Archive for “July, 2012”

Webinar: Content Marketing on the Social Web

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

Join Maggie Fox, Ann Handley, and C.C. Chapman tomorrow, Tuesday Jul 31st at 12pm EST / 9am PST for a free live webinar titled Content Marketing on the Social Web, hosted by Social Media Today.

The internet is full of content which can quickly become a blur to internet users. The quality bar for content has been raised. Continually producing high quality content is not always enough to reach your ideal audience anymore. Content overload is now a reality!

Marketers need to make adjustments to strategy and tactics in order to differentiate content, reach the right audience while they are in content consumption mode, and help solve problems. These adjustments require a detailed understanding of your audience such as: topics of interest, common problems, and the delivery method of content.

The panelists of Content Marketing on the Social Web will discuss questions like:

  • Who is excelling in content marketing right now?
  • Where does good content come from?
  • How fast does a marketing department have to move to keep up with changing tastes?
  • What kinds of businesses are best at content marketing?

We hope you can make it – register for the free webinar now!

The Age of the Social Shopper

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content & Community team at Social Media Group.

The social shopper is not a new phenomenon, but the scale and scope of the new social shopper is much greater. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering new smartphone technologies and group buying sites. A recent study from Barclay reported that sales driven by social media influence is expected to double within the next 5 years. This is obviously a trend that shouldn’t be ignored; now let’s take a look at who and what is a social shopper.

According to Commerce in Motion, a social shopper is a consumer who regularly uses social networks and apps, smartphones and location-based services as part of their shopping lifestyle. Essentially, these shoppers are using technology to create the social interactions that they would have found in physical malls and stores, in the comfort of their own home.

Take a look at the Infographic from SteelHouse below to see where social shoppers are visiting and engaging.

The infographic shows that 55% of consumers are sharing their purchases on social networks, with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest taking the top spots, making these essential networks to be engaging on. What’s even more noteworthy is the conversion rate of Facebook vs. Pinterest. Pinterest has received a lot of hype this year and looks to be the top network converting social shoppers to customers, with 59% of users having purchased an item they saw on the site.

Are you on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? If so, have you seen an increase in website/mobile purchases since engaging on these channels?


The Role of the Researcher in the Social Media Strategy Development Process

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

As a research analyst, I often find that I hold the foundational pieces to what would help set the stage for solid strategy development. The information that I gather while conducting the background work to understand a client’s business, their needs, resources, target audience and goals is extremely valuable. This rich information makes it extremely necessary that a researcher be fully engaged in laying the foundational pieces of the strategy development process.

How does research set the foundation for a sound social media strategy?

  1. Understanding the client’s business and social media objectives (e.g., business activities, marketing activities, social media and marketing goals, how activities are being measured for success). This broad understanding will help filter into doing a deeper analysis into the following;
  2. Audience analysis – Understanding who is talking about the brand or who a brand is looking to engage with in the social-sphere, where they are participating in social, what is their current opinion of the brand or other brands where feasible and their social media usage patterns.
  3. Content Analysis – Evaluation of content somewhat overlaps with the audience analysis especially in respect to analysing what people are saying and the sentiment of their social conversations. However, in addition to the user generated information there is another piece of the content mix that is significantly valuable and that includes the resources and information that a brand has in its marketing communications, PR and advertising tool set – all the traditional marketing pieces that can be leveraged and optimised for social media use and engagement.
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The three broad categories above feed into the development of the following:

  1. Content Strategy – Developing and executing a content strategy that resonates with the target audience
  2. Engagement Strategy – Developing and executing an engagement strategy that appeals and drives a response with the target audience
  3. Positioning Strategy – Having a clear understanding the target audience makes it easy for brands position themselves as the go to source in a specific niche / industry
  4. Listening Strategy – Brands can then tune their listening and customer / client service strategy so that they can effectively serve the needs of their customers / clients.
  5. Measurement – Identify metrics or key performance indicators that will help measure success.  If the objective is to gain awareness, then metrics such as increased engagement, social media mentions, Facebook likes and comments, Twitter followers, retweets (just to name a few) will be indicators. However, if selling is the main objective, click rates, social e-commerce, sales and conversion rates are suitable metrics.

How are you using research to build your brand’s social media strategy?


Facebook Taking More Cues from Pinterest

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

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery; I wonder if Pinterest agrees. As Pinterest continues to gain traction in the social scene, it seems like Facebook has been investigating what they’re all about and what they are doing well.

Inside Facebook recently reported that Facebook appears to be testing a layout for Open Graph app stories that look very similar to the Pinterest design, with boxes for individual items that allow Likes, comments and other app-specific actions.

This change would make app stories more prominent in Facebook’s News Feed and app developers would benefit from being able to use larger photos, captions and new options for users and their networks to engage with app content.

What exactly are they testing?

“Clicking on a photo takes users to the third-party app page or website. When users hover over a photo, they have the option to comment on the item, which wasn’t available in the old layout. Also on hover, users can take in-app actions without leaving Facebook if the app has created custom action links.” (Inside Facebook)

Pinterest integrates Open Graph in its platform, so this latest News Feed change also happens to apply to Facebook stories from Pinterest as well.

Pinterest Story Before:

Pinterest Story with the new design (look familiar?):

According to Inside Facebook, it’s still unclear how widely this test has been rolled out or if this would apply to all stories from games and other apps. What is clear is that the layout is surely going to remind Facebook users of the Pinterest design.

What do you think about this potential new change to the look and feel of stories on Facebook’s timeline? Do you think it was smart of them to take a cue from the popular new kid or should they have taken another direction in order to distance themselves from Pinterest?

Paid, Earned and Owned Are Dead

It’s absolutely perfect timing for this blog post (which I’ve been thinking about for the last month or so), hot on the heels of Altimeter Group’s report, released this week, titled, The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Will Combine Paid, Earned and Owned Media. It’s a great report that identifies and speaks to a trend we first saw emerge in 2009: the fact that multiple channels and multiple sources of content inevitably bring cross-pollination, which is an operational problem for most marketing and communications organizations (while you can download our recent whitepaper on the subject, we’ve been speaking and writing about this topic since 2010, here’s a post that references much of our own past thinking around the challenges of convergence in paid, earned and owned media, as well as a link to a whitepaper on the same subject we co-authored with Digg in early 2010). I strongly suggest you read the Altimeter report – Social Media Group will be contributing case studies from our own client work to Altimeter as they support their new research into this topic on the speaking circuit this Fall.

So what do I mean by “Paid, Earned and Owned are Dead”? Simply: the distinctions we have made about content based on its origins and delivery methods are rapidly becoming meaningless. As our own public communications channels have multiplied and diversified in ways unimaginable just ten years ago, so do our forms of content. I’ll give you a real-world example (click on the links to see the actual activity illustrating my point):

Company A creates and  publishes an original article on the paid Forbes AdVoice platform. The article is shared by employees of Company A via their personal Twitter accounts. The Twitter followers of those employees, who have no affiliation with Company A, start to share the content as well on multiple channels.

Is that original article paid, earned or owned? The answer is, confusingly, yes (it’s all of those things).

That’s what I mean by my somewhat controversial headline – we need to stop thinking about content (and channels) by our old, singular, labels (paid = mass advertising, earned = PR, owned = your website) and recognize that there are absolutely no boundaries between these types of content. In fact, what we’re looking at is a flexible, fluid publishing and sharing continuum; how the original work was created does not define it. Instead, what matters most is what happens to that content once it’s released. I would argue that our new set of labels should be about quality/interactions, rather than source, and that what content is can’t be defined until someone has engaged with it (or not). Ideally, a piece of content, like the Forbes AdVoice example used earlier, could be all (or most) of these things, though in no particular order: owned by origin, paid to scale, earned because of its quality.

This reminds me of a concept I spoke about first at the Society for New Communications Research Annual Symposium a few years ago, and which was covered not long afterwards by the Financial Post: as marketers, as communicators, you need to focus on one simple thing: and that is making your content (your messages) good enough to steal. What your content gets labelled as afterwards will tell you just how well you did.

[More on how to leverage paid media to scale and hypercharge earned media]

Book Review: Grant McCracken's Culturematic

Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

What do Burning Man, fantasy football, and Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts have in common? On the surface, probably not that much. But they’re all examples from anthropologist Grant McCracken’s latest book, Culturematic.

As McCracken describes it, a Culturematic is a “little machine for making culture” intended to “test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value.” It’s something that’s easier to describe through examples, rather than by definition, and as such McCracken spends most of Culturematic describing and analyzing examples. When Saturday Night Live allowed Lonely Island to create a series of digital shorts, it was an experiment. It was a test, of new formats, of integrating comedy, celebrity, music video and new ways of reaching the traditional SNL audience, online vs. on TV.

Burning Man and fantasy football are also presented as examples of Culturematics, but with slightly different roots. With no corporate backer at their onset, their creators came to them organically—doing something for personal enjoyment that caught the attention of like-minded others and soon took off as a phenomenon.

One of McCracken’s goals for the text was “to make innovation a little more practical and a lot less fashionable.” The Culturematics he presents certainly still seem fashionable, but practicality is a harder road to sow. Many of the Culturematics seem to have worked through corporate support (Lonely Island and Lorne Michaels) or through blind luck and momentum (fantasy football and Burning Man).

Working in the digital culture industry, Culturematic is certainly inspirational. If nothing else, it’s an excellent compendium of cultural artifacts that have touched the zeitgeist in the last few years.


The Lonely Island ft. T-Pain [I’m On A Boat] (SNL Digital Short) from G O O D C O M P A N Y on Vimeo.

Cut digital calories with

Lindsay Stanford is Director and Group Head, Content & Community, at Social Media Group. Follow @lindsaystanford

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little uninformed. It sounds crazy I know, in a time when there’s a virtual fire hose of information aimed at us, you would think that I would be overwhelmed with knowledge. Like many people of my generation, I don’t have cable or listen to the radio, I get all of my information from word-of-mouth or online.

Here is my biggest challenge with this method of data collection: I have such little time to dedicate to reading the news and there is so much to sift through, how can I possibly get the most relevant, valuable and important news in that time?

I recently scrubbed and listed all the accounts I follow on Twitter, reorganized my reader, added several apps like Flipboard to my mobile in an attempt to categorize the information for easy consumption. There was a slight improvement but I still have to check 3 to 5 places for information, so it hasn’t really cut down the time overall, just the time on each tool. I’m still finding that at the end of the day there are stories of importance that I have somehow missed.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and what I think I need is a completely customizable curator that will pull from various sources and give me the option of how I want to receive the information. I know I’m not alone and I honestly think we’re close to seeing something like this in the very near future. In the mean time, I’m checking out apps and tools that are presently available in hopes of get closer.

My most recent discovery is (they are owned by betaworks who recently bought Digg). is a service that collects the links to the top stories from your Facebook and Twitter followers and distributes them to you in an email or gives you the option to view the feed on their app (IOS only). They determines identifies top stories as those which are shared the most by your Facebook and Twitter communities. In that, there is this whole assumption of trusting your communities to determine what is worth sharing, and in this case, what is news. As well the assumption that you are going to have similar interests in the informaiton you are seeking. I guess you could say the old ‘birds of a feather, flock together’ notion.

I opted to only have my Twitter account activated as that is where the majority of the relevant information I want is, and chose to download the IOS app instead of receiving emails. So far I’m really enjoying the experience. The interface is really simple and clean, the stories are what I would deem newsworthy and it’s got some really cool features that make it worth checking out.

One of the features I like is called ‘Paperboy’. If you choose to activate it, you will get a refresh and push of new articles when you leave your destination of choice. Essentially, you could get the news when you leave your house to read on the train. Brilliant! It also has a ‘Reading List’ feature, so if you’re someone like me who has little time in the day to read a whole article, you can easily add the article to your Reading List for reading when you have more time. The app also allows you to share the news through Facebook and Twitter if you like.

I’m quite impressed with and will see if, over the next few weeks, it gives me the information I’m looking in what little free time I have available.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. Additionally, if you have other tools you would like to suggest, I’m always up for trying out something new.


Going All City on Social Networks

Brandon Oliver Smith is a Manager on the Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group.

Did you know that Prada has a store located in the middle of the desert? The nearest town is Valentine, Texas, population 217. Apparently one of Valentine’s locals wasn’t too happy with Prada and took to spray-painting the phrase “Dum Dum” on the side of the building. Hearing this got me thinking about a few things:

1) “Dum Dum”? Really??
2) What does vandalism on a social network look like?

It’s taken less than a decade for our physical world to become coated with a thick layer of Digital. Clones of our personalities, interests and relationships now exist on social networks, effectively recreating much of our physical world in a digital form.

On social networks, these digital clones are our personal property. On Facebook, I own my profile page. It’s mine to update and maintain. Likewise for each of my friends. Given that we’re digital property owners, how would we feel if someone vandalized our profile pages? Would we defend our digital property the same way we would our physical? What if the act of digital vandalism could be considered art, similar to graffiti?

We’re already seeing examples of brands using social networks as art canvases, similar to graffiti artists using subway cars. Late last month, the Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo hijacked their own Pinterest board by transforming it into a scrolling animation. Prior to that, Smart Argentina remodelled their Twitter timeline into an ASCII based animation. These are fantastic examples of brands looking at the digital realm much like a graffiti artist looks at the physical. Where most of us see walls, subway cars, freights and delivery trucks a graffiti artist sees a blank canvas ripe for artistic expression.

I find this element of our physical world creeping into the digital realm fascinating and I can’t help but think of the future. Once we as digital citizens become more settled, is there bound to be a creative class with an itch to tag the walls? If so, who will be the first to go All City?

Closed for Canada Day

The Social Media Group Toronto office will be closed Monday July 2, 2012 for Canada Day or “Canada’s Birthday”.

For our non-Canadian readers, Canada Day is the national holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution Act, which united three colonies as a single country to be known as Canada.

We’re back in the office on Tuesday July 3, 2012.

Have a safe and happy long weekend and Happy Birthday Canada!