Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rogers On Demand Online Beta Is A Little Frustrating, Unless You Like Muppets

[Just to make it easier for the social media trackers out there in PR Land, here's the tags first: rogers on demand online beta, thornley fallis, dave fleet, joe thornley.]

OK, so I was very kindly offered a sneak peek of the above said service, but due to my time constraints, only just got to try it. So it's more of a late peek, but I really appreciate the gesture!

The things I liked about it were: easy to select and pick an episode of a show to watch; good quality video, even in full screen; the cool "dim the lights / raise the lights" option (nice touch, it's the little things) and the fact this service is now online, which makes it very convenient.

One VERY annoying thing that drove me crazy (and it is beta, may be a glitch) but when I tried to drag the slider (fast forward) in an episode of Survivorman, it kept taking me to an ad featuring the very lovely Teri Hatcher, but that was balanced out by Miss Piggy. I tried a few times, but it kept happening! Help! Is it me or the service, guys?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Did The Toronto Maple Leafs Use Selective Social Media?

OK, attention-grabbing headline aside, did the interactive department of the Toronto Maple Leafs select a well-known social media specialist for VIP treatment?

In a nutshell: Dave Fleet posted a blog entry about tweeting his upcoming visit to a Leafs' game. Jonathan Sinden [of the Leafs' interactive department and official Twitter account manager] picked up on that and invited Dave to a behind-the-scenes tour: "For the TB game Tues, let me know when u arrive, and if u have time, i can show u some behind the scenes stuff."

Good for Dave!

But, I wondered if Dave's status had any bearing on the special VIP treatment he was offered? Would Joe Smith from Oakville with two followers get offered the same privilege?

So, I asked Jonathan. He replied: "Hi John, We already have. Its not about following. It's about opportunity and timing. just works out sometimes. js"

I'm not sure if that means they have offered others some special treatment, maybe so. Anyway, curious if others have seen examples of selective social media out there?

[And just for the record -- in case you're wondering the purpose of this post -- I'm not a hockey fan, no sour grapes ... but if you're reading this TFC, give me a shout any time!]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meet The Rescue Mediums In Toronto, October 24

My good friends The Rescue Mediums are in Toronto on October 24 for a meet 'n' greet. It's for a good cause, and full details are here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Link Love

I've been so busy settling in to my great new job, that I haven't blogged for a while. I miss it. Here's some link love.

Went to Third Tuesday Toronto tonight to hear Shel Israel talk about his new book, Twitterville. It was a nice location, and I could actually hear people in conversation. Finally got to meet three people I've been following online for a while: Joe, Dave and Eden. Nice to put faces to the tweets!

On the Greenscroll front, we've been getting some nice buzz, especially from today's mention at Corporate Knights. Having a team meeting on Thursday to discuss next steps; after hearing Israel tonight, it will definitely involve ramping up our Twitter presence.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some Good Events Coming Up

A couple of events of note that myself and the Greenscroll team plan to attend. Third Tuesday Toronto is on September 15 and CaseCamp is on September 16.

See you there?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My New Job

On Friday I accepted the role of E-Communications Officer / Social Media Specialist at Greenwood College School, officially starting September 8. I'm very excited because I had a great experience doing the same kind of work at UCC, and wanted to get back into education.

Greenwood has some ambitious plans for the future, and I'm looking forward to helping the school achieve them!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Meet Entrepreneur Milcha Malaque

Let me introduce you to Milcha Malaque. She's an entrepreneur living in the Philippines, and thanks to Zoompass, I just loaned her $25 as an investment in her business via Kiva.

I did some research on the people that needed help, and was impressed by the fact that Milcha has already repaid a previous loan, and that revenue generated from her business will go to pay for her children's tuition fees.

People helping themselves is what it's all about, and I'm glad to invest in her future!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger vs. Brands

I found this article very interesting.

Snip: London-based blogger Paul McCrudden has become the first to be paid for time 'owed' by brands after spending hours waiting around for different services and receiving poor responses from staff. McCruddon, who works in 'digital strategy and future technologies' at Imagination Digital, details his crusade on his blog, Six Weeks.

Here, he talks through the time he has spent sitting, viewing, queuing and waiting in restaurants or shops, put into context by contrasting with watching TV or sleeping, over a six-week period.

Hat tip: Contagious.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hi, My Name's John And I'm A Social Media Addict, Kinda

I love this video. It's filmed nicely, and the script is spot on. But it got me thinking: am I a social media addict? Yes and no.

Yes, because if I don't write a blog post for a few days, connect to someone on LinkedIn, tweet about what I had for lunch -- my followers clamour for those insights -- upload a link on Facebook and generally immerse myself in the online world, then I get a bit shaky and my eyelid twitches in a disconcerting way.

No, because if I go on vacation for some much-needed R&R, then I don't feel the need to take a CrackBerry (don't have one, anyway), iPhone (waiting till the rates come down) or rush to find the nearest WiFi hotspot so I can log in, and not feel like I'm missing anything. The whole reason for the time off in the first place is to put things in perspective, wind down and realise that life is too short to be at work 24/7.

On a separate note -- quick plug for my friend in Ohio who's working on a Web-based sci-fi show called Aidan 5. I am setting up a social media monitoring system for them in return for calling one of the future characters "Evil Johnny C."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Greenscroll got its biggest spike in traffic so far today thanks to a nice mention by TreeHugger.

On a personal note, my wife read some of the comments on yesterday's Guardian review and asked if we thought it was going well, as there were some critical comments. It was a valid question.

The Greenscroll team expected to get those from the very start. We knew a million people weren't just going to say "Great idea! Here's my wad of cash. Go hither and do good."

We welcome the questions and critique; feedback is what we want every step of the way. Get the discussion started, and talk to people about the issues. My colleague Nik has already been into the comments section and put his point of view to address some of those. This is what we'll continue to do.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The above video is a promo for 350.org, something that is perfect for Greenscroll to get involved with. Will be checking it out.

We also got our first press mention today in the environment section of The Guardian; that helped with a spike in traffic.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Greenscroll Is Launching At 12:34:56 07/08/09

The Web is made up of numbers -- ones and zeroes -- so we thought it appropriate to officially launch Greenscroll at 12:34:56 07/08/09 as it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see that point in time come together like that.

It sums up our philosophy at Greenscroll: to bring people together who use the Web and help them offset some of the damage that the Web does to the environment, by encouraging them to invest in green energy projects and replenish the grid.

We're very excited to get this initiative off the ground, and ask that the green/tech community get behind it and help us to move it forward. We welcome feedback and conversation.

Thank you!

p.s. A special mention and thanks to @netscr1be for being Greenscroll's very first sign-up!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Have My Twitter Follow Straightjacket On, And It's Tight

I tried to follow a cool person on Twitter last night, and was told that I had reached my follow limit of 2,001 people. The reason is in here somewhere or other. That really pisses me off.

Why? Because I have 1,682 followers of my own (thanks all!) and believe that 2,001-1,682=319 followers is not such a big margin. I also tweet on a regular basis and [99%] of that is original thoughts, not just retweets.

In other words, I am not a Lazy Tweeter and feel VERY frustrated that I can't follow more people. Sure, I can "drop one, add one" or open a second account, but it's taken me since May 2008 to build a solid Twitter presence and I want to carry on that integrity and foundation.

How does Ashton Kutcher get away with having over three million followers and only follow 190 people? Extra leeway for celebs?

This is not a post about the amount of people following me, by the way, but the fact I can't follow more than I do already. That means I am missing out on a lot of good stuff that people are tweeting right now that I'll never get to see.

Suggestions welcome.


Thursday, July 30, 2009


I headed downtown last night for the StartupDrinks Toronto event on behalf of Greenscroll; it was at Pogue Mahone, a pub at College/Bay. I'm not averse to the odd Guinness, but not sure if a noisy pub is the best way to try and connect with other startups.

Trying to have conversations with certain people became a bit of a nightmare as I couldn't understand most of what was being said because of the noise. It was also hard to tell who was there because of the event, or just regular customers. I find it a bit awkward to approach someone -- feels like a blind date! -- and prefer to be introduced, but that's me.

I wanted to pick people's brains and learn from their experiences of what does/n't work in getting a new venture off the ground, but came away with a feeling of disappointment that I hadn't achieved that. Ah well, maybe I should have shouted louder.

I like the mesh model of specific sessions, followed by breakout groups and the "on-the-fly" feeling of meeting cool entrepreneurs, finding common elements and then maybe heading on to a more social setting for further interaction.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twitter Becomes A Search Engine

I like the new Twitter home page, almost seems to be like a search engine. People like to know what other people are talking about so the emphasis on the search box may encourage more to sign up.

Please Tell Me When Good Manners Went Out Of The Window, Thank You

In recent times, especially in this always-on, 24/7, hyper-connected society we live in, I've noticed that people have forgotten how to say "Please" and "Thank You." Even worse, as it shows a total lack of respect, is when you send someone an e-mail -- especially on a professional basis -- and they don't bother to even respond.

Everyone is busy (we get that). And people say that technology has contributed to an over-abundance of information (it has) and the feeling that you have to respond to someone almost immediately to stay in their good books (you shouldn't).

But what I fail to comprehend is why do some people need to be contacted more than once, within a VERY reasonable time frame, before they respond? Shouldn't [mobile]technology make it ultra-easy to simply send a "Got it thanks, busy, back to you soon," or "Not moving forward, please contact us next time," or "Working on it, thanks."

Don't you prefer these curt, respectful responses to none at all, or is it just me that hates to be left in limbo and would rather know either way? Not asking too much? Or am I wrong?

Thanks for reading and please come again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Freelance PR -- It's Not For Everyone

I've worked with Jodi Echakowitz on some stuff earlier this year, and she's a very smart and capable lady. Her virtual agency is doing well too.

I liked her blog post today highlighting what you are letting yourself in for if you decide to go the freelance PR route. You can read the whole list at her blog, but here's a few of my own I'd like to add ...

It can get very lonely! Sure, it's great to pick the hours you work, and there's no boss looking into your cubicle, and a wireless laptop is a godsend on a sunny day ... but there's also no colleagues to bump into in the office kitchen, or by the proverbial watercooler. Most interaction and brainstorming is turned into virtual, online collaboration. Webcams are fine, but it's not the same as a physical face-to-face chat.

It's up and down for the most part. You have to grab the "up" with both hands, work your arse off and bank some of that coin because there might just be a "down" around the corner.

It's exciting! You never know what is going to pop into your inbox or Twitter account any time of day, or day of the week -- including weekends of course. Being your own boss means always keeping a handle on things, but you have to take the time to switch everything off sometimes (including your brain) and enjoying some R&R. Come back refreshed and your clients will thank you for it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lean On Me, Mom Bloggers ... Lean On Me

I've been rushing around the last few days from St. Catharines to Markham, so only got caught up on #prblackout via Danny Brown's ever-reliable blog. Sorry, but I laughed.

From what I can gather, it seems a group of mom bloggers want to snub the PR industry for a whole week in August. That means no reviews, giveaways, blog trips etc.

As one puts it: "While we adore many of our fabulous PR reps and treat them like bloggy friends, our site, and many others, are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of product requests each year resulting in massive obligations and deadline stress equivalent to what the General Motors CEO must feel every time he drives into work."

So, they are saying that having to deal with free stuff being thrown at them on a regular basis, and maybe writing about a few of them, is the equivalent to trying to save a multi-billion company supporting thousands of workers?

I feel bad for them, so, being a very helpful chap, am prepared to help out the PR industry for that week in August when the mom bloggers "dont want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week."

Just send all your free stuff to me, and I will do my best to review it, enjoy the trip, pass it on to Goodwill or just send a polite reply along the lines of "Sorry, maybe next time, but please keep me in mind."

My Free Stuff Department is waiting and ready to accept your e-mails at makejohnnycash AT gmail DOT com or you can entice me with your free stuff at @johncarson.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A few weeks ago I noticed a tweet from FreshBooks offering a free copy of Entrepreneur magazine. I like free, so I took the offer and got my copy, which featured the CEO and Co-Founder, Mike McDerment.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading the issue today in the laundromat (exciting life of a freelancer) and was pleasantly surprised when McDerment's business card fell out, and also a personal handwritten Post-It note stuck on the article.

Nice touch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Facebook Almost Enticed Me To Buy An Ad

I love Guinness and feel like its 250th birthday in September should be celebrated, so set up a Facebook event for my friends (and anyone else!) to enjoy a pint of the black stuff wherever they may be.

Facebook did the clever thing and automatically created an ad for me, should I choose to buy it. They made it look nice, and I was almost tempted -- would have been my first-ever Web ad. I like the fact that I could instantly see how it would look without any fiddling around. Made it very easy to click and put some more money in FB's bank account. Win all around.

Guinness fans, feel free to join the event, it's open to all.

The Pentagon Likes Pugs And/Or LinkedIn

Not sure if I should be nervous that The Pentagon read my blog today. Here's the post they read, hope it helped. (Took the IP out.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Good news: I recently won $25 in a Twitter contest from Zoompass. Thanks guys!
Bad news: It's been a bit of a drag to try and collect.

It's in beta, so that's understandable, but we're talking about moving money around, and I think there was a mix-up in the process.

Here's the deets:

About a week ago @davefleet informed me that they were going to zoom me $25 after asking what I'd do with the cash. To me, $25 is a couple of Guinnesses (Guinnii?) and a hot dog. Nice, don't get me wrong, but for someone else it could be seed funding for a new life-changing business, so I said Kiva could have it.

So, my cellphone beeped with the $25 notification, and I went to Zoompass to sign up and collect the cash. It was very easy, hassle-free and similar to PayPal whereby they wire a test amount of around 50 cents into your bank account to prove it's you. That worked, so I thought "cool" and tried to move the $25 into my bank.

It didn't work, so then I got a phone call from Zoompass customer support saying that my address didn't match up with something or other (I didn't really understand that part, as I've been at my address for six years) and then an e-mail: "Our records show that our automated identity checker could not match some of the information in your Zoompass profile. In order for us to complete the account information verification, can you please send us one of the documents listed below -- Driver's Licence / Telephone/Utility bills / Bank statements."

I wasn't keen on sending that stuff, so called back and support said it would be OK to forward an electronic bill or something to prove my address. I found an e-receipt from Amazon.ca, and forwarded that by e-mail.

Got a reply that it wasn't acceptable, and they needed physical proof. So, the customer support guy misinformed me. No sweat, we all make mistakes, so I got ready to scan my driver's licence and e-mail that.

But I checked my bank account yesterday and the $24.50 was already in there (Zoompass takes 50 cents for a transfer fee) -- so, that was before they had "physical" proof of my address. I also didn't get a reply to my logged problem ticket I submitted ... the money just magically appeared.

That's great in the fact that I got my money transferred, but bad because technically they never actually got proof of my address, or maybe they did decide to accept my Amazon.ca receipt as e-proof, not physical.

Anyway, it's a long story, but I think their support or verification process might need to be tightened up a bit as I seemed to get mixed messages as to what I needed to do, and what was actually happening.

Having said all that, @davefleet and the team were very prompt in trying to help me out on Twitter and e-mail, so that's a plus.

And now I can head to Kiva and help someone out, so it all ends well!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twitter Theme Tunes

Breaking news: I just heard from an insider that Twitter are looking for theme tunes for a possible movie, and the following have made the shortlist:

To Cut A Long Boring PR Pitch Short -- Spandau Ballet
You're So Vain You Probably Think This Tweet Is About You -- Carly Simon
Get Off Of My Hash Tag Cloud -- Rolling Stones
Stop Me If You Think You've Read This Retweet Before -- The Smiths
All The Things She Said In 140 Characters Or Less -- Simple Minds
Still Haven't Found The Monetization I'm Looking For -- U2
Do You Remember The First Fail Whale? -- Pulp

If you get any more tips, please send 'em in!


Just researching how many people click a link with no idea what's at the other end: http://bit.ly/ugcuv

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Segal Moves On, Streek Passes On

I heard two bits of news today, one good, one bad. Both about cool people.

Rick Segal used to write a column for a technology newspaper I edited in 2003 called Silicon Valley NORTH. He covered the venture capital industry in Canada, an area I knew nothing about. But I soon learned a lot by reading Rick's articles. He explained the scene in a very informal way, and has always helped me by answering e-mails and questions. A very approachable guy.

Today he announced in his blog that he's leaving JLA Ventures and is hinting about going back into the trenches with a start-up. (That's how I interpreted his post, anyway.)

So, best of luck Rick!

I also read that Martin Streek had taken his own life. He was a former DJ on The Edge, a radio station I listen to all the time in the car.

When I came to Canada back in 2000 we used to hang out at The Phoenix quite a bit. I enjoy playing pool -- the kind where you put $1.50 on the table and winner stays on -- and remember holding the table that night.

This tall, scary-looking dude came up, put his money down and asked to play next. We did, and had a pretty good game, making small talk about music in between shots.

Anyway, I beat the guy -- just -- and we went our separate ways. I had no idea who he was at the time, but my wife mentioned that it was Martin Streek. He was taking a break in between sets.

I know him now though, so wanted to give him a mention. RIP dude.

PR 2.0 Will Double Your Workload

Beth Harte has a great blog called The Harte of Marketing in which she discusses marketing, PR and social media. Today she compares traditional and PR 2.0 marketing.

Here's some snips:

With PR 2.0 you can add the following to your skills, deliverables and job description:
- Monitors brand in real-time
- Listens/Analyzes online conversations or mentions in real-time
- Responds promptly
- Conducts primary research in real-time
- Engages in two-way conversations with ALL constituents (in-house PR folks)
- Participates in social networking in a value-add way (in-house PR folks)

There's loads more good info; the full post is here. A good read.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

LinkedIn's Company Buzz

I am trying out the beta version of LinkedIn's Company Buzz application. It seems to be an obvious play on social media monitoring, so I'm interested to see how Greenscroll is represented.

We haven't actually launched yet, so most of the results are to do with the elections in Iran. Hope to change that soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thanks Canada!

On this Canada Day I want to reflect, take a step back and look at my professional life in this country so far; it’s been a great ride.

I moved here from England in 2000 after getting frustrated at paying 800 pounds a month for a shoebox in North London. Now, I can afford a beautiful condo in Toronto, and am writing this as I sit in the sun on my patio. The summers here are fantastic, the winters are horrible! Still can’t get used to the cold after nine years. And I hate wearing toques, which doesn’t help much.

Before leaving England, I sent my resume to around 10 editors at Rogers Publishing, asking if there were any jobs available. I was lucky enough to get a meeting with HR when I arrived in Canada, and the lady produced 10 of my resumes, which could be classed as spam I suppose. But I was the first content manager in an innovative new department called Bizlink. We helped the trade publications set up their websites, e-newsletters and engaged with readers to drive them to the websites. My Bizlink colleagues were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and I still keep in touch with them to this day.

That was followed by my first Canadian editorship of a technology newspaper: Silicon Valley NORTH. It was a great chance to steer my own ship, and I made a lot of very cool contacts in the Canadian tech industry, including the venture capital community. Smart people who invest in the superstars of tomorrow.

Managing editor of Beer.com was the next step of my adventure. That was party time (how many jobs let you hang out with the Beer.com Girls?) and helped me grasp the responsibilities of handling a very large portal. Canada? Beer? Come on! It was a “roll my sleeves up” job, and I got to learn about content management, creating blogs and e-newsletters from scratch, and also writing copy for the podcast. We recorded that in the back of the office, most of it ad-libbed, and we reached the Top 10 U.S. Comedy Podcasts on iTunes within a few weeks, which the Beer.com team was very proud of.

After that, I started my Make Johnny Cash blog as an outlet for finding more work. As a writer and trained journalist, I will always strive to find an outlet for words, in whatever form they may take. It’s my way of communicating.

My next role as acting communications manager at Upper Canada College was one of the most enjoyable working experiences I’ve had in Canada so far. The whole UCC community is one I was proud to be a part of, and I still feel invested in the place and continue to do some freelance work for them from time to time. That was also when I started to apply some social media concepts and proved to myself that if an establishment from 1829 can be successful in online engagement, then anyone can. They just need to start doing it. [That was a plug for my services by the way, had to squeeze that in.]

GCI Canada was my next stop, and I worked with a lot of very committed colleagues to help clients with their social media strategies. I got the entrepreneurial urge then to start freelancing and try to make a go of it myself.

That’s where I stand today. Freelancing is not easy, but the rewards are excellent when you can teach a client how to better their company and brand by using social media. I was actually on a pitch yesterday and it was very rewarding to see the “Aha!” moment as the person I was talking to started to understand more about how they can immerse themselves in this online world, and take the next step into this brave new arena of marketing.

I have to mention Greenscroll too. That is a side project (with two others) that we hope will make people think more about the impact on the environment that the Internet is having. We all use it; it’s time to balance that out and put something back. I am very excited about this project -- it’s a green non-profit that we hope people will want to join up with. Coming very soon!

So, that’s about it. I love the media landscape in Canada, especially Toronto, as I’ve gotten to know a LOT of very smart -- and fun! -- people, and feel like this is the best place to be at this stage of my life.

Thanks Canada.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You Must Opt In

So, there I was, taking a lunch break, sipping some tea, thought I'd check the Toronto Star for the latest GTA happenings. Saw a nice contest, win a weekend in Toronto, might as well give it a go. Filled out all my details, answered the taxing skill-testing question, pressed submit.

But wait. It didn't go through. Had I missed something out? Maybe my postcode or e-mail? So, went back to check ...

And there it is -- in red letters -- "You must opt in." So, if I don't elect to receive "special offers and news from Delta Chelsea" then I'm not allowed to enter the contest? Time to read the small print:

"To qualify, participant must register to receive Delta Chelsea Hotel eMessenger electronic newsletter," and "In addition, we may use this information to send you offers or information from us, our affiliates and from selected sponsors or advertisers ('Marketing Offers'). If you do not wish to receive Marketing Offers, you may opt-out at any time by: following the instructions at the bottom of any email Marketing Offer you receive, informing your telemarketer at the time you are called with a Marketing Offer, calling 1-800-279-0181 and requesting that your personal information not be used for Marketing Offers, or emailing privacy@thestar.ca and requesting that your personal information not be used for Marketing Offers."

I have to go to all that trouble, just to take myself off their list after "agreeing" to be on it? No thanks. Clicked away.

It's a shame people are forced to opt in; would have been a nice feel-good blog post about the Delta Chelsea Hotel, instead of this frustrating one.

And, as an afterthought, the definition of "opt" is "To make a choice or decision." Seems like the "must opt in" requirement takes that choice away.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drip ... Or A Big Splash?

Getting ready to launch Greenscroll, our marketing so far has been very low key. We already have some followers on Twitter (thanks for the interest, guys!) and a company profile on LinkedIn, but that's about it. [This project is not our day jobs/work, so time is slightly limited at the moment, but that's what evenings and weekends are for, right?]

It's been a slow drip approach so far. The reason for that is that there isn't actually anything to show potential "scrollers" yet, so it's not worth going for a big splash, and then people say: "Great. Give us a call when there's something to see."

And, even if we do the big splash (eventually) then it's not a case of, "OK, done. Let's grab our coats and go home." It will be an ongoing thing, permanent marketing and chatting to people, online and face to face. Social media will play a big part of Greenscroll and we will be encouraging the green community to get involved and tell us what they want to see from the initiative.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Five Reasons Why The LCBO Is Like Social Media

People are stocking up on booze today in anticipation of a possible strike at midnight by the LCBO. I went at 10 a.m. and got my supply, and already there were long queues at the checkout. That was after skipping around the gargabe overflowing from the bins outside as the other strike enters its second day.

It could be a dry, smelly summer!

Anyway, it got me thinking. I looked at the crowd of people hanging around and thought about how the LCBO is very much like social media:

1) The LCBO has a monopoly on booze. You have to go there to get what you want. You also have to be in social media these days too, or go through a dry spell out on the fringes;
2) The LCBO has something for everyone's tastes -- social media does too. You may want to microblog, create a brand page on Facebook or buy the whole store and create a massive community based around your product;
3) The LCBO is a place where people meet who have something in common. I hate to say "getting drunk" but you get the idea = a common interest, something all the participants can relate to;
4) You may meet a wine specialist who can introduce you to a product you've never thought of trying before. Social media has a lot of experienced advocates who are helping others too;
5) Whenever I've been to an "unmarketing" event I notice that everyone always has a drink in their hands. (OK, bit of a stretch that one.)


Monday, June 22, 2009

Be Grateful That You Don't Need Those Sick Days!

First off, some background on the current strike in Toronto.

Snip: "Workers are entitled to 18 sick days a year. But if they don't take the days -- seen by the union as an incentive to not book off sick -- they get to bank the days at the end of the year. Over time, the days accumulate. And at retirement, the worker can cash in a maximum of 120 days, or six months' pay."

So, workers can get half a year's salary just for being lucky enough to have good health. That should be bonus enough.

People are pissed off that they won't be able to carry over sick days. Well, correct me if I'm wrong, why do you need to bank them? Are you planning to be "sick" next year? I suggest that if you don't need to use those sick days, then be VERY grateful that you have good health -- a lot of people are much worse off than you. Look at the big picture.

I'm not a political commentator (bores me actually) but it makes me very annoyed in this day and age when people forget to be grateful for what they already have in life.

End of rant.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trying Out CoTweet

I am trying out the beta version of CoTweet right now, and so far, it looks pretty useful. One thing I didn't know was possible is the option to manage more than one Twitter account through the interface -- I thought it was only for one company via multiple users, so that's a time saver in itself.

Now I have my personal @johncarson and side project @greenscroll both being monitored at the same time. Just sent invites to my two colleagues, and waiting for them to jump in and see what happens when we all try to update at the same time.

The layout is clear and self-explanatory, and there is a function called OnDuty that helps you stay in touch by providing e-mail notifications when new direct messages and @replies directed to your accounts arrive, at intervals specified by the user. I have that option enabled at the moment, but will see if it becomes "information overload" so may disable it down the line.

One glitch/bug I noticed on this function: every time I set it to "instant notification" and press save, it defaults to "every 5 minutes." Minor, but needs to be fixed for people like me who want instant access to people who are trying to communicate with me.

Overall, so far, I like CoTweet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Heritage Toronto At The Riverboat

I do some voluntary PR for Heritage Toronto, and can tell you there will be a VERY famous Canadian musician at this plaque presentation on June 18.

Update March 19, 2009. Yes, it was Gordon Lightfoot. Murray McLaughlin also attended, as well as Stan Endersby and more. Heard some great stories about Toronto's musical past. Awesome day!

Gordon Lightfoot

Jim Morrison Sings About Craigslist

As a big fan of The Doors, and also of Craigslist, it's fantastic to see the two combined.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Is An Obvious Ad For The Last Page Standing

I just did a contra deal with The Last Page Standing -- in return for getting a slot I am blogging about it here. First time I've done this sort of "advert" thing, but I liked the idea and was too cheap to spend $3.

If you have $4 to spend, then my part in [possible viral] Internet history will be gone soon.

Update June 12, 2009, 1:14 a.m. Just found out I lost the slot to someone who paid $4. Damn.

Has Twitter Jumped The Whale?

This post by Mashable's Stan Schroeder got me thinking this morning. He questions whether Twitter is starting to jump the shark because celebs are joining (and half leaving) and because PepsiCo dared to -- gasp! -- print their Twitter name on a can of their own product.

I am asking: Do you join and use fledgling social media tools because they are cool, and like to feel part of the "elite" before everyone else finds out ... or do you use them because they are useful and don't care whether they become mainstream two years later?

Personally, I'm into the new toys because I keep my ear to the ground and like to see what's coming around the corner. But if, as in the case of Twitter, I find it a very useful part of my professional life (I use Facebook for friends and family) then I don't care if everyone jumps on the bandwagon. As long as I can get some value and interaction from it, then I'll be using it for a long time.

There you go, it's official: I'm NOT cool!

p.s. And as for Trent Reznor, I think he "hurt himself today" by turning his Twitter stream into a one-way street. Please. Don't use Twitter for all it's worth, to interact with people and push products, and then moan about it because it gives people too much insight into your personal life. You can't have it both ways, man.

Behold The Number Of The Beast! 140!

The end of the Twitter world is coming! Oh, the humanity! Now we'll have to actually phone our friends and use that thing called a mouth to tell them we're in Starbucks instead of putting it in 140 characters!

No idea what the tech jargon means on Twitpocalypse, but I'm definitely not heading outside on June 13, 2009! Too many dramatic exclamation marks?! Yes!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who Wants To Be Amber Mac's Social Media Intern?

If you are a student and searching for a very cool summer gig, then you are in luck. Amber Mac is looking for a social media assistant/researcher for part-time summer employment at her company.

Two good things: you'll get some great experience from Amber, and it's also a paid gig.

Resumes to amber AT mgimedia DOT ca [begone, spam bots!]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Need Some More Hours In The Day

I hate missing out on my blogging schedule; I feel that if I don't put at least a few words to computer screen once a day then I have let myself down in some way. I know, take a break, not the end of the world etc ...

It's just been a hectic start to the week and it's only Tuesday. I had a meeting near the airport this morning, then had to pick someone up, then had another meeting in Bay Street in the afternoon, then had to pick someone else up. (Useless fact #265: I used to do some taxi driving back in the U.K. in the late '90s so feel quite at home driving people around!)

Anyway, all the above is to pay the bills. The fun stuff starts in the evening as we are still working on getting the Alpha version of Greenscroll up to scratch. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's a green non-profit project that we hope will make Internet users think about how much power is being used on a daily basis, and encourage them to "Green the Web" as our tagline says.

It's exciting, hard work and extremely fun to try and get this project ready for launch. I have been keeping it pretty low key for now, but feel that interested parties might want to know what we have planned, so will start working on that in a few days.

Please take a few minutes to sign up on the pre-Alpha page and we'll ping you about the next steps. No spam, commitment or signing your life away.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm Showing A Red Card To Toronto Football Club

I went to see Toronto Football Club play yesterday with my friend Mike. It was his 36th birthday, and he's been a season ticket holder since day one. In fact, he was one of the first 40 people to sign up. He goes to every home game, travels a lot to the away games in the U.S., and buys a lot of TFC products, such as jerseys.

In other words, Mike has pumped thousands of dollars into TFC over the last three years. He is truly a dedicated fan. Yesterday Mike was forcibly ejected from the game for "trespassing."

Here's how it went down.

He went to buy a beer and was asked for I.D. to prove his age. Mike certainly does not look under 19, but because he doesn't drive, he doesn't have a driver's licence, therefore couldn't prove his age.

So, he offered up his health card -- a government-issued document -- and they refused to accept that instead. In effect, that means you can have brain surgery with that card, but at BMO Field you cannot buy a beer as an adult. Stupid.

Mike started to protest this fact in a calm, but frustrated way, and after around 10 minutes was told he was now "trespassing" and then escorted outside by two security people.

Come on guys! Use some common sense and discretion. We know you have A Boss to answer to, but please, allow the customer service people on the front lines to make their own decisions when it comes to situations like these.

It's fans like Mike that have put TFC where it is today, and I think they certainly scored an own goal yesterday with their customer relations.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Networking" Isn't Only Good For 78 Points On A Triple Word Score*

I had a couple of interesting coffee meetings with some PR people yesterday, and one of the conversations revolved around networking, something that should be in the Top 3 of any professional's arsenal when trying to win some new business.

The crux of the matter is that sites such as LinkedIn make it ultra-easy to connect with new -- and reconnect with former -- colleagues and clients. You may get some referrals that way, or someone will remember you from the past and ping you for an update.

Networking deals in the currency of reputation, and we talked about never connecting to someone just because you feel that they may be useful down the line. That is totally unethical, and shows a lack of respect. Who wants to be used just for a quick hit? (Coincidentally, one of the women I chatted to remembered me from my Silicon Valley NORTH days, so some of the familiarity was already in place, which helps.)

On the flip side, sometimes relationships don't work out for the best. Maybe the fit wasn't right, or the parties concerned felt that they couldn't move forward on the same path. It happens. Agree to disagree, try and work it out ... or move on. No point ranting and raving and burning bridges.

Back in 1988 (yes, '88 and not '98!) I worked at a stockbroking company in London, U.K., and there was a really cool guy who everyone liked. To cut a long story short, he got let go, so proceeded to pop across the road to a pub, get smashed, and then came back in a drunken rage to berate the rest of the staff. Security had to remove him.

Guess what my last memory is of that hard-working Mr. Nice Guy is? Yep -- even 21 years later the image of his last drunken rage still lives with me, and that's how I remember him now.

We didn't have that new-fangled thing called the Internet back then, so dread to think what his networking prospects would have been. It was a small industry, almost like a Boys' Club then, so word would have got around about Mr. Nice Guy.

Always network in a responsible manner. You never know who knows the people that you treat badly.

[*Disclaimer: Make Johnny Cash has no connection or affiliation with Hasbro, makers of the popular board game Scrabble. We cannot confirm that the word "networking" is actually worth 78 points on a triple word score, and do not want to be held liable if someone tries that in an actual game and loses. We merely made up the number for blatant link bait purposes. Thank you.]

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Read Your Blogs Inside Tweetree

Allstate -- Time To Start Listening To Your Non-Customers

1) I do not have, never had -- and now, never will -- a policy with you.
2) My name is not John Lawrence as my e-mail clearly states.
3) I have already previously asked you to unsubscribe me from this e-mail list.
4) Please start listening to what your NON-customers are telling you.
5) Thanks.

Update June 8, 2009. Marcia, the Marketing Manager at Allstate contacted me via Twitter and offered to help me out. That was followed by an e-mail communication from Betty, an Executive Assistant with Allstate's Chairman's Customer Care Team.

I just got off the phone with her, extremely helpful and polite, the issue is being resolved so points to Allstate for resolving my frustration so quickly.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Are You A Social Media Unicorn Or Kitten?

As more people, brands and companies start to wake up, smell the social media coffee brewing in the pot, and proclaim, "Hell yes -- I'll have a cup of that please!" they can either go one of two ways.

Social Media Unicorns
These are the mythical beasts that everyone's heard of, but have never actually seen. Unicorns are the movers and the shakers, working unseen in the background to make sure that their clients look good and are the stars of the show. They may slip up, allow themselves to be glimpsed on occasion, but when you try to find them, all traces have been erased as they cover their tracks.

They know that it's not their place or role to take centre stage in the social media realm. They office advice and help to others, happy and content that their social media wisdom will enable their clients to flourish, engage their target markets and be able to carry on the conversation long after the unicorn has been summoned to help someone else.

Social Media Kittens
Everyone loves these ubiquitous characters and wants to personally engage with them. They are all over the Internet, frolicking in people's blogs and forums, throwing out ideas and inspiration like balls of thread.

Kittens may seem like all they do is spend the day playing around, but follow them closely and you'll see that if you treat them now and again with some of your own value, they'll return the favour big time. They may bat their paws at your ideas -- but, hey -- the kitten has had to rise above the pack to get noticed, and there must be a reason for that. It pays to take heed of their advice and help.

So, there you have it. Two very different kinds of social media beasts can live in perfect harmony. Which one are you?

[Thanks to Adrienne for the inspiration!]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We Are Forever People

Forever people for now and for then
You see we're waiting and I say it is forever, my friend
Because the future is now and forever is here
Within visions of truth imagination is clear

So go forth!
With experimentation
Technology for the future generation
And knowing insights, mystical might
Forever people are still doing it right

~ "Forever People" by The Shamen

Trendwatching.com talks about a concept I find very interesting, and topical: Foreverism. They sum it up as, "Consumers and businesses embracing conversations, lifestyles and products that are 'never done.'"

To me, that is the essence of what social media is all about. A never-ending online chat with people who are interested in the same things you are. It's not just a case of jumping in with a comment and then leaving; it should carry on over time, expand, digress, be organic.

The Trendwatching briefing talks about conversations, relationships and how companies should open themselves up more.

Well worth a read in your next coffee break. Or whenever you want, if you happen to be the boss. (But pass it to your colleagues!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greenscroll -- Greening The Web

I'm very excited to announce the launch today of our pre-Alpha sign-up page for Greenscroll, a green non-profit with a social media twist. As Co-Founder and Communications Director, it is my job to get the word out there, build some traction and generally make the coffee when needed too. Whetever needs to be done, I'm in. Can't wait!

I love the Internet. I love surfing. I don't love the environmental cost that these two passions of mine create on the planet. Workstations, server farms, data centres, power grids -- all these are "brown electricity" users that contribute absolutely nothing to the Earth's natural resources.

Greenscroll thinks it's time to put something back into the environment that we are taking out.

Just by me writing this blog post, and you reading it, has damaged the environment in some way, down the line. Time to change that.

We are still working on fine-tuning some aspects of Greenscroll, but it will make you feel good, so please check out the website and sign up for early launch notification. No strings attached, no commitment -- it's simply a way for us to let you know once we get going. Then you can decide for yourself if it's something you'd like to get involved with. We sincerely hope you do!

One other thing ... we're not green experts. This is something the Greenscroll team wants to get off the ground, but rest assured, we'll be asking the green community for ideas, help, advice -- and their input will surely shape this non-profit as we move forward.

To that end -- any thoughts? Please contact me at john@greenscroll.org or the Greenscroll team on Twitter.

Thanks for reading. Hope to chat with you soon ...

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Just trying out the Alpha version of Scribnia, where you can rate bloggers and other writers. Will expand this post with a fuller review soon ...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Social Media In 140 Years (Or Less)

I just got back from seeing the new Star Trek film, and although I've never been a Trekkie, I am a sci-fi film fan, and it lived up to the hype -- awesome. There's an element of time travel in a lot of films like this, so I stepped into my iTravelPod, zipped 140 years into the future and saw what social media will bring.

1) We won't be talking about social media;
2) My friend in Australia won't need to upload a video of her pet kangaroo playing with a koala onto Facebook -- she'll jump on a shuttle, pop up into Earth's orbit, wait for Canada to rotate underneath, and drop back down into Toronto, all in a few hours, and we'll have lunch and laugh at the hysterical video together. Then I just might poke her;
3) Twitter will finally give in and start showing ads for vacation resorts on the Moon;
4) Our personal surrogates will attend conferences on our behalf while we chill out, and then we'll download their report into our brains via chips; [side note: I nominate Bruce Willis to play Homer Simpson in a movie]
5) Newspapers will be banned, as we'll need the trees to breathe. We'll get the news in real time, as it happens, via the people it's happening to as we'll all have video cameras and uplinks incorporated on our person somewhere;
6) Google Earth will be renamed Google's Earth, because they bought the planet in 2086;
7) People who use auto-DM on Twitter will be hunted down and destroyed by frickin' robot birds with frickin' laser beams attached to their fickin' beaks.

So, there you have it. The social media landscape of the future 140 years from now, or less.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

PR Reader's Choice Blog Awards

Danny Brown mentioned on his blog that he's been nominated for a Most Thought-Provoking Blog award. There's some good candidates in the other categories too.

Go and vote!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Glad It's Just A Parody ... Right? Hello? At The Back? Anyone?

A Celebrity May Stop Using Twitter. Oh, The Humanity

Children are starving to death worldwide. Innocent people are being killed in wars. Jobs are being lost due to a recession. Ashton Kutcher has threatened to stop using Twitter. Global warming shows no signs of slowing.

One of these things is not like the others.

I get kind of annoyed when so much attention is paid to things that don't really matter in the great scheme of things. I'm sure that @aplusk is a very nice guy, he seems friendly and cool -- but do I give a crap that we may never see any more tweets from him in the future? NO!

Is he holding Twitter to ransom by pulling the plug if the micro-blogging service partners on a reality TV show? NO!

"It's all fun and games until somebody gets stalked," Kutcher tweeted on Monday. That is very true. Any malicious behaviour of that type is wrong. But there's been stalking weirdos around long before Twitter -- and the Internet -- came into existence. What has changed all of a sudden?

If I recall, just a month ago, Kutcher willingly challenged CNN in a race to one million followers. He won; great, well done! Loads of free PR and adulation!

Twitter is extremely useful, gives a lot of value and can bring amazing results if used in the right way. It's just a tool, nothing more. As I've said before, people are the killer app. They'll be around a lot longer than the latest social media fad, trust me.

So, Mr. Kutcher, do what you gotta do, but don't make a big deal out of it. There's a lot of other stuff going on that's a lot more important.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tweetbucks, Affiliate Links In Tweets

Tweetbucks is a service that is currently in closed Alpha testing, but gives you the opportunity to earn money via affiliate links that are automatically inserted into your Tweets. Grey area, dodgy ethics?

In all fairness, the company DOES encourage you to disclose the fact that you may be earning commissions off your friends and followers clicking on your links, if they actually make a purchase.

I think the good part is that you can make some money, with full disclosure. But the bad part is that if this kind of service takes off, we'll see a plethora of tweets plugging this product or that product, in the vain hope that quantity sells, and not quality.

Personally, I like to recommend blogs, sites, people, services and products on Twitter because I think people will like them or find them useful, and not to make a quick buck.

I still believe the only real way to make money in social media is to invest in your reputation -- that will pay dividends over time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Connected One

The latest in my series of blogs I like is Dave Forde -- aka The Connected One. And that he is. He runs Profectio, PR In Canada and also founded Toronto Tech Week.

He's a mover and a shaker, knows who's moving where and has his finger on the pulse of Toronto's social media scene.

His main blog is here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Waiting Is The Worst

As of today, I am halfway through a Web/social media project (waiting to hear back on next steps), waiting to hear back on two new business pitches, waiting to sign an NDA for some possible new business, waiting to hear back from two people that contacted me in the first place (but now seem to be in a holding pattern), and waiting to launch two new start-ups as side projects.

Waiting ... waiting ... waiting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Has To Be The BEST Blog Post Ever

As I was doing my daily treadmill fast walk (not quite a run, yet, but getting there!) I mulled over a post that I read this morning by Dave Fleet about social media "experts." I blogged about this very subject recently too, so have to agree with Fleet's sentiments.

Social media advisors, consultants and trainers are wary of labelling themselves as experts. That's like a red flag to a bull, and an open invitation to pick apart why they think they know so much. There should be a few case studies in tow, or some recommendations. Most of the really successful guys and gals are too busy doing the work, to actually write about doing the work. (Yes, I know this is a blog post instead of making a living. But, to me, this 10 minutes is part of making a living. It's to chat to people about the lifestyle of a consultant, and hopefully get some feedback, or criticism. I like both. You put yourself out there, and see what happens.)

So, back to Fleet. He says: "Too many 'experts' have built their egos on the back of their own 'personal brands' ..."

I can see where he's coming from, but I still take the stance that people do have egos. It's what makes them feel good about being successful. Seriously, what would you rather hear -- "That work you just did was a piece of crap," or "That was a great piece of work."

People have to make their brands personal, there's no way around it. If others know that you can do great work, then you'll get referrals. You don't have to be the most prolific blogger out there, or write a thousand tweets a day, it's how others relate to you that counts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hanging Out With The Rescue Mediums

You may have heard of the TV show Rescue Mediums -- it features two friends of mine, Jackie Koshnic (above left) and Alison Wynne-Ryder (new to the show). They are British mediums and travel around Canada visiting haunted locations, and helping "trapped" spirits to the other side.

We hung out last night, chatted about ghosts and I got an awesome Reiki healing. It was amazing. They are both extremely intuitive and fun to be around.

So, this is a blatant plug for their show. Seasons 4 and 5 are filming right now, and will be aired in the fall, but you may be able to catch re-runs as they seem to be on quite a bit.

Here's their website for more info, but it needs to be updated.

Friday, May 15, 2009

E-mail? In Those Days We Used To Send Postcards

I lived on a kibbutz in Israel for over two years during the period from 1989-93; best time of my life, made some excellent friends, set up a website about it, wrote a book etc... so I went on Facebook to try and track done some of those people.

On the kibbutz, volunteers (like myself) were assigned a family to be "adopted" by, so they could socialize easier and get to know people. I had a really nice "mum and dad" but lost touch. They had a son who was around one year old at the time. Yesterday, I searched for their names on Facebook -- nothing -- but found the son = now about 18!

So, I contacted him, gave the parents' name and asked if he was their son. Yes, he was. So, now I'm connected again with my adoptive family over in Israel.

And this is why I am passionate about social media, connecting, linking.

In a nice segue on the history theme, my wife works for Heritage Toronto, so I do some free PR for them from time to time. They just announced a great series of free iTours, and you can read the social media release for more info.

Torontonians -- the sun is shining, the city has some great heritage to explore, so get out there!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pugs Aren't Using LinkedIn To Make Money, But You Can

Unfortunately for pugs, they can't type very well, so haven't been able to join LinkedIn and make some money, find new clients, or land a job. But that's cool -- it's less competition for you to get in there and snap up some of that new business just going begging.

Here's how:

That sounds too obvious, right? It's been around for around six years now, I believe, and when I chat to friends and business acquaintances -- especially those who know about it and meet interesting contacts every day, but feel they shouldn't add them to their profile -- it amazes me the opportunities they are missing to expand their professional network. For free.

Set Up A Group
I have a zero marketing budget. Actually, that's not entirely true. My marketing budget is around $48 a month for my Internet connection. That's all I need. Heard that Seth Godin was setting up a Triiibes network, e-mailed him to ask if he was OK with me setting up a LinkedIn Triiibes Group, and voila! A nice, growing sub-network of interesting people (166 so far) who are smart, looking for new business opportunities, or just to bounce ideas off each other via the LinkedIn setup.

Answer A Question
Everyone is curious. There is a GOLDMINE of top professionals asking questions on LinkedIn = needing YOUR help = maybe looking to be YOUR future client. Pick a few questions that you know the answer to and don't waste people's time, and then offer some of your hard-earned knowledge. For free. If the recipient likes what they hear, they will follow up. Happened to me once or twice.

Check Out Who Is Checking You Out
You can see who has viewed your profile recently. I love this. Sometimes it's a specific name, or you can narrow it done pretty accurately. Just fire up the old e-mail, contact them: "Hey Mr. Jobs, I noticed you checked out my profile today. Is there anything about my services I can help you with? If not, have a great day and maybe we can connect in the future."

Jobs Are Also Contract Opportunities
Read the jobs section. See a job that fits your skills, but it is in the wrong location, salary range, area of expertise? No problem! Contact the company and see if they are open to outsourcing the job to you as a telecommute position. They save costs, and you obtain a new client. Or, ask if there's a finder's fee for getting the right candidate, and then consult your network to find the perfect fit. Headhunters use LinkedIn all the time ... why shouldn't you get a slice of the action?

Get Referrals
I'm sorry, but people, me included, DO have egos. I like to do great work for people, and them to be appreciative of it. So, ask for a referral or testimonial. If the client is happy with the work you've done for them, they should have no problem with taking 10 minutes to write a paragraph to that effect. It's gold. It's credibility. It's currency.

Connect To Strangers
You go to a business networking event, you see interesting people, you just stand there in the corner and ignore them. NO! You walk up, introduce yourself, chat and see if there's a possible working relationship. Same for LinkedIn. Source those superstars, the people you want to do business with. Add them as a contact. But, don't be lazy and use the LinkedIn default introduction e-mail. Shows a lack of respect. Take 10 minutes to write a personal note about why you want to contact them. It's not spam. You have something to offer that you take pride in, right? They might need it, they might not. 50/50. A polite "no thanks" or a "hey, tell me more." Not sending that connection request is a definite 100% failure to get new business.

So, there you have it. Get in there, use LinkedIn to make some money before the pugs catch on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hi, I'm The Government. Nice To Meet You

I applaud the fact that President Obama's administration has created the Office of Public Engagement, and my fellow countrymen have a similar resource. It shows a willingness to listen to the people that put them there a bit more, but, really, they had to right?

Let me just say that I am not a politics junkie by any stretch of the imagination. I've lived in Canada for nine years now, and will only be applying for my citizenship this year. Not to vote -- although I will, probably for the Green Party -- but because the Americans always hold me for an hour in their immigration centre when I drive across the border! It will make things much easier to live here in this great country.

To my mind, there seems to be some form of election taking place here in Canada all the time. Democracy is the ideal, but now it can be taken to the next level with forward-thinking governments claiming their Twitter presence, and allowing citizens to criticize their actions in an open and accessible form.

That's why I love social media -- it can be applied to ANY aspect of life. People in any profession can use it, or those that just love to hang out online with like-minded people. If I wanted to chat with curry fans, I'm sure there's a network or Facebook group somewhere. If not, that's cool ... I will set one up. For free.

There's a big issue going on in Toronto at the moment with the Tamil protests. They stormed the Gardiner Expressway on Sunday, and are at Queen's Park today. Some people are pissed off that this is very disruptive, which the Gardiner blockade certainly was, but these people do have a right to protest as far as I can tell.

Twitter is keeping up, as expected. I foresee more sophisticated methods of using social media in the future to tie in with these types of demonstrations.

The Gold Rush Has Started

A real ad I just spotted:

"Twitter is the hot new way to advertise on-line. I have devised a system to allow me to collect over 50 000 people on Twitter for my Brand, and I can do the same for you. I have spend months figuring out the ins and outs of Twitter and I already have several real powerfull accounts to help spread the word about your brand! Twitter is the hot buzz word of the industry, and if you do not have a twitter expert working for your brand, now might be a good time to emply one!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey, Did Anyone Get The Twitter Password From The Intern Before We Let Her Go?

"Your global social media strategy and brand awareness is safe with our summer intern!"

[Disclaimer: As a freelance consultant, this opinion is totally biased, subjective and aims to further my own personal agenda.]

I regularly scan Craigslist for new business opportunities, especially the Marketing/PR/Ad and Writing/Editing posts of the Toronto section. They're a bit hit and miss, and you soon learn to filter out the scammers -- especially the "submit some writing samples" to a hidden e-mail address -- and other fishers.

It's disheartening to see more ads of the following type: "Summer intern needed to handle our social media strategy. Must know Facebook and love blogs. May lead to a full-time role."

I think this is totally shameful for two reasons:

(1) Clients, companies, brands and people are still learning the art of using social media as a way to engage with their target market. If done well, it works. If mishandled, then the fallout can be catastrophic for a long time. They need to know that their PR team is familiar with the process, get them started and then let them take it from there. How much value can a green summer intern add to that? What happens once the summer -- gasp! -- ends, and the intern moves on? Who takes up the slack and continues to build on that short-term relationship?

(2) "May lead to a full-time role" = "We can try this social media thing out, and see if it is works. Then, if it does, our company gets lots of glory and we can take you on as an underpaid member of the team. But if it fails miserably, it's on your head and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out."

Clients have to know that there is a solid understanding of social media, and that their brand, image and reputation is not going to be left swinging in the wind because of inexperience or a lack of strategy. It's too important for that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slogans, Logos And Mantras

As the communications arm of the founding trio for a new green non-profit start-up, I have been tasked with coming up with a catchy slogan that encapsulates what it is we are trying to do. That is much harder than it sounds.

Not the "what we do" part -- that's very easy -- but the "summing it all up in around four words" part. I love to write though, so see this as a very exciting challenge. Once we get this part in place, and the other two guys agree, then it's off to the races.

We are all looking at graphic design concepts for the logo. One of them I REALLY liked, but I was in the minority, and it has to be a consensus, so back to the drawing board.

One thing I do know though is that we have a rough launch date, and definitely won't wait for the *perfect* product before launching. We are throwing a social media element into the mix and will be asking the green community to help us tweak some aspects of the site as we move forward.

I can't wait to see how people will respond! We will be listening ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Will Apple Buy Twitter? Nah

There's a lot of speculation buzzing around the usual channels that Apple is considering buying Twitter for around $700 million. I gazed off into the distance, frowned and rubbed my chiselled handsome chin for a few seconds while pondering this rumour -- and I think it won't happen.

Here's why.

1) Twitter still has a long way to go yet in its development, and the guys that created it will be kicking themselves in a few years when it's worth at least a few $billion;
2) To sell out now is an admission that, well, Twitter really couldn't make any money after all;
3) Apple likes to control its own apps through the channels it chooses and allows -- I think Twitter is too much of a wild card. It's past the "early adopter" stage now = once Oprah joined, and Mr. Demi Moore [lucky bugger] gained over a million followers, then even more developers are going to start grabbing the API and taking it into a whole world of new directions that might make Apple a tad uncomfortable;
4) I don't see an iTweet device in the near future ... but just in case, I went to buy the domain name and of course, it's already gone;
5) Google would offer more.

Disclaimer: I have no stats, leads, insider contacts or other real research to back up the above statement. But just to prove I'm a good sport, my parrot Herb has agreed to dance for you on my webcam if Apple DOES indeed buy Twitter in 2009.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How To Get Your Name Mentioned A Lot In Social Media

It's not that hard to gain some good exposure in social media these days. Every day tons of new people join the fray, and via services such as Mr. Tweet or WeFollow, they can find you and follow you if they believe you add value.

A lot of these services can be a pretty lazy way to get your name RT'd a million times. Follow Friday is another good example of getting your name in front of new followers, via someone else's recommendation.

Why not organize a Tweetup or an Unconference in your area? You'll meet @yourfriends face to face in a sea of laptops, possibly at a university or pub, and as the organizer, your name will be the HOT TICKET for a while -- until somone hijacks the #hashtag, organizes their own event and steals the limelight. Ah well, social media is a fickle beast.

Or, write a best selling book ... and then you have carte blanche to blog semi-nonsensical social media nuggets of wisdom such as, "Start a network. Be the network. Do it. What's stopping you?" or "If we all just listen, then who's doing the talking?" People lap this up, and it will be linked to a million times.

Give back, but -- HELL NO! -- don't take. Spend all day tweeting, blogging, webcasting, chatting and pinging your help, advice, thoughts, top 10s ... until .. oh s**t! ... it's already 5 p.m. and I haven't done any work! But at least you'll rise in the search engines as a social media guru.

As a last resort, you can always be a consultant and teach people all the above.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why Social Media Consultants Should Be Scared

I'm discovering that a lot of companies/clients still aren't aware of social media. That's good news (more biz opps for consultants) and bad news (they are missing out on more biz opps for them).

I don't think we've reached the tipping point yet, but I can envisage this conversation:

"Hi there. I'm a consultant. Need some help getting started with social media?"
"Nah, got that covered thanks. What else can you offer?"

Apart from being the shortest new biz pitch in history, that also shows that even though we think this "gravy train" (for want of a better disrespectful phrase) is going to last for ever ... it's not. What other skills do you have? Can you write? That's always handy. Can you do research? That's useful too.

If you concentrate on only one discipline then you are going to get left behind. It will probably be sooner rather than later, actually.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I got thrown a bit of a curveball yesterday that sidetracked me for a day, and it's something I may want to discuss in the future -- we'll see.

As of today, I had coffee with my fellow entrepreneur and signed off on some equity in a very cool green start-up that we'll be launching soon. Will blog it once we get closer to the alpha stage.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Totally Biased Heritage Toronto Advert

My wife is the director of communications at Heritage Toronto, an excellent agency that works very hard to make sure old Toronto is given the respect it deserves.

Tomorrow they start their season of FREE walking tours. Check it out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yet Another Pointless Post About How To Use Twitter

[Social media "experts" would charge $1,000s for this info, but in the spirit of social media, I am giving it away for free. Please pass it around, and yes, I am appearing in a city near you soon.]

1) Go to http://www.twitter.com/
2) Search for the box that says "Get Started -- Join!"
3) Join.

Deep breath. You're in. Start tweeting to your heart's content.

You'll start to discover a lot of blog posts about which people you should follow? ... should you follow someone if they follow you back? ... is it OK to talk about your brand? ... do a greater amount of followers mean you're popular?

Yes and no on all of the above. The thing about Twitter is you shouldn't follow anyone's specific advice about how to get value from it.

So you only have 10 followers? Are they all loyal customers who buy from you on a regular basis and you like to chat now and again? -- Great! It's working for you!

Do you have BIG FAT ZERO followers, but you follow a load of people? Do you learn something from their tweets about how to make your life, or your business better? -- Great! It's working for you!

"Don't do this." "Don't do that." Blah.

Just do.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ten Social Media Commandments

Thou shalt not auto-DM me with free offers when I follow thou;
Thou shalt not kill your brand in 24 hours by offending thy mommy blogging community;
Honor your customers and engage with their needs;
Thou shalt not make of yourself a false avatar;
Thy will not covert your neighbour’s friends on Facebook;
Thou shalt not steal useful tweets without an RT;
Thou shalt nor bear false witness to YouTube comments such as "BigDawg pwned yo mom!";
Remember thy Follow Friday to keep it social;
Thou shalt not take the name of the Fail Whale in vain;
Thy will not blaspheme in blogs on how Twitter can make gold, it is a false prophesy.