Archive for “April, 2008”

Online photo sharing

There are many online tools that enable us to connect. Traditionally these tools usually require users to use words to be engaged. But what about something more visual? What about sharing your experiences and ideas with photos? Online photo sharing applications (i.e Flickr) allow you to do that.

For more detail on how these tools work, take a gander at Commoncraft’s video, Online Photo Sharing in Plain English. If you want to see an example of how an organization uses photo sharing, check out the account for one of our clients, Ford Motor Company.

SMG Sponsoring CaseCamp Tonight

Social Media Group is proud and pleased to be one of the lead sponsors of tonight’s Toronto Case Camp 7. If you’re not familiar with CaseCamp, it is

A free communications and social media unconference. Fantastic networking and interactive art in the bar, followed by four 15 minute case-study presentations.

It’s a great opportunity for social media practitioners to meet, network and share, and it’s organized by the fine Eli Singer.

Tuesday, April 29th
CiRCA, at 126 John Street, Map
6:00 – doors open
6:45 – the first case begins

Tonight’s event will feature:

1) The TD Canada Trust Facebook Story Sue McVey, VP Marketing Planning, TD Canada Trust

2) Boxing Day 2007 at Derek Szeto, Founder of

3) Story2Oh!, Evolving TV Storytelling to Social Networks Jill Golick, Executive Producer

4) Radiothon Diaries, Harnessing YouTube for the Hospital for Sick Children

According to the latest reports, it will be a full house tonight – if you’d like to attend, please register on the wiki & we’ll see you there!

Social Media Press Releases: Your Secret Weapon

For those of you who don’t know, Chris Anderson, author of the acclaimed book The Long Tail, is also the editor of Wired Magazine. Like so many journalists (and increasingly these days, bloggers) Chris is inundated with email pitches from PR folks, many of which are completely off target.

It got to the point where he decided to take a very public stand on the matter, writing this post on October 29th, 2007,

I’ve had it… Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching. So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that. Everything else gets banned on first abuse.

He then published, in their entirety, the email addresses of offenders from the previous month.

What have the consequences been? Well, the post generated a lot of discussion and garnered dozens and dozens of comments, negative and positive, some from former staffers lamenting the fact that, “Everyone in the world aims their spam guns at Wired and the volley is deafening.” The consequence for PR folk has been that it has become incredibly difficult to get placement in Wired; the pipeline just got a whole lot smaller, and fear of being banned has created a chill.

Since throwing whatever you’ve got against the wall and hoping some of it will stick is not longer an option, what are the other opportunities to get the attention of writers and editors at one of the most influential publications in the world?

How about letting them pull the content they want from you?

On April 18th, Wired’s Autopia section ran a story called “Econoboxes Come Roaring Back With Flair”, noting that,

The Ford Fiesta (photo after the jump), which has been kicking around Europe for more than 30 years, gets a redesign based on the Verve concept car. At long last, it will be coming to North American in 2010.

The article used assets, information and linked to the Ford Fiesta SMPR.

Since we can safely assume that the writers and editors of Autopia have figured out the whole RSS thing, they will be automatically notified of updates to the Fiesta SMPR, and that when something is of interest to them, they will run a story on it.

No spam email required.

Dell's Blogosphere Strategy – SNCR New Comm Forum

I’m attempting to do something I have lately been doing solely via Twitter – that is, live blog content from an event. In this case, it’s the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) New Comm Forum being held this week in Sonoma.

This morning’s keynote was a conversation with Richard Binhammer (aka Richard at Dell). In case you’ve never heard of him, Richard is

part of Dell’s Conversations, Communities and Communications team with responsibilities for listening and learning online. Basically, [he] listens to bloggers and engages in conversations about Dell.

Dell has been doing this – officially and consistently engaging, since 2006 and so have considerable expertise and wonderful information to share. Here are some key points – if there’s something you’re particularly interested in, leave a comment and I’ll expand on the topic.

  • When identifying posts, Dell does a triage – urgently requiring a reply, something to watch, not requiring a reply.
  • This is an often-repeated statistic, but very significant. Prior to their blogging/outreach strategy Dell online conversational stats were 49% negative. They have now dropped to 21% negative (about 4000 daily conversations overall). I asked Richard whether the overall volume had gone down withe reduction in negatives, and he said no (which is very interesting).
  • As a result of being exposed to all of this (i.e. market forces), is moving from a purely ecommerce site to a social/ecommerce blend (and they are not the only ones heading this way).
  • Richard stresses that this is not a thought leader outreach strategy (which presents the interesting assumption that the majority bloggers are not thought leaders, though I would argue that they are micro-influencers). He says he has relationships with more “joe” bloggers than “A-listers”.
  • This is critical: by catching issues in the blogosphere, Dell gets 2-3 week lead time before they hit mainstream media, though this lead time is by no means standard. It depends entirely on the vertical and the publication, i.e. WSJ would be expected to take that long, and in our experience with automotive, for example, the lead time is far less.
  • Richard is trying to figure out if when you engage with people who are positive, does it encourage positive conversation to increase?
  • Also in the experimentation vein: because of participation on Twitter he has sold 15 computers. What are the implications for business as the reach and impact of this tool increases?
  • Blogs are the fundamental voice of the customer in Richard’s view, and his “AHA!” moment was during the battery recall in ’06. They decided they were going to respond to every post about the batteries with a comment and a link to where recall info could be found. He responded to a blogger who had made a snarky sort of post, and the blogger updated his information, thanking Dell for coming by and noting that, by the way, the batteries were made by Sony. I was a powerful thing that impressed upon Richard how, if you do it right, an outreach strategy can have major positive impact on your brand in a very credible way.
  • Richard, since I know you’re going to find this – please let me know if I’m off the mark/have missed anything you think is key!

    What is Podcasting?

    There are many ways of creating and sharing information on the web (like this blog, for example). The best part is that anyone can be a creator and share their interests and experiences from anywhere in the world. Podcasting is no different. In a nutshell, podcasting is TV or radio on the go.

    If that explanation doesn’t clear it all up for you, check out another informative and entertaining Commoncraft video, Podcasting in Plain English.

    Lies, Damn Lies and a Large Double Double

    lemonaide standIn Canada, we have a seasonal, cultural tradition known as the Roll up the Rim to Win. Though I’ve never won big, I will usually have a few rolls where free coffee begets free coffee which begets free doughnut. But this year, not so well. Over the month that the Roll up the Rim contest was underway, some 30-odd coffees earned me only a couple of doughnuts. So I was quite jealous when Zoe revealed to the office that she was 100% for Roll up the Rim season. A full month and she had perfect wins on every cup. Unheard of!

    Turns out, she had only had two cups over the course of the month, so her winning streak … not so much of one.

    Context is everything when it comes to measurement.

    Individual datum is a puzzling enigma. Your podcast had 1,000 downloads. Without any other points of reference, you can look at that number a dozen different ways and be no clearer as to what it means.

    The more data you capture, the clearer the picture will become. Your podcast had 1,000 downloads today, 50 downloads last week and 45 the week before that. Put into context against the previous days, and suddenly your measurement is no longer a meaningless figure but part of a story. Set your numbers against something and you will begin to gain a sense of proportion.

    But even then, the picture may be distorted; a funhouse mirror representation of the truth. Your podcast had 1,000 downloads today, but it resulted in only a handful of positive leads for your sales staff. Last week, with fraction the number of downloads, you had twice the results. The reason being that the bump in traffic came from a popculture site with millions of visitors that found an aspect of your program amusing, and linked to it. None of those people were nor would they ever be customers of your custom molded pipes. And this upcoming weekend being the big plumbing supplies conference, your typical audience is likely on the road.

    Now, at last, the picture is clear. Context is everything when it comes to measurement.

    SMG one of Top 10 Canadian Tech Blogs

    ITWorld Magazine has released their list of the Top 10 Canadian Technology Bloggers, and to our surprise and delight, Social Media Group is #3 on the list. The whole team is incredibly pleased and honoured to be included, as well we should be: we’re in some amazing company. Here’s the full list:

  • Mark Evans Tech
  • Rob Hyndman
  • Maggie Fox, Social Media Group
  • Mark Goldberg, Telecom Trends
  • Stephan Ibaraki, Canadian IT Manager
  • Michael Geist
  • Alec Saunders
  • Kate Trgovac, My Name is Kate
  • Jevon McDonald, StartupNorth
  • IT World Canada Blogs
  • Assembled by ComputerWorld Canada Editor and regular Globe and Mail contributor Shane Schick, the criteria were as follows:

    Bloggers had to be fairly consistent, posting at least a couple of times a week. They had to be tuned in, both to their own local industry and the larger trends outside of Canada. Finally, they had to be good enough that I wished they were writing for me.

    Which is awfully flattering. Thanks, Shane!

    Bookmarking is social?

    It seems that all things on the internet now have a ‘social’ aspect to them and bookmarking is no different. You might use a site like, ma.gnolia or Stumbleupon to keep your sites in order, either way they all share the same basic principles.

    To learn how to get started and to make the most out of your social bookmarking skills check out the Commoncraft video below, Social Bookmarking in Plain English.

    Learning from Jazz

    The subject of collaboration has been on my mind a lot this past week. I have been lucky enough to have been part of teams that have clicked on certain projects only to flounder on others for no apparent reason. Despite all the great Web 2.0 tools available to us, successful collaboration still seems to be an elusive thing. As I noodled on this on the way home one day, with Wes Montgomery, playing his heart out on my headphones, I starting thinking that jazz may very well be the ultimate example of successful collaboration. A lot has been written about the conversation that takes place between jazz musicians. It has been used as a metaphor for Organizational Improvisation, it has even been the subject of a blog post to describe the similarities between jazz and Social Media. The tune I was listening to was from an album called “Smokin’ At The Half Note” which has been called “…the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made” by Pat Metheny. It was recorded during a series of live performances with the Wynton Kelly Trio and when I listen to it I hear a band that’s totally tuned in to each other. It is probably one of my favourite albums but it is only one example of what jazz musicians do every day the world over.

    So what are they doing that makes it work for them so consistently and how can we incorporate their formula into making collaboration work in business? I started thinking about what they do so well and this is what I came up with.

    1. They all speak the same language

    • They have taken the time to learn the vocabulary. Knowing the language allows them to contribute and collaborate as equals.

    2. They listen, truly listen

    • Without prejudice. Their response is based on what they hear, not what they’ve been planning for the past 12 bars while they wait for their turn to solo.

    3. They are all totally committed to creating something special

    • Until Wes calls for “Four on Six” in G minor, they are just a good band playing scales. Even great musicians need direction and when they get it they give each other the space and respect necessary to create art.

    4. The sum of the whole is greater than the parts

    • I happen to think that Wes Montgomery is the greatest guitar player that ever lived, but if the Wynton Kelly Trio didn’t swing as hard as they do on this record, it wouldn’t be half as special.

    5. They know when to stop

    • Wes plays a nine chorus solo on Impressions that I think works because he stops at nine. He knows his audience and he knows when an idea has run its course.

    6. They are willing to be amazed

    • They don’t let their egos prevent them from hearing great musical ideas from the rest of the band.

    I’m sure there’s a lot more but that’s all I could think of. Nothing earth shattering, nothing new, nothing lots of people haven’t been saying for years, yet successful collaboration in business remains a hit-or-miss proposition. So why do we sometimes, despite all our best efforts, end up with “Kenny G Live” but every now and then we get “Smokin’ At The Half Note”?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and some of your secrets to successful collaboration.

    SMG Sponsoring the Mesh "In the Middle" Party

    mesh-logo.gifMesh is the Canadian interactive conference, and reminds me very much of SXSWi in that it’s really a cultural event, a place where Canada’s online community gets to gather and connect F2F. I have met a lot of amazing people there, and I look forward to doing the same again this year!

    Canada’s premier Web conference, being held in Toronto on May 21st & 22nd, 2008, is a chance to connect with people who are as excited about the potential of the Web as you are — people who want to know more about how it is changing the way we live, work and interact with the world. And you won’t just connect with them in the hallways — at mesh, every panel and workshop is interactive.

    Social Media Group is a big supporter of Mesh (most of the crew is going this year), I sat on a panel in 2007 (and also Twittered the event) and will be doing the same again this May. This year, however, we decided to step it up a notch. SMG is proud to announce that we are the official and exclusive sponsors of the Mesh party on May 21st. This year there will be no separate events for speakers and attendees – the whole thing is taking place under one roof, and it’s going to be a blast!

    There’s also a new addition to the curriculum for 2008: MeshU, being held on May 20th. It’s a one-day workshop-based event broken out into three streams: design, development & management. Promising to be very hands on, you can find out more info or register here.

    If you haven’t yet registered for Mesh, do so quickly – it typically sells out. Online registration is available here, and be sure to come by the party – we’d love to buy you a drink!