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Category — social media

Top 10 things we’ve learned about Social Media

Last night I was invited to present at “Social Schmedia” – an AMA Toronto event held at the Brazen Head.

Social Schmedia was a fun excuse to get a bunch of like minded marketing and Ad types together to schmooze and off course share a few laughs (and cocktails). Facebook, Groupon, Mobile this, Geo that… an endless array of all things social, and yet another bullet for your resume or item on your clients wish list.

It’s was time to poke a little fun at this Marketing phenom by gathering a smattering of Toronto’s Savviest and funniest Ad & Marketing people to gripe about their own personal beefs (or loves) of all things Social Media.

There were 5 presenters on tap and I realized soon after arriving that i was the only non “comedian” and that i would be going last. GREAT.

Knowing that I’m not quite THAT funny, I enlisted the help of my fellow BSTREETers to pull it off. Below is a copy of the top 10 list.  Special thanks to Lauren Davies for #1, Laurie Rivet for the Betty White reference and a few others and for making the deck pretty.

Click on “view on slideshare” to view full screen so that you can get the visuals better that go with the list. To learn more about the AMA, click here.

September 29, 2010   1 Comment

There are no mayors in China

As I was packing for my trip to China this week I realized how much lighter my back pack was compared to other big trips from just a few years ago.

When I went to Peru I had packed an HD video Camera, an SLR camera, my laptop, a mobile phone and a DVD player along with all the cords, and batteries adapters.  It was perhaps a little over the top to carry a virtual media studio on my pack through the mountain of Peru, but i wanted to capture every great moment with the best tech available.

This time my mobile device is acting as my video, photo, and media device while my iPad is giving me the larger media consumption platform I need for movies or catching up on whatever news i’m allowed to access here.

So far finding Wifi has not been a problem but accessing my usual social media platforms has been a different story. I can’t access facebook or twitter directly and even foursquare has been blocked – so no check ins, badges or new mayorships.

How will I survive a week without social media?

I think I’ll somehow survive with all the movies I picked up in an alley yesterday. 20 movies for less than $20 – all in high definition. All the rage here is to buy a hard drive pre-loaded with hundreds of movies. The hard drive sits in a cradle with an HDMI output so you can easily stream blue ray or other hi definition videos directly to your TV.

Assuming I have some $$$ left at the end of the trip I may pick up such a system for some R&D in Canada :)

August 16, 2010   5 Comments

Country Harvest goes pink and social in October

A few months ago I blogged about the challenge of making a website about bread interesting – and relevant.

Starting October 1st we had a new challenge – make that same Country Harvest website completely aligned with in-market activities supporting breast cancer awareness month in Canada with their Harvest of Hope campaign.

Our solve was to go pink. And social.


Inspired from content portals who now regularly transform their website background into billboard for movies, products, and services we decided to transform the background of the entire website to pink to promote the brand’s support of the CBCF during the month of October. $0.10 of each Country Harvest purchase will also be donated to the CBCF.

Who said bread couldn’t be social?

Like most things on facebook, when the focus is on a cause or event people tend to respond with comments, wall posts and likes – all of which translate into word of mouth marketing and for Country Harvest over 800 fans in the first 3 weeks alone.

Just being on facebook isn’t a social media strategy. Every great social media strategy is supported by an even greater content strategy.

The more work we do in this arena the more we keep proving to ourselves that without great content all you’ve got are great intentions.

October 20, 2009   No Comments

Why social media matters – and why mobile matters more

Here’s a video I came across last week that essentially updates the classic “did you know 2.0″ video with the specific context of the value and impact of social media today.

It’s a great introduction for any client or marketer still wondering what all the hype is all about. I’m actually including this video as part of a pitch presentation this Wednesday for a potential client who is still uncertain about the value of updating their online properties to enable syndication / social media.

Having said all that, did you know that more Canadians are accessing the mobile web through a smartphone than there are Canadians using Twitter?

According to sysomos, 5.69% of Twitter accounts are Canadian – or about 2.25 million users.  Adding up iphone and itouch (~2.5 m), blackberry (~1 m) + other smartphones stats in Canada, there are about 5.25 million smartphones in use. About 4 million are already accessing the mobile web.

Are you spending as much time on mobile as you are on social media?

August 24, 2009   3 Comments

New Country Harvest website launches with social media extensions

New Country Harvest website

Last week we launched the new Country Harvest website at http://www.countryharvest.com – our third major launch in the last 4 months!

This time our assignment was to completely refresh the Country Harvest website to align with new branding and packaging initiatives. Although BSTREET had been actively managing the website for the last few years, we had inherited the site from another agency and it had become a bit of a franken-site as the site grew to over 100 pages with some of the richest content buried 3 or more clicks deep.

Our approach?

Create a fresh & updated user experience built on a content management platform so that we can manage content and features efficiently and cost effectively moving forward.  Once again, we decided on Joomla – an open CMS platform to build our site.

Our Objectives?

  1. Create refreshed user experience that is best in class and aligned with the new Country Harvest brand
  2. Enrich content and tools and make them more findable in search engines
  3. Extend online experience to other digital platforms in order to engage the target demographic
  4. Create an experience that will generate word of mouth (WOM) awareness and advocacy for the Country Harvest brand
  5. Differentiate from competitor websites
  6. Ensure the most important content is available within one click – and nearly everything else within 2

The new site looks great and we have met our objectives!

There are a few category innovation stories with this website we are especially excited & proud of:

  1. First integration of facebook connect in the category. This means when you write a  comment on one of the products, recipes, or in the community section your  comment will not only appear on the website but on your facebook wall. The comment on our website also pulls in your fbook avatar. This will help us with amplification for CH product and content
  2. Innovative navigation / information architecture – in  order to make all content available within 2 clicks, we have created an  accordion style navigation system on our products and recipe pages
  3. The website is optimized for content syndication  beyond fbook connect with RSS feeds and “share this”  widgets

Everybody on the BSTREET digital team contributed to this project, but special kudos to Jason Jang who was the glue between the front and back office teams and is the one who largely built the site using the CMS and the creative assets developed by Michael Palmer.  Also thanks to Robin Judge who was the IA on this project & created our detailed spec document and wireframes.

This is only the first phase of the new website with more features, functionality, and content coming over the next few months. We’ll also be launching a facebook page this Fall to compliment a community outreach project called the Harvest of Hope.

What do you think?

July 20, 2009   5 Comments

ABSOLUT Vodka Pops-up in social media

n98512764718_4677In addition to working on Polar Ice Vodka, we work on the ABSOLUT  Vokda account as they are both Corby brands.  Recently we launched a new micro-site for ABSOLUT Vodka that can be seen here.

We’re also helping with a special one day ABSOLUT Vodka event that will be popping up in a secret and exclusive location. Canadian multi-disciplinary artist Justin Broadbent will create an optimistic, vibrant and inspiring destination for those who encounter it. Check out his blog here.

As the sun sets, the exhibit becomes an exclusive, eclectic and dynamic party.

We’re leveraging a bluetooth network and creating our own as part of our outreach / teaser campaign. We’ve also built a facebook profile page that acts as an event teaser and hub and it’s where we’ve created an opportunity for people to register for the guest list for our exclusive event.  We’ve also setup a twitter account that will be used to engage event goers and to publish updates and further details as they are made available.

What has amazed us so far is how quickly people found the event & registered for the guest list without any traditional media support.  This is going to be a great case study for us to further demonstrate the reach, power, and effectiveness of social media in the marketing and media mix.

July 13, 2009   2 Comments

Polar Ice Vodka launches innovative brand site with unique twitter “echoes” as part of site integration!


Today we launched our second major website in the last 3 months – this time for Polar Ice Vodka.

Although they are the top selling Canadian Vodka, up until today they haven’t had a robust presence online.

Our assignment? Create a brand site that goes beyond what the category has done traditionally by integrating social media extensions into the website experience.

We were inspired by the boldness of the Skittles launch a few months ago, but we didn’t want to lose control of the brand like they did and we wanted to make the experience two-way so that we could maintain buzz beyond the initial PR of the launch.  We were also inspired by the interactivity of twistori and came up with an idea to integrate the brand identity system we created for Polar Ice with an innovative interactive experience.

The result – introducing regional socialscapes with twitter “echoes”


After passing the age validation page (as mandated by Canadian law), your experience at polarice.ca begins with a “socialscape” indicative of the region you are from. You can change the socialscape by clicking on the forward or backwards arrows.

Next you’ll notice short phrases floating above the socialscape that look like sound echoes from the socialscape. They’re in fact tweets from the twitteroti that we are currently following through the twitter account we’ve setup (mia_at_polarice).  Every time the page loads, we ping twitter for the latest tweets from our followers and store them in a database table to scrub them for naughty words before publishing them as echoes in the socialscape.

Although neat & interesting in its own right (and unique for a brand site), the true interactivity begins when the user clicks on any of the echoes as the page expands and a new menu appears with 5 brand attributes (party, vodka, night, ice, Canadian). Clicking on any of those attributes will change the stream of echoes to match those that contain those words only.

Below the brand attributes is a search box – enter any word you wish and we’ll publish echoes right away. Try typing in a competitor Vodka brand and see what happens!

Toronto local producer Morgan David also created 4 sound loops for your experience – that may be available as ring tones in the future. Morgan has been involved in the underground and club scene for many years and has produced albums and tracks for some of the top labels out of Detroit and Toronto.

Other highlights include:

  • Link to facebook public profile under “Friends” link
  • Link to our Twitter page
  • “Share this” social widget to allow word of mouth to other social media sites
  • Contest to win a summer party up north with all your friends
  • Product information
  • Vodka recipe ideas

What do you think?

I may be biased because we built the site, but we believe this is a truly innovative way of integrating twitter into a brand site that goes well beyond what has been done in the past.

Special mention to Daniel Hill, Ryan Sood and Vladimir Hinic who were the core “A” team to bring to concept to life.

June 1, 2009   7 Comments

It’s time to make your acquaintance with friendfeed

Exactly one year ago I blogged about a new trend with social media sites called  social aggregators.  While everybody was waiting for the next facebook, a new type of service was popping up that allowed people to aggregate all their feeds from facebook, blogs, flickr, Youtube, slideshare, twitter, Linkedin and many others into one stream through one main interface.

Social aggregators are like RSS newsreaders – but for all your social streams…. which we call your lifestream.  

The problem then was that outside of facebook, very few of my friends were actively contributing to other social media channels… so what was the point?  

Then something unexpected happened – twitter exploded in growth and popularity and everybody forgot about aggregators. 

How is that my friendfeed subscription requests have ballooned to 300 in a week? 


Quite simply, they added a utility that allows you to auto-find and invite your twitter followers to your friendfeed subscription. Twitter recently released updated APIs which make it easier for other sites to tap into the social graph of twitter.  

Having said that, it’s not like suddenly all my friends are contributing to multiple sources.  95% of my friendfeed subscriptions are just twitter streams as seen above. 4% are facebook streams, and 1% is mixture of slideshare, flickr, and YouTube.

Brands who publish to multiple sites (flickr, Youtube, twitter, facebook, their own blog etc…) have an opportunity to create an aggregate brand personality online with friendfeed that allows users to follow, comment, and interact with the brand in a user friendly and intuitive way. 

It’s like creating your own skittles site – but actually in the true spirit of what social media is all about. 

May 20, 2009   No Comments

The Project 100 Social Media Project

About six months ago I was invited to participate in something called, “Connect! Marketing in the social media era” by the Project 100.

Naturally I contributed about 400 words around how the future of social media is mobile. :)

What is the Project 100?

Borrowing from the concept developed by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan who challenged bloggers around the world to contribute one page (400 words) on the topic of “conversation,” the Project 100 is about getting 100 marketers to contribute a point of view around the Social Media Era.

The book has been published on blurb.com and all proceeds are going to support Susan G. Komen for the cure of Cancer. You can see a book preview & order your own copy here.

It’s an interesting read and my thanks to Jeff Caswell for leading the project.

April 27, 2009   No Comments

Will short term buzz translate into long term sales for Skittles?

Last month the interweb was all a buzz about skittles.com who essentially gave up all control of their brand in favour of allowing consumers to define the brand attributes through flickr, youtube, facebook, wikipedia, and twitter. Read my post on it here.

Just as Google has made every page a homepage, Google now dictates what your brand means to consumers through its indexing of user generated content generated from blogs and other social media.

Comparing site traffic to skittles.com and some of its main competitors, it looks like they were able to spike ahead of even M&Ms in the month of March. Click on the chart to see a larger view.

It’s hard to argue against the enormous buzz and traffic generated through their bold social media strategy, but can they sustain it? Looking a the current traffic trend below, it looks like the buzz generated was short term, although if traffic settles above their longer term 50k monthly average, the site redo could still be called a success.

Although building awareness may have been the primary objective, driving purchase behavior (and gaining market share) will be the ultimate measuring stick.

If they can gain sustainable increase in market share by “giving up” control over their brand, it will be mark the beginning of a new era in marketing.

Having said that, my bet is that they can’t sustain traffic or improve market share without actually adding to the conversation online.

To date, all they’ve done is point you to other online sources. The true opportunity of social media is only realized when a two-way conversation between the brand and the consumer is created & sustained beyond an occasional PR stunt.

April 13, 2009   2 Comments