Archive for “November, 2012”

Spreading Local & Digital Holiday Cheer

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

For most, the holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family and friends while sipping on eggnog in front of a warm fire – okay, maybe that’s a pretty broad generalization, but you know what I’m getting at here. Besides the frantic last minute shopping at the crowded mall to find the perfect gift for someone special, it’s a very happy time of year. When you put the commercialization around the holidays aside, it is also important to focus and reflect on some of the heartaches and stress that this time of year can cause those that are less fortunate.

Spreading local holiday cheer has a somewhat different meaning to me this year, as I have recently begun volunteering at a local Toronto Food Bank, The North York Harvest. I was informed that demand for food this year is up 16% this year, but overall food donations have not quite kept pace with this increase. One of the main drivers for the increased demand is that food prices are up, and the projection for 2013 is another 3%-4% increase, making it even more important for communities to support their local food bank.

SMG has a long standing tradition of supporting the local Toronto organization Holiday Helpers. What started as two sisters spreading their own version of holiday cheer in 1999, has transformed into a organization that helps hundreds of Toronto families in need every season by providing a special Christmas package containing a tree, decorations, food, and personalized gifts for each and every family member. Imagining the look of excitement on a child’s face when they receive the exact item on their Christmas list is sure to make anyone smile.

Making a difference in your local community is very important, but I also feel that the Internet should be given some credit since it reduces barriers and facilitates spreading what I am referring to as digital cheer. In recent years, online giving, tracked by Austin-based Convio has grown at a double digit pace, very similar to the growth curve of online retail sales. This is truly an amazing trend to observe, because the power of the Internet, and social media has provided a mechanism for charities/non-profits to reach a larger audience than ever before, with the added bonus of systems that allow visitors to easily donate toward a cause. Generating Social Good can also be done via many crowd funding platforms as summarized by Mashable a year ago.

So what happens when local and digital cheer are combined? Well, it can be delicious, let me explain. A colleague here at SMG recently shared a link with me that I thought was absolutely amazing on so many levels. What is appropriately named The Pie Drive, is essentially one man’s mission to bake and sell 80 homemade, flaky, and delicious pies – with all the proceeds going to the local Covenant House charity. After loading up the beautiful pie page, I took my sweet time to make a flavour decision. I would soon find out that the Pie Drive link, and Facebook page was digitally shared so quickly among friends and family that the 80 pies sold out within 24 hours. My hesitation left me with nothing but a digital image to salivate over.

I want to commend Zachary Ginies on the amazing success of his Pie Drive campaign. His efforts of leveraging technology to spread local cheer will surely make many people smile this holiday season, and I look forward to supporting the cause, and eating pie next year!


Many Cool Things – November 23, 2012

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

25 years of cell phone innovation in a single image
Japanese communications company NTT docomo celebrates its 20th anniversary with an exhibition showcasing the evolution of mobile phone culture starting from 1987 to the present day. The extensive chronological display of cell phones on view at tokyo designers’ week, offered a visual documentation of the progress made in terms of size, shape, form, color and materials used in the design of today’s mobile devices.


Old Spice Save the World Advergame
With December 21st the Mayan calendar’s end of the world deadline, Old Spice recently revealed the latest installment in the digital portion of its “Believe in Your Smellf” campaign: a video game called Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World, which features the retired NBA star and a sub machine gun with pickle laser.

35 Million Directors
Canadian Tourism Commission asked Canadians to submit home videos of their first-hand experiences in their country, in an initiative dubbed “35 Million Directors”, the citizenry responded with 65 hours of video. The result is a two-minute film from DDB Canada that’s made of user-generated clips that were voted on by Canadians called “Canada Shared by Canadians.”

100,000 Stars: An interactive visualization of our galaxy
Brought to you by the Chrome Experiments team, this interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood created for the Google Chrome web browser shows the real location of more than 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 major named stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition.

The Internet of Things
Through RFID, SMS, QR codes and other technology, connecting objects to each other via the Internet is happening more and more. Basically, everyday items become nodes in the net connected by wireless technology. This raises the question: where does the Internet stop, if anywhere?

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
This six-volume, 2,438-page set is des­tined to rein­vent cook­ing. The lav­ishly illus­trated books use thou­sands of orig­i­nal images to make the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy clear and engaging. The Wall Street Journal calls it “The cookbook to end all cookbooks.

Using customer data to reward customers daily
The STM–Montreal’s transit provider–has a goal to increase ridership by 40% by 2020 and plans to do so through a revolutionary new loyalty program.

Mr. Div
Matthew DiVito (Mr. Div) is a motion graphics designer. Check out some of his transforming designs.

Image: Mr. Div

One of our team members (@brandonXoliver) managed to sneak a picture of his kitten, Belmont, into this post. How could we not leave her in?

Image: @brandonXoliver

Why Marketers Will Rule the World

Today I’m delivering the keynote at Marketing Magazine’s 2012 Social Media Conference, and I’ll be speaking about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: that the explosion of customer data provided by social and digital have put extreme power in the hands of marketers, if only you’ll learn how to wield it. We’re entering a new era of big data, automation and the ability to drive business strategy by delivering real-time access to the voice of the customer. One of the questions I’ll be asking is whether your team is ready to let go of decisions made based on “gut feel;” and get ready for the Chief Marketing Technologist, who’s much more of a “quant” than a “qual”. Savvy, forward-thinking marketing leaders who “get it” can position themselves to deliver enormous business value and take a seat at the big table if they can figure this stuff out – and keep up.

The average lifespan of the CMO has increased from 23 months in 2006 to over 43 months in 2012. Forbes magazine suggests this is a reflection of the growing strategic nature of the role – and there’s enormous opportunity to solidify this position by delivering measurable business results, thanks to big data. Technology is playing an important role in this. By 2017, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan predicts that CMOs will spend more money on technology than CIOs.

At the moment, however, most marketers are falling down on the job – badly, especially when it comes to technology. A recent survey from ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing paints a stark picture of marketers and their ownership of their own technology choices:

•    59% don’t specify marketing technology
•    45% don’t recommend marketing technology
•    46% don’t select marketing technology

This is a shockingly hands-off approach, and one that could very well come back and bite you if you allow it to continue. Just this past weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that suggested CIOs, not CMOs, should be responsible for digital leadership in most organizations. The article predicted that a new role, The Chief Digital Officer, would fall to IT because “IT is everywhere”. Russell Reynolds, one of the world’s top recruiting companies, describes the CDO as  “[someone] who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.” (I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something marketing should own).

And it’s not just technology where marketers’ chops are being questioned: it’s also the ability to deliver business and operational intelligence (real-time insight into business performance); two things that are of enormous value to the entire organization, and two things that marketing is uniquely well-positioned to deliver in the digital age because of your access to that same massive data stream.  In July, Oracle released a survey of more than 300 US and Canadian executives that showed 93% of them believe they’re losing revenue because they aren’t able to access or act on information already available to them. And they are missing out on something – the New York Times recently referenced a study of 179 large companies that found those adopting “data-driven decision making” achieved productivity gains of up to 6% – that couldn’t be explained any other way.

So what’s your opportunity? To blend the “Art and Science” of marketing; the art is the storytelling (something you’re so very good at) and the science is the technology and strategic business value that you can deliver by leveraging big data generated by social media and other customer interactions online. This is a wellspring of fantastic intelligence, if you have the technologies and skillsets to process and analyze it. In Inc. Magazine, Brian Halligan recently described it as delivering to a “segment of one” – think about sites like Netflix and Amazon, which use a combination of individual leverage (the more I use the site, the more it learns about me) and group leverage (the more people like me use the site, the better the site can predict what I may want or like) to deliver a better customized, higher-revenue experience.

There are many examples of marketers who have leveraged big data in order to deliver business value. Steve McKee, who writes for BusinessWeek, has written about how his team took a look at simple web metrics and their relationships, the increases and decreases in media buys, and used that data to increase the effectiveness of a clients’ media spend by 9%. Pamplin College in the U.S. did a large-scale study to see what the relationship was between social media mentions and automotive recalls, and found a direct, predictive connection.

One of the biggest challenges behind turning social media data into business and operational intelligence is the need to make structured and unstructured data play nicely together (structured data is the stuff that’s easy to put into a database – often things like sales numbers, or numbers of clicks; things that are easy to count and don’t require any interpretation. Unstructured data, however, are text-heavy, things like conversations and facts. Unstructured data is irregular and requires analysis to be understood by everyone – it’s complicated). This will require skillsets you are unlikely to see in a typical marketing department today (unless you’re Target). McKinsey predicts that in the U.S. alone, right now there’s a need for 200,000 people with skillsets in data analytics. And the way you attack data will also need to change; Avinash Kaushik, Google’s digital marketing evangelist says that the ideal breakdown for big data resources should be 15% data capture, 20% reporting and 65% analysis. At the moment, for most of us, that’s flipped, with most resources devoted to capture and very little to analysis and actionable insight.

So what’s next? Like many others, I think it’s the age of the Marketing Technologist – the person who, in the words of Scott Brinker, is “Someone who has a hybrid between business and technology, a strong background in engineering and IT, is an early adopter of technology, but someone who also understands the pragmatic realities of scaling technology. But most importantly, someone who brings those skills and combines them with a deep love and passion for the marketing mix. This is a technologist that reports to the CMO, not the CIO.”

What do you think? And, even more importantly – are you ready?


Many Cool Things – November 16, 2012

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

Dominic Wilcox’s giant ScotchBlue tape flower sculpture
ScotchBlue and Design Milk launched a challenge for fans to create inspirational designs using ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape. Dominic Wilcox came up with the idea to piece together a giant blue flower.


Facebook, retailers testing ‘want’ button. Move could open sources of revenue
Facebook partners with seven retailers to test a feature that lets users of the social network create “wish lists” of home furnishings, clothing and other retail products, laying the groundwork for what some believe could be an eventual push into e-commerce.  

Multi-tasking is bad for your brain. Here’s how to fix it
All the streams from the social web have created a flood of information. With this influx of life and data streams comes the desire to stay on top of it all. But this is a bad idea, according to Clifford Nass whom GigaOm interviewed on the topic. Watch the video for Nass’s tips.

FoldIt – Solve puzzles for science.
FoldIt is an online puzzle video game about protein folding. The game is part of an experimental research project, and is developed by the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry. The objective of the game is to fold the structure of selected proteins to the best of the player’s ability, using various tools provided within the game. The highest scoring solutions are analysed by researchers, who determine whether or not there is a native structural configuration (or native state) that can be applied to the relevant proteins, in the “real world”. Scientists can then use such solutions to solve “real-world” problems, by targeting and eradicating diseases, and creating biological innovations.

For more on FoldIt, watch this short documentary.

Also, check out EteRNA, a sister project of FoldIt in which players help reveal new principles for designing RNA-based switches and nanomachines — new systems for seeking and eventually controlling living cells and disease-causing viruses.

Is this the blueprint for retailers to finally monetize Facebook?
Much has been written about retailers’ failed attempts at “F-Commerce”, but a look at what’s happening on Walmart’s Facebook page reveals what could well be the blueprint for how retailers will finally turn a profit on the world’s largest social network.
Walmart appears to be selling its suppliers promoted posts on its Facebook page, just like it sells its suppliers shelf space in store and half pages in their catalog. Yes folks, co-op marketing has arrived on Facebook.

Digital Marketing BS
What marketing buzzwords are most “electrifying”? Watch to find out.

Unsuck It – Need help translating all of those business buzzwords?
Unsuck It lets you input an overly complicated business term and it provides you with a definition in plain English. It’s just that easy. There’s even an option to “email the definition to the douchebag who used it.”

Webinar: Innovation from the Crowd; How Customers Design Today's Products

Join me next Tuesday at 12 EDT for the latest edition of the award-winning Social Media Today “Best Thinkers” webinar series! Our topic is Innovation from the Crowd: How Customers Design Today’s Products,

Has social media irreversibly changed the product development process? The social Web helps express the collective voice of countless consumers with opinions and ideas about products and services, and increasingly, smart organizations are increasingly referencing this new source of information learn from the crowd how they might improve their offerings.

  • How do you know you’re sourcing the right crowd?
  • Does crowdsourcing for content differ greatly from crowdsourcing for technical products?
  • What are the differences between knowledge gained through surveys and that gained through listening on the Web?
  • What are the internal processes that make crowdsourcing effective in the enterprise?

We’ll be joined by Wil Merritt, CEO of Zooppa, Meredith Gould, sociologist and digital strategist, and registration is free. Sign up here!

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.

The Shared Experience: Live TV and Social Media


Ruth is the Director of Business Development at Social Media Group. You can follow her @rutbas.

Our family recently moved into a new house. My husband was lobbying hard to “lose the cable”. It would have been cheaper, but I resisted. You never know what’s going to happen I said. I may have felt differently if we had a fancy new TV set… but I’m still working with the TV we got when we first set up house, way back in the 90’s, so I held firm. I just suspected that there would be times when only live TV would do.

These last few weeks have been such a time.

We have all have snuggled around the TV to discuss the merits of Presidential candidates, marvel at how vulnerable “life as we know it” is with the onslaught of Sandy, and generally counted on the cast of characters across all the networks to guide us through the build up to election night. I still love that CNN map. And did you see Letterman do his show on the night of Sandy? I found it hilarious, and poignant all at once. OK, granted, I saw it on YouTube after the fact (Check it out)… but I love that Letterman went live with the show.

And nothing beats seeing those election results come in live. Loved it when Peter Mansbridge held up cue cards because the “number machine” was acting up, and was presenting everything backwards…

Granted, at any one time, all of my family members supplement live television viewing with various devices. It was very entertaining to watch the last set of Presidential debates while following Twitter. I’d never done that before, and I get the appeal. When Sandy hit I could track power outages via the Toronto Hydro Web site on my phone, and feel very on top of things. But the main event for us was still on that little box in the living room.

While we continue to have our shared experience with respect to media, around the television screen, families like ours are supplementing the experience with those various tweets, posts and conversations that clearly expand the “shared experience” outside of the household. My husband got thousands of views for one of his election posts one night. Sometimes, it’s just weird. It’s like we’re having this shared experience, and publishing it to the world at the same time. Or something like that. I hardly know what to call the emerging model- but I suspect it’s the new normal.

Check out the info-graphic below,  “TV Goes Social: The Rise of the Second Screen”  to see how radically our TV viewing habits are changing…  and integrating into the social media experience, whether watching the live version or canned version.

What has the experience in your household been in the last few weeks with regards to live TV viewing and social media?


Many Cool Things – November 2, 2012

Today, we held our second Social Media Group culture jam, which we call #ManyCoolThings.

Here are summaries and links to the #ManyCoolThings we found this week:

Facebook Gifts gets ability to make charitable contributions on behalf of friends
Facebook has begun testing the ability to give charitable contributions on behalf of friends in its Facebook Gifts product. The gifts product used to be limited to giving physical or digital items to friends and having them delivered, but now takes on a charitable bent.

Cory Booker uses Twitter to reach constituents in need during Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy has provided politicians across the Northeast with an excellent opportunity to prove how much they care about their constituencies — especially via social media, the easiest means by which public officials can demonstrate how ~in touch~ they are with real people.


Open Wines – “Open For Anything” campaign
Call the Open hotline (1-855-5-BE-OPEN) for a random suggestion of what to do tonight.

Image: Open Wines

Political Engagement Map
See the level of engagement by state by Obama and Romney tweets.

Science reveals how not to choke under pressure
Cognitive psychologist Sian Beilock has a formula for performing in the clutch: Don’t pay too much attention to what you are doing.
Nova Science Now show

La Carnita – Art and Tacos
La Carnita is an experiment in progress: one that combines the global street food and street art cultures with the local talent and ingredients we’re blessed to be near. For more, check their story or read about them in Marketing Magazine.

Louis C.K. Hates Twitter – Conan on TBS
Louis C.K. has the rare ability to live his life without looking at his phone all day.

Be sure to follow @SMG_Agency to participate live in future #ManyCoolThings culture jams.