Friday, October 28, 2011

Earthquakes and Social Media .. what is the connection?

As we all remember, just six months ago the world was hit with the record-setting 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan. This natural disaster immediately sent millions of people around the world to social media websites to spread news, share videos and donate to help victims of the quake.
Not surprisinly, the few hours after the disaster hit, Japan's mobile network was not working because of the high demand in calls that were being made. Luckily, many travellers were able to turn to Facebook and Twitter to try and connect with worried family members back home.
In an article I found from ABC, Dan Schallau, an American who has lived in Japan for nearly a decade, was driving in his car when the quake struck. While he and his wife were fine, he said that he was "overwhelmed" by e-mails from concerned friends and family in the U.S. Facebook allowed him to blast a friend-wide message to spread the news quickly.  He basically posted "Thank you for your concern. I'll get back to you," he said.
Another example is Nicholas Savino, an American law student who was landing in Japan during spring break at the moment the earthquake hit. When he stepped off the plane, he found the country's phone infrastructure largely in disarray. "I've been using the Internet to speak exclusively. The phone networks have been down," Savino said, adding that he has relied primarily on e-mail and social networking to communicate. "Luckily, the hotel has Internet."
Google even set up a "Person Finder" web app to link victims with family. More than 7,000 records were entered on the site as of this afternoon. 

Before the earth even stopped shaking in Japan, plenty of people had the presence of mind to pull out video cameras and share the scenes around them with the world. I know we all don't want to relive this natural disaster, but I have to share this video to capture just how bad it was ..
Within that day, more than 9,000 earthquake-related videos and 7,000 tsunami-related videos were uploaded to YouTube.
On Twitter, hashtags such as #prayforjapan, Fukushima and Sundai rose to the top of the site's "trending topics" index as people spread news and images of the quake. Even Tokyo Disneyland jumped to the top of the list, fueled in part by a photo posted on TwitPic showing crowds of Japanese tourists seated on the ground during the quake in the middle of the Disney theme park.
The best of all is that even the Aid organizations rushed to social media to leverage and promote fund collection. George Takei, a famous japanese-american actor, was tweeting non-stop trying to inspire people to donate to the Red Cross.
So to conculude .. the connection between the two is that even though the earthquake was devasting and we hope to never go through it again, without social media .. it could have been a LOT WORSE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"What will be my ROI?" .. says the Partner.

Is it safe to say that the question about ROI and measurement of social media is a hot topic within most companies and organizations? I can say yes, on behalf of my law firm. Every time I come back from a seminar on the benefits and success of social media, I am always hit with the question of "Well, what will be our ROI and how soon will we see the difference it is making". Luckily for us, there are many free social media tools out there that can answer some of these questions.
In no particular order .. let's start with Google Analytics. I must admit, I am addicted to all Google products. I have probably tried every single one of their inventions. Even the one where you call a toll free number if you are looking for a restaurant or store, and it will patch you through directly. How cool is that? Regarding Google Analytics, I have used this tool at work before, to track our site and newsletter traffic. Like all Google products it is very easy to use. Some of its features include, tracking sales and conversions, measuring site engagement against predefined thresholds, tracking email campaigns, banner ads, offline ads and the ability to trace transactions to campaigns and keywords.
Another free tool that many of you have probably heard of and used is This is a super-simple, must have tool for anyone that is managing a social media account online (this can be your personal or your firm's account). is a universal url shortener that not only provides a handy service in shortening urls but also allows you to access analytics to see how many people are clicking on your link.
Lastly (for the free tools), there is Social Mention. Social Mention is ranked by many social media bloggers as one of the top free social web measurement tools. It is basically a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the web into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web's social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc. What amazes me about Social Mention is how quick the searching was. I typed in my firm name, and within 15 seconds  it pulled up a very extensive report of where we were "mentioned". Wow!
Now onto the companies and people who can afford a paid tool. I was approached a couple months ago, via a cold call by a vendor called Meltwater. This was their pitch ...
"The Meltwater Platform provides the foundation for the rest of our services. The search “agents” will be configured based on my needs-analysis with the key decision makers at your organization. The fundamental value of Meltwater News is derived from our ability to pinpoint and deliver the information that is most critical to the needs of your managers and thus to the success of your company."
Now, just by reading that I was not so impressed, because Google Alerts can basically pull up the same information. However, when I digged further into their company, I found a product line called Meltwater Buzz Meltwater Buzz is a social media monitoring platform that helps you mine conversations across social channels for nuggets of insight. Some of its features include:
  • Searches through over 200 million sources
  • Insight into underlying themes, sentiment, influencers and more
  • Actionable information from analytics—not just numbers
  • Collaboration tools for company-wide campaign management
  • Personal support from our Social Advisors
So to conclude, the free measurement tools are great if you are starting up and just getting a feel for the social media space, but in order to be able to properly analyze the data and make sense of it all I think the capabilities of a paid service is the way to go. Just look at what Sysomos could do! 

Now let's all JUMP ON IT!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What would we do without community managers?

When I began this week's assignment to "Research and discuss on personal blog two examples of effective community management by a Canadian company or organization" I found myself coming up with all these examples of US companies, but not so many for Canadian ones.

Anyway, I was able to find two good ones -- Porter Airlines and Joe Fresh

Porter Airlines, who recently celebrated their 5th Birthday built a strong reputation for affordable flights, outstanding service and a hassle free commute. To my surprise, Porter has done an excellent job at using Social Media to enhance their brand and communicate effectively with their customers. Porter uses, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Through Facebook, Porter understands and embraces conversations with their customers. On their Facebook page, they post questions asking their customers what they want to see, as well as answer any questions or concerns expressed by those very same customers. In addition, they provide their Fans with a lot of great content in terms of news, promos, photos and videos.

Although I myself am not a huge Twitter user, I did a search of Porter's tweets and found that the use it quite well. They first and foremost use it to communicate directly to their audience, for example they have Tweeted job postings, flight delays or policy changes in the past. Secondly, they Tweet about Porter in the News (I guess to further enhance their media coverage). Lastly, most of their Tweets are replies to their followers, which means they are listening, and they are responding. bombarding their followers with prices, deals and flights.

Porter’s YouTube channel isn’t anything spectacular, but at least they use it. Recently, they posted a video about about Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip flying Porter as part of their tour around Canada.

The second company I want to discuss is Joe Fresh. Joe Fresh is a fashion brand created by designer Joe Mimran for Canadian food retailer Loblaw Companies Limited. A couple years ago, no one really knew who they were but now their line has entered the American market with the opening a several permanent and seasonal ‘pop-up’ stores in New York City and region. The brand's new international flagship store on Fifth Avenue will be unveiled in 2012.

Joe Fresh is a heavy user of Facebook. They have a wall post almost every day or every two days. They also use Twitter quite a bit to communicate with their consumers. Friends of mine who have mentioned JoeFresh in Tweets have received responses or Retweets by them. JoeFresh also has their own blog linked to their website called "Joe Fresh Life" where they promote new products, events and beauty/fashion tips. They even have guest posts, where they allow consumers to post their pictures and thoughts. Great idea to get the community involved and shows two way communication.

To wrap up, I am a true believer that if you are going to get involved in the social media space, you have to actively be involved and not just create a Facebook page or twitter account to save you are there. However, where do we draw the line between being involved and two much information to the point where people think they are being spammed?

Friday, October 14, 2011

LBS, QR Codes .. what else is there?

So, for this week's assignment we were asked to "register on one located-based service, sign up for one discovery engine and download and trial a QR code reader). First of all, does Facebook Places count as a LBS? Does anyone know? If it does, I have used this feature on Facebook quite often, usually to share with my friends where I was at a certain time. Although, unlike Four Square the options and capabilities are quite limited. You can easily "check in" to a place, but unlike Four Square you don't get prizes or awards for the places you check in to. Therefore, I see the Facebook Place Application more similar to a Status Update, than a tool for companies to use.  Side Note: I think it would be cool for Facebook to add a 'photo upload' option to Facebook Paces, so when you check in to a location, you can also share an image with your friends.

Now, onto QR codes.This tool is actually quite interesting for my line of work. Just a few weeks ago, a lawyer in our firm came to me and asked whether we could put a QR code on his business card. What a great idea! I wish I came up with it first! Since prospective clients are usually accessing our firm's website to view lawyer profiles/resumes, why not have it accessible on their business card so that when you are meeting someone, they can easily zap in the code and see your entire bio. Now, as good of an idea it is .. we still have to jump through hoops to get it approved by "Global". I'll give you guys an update .. 5 years from now ;P

Discovery Engines -- wow! Can I just say that I think I have wasted way more time than I can afford on! After signing up for the website a few weeks ago, I must admit, I have been on there more than I thought I would. I think what makes it interesting and genuine is the fact that corporate comapnies currently cannot use it to "sell" their product. There's no easy way to determine how articles, links and videos get fed to a consumer. Once companies figures this out, stumbleupon will loose its uniqueness .. I think.

So, what are your thoughts about Facebook Places' lack of capabilities and whether it should upgrade to compete with Four Square or are they entirely different platforms?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

i'm sure you've all seen this clip before ..

but I still wanted to share it because for me, it really incaptures what social media and internet is doing to change our lives ..

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Top 10 Picks ..

Let me start off by saying, I didn't realize how many PR-related blogs there were out there! As anyone would, I started off this assignment by googling "PR Blogs", and what do you know I was given "About 231,000,000 results" by Google.

As I began going through the results one at a time, I found myself initially drawn to the those with "cooler" blog names. For example, NakedPR or Bad Pitch Blog, but as I clicked on them and read their first post and ABOUT link, I realized you can't judge a book by its cover (or in this case, a blog by its name).

While some were more industry specific, such as PR for fashion or PR for Human Resources, I found them all to be very interesting and useful. The few that I narrowed down as my favourite are below. Each of them offered something different. Some were written in a "lighter" voice, while others were a lot more technical and "corporate" sounding. 

As I started adding them to my Google Reader, I very qucikly became overwhelmed with how much PR and Social Media knowledge there was out there! For FREE! 

PR Squared ~ Todd Defren, the mind behind this blog is globally recognized as a Social Media innovator, thinker and lecturer. I enjoy reading his posts because he uses a more conversational voice while commenting on to relation between PR and advertising.

Danny Brown ~ a very professionally delivered blog from a fellow Canadian!

PR Couture ~ a fun blog by Crosby Noricks, explores the ever-evolving role of public relations, marketing and social media in the fashion industry

Mashable ~ a very cool online news site that covers everything social media, digital and technology. I feel like they post something every couple of minutes. It's a great site for those wanting to stay up to date!

The Bad Pitch Blog ~ this blog first caught my eye because it does the opposite of most other blogs. It actually examines the bad PR practices for practitioners to understand what NOT to do. Some of the posts are quite funny, if I say so myself!

The Future Buzz ~ great blog that dives into the various social media tools and how to use them effectively.

Thomas Crampton - Social Media in China and Across Asia ~ Thomas Crampton heads a team at Ogilvy, that helps companies conceive, develop and execute strategies in Social Media in Asia. This personal blog, but he does have a disclaimer that says he will disclose when he is writing about a company that is Ogilvy's client.

Platform Mag ~ an online magazine/blog for PR students, educations and practitioners.

Dave Fleet ~ an interesting blog from Dave Fleet, Vice President of Digital in Edelman's Toronto office!

It's All Very PR - a fun and pretty blog, by Julie Campbell, the founder of a boutique lifestyle PR agency focused in the Arts & Entertainment. Her blog covers her PR experiences first-hand and the fascinating "6 Degrees of Separation" that she experiences in the PR World.  Like we always hear, it's a very small industry!

Anyone find other interesting blogs that I should subscribe to? I find that I am very quickly filling up my RSS Google Reader subscriptions and soon I will have to do one of those screenings (like on facebook) where I go through and see which ones I REALLY like.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Losing my blogging virginity

Congratulations to me! I have officially taken the plunge and joined the world of blogging. Although, I have to admit .. if it wasn't for this first assignment, it may have never happened for me. Don't get me wrong, I love blogs. As you may have read from my profile, reading blogs is a true passion of mine. Every time I read someone's review of a hotel, make up product or online deal, I feel a little guilty. I almost feel like I'm stealing. How can there be all this information online for free?

For me, the biggest road block is thinking "why would anyone want to hear about my life or what I am doing?" As I start to overcome this hurdle, I am beginning to understand that social media is about interaction and sharing of information. Even if the majority of the people on the online community don't care about what I have to say, and only 10 people do, I will have made a small (ok .. tiny) difference.

In my day job as a marketing professional for a international law firm, social media is at the top of everyone's mind. Since joining the firm a year ago, I have questioned why such a large firm as ours is still trailing behind.
Many of our competitors have already jumped on the bandwagon and created blogs, Twitters and LinkedIn pages. At many of our meetings, I have tried convincing the partners that this is truly an important aspect of the business and we really need to get in the social media space. I think the fear for them, as we have leant in class is the possibility of 'bad' social media. Once the comments and press are out there online, you can never take it back. I guess from a professional stand point, that can be scary.

Therefore, through this class, I hope to learn ways on creating a strategy that will finally convince them ob the urgency of social media. It is time to face reality.