All posts in “News”

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything, and How Social Media Group Can Help

In today’s billion-channel universe, the traditional ‘interrupt and repeat’ approach to advertising is in serious trouble (thank goodness!). After years of intrusive pop-ups and pre-roll ads, brands are realizing that they not only must compete with entertainment-quality content, but earn their consumers’ attention by delivering relevant, valuable, and remarkable information. Enter Content Marketing.

SMG Content Marketing

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is about changing your approach from push to pull. It’s about designing quality, aligned content that is highly targeted to an interested audience that is already in ‘content consumption mode’. It’s about being the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. Ultimately, it’s about cutting through the clutter.

Today, after years of paving the way with content marketing beta programs on platforms like Outbrain, Digg, and Twitter, SMG is pleased to formally announce Content Marketing as part of our full service integrated digital offering.

A recent Content Marketing campaign developed and launched by SMG generated:

  • 375 million impressions
  • 700,000 clicks (0.22% CTR)
  • 6,000 content downloads (conversions)
  • Average Cost Per Click (CPC) of $0.16 and Average Cost Per Thousand (CPM) of $0.48 (98% lower than historical Search PPC costs)

Head over to our Resources page to get the latest SMG Content Marketing Case Study.

Want to learn more?

Register for our free webinar, “How Content Marketing is Changing Everything”, where I’ll be joined by C.C. Chapman, co-author of “Content Rules“, on January 31st, 2012 @ 12PM EST. Presented by Social Media Group and Social Media Today.

Or, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area during Social Media Week, come by SAP’s Palo Alto offices, where I’ll be delivering a session all about content marketing and how it’s truly changing everything.

Want to find out how SMG can help your content marketing efforts? Click here!

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!


Announcement: Social Media Group Teams Up With FPinfomart

Today, we’d like announce an exciting new partnership between Social Media Group and Canada’s leading media monitoring service, FPinfomart.

FPinfomart, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., is a one stop resource for traditional media monitoring, covering print, newswires and broadcast in a single integrated platform. Our partnership brings together industry leading mainstream media coverage with SMG’s social media Research and Insights Practice whose principal job is to help clients understand and act upon conversations in social media.

Why are we so excited about this new venture?

  • It recognizes the convergence of channels.  Social and traditional media are now inextricably linked and analyzing them separately no longer makes sense. Social media pundits often reference the decline of traditional channels, but a more honest appraisal of the landscape would still recognize to the mass power of print and broadcast and the conversation it triggers online.
  • Insights from social data now have greater context. Looking at social media data alone is the equivalent to a horse wearing blinders. Brands need to see the bigger picture. At SMG, we’ve witnessed social media groundswell lead to coverage in mainstream media, and vice versa. With integrated measurement, clients can see the entire landscape, not just a sliver.
  • We will deliver extra value to our clients. SMG is all about helping clients succeed on the social web.  Increasingly, the social web is populated by the media and responses to mainstream media activity.  Being able to tell a story and take action based on a holistic view of influence and issues is a powerful, unique and creative offering.

Together, Social Media Group and FPInfomart will now provide a complete, holistic view of the communications landscape that is unmatched in the marketplace, enabling our clients to understand and act upon what’s being said in any channel.

To find out more about this unique offering, please email me at patrick [dot] gladney [at] social media group [dot] com, call +1 416-703-3764 or Contact Us.

Social Media Support for Mayor Ford – Not So Much!

We recently completed some analysis for the Toronto Star about social media perceptions of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.   Here is a quick summary of our findings:

There’s no questioning Mayor Rob Ford’s popularity among Torontonians.  He received 53% of the popular vote in last November’s municipal election, and approval polls conducted early in the summer showed that at least 57% of Torontonians think that he’s doing a good job.  But if that base of support is still holding, their voices are being drowned in social media, where Ford detractors consistently share the outrage and scorn for Toronto’s top civic leader.

In the last 9 months,  the Mayor was mentioned roughly 43,000 times over a variety of social media channels, with  Twitter being the primary channel, home to 70% of all mentions.  Fewer than 7% of the posts were positive. The largest spikes of online mentions  were brought on by this summer’s biggest controversies, like Ford’s decision to skip the Pride Parade, his suggestion that citizens call 911 if they witness graffiti artists defacing property just to name a few.  Negative mentions about the civic head hit record highs in July spurred by Doug Ford’s dust up with Margaret Atwood about the potential closing of public libraries and other cost-cutting measures being discussed at the time.

Looking at approval polls or election results, it’s clear that Rob Ford has the support of Toronto voters. However, these supportive voices seem to be overshadowed in social media where Ford detractors continually dominate the conversation landscape.   Politics are fueled by passion, which makes social media the perfect outlet for people to express their unvarnished opinion.  Time will tell if the increase in negative online sentiment is reflected in future approval polls.

Social Media Group's time off policy in the news (again)

Our time off policy is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of media interest and coverage. An interview with Maggie was featured on the front page of the Toronto Star, so we’ve had a flurry of interest and discussion (including a piece on the national edition of Global Television News, video below). We’ve also had many people declare that they’d like to work with us. We’re always on the lookout for incredible people to join our team; please check out the Careers area of our site to learn more.

When we decided to offer uncapped paid time off last year, it wasn’t for public relations value. It was because we wanted to have a time off policy that made sense in the context of our work. We’re knowledge workers, so to be at our best we know that we need to be well-rested and focused. We work hard. That work is exciting and engrossing but it isn’t easy.  We work with our incredible clients in social media marketing, business process transformation, conversation research and analysis and measurement. We spend long hours in front of our laptops, travel many miles on client business (over 300,000 since 2009 according to Tripit) and drive ourselves to be strategic and creative while doing the hard work of applied innovation.

We also eat our own dog food. We counsel clients who are working to scale social media inside their operations to embrace a culture of employee accountability instead of control. I know that I personally would have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning if we didn’t walk the talk ourselves.

Having administered this new policy for the past year, I can honestly say that it works and that our people make use of it weekly and respond with professionalism. Our time off policy has become part of our DNA and I hope more knowledge-based organizations adopt this approach.

Joining the Board of the Empire Club of Canada!

I’m so very pleased to announce that I have been elected to the Board of the Empire Club of Canada, effective September, 2011!

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Empire Club, it’s:

“One of Canada’s oldest and largest speakers’ forums with a membership comprised of some of Canada’s most influential leaders from the professions, business, labour, education and government. Over its history it has been addressed by more than 3500 prominent Canadian and international leaders – men and women who have distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavour.”

This year, their aim is to bring in speakers who have bold ideas about the world’s biggest challenges. One of my charges, as a member of the Board, is to suggest speakers for the upcoming year. Just to give you some context, past speakers include Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi and the Dalai Lama (do click on the links – they have a great archive of transcripts from past speakers).

I also look forward to bringing a little social savvy to the Club as well – more on this later!

So here’s the question – with special focus on diversity of background and voices – who do you think I should nominate for this year?

Social Media Group Has a New Home!

We’re incredibly excited to announce that the Social Media Group team is starting a new week in brand-spanking-new offices! SMG has picked up and moved to 460 Richmond Street West, in Toronto, a fantastic new office with double the space and three times the meeting rooms!

Why the move? Plain and simple: we outgrew our old space. Late 2010/early 2011 saw a tremendous expansion in our client base. A selection of recent account wins include 3M, Select Comfort, Merrill Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line, and with new clients comes lots of new work, new staff members and, naturally, the need for new space.

(To that end, we’re also still in hiring mode for a couple of positions – if you’d like to find out more, please contact us!)

So, please update your contact info for Social Media Group. Once we’re settled we’re planning to have an office-warming; we hope you can join us!

Photo courtesy of

Introducing the Social Media RFP v2.0 / RFP "Bill of Rights"

In January 2010 Social Media Group released the original Social Media Request for Proposal (SMRFP) template to help organizations select providers of social media professional services. This template was covered extensively in the media and widely adopted: in early January, 2010, searches for “social media RFP” generated fewer than two pages of results, whereas in December 2010 this search returned over 300,000 links.

Many of our peers and colleagues have encountered the template, and their feedback has been fairly consistent: while valuable, the Social Media RFP template is too long, has too many questions, and many clients and purchasing departments are simply cutting and pasting the content with little or no thought about their actual needs. In other words, the Social Media RFP has in some ways become more of a hindrance than a help (SMG has also experienced this firsthand).

So, it’s time for a revision (available for free download here). We’ve also added an RFP “Bill of Rights” which is intended to encourage fairness, acknowledge the investment on the part of respondents and foster the mutual respect that should be observed in all business relationships. We’d love to hear what you think about v2.0!

RFP Bill of Rights
I will not issue an RFP “Cattle Call”. Issuing an RFP to more than six or seven agencies is overkill. Instead, identify agencies you would like to work with and be selective in whom you invite to respond. Fifteen or 20 responses are too many to be able to truly judge relative merit, and it’s wrong to ask agencies who are not a good fit to waste valuable resources on an RFP they are unlikely to win.

I will be thoughtful. This and other RFP templates are intended to provide guidance, but don’t simply cut and paste the contents. Think about what you actually need and edit accordingly. Information overload will only winnow out quality agencies that are too busy to wade through all the unnecessary details.

I will do my own homework. Asking agencies to identify their own competition is only going to get you two things: a list of second-tier competitors that is of dubious value and respondents annoyed that you essentially asked them to undermine their own competitive advantage. A thorough briefing on your needs at some point during the process is also essential for success (ever heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”?). Spend the time.

I will be flexible. Yes, we know you have a timeline. We also know (even though you might not) that it is going to slip. Don’t ask vendors to meet your timelines or else. There are significant cost savings in being able to book flights in advance (and you want an agency that keeps an eye on the pennies, right?). Give respondents at least a week’s notice and be flexible in your dates.

I will keep you updated. Nothing is worse than the “black hole”. A response is prepared at great effort, submitted and… crickets. Let respondents know that their RFP has been received, and what the next steps are. When the dates slip, let them know that, too. They put a lot into their submission – show them the respect that this effort deserves.

I will give you feedback. You can’t win ‘em all – any agency team who responds to RFPs knows this well. What they don’t know (magic crystal balls being in short supply) is why they didn’t make it to the next round or win the brass ring. Acknowledging vendors’ efforts and letting them know why their response didn’t meet your needs helps them improve, and is more than a fair trade for the cost and effort invested on their part. It also ensures good feelings – you never know what your needs might be next; maintaining good vendor relationships is good business.

We’d love YOUR feedback on this latest round (please leave us a comment), and big thanks to everyone who provided us with their thoughts on the first version, especially Jake McKee of Ant’s Eye View!

Social Media Group Receives Women’s Business Enterprise Certification

I’m very pleased to announce that Social Media Group has just received certification as a woman-owned business from WeConnect, which is an affiliate of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses operated by women in the United States. They partner with regional organizations across North America to provide a national standard of certification to women-owned businesses and are also the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America’s corporations.

What does this mean for Social Media Group? A couple of things:

1. Acknowledgment and official certification that the company is owned, operated and controlled by a woman, which I think sets a great example.

2. Many large corporations have active supplier diversity programs. Receiving this official certification will now qualify SMG to participate in those programs globally.

Are you a female entrepreneur? Then check out WeConnect in Canada or WBENC in the United States to find out more about these organizations, which are committed to both helping corporate members bring more diversity to their businesses and helping certified businesses make the most of all available opportunities.

As a side note, I’d like to thank Katie from Ford Motor Company purchasing for mentioning this program to me more than three years ago. The program didn’t extend to non-U.S.-based companies at the time, but now does, thanks in part to the questions you encouraged me to ask!

Social Media Group's Vacation Policy on CBC's The National

We were surprised and overwhelmed at the response to our recent blog post detailing our unlimited vacation policy. We were inundated by calls from media – radio, national print and television. This story obviously hit a chord with folks. The CBC did a piece on the policy that ran across the country, and we’d like to share the link with you. However, the story really focused on how “unlimited” doesn’t really mean “unlimited” (which I guess is true – the policy isn’t about letting people be on vacation five days a week – that wouldn’t be a job, that would be a very generous unemployment benefit).

I think our staff did a great job of conveying the accountability that makes this policy work – we have a fantastic, hardworking team, and that really shone through (nice work, guys!). I also want to stress that this is about rewarding that hard work. I’m going to do something that feels kind of weird and quote myself,

Sometimes your work blends into your life (working late or on weekends, doing what you need to do to deliver quality results). Why shouldn’t your life blend into your work (taking an afternoon off to spend with your kids)? …No more worrying if you have enough vacation time saved to keep yourself healthy. Take time when you and your family need it; you have earned it.

We know that to be the best in a business that is disrupting the worlds of advertising, PR and increasingly business consulting, we need fantastic people that will go the extra mile to deliver awesome. The policy that we introduced in September is about attracting and retaining that awesome, and we think it’s going to work very well from us. One of our main proof points? Netflix has been doing this for a decade.