Category Archives: How to

Top five skill sets of today’s digital strategists

I get a significant amount of natural search visitor traffic [a.k.a. Google] against two key phrases —  “digital strategy job description” and “resigning from IBM“.    Since I resigned from IBM six years ago, I thought I’d offer a quick update on the role a digital strategist plays in today’s advertising industry.

At first consideration, people may think that the bulk of a digital strategist’s time is spent writing digital strategies.  But alas – that is only a small part of the role today.

Being in the position to write a digital strategy assumes that you or your client clearly understands where you have been and where you want to go.  Afterall, a digital strategy & plan is just the careful articulation of how to address a gap to a future digital vision.

But indeed, with the advent of social media and with emerging technology – some organizations do not have clear picture on what the digital future should hold.   So today’s digital strategist must be able to help clients develop a future perspective.   Among future opportunities – and there will be several – a strategist needs to help the client/brand prioritize the opportunities down to a few that will make the most substantive different (based on earlier identified organizational & brand goals).  Then as social media/digital has so many owners, a digital strategist also helps with alignment within an organization. These are great consulting muscles to flex!

Given this, the top five desired skill sets for today’s digital strategist include

  • facilitation experience.  Ability to work with many cross functional groups to create alignment on objectives and plans
  • influence & negotiation.  Ability to properly articulate the benefits & risks associated with digital opportunities.
  • analytics.  Ability to conduct or source research to identify the insights that will contribute to a balanced, thoughtful review of a business.  Ability to distill intelligence from data.
  • project management.  Ability to estimate the scope of efforts required, time & materials and clearly articulate the best project approach to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • synthesis.  [a rare skill]  Ability to synthesize activity, client needs or discussions to distill to the most salient facts.
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Using twitter? Then you’d better understand the twitter list.

There is a new currency in town and its called a Twitter list. 

If you want to win followers and influence tweeters than you’d better understand the impact a twitter list is going have on the twittering ecosystem.

A twitter list is a relatively new feature to Twitter.  It allows you to segment your followers into a special group.   It’s a bit tedious to set up but very useful.

I didn’t pay much attention to twitter lists since I don’t use Twitters’ clunky website.  I’m a tweetdeck fan with a constant eye to

Hootsuite which I suspect would be better for managing multiple twitter accounts on behalf of clients.   Tweetdeck and Hootsuite recently incorporated Twitter lists into their own offering.  But the rapid succession of adding twitter lists to their offering raised some alarm bells for me.

Consider:
Start now to get on a powerful list
If you are interested in twitter influence, then you should be looking to get onto powerful twitter lists.  You might create one yourself but like a blog needs comments, a twitter list needs followers.  The powerful lists will be the ones people follow.   And the list is just one person’s perspective of who represents that segment.

For now – I’ve seen mostly local or national based subject matter lists.  But I expect to see definitive segments on niche topics.  And I expect gaining entry to a list will get harder in the future.   Its not just about gaining followers anymore.  Its about getting yourself on a power list.

Diversify yourself – get on different kinds of lists
I’m still a list virgin but my intention is to get on a number lists – right now I’m on a number of Toronto based social media lists but I’m grateful to also be on some non-profit social media lists.  Any sort of freelance, independent, subject matter or consultant should be looking a diversification.

The metric of how many people follow you is confused. It’s just one metric in a sea of bad or highly fragmented twitter measurements, but it is confused now as you could have 100 followers but be on 10 powerful lists that are followed by double digit people.  In searching for a list, keep eye for how many people now follow the list.

Seeking who to follow is watered down by looking for the right list. In some situations, I will just rely on a number of people who I follow and use their created lists.   It’s the kind of ‘I trust people I know’ that will make social search rocket.

That makes power be to the owner of the list.  It is a painful process to go thru a long list of followers and segment them.  I expect that the lists owners may become rather protective of who is on the list.  And so list ownership could be a new currency.  Check out this owner of top Japan related people to follow. He takes his list quite seriously I’m sure.

That said, I would like to see a ‘last updated’ date and twitter list rating system.  I want to make sure the owner keeps lists up to date from both adding and subtracting people.

Switching between twitter platforms is easy
I’ve long managed my tweetdeck columns by promoting tweeters from my ‘all follower’ category to one of my various columns.  And it is this hard work of setting up a group that always prevented me from moving over to hootsuite.  The switching burden was more than I had time for.

But with twitter lists – I merely subscribe to the lists and the switching barrier from tweetdeck to hootsuite is disappearing.

Well there is.  My twitter lists tactics out in the open.  I could be right off my twitter rocker so tell me your thoughts and deep strategies.


Headshot

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 twitter.com/Ldillonschalk or on her blog at Socialwisdom.ca

Lessons for live social media coverage; Scotiabank BuskerFest

Buskerfest_PassToronto’s Scotiabank BuskerFest is in full swing today – with three more full days left of the downtown Toronto festival.

As part of our social efforts – we are ‘live blogging’, for a lack of a better term, mostly on Facebook and Twitter with twitpics, tweets, posts, videos and more throughout the festival.   At the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own horn, Events 2.0 is bloody hard work making simple tweeting feel like a cookie next to a five tiered cake.

The obvious:

  • Live event coverage using social media is requires full 12 – 16 hr dedication as majority of tweets are noon to late evening.
  • Authors need strong freedom to engage and respond on a massive scale
  • Multiple contributors are needed
  • Authors need sleuthing skills to also find the conversations that are not following you.

The not so obvious:

  1. Its not just about tweeting upcoming events or the schedule (which is major enough for a static display that changes frequently – errr).   More importantly, the focus has to include making the overall conversation of others heard.  That means sharing the twitpics of the masses, etc.  Admittedly, I am conscious of not wanting a ‘big brother’ feeling to come across but play a fine line of attentiveness.
  2. Identifying communication bottlenecks and pushing the information out.  I believe this to be an advanced skill.  Looking at the operation of a business (in this case, an event) and figuring out how to apply the strengths of marketing vehicles against painful customer experiences.   For BuskerFest – the schedule is large, well managed and central in the festival – but there you have it.. it is not virtual.    I wish Social Wisdom (us) had been hired earlier so to have integrated our twitter addresses onto the physical signage at the event.
  3. Don’t force the hashtag.  We created #bfto thinking it would be shorter, taking fewer characters and make retweeting easy.  But I can’t promote #BFTO enough.  The audience is naturally choosing the brand name of the festival – buskerfest – as its #buskerfest.    I actually tried to inform the first #buskerfest user but then I realized that is the collective – the wisdom of the crowd emerging.  Pretty cool actually.
  4. Keep the thick skin.  We [the festival] got called ‘jackasses’  and given a #fail by @rjstewart as the website isn’t iphone compatible.  [i didn’t do the site, the site has a lot of positives and honestly, as webby as I am – I wouldn’t have thought about making it iphone compatible before April – when I got my own itouch]  [note to self – look up the penetration rates of various devices]  So @rjstewart – your tweet is fair enough and true – albeit a bit harsh.  But I do understand that very geek passion as I too love to pick at slow adoption and I know it is a comment that likely represents the frustration of more people.

I truly believe that the online behaviours and expectations of Canadians (and North Americans)  are on fire right now and firms are finding it very difficult to catch up.   As indication, Social Wisdom has been contacted by several different agencies who are suddenly seeing ‘social media’ as a key skill and experience needed in RFPs – it is a talent hole in many agencies.

As a last comment – the very ironic thing today was me sitting in Starbucks doing live event coverage while also sitting next to Epilepsy Toronto’s PR person.    First off, the PR person is a fantastic person – well connected and, quite clearly, managing a full load of traditional press coverage.   And she was busy writing up a press release for the world record that we facebooked about an hour earlier.   She was very pleasant about it  – asking if I could share some twitpics on the deal.   I then pulled up tweetdeck and was showing the stream of tweets and follower responses.  DW is great to work with – she was really embracing the social media and also thinking about how we could collaborate and integrate together.

At the same time – my team had tweeted about an upcoming interview not yet occurred – to which she questioned if that was appropriate [being very honest about not yet figuring out where the new lines are with social media – what to tweet and not tweet].  I didn’t know either so I deleted the tweets and could see some learning on both ends around the integration of pr/social media/marketing communications.

Well.. I best get some sleep.  I am looking forward to Saturday when I finally attend the festival as a mother and not in a virtual social capacity.

Note:

Sleep gave me a few more thoughts:

* How to better price for social media and also how to price for live event coverage.

* Technology needs on same day for events.

Teaching social media

I just finished another course teaching social media to job searchers in downtown Toronto. The attendees were wonderfully diverse both in careers, interests, and backgrounds – so representative of diversity Toronto. I felt honoured to be in a room sharing with individuals so rich in experience. I really think I should add a coffee social afterward as I just wanted to share in their excitement… hmm. note to self!

As an indication of how heavily demanded this learning is, the course was signed up overcapacity (again!) at 35 individuals and ten more on the waiting list. (the room was small and so very hot). One of the nicest things said to me at the beginning of the course was from Eddie who grabbed my hand in hello and said “I’ve been looking forward to this ALL month”. And I believed him. What faith!

I mean to upload my current presentation and tools in my linkedin profile (coming!) and still – I wanted to share a very neat video link to anyone drifting through..

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Teaching social media“, posted with vodpod

For 405 club: Dodging the stigma of actively searching for work

yippeee kiyaaa mfff!  Here’s my first post to the 405 club.

I’ve been volunteering/consulting in social recruiting lately – a high demand and growing area – playing both sides of the fence between consulting with HR/recruiters & execs and volunteering with the painfully transitioned in Toronto.   I wanted to offer suggestions to those who choose not to open up their chest cavity and explain why they are out of work…  AND give a new blog post to the 405 club:  NYC’s official unemployment network who’ve just asked me to be a contributing blogger to the site. <blush>

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Perception is Reality

Picture it – you’re sitting in the first interview you’ve managed to get in weeks, its a job that matches your working desires and the promise of pay is in line with your old self – the one that used to work.

The fumble you are trying to avoid is not whether or not you qualify for  the job.  NOOOO its whether or not to pretend that you are not the active job searcher you are.   Damn the stigma of being an active job seeker.

I touched on this in an earlier blog post – social recruiting 2.0.   Quickly – recruiters and hr managers break job searchers into three main groups –

  1. non-seekers – those who have a job who aren’t looking,
  2. passive job searchers – have a job and are mildly searching, and
  3. active job searchers – say no more.

Active job searchers are, at times, avoided under the belief they constitute the undesirable; the belief that they will jump at any job opportunity – qualified or not,  suitable or not and desert jobs when they find what they really want.   I’m sure this stigma is grounded in some reality and yet, in a great recession, employers should not ignore quality candidates regardless of situation.  [Excellent article on out of work stigma fading.]

So.. back to business – HOW TO PRETEND YOU AREN’T ACTIVELY SEARCHING WHEN YOU ARE:

  • Build your own website – not a online resume, a small business site.  Consider using free blog publishing to get up and running fast.
  • Invest in your own domain name.   I wouldn’t necessarily go with your personal name as a domain but if you can’t dream up something cheap and available as a .com, then go for it.  Some instructions in a previous “how to” blog post of mine using godaddy.
  • Volunteer in a relevant capacity and make an “in-kind” deal allowing yourself to claim the organization as a client, and get website or other exposure for your business.
  • Make the bloody most of every volunteer/contract experience – blog about it, status update it, twitter it if you are on twitter, talk about it.  Use popular tag words in your blog title post so that your post gets auto pulled into silly blogs that add posts based on key word terms rather than content.
  • Update all social networking sites to your new business – linkedin, etc.  [I’m assuming here you are on linkedin.. and you should be]
  • Use a powerful signature linking back to profiles, @twitters or blog posts.  Start commenting as the president and chief pipeline filler in relevant forums, questions & answers paying attention to well attended blogs, websites, facebook fan pages or linkedin discussions as they will feed back traffic through the comments you make.
  • Cross pollinate your social networks.  Add linkedin applications that display your blog in your linkedin e.g. wordpress app, then add linkedin badges to your blog.

At the end of the day – an hr mgr and recruiter will still ask you why you are applying for full time moving away from your business.    My response has always been about the opportunity.  Personally, its hard to fill a pipeline as a small business and work on it.  But being committed to playing in a field you love means that you may have to take on different roles to do it.  Some of those roles are full time – others are contract and others are volunteer work.

Good luck.

Twitter 101 – twitter defined and explained in plain english

Need to understand twitter?  How to use it, grow it, what the key features are?  

I don’t know how basic to go in my upcoming course for Tcet, so I’ll briefly address the twitter questions my mother recently asked me.  “What is twitter?”  “What’s the big deal about it?”  “How can you get value from short bits of information?” [all said with some frustration and distain for hyped news coverage]

Def’n:  Twitter is, as twitter says, a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real time

  • Messaging – referred to as “micro-blogging” since all posts/updates [called ‘tweets’] are 140 characters or less.  
  • Connected – in twitter, its pretty simple.  You follow people [following] and people follow you [followers].  Some people get >10,000 people following their tweets.  Oprah, for instance, has over a 1MM followers.  Some aim to follow just as many – how they do it, I don’t know. 
  • Real time – this is a *huge* differentiator for twitter in the social media world and what is driving a key trend and expectation in internet use.  Twitter offers as close to real time as it gets – giving out a constant stream of small information updates as people post them kinda like a ticker tape of valuable post-it notes from people you like to follow. 

Other useful things to know:

  • Your address in twitter starts with an “@” sign.  Mine is “@ldillonschalk”.  When you tweet, to address the tweet to someone specific, you use the “@ldillonschalk” prior to the message.   You can also use “@ldillonschalk” in the middle of the 140 characters too.  The difference  results in who can see your tweet.  The former allows anyone who also follows “ldillonschalk” to see the tweet.  The latter allows all your followers to see the tweet.
  • Retweeting – “RT”.  When you see a tweet message that you like, you can ‘retweet’ it or forward it to your own network by retweeting.
  • Creating a profile – under settings, make it complete!
    • Choose a memorable username to help people remember who the tweet is coming from.  Easiest is your name.   I personally want to follow people not organizations so I tend to look for individuals.   
    • Add a picture.  Dont’ be shy.  But use the same picture across all your social medias so that your ‘brand’ is consistent and recognizable.  Exception can be facebook – where I use a different picture because I don’t mix my facebook with my professioanl life.   Don’t change the picture too often – like once every few years.   Personally – I think the picture should be professional, personable (smile), fairly close cropped head & shoulders and generally represent what you look like today (so no pictures that are over five years old showing a slimmer, more tan, or younger you).   Be real.  No picture of kids – save that for facebook.
    • Add your one line bio and chose your words wisely.  One big way people decide whether or not to follow you is by reading your short blurb that pops up when hovering over your photo.  I like to see topics people tweet about and their roles (e.g. consultant, father of two, banker, etc).

How do you know who to follow?  I started with people that I know, admire and love learning from.  Now I worked at IBM so finding great tweeters was easy for me.  But having come from the home building industry where the vast majority are still not on facebook, linkedin, let alone twitter, I could see the challenge in following.  So from housing, I looked to my ad agencies or interactive partners – again, people I admired.  I also am in a social media group on linkedin – upon which people started sharing their twitter addresses.   I’m not suggesting you sign up to this social media group – on the contrary – look for groups and people that you like to learn from relevant to your sweet spot.  If that’s business great.  or it could be gardening, or golfing or whatever you want to follow.

How do you get followed?  

  • Follow people and they will follow you.   There is a general etiquette around following – most people will follow you back.  Likewise, people who find you first do expect you will return their follow.  There are twitter ratios that highlight your friends vs. followers assuming that closer to 100% is better.   That said – I think its okay to be selective about who you follow.  Like linkedin, I don’t want a whole bunch of crap contacts of people solely interested in gaining a useless metric.   See my twitter stats below from mrretweet.
  • My twitter stats as of June 14 2009

    My twitter stats as of June 14 2009

  • Tweet value.  If you add good information, it will get retweeted.
  • Retweet and engage with people you follow. 
  • Get a #followfriday – which is like getting a recommendation from a twitter friend to its followers that you should be followed.  Better still, use Mrretweet (see reference below)
  • Self promote – add your twitter address to facebook, linkedin, to your website, add to blog posts (e.g. are you following me yet?)   Answer linkedin answers and leave a twitter address. etc..

How can you manage this stream of information?
Its bloody hard work to follow twitter.  When I sit down, its for 1 -2 hours because I’m active.  I click on links, I read blogs, I comment and retweet.   Like many people, I use tweetdeck – which is a separate website (free download application to be precise) that helps to manage all your tweets.  I create groups of people – my close friends, my “a” list of people I really like, my ‘all friends’ category which I watch so I can move people into my “a” list and then some groups based on subject matter.

Is there value in doing all this?
Well yes and no.  Garbage in = garbage out.  Twitter is what you put into it.  It is an investment and the opportunity is to get connect with like minded individuals which can lead to friendship, money, respect, whatever.   Right now I am learning.  I now have about 200 people feeding me on topics that I love reading about.  I’ve always been a very good researcher and my facts and stories were the cornerstone for a lot of my consulting work.  But finding the research, the stats, the case studies was always a lot of work.  Now I get fed this research and what I love about the internet is that there is always someone smarter, early adopting, knowing than me (and I’m also smarter, early adopting, etc than someone else).  The downside is that I get into this mentality of receiving.  and I need to step back and think about my focus, what I want to learn and what I see happening in market.  There is a lot of clutter online including twitter.   Sharon Hayes, see below, talks alot about the value twitter has brought to her.  Check it out.

WANT MORE?
There is a heck of a lot more to learn about twitter.  One person that I really enjoy following & reading blog posts from is Sharon Hayes.  Her posts are incredibly well thought out and well written on a variety of social media topics.  In particular, I read her twitter posts as she really understands how to build and extract value from twitter – which is not easy to get to without some time investment.

Consider reading up her on a recent post “How to avoid the #followfriday problem” so to help identify other people that you should follow.

Hope that helps.  By the way – are you following me?

Laurie