What a working mom can offer to her kids

I’ve not been publishing posts lately.  In part of my busy schedule, the maturing of my role, the dedication to my family time.  But also, my vigilance to not share what #agencylife can not be shared.  It concerns me to share too much.

This past Friday was a PA day – and I was asked if my kids would join in some field work.   I’ve long admired @mszego – my former boss of integrated strategy.  One of the things that @mszego always encouraged was the importance of getting personally connected to a category.  This doesn’t generate a focus group of one – just the opposite.  It opens our minds to the possibilities of the category.

Anyhow – here is my thank you letter to the amazing planning team at the agency that welcomed my kids this past Friday.  It is raw, heartfelt and interesting in its own right as a window into a working mom’s soul.

There are times, as a working mother, that I feel like I just can’t keep up to the stay at homes.   Choosing to work over staying at home is a decision you might know is right but often feels painful.

I can’t make paper mache pinatas, I don’t send personalized family portrait holiday card ornaments, I can’t even sew my daughters brownie badges on her brownie strap.  I’m a bad day time volunteer for my kids’ school pizza day – having stood up the school three times last year.

But I was quite certain this past Friday – that I was a mom who rocked both in my eyes and my kids eyes.

Who else could offer their kids focus group experience [doing xxxx], then a pizza movie and gifts.  Where else could my daughter run the halls with a little friend and my son terrorize the 3rd floor …  [judgement aside please -  They have received a taste of my working work - work, inspiration, energy, my coworkers and the environment.  I know they will remember this for a long time.]

For this, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You have balanced the scales for me.

Measuring non-profit contribution: @JaimeStein ‘s impact on #Climb4Cord

Jaime Stein represents a new breed of non-profit campaign contributors – one whose efforts can be easily hidden by traditional fundraising measurements.

A 2013 Case Study in Non-profit fundraising [or should we call it contribution raising?]

@JaimeStein is deeply involved in #Climb4Cord; a fundraising event where a select group of executives climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Canadian Blood Services ambitious project to raise funds for a national public umbilical cord blood bank.  This event just happened in August 2013 and the whole team raised an impressive $350K.

By traditional measurement, Jaime was listed as the third top fundraiser (last time I checked)  - a wonderful achievement given the aggressive goals and fundraising achievements of his colleagues in #ClimbforCord.  [let's give pause to recognize all of them who signed up to climb the side of a massive mountain and committed to raising >$1K]

Climb4Cord

I first became aware of @JaimeStein ‘s efforts – as he announced his 6 – 8 month long training program and invited friends to sign up in a Google Calendar for one of his weekly training hikes in Toronto #KiliHikeTO.    I had the pleasure of walking with @JaimeStein on April 11  <- his blog captures this.

I count Jaime among the new breed of social wunderkind – who are as active outside of their emploi as they are inside it.  Folks who expertly leverage social media or technology partnership to advance their personal ambitions  ( like the impressive @sneiditee @hessiejones @mmonaa @helenandrolia @natandmarie or @greenwooddavis ).  Among his many efforts, Jaime participated in #BeerHikeTO evenings with friends, secured awareness, commitment and generous donation from ING Direct and worked with good folks from Roadpost to secure satellite technology ( DeLorme inReach satellite communicators) to test and send progress of his trek back through social media channels.  [Jaime's blog post on the very cool technology here].   He no doubt contributed to the over 3100 mentions on twitter, 27 blog posts and over 192 news articles covering the climb.  [sysomos for #climb4cord, #beerhikeTO, #kilihikeTO in the last 12 months].  The folks tweet sharing Jaime’s climb messages included some great Canadian twitspokespeople – the @CEO_INGDIRECT, @DaveoHoots, @CTVCanadaAM, Erica @YummyMummyClub.

Jaime created tremendous awareness and consideration for #Climb4Cord – of course, he was the lead for social media efforts for the climb – but still contributions well beyond revenue.  I think someone like Jaime is needed on every major non-profit fundraising (contribution) drive.  The trick will be to identify the ‘influencer’ properly (recommended reading of @DannyBrown @SamFiorella ‘sInfluence Marketing book as a great start)

But in reviewing the donation website, I was stuck that Jaime’s other efforts were not affecting his ‘rank’ as a fundraiser – and yet – by blogging, running Twitter events, inviting Canadians to joining his personal training – he was likely creating far more impact than revenue.    Most fundraising goals are clearly expressed in dollars — and yet, for a non-profit that also relies on generating awareness of a new cord blood bank and encouraging personal cord  (and blood) donations, non-revenue metrics must be valued as much as generating revenue.   I’m certain Jaime’s efforts are not lost on Canadian Blood Services – they have come across influence marketing in its truest form.  Jaime is personally connected to the cause and happens to be a brilliant marketer (in social and otherwise).  It may just be the website and measurement had not yet caught up to fundraiser like Jaime.   Yet, I am left wondering if there are other non-profits who have yet to measure efforts like Jaime’s  - who is ushering in new levels campaign contribution.

Let me know your thoughts.

@LDillonSchalk

My snarky advice to buying likes & followers…

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Sometimes my emails make great blog posts.

A respected friend of mine was recently asked by his client if they should personally buy likes and follows.  Noise maker that he is, he invited our thoughts on the matter.

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After a number of emails flew by… I entered the debate.  I decided to add my two cents.  To which, proud moment, @schnitzelboy said “and that’s why i wanted LDS to weigh-in.”

My response:

“Okay.. time to waft in..

I absolutely *hate* these get rich quick schemes.  Of course, I do support paid ad support for social – not from bots but from ad placements with users self selecting their participation.

In the early days, when I won some social media management business back in 200x – we were horrified to discover hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of nonsensical twitter followers & following that had naught to do with the brand advocacy, current consumption or future intent WITHIN  Canada.  Although they did not use a get rich quick scheme as your website below – they followed anyone who even mentioned the brand, anywhere in the world.  We learned quickly that year how to dump a following – note – Twitter has limits!

I think having some sizable critical mass goals are admirable and necessary for starter brands but these schemes are not the way to do it.    I don’t think going ‘organic’ alone is the way either.  Social media grows exponentially and the first part of the hockey stick is long & boring without some kind of interference.  Some targeted paid, integrated marketing, very clever content can help shorten the hockey stick.

If this is an individual asking, slap them on the side of their head.   Those with experience can look at the velocity of their accounts – no. tweets vs. followers, etc – and see something is amiss.  Social can do a lot of brand / reputation damage when you fake it to make it.

Happy Anniversary to me

WordPress’ kind badge on my seven years in blogging!

This blog replaced the one I left behind at IBM Canada back in 2006. IBM had a magnificent internal blogging tool – and about 1% of IBM employees were blogging. When I left IBM in 2006, I feel the pain of leaving a blog behind.

I always feel like my blog is like a neglected child – in that I think of so many posts but life prevent too many words from reaching my blog.. I guess that is what twitter is for..

3 Lessons: How to Behave in Social Media During a Disaster

The Boston marathon explosions came as a real shock yesterday evening.  Much like many of my social colleagues, I want to write about my thoughts but still I feel quite private and emotional about the loss of life, the terror and the scare.  So I acknowledge this, and choose to keep these feelings to family, friends and Facebook and so purposefully write on another tangent – that is valuable business take-aways.

In a disaster, brands should “sit down and shut up” in social media

Quite soon after news of the Boston Marathon 2013 explosions emerged, @unmarketing tweeted “if you have scheduled brand tweets today, turn them off”.   That hit home for me – as I’m fortunate enough to be deeply involved in a number of brands’ social strategies and community management thereof.

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Admittedly, having produced several very detailed brand playbooks on social management (with sections on guidelines on community management postings & post escalations), I have completely overlooked the idea of including a section on ‘disaster response’.   I actually took the @unmarketing tweet and forwarded it to my staff & clients – recommending strong consideration of a quiet approach.  Stopping any scheduled tweeting is very important as it becomes very evident to the rest of us who is scheduling – which indicates both brand broadcasting and insensitivity to near world events.  His message resonated with many people with 548 retweets and 130 favorites since yesterday.

And so ‘shut up’.. don’t hijack by using an incident as a way to push a marketing message.

Lindsay Bell @belllindsay posted on Facebook another catch by @unmarketing (no flies on him) with Epicurious promoting scones and breakfast recipes around messages of consolidation.  In the amazing commentary that followed from her Facebook friends, one especially caught my eye.   The comment read that brands should ‘sit down and shut up’  then ‘figure out  how you can really help”.

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Responding in a meaningful way means delivering something that helps the situation at hand.  Google is terrific example of large scale immediate response as they relaunched their Google person finder tool.

These disasters are not times to push any kind of marketing agenda forward.   If there is no meaningful contribution to help the situation, then acknowledge the situation and then go quiet.  Disasters are sensitive situations and certainly not worth capitalizing on nor moving on too quickly to ‘back to business’ commentary, in my opinion.

At the agency where I work, we posted the following comment, which my friend @HessieJones endorsed:

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This was posted early this morning, before the above ‘sit down and shut up’ comments.

There is nothing worthwhile to say when our hearts and minds are elsewhere.  As it turned out, that tweet resonated with the agency’s followers – getting favorited and re-tweeted quite often.  Gaining a response, however, was not the reason for the tweet.   It was a human response to having nothing to contribute.  The account was silent for the rest of the day.

Finally, in a disaster, don’t share the graphic images on Twitter and Facebook.

One of the first tweets I saw of the 2013 Boston Marathon was of an accident scene with a lot of red on the ground.  It took me a few minutes and more reading to figure out that I was looking at a disaster zone.  I doubled back in my tweet stream to make sure that I didn’t re-tweet any images that were graphic.  Fortunately I did not.  What I didn’t like was the sharing of graphic images across Twitter and Facebook.   Indeed some of Facebook friends admitted to unfriending on Facebook for anyone sharing graphic images.

Many brands would not be sharing imagery of a disaster but news publications do.  They put disclaimers of ‘ warning the images that follow are graphic’ – however, I feel quite strongly some images just should not be shared.

I’m still personally mulling over the Boston Marathon disaster and will continue to think of those impacted for days to come.  Still, it helps me to just write about some valuable lessons for brands in how they react in a real world, near world event – if anything, as a distraction.

I welcome your comments and observations (please add your @ handle).  Thanks.

5 quick tips on YouTube video uploads

Anyone can upload a video.  But few do it well it seems.  It is a pet peeve of mine to see a beautiful video just dumped on YouTube..

Beyond creating a video for online versus other media (which is pretty big) – one has to remember that YouTube is a search engine.  The second largest.  Entertainment, How Tos, anything with Cats will do well – but attention is needed on five core things..

  1. LINKS:  Add a contextual (clickable) link in the description back to your online reference centre – be that a website or other network.  What’s interesting is that many add links but they aren’t active.  Ensure you have the “http://&#8221; before the www URL address to make it work.
  2. TAGS:  Although I would rely on a good search person’s opinion for a video tag selection, I would start at time & location tags (like 2012, Canada, Toronto), then popular search terms for the topic of the video, then descriptors or quotable titles/sayings within the memorable video.  Using the term “best” would be cheating but also indicative that you know how people search on YouTube.
  3. ANNOTATE:  I don’t think this does much for organic search results but it is standard practice I guess to note any music used and give credit.
  4. TITLE:  Really.  build.  this.  for.  search.  Use terms that are popular.  Use YouTube Google ad words tools to see what related terms there are to your title.
  5. DESCRIPTION: Make it interesting.  Explain something about the video content.  And double check for relevant key word use within your paragraph.

Finally – don’t wait for views to come.  Seed your video – if it is original content worth for eyeballs – submit it to Buzzfeed, to stumble upon, to many of the dozens of sites that aggregate content.

The curve of your #FACEbook; 4 common #facebook #insight curves demystified

By now, I’ve looked at many, many Facebook insights curves working with various brand pages and I’ve come to notice a pattern in what I see.  Here is an explanation of four common Facebook insight curves or charts.  Understanding these patterns will help with understanding the success of Facebook pages.  This is likely of most interest to community managers or analytic geeks.

First a quick recap of the main units of measure on these charts.

  • People Talking About This or “TAT” includes all engagement metrics that Facebook allows – liking a post, sharing it, commenting, presumably any liking per comment and *liking a page*.  I don’t think it is the best measurement of engagement but it is what Facebook allows us to see.
  • New likes per week – indicates any new liking activity for your page.   Why Facebook adds “per week” on this unit and not the other, I don’t know.

Consider that these units of measure are presented as though they are daily activity – but they are NOT.  Each point on the graph represents a rolling 7 day week of data.  So that means the Sept 20th data is actually 7 days of activity ending on Sept. 20th (so Sept. 13 – Sept 20th).  Then Sept 21th is represented by data from Sept 14 – 21.  This is frustrating because true daily activity is muted somewhat.  I’m not sure why Facebook does this nor can I find articles on why using 7 day rolling data would be advantageous over using daily data.  If you have an opinion – please enlighten me!

Also consider that the TAT number contains any liking of a page – which is what the ‘new likes per week’ is all about.  So we are comparing two curves, one containing the other curve within it so we have to deduce that the visual gap between the two curves represents the “success” of the content.

Of course, a liked post can be generated by cheap, low involvement engagement e.g. what is your favorite colour vs. answering a consumer inquiry.  I see tons of ‘cheating’ questions – to the tune of “like this if you put socks on in the morning” – and community managers report that as successful content because facebook monkeys click “like” on the post but it does nothing for building deeper connections with a brand page.  [rant]   So despite charts, there will always be a need for further analysis into the context of the engagement.

Onto the curves.

The Newbie Chart

This is the chart to an unidentified, brand new facebook page.  Our natural cues to its newbie status would be the start of content & number of facebook likes on the actual page (not depicted here).   In looking at this Facebook insights curve,  you see new like and ‘talking about this’ [TAT]  following together.  This is because for every new like, Facebook also records it within their  “TAT”number.  So the TAT number is driven almost entirely by new likes.    Then the community manager took a break – and with a young page, every thing – liking the page & engagement crashes.  But then content reappears which looks like it appeals to the existing fan base.   We see the curves diverge.

The Contest Driven Chart

Contests are the easiest way to ‘cheat’ at Facebook fan (like) growth.  So many many do it and wonder why their community isn’t reflecting the people brands care about.  At the same time, it is a tactic – a reasonable fast one to gain critical mass.  Critical mass allows brands to get into a decent social graph – reaching friends of friends – otherwise the brand is in a room talking to itself.   With a contest under belt,  its a crowded party but possibly in the wrong bar, with the wrong crowd.

So focus on the right half of this chart – we see two bumps with the gray ‘new likes’ line following the TAT line.  This is reflective of new people entering a contest.  It could also be a curve that reflects good content that encourages people to also like a page, but since we know the contest is going on, then know the curve.   At the same time  – there is a bit distance between the curves which indicates that the content either resonated with contest goers (it did, its the Swiffer ‘my man cleans’ t-shirt, Oct. 15) or that the contest asked visitors to do some kind of monkey task (it did, Swiffer’s advertising ‘show us the love or at least like us’).

The ad supported chart

Up, down, up, down… likely in concert with two waves of facebook advertising spend.   To me, the first bump suggests the first ad worked harder or was supported by some kind of like incentive.  The curve drops when the stimulus is removed, and re-appears with ad support (confirmed as I’ve seen the ads).    I don’t see this as a healthy facebook curve at all.  It is artificial – because it is not sustainable without advertising.

The ‘my content went viral’ chart

This is Red Bull’s facebook page – after its sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the stratosphere.   A brilliant capture of content from a brand, in my opinion.  Here we see the facebook curve coming off an ad spend, then the big bump on the right is the release of photos related to Felix.  The content is heavily shared – and although this is a rolling seven day picture, it seems to have been shared over time – given the evidence of new little spikes in the curve top.   As for new likes per week – there is traction.

What is interesting is that this chart represents a community of 32 million.  So the “new likes” are not what is driving the content here – it is the content being shared among the existing fan base – or so I expect.

Another ‘my content went viral’ chart

UK Bodyform’s very interesting video response to a disillusioned man was well received.  For a little community – the content got a lot of eyeballs.  It did not translate well into likes – although there are a few new likes at the right.  It may be that this community did not have a lot of content prior to the video – so the community saw this as a one time contribution, albeit awesome, but not enough to like the page.  That said – this is a page for feminine protection which wouldn’t get much public liking anyways.

I hope this helps with your perspectives on facebook insight charts and your measurement of facebook pages.  Drop me a comment if there is a curve pattern that I could include.