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.