Facebook, social networks, strategy, twitter

My snarky advice to buying likes & followers…


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.


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.

Crowd Wisdom, digital strategy, influence, share, strategy, twitter

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.

social networks, Starbucks, twitter

Mobile payment at Starbucks starting WEDNESDAY

Mobile payments have emerged!  Tonight Starbucks announces mobile payments will be available “nationwide”.  as announced through my preferred online news source – Mashable.

Starbucks is allowing a bar code scan from the phone – which is commonly using in the airline business to check in at the gate for flights.  Importantly this is not using NFC – near field communications (a technology I’m still learning about.)  I will be interested in seeing what levels of adoption Starbucks experiences and I would love to understand the costs at retail (new POS or technology in field) and what the payback / ROI would be.  Of course, this isn’t all about payback – its about innovation and testing a payment option that is most certainly coming down to retailers near you.

As a side note – I tweeted Starbucks about their announcement “pay with your phone nationwide”.  God loves Starbucks social media efforts but I often catch them tweeting like the world lives in America.   Facebook wall announcements used to be un-geo targetted, if that is a word, and I would get invitations to try ice cream at a Starbucks near me.  Anyhow – there is a real person at the end of the twitter stream – here are their comments (okay – mostly mine).

Note:  my still love you and others tweet.  I get apprehensive about suggesting monogamy with coffee retailers.  Truth is as a real coffee nut, I am anything but monogamous.   So I can really get into a deep conversation around coffee and various coffee shops.  Starbucks is the best espresso based coffee (read peppermint mocha) but the grind coffee isn’t up to local dark horse/red rocket like local coffee shops and the food isn’t quite there yet.  Tims, of course, is deserved of attention – fresh coffee, chili, plain donut, apple fritter (especially when they were knobby big) and chili – and that a box of timbits will make my kids do a lot.

How to, twitter

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.

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.


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

Branding, customer experience, Facebook, social networks, twitter, web 2.0, youtube

Powerful video: Social Media REVOLUTION explained

Sharing a great video from @1zenmom.    I like this video because it articulates what is hard to explain to some – that is that we are presently sitting in a revolution – a shake-up as grand as the industrial revolution, information age, etc.    Sometimes it is hard to explain how social networks / web 2.0 are shaking up every business model – especially to those who have yet to personally adopt these emerged platforms.

Blogging, Crowd Wisdom, customer experience, events 2.0, Facebook, fans / loyalty, How to, social networks, twitter

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.


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.

bit.ly, meme, twitter

Bit.ly takes over Digg in identifying hot news

TechCrunch writes about Bit.ly overtaking Digg.  Great reading.

Bit.ly is a URL shortener used for twitter.   As you are likely aware, twitter only takes 140 characters so shortening URLs is used quite often in twitter.

Digg on the other hand, is a very web 2.0ish news service where by the readers rank the popularity and importance of a news article.   [incidentily, internet user ‘ranking’ is a key feature in consumer contributed information – one that will increase its presence on sites].

In days of old (which means two years ago) Digg had an ability to identify news of growing importance.  Yet with the exponential growth of twitter and the subsequent use of bit.ly to shorten urls, Bit.ly has overtaken Digg in identifying top trends.