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Mister Splashy Pants

TED is a great site for great videos – serious videos about how people can change the world.  This video is pretty appropriate following the theme of my last 2 posts.  First personal social networking, then social media for marketing your organization.

In this video Alexis Ohanian of Reddit tells the real-life fable of one humpback whale’s rise to Web stardom. The lesson of Mister Splashy Pants is a great example of how powerful the internet can be as a marketing tool. Even by accident! Green Peace almost didn’t catch on!  They tried to control the outcome which just gets the internet audience more fired up.

Green Peace was fighting the Japanese government, who were actively whale hunting.  They were tracking humpback whales, and decided to have an internet poll to name one of them.  Mister Splashy Pants was a proposed name for the whale, along with some different culture based names.  Now it doesn’t say how that name came to be part of the poll, but suffice to say that the internet loved it, and at the end of the contest, “Mister Splashy Pants” had 70% of the internet vote.  The internet audience got on board and the name went viral on the web.

Well when Green Peace didn’t like the results, they extended voting, which only got people more fired up.  At the end of that week Mister Splashy Pants had 78% of the vote (119,367 votes) compared to the next highest name at 3%!

Green Peace learned their lesson, it’s okay to lose a bit of control, and were successful in getting the Japanese government to stop the whale hunt.

The lesson for us re-enforces the comments I made in my last post – If you have a great idea, it has the potential to go viral, and really help market your brand.  Seth Godin calls it an “Ideavirus” .  Notice that Green Peace was totally taken off guard at the success of this campaign, and tried to control its outcome.  They did not purposely try and create a viral campaign, it was genuine.  Companies that try too hard to create a viral internet campaign usually end up with bad publicity.  Anyone heard the story of Wal-mart’s fake blogging exploits?

You are at the mercy of the entire internet community!  And for every good success story, I bet there are hundreds, probably thousands of ideas that flopped and never took off.

Hey, I never claimed this Web 2.0 stuff was easy!

Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Random Thoughts, Social Media.

The Social Media Impact On Marketing

In my last post, I talked a bit about how social media impacts you personally.  There is so much information out there, and it does take some time to get your head wrapped around it.  Once people get comfortable with using social tools for personal use, the next logical step is to take it to the office.  How can we use these tools and ideas to make us more money? To increase our brand presence?  To interact with our customers?

This is the second impact area of social media.  It is using social media tools and techniques to better market your business.  There are thousands of examples and studies out there defining how this has worked for companies.

10-15 years ago, you put up a website.  It was a “brochure” website.  “Check out our website – it will tell you all about us, and it never changes”.

Today companies are coming up with creative ways to use social media to promote their brands to consumers.  There are great examples of companies using social media techniques to market their brands.  Evian using YouTube, this video has almost 12,000,000 views and was recognized by Guinness records as the most watched online advertisement ever.  Ford, creating the fiesta movement, giving social addicts a ford fiesta and having them blog, video, and tweet about their experiences with the new car, creating a huge online presence and reaching out to an audience that may never have considered driving one.  Dell attributing $6 Million in sales to twitter.  Frank Eliason (@ComcastCares) has been credited with turning around Comcast’s customer service department using twitter; and countless other companies creatively marketing to consumers using social media, coming up with the next viral idea to capture attention.

Sure, these are all big companies, what about the small ones?  What about organizations?  What about a student group at a University?  The same logic applies.  It is about increasing your online presence, to attract a bigger audience.  The really cool part about this is that any organization, big or small, can create an online following for a few dollars and a great idea.  Having a web presence is essentially free.  Having the idea that attracts people’s attention is what is important, and getting people’s attention these days is not easy.  (Having an established social network can help you with that).

And of course, let’s not forget about Google.  The more web presence you have the more Google will like you.  Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Customer Forums, etc. are easy ways to get Google’s attention.  There are specific use cases for each tool, and there are specific things you can do (referred to as SEO – search engine optimization) to optimize your results.

There are a lot of people approaching social media from this perspective.  Marketing firms are adding social media consulting to their offerings, specialized consultants are setting up shop, there are lots of resources out there.  Search social media marketing in Google and read up on it, subscribe to some blogs and learn about it, as there is way more info you need to know that I can’t capture in a single blog post.  And if you still don’t have a personal social media presence – get one, learn about the tools and then you will start coming up with ideas on how to use them.

The third area is Social KM, using social tools to engage employees and share knowledge.  This is an area I am passionate in, and I think my blog posts here will start to reflect that.  I will talk about that more in my next post.

In the meantime, what is your great idea to help market your organization?

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Business, Social Media.

The Personal Impact of Social Media

In my mind there are three applications of social media that exist.

The first is personal and it is the easiest and most common, you get engaged with social networking (Facebook) because you want to be social, you want to keep up to date with friends and family, share pictures, maybe reconnect with some old friends.

Have a passion for something, or want to learn something?  There is probably a blog for that.  And if you are passionate enough, maybe you will start your own blog, or become  part of a like minded community of people online (you can even create your own at  The social aspect is a great learning experience once you learn how to filter out the stuff you don’t want to see.  RSS and twitter are great ways to stay on top of things that you are interested in.

Then you take it up a notch and connect with colleagues, partners, and clients, and start using social media to promote yourself professionally (LinkedIn).  For the most part this is still personal, although you are expanding your network, which ultimately will help you in your work life.  This also helps your company build a presence on the web, but I will talk more about that later on.

All of this activity is about who you are as a person, and you can get as detailed as you want or don’t want.  Share what you are comfortable sharing, and use common sense to keep you safe.  Don’t brag publicly on Facebook that you just got a brand new TV, and then tell everyone that you are going away on vacation for 2 weeks.

When I think about it, none of my online profiles have any contact info aside from an email address, and yet I can look anyone up using Canada411, easily get their address, and then go to Google Maps street view and know exactly what their house looks like.   (In case you didn’t know, Google just put London, Ontario street view online.  I can see my son playing in the yard outside his daycare.)

So do you spend the time or don’t you?  Our days are already jam packed.

I made a decision months ago that I wanted to dedicate time to it, explore more, and dedicated a chunk of time every day to get online.  Turns out that I sometimes do need that extra hour of sleep, but most nights I am on the computer reading, absorbing, and contributing more.  My iPhone has also changed my patterns drastically, but that is a subject for another post.

If you want to use these tools to connect with other people, you still need to build relationships with your online connections.  Don’t expect that just because you have a LinkedIn profile means that you will land your dream job – you still have to work at it, building credibility and trust, just like in any relationship.  In this day and age, whether you like it or not, people will be googling you to find out more about you – What are they going to find?  What do you want people to find?  Things you put online are pretty much there forever, so be conscious of how you are presenting yourself.

I believe that for you to progress through and to comprehend the business cases for social media, you need to have some level of engagement in social media personally, and I also believe that this is where social media is going to be the most valuable to you.

This is turning into a long post, and it really sets the stage for my next post, where I will discuss Social Marketing and Social Knowledge Management (the other two applications of social media).  The networks you are building personally, the tools you are learning, are applicable at the office, and the more you get into it, a little voice in the back of your head will start saying, hey – I could use these tools to increase brand awareness of my products, as well as increase engagement and collaboration at work.

How is social media going to impact you personally?  It has already impacted millions of other people, including a whole generation that has grown up with it.  Impact kind of has a negative connotation to it, but can millions of people all be wrong?  Are those millions of people wasting their time?

I’m not.

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Social Media.

It Is Not A Fad

Social Media – “It is not a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate” (credit: Marta Kagan, What the F**K is Social Media)

There are many different ways of looking at this social media revolution – your kids get it, but they also can’t see how it could be used for business, or for “grownup” reasons.  Parent’s see it as a social tool for their kids and see their kids wasting time on the computer (Hint to parents – you can learn a lot about your kids by being their Facebook friend…)

I am going to take a stab at categorizing my experiences so far.  These are the types of people I have met along the way:

The social Kids – most kids that can use a computer have a Facebook account.  They don’t use email, they spend 8-16 hours per week on social networking sites commenting, updating, uploading, and browsing.  They don’t have a clue what happens in the real world because they haven’t got there yet.

The social Parents – All of the parents of social kids – their parents usually don’t have a clue at how much information the kids are exposed to online and how much personal info they share every day.  They see social tools as a waste of time, they have a job where any type of social networking is frowned upon, and they can’t fathom how it could ever be of value to them, or their business.

The social Addicts – these people have jumped in with both feet and have been with social tools from the beginning.  They have a huge social network, constantly meeting people online and interacting with new connections.  These people are pushing the limits at their place of business because social tools are part of their existence and they never shut them off.  Or better yet, they are using social media tools to better position their business in the market and engage their employees.  They will tweet about what they are doing at work, and tweet all night long about what they are having for dinner (from their Smartphone of course!).  Their work/personal life lines are blurred because they are always connected.

The social Ignorers – this group has been in the workforce just long enough to have missed the bandwagon.  They are focused on their career and, like the social parents, don’t pay any attention to what is happening on the web.  They use the internet for research, for help with problems at work, but are hesitant (and maybe a bit overwhelmed) of the tools that are out there.

The social Adaptors – This is the other half (ok, not quite half, maybe 10%) of the social ignorers.  This group has entered the social media space and has had a small win that keeps them engaged in it.  Maybe they saved a $500 service call on their TV because they found the right blog that diagnosed the problem and contained instructions on exactly how to fix it.  They have discovered where these tools could be applied during their workday.  They have stepped out of the box, and out of their comfort zone a bit to dabble in, and to listen to what the social addicts are saying.

The more you listen, the more interesting things you begin to hear, and when faced with an interesting problem at work, you have more avenues to explore on the web because you read a blog somewhere on how to deal with a certain change event.   Or maybe you reached out to someone who you have been following, introduced yourself, and made a connection that helped you.  People are usually more than happy to talk and offer their 2 cents if you ask for it.  And like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

So which one are you?

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Business, Social Media, Social Media Tools.

How to Organise a Children’s Party

First off, this is not about planning a kids birthday party.  This is Dave Snowden (Founder of Cognitive Edge) talking about the three different systems that apply in nature.

  1. Chaotic Systems
  2. Ordered Systems
  3. Complex systems

Now stay with me for a second,  Dave takes the children’s party metaphor and describes how each of the above systems works, and while watching it, you can’t help but relate it to your work day, and it is quite comical.  It has got me interested in the application of complexity theory to our organizations, and to be honest I had to watch the clip a few times to understand where he was going.  I think everyone will agree that most of us strive for an ordered system, which in the end seems kind of silly when Dave presents it this way.

YouTube – How to organise a Children’s Party.

Great stuff!  He has 2 more videos up on his You Tube channel that are worth a watch as well.  He is also a great blogger and tweeter.

Posted in Business, Random Thoughts.

Does Social Networking Equal Real Networking?

Social networking, if you are not in it yet, is like trying to find a seat at Fenway Park – and you don’t have an assigned seat, and you show up late.  And you wonder if you should even bother trying to stay with the game.  It seems that every other site you hit is wants you to create a user profile and connect with others on the site.  So where do you sit?

I think one of the biggest barriers to participating in the web are that people get intimidated by the size and number of social networks that exist today.  Facebook has over 300 million users, and is adding half a million users a day.  Their growth is only going to slow when the world runs out of people with Internet connections.  Another popular site, Linkedin at around 50 million members is geared more to building your professional network.

Now the debate ensues, aren’t these networks just for kids?  Seriously, I don’t have time to play on the computer….  (Web Huh, Social What?)

So Lesson #2 is about social networking.  What the young kids know is that social networking does not replace a phone call or a face to face conversation with a friend, it provides an additional channel that maximizes the reach of your personal network, allowing you to connect with people you would otherwise never connect to.  It is not the equivalent to real networking.  But it does facilitate real networking.

Social network “friends” are not real friends, but they are people that are part of your network.  Dunbar says that you can only maintain 150 social relationships.  Most social networking users have hundreds of connections, and you are not in it to maintain close relationships with all of them.  It really comes down to how much you put out there, and how much you want to connect.  And then making a conscious decision of the value in doing it.

Get on Facebook – If you are not on Facebook, you are part of a minority.  Don’t not participate because you think it is a waste of time – you can choose how much time you spend on it.  I keep Facebook strictly personal, for social and for family use.  For that reason,  I don’t contribute  to my profile often, but just enough to listen to what is going on within my network of “friends”.  It is actually a great way to connect, keep up to date and plan events with people that you do have real relationships with, and to share pictures of your kids with your family easily.  Facebook is also the biggest photo sharing community on the web – there are billions – yes billions – of pictures on Facebook

LinkedIn – This is essentially the professional version of Facebook, complete with discussion, contacts, professional profiles, events planning, and groups.  I attended a networking event organized by one of my LinkedIn groups.  I went downtown London, had a couple drinks and mingled with 100 members of the London Linked group.  So when I say that social networking facilitates real networking, this is what I mean.  I met people who I never otherwise would have met.  Of course you will argue that the value of these connections is debatable – and yes, 4 people tried to sell me insurance and financial services (but wait, if I was actually looking for insurance and financial advice than those would be good connections made).  I also met up with the President of the PMI for south-western Ontario.  In my mind, that is a great connection, and a potential real relationship that I will grow.

At the end of the day you will get out of it what you put into it.  And along with any other changes in your life, you have to make time to do it, and decide that there is value in doing it.

Posted in 2.0 Lessons.

Lesson #1 – RSS

RSS Icon

There is a ton of information out there.  You can waste alot of time, or you can learn something – it is your choice.  I want to write a few posts that outline the basics of how you can participate in the participatory web.

The first thing to know is RSSRSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

Basically, when a website updates content, like me writing this blog post, the content is published as an RSS feed.   Then you can subscribe to feeds from different websites, and aggregate all of your feeds into a feed reader.  So instead of checking back on websites to see if there is anything new, you can use your feed reader like you would a newspaper.  Scan your feeds in your feed reader to see what has been happening on the websites you subscribe to.

Yes, Internet Explorer and even Outlook have built in feed readers, but don’t bother, we are going to set one up in the cloud (because I know you have more than one computer).  Also, I personally find the Outlook and Explorer readers too cumbersome to use.  I am big fan of of Google, so I use Google reader (and no, unfortunately I don’t own Google stock).  Login to Google reader here.  If you don’t have a Google account, create one (you don’t need a Google email address).  By the way, speaking of Google, I also use iGoogle for my custom internet home page, GMail to aggregate my different web email addresses,  and about 8 other Google tools to stay on top of things.

Back to using reader, once you have an account setup you can start subscribing to feeds.  Here is a quick intro video from Google.

I use Google reader daily from multiple computers, as well as my iPhone, and almost every site you visit will have as RSS icon (similar to the one above)  Clicking on it will give you the option to subscribe to that site using google reader (or any other reader you may choose to use).

You can also search for other feeds that you might like, star your favourites, and setup folders for different topics

Make sure to click on the RSS icon above and subscribe to this blog!  Also, checkout my feeds that I follow to get you started.

Posted in 2.0 Lessons.

How Twitter Saved My Sanity

Twitter is the last social media tool that I thought I would be talking about (There are others that should be discussed first). It is really not the kind of tool I would introduce to someone first.  Mainly because it is the simplest, and yet the most difficult social media tool to understand, but I simply can’t ignore the use cases for it.  And I have a good story to share to prove it.

My wife and I decided to get the kids vaccinated for the H1N1 virus. The London health unit has setup huge clinics with huge turnouts. We went twice but turned around at the size of the line and potential two to three hour wait (and with two young kids that is a really long time).

Enter Twitter. The health unit was posting wait times on Twitter and giving updates every half hour or so. Two hour wait at STA and no wait at Ross (local schools). Ross was across town (in London, Ontario that only means ten minutes more!). What happened next is another story but once we got there we walked right in. Twitter saved me a two hour wait in line with screaming kids.  (Waiting for anything is my biggest pet peeve) All those people waiting at STA are obviously not on twitter, otherwise they would not be standing in line, they would be heading over to Ross.  Sure the health unit could have posted times on their website, or created a email sign up list, but with twitter, there is no signing up or checking back on the website, and next to no administration for them!  All I have to do is click on the follow me link and now they are on the list of people I follow.

There are other social tools I want to discuss on this blog:  RSS, Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, etc.  and I will write on these soon (for those that are not familiar with them).

By the way, I am writing this blog on my new iPhone 3GS (sorry Luis) and also following Twitter on it to get my health unit updates.  I am not a huge tweeter yet but I will get there.  Blogging in 140 characters or less (Twitter restricts posts to 140 chars, but unfortunately does not restrict the number of tweets someone can make!).

Don’t you wish you could get some people you know to restrict all of their correspondence to 140 characters or less?

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Social Media, Social Media Tools.

A Month In Review – Web huh? Social what?

I started this blog a month ago, and  I find myself talking to people more and more about Web 2.0 and social tools, and asking people what their thoughts are on the topic.  To my honest surprise, most people look at me and go Web huh? Social what?

I surround myself with smart people, people that I like and respect a lot, but the look on their faces is one of confusion and wonderment as I try to justify my hours spent and my passion on the topic.

The response from most people is the same.  Social networking… yeah my kids spend too much time on Facebook, what a waste of time.  I am too busy to spend time on the computer, I have too many important things to do, there are too many social tools out there to use, etc…

Translation = I don’t understand what Web 2.0 means.  I am comfortable with not knowing, and I don’t want to change.

My response to my friends and family:  The whole concept of Web 2.0 and social tools allow you to create an online presence and share your passions with other people who have similar passions.  It allows you to connect and build a network of people that you would have never otherwise met, and connecting with these people increases your knowledge and passion for what  you are sharing in the first place.  It is a tremendous tool for personal learning and growth.

And for the business aspect (This is a much harder connection for people to make):

Social tools in the workplace engage employees and cultivate a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing –

Finding information you need to complete a project quickly.
Collaborating with colleagues across the country with a wiki.
Replying to your CEO’s weekly blog, and feeling like you are being heard.
Locating the right person to ask your question, and help solve your problem, even if you have never talked to this person before and they sit 2000 km’s away.

I jumped into it, because I stumbled across a couple people online that I found interesting.  This led me to more and more information and people.  It has changed the way I look at engineering and business processes at work.

And I recognize that my time online is valuable to me because I am growing, learning and changing!

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Social Media, Social Media Tools.

Social KM

Thanks to Luis Suarez for putting this topic back out there.  It reminded me of a presentation David Gurteen did, introducing KM 2.0 or “Social KM” back in in October 2007, and again in August 2008 at KM Brazil.   He does a great job of describing the differences between 1.0 and 2.0 in the enterprise, and the evolution of Knowledge Management to Social KM, focusing on the people. The slideshow is embedded below.  David also writes more about Social KM on the bottom of this page.

I personally love the term Social KM, as it ties Social Media and Knowledge Management together. Social Media is exactly what was missing when KM failed at many companies years ago. And in Luis’s post he proposes that Social Computing = Knowledge Management, and Knowledge Sharing is all about a successful combination of the best technology with the top notch business processes “managed” by the best talent you have got as a business: your knowledge workers. Your people!?!?

This is the stuff that gets me excited thinking about the endless possibilities for employee engagement and knowledge sharing in business.  It is unfortunate that so many organizations are still turning their backs on social media amongst its workers.  Those companies will start to struggle (if not already) as they loose the knowledge, morale, and engagement of their employees, which today more than over is a companies biggest asset.

Posted in Social KM.