All posts in “social media”

Identity Theft…The Social Media Element

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

I recently watched the movie “Identity Theft” with Jason Bateman and one of my favourite funny ladies Melissa McCarthy. It’s quite humorous and at times you forget the pain that the victim of identity theft is going through; threatened job loss,  financial loss and wasted time just to name a few. As I was watching the movie, I thought to myself, how frequently does this happen? What puts one at risk of identity theft aside from being gullible enough to give all your information to a random caller on the phone as Bateman’s character does?

So I started to look at some statistics surrounding this crime and here is what I found:

  • According to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic in 2005 there were approximately 11,000 cases of identity theft in Canada alone leading to $9,000,000 in lost funds, these numbers continues to grow
  • In the US Javelin Strategy & Research found that in 2011, 11.6 million adults became victims of identity fraud
  • found that 65% of users do not set high privacy security settings in their social networking sites and 40% of respondents share their home address on these sites
  • Less than 10% of users review a website’s privacy policy before engaging in use

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Identity theft is growing and social media is said to be powering the rise of this crime. In fact, social networking sites are fertile ground for identity theft as they are built around self- selected networks of friends and colleagues; as such people tend to be more trusting of communication through the sites thereby putting themselves at greater risk of getting scammed. Below are some ways you can protect yourself, while these may not get you covered 100% of the time; they will make you a difficult target.

  1. Ensure your privacy security settings in your social networking sites are set so that you can share information with only people you choose
  2. Choose a password that cannot be easily deciphered, use numbers and a mix of capital and small letters
  3. Avoid sharing a lot of personal information on your social media profiles e.g. complete date of birth, address, phone number etc
  4. Install and update antivirus software to maximize protection against malware that is used for identity theft
  5. Ensure that your wireless  network connection is secure to avoid exposing personal information transmitted on the network
  6. Do not save your passwords on work or public computers. Many social media sites have the “remember my password” section selected by default, un-check that box
  7. Do not click on email links sent to you from your social media provider; instead go directly to the website to verify information. New and successful social media scams create emails that are tailor made to look like they are directly from a social media provider
  8. Unless you are willing to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of online applications and sites, avoid using them if they require access to your personal information

Given that we are in the digital age, how are you guarding yourself from identity theft?


Relevant Resources:

Identity Theft Quizzes

Personal Information Online: How Much is Too Much?

Social Media Training Gets Formal in 2013

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

In his list of trends for 2013 on Fast Company, Ryan Holmes addresses a recent Harvard Business Review survey, which reveals that only 12 percent of companies using social media feel they are doing so effectively.

With businesses making increased use of social media, the demand for specialized training will surely grow. As Holmes points out, “social media skills will join email as part of basic business literacy in the digital age.”

Beverly Macy shares similar views with Holmes in her Huffington Post article, which lists her social media predictions for 2013. According to Macy, enterprises that are not fluent in social media will be at a competitive disadvantage. “All employees must be exposed to basic social media training and education to attain a knowledge baseline in the organization,” as Macy puts it.

Holmes stresses the importance for companies to provide “social media compliance training to ensure that workers in sensitive industries from finance to healthcare uphold regulatory standards while taking advantage of social media’s benefits.”

To make enterprise social media training a reality, Macy predicts that most companies will need outside consultation and guidance. She believes that companies will need to develop and integrate entirely new systems to train within the organization. As she points out, “most of today’s education systems inside the enterprise rely on technologies and procedures that do not encompass social platforms.”

And what’s higher education doing to meet the growing demand for social media education? Holmes thinks we can “expect to see more social media coursework at universities, as well as dedicated social media MBA programs, as schools rise to the challenge….”

Having trained clients to use social media at an enterprise-level and instructed social media courses at a university-level, I have long felt that social media training is an issue that deserves greater attention and resources from most companies and academic institutions. That said, I strongly agree with Holmes’ and Macy’s predictions, and I hope we see them realized in a big way in 2013 and years to come.

What do you think? What’s your organization doing to train staff?

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?


The C-Suite and Social Media: Will They Ever Buy In? [WEBINAR]

Join Maggie Fox on Tuesday, June 19th at 12pm EST / 9am PST for The C-Suite and Social Media: Will They Ever Buy In?, an exclusive live webinar from Social Media Today.

While some Fortune 500 companies have taken the plunge into social media, studies continue to tell us that the leadership of many large corporations remains resistant to substantially opening their companies up on social networks, either for internal or external use. Are new media professionals deluded to believe that the evidence of social media’s pervasiveness will push the C-Suite into the world of interactive markets and transparent customer relationships, risks and all?

Maggie will be joined by panelists Peter J. Korsten, Vice President and Partner at the IBM Institute for Business Value, Peter Kim, Chief Strategy Officer of Dachis Group, and Tom Chernaik, Co-Founder of CMP.LY.

The panel will discuss the reality of the situation – the reports and statistics that tell us that the information revolution has yet to touch many C-Suites, the underlying reasons, and how much of it is due to the habits of leaders themselves. Are corporations hamstrung by the fact that many CEOs have not used social media themselves, just as a few decades ago few executives knew how to type? Join us as we ask:

  • Which corporations’ C-suiters get it?
  • What is the future for enterprises that refuse to reinvent themselves?
  • Is there a case to be made that social media is just an option?
  • Can social media work at the lower levels of an organization without C-level buy-in?

Interested in joining the discussion? Register HERE!


Dealing with the “Unfriend”, “Unfollow” & “Unlike” Factor

Wangari Kamande is Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

Lately, I have read status updates or heard friends say to me “I am going to ‘unfriend’ all these Facebook friends that I don’t really know or care about” or “I am tired of reading status updates that have no meaning or value for me.” This one was on one of my good friend’s status updates on Friday “…just spent the last 30 minutes “unfriend-ing” people from my Facebook & will continue doing so this weekend…I was getting tired of all the stupid status updates…The line had to be drawn somewhere :).” This sentiment also holds true with “un-liking” brands.

According to a recent study by NM Incite, the top reason cited for friend-ing someone on Facebook is not surprising – it’s knowing them in real life (82%). The same applies for brands – people “like” Facebook pages of brands they are aware of. On the other hand, offensive comments are the main reason for unfriend-ing (55%). According to the study, here are a few things you might be doing that will leave you wondering if the apocalypse happened and captured all your social media connections: updating too often, updating less frequently, lack of originality, too many salesy posts, irrelevant, posting repetitive and boring content, just to name a few.

The study further indicates that men are more likely to use social media for careers/networking and dating while women use social media as a creative outlet, to get coupons/ promos or to give positive feedback.


Source: NM Incite


So, this begs the question, how do we manage the number of social media ‘break ups’? I use the word “manage” because, truth be told, not all people will stick with you – in fact, an interesting statistic I recall hearing on TV went something like “25% of the people you meet won´t like you and never will; 25% won´t like you, but could be persuaded to; 25% will like you, but could be persuaded not to; and 25% will like you and stand by you no matter what.” With that in mind, how can we create a positively magnetic relationship and level of engagement with the people we value in social channels?

Whether this is for your personal brand, a.k.a. “YOU”, or a company brand, the following thoughts run true and are useful in getting you plugged in with those in your sphere of interest.

1. Who is your social audience?

While your entire target audience might not be actively engaged in social media, identify what your sub-targets and potentials are and determine their demographics, the social media channels they use and their interests. This can be achieved through a combination of some secondary research and if you want to really get to the core of your audience’s interests in social, performing a conversation scan using social media listening tools will provide you with a good picture of what is going on within your sphere of interest. Well-armed with the “who” you are looking to connect with, you can move on to the next step.

2. What is your brand’s intended social experience?

Determine the purpose that each social media channel will serve in reaching your audience. Along with that comes the underlying values of the brand, your brand’s voice—remember, social media is for sharing and engaging with others. Determine if your brand will be funny, serious or provocative. Overall, the motivations behind your social presence will be evident soon enough. If they serve the interest of your audience you will have a loyal following.

3. Win with your execution

Now that you have your audience and your social experience down pat, the content needs to captivate and match your audience needs. There are many articles that have been written on creating effective content, including on this blog. Do your research and package your brand with interesting content that will set up your social community for success.  A conversation calendar that is reviewed through the lens of the two steps above will help you get organized and ensure that you’re consistent and focused in your communication.

Keep in mind the best listeners make the best conversationalists. If you are looking to create and maintain a growing, fresh community in social media, you need to establish a listening framework to monitor your audience  and hopefully draw insights that would feed back into your social media strategy execution.


Social Media Round Up for Jan 20th

Facebook Event Takeaway

During the Facebook Launch Event this Wednesday in San Francisco, Carl Sjogreen, Facebook’s Director of Platform Products, announced the improvements to their new Open Graph and Gestures platforms it introduced during the f8 Developer Conference last September.  With the new Open Graph, developers are able to create apps that allow users to add anything they want directly to their Timeline. Later on, they introduced 60 new now live apps that are tightly integrated to the new platform including some by well-known companies such as eBay, Foursquare, Airbnb, Foodily and LivingSocial.

Not familiar with the new Open Graph concept? Take a look at the video below:

SOPA and PIPA Outrage

Wikipedia, the most respected free encyclopedia website on the Internet, blocked their service  for 24 hours on Wednesday to raise awareness, for those outside of the technology community they claimed, of two proposed legislations regarding Internet censorship – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Internet Property Act (PIPA).

For those of you who are not yet familiar with the proposed legislations, here are the descriptions, as described by Wikipedia:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a law (bill) of the United States of America proposed in 2011 to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to the sites. The bill would criminalize streaming of content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The Protect IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA), also known as Senate Bill 968 or S. 968, is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. The bill was introduced on May 12, 2011, by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 11 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementation of the bill would cost the federal government $47 million through 2016, to cover enforcement costs and the hiring and training of 22 new special agents and 26 support staff. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, but Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) placed a hold on.

Many tech companies like Google, Wikipedia, etc. state that the two bills, if passed by the United States Congress, would fundamentally hurt the Internet Industry.  For example, websites like Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr all seem likely to shut down if the bill becomes law, not to mention the developments of many emerging Internet and social media websites would be forced to stop, which would push technological innovations into the Dark Age according to one Mashable article published on Wednesday.

Content sharing website Reddit, as well as the famous tech blog Boing Boing, also joined forces and shut down their services for 24 hours. Many other websites added banner links, protest pages and published articles on the front page regarding the issue. One of the notable changes was Google covered its logo with a giant black ‘censor’ bar and wrote ‘Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” below with a link to its online petition.

Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, also commented on this issue by tweeting (for the first time in three years) and posted a longer statement on his Facebook page calling the bills “poorly thought out laws” that “get in the way of the internet’s development”.

Watch this infographic video (originally created by Fight for the Future and posted to their Vimeo Channel. Reddit put it up during the service shut down) regarding the SOPA and PIPA bills and the effect they would have on the Internet Industry.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

The Effect of the Joint Force

The joint actions of the big players seem to work. The issue soon dominated the Internet and social media world. SOPA and PIPA related discussions exploded on Twitter, generating 2.4 million tweets in merely 16 hours on Wednesday according to Mashable. Around 1,500 protesters gathered outside the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (senators who support SOPA and PIPA)  for the rally in NYC.

The official SOPA protest website,, called the protest ‘The Largest Online Protest in History’ with an infograph showing the overall effect to date, and listed all the participating companies and organizations.

Click the image to view the entire infograph

The protest results that were reported on Thursday were quite amazing. According to PC World, more than 162 million people saw the protest message on Wikipedia asking ‘ if you could imagine a world without free knowledge’,  4.5 million people signed a petition,18 representatives have backed away from the proposed legislation, 25 senators now oppose PIPA (the Senate version of SOPA), two SOPA co-sponsors and several others dropped support for the House bill

Still think internet and social media aren’t that of a big deal in legislation? It might be time to reconsider more seriously.

Top 9 Social Media Predictions and Trends for 2012

As 2011 winds down and we prepare to kick off 2012, many digital soothsayers have peered into their crystal balls to predict the coming year in social media. We’ve searched far and wide to find what they have to say.

I used to curate and organize the findings.

Get the Scoop

Of the Scooped predictions and trends, here are my top 9 picks.

1. Content Marketing: Brands = Publishers.
2012 will see many businesses become content marketers, if they’re not already. They will become publishers and distributors of their own original content.

According to Social Media Explorer, “2012 is the year content marketing hits the social media trends list and the mainstream, because content marketing is now a concept that executives can finally sink their teeth into”.

2. Convergence: It’s All Coming Together.
Convergence, in the technological sense, is the merging of different technological systems to merge toward performing similar tasks. In the year to come, social media will increasingly converge with everyday life, marketing, technology and data.

As David Armano points out in his post on the Harvard Business Review, “trans-media” experiences, such as Coke’s and Domino’s, will increasingly be used in “bringing together real opinions from real people pulled from a digital source and displayed in the real world”.

3. Measurement and ROI: How Are We Really Performing
Companies will need to become better at measuring social media activities to achieve more integrated marketing campaigns in 2012, according to a recent report on eMarketer.

Metrics will go beyond counting impressions, subscribers and followers to new ways of measuring prospect conversion and revenue generation.

The ability to effectively measure social media ROI will aslo become essential for many companies in the coming year. In Adam Metz’ report on, he says we can expect to see more social platforms and social media management systems that will offer the ability to assess and maximize ROI.

4. Mobile: Social Media On The Go
As Mart Prööm reports on DreamGrow, social media will be used more and more on mobile devices in 2012. In turn, mobile apps will become more social. This surge in mobile will require brands to ensure their content is mobile and tablet friendly.

5. Social Corporate Budgets: More Dollars Makes Sense
A recent study by StrongMail projects that corporate social media budgets will grow in 2012. To date, most companies have been focused on experimentation and pilot projects in social media. Expect to see much larger portions of corporate budgets devoted to social media in the coming year.

6. Gamification: Playing To Win
Social gaming will begin to influence people’s behavior in the real world in the coming year.

“Game-like qualities are emerging within a number of social apps in your browser or mobile device. From levels, to leaderboards, to badges or points, rewards for participation abound. It’s likely that the trend will have to evolve given how [much] competition for our time and attention this gaming creates,” according to Armano in his post on Harvard Business Review.

7. Integration: Becoming Closely Knit
Companies will need to ramp up their efforts to integrate social media to into their corporate websites and email, especially where transactions occur. Coordinating messages and ensuring consistency across all social channels will be essential to a greater level of success in 2012.

In Angela Hausman’s post on Business 2 Community,  she states, “firms must move beyond simply adding share buttons on their email newsletters and print ads.  They need to fully integrate efforts across platforms, media, and functional groups”.

8. Influence: Who’s Who in Social Media
In 2012, brands will place greater emphasis on identifying who truly has influence within their markets, according to Social Media Explorer. The race among influence measurement platforms, such as Klout, Kred or PeerIndex, will continue as they strive to develop a system that will reward the top influencers in a given niche market.

9. Content Curation: Greater Than the Sum of All Parts
As businesses become publishers, it will make sense for them to curate the new and existing content related to their brands and their markets. Exclusively creating new content is demanding and daunting for many companies. Resorting to automation and aggregation results in a less than ideal user experience. Content curation can provide the best of both content creation and automation.

“Competitive advantage goes to companies who quickly figure out how to enable effective aggregation curation. Look for rapid innovation in this field’, as Beverly Macy puts it in her report on Huffington Post.

Take the Scoop that I created as an example: it exposed me to content that I might not otherwise have found and it gave me tools to organize and add value for end users.

Did I leave anything out? What do you think will be the top trends for social media in 2012?

B2B vs B2C Social Media: Whither the ROI? (Webinar)

Tune in today at 12pm EST / 9am PST for a live webinar from Social Media Today – B2B vs. B2C Social Media: Whither the ROI?

Is social media going to pay its way or not? For most of Web 2.0’s lifetime, this has been a key question. Both B2B and B2C marketers wrestle with this question, and there are few examples of success.

Join Maggie Fox and fellow panelists, Paul Gillin and Sandy Carter, as they explore these urgent questions:

  • What can we learn from businesses like Apple that have figured out how to get people to part with their money by leveraging social channels?
  • Which platforms—LinkedInFacebook or Twitter (and now Google+)—provide the best ROI for B2B marketers?
  • How can companies leverage their internal thought-leaders for generating influence and, eventually, sales?
  • What barriers block marketers from converting people who use social platforms only for social reasons?
  • How do you measure the return on social investment in B2B? What are the best cases for its use?

Will definitely be a great discussion! To register now, click HERE!

What to tell a group of MBA students about a career in Digital Communications

I recently realized that I was a veteran in this industry. I know, it should have tweaked to that fact a little earlier, but I was recently on an industry panel, talking about women and leadership to a group of students who belong to the Women in Management Association at Rotman’s School of Management, at the University of Toronto. The fact that I could remember working on early MSN projects back in the 90’s, when “broadband was going to be big” was a bit of a reality check. When did MBA students start looking so young ?!

Reality really hit home this week, when I was visiting that MSN client in Montreal. We have been through four iterations of our business lives together, with him on the Client side, me on the Agency side… with both of us, circa 2011 now working in the social media area of the business.

If I were asked – would I do it all over again? Would I choose to build my career in digital communications, if it were early enough to still become a management consultant?

Thinking of those MBA students I was talking to at WIMA, my answer to that “Would I do It All Over Again” question would Yes. Absolutely.

I can honestly say, after being one of the first to come out of the multimedia program at the Vancouver Film School 15 years ago, yes. I have three excellent reasons:

  1. I still genuinely get a kick out of it. I like working on a variety of projects, and think it’s important work. Perhaps it’s not solving the problems of world hunger, but in my time I have done my share of work on important social and business issues, and this career has offered me the opportunity to work with clients on those issues in a meaningful way.
  2. As an emerging space, the sector has allowed me to be entrepreneurial. Throughout my career, I have been in a variety of entrepreneurial businesses, as an entrepreneur, business lead or strategic partner. I have worked in large organizations as well, but the emerging nature of the sector encourages this entrepreneurial spirit. You have to know if that works for you- but it’s been a huge plus for me.
  3. This industry has given me an opportunity to interface with the world. OK, I know that sounds corny- but by its very nature, digital communications is international. There are no borders. And lots of different types of people and organizations are interested in how digital communications will impact them. The industry has allowed me to explore a variety of different boards, associations and organizations both within Canada and outside of Canada. As I get older, that is the piece that I find the most exciting- and I think digital media provides an excellent vehicle for Canadian companies and individuals to engage with the business world outside of our borders. This is key to our strength and growth as a country, and in digital communications- especially in Social Media, we live that reality every day.

And as a parting word to all those MBA students at WIMA, it’s important that women in business are engaged in this field. In general, I think it’s important for there to be a diversity of people and voices present at the digital communications table — after all, we are shaping the cadence of this important and still emerging global communications platform. We should all be there.










Social Media Round Up Oct 21st: Content marketing around the 'net

“Content is King”

Content marketing is one of the most discussed topics at SMG everyday, and this week we would like to share some of the conte-related items that caught our attention with you. For those of you not entirely familiar with content marketing, I think this short interview Social Examiner did with C.C.Chapman, co-author of Content Rules,  should provide the basics.

From the interview, Chapman explains his definition of content and why it is important for brands,

“Content has been around forever, since we were kids. We’ve been creating content whether we called it content or not. We email newsletters, print ads, radio ads, all that is content. So it’s nothing new, we’ve known content marketing forever. The problem is, now in the internet, anybody can create content, publish content, get it out there. And let’s face it, there are a lot of them coming out, there is a never ending stream of content coming out. So doing content marketing and doing it smartly and strategically is the thing that’s hard and gets people lost. You maybe doing it, but you maybe doing it the way you did 10 years ago, but your customers are not the same as they were 10 years ago.”

He makes good points. Now with social networks it takes a lot more consideration and planning for brands to create content, even for the entire marketing strategy.

What does Content Marketing mean for B2B companies?

Now let’s take a look at content marketing for business-to-business companies.  Research conducted by has presented insights on how Content Marketing helps B2B companies to boost their lead generation effort. eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher, author of this new report says:

“Informative, nonpromotional content in the form of webinars, white papers, videos, blogs and peer recommendations on social networks and forums can attract prospects,”

“It can also be used to build and maintain ongoing relationships with potential buyers—a must for remaining top of mind throughout the purchase process.”

The figure below shows the different effects generated by different types of contents for B2B and B2C  companies.

Based on the research, Fisher continued:

“Online content is the fuel for the new B2B marketing lead generation engine,”

“In creating informational, educational and actionable content in the form of white papers and webinars, marketers can effectively lure early-stage buyers into their sales pipeline.”

“By mixing this content with comparative, company-specific and interactive content—and regularly sharing it via email or e-newsletters—marketers can build relationships designed to nurture prospects throughout the sales funnel.”

Content Marketing and  SEO

Good content assets go far. This infograph from Brafton shows that a good content marketing strategy helps brands to deeply engage with their customers and helps the brand to boost SEO ranking on search engines.