All posts in “SMG”

What tech will be in the office of the future?

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

Technology is changing at light speed. Everyday, a new breakthrough is announced that promises to simplify (or even save) people’s lives. I welcome these changes with open arms because I really enjoy understanding how technology can be applied to solve problems in the real world.

My last SMG blog post promoted the healthy lifestyle of Taking an Unplugged Vacation, which can provide time for your mind to be refreshed and help you focus on having fun or simply relaxing in a hammock. I also mentioned that the days where people are tethered to their offices are disappearing fast because technology has enabled us to be more mobile.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a closely related post on Venture Beat, which showcases the results of a recent poll deployed by LinkedIn to over 7,000 members in 18 different countries. The polled asked participants this question: “Name a technology that you feel will be obsolete in the next five years?

The results are both expected and surprising. It’s not surprising that tape recorders, fax machines and the infamous rolodex were touted as the tools/technologies that will likely disappear in the next five years. Surprisingly, the most popular office dream tools were to have a clone to help you through the day and to have a quiet place where napping is allowed. (Bonus: a detailed infographic on napping was recently created by Patio Productions.)

Most respondents were confident that the rise of portable computing devices, such as tablets, smartphones and cloud storage technologies, will help fuel an increase to flexible working hours. Therefore, the office of the future will likely have a much stronger reliance on both telecommuting and video conferencing. As LinkedIn’s Connection Director, Nicole Williams, put it,  “The key message that we got is that the world is changing. It’s becoming more flexible.”

The poll also revealed that most people don’t feel that resumes, which ranked 14th on the list, will not be completely replaced any time soon. I’m sure this was probably not what LinkedIn was hoping to see, but I’m willing to bet that this will change quite quickly.

Are the top answers inline with what you believe the office of the future will look like? I’ll be honest, I’m pretty stoked for the whole clone thing to become a reality, but I won’t hold my breathe for it.

Office of Future - LinkedIn Infographic


Innovative Video Platform Qwiki Arrives on Bing

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

I originally became aware of the interactive video platform Qwiki in December 2010 when researching innovative new online platforms for an internal initiative at SMG we call “Innovation Camp”. The original deck I presented to my colleagues is embedded at the end of this blog post.

Qwiki really stood out to me as a rising star because it integrated various media formats, such as images, video, and maps on specific topics into one cohesive and seamless user experience. The added content recommendation algorithm at the end of each Qwiki turns the platform into a gateway for users to visually explore related information with ease. Qwiki is just over two years old, and has raised $10.5 million in funding to date. Their platform is currently accessed by approximately 1 million people per month.

Bing was apparently on the same wave length as me; as they have been in talks with Qwiki for over a year to tightly integrate Qwiki functionality into Bing search results. Now when you search for certain topics on Bing that contain a Wikipedia entry, a Qwiki link is also visible and easily playable in line with search results. Brilliant!

Qwiki on BING

Doug Imbruce, the CEO of Qwiki, recently stated that “We’re finally completing the vision … of a 360-degree publishing platform … the embedding-side of Bing proves that we can create the kind of massive scale and distribution that can help us change, and forever improve, the way the world gets information.”

Bing has been focusing on creating a seamless user experience for their visitors, and I think they have done a great job of integrating an external platform into their search eco system. One surprising tidbit of information is that no money has been exchanged during this deal yet, as the value of integrating the platforms was high enough to make both parties extremely happy to proceed.

Whats Next For Qwiki?

This integration should really help Qwiki expand awareness, raise additional funds, and continue to grow into the ultimate interactive publishing platform.

Qwiki has been quiet over the last year as they developed the second iteration of their platform. They recently released a Qwiki Creator tool that allows users to make their own interactive qwikis by uploading specific types of content. A full developer API will also be available which will allow content creators to mass produce qwikis at scale from their own content.

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – SMG Webinar Recording

Recently, SMG’s Leona Hobbs hosted a webinar, How Content is Changing Everything. Drawing on SMG’s experiences and expertise, she explored how content marketing is emerging as a major challenge (and opportunity) for marketers, how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way branded content moves across the web, and how it can effectively be used to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

For all the details and to watch the recording, check it out here.

If you’d like to be the first to hear about upcoming webinars from SMG, pre-register now!

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.

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – Free SMG Webinar March 22

SMG Content Marketing

Content Marketing is the latest buzzword – but what does it mean for marketers?

On March 22nd at 12pm ET, explore How Content is Changing Everything during a live webinar hosted by Leona Hobbs, VP of Social Media Group.


Webinar Overview – How Content 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 presentation we’ll explore how content is emerging as a major challenge (and opportunity) for marketers, how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way branded content moves across the web, and how it can effectively be used to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What is Content Marketing?
  • Why should I care?
  • What can I do with it?
  • How do I find my target audiences?
  • What kinds of results can I expect?
  • What do I need to get started?


About the Presenter

Leona Hobbs

Leona Hobbs, Vice President & Partner. With over a decade of experience in communications and marketing, Leona leads the SMG account teams and provides social media and digital communications counsel to SMG clients. A specialist in digital communications and social media marketing, Leona frequently speaks about Internet-powered communications to students and at conferences. She is an advisor to the Public Relations Program at Loyalist College and a volunteer organizer of the Toronto Girl Geek Dinners and PodCamp Toronto. In 2010, Leona received The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 award in the Community category. / @flackadelic



The Agile Agency: creating the best conditions for awesome

This infographic from the good folks at Gist resonated with me. It summarizes the notion of the Agile Business succinctly and lays it all out simply. It is very much worth a look. You see, we run an agile-inspired workflow here at SMG. It takes collaboration, communication and a great team. It also takes work.  I believe it is worth the effort because it creates the best conditions for success. Being an Agile Agency introduces some unique challenges and opportunities. Before I get to those, lets take a look at the infographic which gives a quick overview of what Agile is all about: (Click for the easier-to-read full-res version).


The Agile Business


I was first challenged to think about agile and how it applies to marketing and communications when I worked on the client-side at an internet services company. I witnessed the development team (and large chunks of the business related to the delivery of web services) transition from waterfall development to agile. It was a significant transition, but entirely worthwhile (and needed for the business).  Since the business was moving to agile, I was given the mandate to come up with an agile approach to running our communication and marketing team.

I struggled initially. The agile development work teams tackled one project or problem at a time in a scrum methodology. Our marketing communications team was a service to the business and typically ran over a dozen projects concurrently. Another challenge — we didn’t necessarily have control or influence over the prioritization of our work. For example, quarterly financial reporting had to happen at set times during the year. Product updates rolled out to meet the needs of the customers. Rarely did this happen on a schedule (or in a manner) that set optimal conditions for our team.

But my (incredible) team and I cracked it. We created a wiki-driven central nervous system where we actively documented, tracked and managed all “Active” projects; kept a prioritized “Next” queue of defined projects waiting to be resourced and kicked off; maintained a prioritized (and frequently changing) “Backlog” of projects and a dream list of “Someday Maybe” projects. I came to adore the flexibility, collaboration, communication, knowledge management, improved workflow, increased productivity, transparency, accountability and improved morale that accompanied our successful agile-influenced marketing and communication team.

When I joined SMG in 2009, I knew I wanted to be part of an Agile Agency. With Maggie’s support and collaboration, I became obsessed with creating workflow and defining the processes and supports needed to allow us to see the benefits that come from being an Agile Agency:

  • Accelerated time to market for our client campaigns, and quick starts for our programs (frequently large-scale campaigns and transformation initiatives)
  • Enhanced ability to manage changing priorities helped us roll with the fluidity of social media service delivery — the unpredictable nature of pilot programs and the discoveries that come when we co-innovate with clients
  • Increased productivity is crucial for the morale of our team of A-players. No-one likes to spin their wheels and waste time. In a services business this has a direct impact on quality of work for clients and the bottom line.
  • Enhanced quality is essential. The ability to bring the discipline of fast iterations, frequent and disciplined communications and collaboration to our work has had a demonstrable impact on the quality of work product and results generated for our clients.
  • Increased visibility into projects immediately reduces risk. There is nowhere to hide inside our Agile Agency. We are accountable to ourselves and our clients. Our team knows that a snag or a new discovery is not a crisis, but the opportunity to iterate for improvement. We embrace these moments and support and lead our clients through, frequently gleaning new insights along the way.

I could go on and on. I’m a total geek for this stuff. I’ll own that.

At the start of the post, I mentioned some challenges and opportunities. It really boils down to what is a true clash of cultures between how SMG is (agile) and how the majority of our clients are (not terribly agile). So yes, this brings challenges. But it also brings incredible opportunity for us to lead and support our clients. SMG’s Agile Agency model is about being proactive, nimble and responsive and excellent collaborators and communicators. We strive to inspire our clients with our workstyle and our ability to turn-on-a-dime while producing great results.

I truly hope the agile business movement continues to gain traction and catch on. We are certainly spreading the word by bringing elements of agile business to our client engagements.  After all, in many ways, successful and sustained operations in social media requires an agile approach. The internet is anything but static.


(infographic: h/t Global Nerdy )

Social Media Round Up Oct 21st: Content marketing around the 'net

“Content is King”

Content marketing is one of the most discussed topics at SMG everyday, and this week we would like to share some of the conte-related items that caught our attention with you. For those of you not entirely familiar with content marketing, I think this short interview Social Examiner did with C.C.Chapman, co-author of Content Rules,  should provide the basics.

From the interview, Chapman explains his definition of content and why it is important for brands,

“Content has been around forever, since we were kids. We’ve been creating content whether we called it content or not. We email newsletters, print ads, radio ads, all that is content. So it’s nothing new, we’ve known content marketing forever. The problem is, now in the internet, anybody can create content, publish content, get it out there. And let’s face it, there are a lot of them coming out, there is a never ending stream of content coming out. So doing content marketing and doing it smartly and strategically is the thing that’s hard and gets people lost. You maybe doing it, but you maybe doing it the way you did 10 years ago, but your customers are not the same as they were 10 years ago.”

He makes good points. Now with social networks it takes a lot more consideration and planning for brands to create content, even for the entire marketing strategy.

What does Content Marketing mean for B2B companies?

Now let’s take a look at content marketing for business-to-business companies.  Research conducted by has presented insights on how Content Marketing helps B2B companies to boost their lead generation effort. eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher, author of this new report says:

“Informative, nonpromotional content in the form of webinars, white papers, videos, blogs and peer recommendations on social networks and forums can attract prospects,”

“It can also be used to build and maintain ongoing relationships with potential buyers—a must for remaining top of mind throughout the purchase process.”

The figure below shows the different effects generated by different types of contents for B2B and B2C  companies.

Based on the research, Fisher continued:

“Online content is the fuel for the new B2B marketing lead generation engine,”

“In creating informational, educational and actionable content in the form of white papers and webinars, marketers can effectively lure early-stage buyers into their sales pipeline.”

“By mixing this content with comparative, company-specific and interactive content—and regularly sharing it via email or e-newsletters—marketers can build relationships designed to nurture prospects throughout the sales funnel.”

Content Marketing and  SEO

Good content assets go far. This infograph from Brafton shows that a good content marketing strategy helps brands to deeply engage with their customers and helps the brand to boost SEO ranking on search engines.


Social Media Roundup for October 7th, 2011

The Shift of Marketing

Marketing channels are shifting as more and more people are starting to realize where they can achieve the strongest effect on their target audience. Recent research conducted by Jonas Colliander and Micael Dahlen from the Stockholm School of Economics compared the publicity effectiveness of social media (blogs) vs. traditional media (online magazines). It was found that blogs can result in a special type of relationship between the blogger and the reader, called a parasocial relationship. This is the illusion of a face-to-face relationship, where readers have a feeling of closeness towards the blogger as if they were friends. On the other hand, magazine writers are seen to just be completing a job and so they are not as trusted.  It is clearly important for marketers to find bloggers that are honest about disclosure and genuine in what they write about brands and products because this is what will build that parasocial relationship and level of trust, making it more likely for readers to then build their own relationships with the brands the blogger has endorsed.

We know that agencies need to put time and effort into researching each blogger and what they are all about before pitching them to promote a product.  Build a relationship with them: get to know them, actually read their blog posts, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, send them an email to introduce yourselves and ask questions. If not, things could take a bad turn for your company and your client. Learn from “The Bloggess” about what not to do when pitching a blogger here or you could be very sorry, about 3 million people sorry. Caution: some of the language may not be SFW!

To further show the shift from traditional marketing channels to social media, check out this Infographic on the ROI of Social Media: Is social media marketing effective? Looks like companies are catching onto this shift in marketing channels, as we can see that 75% of companies plan to increase their use of blog marketing in the coming year!

Taking a closer look at the infographic, we can also see that the majority of marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans. And not only does social media result in significant drops in marketing costs over the long term but 72% of the marketers researched said social media helped in closing business!


The Great Steve Jobs

This was a very sad week for Apple and everyone really, as we have lost the great innovator, Steve Jobs. My Twitter timeline was filled with tweets about Jobs, everyone tweeted, replied and retweeted until Twitter froze because it could not handle all of the updates! His products have changed our lives and I think he deserves some thanks for the growing numbers in the above Infographic of the ROI of social media because Apple products played a big role in the rise of social media. What are you using right now to read this? Your iPhone, iPad, Macbook? Of course he is not the only maker of this technology but without these devices, I don’t think I would spend as much time on social networks as I do. They definitely make checking your favorite blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts a lot more convenient! And when you like your device you want to spend more time on it.

Take a look at this incredible tribute to Jobs that Twitter employee Miguel Rios put together using all of our tweets expressing love, support and condolences.

Not only did he personally read the 1,000+ tweets in the image, he took the time to order them starting with the most retweeted ones at the top. View the original image on Flickr and  you can actually read the tweets yourself. It is quite amazing.

4 Reasons Internship at SMG is Awesome

Don’t miss out on an internship like no other. Social Media Group’s deadline to apply for spring/summer internships is March 31, 2011.

4 Reasons Internship at SMG is Awesome

  1. Make a valuable contribution to the business and our clients right out of the gate.
  2. Work at the leading edge of social media marketing and digital communications.
  3. Use your passion for digital media to get a great start in your career.
  4. Become a member of our incredible team and learn from some of the best in the business.

Interested? Read on.

About SMG Internship. Start Your Career with a Market Leader.

Why I Joined SMG

As the old saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss.   As a proud, newly minted member of Social Media Group, I am confident that there’ll be no lichens sprouting on my sides any time soon, because this company is on the move.

Why Social Media Group?  There are many reasons, but my primary motivator was the fact that SMG was clearly interested in engaging clients at a much deeper, strategic level than most of the firms I spoke with as part of my search.  SMG’s consultative approach to helping global organizations align themselves to meet the challenges and opportunities afforded by social technologies was an irresistible opportunity because it means helping clients with business issues that extend beyond communications.

SMG also offered me the potential to build upon the invaluable experience I gained establishing Social Currency™ at Northstar Research Partners.  I originally joined Northstar because, in my view, the manner in which social media “listening” was being conducted lacked true rigor and heft.  Too often, anecdotes were being passed off as insights and I thought that partnering with an organization that specialized in consumer research made for a valuable and compelling value proposition.  In the end I believe I was right as the listening market has now split between social media monitoring and research.

Looking beyond Northstar, what I really wanted to do was pair my solid research foundation to develop innovative, smart, and compelling social strategies and campaigns for top tier clients.  And after working here for just three days, I can already see the potential.  In a pitch meeting on my very first day the prospective client asked:  “So are you guys an agency or a consulting firm?”  Maggie’s answer : “We’ll resist being put into a box because we offer the best of both worlds –  the research based practice of business consulting with applied, market tested social media campaign experience.”

My heart swelled, and I knew I’d made the right decision.

Cross posted from