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..

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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://” 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.

How to write a strategy deck… Bullshit, Prove It, So What –

When I was a junior consultant at IBM – working with an ex-Kraft marketing VP and ex-Campbell’s brand director – I learned the ‘Bullshit, Prove It, So What’ design for strategy presentations.  I’ve never forgotten it.  BULLSHIT – is the hypothesis line.  Prove it – is the chart, research, etc that proves or supports the bullshit.  Then ‘so what’ is the implications for the brand.  Sounds casual but it is actually a fine model for strategy presentations.

Today, I work with many individuals who help make sense of big data for agency clients.

Social listening – which is truly about finding patterns among copious amounts of data – is something that I rely on as one key input to digital strategy.  In doing so, I find myself training many individuals – not how to gather social listening, for we have tools that do that, but to become suspicious of what is being offered and then package insights.

Big data is more than simply a matter of size; it is an opportunity to find insights in new and emerging types of data and content, to make your business more agile, and to answer questions that were previously considered beyond your reach.” – IBM website.

Caption:  An interesting look at the usage of ‘big data’ in google searches.  We can see it emerging in the last two years. Image taken from Stephane Hamel’s blog post explaining big data.

First, I truly encourage everyone to understand how data is collected. Its a little bit like understanding the Google algorithyms.

For instance, let’s consider the key sources of mentions in the forums category for social listening platforms.  If a niche Canadian forum does not pass country information in its API to the social listening platform, is it still considered a Canadian forum?  The answer is no.  It is considered to be a US forum.  In which case, you can have gross misrepresentation when doing some forum analysis.  This is the case with the automotive sector – which is host to many niche forums down to the nameplate or model of a car.

The same goes for automated sentiment which is, for many unknown reasons, accepted and presented as defacto accurate by many.

But beyond questioning where the data comes from or how it is collected, I insist that folks demonstrate more than just ‘fact gathering’ (however qualitative this ‘fact gathering’ actually is).

Many people who do social listening just regurgitate what a tool presents to you.  So much so that reports become just a presentation of the what is seen in the social web.  What I am demanding is that the research first consider the issues and form a hypothesis.  What are you trying to demonstrate?  This is fundamental to “issues based consulting” – something that I attended in IBM University in NYC.

After hypotheses are formulated, we collect data that may prove *or* disprove the hypothesis.  For instance – perhaps you consider Canadians to be well informed about a major retailing event called Black Friday.  But in gathering SEO activity and social listening – you can see that Canadians are not knowledgeable about a retailing holiday that is based on an American holiday.

With issues, hypothesis and ‘facts’ (or I prefer to call them findings) – we can move to the ‘so what’ stage.  It sounds easier than it is – while doing social listening, you might go back & forth testing hypotheses three to four to five times.

The holy grail then is coming up with the brand implications from the data found.  That is the ‘so what’ fun part.  For instance, if Canadians do not understand black friday – when do they start looking for their answers compared to when retailers start offering answered.  There is a gap.

It sounds so incredibly simple.. and yet, few use it.

Joining DraftFCB

I’m excited to join a new advertising agency – DraftFCB as their Planning Director in Digital effective August 13th 2012.

Why move?

Whereas it was true that I was very much enjoying my clients and our work together at my former employer, JWT Canada – I’ve been interested in the opportunity we have in integrating digital, and in particular, social media, better with communications or innovative efforts.  Admittedly, this is difficult when media, search, PR, customer service, etc are owned by different players and served by different agencies.  I felt I was making terrific progress  – certainly, on the Mazda business, we were constantly optimizing and integrating marketing efforts on a completely new level.  Still – multiple P&Ls made efforts more complicated.

Michael Szego, VP of Integrated Planning and my new boss at DraftFCB spoke to me about the value of having the whole global agency operate under a single P&L.  This isn’t just a financial arrangement but a philosophy and operating model that supports true integration.  Perhaps it is this integration philosophy that has played out in the floorplan..  at DraftFCB’s Toronto offices – my new desk in a swank open concept office – is across from the media guy, kitty corner to a strategist and behind a creative director.  And, might I add, just down the hall from the killer in-house cafe serving really good lattes for $2.75.  Now wasn’t that just the tipping point?

I am looking forward to working with some strategy heavyweights, to some pretty ambitious agency goals and earn the honour of working with a new set of clients – who I trust and hope will be as awesome as my past clients.

#JWT er’s all time favorite book list

JWTers around the world were asked what their all time favorite books were.  Some were submitted for their inspiration, others just fine story telling.  How many have you read?  Is there one that is missing?

Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my favorites.

Here are their answers:

Submitters County Book Title
Athens Rohinton Mistry : A fine balance
Bangalore After the Quake
Bangalore Alice in Wonderland
Bangalore Asterix Comics
Bangalore Camera Lucida
Bangalore Jorge Luis Borges writings
Bangalore Little Women
Bangalore Moderato Cantabile
Bangalore Pablo Neruda poems
Bangalore Pollyanna
Bangalore The Age of Reason
Bangalore The Last Lecture
Bangalore The Secret Garden
Bangalore The Stranger
Bangkok Any bedtime stories.. All you need is to read out loud as if you are performing the plays from these stories. Bringing out the kid inside yourselves, it’s really provoking! : )
Bangkok Stolen Harvest : the hijacking of the global food supply – by the Indian Nobel prize winner
Bangkok Wabi Sabi (The beauty of imperfection)
Bangkok The Alchemist
Bangkok “Grapefruit
Bangkok Whatever you think, think the opposite
Beirut Fable choisie
Bogota Blindness
Bogota Women who run with the wolves
Budapest American Psycho
Budapest Choke
Budapest Harmonia Caelestis
Budapest The Bible
Buenos Aires 100 años de soledad
Delhi Lonely Planet books – makes me want to travel, has an opinion on everything from sight-seeing to food to history, has hidden nuggets which other travel books don’t give you.
Delhi Roald Dahl’s childrens books – especially Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Delhi The Little Prince
Delhi Calvin & Hobbes
Delhi Guardian UK Culture – blog
Delhi The Pirate’s Dilemma (How Youth Culture is reinventing capitalism)
Delhi The Real Wealth of Nations (creating caring economies)
Delhi High fidelity
Delhi Norwegian Woods
Delhi The Big Short
Dublin Remains of the day
Dublin The Seven Spiritual laws of success
Dublin Timebends: A life – Arthur Miller (autobiography)
Dusseldorf Dancing Naked in the Mind Field
Dusseldorf Illusions
Dusseldorf The Metamorphosis
Ho Chi Min City  Journey to the end of the night
Ho Chi Min City 99 francs
Ho Chi Min City The easy way to quit smoking by Allen Carr
Hong Kong Essays in Love
Hong Kong How to be Good
Hong Kong King Lear – when I was a teenager, it changed the way I see this world
Hong Kong Never Let Me Go
Istanbul any book from judith krishnamurti – Very thought and soul provoking indeed
Istanbul Hungry Spirit
Istanbul Its not how good you are, its how good you want to be
Istanbul Why we buy
Jakarta The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – an insightful fiction
Jakarta When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Jakarta Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters
Jakarta, Delhi Predictably Irrational
Karachi Beowulf
Karachi Brand Sense
Karachi Interview with the Vampire
Karachi Malcolm X
Karachi Metamorphosis
Karachi Outliers
Karachi Short stories of Edgar Allen Poe
Karachi A Game of Thrones (series: A Song of Ice and Fire)
Karachi Anything by Jane Austen (especially Sense & Sensibility)
Karachi Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
Karachi Of Human Bondage
Karachi Outlander series
Karachi The Case of Exploding Mangoes
Karachi The Stand
Karachi Wind up Girl
Karachi World War Z
London Enough – as a provocative read.
London Affluenza
London If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
London The Consolations of Philosophy
London The Life of Pi
London The Prophet
London Slaughterhouse Five –  The book in which he was finally able to put down his experience of surviving the bombing of Dresden during WWII.  It is about a character called Billy Pilgrim who comes unstuck in time and experiences the different episodes of his life in a random order.  The scene where he watches a war film backwards is a particularly poignant comment on the human condition.
Manila Confession of Max Tivoli
Manila Ilustrado
Manila Shadow of the wind
Manila The Element
Mauritius  Perfume
Mauritius 100 years of solitude
Mauritius God of small things
Mauritius Identités meurtrières
Mauritius The unbearable lightness of being
Mauritius Un aller simple
Mexico City Linchpin,
Mexico City Purple Cow
Mexico City Any bedtime story!!! To keep the imagination working!!
Mexico City Any book to bring out the kid inside us!!
Mexico City 1984
Mexico City Blindness
Mexico City e
Mexico City El extranjero (The Stranger)
Mexico City Extension du domaine de la lutte
Mexico City Lord of the flies
Mexico City The Catcher in the Rye
Mexico City Reinventing Food
Mexico City Shot in the Heart
Mexico City The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat
Milan Emily Dickinson  – any poems
Milan Fugitive Pieces
Milan Guns, Germs and Steel
Milan Odyssey –  The best plot ever written
Milan Puer Aeternus
Milan The God of Small Things
Milan The Master and Margarita
Milan Wisława Szymborska – any poems
Milan The Power of Now
Milan Gone with the wind – (especially the fourth book, telling about the love between Aeneas and Dido).
Moscow Any book
Mumbai Ascent of man
Mumbai Deviant Marketing
Mumbai Intimacy
Mumbai Laughable Loves
Mumbai Mavericks At work
Mumbai The difficulty of being good
Mumbai Tribes
New York Enders Game
New York Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience
New York Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
Sao Paulo Les jeux sont faits
Sao Paulo Sidartha
Sao Paulo The stranger
Sao Paulo Masculine Domination
Sao Paulo Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Sao Paulo Man and Boy
Sao Paulo Musashi
Sao Paulo The Illustrated Man
Tokyo Man’s Search for Meaning – Most thought-provoking / life-changing book ever, for me
Tokyo Momo