Just for kicks

I don’t always cover unsolicited blog pitches…

In fact, I rarely do. However today it was explained to me that:

You may think that just like with many other areas of life men are also paving the way for the development of modern social media, but you’d be wrong.

and later on in the pitch:

I’m sure your readers will be intrigued by the true nature of social media landscape and the role of women in shaping it. This is a man’s social media world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.

Wow. Really?! Get a clue Alex Hillsberg.

Not only is the fact that women rule social media old news, but if you’re going to do a blanket unsolicited pitch through an email service provider, you should really avoid offending those people who are paving the development of modern social media.

How to be awesome: be replaceable

Many people have this silly notion that they need to be irreplaceable. Like their workplace couldn’t function without them. Like they should keep everything secret so if they are not around no one can figure out what they do. Perhaps it’s some form of job security… After you’re gone you’ll be some sort legend because no one else could step into your shoes and do your job like you did.

This is absolutely ridiculous. If you really want to be admired by your colleagues, remembered fondly and be all around well liked, you need to strive to be replaceable.

The pessimist perspective

I’m sorry to throw this at you, but perhaps you are hit by a bus tomorrow. Tragic. Sad. Sudden. I’m sure your coworkers will be broken up and devastated. However, at some point they are going to have to pick up the pieces and get back to work. And how frustrating it will be when they can’t figure out what you did or how you did it. Do you REALLY want your legacy to be formed out of frustration? Do you really want to disrupt your grieving coworkers lives even more to try and figure out what exactly you were up to?

The optimist angle 

Ok so maybe you won’t get hit by a bus. I’m glad! Really! But I’m wondering, 10 years from now do you picture yourself doing the same thing? Probably not, I’d hope you’d want to at least get a promotion, maybe start your own business, take time off for travelling… How will you do that if there’s no one around to do your job? You can tell yourself all you want that you’ll sort it out when the time is right, but more likely you’ll be too distracted preparing for your next big thing that you’ll end up leaving your colleagues with a mess to sort out and probably hating your guts. Not too fun either is it?

I know because I’ve done it

I’m not proud of it, but I have quit a lot of jobs and left a tangled mess of whatever I was working on. Not always intentionally. Most of the time–while I thought I was organized in my mind–there’s no way anyone else could figure out what I had done. While it’s nice to feel wanted and missed, the reality is you’re just being a pain in the butt. So part of my own self-improvement plan is how to make that transitional phase–whether for a job or volunteer work–more smooth. It’s tough. Especially living in a government town, I think I’m pre-programmed to hate process and extra steps that seem to make reaching an outcome more tedious.

Now, serving as president at IABC Ottawa, I know my tenure is finite. It’s a one-year position and I am actually quite thankful for that! With a deadline in mind–let’s face it, us communicators LOVE our deadlines–one thing I’m focusing on this year is ensuring my transition out will be a smooth one. First I’m using our organizational email for as much as possible (so there’s a written correspondence record for the next prez!)  and keeping all relevant files in our Google Drive account (OK I admit, I’m still bad at this).

While we have lots of measures of success in place, to me, the best will be seeing my successor do a better job than I did because I succeeded in being replaceable.

Three chances to win workshop passes to the IABC Business Communicator Summit next week…

If you haven’t heard yet , the IABC 2012 Canadian Business Communicators Summit is happening in Ottawa next week from November 1-3, 2012. There’s still time to buy a full pass if you’re the last-minute conference going type, but you can also have an opportunity to win a pass to one of the six pre-conference workshops happening on November 1.

Actually you have THREE  FIVE chances to win (see update below)! Doesn’t that sound even better? Feel free to enter each one to up your chances. Also don’t forget to share via Facebook and Twitter for good contest karma (that’s an actual thing, I swear.)

Win from IABC Ottawa website: go read the post and leave a comment by Friday.

Win from IABC Ottawa board member Sherrilynne Starkie–same deal by you have until Sunday to enter.

Win from IABC Ottawa volunteer Kristine Simpson same deal and you also have until Sunday to enter.

Fancy yourself unlucky? No problem–go ahead and register anyway to secure your spot. IF you end up winning you will be re-imbursed the workshop fee. Not a bad deal! Workshops valued at $325. Not refundable and no cash value for prizes.

But thats’s not all..

You can also still win a free day-pass to the conference (Nov. 2 & 3). Here are two fabulous chances to enter:

The Beg to Differ blog – through the question “What is Canadian?” via @DenVan

The Translucid blog – speaks to the value of attending #CdnIABC12 via @bobledrew

Ok with all this excitement, are you REALLY going to miss this conference?

With marriage out of the way, some other big changes for me…

What a whirlwind few months it’s been… As perhaps is obvious from my lack of blogging!

So far, 2012 has been a really crazy (good) year! In addition to a busy start of the year at work I’ve been prepping to take the reigns over as President of IABC Ottawa in July, helping with the IABC Canada 2012 Business Communicators Summit in Ottawa November 1-3, 2012, still running Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa with a fabulous group of women… and you know, planning my wedding (happened May 26) and my honeymoon (we returned from Halifax on Saturday!)

It was fantastic to have over two weeks off. And also to do so with no thoughts of work even possible, because I resigned from Thornley Fallis before I left. It’s been a great year and a half with TFC, but something else has come along and with all these other life changes afoot, the timing just made sense and the role seems just perfect for me. While this was completely unplanned–sometimes you just have to go with your gut and that’s what I did.

On June 11, I am starting at Banfield-Seguin Ltd. as a senior account executive. A familiar enough agency setting that I can hit the ground running, but a change in the type of work and team I’ll be working with. As an account executive, I’ll be really focused on developing and maintaining client relationships–while it doesn’t seem so obvious, this is something I’ve definitely excelled at and something I love doing. While the team at BSL definitely has some social media expertise woven through it, I’m hoping to help step it up a notch with my fairly specialized background. More importantly I’m really excited to learn a lot… And also maybe to be back in the Hintonburg neighbourhood–which has seen a huge increase in awesomeness since I previously worked there in 2010.

I’d love to get a post up about the wedding (after all–it was 10 years coming!) but I’ll wait until I have some photos to share.  I’m hoping the year will continue to be a great one, and I’m happy to be surrounded with so many great people in my life who make it possible.

Most readers don’t care what you tweet, researchers say. Should you care what “most readers” think?

Twitter confused
Twitter stock photo from original research post

New research making the rounds in media says that most readers don’t care what you tweet.

The research and commentary suggests that because a certain per cent of Twitter users (which, as you’ll see below is admittedly bias) don’t like what you might be tweeting about so you should probably tweet about other stuff.

Media love sensationalized research (like this piece) to sensationalize research like this because it causes people to pause and take notice. The unfortunate byproduct of this sensationalism is soon you’ll see “experts” quoting this “research” while they tell you exactly how you should behave on Twitter and what type of content you should produce. The problem is a big piece of the puzzle is missing from this research and is probably the most important content consideration… Context.

If content is king… 

Context still matters. I went to the site which collected the data and discovered that it is simply asking people to anonymously rank tweet contents. It doesn’t tell you who is posting it. It does suggest that you can rank your friends’ content but I think even that is done anonymously (I’m not sure because I only got an error message when I tried to test it out). From the language in the article it seems that the data presented is based on the anonymous ranking system.

Also painfully lacking is the consideration that Twitter is more than a content distribution system (as even using the word ‘readers’ insinuates). In fact it’s a lot more. To many, it’s about building relationship–you know the “networking” part of social networking? Yes, the type of content you put out on Twitter can help or hinder your relationship building, but it’s certainly all relative and completely subjective. Who are you looking to reach and what type of content are they looking for in Twitter pals?

This isn’t the first time a research piece on Twitter use caused mainstream ripples–a couple years ago some one else put out research saying “40% of tweets were pointless babble” the media again was on fire sharing this revolutionary news. And what was often quoted as pointless babble was people tweeting about what they eat. Is that really pointless? It says right in my profile that I like local food, and if someone is tweeting about a new local food spot that has great food, that’s absolutely not pointless to me. Furthermore, if that person is someone I’ve come to trust to speak about food than there’s even more meaning in that tweet. Unfortunately that value can’t be measured in this type of research.

This further leads to the unfortunate outcome that will surely follow once everyone reads and reacts to this “news.” For example, following the “40% is pointless babble” news was a trend of Twitter accounts that simply tweeted links to “newsworthy content” and skipped all that pointless babble. Yes the New York Times Twitter account (and pretty much any mainstream media on Twitter) does this and is successful, but do you find random accounts that do that interesting? Neither do I, and now services like TheTwitCleaner.com let you easily identify these boring link spewers and unfollow them all in bulk. As for the media taking this approach–the *reason* they do it successfully is they’ve already built up the trust and relationships with readers through the use of newsworthy content and credibility. That is context.

Bias participation

What’s even more damning about the so-called advice in this “research” is the bias participation:

“The researchers acknowledge, however, that the study participants were not fully representative of Twitter users. Most were referred to the study by technology-focused friends and websites and could be categorized as “informers,” who value sharing links and content.”

So unless you are trying to reach and impact “informers” in the technology-focused industry, does this really mean anything to you? The key takeaway from this research should be:

LISTEN. Understand your audience and what their needs are and shape your content accordingly. When you listen you also are showing that you actually care about the people reading your tweets, and in turn they will probably care about you too, whether the content you’re putting out is worthy according to this scale or not.

Next Third Tuesday Ottawa: Ann Fuller on “Social Media: The big ‘what if’ of health care reform”

Just a quick note to let you know about the next Third Tuesday Ottawa: Ann Fuller from CHEO is discussing the role social media is playing in health care reform. I met Ann at the Social Media for Government Conference, and while her talk was not specific to government, it most definitely stole the show! In fact, I was so impressed with her content (and her speaking ability) that I send a Twitter direct message to Joe Thornley during the presentation recommending her as a Third Tuesday speaker.

So even with an advanced preview of the session, I’m excited to hear her speak again. Health care is one area that is currently suffering and our system is busting at the seams, Ann will shed some light on how new social technology can help enable better patient care, health research and hope for the future. This is definitely a can’t-miss event!

Register now and save your spot! 

How do you measure retweets? Are you sure you’re getting them all?

I noticed something a while back regarding “new” retweets… While it looks like Tweetdeck measures “new” retweets, I started suspecting it wasn’t catching all of them.

First, let’s get on the same page about what an old retweet vs. new retweet is. (Sorry this will be very basic for most users but just want to make sure we all understand what I’m talking about) The interesting thing about Twitter is the social network’s functions started out as VERY basic and the developers have always paid attention to how users use the software and has adapted as a result. (What a concept!). So, for example, in the very early days of Twitter, people started conversing by typing @username before their tweets to address a specific person, so Twitter adapted by making it a clickable link to that person’s profile and adding a replies tab so you could see who was talking to you. This is also how the hash tag got its start.

Anyway, another user-generated activity was retweeting. What users would do was simply copy and paste someone else’s tweet (including their user name) with the letters RT at the beginning. Often times you’d have to edit the original tweet to fit in the 140 character limit. Here’s what an old RT looks like in Tweetdeck:

While Twitter has implementing “new” retweets, many users prefer (myself included) to use old style RTs. Particularly because it allows you to add commentary to your tweet. Also as a user you can turn off the ability to see new RTs from your followers so you don’t really have the assurance of who will actually see a new RT. However, when I really want to RT something that’s over the character limit I do use new retweets from time to time. Also, while Tweetdeck gives you the option to choose new or old style RT, if you ever use Twitter.com or its mobile apps, it’s much more difficult to do an old style tweet.

So new retweets is simply clicking a button that displays your original tweet in the timeline of the followers of the person who retweeted you (minus anyone who asked not to receive RTs of course), with a note that says who retweeted you. I noticed that unlike some other third party apps, Tweetdeck does report new retweets:

Oh, that’s great, it means you can count all your retweets in one place! Or so I thought… Since I do often log into Twitter.com and use it on my phone, I started noticing retweets not reported in Tweetdeck but coming through Twitter.com. What I figured out is this: Tweetdeck only reports new retweets from other Tweetdeck users.  So if I RT you from my mobile or Twitter.com (which I just said I do often) then you’ll never see it in Tweetdeck.


Why does this matter?

Why do you need to know # of RTs, other than to feed your own ego? (which, if you are, this blog post is probably great news for you, it may be happening more than you thought!! 😉

What if you’re a brand and holding a contest measured on RTs?

What if you’re reporting back on the success of a project and including RTs? (I hope you’re also measuring outcomes, but this is important to understand the process).

How do you measure retweets? Any tools you use? I’ve found Tweetreach.com to be pretty accurate but I haven’t looked around too much…

#NewTwitter is here (again!) Do you remember what #OldTwitter looked like?

Remember when old Twitter was #NewTwitter? Time must be flying by because it really didn’t seem like that long ago! For some reason people don’t get nearly as upset about big Twitter updates as they do about Facebook, but it’s always kind of a big deal.

Can you even remember what Twitter used to look like? Here’s a little trip down memory lane. (Found these randomly on Flickr/Google Images)

*Update* Here’s what #NewTwitter looks like in case you haven’t seen it yet:

The old “#NewTwitter”
Twitter - Background

This was uploaded in November 2009:

(32) Twitter _ Home

April 2009:
New User Twitter Page

February 2009:
avatar blackout on twitter until feb 24

This one is April 2008:

 Damn it, my background went all Myspace on me...

This is November 2007 (two months after I joined..)
Twitter crica 2007

And finally, the one I’m sure very, very few people even remember, here’s original Twitter in 2006 (click for larger):


I especially love part of the tagline… “You’ll never be bored again… E V E R!” So true!

Giveaway: Private tour and prize pack from CBC!

One of my fondest memories of PR school is when I volunteered with CBC Ottawa for a number of events throughout the summer. For the orientation, the communications team took us around the newsroom which was my first ‘behind-the-scenes’ experience of a television operation, and man, it was cool! The energy and excitement in a news room is a unique experience, and really fun to see first-hand, whether you work in PR or not.

If you’ve never been, I urge you to GO! The good news is that CBC is hosting an Open House this  Saturday. If you’ve ever been to Culture Days you know that CBC is always one of the most popular spots and I’m sure this event will be too.

The BETTER news is CBC has graciously offered you a chance (via right here on my blog) to a private tour before the event starts, along with a couple fabulous prize packs. Full prize details include:

The winners would get their own personal tour of our newsroom with Lucy van Oldenbarneveld and Adrian Harewood – hosts of CBC News Ottawa at 5, 5:30 & 6.  The tour would be at 9:30 a.m. before the event starts (which means no line-up!)  We would also throw in two CBC 75th Anniversary prize packs (but we’d be happy to welcome a family of four on the tour).

Sounds pretty cool eh? If you want to win just leave a comment and answer the following question:

What major milestone is CBC celebrating the fall?

As always, you get a bonus entry for tweeting, Facebooking, or Google+ing the post (tag me or let me know if you did)

Winner will determined by a random draw and  announced FRIDAY at NOON.

Good luck!
We have winners!

The team at CBC got in contact with me earlier this morning and let me know it would provide not one, but two prizes to give away, so I’m happy to announce the two winners–thanks to the almighty random number generator–are:

  • Jennifer Covert
  • Sasha

I will email you both with details. Thanks again!