Archive for “October, 2012”

Introducing "Many Cool Things" – An SMG Culture Jam

At Social Media Group, sparking creativity and inspiration is a collaborative effort for our clients and ourselves. Recently, we launched an SMG culture jam we call #ManyCoolThings. The idea is that, Fridays when we have lunch together as a team, everyone shares a cool thing that they read or saw in the past week and explain why they think it’s cool. It’s kind of like show and tell for grown ups. The cool things we share are not solely related to social media. They may be anything that we find interesting or inspiring, from media to music, advertising to politics, technology to fashion, inspiration is what it’s all about.

We want you to be part of #ManyCoolThings too. So, every Friday we host our jam we’ll post summaries and links to the many cool things that we find on the blog. You can also follow along live on Twitter through @SMG_Agency.

Incase you missed the live jam today, here are the #ManyCoolThings:

Maxipad Brand Goes for Blood in Brilliant Reply to Facebook Rant
Brands often freeze up when they’re criticized on Facebook. U.K. maxipad maker Bodyform makes the most of it. A week ago, a man named Richard Neill posted a rant on Bodyform’s Facebook wall, humorously calling out the brand for false advertising. Rather than ignore it, Bodyform one-upped Mr. Neill with the video below, in which it pretends to fess up about its pathological lying.

OOH advertising responds in real time to social web:
A newly-installed billboard for Jell-O constantly studies the ratio of happy and sad emoticons on Twitter, then uses the ever-changing data to make a face on the ad smile or frown.

iAd: Breast Cancer Self-Check iPad Ad
Here’s a really simple, smart, actionable iPad Ad created in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the National Cancer Society of Malaysia.

Earmarkd is a search engine that shows perspectives from left/right and center political sources. It was created for a competition called Rails Rumble, a 48 hour contest where teams across the world develop web apps using Ruby on Rails and other open source tools.

Epic Marketing WIN: Byzantium Security
This is an amazing interactive marketing campaign for a fictional company called Byzantium Security, which, as it turns out, is promoting “Hunted”, a new show on Cinemax.

Binders Full of Women on Tumblr
The 2012 US election, twisting words and social media. Mitt Romney’s “Binders full of Women” comment in the Presidential debate sparked this dedicated tumblr within minutes of him saying it and  is now one of the hottest sites this week.

Kraft NFC pilot delivers 12 times the engagement level of QR codes

Kraft recently piloted a near field communications (NFC) program at select grocery stores, with results showing significantly higher engagement levels compared to QR codes.

Make a Smarter Notification System for Your Phone or Tablet with Pushover
No offense, but your phone’s notification system sucks. With a clever app called Pushover, you can create your own custom notification system that’s a heck of a lot smarter, so your phone only bothers you with notifications you want, when you want them.

McDonald’s: Our Food. Your Questions.
Ever wanted to ask us about the food in our Canadian restaurants? Now’s your chance! We’ll answer any questions about our food.

Starting with Pinterest, Curalate makes it easy for brands to measure, monitor, and grow their social curation presence. And we’re just getting warmed up. The platform uses image recognition technology.

What cool things have you found recently? Share them with us in the comments.

Are you seriously saying that "engagement" is a meaningful business metric?

I love metrics that have meaning – not just counting, but stats and figures that actually demonstrate business value. The measure I love best in social media is ROI (and yes, Virginia, there is a social media ROI – so much so that we recently executed a campaign for a client that allowed us to connect a Facebook “like” to a sale. We’ll be sharing this case study at conferences starting next year. Watch this space for more details).

But I digress.

The title of this blog post refers to an experience I had this week at the Pivot Conference in New York City. Hosted by the affable and talented Brian Solis, this was a two-day event that featured an amazing lineup of speakers. On day two, it was my job to summarize the themes discussed in a short, five-minute presentation, given pretty much off-the-cuff. I was also following in the footsteps of the fantastic Martin Nisenholtz, who’d done the same job to great acclaim on Day One (no pressure!) The day started with several speakers, Brian among them, stating that engagement was the new metric.

My first thought was, “Seriously? Weren’t we having this discussion in 2007? Aren’t we past this?”

A few sessions later, I had a sort of epiphany. Engagement is actually a critical metric – but it’s not a measure that gets you to ROI; rather, it’s an indicator of your overall brand health – like a pulse. It indicates the health of the ecosystem that surrounds your brand and your business. It shows that the stuff you’re making (content, experience, product, whatever) is relevant, and therefore findable, in the marketplace. More on this in a minute.

The second theme that popped up like a whack-a-mole (and me with no mallet handy) was content. As in, you need good content. Again, I thought, “Really?? Who does not know this?” Of course, the fact that “content is king!” is a worn-out trope doesn’t mean it’s not true, and it’s also a massive challenge. In one of my favorite quotes, Ron Faris from Virgin Mobile noted that, “If we had a dude we could throw from the edge of space to get people to know about our salsa, of course we would do that!” The reality is that brands can’t make all of the content they need themselves – and this is the point at which the final theme pulled it all together for me:

Ecosystem. Where you talk to your people (customers, prospects, partners, employees, anyone who touches your business) and, most importantly, where they talk to each other, and, if facilitated (not owned) properly by the brand, where scale can be brought to content. All of this connects as follows:

If you have no engagement, you have no pulse. If you have no pulse, you have no network and no way to scale. If you have no network and no scale, you are not findable. If you’re not findable, you are not relevant.

This is what I got out of Pivotcon Day Two, and why I’ve (very surprisingly, especially to myself) come back around to the notion that engagement is actually a very important business health metric. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

Red Cross and AMC join forces on Zombie Blood Drive

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

If you, like I did, watched the season three premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” last night, you probably saw the PZA (Public Zombie Announcement) for “The American Red Cross Zombie Blood Drive”. AMC and the American Red Cross have joined forces on the campaign, which encourages viewers to “use their brains and give blood”. I think it’s a clever strategy to support an important cause.

Zombie Celebrity Photos - The Black Keys (Photo: AMC)

The campaign, which puts the spotlight on the constant need for blood donations, also includes “zombie-fied” digital portraits of an impressive lineup of celebrities, like Aisha Tyler, Peter Jackson, The Black Keys, EXTRA’s Maria Menounos, Joel Madden, Jimmy Smits, NASCAR’s Kurt Busch. The “zombie-fication” process was performed by “The Walking Dead’s” own special effects make-up designer, Greg Nicotero.

Watch the Public Zombie Announcement:

The Red Cross is not the first public service organization to use a zombie apocalypse to advance its cause. In 2011, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention launched its Zombie Preparedness campaign. What began as a tongue in cheek approach to engage new audiences with pandemic preparedness messages has proven to be an effective platform, which includes a graphic novella, a blog and an educators website among other web and social media.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of using a zombie apocalypse to drive an audience to take action?

Social Media: The Gateway to High Fashion for the General Public

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

It’s no secret that social media is a natural fit for fashion brands and designers. Considering the ever-changing nature of fashion, it’s not surprising that this industry has adapted quickly and is leading the way with its experimentation and innovation in social media.

Social media platforms have allowed the fashion world to reach a larger audience of both loyal consumers and aspiring purchasers who like myself, may not always be able to afford the products (but love looking at them!)

There have been hundreds of articles and blogs focusing on this very topic; however, fashion changes constantly, as do the stories. Below are a few that stood out recently.


Gucci recently grabbed attention after unveiling a ‘Pinnable’ banner ad as part of its Fall/Winter 2012 digital campaign, featuring a “Pin it” button in the creative. Not entirely ground-breaking, considering anyone with the Pinterest plug-in can pin straight from their browser.

Gucci, however, is providing users with the option to either pin the model or pin the shoes. (Though this isn’t inherently obvious when looking at the ad.) In any case, adding the Pin it button to the creative will likely prompt an increase in shares for Gucci on Pinterest.


Burberry boasts 536k followers on Instagram, over 1.2 million Twitter followers and 13 million Facebook Likes and is a brand that is very aware of the responsibility it has to its large following. In an interview with Mashable at the Spring/Sumer 2012 runway show, Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey commented, “A brand is not just about product, it’s about experience as well, and experiences need to come from the center of a community.”

Burberry Spring / Summer 2012

As a brand that values content and experience, Burberry has developed some pretty interesting social campaigns over the last year. During the Spring/Summer 2012 runway show in London, photographer Michael Kus published a real-time photo feed to Burberry Instagram followers, providing the images before they were available anywhere else. Burberry also staged “Tweetwalk” where it premiered every look on Twitter moments before the models hit the runway, #Burberry was trending worldwide shortly after the show began. (Not bad for a 155-year-old company.)

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton has been actively recruiting new fans and rewarding loyal customers through Facebook over the last three years. It broadcasted the spring 2010 ready-to-wear show live exclusively to Facebook followers and continues to stream shows live on Facebook.

For an industry that has historically been pegged as elitist, high fashion brands like Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many others have been using social media to open the doors and let the common folk inside.

What are your thoughts on fashion brands on social media? Are they authentic or just another way to peddle merchandise?


Your Kids and their Digital Footprints: Take Control and Start Early!

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

How early should you start worrying about your kids’ digital footprint?

I think now is probably good.

As long time practitioners in the Internet space, both my husband and I started talking to our kids pretty early about how to handle themselves online. I have personally never been big on posting a lot of information about my kids, so there is theoretically not a lot out there now… but the kids are getting older, and are participating in the online environment in a very active way. It’s actually pretty sobering to think of how much of their young lives are supported by online activity.

From accessing calendars and assignments at school, playing games, homework research, movie watching and hours of YouTube fun, keeping in touch with friends and family… my kids are very much living a portion of their lives online. And they haven’t really started to engage in social media yet. That’s coming. My son came home the other day and said he wanted to set up a server for himself and some of his friends so that they could play an online game together in a closed network. He just turned 12.

This has suddenly become serious stuff, and I have started to look around at best practices, and guidelines for working with your children to not only ensure personal safety, but to also make sure that they learn how to be in control (as much as this is possible) over how their activities and profiles are portrayed online.

I also want my children to be able to maintain some semblance of personal privacy, and have some inkling as to how one might go about pursuing that objective, in an online world stacked against it.

Below you’ll find some of the articles and resources I’ve started collecting. Enjoy! And let me know if you have found anything particularly useful out there on this important topic.

Good Overview Resources on Topic

9 Tips for Managing Your Child’s Social Media Presence I really like this practical overview of sensible steps to take to help your kids establish a social media presence that they can have active management of from day one. This article aligns the closest to the approach we’re trying to take in our household.

“Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for a Digital Age” Great interview with author Scott Steinberg, providing grounded, practical advice.

3 Ways to Keep Tabs of Your Kids Online Very hands on, for parents who want to take a more active approach to monitoring your teen’s activities on a variety of different devices.

Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives (this is a study). Look at the infographic,  or Download report from Common Sense Media. It’s a  good baseline look at teens behavior in a social media context in the US.

And finally, some solid advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the scary issue of “sexting”, and talking to your kids about it: Talking to Your Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting