All posts in “Toronto”

Many Cool Things – November 9, 2012

Welcome to this week’s installment of  #ManyCoolThings, a Social Media Group culture jam. These are the many cool things that recently caught our attention or inspired us:

Moral behaviour in animals

Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity — caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share.

Discover more on this topic in Nova Science Now’s “What Are Animals Thinking?”.

Digital Out of Home Experience
OMD created a storefront campaign at the MLB Fan Cave that would engage consumers through FourSquare.  To activate, consumers used their phones to check-in to the location on FourSquare.  The vending machine then dispensed a MLB official baseball for them and a few lucky participants received an autographed balled signed by Giants center fielder Willie Mays.

RecoverFeed – Take action on behalf of those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Aim for visible progress.

Big Spaceship (Digital agency in Brooklyn NY) created a page to help the recovery of Hurricane Sandy. The tag like is to ‘Aim for visual progress” and have included photos (looks like most of the photos are coming in from Instagram) to display this. There are options to donate and volunteer with multiple charitable options to choose from.

This start-up was founded in Oct 2010 in San Francisco. The name Wanelo combines a blend of the words “Want, Need, Love”. The platform positions itself a content curation tool, comparable to Pinterest, Fancy and Polyvore. In June 2012 they received $2M in investment. You can follow users and brands. Because it is integrated with Facebook, users can stay within Facebook chatting with their friends while they shop. This has also allowed the site to grow to about 30 million users.

Donation Box: The best idea Apple never had
How’s this for an innovative way to raise money for charity? In this promo video, Apple users are encourage to help fund the Salvation Army this Christmas using “Donation Box”. Simply drag and drop your unwanted apps into the Box and Apple will donate cash to the charity. Amazing… except unfortunately it’s not real.
The promo is so slick and professional, there’s no way you’d know this wasn’t an official Apple commercial – but it’s not. It’s actually a project made by a group of advertising students affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The Net-A-Porter Group Limited is the world’s premier online luxury fashion retailer.

This is a project that encourages citizens to report cases of corruption in Kosovo via a Ushahidi-based platform. (If you’re not familiar with Ushahidi, it’s a non-profit tech company that specializes in developing free and open source software for information collectionvisualization and interactive mapping.)

Virtual store for Toronto holiday shoppers
Holiday shoppers walking through Toronto’s business district now have the option of making purchases with their cell phones from a new virtual store. Walmart Canada and Mattel Canada have set up a digital pop-up store at Brookfield Place in the PATH — Toronto’s underground tunnel network — right next to an entrance to Union Station, the city’s commuter hub. The store features two walls with images of products like doll houses, toy trucks, and race car tracks, and will be open for the next four weeks. To purchase the products shoppers use a smartphone app to scan a code, or access the store’s website and find the product code manually.

Happy Foursquare Day (Be There and Be Square!)

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

Social media enthusiasts are gathering worldwide today to celebrate the third annual Foursquare Day.  Foursquare Day is held every year on April 16th (i.e., 4/16) and was started as a grass roots event in 2010 by Tampa Bay fans of the popular location-based app, foursquare. The event quickly spread to communities all over the world.

I am a self-proclaimed social media addict, and have been on the organizing committee of Foursquare Day Toronto (#4sqdayYYZ) since 2010.  Last year was a huge success worldwide for 4sqDay with 3,073, 635 check-ins, 781 parties and 19 real city mayors who issued proclamations.

4sqDay 2011 By The Numbers

Last year, our Toronto organizing team was proud to make Toronto one of the top ten cities worldwide for check-ins/attendees with about 150-200 attendees throughout the night. We’re hoping to exceed our numbers this year. (Check out the recap video below)

For those of you in the Toronto area, you’re invited to join us at 6 p.m. this evening at The Pilot Tavern at 22 Cumberland Street in Yorkville. Nat & Marie, Toronto’s sassiest sweethearts to take a byte outta’ the world wide web, will host the event. Sponsors of the event have provided multiple giveaways, including prize packs from Fairmont Royal York hotel, Jugnoo, iSkin and ContactMonkey. Creemore Springs Brewery has also been a huge support through securing the event venue and providing additional hospitality highlights.

Be there and be square! *insert cheesey music*

[googleMap name=”The Pilot Tavern” description=”The Pilot Tavern”]22 Cumberland Street Toronto[/googleMap]

Instagram for Android: Love at first download

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Follow @jamescooper

I’m at a loss for words to describe how happy I am to finally have the Instagram app for Android. For months, I’ve listened to my iPhone-toting colleagues rave about Instagram. All this time, I have felt alienated while eking out a meagre digital photo existence on my Samsumg Galaxy SII.

No more. Now I have the power of Instagram in my hand.

Instagram app for Android on screen of Samsung Galaxy SII in palm of hand

Instagram in my hand (Photo: Karly Gaffney)

The app is one of the most anticipated releases in Android history. If you use your Android phone as a camera, you should definitely take it for a spin.

After using the app for a couple of days, I must admit that, as Alexia Tsotsis puts it in her TechCrunch post, “the app is pretty simple, and that’s what makes it amazing.”

To summarize my current knowledge of photography:

  1. I know which way to point the camera
  2. I know that lighting matters
  3. I know that cameras should not be used after the first hour of any cocktail party

That said, I think this app has the potential to turn me (and many other Android users) into a hobbyist photographer extraordinaire.

What does Android mean for Instagram?

After only 18 months on the market, Instagram has surpassed 30 million registered users. With Android at 500 million activations and accounting for 50 percent of smartphone market share in the US, the mobile OS has huge implications for Instagram.

As Tsotsis points out, “Facebook took about four years to reach its first 100 million; The idea of Instagram becoming the world’s first formidable, mobile-only social network is extremely compelling.”

What does Instagram mean for brands?

Lindsay Stanford made a case for Instagram as a content machine for brands in a previous SMG blog post. In her post, she provides some great examples of how brands and bands have used Instagram to drive engagement with friends, fans and followers.

Now that Instagram is available on both Android and iOS, I think that marketers, if they’re not doing so already, should put some serious thought into how they might work Instagram into their strategies.

Here’s one of my first Instagrams, which was taken in SMG’s back alley:

Street art graffiti of woman's head on octopus body on brick wall in alley

Armoured Soul street art in SMG's back alley (Photo: James Cooper)

Here’s my Instagram of SMG’s nameplate in our Toronto office:

Social Media Group nameplate with reflection of office in glass

SMG's nameplate with reflection of office in glass (Photo: James Cooper)

Download the app for yourself — it works with Android version 2.2 and higher and it’s free.

What do you think of Instagram for Android?

SMG Roundup for Feb. 17, 2012 – Social Media Week Edition

This week’s roundup is all about Social Media Week.

Social Media Week “offers a series of interconnected activities and conversations around the world on emerging trends in social and mobile media across all major industries. Annually, SMW attracts more than 60,000 attendees across thousands of individually organized events, with half a million connecting to the conference online and through mobile.”

With that in mind, I’m going round up some of the most buzzed about items from Social Media Week 2012.

#SMW2012 Halftime Report

On Wednesday, Synthesio published a half-time report infographic of Social Media Week awesomeness. It includes a look at top influencers, most buzzed about keynote speakers and trending topics. Speaking of infographics, Social Media Week, with the help of Nokia and The Guardian is publishing a real-time infographic on their homepage that tracks a real-time Twitter feed, FourSquare checkins and the answers to polls.


There is a tonne of great content created and shared at Social Media Week’s 1,040 events. Here are few items of interest.

Highlights from SMW San Francisco

Michael Procopio collected presentations from San Francisco social media week events and published them via storify. I love the range and variety of topics covered.

Creating Music Community in the Digital Age

From Social Media Week NYC comes this report on a keynote by Chris Kaskie, president of Pitchfork Media, a site established in 1995 and devoted to music with a healthy dose of indie rock.

If anything, Kaskie was grieving over the disappearance of the carefully curated, tangible collections of music recordings we used to own — like the LP collection he still looks forward to handing down to his children, rather than the password to a cloud full of digital playlists that seem likely to be more commonplace. “You don’t own anything anymore,” he said. “How do you get people excited about anything when it’s so fleeting?” Of course, Kaskie and his panelists had a ready answer to that: you get people excited about music by turning it from an industry into a community. In days of yore — Kaskie joined Pitchfork in 2004, when Friendster was still in ascendance — building a community meant launching a music festival where people could share the experience of music. (Indeed, Pitchfork’s festival has become a centerpiece of the summer festival schedule in its hometown of Chicago. Last October, the franchise expanded to Paris.) Today, community means Twitter, where Pitchfork readers endlessly debate the site’s notoriously polarizing reviews. Community also means Spotify, feeding a steady, frictionless stream of your music tastes to your Facebook friends.

SAP Conference for Social Media Week 2012

Maggie was in Palo Alto this week with our clients at SAP for their Social Media Week celebrations. SAP is one of the most progressive social enterprises on the planet with over two million members in the SAP Community Network. Their Social Media Week offerings did not disappoint. Check out the video replays on their site. The most popular video is CMO Jonathan Becher on the challenges of transforming his organization to embrace social media as part of their DNA and not treat it as a marketing megaphone. Check it out.

Presentations from SMG’s own Social Media Week Event

Never ones to back away from a challenge, today SMG delivered an Ignite-inspired event called Spark! for Social Media Week Toronto. Six members of the SMG team delivered 5-minute presentations on topics as diverse as Data Democracy, creating content to cut through the noise and Transmedia Storytelling. Check them out on SlideShare.

We’ll be back with videos of each of the talks in the next week or so.

More Linky Goodness from Social Media Week

Forbes: Shoutlet and the “Lin-sanity” of Social Media Week [disclosure: SMG uses Shoutlet software]

SmartBlog on Social Media: Live from Social Media Week: Suxorz – the worst social media screw-ups of 2011

Forbes: Top Brands on Social Media Week: What Internal, Adobe, Wells Fargo, Edelman and SAP said

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.

SMG Turns 3 – Saving the 'Bou

The last few months, SMG has been working with a coalition of environmental groups (Forest Ethics, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and Canopy) on a campaign to help save the Woodland Caribou and protect their habitat –Ontario’s Southern Boreal Forest.

Last week a couple of tweetups were held in order to draw more awareness for the issue and drive people to to voice their opinions and ask Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to enact the legislation to protect caribou habitat.

In London @BillDeys was so kind to include the ‘Bou during the monthly Geek Dinner meetup at the Black Shire Pub.

In Toronto, SMG celebrated our 3rd anniversary party with a Save the ‘Bou Tweetup at the Pilot Tavern. The ‘Bou Bash included DJ set by @modermod and the infamous @RannieTuringan Photo Booth (Photos from the night will be available on the photojunkie photostream soon, we promise!)

Thanks to everyone who attended and tweeted for the ‘Bou! We all loved reading all of the tweets on the big screen and catching up with some of the best folks in the social media space in TO!

SMG’s role was to set the groundwork for the campaign and after a successful event in Toronto, we have passed the baton back to the groups to continue on in the fight for the right for the ‘Bou to party. To continue following the progress check out the ‘Bou on Facebook and Twitter.

As of today, we have just over 1100 emails sent and every single one counts! So if you have friends and family who you think this cause would be important to, please pass along the site and let’s Save the ‘Bou!


"Rudolph, Imma let you finish, but the Caribou is the best animal (shrug) @savethebou" via @collindouma

It's gonna get Mesh-y!

This Thursday, the creators of popular Toronto conference Mesh, open the doors of Circa to throw the first (of many, we hope) meshmarketing Conference. meshmarketing comes at a time where there is a huge demand for more, as the Mesh guys say, “hands-on insight” in an industry that is constantly morphing.

Having been to past Mesh events, I’m looking forward to the calibre of speakers, diversity of discussions and valuable networking opportunities that the Mesh folks are so keen to supply. While the keynote and panels are stocked with talent, I’m personally most interested to attend the afternoon workshops (specifically the Facebook-focused one). My hope is that the workshops give delegates a chance to get into the really geeky stuff that we are so fond of.

And après all that geekery, it’s important to note that SMG will be sponsoring the after party–conveniently located at Circa as well!

If you haven’t already got your ticket, there are still some available here: Mesh Marketing Tickets. And if I haven’t convinced you yet, check out the 5 reasons to attend Mesh Marketing.

Managing Social Media Conference 2009

Yesterday Leona Hobbs, our Director of Communications, and I both presented at the Managing Social Media Conference put on by the Canadian Institute in Toronto. We were in some great company, among the “who’s who” of Canadian social media practitioners, including Joseph Thornley of Thornley Fallis, Collin Douma, VP of Social Media for Proximity Canada (and SMG alum), Jen Evans, Founder and Chief Strategist at Sequentia, and David Jones, VP, Digital Communications at Hill & Knowlton.

Leona presented a very well-received presentation on digital crisis communications which was described as “a smart, practical presentation on social media crisis management” by tweeters in the audience, and included the following:

  • Managing a social media crisis: when and how do you respond?
  • Deciding on a proactive or reactive approach
  • Effective correction of mis- and disinformation
  • Working with communities to effectively manage potentially damaging issues

I closed the day with the presentation of a case study originally delivered for the first time at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco with client Scott Monty, looking at how setting content free has delivered real and measurable results for Ford.

Overall, anecdotal feedback we got following the sessions was that Day One of the conference was of exceptional quality, and I have no doubt of that. The folks on the slate were some of the best of the best – I only wish I’d had more time to attend and absorb more sessions! For those, like me, who could not attend, don’t forget you can view the Tweetstream from the event!

Girl Geek Dinners – a remarkable movement

I’m getting my notes together for my MC duties for tonight’s Toronto Girl Geek Dinner. We’re expecting 50 or so women (and men) from the Toronto technology community to come out to reconnect with friends, meet new people, and be inspired by the ideas and perspective of our featured speaker, Sarah Prevette, founder and CEO of Sprouter.

When Maggie and Jenny started Toronto Girl Geek Dinners in 2007, I believe we were the first location outside of the UK. Now, there are Girl Geek Dinner communities in over 40 places worldwide. That’s pretty phenomenal, don’t you think?

Tonight is our 15th event. Looking back, we’ve welcomed an incredible list of speakers including:

Sandy Kemsley
Leila Boujnane
Leigh Himel
Kate Trgovac
Malgosia Green
Ali de Bold
Jayne Hoogenberk
Sandi Jones
Amber MacArthur
Connie Crosby
Candice Faktor
Michal Berman
Sarah Prevette

We’re always on the lookout for speakers and ideas for themes and topics. If you’re in Toronto, please check out our blogwiki, Facebook and group. If you’re elsewhere and want to get involved, please visit Girl Geek Dinnersfor a list of global groups.

Have you been out to a Girl Geek Dinner? What do you value most from participating in these kinds of events?

cross posted to Toronto Girl Geek Dinners

Thoughts on my first Mesh conference

Last week I went to Mesh, a web conference in Toronto. This year was it’s fourth year, but my first.  While I have a few posts in mind about specific speakers and workshops, I thought I’d first do a bit of an overview/review type-post.

The conference spanned 3 days and consisted of two separate events. Monday was MeshU.  MeshU was geared towards developers, designers and management. Each stream was covered by a number of speakers/discussions/sessions throughout the day. Personally I stuck to the design and developer streams, but I heard some great things about all three.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the main event. The theme of Mesh is Connect, Share and Inspire. That’s essentially what happened for two straight days.  From hour one of the first day until the very last reception on Wednesday (Tuesday night party included) people were connecting, sharing and inspiring all over the place. The speakers and workshop hosts were from all aspects and levels of the Social Media world. It was a very busy few days.

Mesh vs. MeshU

The two events differed for me in one key way — everyone who spoke at Mesh discussed big ideas and things that have been done (the past), whereas MeshU presenters shared more tangible/hands-on tools and techniques that could be used to create a better online space (the future).   Though there were a lot of great ideas and informative best practice discussions at both, I didn’t really witness too many large discussions that delved much beyond the big idea on Tuesday or Wednesday… But it’s also possible I wasn’t invited to those discussions.  Some people I talked to had similar thoughts — not a lot of new ideas, but lots of great ones.

I think the limited sharing/revealing of ideas stemmed largely from everyone at the conference being either a) directly competitive with each other, b) a potential client hoping for pitches or c) generally just completely overstimulated — I fell pretty cleanly into the overstimulated category.

Mesh Favourites

Of the keynotes there were two I enjoyed the most. Those by David Miller (Mayor of Toronto) and Jessica Jackley (co-founder of Both of them discussed what they were doing in the space, what was and wasn’t working and how they are doing it. For me, the thing that made these keynotes so interesting was because neither of them are all that tech saavy. They didn’t start from the social media sphere. They started from their own goals and aspirations and discovered the potential of social media from outside the bubble. They each spoke purely from their experiences and how the Internet and it’s tools helped/is helping them meet their goals. They both also won over the entire audience.

Both of these keynotes as well as many of the other sessions and keynotes have been edited down into a podcast by Roz Allen and the awesome team at MaRS. They are all available here on iTunes for free. The entire event was also well documented in the photography of Rannie Turingan and everyone on Flickr.

MeshU Favourites

Personally, I found MeshU to be a little more helpful. Everyone who spoke discussed and shared techniques and ideas and also shared tools to to help us improve a users web experience. I came away from some of these workshops with a pile of tools and ideas that will keep me busy for months.  There were three workshops from MeshU that stuck in my mind the most.

Ryan Singer from 37 Signals, the team behind Basecamp, etc., discussed the development process and how design and development can coexist to create a more coherent project from the development side of things. He also touched on why design should take the lead on certain projects.

Leigh Honeywell from discussed Internet security in her session titled Break it while you make it.  This is something I’ve been meaning to look into for a while now and she provided a bunch of tools and services that will help a lot. Like all presentations about internet security, she covered how scary the web can be, but she also provided loads of tips and tools to help deal with the monster that is the internet.

I also really enjoyed Luke Andrews‘ (from DabbleDB) session on Responsiveness: The Perception of Speed in Web Apps.  He ran through three main points that articulated perfectly what I’ve always kind of known in my gut for a while. The perception of speed can be created through good design.

Thanks to everyone who made this event happen and I’m looking forward to next year.

Photo of me at mesh09 by CNW photographer Kaz Ehara: more

Originally posted: