Influencer Marketing and Community Management

January 29, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Community Management, Influencer Marketing | 1 Comment
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Many brands are actively working with Influencers online. Since the early days of social media as a marketing channel, brands began to invest in influencers and communities to build and spread trust through social networks.

Early brand advocacy was relevant and immediate. As early adopters of social marketing, we all embraced this practice as a solid method of community building. Empower individuals with the means to learn about and experience your brand or product and encourage them to tell people about it. Makes great sense, and the past 5-7 years have seen countless influencer programs and initiatives.

As influencers began to understand their role in social brand marketing, things began to shift. It created a entirely new consumer role, that a sponsored life. Some influencers took this opportunity to various degrees. There are now some individuals who label themselves as PR friendly, and are ready to work with any brand that may come along with a compelling offer. This is the influencer as ad channel, with a following and bandwidth to be bought, quite literally. In fact, the ask that comes from some influncers can range from “excited to be working with you” to completely jaded. This kind of “PR friendly” influencer completely flies in the face of brand advocacy,  though. There is still the dissemination of brand or product content; but, how authentic is this? How meaningful are the connections to the influencer’s network? How much of an opportunity to an emotional connection is there in a PR friendly dynamic? I’d say, very little.

So, why would you use this kind of Influencer? It depends on what you want, of course. Do you need to get the word out? Do you need to grow or ramp up quickly? This is your target with this group. These people should be a part of your strategy; a segment of your social activity.

True brand advocacy comes from a Community Management perspective. And this takes time. Building advocacy has inherently more power, is more sticky and has an emotional component to it. This can’t be bought, but it can be rented. And there are good reasons to do both, depending on your goals.

Get these influencers into your strategy, but understand what they are to you – a channel. They might help you to access advocates, get the information out, help you reach new demographics. The key element in a Community Management strategy is to carry forward these relationships, build upon the viral impact they these influencers can help produce – that’s where you get your traction and that takes specific, 1-1 level engagement with those who encounter your influencer effect.

Don’t just position an influencer project on it’s own. Integrate it into your Community Management strategy and turn over every stone in the process. Make the most of what your influencers can do for you.

The NFL Comes to Canada

November 30, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Posted in NFL, NFL Canada | 6 Comments
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The NFL Comes to Canada

Tips on Infographics as Sponsorship Activation

October 14, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Infographics are all the rage these days, there’s nothing new about that.

Why? They are a great way to convey stats and information in a dynamic and engaging manner. Sports teams are always looking at new and innovative ways to activate their sponsorships – especially with digital assets – and I firmly believe they should look at how an infographic could be a solid choice.

Here’s why and a few tips:

  • Infographics work well on a mobile device
  • They are easy to share
  • Look for a place of cross-over between the team and the sponsor; focus on that
  • Aim to make the content fun, something people will want to share
  • Set expectations on the short-term
  • Integrate infographics into existing activations/promotions

There’s a number of companies who can provide the research and graphical development, and prices are set accordingly. If this is something you’re thinking about implementing, contact me, as I have a referral for you.

Match Assets with Objectives

June 10, 2013 at 12:27 am | Posted in Business Development, Business Tips, Content Management, Digital Strategies, Sponsorship | 1 Comment
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One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “So, how are we doing?”. They’re asking about their social media efforts. I always reply with the same response, “I don’t know, what are you trying to do?”

Then they blink at me.

It used to be enough just to be active in social media, To have a Facebook page and Twitter following and watch those numbers grow. Then innovative organizations started dabbling in Instagram, or Pinterest, or Google Plus. I remember when G+ came out and I saw a number of sports teams launch a presence there – mostly just because they could.

There’s only really two platforms that don’t require an explanation for use in Facebook and Twitter. They are pervasive and have a reach beyond the platforms themselves (both are frequently discussed in other forms of media). No one’s gonna call you out for using them. But that’s where my point is stemming from…

Why are you using any social platform? What kind of content are you posting and to what end? Do you have an app – why? Do you sponsor an app – why?

Objectives first, assets second. Objectives should be tied to an over-arching marketing plan. There’s often a rush for Business Development teams to sell, for sponsors to be in the mix, for PR companies to commit the client’s budget – but to what end?

When you start with identifying objectives the rest of the path can become clear, as long as you know what each platform can do for you – but that’s a deeper dive…

Innovation: Focus On What Makes You Different

March 30, 2013 at 1:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DifferentBack in the day, I went to art school.

I was thrilled to get in and immersed myself in just about everything except painting, which I hated. At that time, the early 1990′s, Photoshop was becoming a real thing. I was also really interested in (very dense) art theory and conceptual art.  Over the years, I produced work and was in the occasional show around town.

Through it all, I always had an eye and interest on a number of arts and artists that were unabashedly commercial. A lot of my ideas were rooted in media, and I struggled with this through most of my time in art school, struggling to produce “real” art. I’d always had a creative bend, but the ideas and work I was most interested in doing was definitely more commercial – that’s at least the way I see it now.

When I look back on those experiences, I see them far more in line with the kind of work I do now – and that’s really what this post is about. Invest in your passions.

Don’t try to conform your ideas, run with them and shape  your own voice and identity. It’s one thing to be inspired, but there comes a time to shed those inspirations and make your own path. We need more uniqueness in world of digital and social marketing. Ideas are everything, and I’ll take new ideas over new technology any day of the week.

Take ideas and models that have been successful – Take them, break them and make them your own.

The best way to stand out – for your personal brand, or your business brand – is to be different. Don’t try to fit in, focus on what makes you different. Dare to try, and you’ll be called an innovator.

RTM and Sports Sponsorship – The Next Big Thing?

February 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Branding, RTM, Social Media, Sponsorship | Leave a comment
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oreoRTM = Real Time Marketing.

RTM has been all the talk this week, mostly in connection with social marketing surrounding the Oscars broadcast. Here’s the basics if you’re not on top of this yet… You may already know how we got here, but if you don’t – the background is essential to get to my idea.

Remember the Superbowl blackout? Well, there were more tweets and social activity about the blackout than any other part of the event. A couple of brands jumped on the “opportunity”, most notably Oreo, who tweeted this “You can dunk in the dark” on the fly.

Oreo (and its PR team) was praised for its agility and willingness to pull this off, and was prepared with designers, executive buy-in and a good sense of timing. The background here of course, was that Superbowl advertising is extremely expensive, gets previews and hype before the game and is widely regarded as the height of broadcast advertising as you well know. But here was Oreo, leveraging “free” social media, and stealing the spotlight. The shark was jumped.

So RTM became the overnight forefront of social marketing (even though the concept originated in the 90′s).

Then, along come the Oscars – the next big, wide-spread event with real-time potential. And everybody was ready to see what brands were going to trot out and attempt to capture the moment and opportunity. At the end of the event, nothing really stood out – as the marketing pieces were not really ground-breaking by any means, and unlike a Superbowl blackout – there was no real-time “opportunity” to capitalize on.

But the Oscars RTM tweets did prove one thing. RTM is now, officially, part of a brand strategy mix.

Personally, I think this is really cool – and requires some innovative corporate culture, creative ability and risk – there is a lot of risk associated with RTM, and that makes it exciting – well, at least to me, and I hope for you as well.

So – what’s the tie in with Sports Sponsorship?

Teams and sponsors are always looking for innovative ways to activate sponsors. I’ve worked with teams to help monetize and package social assets and help train corporate sales teams on selling them – and I believe there is a great opportunity here for teams and sponsors a like.

Sports events are PERFECT for RTM. There are several real-time opportunities present here for teams and brands that are looking to innovate – and deal with risk. The benefits and the rewards are potentially great here, but this is not for team and for every brand (nor was it for brands during the Oscars). RTM Sponsorship is highly customized, within a high trust relationship – and needs to be mediated with both team and sponsor involved.

I believe this is a huge opportunity – one that I am looking to spend more time looking at, and hopefully – testing out. There are great dynamic benefits here for the right situation. I think this is an exciting opportunity, and one that could provide strong value for fans/customers when done correctly.

If you want to talk about RTM Sponsorship, leave a comment or send me a message.

Digital Leadership 2.0

February 18, 2013 at 3:29 am | Posted in Business Tips, Leadership, Social Media | Leave a comment
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When I first joined Twitter back in 2007, I followed a lot of different people. I was bullish very early on regarding social marketing, and a number of people who I followed helped to shape and reinforce my experience and opinion.

Over time, I began to find my own voice and at the same time, began to unfollow a number of those influencers – it was an evolution and a healthy one not unlike many “real world” relationships. Those days were a very optimistic time for the social media industry, when the arrival of tools like Facebook and Twitter were seen as a democratization of marketing where the tools of real-time, mass dissemination, “free” communication were at hand. The future was limitless, bright and fun. It was almost a revolution, as converts were continually faced with the challenge of having to “sell up” the benefits of social tools o the executive level.

Many digital leaders at that time were rife with appropriate optimism. Digital Leaders 1.0 were also inherently “cool” as these marketing practices were explosive and truly game-changing. Terms like “rock stars” were abound, with “killer apps” and strategies to “make your content explode”, we were a bit caught up in it. Rules changed over night, and the possibilities kept expanding.

But there is still this lingering evangelicalism that has been outpaced by the progress and acceptance of social marketing. The current landscape is not composed of renegades and rock stars, but professionals at all levels. I often see tweets continually punctuated with exclamation marks! Because everything is awesome!!! There is also this penchant for “life coach” type of advice; Tony Robbins-isms if you will.

Is it just me, or are these the kinds of people you avoid at parties or gatherings? Why aren’t more people rolling their eyes at this kind of activity?

I see effective leaders (in any industry/setting) as catalysts. This is a time for transparent experience when over 100,000 Twitter profiles claim to be social media experts. It’s time for a grounded approach, focused on business outcomes. We don’t need hype, what we do is not radical. A catalyst initiates and enables. A leader is not the hammer, it’s the nail. It’s time for Digital Leadership 2.0.

If you want to be a leader – don’t get in line, find your own voice. Start today.

What’s Up With Vine?

January 28, 2013 at 1:05 am | Posted in Twitter, Video, Vine | 1 Comment
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Vine is a mobile app that provides creation and sharing of 6 seconds of video. Sounds cool, but wait – isn’t that what Tout is (does)?

Yes, kind of… But here’s what is different and potentially, exciting.

Tout is a mobile app that offers 15 seconds of video to create/share. The great thing about Vine is that it’s integrated into Twitter, so the sharing gets pretty easy. Vine offers some cool creation features as well – users record their video by touching and holding on the screen, so multiple “shots” are possible within those 6 seconds.

Vine’s social network aspects are clean and simple to use, a lot like Instagram’s. But it’s the Twitter integration that gives Vine a leg up. Twitter bought Vine back in October, so even though its a separate app, it’s still Twitter at the helm. Vine uses existing Twitter profiles as well.

There are obvious parallels here between Facebook/Instagram and Twitter/Vine. Video sharing has a lot of potential, and Vine is well positioned to capitalize on this. Considering recent Instagram frustrations and privacy/content issues, users may be quick to adopt the new Vine platform. I’ve been playing with it for a day now and it’s interesting to see how people are experimenting with it.

Should brands start using it? Too early to tell, but so far – I’m pretty bullish on Vine. I think there are great possibilities here! Tout never really took hold; whether thats because micro-video sharing isn’t what people want, or if the platform was lacking, I can’t say – but we’re about to find out. Keep an eye for now, but if you have the bandwidth, decent social populations (especially on Twitter), I’d be looking at getting Vine into the mix.

What’s the Deal with Facebook’s Graph Search?

January 17, 2013 at 3:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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ImageSo Facebook has a search function? Hasn’t it always had that?

Yes, but it only gave you search results for profiles and pages – this is a different thing all together. Facebook will now provide search results on all the data contained in your profile, and the profiles of 1 billion other people. If you’ve “Liked” something, it will show up here. Users will be able to search on things like people near them, who like sushi and Star Wars who are single – Facebook might just become a massive dating site, so watch out eHarmony! (seriously – watch out)

Will there be unique opportunities for marketers? Sure, but we really need to get our hands on it to see what we can do with it and learn more about how it works. This is all pretty early in the game.

Here’s what I see as some of the key points…

Graph Search will allow Facebook to monetize results with ads, like Google does. The other key element is that this kind of search is something Google cannot do – Google can’t compile contextual searches like this (Well, it has tried with +1′s but that’s another story). Graph search doesn’t “hurt” Google, but it certainly stands to make Facebook more relevant. These ads may be of real interest to marketers.

There is a danger here – it’s not so much a privacy issue but one of user concern. Users will come up in searches for things that they may have “Liked” (or been a “fan of”) several years ago – perhaps things that they don’t like anymore. Facebook seems bent on the concept of Timeline to map your life from birth till your last status update. Makes sense now. There are of course, user controls to limit or protect your privacy, but it’s never easy with Facebook.

It’s also possible that many users will abandon Facebook – users who originally signed up so they could connect and share with friends and family, who now find themselves caught up in something much deeper than that.

Will this produce new revenue growth to bolster Facebook’s stock price? It’s too early to tell… but it’s clearly designed to do this.

This isn’t a time to be prophetic about whether Graph Search is a “game changer” – but I am looking forward to using it.

One last thing – I’ve seen many posts about this, and I 100% agree that “Graph Search” is probably the worst name for this tool. It just doesn’t sound dynamic or fun - Just about anything could have been better!

Social Integration vs Destination

January 10, 2013 at 2:41 am | Posted in Branding, Facebook, Social Media, Strategy, Twitter | 2 Comments
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LikeI made some predictions at the end of 2012 and stated my advice was to view social as less of a destination for the coming year.

So, what does that mean, exactly?

I’ve seen a number of brands do a great job with social media marketing – but have the “social too” focus. That gets enacted something like, “Like us on Facebook!”, or “Follow us on Twitter!”. It made sense to do this at first, as social media really took a firm grip on how to market your brand and saw rapid adoption and staggering growth.

This led to brands prioritizing their Facebook Page over any other asset. Broadcast TV ads directed consumers to Facebook Pages, not their website. I always viewed this cautiously – as Facebook is a separate entity. Facebook changes all the time, and as I have often said – it’s the fans/customers/consumers who really own social media, the brand is simply providing a structure for them to participate in. Brands don’t own their Facebook user data. Facebook is a completely separate business with its own agenda.

Now – where I’m coming from is to discontinue this practice of using Facebook as a destination. Its simply not enough to drive toward Likes and Follows – drive users towards goals and targets that are integrated into a larger marketing message. Drive them to a reason – to a focused message. Prioritize your own assets – your website, your app.

Social sites are still of huge importance – but what I’m saying is how you strategically integrate them into your mix is the real key. Remember, most Facebook users consume your content through their Newsfeed – and rarely come back to your page. When’s the last time you checked out a brand’s Twitter profile page? And increasingly – all these activities are happening via a mobile device.

So don’t just be “social too” – make social central to how you communicate. Don’t make someone else’s business the destination for yours.

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