digital strategy, Facebook, fans / loyalty, influence, social networks

Project Butterfly – Palmerston Group

What does it mean to be social?

This is precisely the question that @danielberkal and Seattle’s Cole + Weber United set out to answer in 2011.
Presented at social media week [#SMWTO], this study is deeply insightful and organized in thought – so much so that I am often sharing the story of Daniel’s presentation around the office and to clients.
What does it mean to be social?  To be interesting and interested.. in an age where social media plays such importance.   In my POV, brands are reaching a coming of age – that ‘doing social media’ is passé and that being social is what’s next.  But how to do this is wonderfully explained by his study.   And it is a presentation that is thought provoking to those who understand a lot about digital as well as for this who know nothing.  It transcends quite nicely.
Conducted in five cities across the US, Daniel & co. invited ten strangers to ‘speed friend’ to understand what makes people want to friend.  Next, he studied individuals with ‘social gravity’ (some would call them social butterflies, and yet, social butterflies do not like that label).  For his team to pursue the butterfly, they asked participants to think of the one individual among their friends or colleagues that people wanted to spend the most time with.  They then only studied individuals who, through multiple, unconnected sources, had been identified more than 3 times.  He goes into great depth into the characteristics and behaviours of people with social gravity – all the while annotating the work through film.   Finally, he takes this study into the online world to compare, contrast and offer valuable lessons for brands in social media.
It is well worth extra effort to see his whole presentation.  In Toronto, he is speaking at NXNE, June 11 – 17.
engagement, fans / loyalty, Starbucks, strategy, youtube

@Starbucks – what if you defended your employee? #starbucksrant

A tweet from @JGoldsborough caught my eye:  a new video is hitting Youtube “The Starbucks Rant Song” by Starbucks employee, ex-employee, Chris Sizle.   

This isn’t the first rant that I’ve heard from a Starbucks employee [blog post ‘To all you silly, sad caffeine addicts”], which was posted on Starbucks’ Facebook page in 2009 and later removed likely by the employee as Facebook identifies first & last name.  

What if there is a real issue with the treatment of Starbucks employees.  It would have to go beyond ordering a fancy drink (that’s me) or having noisy kids (me again) but I was struck with how similar this rant was to the rant I noticed in June 2009.    Which left me thinking – is there possibly an issue with how Starbucks employees are treated at large?  Are they treated poorly?  (and as a person who has personally funded many a starbucks operation – I wondered in concern for my fellow barristas and if there is authenticity in the relationships I think I have).  


What is the best way to handle this video?  Firing the employee is the obvious and traditional response – maybe deserved since the rant is beyond ‘healthy dissatisfaction’.   But it also seems like shoving an issue under carpet.  What if Starbucks acknowledged the issue (if exist).  What if the response was to have an employee idea jam or appoint the disgrunted employee into fixing the situation.  What if this video was a conversation starter – that at 600K views and growing – it was beyond denying and worth discussing?

I also wondered how many brands could have an honest conversation with their customers about hardships to staff.   I say this suspecting many customers may not want to hear about it.. I don’t know.  I certainly would be open to hearing what employees think is the cause of purported rude customers.  Is it heavy repetition of drink orders?  Weak ties to local communities?  And has our greater social consciousness and willingness for authentic relationships readied the public for such a discussions with brands?

Beyond being a great singer.. I do wonder about Chris and if he is justified somehow in his rant.  I can say that I’m not yet sure what the appropriate response should be for today’s social brand.   I’ll watch this one for a bit.  Notable is that Chris’ rant is now available on itunes..

customer experience, Facebook, fans / loyalty, social networks

The new home page of 2011 is the tab in Facebook.

There is a new kind of home page and its not where you’d expect – check out the best new facebook landing pages that introduce mashups of corporate social presence, address audience segmentation, and are as rigourous as any home page you’d see on a corporate website.

American Red Cross is my new favorite page.  

The landing page is the default for first time visitors, after which, on repeat visits, you end up on the wall post page.  [I didn’t know you could set cookies on facebook].    This page is definitely informed by an information architect/usability specialist  – see the top utility menu and e-mail prompt for alerts, clear alignment, great labelling, rss news feed capabilities, maps, integration of other social medias – clearly making all the digital assets work very hard, very integrated all on one page.

Strategically – this is an exceptional play.   Facebook continues to capture a large portion of internet time away from the long tail of the web [that is – all other websites including most corporation’s branded sites]. With the decentalization of the net, companies with strong facebook assets have ample opportunity to create hard working facebook pages to meet their customers where their customers spend the most time.

Understand the facebook consumer behaviour: If, when a visitor comes to a facebook fan page landing page instead of the traditional ‘wall post’ landing page – they will often go to the wall page anyways. The wall post page is, after all, the heart of company led and consumer led conversation fused together. And so – to introduce a landing page default can make for a more effective use of a visitor impression.

Now make that landing page a home page like American Red Cross.

I haven’t seen this in Canada yet – but noted that Coca Cola has something similar.

engagement, Facebook, fans / loyalty, housing / home building, social networks

Ouch! A brand removed from its purchasers’ Facebook fan page community

I just witnessed an social media assassination this week as a real estate developer was forcibly removed from its purchaser formed Facebook fan page – a page formed by and for the buyers of a specific condominium.  [read on for the actual letter below].

To the defense of the developer, their removal was a very difficult decision by the admins.  Although they valued the contributions of the developer, they also recognized that their very presence hindered the community from free speech.  And so the developer got the boot.  And whereas this may  be a tough pill for a developer to swallow – it does not close the door of social media opportunities facing them.

For those who haven’t bought a new condo in Canada, the time from purchase to occupancy can be 2 – 3 years as the developer gains the percentage of sales required to proceed with the build.   Much of the developer communication during that 2-3 year period can be legal – leaving enthused purchasers starved for more information.  They can not wait for ‘meet the neighbour’ night to learn about how to navigate their purchase.    Indeed, having mapped the customer experience for home/condo buying from my recent past, the best areas for engagement go well beyond the actual purchase – which is, unfortunately, the stage where many developers stop spending money on their marketing communications.

Truthfully, lean developers are not easily involved in social technologies and customer engagement.  The process of buying of home – in the sky or on the ground – is woefully complicated and much of the marketing communications is well guarded to protect against unforeseen legalities.  Many companies (indeed some that I’ve consulted with in healthcare) are so afraid of client privacy and regulation that they avoid social networking.   And yet, there is always a route to market.  I’d rather see a well researched, thought out social networking strategy that says ‘do nothing’ then ignore the rising needs and behaviours of the market.

Social networking is wonderful option to bridge the gap but, as many brands have discovered, wading in these waters can be very difficult.   There is a right approach to social media and, as much as I love Facebook corporate fan pages, this isn’t the only place an organization can participate.   Online video, twitter, RSS feeds and the very underestimated corporate blog as plausible options for a developer – and I say this with experience.   Of course, establishing the facebook fan page before your purchasers do is an option that would have to happen well in advance of the first condo sale, I suppose.  But stopping purchasers from forming their own safe haven may be unpreventable.  What is clear – is that the community is alive, wired and engaged and so more marketing engagement would resonate well with this group.

On the side of the community – I do admire the admins below for what must have been a very difficult decision.  The role of the admin is to create a comfortable place for the community to grow.  Usually that means deleting a lot of wall page self promotion but in this case, the stakes were much higher.  And in rejecting the developer, I think the admins send a strong message to their community as well as lessons for the rest of us who manage facebook pages.  A reminder to hold true to the goals of the community and to always keep them in check.

So for those who want to learn more, the assassination went like this… [names removed, page protected]

We wanted to let you know that after much consideration (months) and many messages from group members, we have come to the conclusion that [John Doe] as Sales and Marketing Manager for [noname developer]  and their participation in the group increasingly conflicts with the purpose of the [noname condo development] and Facebook Group by creating a power dynamic, loyalty, and ethical dilemma that is only fixed by their removal.

Many members expressed that they feel the exchange of information is extremely lopsided and that the direct presence of our developer on the Facebook page discourages honest discourse among members for various reasons – including fear of reprisal. With this change we hope all members feel free to contribute to the discussion by posting on the wall and getting involved. In the past week alone, there has been a ton of new information posted on how to save tons on electric bbq’s vs buying from [noname], amenity spaces, group buying of window coverings and of course, discussion about occupancy dates. With pdi’s hopefully starting in x followed by Closing sometime next x, this forum will become even more essential and the ability to discuss issues that are at odds with the developer, in a private group setting, will become extremely important.

We want to stress that this was nothing personal against [noname] and has nothing to do with anything they posted. It is simply a matter of purchaser privacy and the ability to exchange information freely.

We have communicated our thanks and appreciation for all of the information and photos they have contributed to the group and told them would very much like to continue adding their contributions – in the form of photos, updates, upgrades or marketing materials and will gladly post any information they send us on the site.

Sincerely,  The Admins

Facebook, fans / loyalty

Keeping your personal life private on Facebook using limited profiles

I was starting to accept that my Facebook personal life would careen into my business life.  Though I’ve worked hard to keep my personal and business lives separate, my use of “Friends only” in my privacy settings was starting to lose its effectiveness.  I fell into awkward ground this past July when I started to manage corporate Facebook fan pages on behalf of clients.

To manage a clients’ page, I have to be befriend the administrator on Facebook.

The reverse holds true as well.  For me to provide administrative rights back to clients for pages I’d set up, I can not do this until we are “friends”.  And though I do truly like all my clients, having instant deep friendship presents its awkward moments.

But there is a fix for all this.  You can add your business connections to Facebook and keep your privacy too.

As heavy social networker, I definitely use Facebook to hold pieces of my personal life.  I mostly connect with friends and family, and a number former colleagues with whom I share a healthy, personal respect for.  Like many people, Facebook holds my wedding photos, major milestones my children’s lives and really bad high school pictures.  I’ve even used Facebook to reunite my 14 cousins through a group and there within we share all our vintage photos of our mutual grandparents.

But there is a fix for all this.

There is a little known Facebook feature called a limited profile that can provide greater privacy.

Creating limited profiles and managing them is not intuitive so up till now I’ve added people to my limited profile but have not specified what this limited profile can and can not see.  And worth noting is that if you do not take an extra step to exclude your limited profile from key information, then your ‘limited profile’ friends see just as much as your regular ones.

As my business keeps creeping in on my personal life, and local politicians want to become ‘friends’, I decided to master this feature.

Here are a the steps:

First assign a friend to the limited profile list.

You can do this one of two ways:

  1. When you accept the friendship of someone, you have an option to add them to a list.  There will be a Facebook added list name (or tag) called ‘limited profile’.
  2. Alternatively, you can go into your ‘friends’ section and choose ‘limited profile’, a menu pick on the left hand side, and then add friends to this list.

With a list of limited profile chosen people – you then need to identify what this list will NOT see in your Facebook profile.  Remember, the default is that they can see everything your friends see until you specify what they can not see.

Indicate which profile sections are excluded from your limited profile.

In Settings (top right hand corner), choose privacy settings.

Customize limited profile Among your privacy settings, choose “profile”.  Under ‘basic’, you will see a number of sections of your profile.

Using the pull down menu, choose ‘customize’.    [that was always the menu pick that trumped me .. it was not obvious that I had to customize to specify limited profile]

You will get a little popup box asking who can see this section.  Go to the red “except these people” section and start typing “limited profile”.

Exeception limited profile

The information you may want to hold dear are:

*  Status and links
*  Some photos tagged of me
*  Some photo albums
*  Videos tagged about me

Note – you can also exclude your limited profile list from contact information section too. Just follow the same logic as above.

And voila!  You now can mix some business with pleasure on Facebook.

Do note:  For those who want to delve deeper into Facebook privacy, I found an excellent blog post about this a while back called 10 privacy settings every Facebook user should know by Nick O’Neill.

HeadshotThis original post was submitted to the Community Marketing Blog’s Blogging contest

Laurie Dillon-Schalk is the Chief Marketing Strategist and founder of Social Wisdom – a Toronto based digital marketing agency that helps firms and individuals use social media and the web wisely.

You can find Laurie on Twitter at or on her blog at

Facebook, fans / loyalty

Authentic Vin Diesel – a beautiful voice on Facebook’s no. 3 most popular page

With 6.5 million fans, Vin Diesel comes third only after a pop icon and the president of the US.   Yup – Vin Diesel.  And I never thought I’d write something to the tune of ‘everything we need to know we can learn from Vin Diesel’ article.

I reported on the top five fan pages just a while back and I couldn’t believe that Vin Diesel was no. 3.    What – when did that happen?   I’ve always like Vin Diesel after seeing xxx but I would not figured he would surpass all other celebrities, actors, etc. in facebook fans.

vin dieselWell after becoming a fan myself – I can see.  He is doing the writing and he is authentic and responsive.   I really do think he is doing the writing.   He is really reaching his long tail of enthusiasts and updating them on movie scripts,  and sequels.  Whats more is he is engaging – he invites people to submit photos, he adds personal photos of his lunch with his father, and adds notes under every photo.

His pages are digested.   Proof?  He updates a fan about the next Riddick script coming in on the weekend and getting 15, 637 likes (and counting).  Notice how he knows how to write the post so you have to click ‘read more’ to get the big news?

When we think about how to write for social media – he really exemplifies a lot.    Open ended questions, suggestions on how to contribute, personal & authentic voice, and lots of responses to inquiries and popular requests.   Pretty neat.