September 8, 2015

Can Canadian public servants tweet in the 2015 Federal Election? It may not be so simple #Elxn42 [Podcast]

logopodcastLast week I sat down with colleague Renée Filiatrault, Professor, Public Relations Program, Algonquin College, for a podcast session to discuss the ability of Canadian public servants to use their private social media accounts to send political messages during the latest Canadian Federal election. The conversation was spurred by a recent memo sent to Justice Canada employees reminding employees about their “duty of loyalty” and insisting that they “refrain from criticizing the Government of Canada.”

We also touch on the amateur folk-protest song “Harperman” that gained notoriety on YouTube (now with over half a million views)  and landed a Canadian public service scientist in hot water – the scientist was subsequently put on administrative leave.

Be sure to check out the podcast on the Algonquin College Experts Sound Cloud account.

April 2, 2015

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without

Do you want more eyeballs on your online content? It could be as simple as adding a photo or a video to your post.Visual storytelling is incredibly powerful. The good folks a Quicksprout recently published an infographic (below) outlining a few stats suggesting just how important  “the visual” is on social media.

Visual storytelling is not new. During the very first media pitch I did, for the very first job I had in PR, about a decade ago, I heard a phrase that I would hear time and time and time again – “what are the visuals” – meaning what will the reader or viewer be able to see as they read/listen to this story. As I got better at my job, I learned to build visual communications right into the media stories we were trying to get traction for.

If you are looking to make better use of “the visual” in your social media efforts, take a look at the following infographic for some stats on how much visuals increase social media engagement and sharing, nine different types of visual content, and even tips on choosing the proper colour palette for conveying your desired tone.





March 18, 2015

How to use social media like a marketing executive [Report]

SocialSharingTwitterThanks to a recent study of over 1,000 marketing executives, digital agency Leadtail has published their insights into how current heads-of-marketing are changing their use of social media. Among other things, the study looks at the most-shared, mainstream, industry, and social sources, along with the brands and people who are most likely to be  influencers of CMOs. It’s clear that the digital marketing landscape is changing. Here are few trends that caught my eye:

1. Facebook content isn’t as sharable as you think. When it comes to cross-platform content sharing, Facebook lags far behind its top competitors. In other words, content found on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram are (at least) twice as likely to be shared on Twitter, than content found on Facebook. Marketing executives’ sharing of LinkedIn content on Twitter is up by 200%, so if you want to get noticed, you better step up your game on LinkedIn because CMOs are consuming and sharing that content.

2. (Visual) content is king. If you want a marketing executive to share your content, you better make it visual because this study found that pieces of content that had a visual component were more likely to be shared. I would argue that this isn’t just for CMOs; much of our own content is more shareable if it’s visual. See for yourself – head over to and look for your tweets with the most engagements. Mine are always images, with very few exceptions.

3. Location-based social networks are dead. Only 5% of marketing execs check-in (down from almost 30% from 2 years ago). Remember Foursquare? Yeah, nobody does. Three years ago I stopped checking-in on Foursquare. Before that, I was a consistent user checking in to the bus station, bus route, different buildings on campus, and even different carafes at Starbucks (Yes, the jugs they hold the different types of coffee in). I finally felt that all this checking-in was feeling like a chore and had little or no reward attached to it, so I stopped. I imagine others felt the same way.

For the cost of your contact details, you can download the full report from their website. It’s a great piece of content marketing about content marketing.

March 11, 2015

Your brand content sucks. People are unfollowing. Here’s why… [Infographic]

Everybody works for a brand. It could be Big Blue or your own one-person business. Often I see articles, white papers, and case studies about how to “get” more customers. That’s the most important part, right? Maybe not. Yes, customer acquisition is essential, but what about those customers you already have – how do we know what they are feeling towards our brand? Are they loyal, or do we have a churn problem? Working at a post-secondary institution,  we talk about this all the time; the importance of keeping students in the classroom. Retention.

The same concern exists with our social media and email marketing campaigns. We have all had people unsubscribe from our mailing lists and unfollow our Twitter accounts, but we often have very little insight as to why. The good folks at Buzzsteam and Fractl recently surveyed 900 people to understand why people unfollow brands. The handy infographic below shares some of their findings. Here are three key take-aways that caught my eye:

  1. Content is still king. According to this survey, the biggest reason why people unfollow brands on social networks is due to boring or repetitive content. If your brand sells shoes, you can no longer think of yourselves as just a shoe company; you are also a media publishing conglomerate specializing in industry-specific useful content. Not just price promotions. You write, produce, and distribute articles, case studies, stories, videos, images, audio, etc. Is Red Bull an energy drink or a media house?
  2. More is not the answer. The most referenced reason why people unsubscribe to email mailing lists is the brand sends messages too frequently. This also holds true in social media as “too frequent content” was noted as the second-most popular reason for a user to unfollow on social. One email a week from a brand I follow is about all I can stomach.
  3. Engagement is the expectation. Almost 40% of the respondents indicated that they think brands are quite or very likely to engage with them after they follow the brand’s Facebook page. To me, serving content to my news feed isn’t engagement. If a brand reaches out to me personally or responds to my comments, that’s engagement. The expectation that I would be “engaged” simply by liking a Facebook page doesn’t exist in my mind.

I also find it interesting that about half of the respondents said that they would never unfollow a brand on LinkedIn. There seems to be some social network hierarchy going on here. Perhaps a LinkedIn follower would be considered more “valuable” than one from Facebook or Twitter. I’ll look for more reading on this topic.

What do you think? Do you unfollow brands because of their behaviour on social media? Are there other reasons not listed here that make you disengage? Let me know!


March 3, 2015

Does social media really influence consumer behaviour? [Infographic]

A recent survey by Eccolo Media, a San Francisco-based content marketing outfit, provides some insight into just how influential social media may be when it comes to technology purchases. Some of the results suggest that social media may not be as dominant as once thought. The handy infographic (below) shares some of their findings. A few key take-aways that caught my eye include:

  1. Social can grab your customer’s attention, convince them of a “need”, but not so great at delivering the conversion. The utility of social media is at it’s greatest during the pre-sales and initial-sales phase. The influence of social media sharply declines the closer the customer is to making the purchase.
  2. Case studies are the kings of the content world with 25% of respondents reporting that they would consult one while making a tech purchase. Check out this part of the infographic for some details about how effective the different elements of your content platform may be.
  3. Facebook and LinkedIn are in a heated battle to be seen as the go-to social channel when it comes to influencing purchases.

One variable that isn’t accounted for in this study is the amount of people who were indeed influenced by vendor posts, but either didn’t remember or didn’t even know it was a piece of vendor media. Advertising and promoted content is becoming so slick that I would bet that I saw vendor content from Samsung before I decided to buy an S5, but if you asked me if vendor media played a role in my purchase, I probably would have said no. Awareness of vendor media may be an issue here.


February 26, 2015

Who else wants stats for ANY Instagram account?

Stats are good, right? I’m always searching for ways to look at how my content is performing, whether it be on my blog, twitter account, Instagram profile, etc. Stats provide an understanding of who your audiences are, what they like, and what are your most engaging pieces of content. While looking inward is always a great way to gather insights to improve your practice, it’s sometimes nice (and informative) to see some data on how other high performers within your industry, or your competitors, are doing.

HubSpots’ Dan Zarella has recently released an Instagram app called that lets users see details about any non-private account.

Once you login with your Instagram account, you’ll see stats on your own account; then you can search any other account by username. The app provides data on the usual metrics, like top likers and commenters, “like” activity, most-used filters, etc., but then it goes on to add some interesting details about how each of the following areas affects likes and comments:

  • Filter choice
  • Tags choice
  • Number of tags used
  • The effect of tagging users in your photos
  • Caption sentiment
  • Reading grade level
  • Caption length

Remember, this app doesn’t just tell you how complex your language is in your captions; it relates this complexity to the effect it has on engagement (likes and comments).

The site is beautifully laid out and visually appealing. Make sure you pay particular attention to the small grey question marks that appear just to the left of each title of the graph – this is where you get a more complete description of what the chart is showing you. Admittedly, this took me a bit to find, but once I did, the utility of the site jumped right out at me.

Here’s what the stats look like for the most-followed consumer brand on Instagram – Nike:


Sorry for the size of the text in this image. I zoomed out to try and capture as many charts as I could to give a visual representation of the types and number of charts the site offers. If you head over to you can read all the details.





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