marketing

50 Ideas on Using Twitter and LinkedIn for Business – Win a free ticket!

I’m delighted to announce I’ve been asked to speak on a panel at an OCRI Zone5ive event, coming up Thursday, June 11th. The panel includes Scott Lake of ThinkSM and StartupOttawa and Luc Levesque of TravelPod and is moderated by Andrew Milne of bv02. Inspired by a post by Chris Brogan, we’ll be talking about ideas and strategies for how, when and if your business should be taking advantage of these popular social networks. Get all the details and registration info on the Zone5ive blog…

Win a free ticket!

There is a cost to attend, but I don’t want that to stop you! That’s why I’m giving away a ticket to one of my readers, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what you think is the best way  a business has used Twitter or LinkedIn–doesn’t have to be something you’ve done, just something you’ve seen/heard about. On June 5th I’ll throw all your names in a hat and randomly draw one.  Please, if you do win and later find out you can’t make it, let me know so I can pass it on to someone else.

Finding a social media job… Canadian edition

I’m posing this question not only because it’ll be helpful for my fellow Canadian readers, but also for myself! I’m currently working on a contract that’s coming to an end soon so I’m thinking about landing a job doing what I *really* love, which (surprise, surprise) is all about online PR, digital marketing and social media.

What I’m really looking for is to identify companies that are looking for, and can truly benefit from, avid and enthusiastic social media users from PR and marketing walks-of-life. Whether it’s a social media strategist role, a community manager, or a more traditional PR/marketing role with a heavy focus on the social media stuff, these roles seem to be few and far between up here in the great white north…

What I’m really looking for as well is Canadian companies who absolutely revolve around the “Web 2.0” (for lack of a better word here, it’s been a long day!) way of business (think Google & its unique corporate culture). Specifically those that treat each employee as an valuable asset, one that takes an open minded approach to trying new things, and one that’s on the cutting edge of technology and marketing techniques –all the good stuff.

By now these types of companies are a dime a dozen in the US. However, though I’ll admit I haven’t looked *too* hard, I haven’t heard much about Canadian companies like this. Sure some are trying to pass off as this new breed of company, but few actually “walk the walk.”

So without future ado, throw out a suggestion or idea about either sites to find these types of jobs, or some hot companies to keep an eye on. I’ll get it started….

Job Posting Sites

  • Ok I could taket he time to post a bunch of good ones, but fortunately My Name is Kate has *already* done that for us! However, I will point out again One Degree (which Kate also owns) as definitely one of the best ones, though not a lot of job postings they are often high quality.
  • Yansarazin, a fellow Ottawan & Twitter buddy recommends sites like TechCrunch & Mashable, which seem to have some awesome job posts–but not many Canadian. (When I first asked on Twitter, I didn’t specify Canadian)
  • StandOutJobs.com is a Canadian site which caters to the market, probably a good one to keep an eye on.
  • Jeremiah Owyang has lots of great advice on his site, as well as tips where to find a job, but again it’s very much US-based as well as focused on large enterprises.

Companies to keep an eye on

This is the biggie – and where I’m looking for your help. Drop a comment and tell me about some innovative Canadian companies that fit the bill. (International companies with a strong presence in Canada will do too) I will update this section as I find/hear about them.

  • Radian6, who’s social media monitoring software I will be reviewing here very soon seems to be a company to keep an eye on & I was pleasantly surprised to learn they’re based in New Brunswick.
  • Canada.zappos.com Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is definitely a social media mover and shaker, and though the company is based in Las Vegas, I wonder if it’s Canadian branch has some social media leadership potential? Or maybe they need someone like me around? haha

I can probably think of a few more, but it’s bed time, so over to you! Tell me about some great Canadian companies or how you landed your awesome social media job or whatever’s on your mind…

*UPDATE*

Colin suggests starting your own business to do what you really love. I *love* the idea, but scared about losing the consistent monthly income (esp. after working in the public sector) That’s definitely where I’m headed but a while out. PS-If you need any sort of web marketing–Colin is your guy!

Yan chimed in again, this time with Canadian sites like StartUpOttawa.com, Startupnorth.ca, MontrealTechWatch.com, MarkEvansTech.com.

Plurk's got potential!

If you pay attention to some of the social media buzz out there, surely you’ve already heard of Plurk. Plurk is like twitter, but takes it a step further by laying out posts on a visual time line and when you want to reply to someone’s post, instead of the @username, you can actually drop down someone’s message into what can best be described as an IM chat box and keep the conversation going. Anyone–fans or friends–can jump in as well. It’s hyper-interactive, and a lot of fun.

Why will it stick?

Now I’m certainly not ready to give up Twitter–I worked hard to build up my followers–but I could definitely keep coming back to plurk, and that’s because on top of it all it they build another dimension of fun in with your Plurk Karma. The more you post, the more karma you earn, and when you invite people into plurk you earn more karma–this point is key because any type of social site’s success depends on it’s ability to continuously expand. And we all know friend referral is the best way to do that. Anyway, what does plurk karma do? Earns you cool stuff of course! The more karma you get, the more you can customize your profile. As well you earn new and cool smileys. These obviously become “Cool” status symbols and those of us who don’t have them yet are just dying to get them!

So, if you dare, give plurk a try, and don’t forget to add me as your friend!

PS-Are you on Plurk? What do you think about it? Have you not tried it yet? Why not? Keep the conversation going below…

Protecting your brand? From what? The brand police???

Unless you’re in consumer-packaged goods or fashion, you probably worry too much about your brand. Especially if your efforts are focused online, you most definitely are worried too much about your brand.

Now I will admit I *could* sit on both sides of this argument, but my real peeve is pulling the “brand” card like your brand makes a big difference in people’s lives, because chances are, it doesn’t. What *really* makes a difference – excellent customer service, open and honest communication and respecting your customers/prospects/stakeholders as real people.

Considering that you spend a lot of money “protecting your brand” only to have people reading your blog in an unbranded reader, or getting your emails as text or mangled HTML, or maybe just mis-read or represented by others. Is it really worth it?

It's not about the tools! It's the new way of marketing…

I’m almost embarassed to admit–but I’m just reading the Cluetrain Manifesto now. I’ve long known about the book, and specifically that it is about how the Internet has changed the way business works. Nevertheless, it’s an inspiring book and reaffirms a lot of the theories I’ve always believed, and I’ve also learned some new stuff too. There are two big takeaways I want to emphasize right here and now:

1. It’s not about the tools.

Despite the fact that this blog IS (mostly) about the tools, the whole concept and ideals behind social media are not. It’s about better communication because people are now able to connect, grow, learn on their own, at a faster pace than ever before. And businesses need to adapt. Those who’ve grown accustomed to ‘old’ marketing often dismiss terms like social media, user-generated content etc as a passing fad, or just another tool for the marketing toolkit, but it’s really so much more. Personally I’ve never been a fan of “interruption marketing” or broadcast media, simply because as a consumer, I hate tv commercialsand the fact that over 50% of my magazine is ads and especially those ugly flashing banners on site, they’re all in my way and wasting my valuable time. However, I love when a brand engages me with a fun flash game, or sends me emails with exclusive offers I can pass along, or even follows me on twitter and participates in my (sometimes) silly conversations. I really love it. And while some believe the old marketing is a necessary evil, I don’t. I’m done with it, before I ever really got started…

I started my career as a PR girl working in the email marketing biz. Like marketing, PR often gets a bad wrap, but for different reasons. I was always taught the key to PR was respecting your audiences and giving them exactly what they want in order to acheive your goals and objectives and that honesty, ethical behavior and transparency are absolutely essential. It makes perfect sense to me, and I saw it as very relatable to email marketing, which is probably why it was so easy for me to understand, embrace and tell others about. (BTW I still blog about email marketing, over at Tamara Gielen’s Be Relevant! Blog)

2. Sadly, though the book was written nearly 10 years ago (eons in Internet years…) So many companies still don’t get it.

By “it” I mean the fact that “mass marketing” is no longer effective, that employees are a company’s greatest asset and that open, honest and personal dialogue between a company and its customers is the new key to success (these are the points Cluetrain Manifesto is really driving home). I’m only now realizing the reason I get all this social media/online stuff is that as a teenager I was secretly a big geek–on newsgroups, IRC, early bulletin boards, etc. I loved that I was able to learn and get to know people potentially on the other side of the world. I’m super curious by nature and the Internet has always been my portal to ‘the rest of the world’ outside the suburb I grew up in. Now though the tools have evolved and changed greatly, although Facebook and MySpace and the likes have brought these things into the mainstream, really it’s all the same. In fact, in 1999 I joined a local nightlife website which became my obsession for years, it was membership driven, had bulletin boards, the ability to ‘friend’ other users, share photos and toggle event attendance… It *was* a social network, and it was a huge part of me, before I even knew what the term social network was!

Ok, wait, back to my main point here. The point about companies getting “it” has been proven 100 times over. Take Google for example – have you ever seen a Google TV ad? What about banner ads? How did YOU here about Google?(My mom actually told me about it!) What about its slogan ‘don’t be evil’ and have you taken a peek at the Googleplex lately? It’s pretty obvious Google has evolved into the type of company that embraces new ideals brought on by the communications shift, and I don’t have to tell you it’s working for them. Consequently, not only is Google bringing in bazillions of dollars ever quarter, it’s got hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of brand evangelists walking around–employees that is…Who doesn’t love working with those who absolutely love their jobs?

I haven’t posted in a while, so please excuse my wacky tangents. My time for blogging is tighter than ever, and the hardest part is finding inspiration for writing (I could write for hours on end, so long as I’m inspired)… If you have any great topics, ideas, or suggestions, drop me a line at kelly(at)web2dotwhat.com or, of course, comments are always open!

Social media monitoring tools: Social Radar

A couple posts ago, I brought up the topic of social media monitoring tools (SMMs). They are popping up everywhere, but which one do you choose?

In this on-going series (though I warn you it might be slow) I’m going to look at the various tools available and give my opinion on what I like about them and why I think they are useful.

First up is a company called Infegy, who has a tool called Social Radar. When I first mentioned I was interested in exploring SMMs, Infegy President Adam Coomes contacted me right away via Twitter, so these guys are definitely on the ball. Since this is the first tool I’ve looked at, I don’t really have any benchmark, but I was definitely able to see a lot of value in it (vs monitoring via Google Alerts and good old-fashioned legwork, which I have done in the past). For those of you in a hurry, here’s my quick review

Product: Social Radar by Infegy
What it does:
Tracks mentions on blogs and any site with feed capabilities; allows you to analyze that data and better understand value of mentions.
Who’s it best for
: Hmm, probably small to mid-size companies with a moderate to strong online presence (Though it could definitely be scalable for larger companies).
Who should use it: Someone who knows a little about social media, loves to look at and manipulate numbers and data.
Why you’ll love it: Super fast, intuitive, easy to use.
But what is the product really like? I’ve used quite a few online tools for varying purposes, but never have I seen anything run as smoothly or quickly as Social Radar, even when doing complex searches in its very well developed database. Right off the bat I was impressed.

Also, one of my favorite features is the home page. Think iGoogle, but for the purpose of media monitoring; you are able to pick and choose which widgets you’d like to display, so you build your own dynamic dashboard:

Also if you’re an analytics junkie, you’ll love this tool. You are able to slice and dice data in any way you like and run beautiful charts to satisfy upper management.

Charts

Finally in my informal list of what made me go “oooh” and “aaaah”: the tool lets you build ‘eco-systems’ like this picture below. Basically each orb represents a blog or site talking about your product/brand/search term, and the lines around it represent inbound and outbound links, giving a great visual representation of influence. While I definitely think if you’re really on the ball, you should be reading all the influential blogs in your space, (so it would be no surprise). However this tool would allow you to easily explain influence and the importance to others, say managers, who pay your salary. Obviously this is important!Social Radar Screen Shot

Infegy’s Social Radar is based on an enormous database of feeds which is constantly growing and updating. From the demo I had it was definitely apparent it covers enough sites out there to get good bang for your buck. The only downside I noticed was that it’s unable to track mentions in audio or video files (i.e. podcasts) Though I’m not sure that’s possible for anyone, so I wouldn’t hold it against them. Also, presumably most podcasts would have a feed, and probably a text description so you’d still be covered.

Anyone out there ever use Social Radar? Any thoughts?

**UPDATE!**

So I actually did this demo about three weeks ago and just received a tip from CEO Justin Graves about a brand new feature. I was going to wait a few days to update, but it’s just sooo cool I had to get it up here. Now Social Radar can read the sentiment and give you an indication about whether your coverage is positive, negative or neutral. I’ve never heard of this being possible before, so it sounds fantastic! Now I haven’t seen it in action, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a *perfect* science, but invaluable none-the-less. Here’s a few shots of it in action. Justin also tells me you are able to build these charts based on a specific time frame and are able to compare month-by-month or year-by-year… Whatever makes most sense.

Screen shot of Sentiment chart

I always knew it would be shoes… My favorite Twitter success story

Depending how well you know me, you probably know one or the other of the following statements (or possibly both) about me:

  1. I LOVE shoes. Both my shoe racks are full, along with a closet and a half. When I see a great pair of shoes, I can’t resist. I may have a problem.
  2. I LOVE Twitter. I’m on it more and more every day, tweeting more, following more. I’m a huge advocate of brands using Twitter to connect with customers. In fact it’s likely you came here through Twitter. I may have a problem…

In my opinion, the one thing Twitter has been missing is a really great example of how a brand can use it to its advantage. Well finally I found it!

Zappos LogoZappos, an amazing online shoe store (actually, a “service company that happens to sell” shoes & other accessories), whose been featured on Seth Godin’s blog for a pretty amazing customer service experience, has officially impressed the heck out of me with its use of Twitter.

Twitter CEO, Tony Hsieh created an account on Twitter and announced he would give away a free pair of shoes to one of his followers (at random) that evening, as well as free shoes for up to 10 of that’s person’s Twitter friends, provided they were all following @zappos as well. Not sure how many followers they started out with but currently (a day later) they have 1,152, the account has only been around for three days, so I’d say that’s crazy-impressive! But it gets even better, Zappos also set up a page to monitor everyone’s tweets. (You may even notice some people exclaiming that they are heading to Zappos.com to make purchases, how’s that for proof?)

A pretty amazing Twitter story, even if I didn’t win the free shoes. Oh, and for those of you who came here expecting it to be about shoes, here’s some eye candy:

Betsy Johnson Foster Alexander Mcqueen pumps

To the left, Betsy Johnson ‘Foster’ and to the right, very hot new pumps from Alexander McQueen.

Social Media: Wal-Mart finally gets it!

Wal-Mart has been in the news a few times with PR firm Edelman for its social media disasters. First it was Wal-marting across America, next it attempted to create its own MySpace-ish social network, which was embarrassingly shut down only 10 weeks later. Next, it smarted up and tried using Facebook to reach its younger audiences, though that failed too.

Now, I for one would like to see Wal-Mart do well. Yes, they’ve got a bad rap in the past for mistreating associates and participating in child/slave labor, but honestly I think they’ve learned their lesson for the most part, now as the world’s largest retailer they are doing good stuff for charities, promoting local and ethical products, etc. I also worked at Wal-Mart at 18, and as a job to have while in high school/college, it was great. I was promoted to customer service manager in a few months, and I was making more than most of my friends working min. wage jobs. A far cry from perfect, for the biggest retailer in the world, they are at least doing some things right.

That’s why I was happy to hear they’ve finally got the right idea with social media. Which in this case, it is starting small and building long-term strategy into its approach. User-generated reviews are a fantastic and natural fit for retailers, and Wal-Mart was even smart enough to cross promote online reviews on in-store receipts. It goes a step further and even encourages shoppers to go online and read reviews on shelf fact tags before making a purchase decision.

Essentially what Wal-Mart is doing–which is key to social media and which many retailers miss– is that it is giving up control to consumers and providing avenues to make informed purchasing decision. Yes, telling people to go online and read reviews BEFORE buying while in-store seems like a backwards strategy–that is, the customer will leave the store without buying–it’s actually genius, because that person will probably be more loyal, and buy even more, long term.

I hope Wal-Mart tracks its success well, and that the results are publicly available. For smaller retail outlets this move might seem like a risk, but Wal-Mart continues to be the leading retailer, despite its epic social media failures, so they can afford to try virtually anything. I’ll be staying tuned…

PS-Thanks to @giggey on Twitter for tipping me off to this story…

Help build my blog roll!

Ok there’s hundreds of fantastic blogs out there that I would love to link to. However, so far I’m doing a bad job of getting around to it. So I’m going to spin this into a social activity and ask for your help on building my blog roll.

In the comments,  let me know which blogs you think belong on my blog roll. Please feel free to drop your own blog URLs, so long as it’s relevant to what I’m talking about here, I’d be happy to link to you! (Also, if you enjoy my content and want to return the favour and link back to web2dotwhat.com, I don’t mind)

Are some companies immune to consumer backlash?

I think we all agree, for the average consumer, Web 2.0 is a wonderful place. If you experience an inappropriate or unacceptable customer service experience with a brand, you can easily go online and complain about it. Most responsible companies will monitor and try to reach out and rectify the situation. Consumer control. It’s fabulous and the way things should be!

Yet, have you noticed… Some companies still get away with bloody murder? I hate to name names, but at this point I think it’s deserved. I mean a quick visit to Google and it’s easy to find hundreds–if not thousands– of dissatisfied Rogers customers–whether you’re looking at its wireless, television, internet or home phone services.

(Background: I have been a Rogers customer several times, and have had NOTHING but bad customer service experiences. Specifically when dealing with third-party partners: First I had a dispute with Visa and Rogers and spent the day calling each back and forth only to get “It’s Visa’s fault … Call them back!” then Visa saying “It’s Rogers! Call them back!”. Now for some crazy reason I bought and returned a Rogers cell phone from Best Buy… Guess what’s happening??)

Sorry about that. Had to vent a little, but I don’t want to turn this into a bitch-fest. The point is if were to do some online research about Rogers, you’d find TONS of bad reviews, complaints, and dissatisfied customers.

Now it’s a good thing there’s other options out there for your cell/telephone/internet/cable needs….Right?

Wait…Let’s do a couple searches first… Bell Canada? Telus? Yikes, let’s check Rogers out again. It’s a sad, sad picture for Canadians. There’s no monopoly anymore, but as long as all the big providers keep the same bad level of customer service up, everything will be just fine (for them). As consumers, we just jump from one to the other in a miserable state of dissatisfaction.

Honestly, I don’t know what the solution is. But I’m running out of options. And patience.
On a side note: Virgin Mobile entered the Canadian wireless market not too long ago, yet hasn’t made much of an impact. I was surprised given the lack of contracts, and its no bologne policies. Why don’t you have a Virgin Mobile phone? Why don’t I?? Let’s explore that later…