Archive for ‘Interview’

October 26, 2011

MOvember social media strategy from CKDJ 107.9 [Video + Interview]

The idea for this post first struck me when I saw this YouTube video:

Pretty great, right? As you can see, CKDJ 107.9 Ottawa’s New Music (a station run by Algonquin College’s Radio Broadcasting students) is once again joining the Movember campaign to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues. Their hook? Get Canada’s Prime Minister to grow a mustache and be a “MoBro”.

After watching CKDJ’s campaign unfold over a few days, I noticed that it relied heavily on social media to get the word out. Given that this is a student group whose primary focus is NOT marketing or communications, I thought the campaign was being handled quite well.

I wanted to talk strategy, so I tracked down the man in the video (@RyanPaulGibson) for a quick discussion. We had a great conversation, and I was rather impressed by the thought and effort that went into this campaign. Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation.

Q1. Before we talk about your strategy, what are your goals?

First of all it’s about raising awareness for a good cause. My family has been impacted by prostate cancer, and it’s something that is not talked about enough. If we can raise a little money along the way, all the better.

Q2. What metrics determine your success?

We want:

Even if we don’t get the Prime Minister to grow a mo, we would have still raised awareness by creating content that engages our audience.

Q3. Did you really create a social media strategy, or is this stuff just common sense for CKDJ?

Absolutely we created a social media strategy. If I just posted the video on YouTube, I don’t think it would have done much. It would have gotten lost within the thousands of hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every second. If we didn’t use social media to promote it, it would not have been picked up by mainstream media, and the dominoes wouldn’t have fallen into place. If you want to get your message heard, you need to find a way to get it out there to the people who will get it on another channel.  Sometimes you just have to light the fire a little bit.

Q4. Boil down your strategy and tactical approach for me

Well, step one was make the video, and then promote it on Twitter. I tweeted (and emailed) 40-50 news organizations and around 100 journalists that I follow or knew existed. I also tweeted key cultural figures, such as George Stroumboulopoulos (@Strombo), Alan Cross (@AlanCross), or Algonquin College graduate Tom Green (@TomGreenLive), in hopes that they would retweet the message and share the video. I even sent our news release to some press secretaries on Parliament Hill.

Within our Twitter strategy, we created a hashtag (#MoHarper), and added the hashtag for #Movember. Then we made sure that every single tweet was sent with our station’s handle (@CKDJ1079) and the @MovemberCanada handle so that everything we did was noticed by Movember Canada. Next thing I knew, the phone rang and it was one of the head organizers of Movember Canada calling me from Toronto. He thanked me for being involved and gave us the heads-up on some things that they were doing this week to help build momentum. But if I didn’t use social media to reach out in the first place, the video would have just sat on YouTube with a couple dozen views.

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

We’ve also created a Facebook page where we share our events, media coverage, and news about the campaign. It’s turning out to be a great place to connect with our audience.

Once I had the social media structure and protocols established to manage our brand, I then looked to other students in the program to leverage their social networks and share our message about Movember beyond just the social media properties owned by CKDJ.

Q5. Did you look at social media and traditional media as separate, or complementary?

This is the first time I’ve tried anything like this; I’ve never even run a campaign before. At first I saw them as separate, but as I started to implement the plan, I saw for the first time how those properties overlap.

Q6. Tell me about the YouTube video

It stemmed from the professors here at Algonquin College telling us that the skill-sets needed to succeed in a career in media require expertise in a variety of sectors including video, audio, writing, social, and web. With that in mind, this was done very quickly, very guerrilla, and very unsophisticated. It was shot in one take with big signs and fake mustaches. We wanted to keep it simple and include a call to action to sign our petition and visit our Facebook page. Ninety seconds is all the time you have to deliver your message online; a video any longer than that often drags.

Q7. How can people can get involved?

It’s easy:

There you have it, a quick behind-the-scenes look at how some Canadian students are leveraging social media to raise money and awareness on men’s health.  During our conversation, Ryan and I touched on a number of best practices, but his understanding of where social media fits in an organization was spot on. Social media strategies are not something you create for campaigns; they should be created and integrated into your everyday business operations.  Using social media needs to be baked into everything your business does.

Are you a “MoBro” or “MoSista”? Let us know if/how you are getting involved in Movember this year.

September 22, 2011

Do you STILL hate the new Facebook? [Video]

I’ve written this post before, at the end of 2010, the last time Facebook made a significant update. Every time Facebook unveils their new innovations, users get up in arms and turn to Facebook itself to vent their frustration. I can understand the shock that some people feel when the login to see that their photos, news, friends, and lists are not in same place. Facebook has updated their service a lot over the past few months, including new subscriptions, news feeds, mobile versions, games, photos, lists, and more. Change is good.

Here’s what I see:

News ticker: It’s that little box on the top-right side of the page that follows you as you navigate around the page. It keeps me posted on the minute-by-minute updates from friends and I don’t have to click back to the main news feed to see the updates. I like it.

Better lists: We have Google+ Circles to thank for this upgrade. Facebook has gone one step further and has started to suggest how to categorize our friends. Though, they can’t get it 100% right with their suggestions, I like to have a place to start from.

Subscribe button: This is another page out of the Google+ (and Twitter) playbook. You can now follow anybody on Facebook, without having to be their friend, as long as they have enabled their subscribe feature. I’m still experimenting with this and don’t know if I’ll keep it.

Privacy: They claim to have added a “new suite of safety tools” to the network, including advanced security settings, and tools for families. Before you go any further with the new Facebook, it’s a good idea to revisit your privacy settings to make sure nothing has been unknowingly changed. I do this after every Facebook upgrade.

User backlash: It happened in 2008, it happened in 2010, it happened in February of 2011 with the photo viewer update, and now it’s happening again. People are freaking out about the upgrades. I would encourage those who are upset to take a breath, give the new features a try, and then decide if they work for you. If you don’t like them, don’t use them – that sends a message to Facebook.

Remember, this type of upgrading is essential. If we were faced today with Facebook as it existed in 2006, surely we wouldn’t be satisfied. Yes, they are “keeping up with the Jones'” in some respects (Google+ and Twitter), but that’s a good thing. The more pressure these companies put on each other the faster they are forced to innovate and improve their services. At the end of the day, it’s the user who benefits most from these perpetual upgrades. You may not love them all, but we’re definitely better off today then we were way back in 2006.

What do you think about the new Facebook? Love it? Hate it? or meh? I would love some thoughts on this one.

Here’s a quick video from Facebook explaining some of their new features:

September 1, 2011

Seller Beware: What your business needs to know about Social Coupons and Community Buying [Interview]

One of the best take-aways from the Social Capital Conference this summer was the connection I made with Vivian Chang, Owner of BlendCreations.com (contemporary jewelry designers). Vivian had used a series of social coupons to drive business development, and I wanted the dirt. Of course, the main reason she decided to offer a social coupon for BlendCreations.com was to attract new customers, but it turns out that there are some other unexpected results you should think about if you are considering offering a social coupon for your business.

Vivian agreed to a quick interview to dive a little deeper into her social coupon experiment. During our conversation, she touches upon the quality of customer these sites attract, having to honour expired coupons, tips for other businesses considering social coupons, and more. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

Q1 – What was the perceived benefit, and actual outcome, of offering a social coupon?

The perceived benefit was reaching a large, new customer base in cities where we had never had much exposure. While this was true — we did get an increase in traffic from the targeted cities — the resulting number of sales was disappointing. In hindsight, it’s not surprising because our product is quite niche. Remember, not everyone in the Groupon customer base will be interested in your product.

Q2 – Tell me the worst part about offering a social coupon?

Getting the less-than-ideal customer. This would be someone who is a bargain hunter, who has saved up enough referral money to spend the minimum value on your deal. These people often have no intention of buying again. By using ‘referral money’ (the kickbacks that many social coupon sites give customers for referring others), it further devalues the perceived value of our product.

Q3 – Was there anything unexpected that other business owners should know?

It’s easily overlooked, but in Canada gift certificates cannot expire. So a social coupon is essentially selling a discounted gift certificate — it has a monetary value that the customer has purchased. Once the social coupon has expired, the deal price is no longer valid, but the customer is still entitled to use their coupon for the amount they paid. In other words, if the coupon was $10 for $20 worth of merchandise, once the coupon expires, the customer can still use their coupon for $10 worth of merchandise. In that sense, you still have to deal with honouring expired coupons.

Q4 – Would you do it again?

While our experience was “okay” — we did not lose money in doing social coupons — we have decided not to continue this type of marketing. Part of the reason is that there are just so many social coupon sites out there. The novelty of the social coupon has kind of worn off for the average consumer, so getting your deal noticed in a sea of a dozen or more daily deals is getting harder.

The other reason is the prevalence of the “bargain-hunter” — someone who has no intention of repeat business —which makes it hard to want to do more social coupons since it can be the same bargain-hunters who repeatedly only buy with a steep discount. In many ways, doing more social coupons would result in exposure to an audience who has either already seen us, or is only interested in us as a ‘bargain’ and not as a business they’d otherwise patronize.

Q5 -Would you encourage other small business owners to offer social coupons?

I would encourage other small business owners to go in with their eyes wide open — read the fine print and calculate whether or not there is a good return on investment. Make absolutely sure that selling a large number of social coupons does not actually cost you money. Also know that you are going into a social coupon as a marketing venture and not a way to make money off each sale.

About Blend Creations Contemporary Jewelry Designers

Blend Creations seemed like a fitting name for a contemporary jewelry line when husband & wife team Eric Jean-Louis and Vivian Cheng decided to partner in an artistic business venture. Together, graphic designer Eric, and industrial designer Vivian, combine their divergent design approaches to create a contemporary jewelry line that is clean and modern in aesthetic, yet also blends their respective cultures in East meeting West. Find out more at BlendCreations.com.

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