Archive for “September, 2012”

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


How Is Your Personal Brand Doing In Social Media?

As personal branding continues to become increasingly important, so does the need to use new strategies and techniques such as leveraging social media tools to build your brand.

A social recruiting survey report published in July 2012 by jobvite, which is said to have become an industry benchmark, found that:

  • 92% of recruiters use social media for recruiting
  • 66% of recruiters are now using Facebook for their talent hunt
  • 55% of recruiters are now using Twitter for their talent search (watch what you tweet!)
  • 43% of recruiters who use social recruiting saw an increase in candidate quality
  • 73% have hired a candidate through social
  • 31% of recruiters using social have seen a sustained increase in employee referrals (reflective of the sharability of information via social channels – employees get to tell their friends when their company is hiring)

Ignoring social media as an extension of your personal brand is likely to limit the opportunities available to you. So, how do you create an impressionable personal brand that will put you in favour with those who may be poking around your social profiles validating if you are the right one for the job?

Branding Your Social Media Presence

In a recent interview on blogtalk radio entitled ”Polishing Your Personal Brand”, Joellyn Sargent pointed out that to create an engaging personal brand, the following should be considered:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you want to be
  3. How you see yourself
  4. What you want people to see
  5. What others perceive (how they receive your message)
  6. What they believe (what resonates, or sticks from your message.

What this really boils down to is two very important questions – What you are passionate about? and What makes you unique?

Tips to Build A Healthy Personal Brand in Social

At Social Media Group, part of the work we do is help to create social media guidelines for companies and their employees so that they can avoid or manage the reputational risk that comes with social media blunders. Your personal brand is not immune to this risk; here are some tips that can help you build a healthy personal social media brand presence:

  1. Create a strong tag line that represents your passion and what makes you unique
  2. Share interesting and engaging content that largely aligns with your audience
  3. Be careful with your language and tone and refrain from sharing your personal business (e.g., negative information about your employer—the internet does not forget, so keep it clean!)
  4. Pay attention to other people in your social community and engage with them on their profiles, this way they are likely to reciprocate and engage with you on yours
  5. Connect with groups, companies, people that  align with your passion and interests
  6. Keep your social profiles updated: your resume should match your LinkedIn profile as much as possible, the additional recommendations from teams you have worked with and managers that you worked for are a good edge
  7. Share your personality and not your privacy – keep personal details to a minimum to avoid identification theft

How has personal branding in social media impacted your career?

What Makes Us Share?

On the face of it – Tumblr and voicemail have absolutely nothing in common… except they can provide fascinating insight into human nature and why we share what we do.

Viral is a thing that happens, not something that is. Via Social Media Group

Photo courtesy of

This is all going to make sense in a minute, but first – I’ll share with you the inspiration for this post. I love the “human RSS” factor of Twitter; I’ll never read enough to see all the interesting articles I should, but my carefully cultivated network never fails to surface wonderfully diverse content that sparks my imagination (when I have time to read it!). Along those lines, this past week a few people shared this article from Forbes about the most popular Tumblr post of all time.

The post is popular (over 8-million reblogs and counting) not because of what it is, but because of what it can be – anything you want. It’s had millions of titles (that’s all it is, essentially – a title), everything from “Mitt Romney sucks” to “Reblog if you are a wizard or a witch”, and it keeps going, and going, and going.

Reading it reminded me of something that happened in the mid-90’s when I worked in promotions and marketing at a national television network. The phone system in our offices would sometimes act up, and one Friday afternoon, I’d received a voicemail (remember those?) that was basically about three minutes of busy signal. Rather than delete it, I forwarded it to a colleague with a recorded introduction, (“I think this is for you?”) Later that afternoon, I got the message again, with about 15 forwards, (“I got this urgent message, I think you’d better deal with it,” etc.) it was hilarious, and I was fascinated that such a simple thing had gone so far. But the story didn’t end there. When I came in Monday morning, I was informed that the message had actually been forwarded thousands of times and had brought down the entire phone system over the weekend (I’ll let you imagine the memo that went out that week).

Why did this happen?

Neither of these memes has any of the characteristics we have been told matter so much in viral sharing:

  1. Great or compelling content (a random Tumblr title? A recorded busy signal?)
  2. Positivity (they’re basically neutral, and in the case of Tumblr – it can be whatever you want)
  3. Emotionally compelling (except for being slightly silly)
  4. Practical or useful

So what made the Tumblr blog in 2012 and the voicemail message in 1995 go so far so fast? The one thing I see in common with both is the almost effortless ability to make them your own, using the meme as a form of self-expression. Craft a ridiculous/humerous/provocative Tumblr title, record a message and fool your co-workers into listening – the act of creation equals instant participation in a community of thousands.

Essentially, these viral phenomena are so powerful because they let us both create and share in the joke.

The Future of Agencies in a Post-Social World

I love hosting the Social Media Today “Best Thinkers” webinar series – it’s a great excuse to speak with some of the most amazing, smart and talented people working in the digital space today – everyone from thought leaders in publishing and journalism to those trying to reinvent marketing and leverage big data. I wish I could swing my schedule to host it every week!

Tomorrow’s edition is particularly close to my heart; I’ll be joined by Michael Brito, SVP of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital, Matt Anthony, the Global Chairman of VML and Sebastian Jespersen, CEO of Vertic, a global independent digital ad agency. The four of us will be discussing what, exactly, we see the future of PR and ad agencies looking like in a post-social world.

Disruption in the marketing and communications space is deep and ongoing – who will the winners and losers be? Join us tomorrow a 12 EDT to hear where we four agency types will be placing our bets in the months and years to come!

The Joy Of Discovery: A Good Starting Point in Planning Social Media Strategy

Ruth Bastedo is Director, Business Development at Social Media Group. Follow @rutbas

I come across a lot of business owners and marketers who are wondering how to tackle social media. I spoke last week to a group of women business owners at the Go for The Greens Business Development Conference at Walt Disney World last week, and next week I’m talking to a group of SME’s at The Financial Executives International Conference, “Leading Economic Growth” next week in Toronto. What I hear, is that while most companies instinctively know that they need to address social media in some way, it is still hard to know where to start.

In the immediate term, social media may or may not have an important impact on your business. It’s when you start looking at long term trends, and at the deep impact that social media is having on our fundamental communications infrastructure, that you start realizing that love it or hate it, you cannot ignore potential depth of social media on the way your clients and customers are going to live in the future, and interact with your business.

This is the place to start. Take the time to figure out how social media could potentially impact your clients and customers, as they connect and interact with your brand, products and services. How can you leverage this social interaction to move your business objectives forward?

We call this process “Discovery”. During our Discovery sessions with clients, we go through a number of exercises to look at this problem from a variety of perspectives- but one of the exercises I love the most, is called an “environmental scan”, where we go look at how the future could impact the client’s business, from a variety of different perspectives (demographic, technological, regulatory etc.). Discovery has become a key part of our planning process.

A 2012 comScore report, “Canada Digital Future in Focus” states “Social is quickly moving from a supporting role to a key pillar in monetizing digital.” It sounds like a platitude, until you start looking at the numbers.

According to the research in the report, Canadians on the whole spend an average 45 hours of time online a month, and lead the world in online engagement. Time spent on social networking has now surpassed the time spent on any other category of activity online. If you look at younger demographics, the 18-24 age range, you can see the strongest surge of time spent on social media quarter over quarter. Viewers under 35 also account for 57% of all videos viewed online. Smart phone penetration has reached 45 percent of the Canadian market.  If you’re not familiar with the report, I urge you to download it, and take a quick browse through.

The pace of change is wild. As a business owner or marketer, where do you start?

At the moment, according to a recent US based survey on “Social Software and Big Data Analytics in Business” by Mzinga, Teradata Aster, and The Center for Complexity in Business on how companies are using social media, 64% of companies are using it for marketing/brand experience, 47% for customer experience/service/support, 39% for employee collaboration and 27% for sales.

Those areas are likely baseline areas to get right first, and to use as a starting point to develop meaningful measures of success, that map to your business, and to your strategic business objectives.

In the same survey, 77% of companies said that they currently DO NOT measure the ROI of their social media programs, and 49% say they are not using social media to its full potential.

We are all only at the very beginning of all this. Engage in the “Joy of Discovery”, to make a sensible and manageable start to tackling long term planning, and determe what measures of success are going to be right for the future of your business. It’s a challenge for all organizations to determine what level of investment in social media is appropriate, but the question is no longer a “should I”, but is moving to a “how should I”.

How Social Agencies Are Thwarted by Lack of Open Access Research

Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

I’m coming up on an important and depressing anniversary: it’s been one year since I lost my access to a university library and the hundreds of paid access journals it subscribes to. Because a relatively small percentage of these academic journals are open access, I (along with anyone else outside the university system) am unable to read the vast majority of the new research covering media and new technologies[1].

Open access is the practice of providing unrestricted and free access to peer-reviewed academic research. The traditional peer-review research and publication process works like this: academic/s spend months (or years) researching a specific phenomenon, compile and analyze their results into an article and submit it for publication to a journal likely to be interested. At that point, the journal asks experts in the field to review and validate the research; this way, readers know that someone has vetted the work, increasing its reliability. If the peer experts approve, the article is published and anyone who subscribes to the journal is free to read it. These journals have arguably the best and certainly some of the most thorough research on new technologies and social behaviors online. Who subscribes to these journals? Universities. Why? Because these subscriptions are expensive—think thousands per year, and rising.


What Does This Mean for the Digital and Social Industry?

Under this system, a very select group of people will ever get to view that research. If you’re not faculty or a student at a university, the cost to subscribe to even a handful of these journals as an individual is prohibitive. Most journals also prohibit authors from sharing their research for free.

As a result, the world at large is missing out on some of the best thinking regarding how people use new technologies and online communication tools (these are most relevant to me, but substitute medicine, advanced physics, you name it).

What Can We Do?

  • Look for open access research and support it wherever possible. A number of journals have moved to an open access model—danah boyd has compiled a list (
  • Look for free alternatives to academic research. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is excellent, for example. However, a lot of non-academic research has corporate sponsors, so readers need to be aware of possible bias in their results.
  • Some researchers are taking a stand: The Cost of Knowledge ( is a boycott, with almost 13,000 academics committed to open access publishing.

Are there other tricks of the trade for accessing great research? What do you use?

[1] Although you could certainly apply this to almost any area of academic study.


Mobile apps: If you don’t use them, lose them

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group (SMG). Follow @jamescooper

Consumers Say No to Mobile Apps That Grab Too Much Data” reads the title of a NY Times blog post about a recent study by the Pew Research Center. The study looks at privacy and data management on mobile devices, finding that half of adult American smartphone users claim to be reluctant to install apps on their phones if they feel they demand too much personal information.

The report got me thinking — not only do some apps demand too much personal information, they can also be a drain on time, energy and resources.

I started to feel this way when I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by frequent demands to update the lengthy list of apps I had frivolously installed on my Android phone.  I realized that I hadn’t used many of them more than once or twice. So I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to take stock of all these apps and scrap those I rarely use.”

I began sifting through the deep, dark recesses of my phone. At first, I found it somewhat challenging to decide whether or not to remove the apps I encountered. I couldn’t help but think that I just might need them at some point. But the process soon became easier as I refined my selection criteria to a couple of simple questions to ask about each app:

  1. How much did I pay for it?
  2. When did I last use it?

If an app was free (or had cost no more than $2 or $3) to download and I couldn’t remember when I’d used it last, I deleted it. Plain and simple.

I found the app purging process to be quite liberating and it reinforced some ideas I read in Greg McKeown’s recent article, titled “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, in the Harvard Business Review. Specifically, I’m referring to Phases 3 and 4 of what McKeown calls “the clarity paradox”:

  1. When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts (Phase 3).
  2. Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place (Phase 4).

McKeown’s article primarily addresses individual and organizational success at a higher level. His philosophy of not taking opportunities simply because they exist can be applied to a more micro scale, such as in the case of the apps we collect on our mobile devices.

I like McKeown’s use of our wardrobes as an example to illustrate the clarity paradox: “Think of what happens to our closets when we use the broad criteria: ‘Is there a chance that I will wear this someday in the future?’ The closet becomes cluttered with clothes we rarely wear. If we ask, ‘Do I absolutely love this?’ then we will be able to eliminate the clutter and have space for something better….”

The same applies to our mobile devices — if we’re too “broad” in our collection of apps, our phones become cluttered just like our closets.

But the advantage a mobile app has over a garment is that an app is usually just a 30 second download away from you being able to use it again. Good luck downloading a shirt, a pair of pants or even a bikini in 30 seconds (unless, of course, you have a 3D printer like these designers).

In closing, I think we can all benefit from a “disciplined pursuit” of fewer unused and unneeded mobile apps.

What are your thoughts? Have you purged apps lately?

A Beautiful New Building for Rotman School of Management

Ruth Bastedo is Director, Business Development at Social Media Group. Follow @rutbas

Last week, I was very pleased to attend the opening event for Rotman School of Management’s new building. Wow. I have to say, I loved it. I encourage you to take a couple of minutes and check out the “tour” of the building on the KPMB web site.

The fabulous pink staircase at Rotman's new building.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have done quite a bit of work with Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business over the last several years, so I do have an innate bias- but I knew relatively little about the project. Most of my discussions had been focused on how the construction and the move were impacting everyone in the Rotman community. I think it was worth it.

The space feels modern, relevant and, dare I say it, imaginative. A shocking pink stairway is the central feature of the building. Love it or hate it, it makes a statement, and although I haven’t quite figured out the direction of the statement- I like it.

Designed by Canadian firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the building is a thrilling example of exceptional Canadian design that in my mind, reflects the best version of the Toronto business culture. It is cosmopolitan, global in vantage point, connected, but for the most part, still nestled within traditional structures. The design of the building is very respectful of the existing architecture within the campus of the University of Toronto. I feel this is actually very reflective of the role digital media plays within the traditional business world.

Fittingly, the day after the tour, I attended a spirited debate at the new facility between Canada’s Don Tapscott and US based digital media commentator Andrew Keen, who was in town to talk about his new book “Digital Vertigo: How To-day’s Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorienting Us”.

The setting was absolutely perfect for a discussion about how social media was going to end the world. Gazing out from the Zen-like event space on to the leafy trees of St. George Street, I just had to think that surely, that can’t be so…

Social Media Group: Speaking Engagements 2012-13

It’s that time of year again; summer is over and the big conferences are whirring back to life, hoping to entice you with (hopefully) fresh thinking, new insights and smart people telling interesting stories!

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to speak at some of the biggest and best social and digital conferences in the world; Web 2.0 Expo, BWE, Mesh, SNCR New Communications Forum, PRSA, Defrag, Enterprise 2.0 and far too many others to name. This year, if possible, is the busiest yet, with folks from the SMG team traveling all over North America to share our insights and “secret sauce”, carefully accumulated over the six years we’ve been helping some of the biggest brands in the world get social. Here are our dates for the next few months – please try to come out if you can. It would be great to see you!

Go For The Greens
Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs.
September 13th –15th, 2012.
Walt Disney World, Florida.
Topic: “Is Social Media Right for Your Company?”
Speaker: Ruth Bastedo

4th Annual Employee Communications, PR and Social Media Summit
October 3rd – 5th, 2012.
Microsoft Headquarters, Redmond, WA.
Topic: “The Five-Step Social Media Plan: a practical step-by-step guide to developing a social media strategy within your organization”
Speaker: Maggie Fox

Toronto Board of Trade, SMB Exchange Conference
October 9th, 2012.
Toronto, Ontario.
Topic: “Business Development and Marketing ROI”
Speaker: Maggie Fox

October 15th – 16th
New York City.
Conference Host: Maggie Fox

Breakthrough Strategies for Corporate Communicators Conference
November 28th – 30th, 2012.
SAS World Headquarters, Cary, NC.
Topic: “The Art and Science of Content Marketing”
Speaker: Maggie Fox

Disney Social Media Conference
February 6th – 8th 2013.
Orlando, FLA.
Topic: “Sleep Number and Social Media ROI: a case study by the numbers”
Speakers: Maggie Fox & Gabby Nelson (Sleep Number)

Reading in the Digital Age

Brandon Oliver Smith is a Manager on the Strategy team at Social Media Group. Follow @brandonXoliver.

“Why don’t you read a book!??” In hindsight, I should have given my mum more credit when she lectured me about this as a teenager. Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up justifying how reading a computer screen counted just the same. Flash forward 15 years and the majority of my reading is still done on a screen. What’s changed are my reading tools, sources and workflows. I thought I’d examine these and share with you what’s worked for me.

I’m a bit obsessed with systems that help me discover new content. I suspect this obsession is rooted in my days “digging in the crates” as a DJ. Building a collection of trustworthy, unique and interesting reading sources is weirdly similar to building a library of unique and interesting music. There’s a lot of poking around involved. Through investigation and documentation it’s possible to construct networks of connections between artists and labels (or in the case of reading; authors and sites).
I find the nodes on the periphery of a network to often contain the most unique opinions. Getting to these special nodes requires a source from which the network can expand. A steady stream of fresh links from, Twitter and Flipboard help to reveal new sources serendipitously. As new sources are uncovered, new networks are outlined leading to the discovery of new special nodes. The cream of the crop are saved to Reeder or Twitter and help regenerate the cycle over.

I mark nearly everything of interest to read later. After taking all the RIL services for a spin, I’ve finally settled on Readability. It’s the most aesthetically pleasing and I love its “longform picks” option. Kicking back on the deck with my iPad, a Beer and a hefty Readability queue has to be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The iOS Kindle App is my eBook reader of choice. Amazon simply has a better selection than iBooks and I could do with giving someone other than Apple a buck or two now and again. Printed books are a rarity in my apartment now. Most of what remains from a downsizing exercise are books that depend on the printed medium for experiential purposes, such as graphic design, art or photography.

Two things happen when I favourite articles in Readability. An IFTTT recipe imports my Readability favourites to Evernote for future reference. I use Evernote extensively for strategy work and find reading relevant saved articles down the road can at times provide just as much insight and direction on a subject as research papers. Select Readability favourites also find their way into my Readlists collection so others can enjoy some of what I find interesting.

Throughout this process, any links worthy of a bookmark are saved to my Pinboard.

What type of digital reading methods have worked best for you?