Posts Tagged: Social Media

Aug 10

SXSW 2011: Canadian Panels To Vote For

Its that time again! As last year’s post showing the many Toronto (and eventually Canadian) panels up for voting was such a success I decided to give the list another go this year with the goal again to try to get as many Canadian Panelists into SXSW 2011! (And to make peoples dreams come true ;))

Find below an initial list of people who have submitted their panels up for review. This post is open to everybody, if you know of someone or have your own panel that you would like to submit feel free to @me on twitter or send me an email (


And theres more! Came across this great listing of Vancouver SXSW sessions on Tech Vibes. Not to take away from the awesome work done in creating the profiles you can check them out and vote for them HERE.

I know there are many other panels out there so folks let me know if you want your session up! For those coming across this post please support these adventurous folk share what they have to say in Austin this spring at SXSW.

Apr 10

A Framework for Social Marketing Analytics

Like with everything that is done in business, it has to be done for a reason or else it’s just wasted effort. Measuring simply anything from your social media initiative without a reason behind it is just that – a wasted effort. In reading “Social Marketing Analytics” by John Lovett and Jeremiah Owyang this point is further proven. In measuring social media what you measure needs to be attached to specific business goals, not measured just because the number is available.

The paper by Lovett and Owyang starts off with a good definition of what Social Marketing Analytics is (what can I say I like when things are plainly defined):

Social Marketing Analytics is the discipline that helps companies measure, assess and explain the performance of social media initiatives in the context of specific business objectives.

Pay particular attention to the last part – “…in the context of specific business objectives.” What did your social media initiatives achieve for your company? Social media measurement is not just looking at the numbers of fans go up or down (or whatever shiny number there is out there) but looking at the end result of what your work achieved for your organization. Very simple but great stuff.

Lovett and Owyang write about a three layered approach to Social Media Measurement, which I feel is effective in further demonstrating the need for measurement:

1. Strategy: The reason behind the initiative.

2. KPI (Key Performance Indicator): What the measure of success or failure is with this initiative.

3. Granular Metrics: The information or inputs that need to be gathered to allow you to formulate the KPI.

Social Marketing Analytics Framework

In keeping the paper accessible to general business practitioners Lovett and Owyang present four major strategies (although they mention that there are more) along with suggested corresponding KPIs. I’ll leave the KPIs for more in depth reading in the paper but I thought I’d present the strategies as these apply to many businesses:

1. Foster Dialog: Developing conversation around your company or brand. This is the development of content to create interest in what you’re trying to achieve.

2. Promote Advocacy: The development of ambassadors for your organization. Encouraging people to actively discuss and promote your brand online.

3. Facilitate Support: Provide a channel where customers are able to get their problems/concerns addressed in a timely manner ( Ex: @Rogershelps or @Toronto311).

4. Spur Innovation: The development of active discussion around your brand or initiatives focusing on the topic of improvement. Essentially putting like minds together online in developing ideas to make things better.

Overall in reading this paper it really puts it out there that:

A: Knowing what you want to achieve with social media is important and,

B: Measuring your progress (and not wasting your time) needs to be followed right after.

I really encourage you to check out the paper as it’s a great first step in developing a measurement program. I would also add that while it’s a helpful framework, it’s not a complete instruction guide. Measurement, like any other business initiative, needs to be scaled and customized to fit with the specific organization. Measurement and tools that apply for a large multinational corporation don’t have the same effectiveness for a smaller, local business.

Mar 10

Are you learning anything from Social Media?

So I’ve been procrastinating with posting this for a bit , but now I think I have a good intro…. So at my new job at Syncapse, I do a lot of measuring and spending my day looking at client data.  I’m finding it  really exciting because essentially I get paid to do the learning for companies so they can consistently improve their Social Media strategy. Reflecting on the work I do though it seems for a good portion of the ‘social media world’ that metrics and measurement and the whole idea of ‘learning’ from what you’re doing doesn’t get talked about a whole lot. With that, I thought I’d put down a few of my thoughts of why Social Media measurement or the idea of ‘learning’ within Social Media strategy is so important.

You Get To See if Things Work: With Social Media measurement you get to gauge how effective online strategies really are.  Are there no conversations surrounding your content? Is  there conversation but not the kind you want to hear? Then there is obviously something that needs to be fixed. Perhaps you haven’t told your audience about your initiatives or maybe your content isn’t relevant to them. By implementing strategies and comparing them to what you’ve done in the past  you are able to see what you’re doing right or wrong and how to make things even better moving forward.

You get to see if customers love/hate you (and how to improve it!): As a part of online measurement you are able to look at  what people are saying about a company or organization online .  This is looking at what users are saying directly AT you or what they are talking indirectly ABOUT you with everyone else.  Are they having problems with a particular product of yours? Is there something that people want to see more or less of from you? The insights you get from conversations are way different than what you can get from a survey  or traditional market research. In a survey people have time to consider and alter their answers to give you just half truths. Within online communications you’re getting the raw knee jerk reactions regarding what they think about you and how they use your product in everyday life.  ( CAVEAT: Watch out for Trolls! No matter what you do there will be someone looking to stir things up…. all I can say is DONT FEED THE TROLLS )

You Find the Unexpected: Often times its important to stick your head outside of what you’re doing to get a different perspective of what is actually happening with your company. This is especially true with Social Media. By looking at what occurs outside of your organizations’ initiatives every once and a while you may  see surprising things happening with your customers that you haven’t heard of. Perhaps they are re-purposing your product in a way that you didn’t think was important (ex: Coke and Mentos blasters) or maybe some previously unreleased news about your company has become public and is gaining an unexpected amount of traction with your customers. By learning what your customers and the public is doing ‘out there’ you’re able to adapt to things as they come up rather than let events plow you over!

In closing while a lot of discussions regarding social media surround  customer engagement and use of the tools, I think measuring your success and learning from what you’re doing online is just as important. Without knowing what you’ve achieved and what is occurring out in the wilderness that is the ‘internet’ you’re only going to continue making the same mistakes and not improve upon yourself.  With my new position in  Measurement Science I hope to be able to share some  brief tidbits  about online measurement and why its a useful part of the campaign process. Stay tuned!

Mar 10

Geurilla Analytics Simplified

I think now is a good time to bring up this follow up post to the recent Geurilla White Paper posting. I’m sure for some, looking at the paper was an immediate shock of words and numbers! I hope in this small version there’s a bit more understanding of what the paper tried to get across.

So whats this paper about? Social Media Measurement and the common use of machine sentiment engines as a way of measuring effectiveness….. or how un-effective this is based on the research we’re presenting. Getting right down to the point, language is COMPLEX! Thats to say that the words and messages we share with our friends are full of double meanings, slang and one of my personal frustrations lack full context. I’m sure most people have had online conversations where you’ve had to defend what you’ve said as it was read in the wrong way.

Knowing that online messaging is really complex, often times in measuring the success/failure of social media initiatives   firms use a sentiment engine to rate mentions of their brand on a scale of Negative, Neutral and Positive. With this in mind, we the Syncapse Measurement Science team looked to see if this was an a reliable measure.

What did we find? That again language is complex and no two people will perceive a set of  messages the same way.

This research was based on an earlier survey we released on twitter  where we asked  people to rate a set of 20 messages ( all taken from a twitter search for ‘books’).  The most significant finding of this survey is the lack of agreement on the survey as a whole. With such a simple answer set  we did not find  a single pair of respondents (out of 102) who could agree on the sentiment of these messages.

To put a further test in our survey we also put a wrench in the works with a trick question. We decided to repeat a question. While a majority of people rated sentiment of this question the same on each response,  19% didn’t!  So in a span of a few minutes a person’s feelings about a message can change [ meaning you have to be particularly careful in how you time your emails! ;) ]

What in the end do the findings of this paper mean? Well to quote directly  from the paper:

If a group of 102 humans could not agree, how can a single machine output a single score that everybody would agree with?

The current sentiment score system that’s in use isn’t netting  information that should be depended upon to make real business decisions. Language is just too complicated for a human programed machine to define the sentiment of social media messages.

But WAIT there’s more! If current  sentiment scores should not be used in decision making then what should be put in its place? Well I know a team that does some mighty fine work in social media measurement ;) …..  Ok,  so there’s ALOT to measure in regards to social media measurement and no one has yet created the gold standard. As an emerging industry, measurement is still playing catchup to everything else currently happening (which keeps things interesting). What we could agree on with things as they currently stand  is a more pragmatic approach, looking at the measures and feedback that is important to a  brand( or ‘Brand Health’). This means looking at the overall online communications about a  firm and determining what aspects of these activities are most important to have knowledge of.

Have any questions/comments ? Contact me at or send me a twitter message .

PS: I know I’ve been on a massive blog hiatus, I’m looking to change this ASAP!

Mar 10

A Guerilla Experiment In Sentiment Analysis

As tweeted a few weeks ago the Syncapse Measurement Science team put together an experiment on sentiment analysis. Here is the final result of this research:

Syncapse Sentiment Analysis White Paper

and the data set for those interested in looking at the data collected

Geurila Analytics Data Set

Feel free to leave a comment or give me a tweet @kevrichard .

Oct 09

Is There Still Room For Corporate Communications?

I got commented not to long ago that my writing was to Business style/Corporate  and that kind of stuck with me for a bit. Having recently graduated with a business degree and having been rewarded for it for so long I thought of it as a stronger way of writing and a better way to get my point across. But then social media comes along and the trend of being much more informal and completely  the opposite of  this style begins to start. With this I’ve seen  some criticism of corporate writing  being seen as  the old or caveman  way of doing things and  it not having any practical use.  So my question is, is there still room for corporate writing or do I need to unlearn about 4 years of my educational experience?

Conversational or the ‘new’ way of writing?

So the biggest argument for moving away from the traditional style of writing is that its very cold and unemotional and that its better to write like you’re writing to a friend or like you’re talking to the person beside you. A lot of the time I’ve seen it to be very upbeat and full of personality.

C/ O Alex Barth

Photo from Alex Barth

Some Criticisms I have: I can see it very easily causing miscommunication especially as companies are trying to reach a larger more international audience. Writing isn’t the same as face to face communications you can’t completely express tone and emotion and everyone can have their own interpretation of things.  You can  also easily go overboard as well with  poor language, use of slang  and the appropriateness of subject matter ( ex: will someone be offended by a joke). My personal criticism of moving away from the business style of writing is that it can get too cutesy/expressive and not quickly get down to content .

Corporate or the ‘old’ way of writing:

In my opinion there was a reason that corporate writing became the norm. It standardized things and got right down to the point. When done right there is little ambiguity and the reader can quickly grab the information they need. It also made sure that nothing that was said would improperly anger anyone or put businesses in legal situations which could cost a company a lot of money in the courts.

Photo by  PinkMoose

Photo by PinkMoose

When it can be used poorly: This style of writing has also been known as being cold and very political. When there is pain being felt such as during a crisis event a corporate style press release or letter does not show much sympathy. On the other side of things it can improperly  show a company’s excitement for a new initiative or company win.

So here’s my look at both types of communications  and the benifits/drawbacks of both. I’d like to suggest a hybrid of both styles as they each communicate well in a specific way.  What are your thoughts? Is informal writing in  or is  business communications not going away?

Sep 09

Corporate Twitter Accounts: Balancing Conversation and Frequency

So this is a bit of a long time coming but part 2 of my twitter ‘experiments’ can be found below:

Experiment 2:

My second experiment involved messaging and how much interaction cans a personality or twitter brand can have with its followers. Yet again I decided to take a twitter alias(@socialmediabot2)  as I’m far from the average twitter user. Going to wefollow I decided to follow 50 people (close to the average of 69 )  and posted intermittently hoping perhaps for some interaction with who I’m following … a bit of a downfall of this experiment lack of true connection with people.

Afterwards, starting on the Monday morning I started posting messages from another account. 1 for every half hour for 7.5 hours for a total of 14 with the messages ( TEST #_ )  to see how this would be viewed on my feed. I wanted to see how the everyday  messaging from the people I followed would fit with the planned ‘corporate’ messaging and whether it would overload my feed and possibly cause me to want to unfollow the account

The Result:

Twitter Overload

Twitter Overload

As you can see there are portions of my feed where the messaging overlapped, for a casual user of twitter this may just be too much!  Especially for accounts with little customer interaction (  just sharing links, company news etc) a strong consideration will have to be  made regarding how many times to post daily will work to allow you to build and retain your audience.

Overall Takeaways:

Twitter is still a difficult area to get solid data from and you can’t just jump on twitter hoping for success in your campaigns or awareness.It takes planning and organization but even then trial and error is needed. I think something that is often missed with twitter  for heavy users like myself  is we forget that the vast majority of people don’t follow hundreds of people or have the equivalent # of followers .

They follow friends and organizations that they are close to and that needs to be considered when planning out a campaign. While heavy twitter users may be able to withstand messaging it probably would be seen as spam to these casual users. I think an excellent example of how to avoid this sort of twitter spam is from Best buy and their Twelpforce where they have once central account but many separate support accounts.

Have any questions/comments ? Contact me at or send me a twitter message .

Aug 09

How I didn't get 100's of twitter followers!

Having a  traditional marketing background,  for promotional actions I always consider the end result or goal. In terms of twitter and social media  though there are a lot of unknowns and what ifs . Overall its untested territory for most people. Steming from a conversation I had recently I decided to do a bit of testing of the twitter platform and see if I can build a bit of test case.  This is part 1 of 2 twitter experiments I completed, stay tuned for the second one to come soon! * Note these  experiments are definitely not experimental and would probably not be replicated if redone, take my conclusions with your own judgement.

Experiment #1:

I think a lot of twitter users have come across the messages “Get more followers now” or ” Get X amount of followers today” and despite the general sentiment of  quality of followers over quantity I’m sure everyone even for a moment  where slightly tempted by this thinking that that more followers equals more people to get their messaging out to.  This is especially relevant  to  traditional marketing mediums as  more eyes =more marketing awareness= more customer action = money!  So I decided to put this to the test, can someone get tons of followers overnight using these follower programs.

The Scenario:

Starting off with an empty account ( @socialmediabot1) I joined the following  social media following programs:

Initially I started following 19 people and I noticed with all 3 of these programs that there were paid for premium options ( so basically paying for followers)  I also noticed that I almost immediately started sending out auto posts from these programs.  From there I left the account completely alone to let the followers come in, opting not to send out anything to not influence the result based on my content.




I started @socialmediabot1 on a Friday night, deciding to leave it  over the weekend. Checking it once I noticed that I was following over 100 people and had just 19 followers, no where close to the promised massive amounts of followers.  At the end of this experiment I come to above picture, no followers and 12 auto tweets and a suspended account.  I wasn’t completely surprised.


I am by no means a great twitter user but my account certainly didn’t popup over night and I certainly didn’t expect this one to. A major marketing/branding implication of this is communities need to be built and  its not a matter of massively following people or hoping that  people  run to your brand. Relationships need to be formed  and this takes a lot of time and effort.

Often times I feel that platforms like twitter are advertised as a panacea for marketing and that suddenly you’ll see huge results. FALSE! Like all marketing efforts hard work needs to be invested and careful planning and organizing should be done.  Social Media is just another touch point to your customers, the only ‘magic’ there is the opportunity to have further communications with customers and the general public.

I’d like to hear  what you  think about twitter and  any of your thoughts on  best cases or usage scenarios for companies and organizations so please feel free to leave a comment, send me a twitter message or email me at .

Aug 09

Toronto takes SXSW!

With such a large tech community in Toronto there has been a  lot of growth this year in Toronto applicants to the  2010 SXSW convention ( held in Austin Texas, more info can be found here) as so many have now made it to the voting stages I thought it would make things a lot easier to have all the sessions in one place for everyone to vote and show your support .  I hope to see everyone there!


The Sessions:

  1. F#$% Keeping it Simple presented by Dave Coleman, Saul Colt and Jeremy Wright
  2. Community Management : Future Skills You’ll Need to Know presented by Saul Colt
  3. Tweet Your Way to Your Next Job presented by Saul Colt
  4. Putting a Fork in The 30 Second Spot with panelist  Andrew Lane
  5. Life After Wii Fit: Geeks On Fitness presented by Wesley Hodgson
  6. Make Me a Damn Good Manager! presented by Andre Gaulin
  7. Millionaire or Artist? How About Both? with panelist  Amrita Chandra
  8. Distributed Micro-Patronage: The Future of Getting Paid: presented by Josh Newman
  9. Building Blocks of a New Economy For Music: presented by David Dufresne
  10. Colour Trends -Palettes to Pick for 2010 presented by Paige Dzenis
  11. Brilliant Second Acts You Must Steal Tricks From presented by Jaime Woo
  12. How to Recover From  a Brand Collapse panelist  Jeremy Wright
  13. Twitter and Dating in 140 Characters or Less presented by Jeremy Wright and special guest!
  14. Ditch the Old to Build Your Dream Life with panelist Jeremy Wright
  15. Gaming’s Final Frontier- Moving Towards Monetization & Improving Experience presented by Troy Ross
  16. Passionate People: The Key Ingredient to Social Media Success: with panelists  Meghan Warby ,  James Topham and Ryan Taylor
  17. A Different Documentary : Online Story Telling and Social Change presented by Boyd Niel
  18. Documentary Games: Playing with the Truth presented by Tony Walsh
  19. Multi-Platform Storytelling with panelist Andrew Lane
  20. SXSW SARS with panelist Jay Goldman
  21. We are Family: Web Applications Band Together Now! presented by Sunir Shah
  22. How to be  a Customer Support Rockstar presented by Grace Antonio
  23. Experimental Design:Your User Interface is Your Laboratory presented by Mike McDerment
  24. Exploiting Chaos– How to Spark Innovation During Times of Change presented by Jeremy Gutsche
  25. News 2.0 – How Old Media Companies Are Inventing New Models presented by Maggie Fox with panelists Laura Conway, Mathew Ingram,  and Candice Faktor.

Have any questions/comments ? Contact me at or send me a twitter message .

Aug 09

What If Social Media Were Down Permanently ?

Picture from cote

Picture from cote

A friend and fellow marketer Emma Brooks has declared today #InternetFAILday as a result of the multiple failures on social networking and commerce sites. This got me thinking what would happen if companies suddenly lost social media  as a marketing/business tool? Especially now that many customers are accustomed to these practices , how could current social media practices be scaled down into real life settings? Here are a few of my thoughts on this issue:

Customer Service: Many companies are trying to improve their service offering through their online channels having ignored the poor service their customers receive in person. Without this tool sales/service people to be successful would need to be much more autonomous and have the tools they need in front of them instead of outsourced to call centers/outside locations.

This would be a major business shift for most companies. Instead of having a sales orientation in their stores where metrics and the bottom line is the most important part of operations, a customer service orientation would need to be taken where relationships and customer satisfaction would need to be seen as a major driver of sales.

Customer Connection: With the loss of internet tools customers would lose the sense of connection with companies and other customers. They would lose the ability to come together and discuss the direction and changes to the company. Companies would lose a great market research outlet but they also may lose the strong brand evangelists that spread word of mouth for their company as well .

A company I feel that takes this relationship building and does it well on a personal level is Lululemon. By supporting the local yoga communities and offering interaction mechanisms in store (little fun activities and yoga classes) customers feel connected to the company on a deeper level.  Customers don’t think of the company as an organization that just sells them stuff but they also see them as a community hub. Social media places a large focus on grouping customers together and building communities, why can’t stores themselves work on building communities locally?

Customer Segmentation:  Without social media some things could be much more costly to do. Customer segmentation would be one of them and without social media this would be a be a large strategic challenge for companies. Using the internet and social media , companies have often times tried to attract all groups through customized product offerings and communities. Knowing each individual customer and customizing their experience would be too hard to do in the offline world. It would mean that a company’s customer list would either need to be scaled down so they know each individual customer to  place them  in a specific category or there would be a big brother scenario where every action a customer takes is recorded (not a very friendly situation).

Social media offers information about customers that real world interactions don’t and in this case it would be strategically better to define the customer your company wishes to target instead. By doing this all efforts and resources are focused on  being a strong product/service supplier for a single group building market and mind share among these customers. While the downfall of this would mean that your market is significantly smaller, this also means that your resources are more effectively used saving you money in the long run.


In closing I think this is a great exercise for companies to be doing. If social media were to just suddenly end today how would their company operate? What changes would need to be made? Looking at how they could improve their operations in real life situations could be an opportunity to further strengthen the company as a whole and create a company much more focused around the customer.