud functionality out of the box.

iCloud has recently brought the term, and functionality to a mainstream audience. It’s only a matter of time when the cloud is no longer just a feature, but the expected norm.

The Evolution of Social Media Measurement

As a child growing up, I was often told that aside from reading and writing, the other skill that will come in handy in life was to being able to count. My mother specifically emphasized “count your money”, “count your change”, “make a record of what is in your piggy bank”, and so I emptied my piggy bank every so often to count all the ten Kenyan cents (no longer in circulation as they are of no value) to ensure that none of my siblings had helped themselves to my hard “earned” pennies – more like begged and collected from the floor / ground. All to say, I realized the value of counting early, and we humans like to count where it matters – how much money do / will I make? What will it cost? How many calories are in this meal? How many friends can I count on? What will be my return on investment? and so on. We are counting, consciously and subconsciously, trying to measure the value of our ‘investments’ whatever shape or form they take.

The same is especially true for companies; they are interested in understanding “What is in it for our brand / company?”  What is the value behind every dollar spent? So it’s rather natural that this question is asked of social media campaigns and executions.  So let’s take a look at the social media measurement journey for brands.

1. Counting the Number of Fans and Followers and Comments or Retweets

There were days not so long ago, when marketers would pop champagne after hitting their 1,000 fans or followers milestone, they added the ‘#winning’ to every post and settled in fan bliss world (I exaggerate). Really, the marketing teams in most companies were excited to see customers connecting with them but often wondered, what does this mean? What can be done with this? Where do we go from here?

2. Social Media Measurement Tools to measure overall brand mentions across platforms

Using proprietary tools such as Radian6, Sysomos, Netbase just to name a few, brands have been able to do what we call here at Social Media Group a conversation scan or a social media brand audit. Using the most appropriate social media tools, this requires a deep dive into not only volumes of mentions, but also social media types / platforms used, sentiment analysis, top influencers on social media channels, share of voice (if looking at your brand in comparison to key competitors) or even sub-categorizing data to cover key themes or topics and campaigns over an established period of time. This continues to be very useful, but companies are still wondering – so now what? Using these tools they know what, who and where conversations about their brand are taking place and hopefully leveraging this to find innovative ways to engage with their customers. However, the question is, How is this all impacting companies’ bottom line? In other words “Show me the money from my social media investment”.

3. Then came, “Wait a minute! How do we get our fans/followers on our website?”

So companies started to engage with users by providing links with answers to questions from fans, promoting products and services that would link back to their websites. This was and is still helpful for companies in analysing their web traffic using tools such as Google Analytics to evaluate where their traffic is coming from e.g., Facebook, Wikipedia – again, counting!

4. Integrating Social Media Measurement with CRM

According to a report by Michael A. Stelzner on the Social Media Marketing Industry (2011) one-third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities. This is what company executives have been fussing about; they want to understand the implication of social media investments in relation to sales, revenue and cost.  The term for integrating Social Media with CRM is Social CRM. In a nutshell, it involves managing your communications, building relationships with the online community and measuring the results that reflect the bottom line – leads and sales. Social Media Examiner has provided a robust list of metrics that will help marketers get their executive team on board with social media. Further, the social customer has provided 10 steps to integrate CRM and Social Media.

5 Categories of Social Media Measurement

Source: Full Frontal ROI

Every part of the social media measurement evolution journey has brought value to evaluating the impact of Social on Leads and Sales. Moreover, every measurement remains important but should not be represented on its own; they all fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and provide input necessary to expand and grow engagement and lead generation opportunities.


The Next Wave of Visual Content Curation

Last month, during Social Media Week, SMG hosted an Ignite-inspired event called Spark. I was thrilled to be one of the six speakers and chose to speak about a topic near and dear to me: Vistual Content Curation. Over the past year, visual content curation sites have been making some big waves. The most popular are Instagram, Tumblr and, of course, the new kid on the block, Pinterest. In my presentation I spoke about how brands are leveraging these platforms to engage with users and showcase their products. I also gave some data points about the number of users on each platform; Instagram had 15 million users, Tumblr had 44.3 million blogs and Pinterest had broken the 10 million-user mark with 11.7 million.  To me, a month in internet land is like six months in real life, and some exciting and interesting news has been announced in that short time that will really push these visual content curation platforms further into the mainstream spotlight.

Instagram announced last week they have reached 27 million users on the iOS-only app, nearly doubling their user base in two months! With more and more brands utilizing the application to promote products and integrating the API for content creation, the pressure to expand to more mobile devises is on. There have been rumours swirling for months of Instagram expanding to an Andriod app but last week at SXSW they announced it was in beta testing and would be coming “very soon”.

Tumblr boasts 48.6 million blogs to date and recently rolled out their ‘highlighted posts‘ feature early last month. Well-known for not wanting to integrate advertising to the platform, Tumblr has struggled to turn a profit. The highlighted posts feature could be a way to remedy this and get brands to pay for their posts to be featured. Essentially, for one dollar you can mark a post ‘highlighted’ and it will show up on the dashboard with a customizable sticker. This announcement was received with mixed reviews. Understanding and commending the desire to keep Tumblr authentic for artistic expression, some still feel that ‘highlighting’ is the same as advertising.

Pinterest, which estimates to be at 13 million users,  announced last week at SXSW that it would soon be introducing new and improved profile pages which were launched Friday. The profile esthetic is very similar to the new Facebook timeline, clean and visual with less content, and allows for larger images to be visible on the profile. For brands, this is an exciting opportunity to create a customized brand experience in an interface that users are familiar with. The infograph below has some really great information the growth of the platform and features brands that are seeing success on Pinterest.

What can we expect in the coming months as these content curation platforms continue to grow and more and more brands get on board? How can you leverage your brand now on these exciting platforms and prepare for what’s to come? Check out my full presentation from Spark to inspire and ignite your content:



Some interesting points on Pinterest:

The Power of Pinterest