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Social Media Group: Many Cool Things

For the past few months we’ve had weekly team lunches in which we share our “many cool things” – neat stuff that we’ve found on the Internet. Here’s this weeks list for your enjoyment!

See where God was mentioned on Twitter – amazing contextual data visualization, imagine doing this for a brand?

Do you know who Vannevar Bush was? You should!

Twitter’s new music app, launched at Coachella – not quite up and running yet.

Google uses big data to do big good by fighting human trafficking. < exactly what it sounds like. Cats! The Internet!

We were not sure if this was for real, but we loved it anyway: the golftcart hovercraft.

Perrier Secret Place – an interactive experience, starts at a  secret party in Paris, where users can choose one of 60 different characters, and then search through the interactive video experience to find a secret treasure, to unlock a chance to win a trip to the Carnival in Rio, Ibiza in Spain, St. Tropez in France, Art Basel in Miami or New Year’s Eve in Sydney.

What many cool things did you come across this week?

Where We Came From, Where We're Going

When I founded Social Media Group almost seven years ago, I had a feeling I was on to something. There were a number of technology companies that we’re selling (at the time) blogging software, but clients had no idea how to actually engage online. The deal was sealed when, in a client meeting in 2006, a very senior agency person said he was really interested in how “companies were using blogs to talk to their customers”. I’d been blogging since 2004 and knew that I could help firms figure that out.

We started small – for the first year or so of being in business, I could literally read, and write about, every single thing that happened in social media. And I did – I posted daily on the SMG blog, commenting on many others. There was a small group of us working in the space then – all of whom I still count as friends, and many of whom have gone on to amazing careers as some of the most recognizable names in social and digital strategy and execution. One of the things I love best is when I get the chance to hang out with this group of “Social Media Old-Timers” at conferences like South by Southwest.

Social Media Group grew along with interest in social media – in 2007 we were hired by Ford Motor Company to increase their capabilities in social. By 2010, they were winning awards from their peers for their work in the space. We were engaged by companies like 3M to help craft strategic plans, and I take pride in the fact that digital policies and guidelines we wrote for them have been adopted across their global organization. We helped retail and consumer companies, too – in our work with Sleep Number we were able to help them draw the line between a Facebook “like” and direct return on investment – a case study Facebook’s legal department told them they couldn’t use because it was so exceptional. We pioneered – being among the first to use platforms like Outbrain and promoted tweets, and we lead – as in the early days, thought leadership and speaking was an enormous part of our marketing (and was always what I loved best).

Of course there were plenty of mistakes, missteps and misunderstandings along the way, but I learned from each and every one of them (and hopefully repeated very few!). As with all agencies, we ebbed and flowed with the work – but have, in recent years, gotten to an absolutely incredible place in terms of team. I have NEVER worked with such an amazing group of people. I understand that our folks are a regular target for headhunters, and it pleases me to hear that (and also to know that the headhunters never get very far).

And so, with all that in mind, it’s time to talk about where we’re going next. The part of our work that I have always enjoyed the most is the thought leadership and analysis – both external (what does this mean?) and also internal (what we have learned from our work?). Writing, speaking and sharing that industry-leading knowledge and insight has always been what we’re best at, which is why this will be our new area of focus moving forward. SMG will be backing away from the business of agency and creative execution and instead focus on delivering executive counsel, thought leadership and strategic insights based on our years of experience working with some of the biggest social businesses in the world. It’s a big change, and with it come big changes for our fantastic team. Although challenging, I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter.

Take a Nap on Your Instagram Photos

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

We’ve all seen the numerous products and services that pull your images or feed from Instragram to create something tangible. Things like Casteagram and Instacube, but Stitchtagram is offering something a little softer to the touch.

Stitchtagram is a service that brings your Instagram photos into the real world, to be enjoyed at home, at the office or on the go. I think this is a great idea and a great start. Why not table cloths with all your food photos (don’t act like you haven’t taken at least 30 yourself), a pet bed with all your animal photos, a passport holder or tote bag with your travel photos? The opportunities are endless!

Even if you don’t love the idea, it could make for a great custom gifting item. Mom would love a pillow with all your pretty pictures on it and I’m sure your pets wouldn’t mind another pretty cushion to slobber on, cuddle with or mangle.

As they state on the Stitchtagram website, these are going to last longer than your smart phone, and the pillows are much more comfortable to take a nap on. I’m considering taking numerous pictures of my boyfriend’s beard and requesting a handkerchief be made. Thoughts?


Webinar: Content Marketing That Works: Just-in-Time Vs. Planned

Join Maggie Fox on April 2nd at 12pm EST / 9am PST for an exclusive webinar  from Social Media Today titled Content Marketing That Works: Just-in-Time Vs. Planned.

You’ve heard that “content is king,” but you know that really, content needs to be both compelling and timely to earn its crown. What types of content fit that criteria as relates to your brand, and how do you go about getting ahold of it? Next, how does content alone become a successful marketing campaign?

Join us we dive into the nuances and best practices of content marketing in this webinar. We’ll look at how effective content gets developed and what works – or doesn’t – for various brands, as well as how to capitalize on real-time events with appropriate content, as brands like OREO were able to do within minutes during the Super Bowl blackout. We’ll discuss case studies on Tide and Hallmark, and much more:

  • Is your brand right for content marketing?
  • What expectations should you have for a content marketing campaign?
  • How do you resource an effective campaign?
  • How do you make sure your content stays consistent with your branding?
  • What are the best tools for different types of contents, and where are your customers going to consume your content?

Interested in joining the discussion? Register HERE!

I disliked Sheryl Sandberg because she is successful.

I have long expressed strong opinions about the importance of diversity in the workplace, was the co-founder of an organization devoted to making technology more accessible to women and believe the “likability double standard” almost all of us hold about ambitious women vs. men needs to be smashed into a million pieces.

And yet, I’m here to confess: I have judged Sheryl Sandberg.

I, like many of her critics, wondered whether, with the release of her new book and media tour, she had chosen a hot-button issue to advance her professional goals. I judged her as someone who was wealthy and out of touch, someone who had simplified a complex problem into a two-word catchphrase. I did not see her as someone who was doing good – I saw her as someone with a personal agenda.

Taking the plane back from South by Southwest today, reading the continued coverage of the release of Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, and thinking about my own ambivalent reaction, I came to a terrible, shocking realization. I had defaulted to the success/likability double standard Sandberg references so frequently: the more successful women are, the less people like them. I judged Sheryl Sandberg, someone I have only met once, (and questioned her motivation) because I didn’t have warm, fuzzy feelings about her.

Even though it feels quite awkward, this is something I think it’s my obligation to disclose. If a female founder and CEO, someone who actively talks, thinks and speaks about diversity issues, can fall into judgement of a prominent, successful woman in this way, what are we doing to other women in the workplace and elsewhere? I’ve seen everything from Mashable’s subtle mockery with “Gina Bianchini On Leaning In So Hard You Fall Flat On Your Face” to CNN’s hyperbolic and overly dramatic “Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Suddenly In Crossfire” – the judgement is pervasive, and the whole conversation is truly a parable that illustrates an important part of Sandberg’s theory.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the debate around and reaction to Lean In is an amazing chance to recognize our own biases and get some corrective glasses. Whether you believe Sandberg has it right or not, she has exhibited tremendous leadership and started a timely and nuanced discussion around just what it is that holds women back (proposing that it’s often women themselves – something I don’t disagree with; how to get out of your own way is something everyone needs to learn). A renewed examination of how we work and relate to one another (men and women) is something that must happen if we’re going to get to anything like parity in the next hundred years.

And finally – the most deliciously ironic part of all this – one could credibly argue that the continued sharp criticism of Sheryl Sandberg and her new book is actually proof that she’s right.

Identity Theft…The Social Media Element

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

I recently watched the movie “Identity Theft” with Jason Bateman and one of my favourite funny ladies Melissa McCarthy. It’s quite humorous and at times you forget the pain that the victim of identity theft is going through; threatened job loss,  financial loss and wasted time just to name a few. As I was watching the movie, I thought to myself, how frequently does this happen? What puts one at risk of identity theft aside from being gullible enough to give all your information to a random caller on the phone as Bateman’s character does?

So I started to look at some statistics surrounding this crime and here is what I found:

  • According to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic in 2005 there were approximately 11,000 cases of identity theft in Canada alone leading to $9,000,000 in lost funds, these numbers continues to grow
  • In the US Javelin Strategy & Research found that in 2011, 11.6 million adults became victims of identity fraud
  • found that 65% of users do not set high privacy security settings in their social networking sites and 40% of respondents share their home address on these sites
  • Less than 10% of users review a website’s privacy policy before engaging in use

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Identity theft is growing and social media is said to be powering the rise of this crime. In fact, social networking sites are fertile ground for identity theft as they are built around self- selected networks of friends and colleagues; as such people tend to be more trusting of communication through the sites thereby putting themselves at greater risk of getting scammed. Below are some ways you can protect yourself, while these may not get you covered 100% of the time; they will make you a difficult target.

  1. Ensure your privacy security settings in your social networking sites are set so that you can share information with only people you choose
  2. Choose a password that cannot be easily deciphered, use numbers and a mix of capital and small letters
  3. Avoid sharing a lot of personal information on your social media profiles e.g. complete date of birth, address, phone number etc
  4. Install and update antivirus software to maximize protection against malware that is used for identity theft
  5. Ensure that your wireless  network connection is secure to avoid exposing personal information transmitted on the network
  6. Do not save your passwords on work or public computers. Many social media sites have the “remember my password” section selected by default, un-check that box
  7. Do not click on email links sent to you from your social media provider; instead go directly to the website to verify information. New and successful social media scams create emails that are tailor made to look like they are directly from a social media provider
  8. Unless you are willing to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of online applications and sites, avoid using them if they require access to your personal information

Given that we are in the digital age, how are you guarding yourself from identity theft?


Relevant Resources:

Identity Theft Quizzes

Personal Information Online: How Much is Too Much?

Sunrise: A New Day for your iPhone Calendar

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

As someone who is an avid planner, with multiple calendars (shared and private) to manage both personal and business schedules, I spend a significant amount of time updating and maintaining dates and events. This is why I’m pretty excited about today’s launch of Sunrise, a beautifully designed social calendar app. Oh, and it’s free.

Former Foursquare UX designers Pierre Valade and Jeremy Le Van first launched Sunrise as a daily email service that detailed your online social life in a daily digest emailed to your inbox each morning. Connecting with Facebook, Google Calendar, Eventbrite and LinkedIn, Sunrise’s daily agenda email, provided everything from upcoming meetings to the current weather.

Fast-forward five months, Sunrise boasts 20,000 email subscribers with a 50% open rate. Pierre and Jeremy have since quit Foursquare to focus on Sunrise full-time resulting in today’s launch of the Sunrise calendar app for iPhone. Leveraging the existing social platform connections, Sunrise was designed to make it easier for users to take action when necessary. Users are able to sync the app with multiple Google Calendar accounts, connect to Facebook to view birthdays and events, even connect to LinkedIn to bring in pictures of the people attending those events. For example, if I see it’s a friend’s birthday on my calendar I could post to their Facebook timeline or send them a text message directly through Sunrise.

I love the simplified thinking behind Sunrise. With a tap or a swipe I can see when and where an event is taking place as well as what the weather forecast is for that day (aka what to wear.) Sunrise will certainly help cut back on the time spent on calendar management considering it pulls many of the important details from your connected social channels, plus you can hide the ones least relevant to your day to make the app more manageable.

For those stragglers who have yet to update to iOS 6 because of the maps debacle, you’re out of luck because the update is required to download Sunrise. However, it should be noted that the Google Places API is used for locations, displayed within the app using Apple Maps, and with a tap from the details screen or a swipe on the agenda display the app switches you over to the Google Maps app (if you have it installed.) If you want to give Sunrise a try, check it out at

What do you think about Sunrise? Is it a contender for Fantastical and Tempo? Would you be more willing to try it out because it’s free?

Joining the Board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation

It’s my great pleasure to announce that I have been asked to join the Advisory Board for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, a national volunteer-based health charity whose mission is to eliminate heart disease and stroke, and to reduce their impact by advancing research and promoting healthy living and advocacy.

As someone who has a tremendous interest in “making health last”, I’m extremely eager to advise on HSF‘s digital and social efforts and help to increase internal capabilities, as well as support on issues that matter to me personally – specifically childhood obesity and healthy eating.

I’ll be sharing information about the Heart and Stroke Foundation as I get more involved, and I’ll also leave you with some information about their brilliant new campaign, “Make Health Last” (including a health assessment – you should take it!)

Dabbling on the Darkside: An iOS’ers Android Confession

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

I’ve been an iPhone owner since 2008 when the 3G first came to Canada, although my initial experience with iOS came slightly before this when I bought, and quickly sold, a first generation iPod touch. At this time most people had a simple flip or candy bar phone with highly advanced T9 text input and battery life of over a week. A smartphone was a BlackBerry, and having one meant you were a rich and powerful businessman who needed to be able to tap out important emails on a tiny keyboard 24 hours a day. Things have changed since then, mainly due to smartphones achieving the fastest adoption rate in tech history.

I’ve also been an iPhone / Apple evangelist, enlisting friends and family to jump into the iPhone world. My wife used to say she would never like or use a phone as much I do, but now I see her continually switching between her second iPhone and an iPad all evening while relaxing. It is not surprising to hear that 84% said they could not go a single day without their phone, and 60% of people would rather lose their wallet than their phone.

A Spark for Change

After years of living in the iOS ecosystem, I found myself a little bored. Normally when getting a new gadget I get excited to learn and tweak it, but when I got my shiny new 4S last year I felt like nothing had changed. The feeling was correct, because in my opinion nothing substantial had changed; it just had a better camera, in a faster and thinner phone. When iOS 6.0 came out the feeling continued; it had brought absolutely nothing new to the table that particularly interested me. Late in 2012, I started seeing many others writing about the same thoughts I was having, the most notable titled “An iPhone Lover’s Confession: I Switched To the Nexus 4. Completely” from Ralf Rottmann on Gizmodo. I felt the urge for change, and decided that I needed to dabble on the metaphorical dark side. After validating that my key IOS apps now had Android counterparts (something that was not the case last year), I was officially ready to take the plunge.

Jump Right Into It

It only took a day before I had explored Android, and customized the phone to my liking. It wasn’t long before the phone was rooted and I was installing a variety of custom ROMs. The big screen and larger phone took a bit longer to get used to. I still find it very awkward and cumbersome to reach the frequently used top left corner of the screen while holding it with only my right hand, but viewing anything on the large screen is quite amazing. I now realize that I would not want a phone any bigger in dimensions than the S3, and I would actually prefer if the width was shaved down a few mm as well in order to fit in my hand better.

I also liked how 3rd party apps can easily be made default for specific actions. The notification centre was a dream, allowing quick access to anything from music controls to system settings. It took me a while to get used to the “back” and “menu” buttons, but it wasn’t long before they became second nature. When I first picked up my old iPhone after a week with the Galaxy, I found myself trying to clumsily press a non-existent back button.

The Bad

Both operating systems are not perfect, and they both have pros and cons. I really like the Galaxy S3 because of the flexibility / customizability of Android, using the large screen real estate, and the hardware back button. The negative side of things for me really centres on the battery life. Using the phone drains the battery much quicker than my 4S did (with LTE off too), and it also drains much quicker in standby. Micro managing background apps and resources also can be a pain because you never know if a background app is just sucking your battery dry.

What I Miss

I do miss my iPhone for some very specific reasons.

  • The first is iMessage; most of my friends and family all have iPhones so group text chats are now much more difficult now. Replacement 3rd party apps just aren’t the same since Apple introduced the blue text bubbles!
  • The second is battery life. I don’t care if it is not user-replaceable, my iPhone simply had a longer lasting battery during every day usage.
  • Lastly, I do miss the passive multi tasking and push notifications that iOS uses. This definitely helps battery life, since I find Android apps that utilize notifications require a background service to be always running sucking up CPU cycles.

I haven’t decided if I will stay on Android permanently, but I’m definitely keeping both devices as it allow me to become an expert on both platforms. I’m going to wait patiently to see what IOS7 offers up – your move Apple.

The New Wave of 3D Printing

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

I hadn’t paid much attention to 3D printing until the productions started applying to me and I could see the uses making sense in real-world situations. With each new article I read, my reactions have gone from “that’s neat” to “holy crap, they can do that?” Today, I’d love to get my hands on one.

For the benefit of any readers who aren’t entirely familiar with 3D printing, here’s a quick overview: A 3D printer produces three dimensional solid objects from a digital model through what’s called ‘additive processes’ which essentially means the printer is laying down successive layers of material to create the final product.

As I dug deeper, I was surprised to learn that 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but early examples were large, expensive and had many limitations. Fast forward thirty years, today we’re seeing 3D printed guitars, ultrasounds and the ability to turn yourself into an action figure via 3D printing.  The projects I love the most are the ones that both provide a service while making the technology relatable and accessible.

Companies like the two I’ve highlighted below have taken 3D printing from an obscure technology and turned it into an affordable offering that consumers can relate to (and want to have in their home.)

3D Printing Photo Booth

The 3D Photo Booth was produced by the team at PARTY (Tokyo) and essentially it was this very cool pop-up store that allows people to be mapped in HD 3D and then printed out as little mini-me versions (between 10cm and 20cm tall) in full colour creating a semi-realistic 3D printed version of yourself to take home.

The great thing about this concept is that the consumer only pays $250 for the service, which is really reasonable considering what you’re getting.  If I had access to something like this I’d want to use a memorable travel photo like standing on top of Machu Picchu or summiting Kilimanjaro (neither of which I’ve done, but they’re on the list)

Crayon Creatures

Now this beats the heck out of hanging a drawing on the fridge for a few weeks until it loses its luster. The brains behind Crayon Creatures is Spanish designer Bernat Cuni, who is offering a service that takes your child’s drawings and transforms them into a digital model that can be 3D printed in full colour sandstone material. Below is an example of one of his prints (I’m already plotting the theft of my nephew’s drawings the next time we visit.)

Would you get a family photo 3D-printed for your home or invest in a 3D-print of your child’s drawing? Have you seen any other cool 3D-printing concepts that made you stop and consider trying it out yourself?