Category Archives: Uncategorized

Everything I know about parenting… I learned from Eddie Murphy.

 “You brought that shit on yourself.”

This is a fundamental truth that can’t be denied. Every behaviour (good or evil) that my kids have ever flirted with over the years, ultimately comes back to something that I did or didn’t do. (Like beat their backsides.)

When my daughter was about 5 or 6 years old, and testing my patience at bedtime with her sassy, finger-waggin’, talkin’-back, grumpy, drama-princess shenanigans, I put her to her room.  Of course she wanted to discuss/negotiate the terms of this bedtime confinement, and I was having none of it.  The noise from her mouth would just not stop. It was soul-sucking. When finally, at the brink of my despair, I expressed my discontent in a screamo pitch that set off all the car alarms in the neighbourhood.

 NOT. ANOTHER. WORD.

A slam of the door, and then sweet, blessed silence. Brilliant silence. Ahh… I had had the last word. I won. I was in control. I almost wanted to rejoice in song. (I may or may not have danced a jig.)

As the minutes of silence continued to stretch out, I had hoped and assumed that she had finally gone to bed. Bent to the will of my awesome parenting, she succumbed to doing as she was told. I smiled triumphantly as I came upstairs and got myself ready for bed—all the while mentally preparing my long-winded acceptance speech for the parent-of-the-year award.  It was then that I saw it. A single piece of paper sprawled across my pillow. It conveyed a significant message, but not a word was used.

IMG_20140113_200750

I brought that shit on myself.

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Curious George is my new Gym membership

Two weeks ago, I adopted a rescued Great Dane named George. I knew he’d be big, but you really can’t comprehend how big, until he’s nosing around on top of the fridge or settled in for the night in your bed.

george

There is also a considerable amount of saliva.

Long, stringy, mesmerizing loogies that dangle precariously at varying heights from his excessively long grumpy-cat lips.

It pools on the floor in unobvious places that are only detectable by bare feet.  It is also, seemingly, evaporation-resistant. It will stay there for days, still as wet and slimy as the day it was deposited. Although, this same saliva crystalizes on countertops, tables, shoes, skin… and the TV.

I had this romantic notion that Great Danes were gentle giants who did everything in slow motion with undying love and affection in their eyes. George is clumsy, believes “whoa” means “go faster”, and has not a care in the world to the frailty of my old bones as he drags me down a forest trail hill clocking 12 miles an hour.  [Note to self: Let go of the leash.]

Two walks a day, morning and night, whether I want to or not. 2 miles of pushing, pulling, tugging, and plenty of “NO!” “Stop that!” “Get your head out of there” and of course the largely misunderstood “WHOA!”

Who needs a gym membership? My arms are so sore I can no longer lift a slice of bread to my mouth. My hips have rotated out of their sockets from windmilling downhill faster than any human ever should.  My back is a twisted, knotted mess from curling into a ball to sleep on the top right corner of my pillow, which is my current nightly allotment.

And it’s not free exercise either. Much like a gym membership, there are dues to pay. A Great Dane eats a lot. I mean.. A LOT.

Then there’s the poop.  Two shopping bags full.  Not the sweet little black poopy bags you see other dog owners discharging from their pet utility belts like some dog-walking ninjas. Oh no, I’m talkin’ large, awkward plastic grocery bags. You know the kind your fingernails can inadvertently punch a hole through? Yeah, those.

And don’t even get me started on the eye boogers.

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Do you have the C-Factor? An open letter to the C-suite on being Social

SOCIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE C-SUITE

[Re-printed with permission from the author, Dave Taddeo. A CEO who “gets” it.]

WHAT IS SOCIAL?

Social is this thing that people use to communicate and share. It started with Friendster only 10 years ago and eventually many other sites started popping up.
People share all kinds of things including what they are doing at any moment, photos of friends, family and events, and videos. Keeping in touch with (and track of) more friends than would normally be possible, is now possible. Sharing status updates and other kinds of media with more than a few (or hundreds or thousands) of people at the same time with the ability for all those people to comment and give their input became ‘valuable’. All the information about people and what they share and with whom became a goldmine for marketers. Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.

SOCIAL. MARKETING.

Social marketing is when your marketers put your ads and information on social websites.
Wait. Let’s go back for a minute.
Remember when the marketing team at your company sent out flyers house to house and had newspapers and magazines print ads and delivered and sold to poll-generated demographic communities? Those newspapers and magazines told you that a certain number of people not only saw your ad, but read it and they charged you based on that certain number of people seeing your ad and reading it. Newspapers and magazines based their numbers on circulation. The higher the circulation, the more they can charge you based on that certain number of people seeing and reading your ad. How many times did someone in the C-suite at your company ask the newspaper or magazine how certain they were that people saw and read your ad based on circulation number? This is a well-developed advertising model going on several decades. Sixty or seventy years worth of printing and distributing. What’s to question? Maybe, ‘How many distributed copies of your publication were looked at before they were dropped in the recycling bin? Are you charging me too much? Show me the numbers.’
Back to the present.
Now you can budget your marketing and ad dollars and know it is targeted to people who consciously stated they are interested in your product or service. You can pay to have an ad shown to a person who is actually interested. You can also decide to (only) pay if someone consciously clicks on your ad and brings them to your site or a promotional web page. You know your marketing and ad dollars are being spent on real potential customers. As newspapers and magazines phase out of existence, your marketing and ad dollars should shift substantially to where your real potential customers are.
Now that you’re doing that, you need to serve those real potential customers where they are and how they’ve become accustomed to being served. Take the marketing out of ‘social marketing’ and get social. Take a second and go back and read the last 2 sentences of the first section.

“Especially when they share their opinions, photos and videos about your product and/or services. Instantly. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.”

This is fundamental. Make no mistake about it. You need to be there to be a part of it lest it takes on a form of it’s own. This is not easy. It may even be a bit scary. You need to engage a community that has risen around your product or service in a professional, yet complementary manner in which the community behaves. This is completely different from printing an ad, hoping someone sees it and is compelled to purchase your product or service, and if customers need help providing a phone number in which they call, follow the automated instructions and wait for someone to speak to them about any issue they may have.
Take a few minutes and come to the realization that the ad and phone call model is cumbersome and upsets your customers when all they want is what they’ve become accustomed to; quick and easy communication where they already are – social. They want to do that with you. Badly.

GETTING SOCIAL

How do you get social? The way social is done is upside-down to the old ad and phone center model you’re used to. Contact the experts. Find a company or contractor to set you up and inform you of what to do and how to move forward. They know what social is. They’ve been doing it for a long time, not only as a service they provide to companies (including your competitors) but also in their spare time for themselves (as themselves) with their friends and families and followers.
This costs money. Real money. But you cannot afford to not be social. Your customers and potential customers now require it. Getting social is the future for your company. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.
Think about it. If a potential customer has a question about your product or service, or has a problem with your product or service that can be rectified with a question posed to a customer service rep from your company, which company do you think will win that customer’s/potential customer’s loyalty or next purchase? The answer is very easy. The company that can get the information to the customer/potential customer with as little ‘friction’ as possible. More and more customers/potential customers are spending more and more of their time at their keyboards. More and more device (electronic gadgets) and TV manufacturers are working hard so that you can put your ads and customer service where your customers/potential customers eyes already are. Make it ‘frictionless’ (easy) for your customers to contact you. Put yourself right in that line of sight.

SOCIAL. MEDIA. MARKETING.

Social media marketing are 3 different things, so stop putting those 3 words together in one bastardized term.
Marketing you should already know. Leave it to the marketing department. Get some marketers who know how to bring your product or service to the ever-evolving internet (including the social websites). Find a company or contractor who follows and knows the varying websites and trends. Once again, they are the experts. They know what’s going on online as it changes day-to-day.
Media is just that. Media. Photos, videos and commentary about your company and it’s products or services. The ever-active 24/7 presence of the global internet means you have to provide as such.
Social is the new tricky thing you have to adapt to. You have to be there, but how do you get there? Do what you do best and leave social to those that know it and live it.
Successfully putting the above mentioned 3 things together is how you become successful. Placing videos or photos (media) promoting your company (marketing) where your customers are (social) is new and essential for your success. It’s the undeniable future.
Getting social and adding your marketing and media is a very large and complex endeavor. It develops and evolves every day to something different from what it was the day before. The players can change just as quick. To be a part of social, which is essential, you have to make sure you have good people doing it for you.

ROI

First let me ask you when the last time you asked your customer service management what the ROI is on what they do? It’s a stupid question. Serving your customers to satisfaction has no ROI. It’s just I(nvestment) in your product or service. It’s I(nvestment) in satisfying your customers. The R(eturn) is return customers.
Investing in social is investing in your company. Getting social with your customers lets them know you’re there and ready to be… well, social with them. Marketing and adding media while being social with your customers is the ultimate trifecta. Being social means talking to customers, listening to customers, solving problems for customers, marketing to customers, sharing media with customers and last but not least, having fun with your customers. This costs money. Real money. The return on your investment in getting social is karma. You can’t count the profits based on being part of a community where your interactions define who your company is and what your company does. And please please please for Christ’s sake, please stop looking for a defined percentage increase in profits next quarter based on how much money you spent on good social services last quarter. Your return is karma and that takes many quarters. You have to earn that karma by being there for your customers where they are time and time again from here on out.
You want to know numbers just like you wanted to know the numbers from the newspapers and magazines. But you have to know this is different. The old ‘place an ad and get the made up circulation numbers from the printer’ model doesn’t apply anymore so don’t try to make it apply. Getting social encompasses much more than having a ‘certain’ number of people seeing and reading your ad or marketing campaign. Your customers can read and then re-post your copy. They can comment on it and share it with others, many others. The 24/7 viewing, re-posting and/or comments cannot be held to the same accounting standards as that ‘certain’ number of people who saw and read your print ad that they could not view, copy and share and/or comment on. This is new. It’s still in development in an ever-developing social space. How much do you value a re-post? A comment (positive or negative)? Having your media available to the world 24/7 regardless of when you provided it? Stop doing the math for a minute and start gathering statistics. Gather statistics over a quarter, 2 quarters, a fiscal year, two fiscal years… then look back and see how things are going and start building a model. You need the data. You already have the data for print ads. Before asking for your ROI get some data so you know what you’re actually asking for.

JUST DO IT RIGHT

You’re in the C-suite because you bring a certain skill and value to the company you work for. Unless you are a part of the C-suite for one of the websites where your customers are, then leave it to those that know how to get your company social in one of those sites. The social company or contractors you obtain social services from (be it social, media or marketing, or all 3) provide their services because they bring a certain skill and value to their clients. Take some time and do your due-diligence and choose a social service provider that you believe will fulfill your company’s needs being social.
You don’t have a choice. You have to get social. It’s the way the world is going whether you like it or not. Do your job and pay attention, but do it right. Leave it to the experts and rest assured knowing you don’t have a choice.

Thank you for your time.

Dave Taddeo, CEO, Coaters Tech

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Beware—vanity metrics is a social media marketing meme

Most people don’t get social media.  Social Media marketing is about relationships first, selling second.

It’s a tough nugget to swallow, especially when the pressure from the c-suite is asking for the ROI.   Social media is not just a bolt-on tool or marketing channel with tried-and-true metrics.  It is fundamentally re-defining the relationships between consumers and brands.  Social media integrates PR, customer service, human resources and marketing into the digital space.  The social presence defines the brand–whether you choose to believe that or not.

The challenges lie in measuring and feeding the Social success back into the traditional measuring tactics.  It’s a square peg in a round hole.

Most organizations struggle with this concept because they don’t know what Social success looks like.   (I have sat in a long list of boardrooms and witnessed many interested organizations be led astray by the misinformed marketer who is in the business of inventing business—for themselves.)  This is the unfortunate validation of vanity metrics that perpetuates the meme.

Focusing on vanity metrics (numbers of fans, followers, likes, etc.) is the quickest way to watch any social media program tank before it even grows legs.  I’m not suggesting that they should be ignored, but they don’t represent reality and can easily mislead a brand in gauging meaningful performances in these channels.

The number of ‘followers’ you have does not make you better than anyone else. Hitler had millions, and Jesus had 12.

Focus instead on actionable metrics such as engagement and share of voice, which are currently the two major trending metrics for measuring success in social media.  Determine your piece of the total conversation pie and set realistic benchmarks to increase that percentage.  Track and measure that growth.  And then do the same for your competitors.  You can’t control what you don’t measure, and you can’t measure what you don’t understand.

When you prioritize the wrong measurement tactics, you’ll get poor results and squander your resources all because you’re either a) reaching for a recipe that doesn’t match up to your business objectives, b) getting bad advice from a social media “expert” or c) you’re trying to impress your boss.

Cultivating a loyal, quality audience who opt-in is much more effective than pushing strict marketing objectives in a ‘spray and pray’ philosophy.  You may have initial success with numbers, but the program will not be sustainable.  Invite Social Media into all corners of your business and build a strategic plan from the inside-out.  Be realistic, be honest, and set social and digital goals that you can measure.

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Facebook to buy Instagram for $1-billion

Woah… a blog post from Mark Zuckerberg:

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

What do you think of that?

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the artist formerly known as author L. J Smith…

I just caught wind of this in the Lulu Blog:

If you think writing a series of acclaimed supernatural thrillers, which get made into a successful television show and sell thousands of books, would be considered a job well done, think again.

Publisher HarperCollins removed LJ Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries, from the project after friction during the editing process. Smith said she was pushed out after arguing against cutting characters, scenes, and other creative decisions that she felt were important to her vision of the story.

Smith, who began writing the novels on a “for hire” contract back in 1990, was shocked to find out that she had no rights to any of the characters or stories she created. In an e-mail, Smith reflected, “Even though I have written the entire series, I don’t own anything about The Vampire Diaries.”

This is an all-too-common story among writers of genre-fiction. Authors desperate enough to sign anything end up losing any creative or financial control of the characters, and the ensuing sensations, they create. Where a publishing house offers a vast marketing and distribution network, it also tends to dilute and altogether alter a writer’s creative vision. To some writers, like LJ Smith, this becomes too much to bear. They fight to keep their work intact, only to find “a letter addressed to the ghostwriter by name, telling her to completely rewrite my book.”

We’re neither arguing against the need for a good editor, nor against some self discipline and revision on the part of the author, however, we think this example demonstrates an important benefit of self-publishing: complete creative control and financial ownership of your work. Even after writing several successful novels, LJ Smith was removed from her series with little to no warning whatsoever, and absolutely no recourse.

So, what does “for hire” mean in this case?  The Vampire Diaries series belongs to Alloy Entertainment—it always has.  They hired L.J. Smith back in 1990 to write the series for them—based on their premise.  She signed a contract upfront to say that the Vampire Diaries belonged to them, and everything the writer created (characters, events, etc.) throughout the course of the series belongs to Alloy.  L.J. Smith has no say in what they do with the series.

I imagine that 10 years is long enough to forget that you’re writing for someone else.

 

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The Social Media Marketing Lie

Social Marketing sounds scary—foreign even.  And it should, because it’s misleading.  The Social Marketers out there in the headlines are making up the rules as they go along.  The race to be the most influential expert in the Social Media industry is definitely on.  And honestly, if marketing folk didn’t hike up their bootstraps and hoof it in a new direction—they’d be quickly out of work.  It’s really not that complex.  Don’t believe all the smoke and mirrors.  There’s no magic bullet.  And—it’s not marketing.

Social Marketing is not about marketing at all—at least not in the traditional sense.  It’s about customer service—and marketing that service.  In order for a Social Media program to be successful, you can’t live in the house of marketing.  You can accessorize with marketing methodology such as campaigning, product sampling, and that sort of thing.  But the house you must live in needs to be customer service. 

The frontline of your organization is customer service—this is where your company becomes real to the public.  Engaging with the public shows them you’re real, it shows them a human face.  It puts you in the coveted position of confidant.  It allows you to listen to what customers are saying and keeps you pro-active and top-of-mind, all the while remaining involved with them.  More importantly than that, you’re building a community that allows customers to interact with each other and it is—in essence—a celebration of your customers.  It’s an everyday virtual customer conference.

It’s time to let go of traditional values and let the community and your customer service team market for you.  Teaming your marketing silo up with Social Strategists is setting your conversations up to fail—before they even begin.  There will be all sorts of head-butting, non-acceptance of key strategy elements, and downright refusal to play nice in the sandbox.  Your marketing team is skilled in traditional marketing and is an important piece of your business puzzle—just on a secondary scale in Social Media.   Customer service is built for listening and for scaling, and must be the starting point for any successful Social integration program.  If the program is to standalone, it can be effectively positioned—or repositioned—as residing between customer service and marketing.  Tearing down organizational silos could mean realignment of budgets and key management, but worth the reorganization to bring these departments together.  It will be a critical effort in order to manage Social Media after deployment. 

You will be managing the care of the public in a public platform.  Everyone will be watching; customers, potential customers, fans, your competitors—even your mom.  You need to put your best “face” forward.   Do you want to trust the customer service of your marketing team to make the decisions? Or do you want to rely on the skills and training of your dedicated customer service team to engage your audience?  It seems like a no-brainer.

Social media is not going away.  In fact, this is only the beginning.  Before long Social Media will be an integral and essential part of the business industry.  It will be as obvious and as necessary as email and paycheques.  You can stick your head in the sand and pooh-pooh the whole emergent phenomenon of Social, and you can go on believing that traditional values are hard-core and cannot be so easily torn down.  But, you’d be wrong.  You have to be open and adaptable to change.  You have to learn new tricks—no matter how old your dog is. 

As a leader in your organization, it’s up to you to make the tough decisions.  Board ego’s run deep, budgets are tight, and nobody wants to talk about change.  Ain’t that the way it goes?  All the excuses and reasoning in the world won’t change the fact that one day soon—in order to continue to compete for market—you’re going to have to implement a Social strategy.  Why not start embracing it now?

Start discussing strategies internally.  Conceptualize your organization in a conversation.  Align and arm your customer service department for the new program.  Ask for help.  Find reputable Social Marketing Strategists to consult with and build a rock-solid platform for your business to engage the world.  We are out there—and we’ll tell you the truth. 

Easy-peasy, right?

~uberscribbler

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