IT vs Marketing

This presentation was delivered at the Post Secondary Education Web Conference June 25th 2013 by JP Rains and Martin Laferriere (Chief Web Officer, Laurentian University).

Here’s the description: 

Ever hang up the phone saying “what is Marketing thinking?” or leave a meeting saying “IT just doesn’t get this”. This presentation, put on jointly by IT and Marketing, will make you feel at home whether you care more about WYSIWG or CMYK.

Sharing our lessons learned, success stories and failures, the talk will include topics that everyone can enjoy or loathe, including:
- Web Design and Launch
- Social Media
- Micro-sites

This presentation will add insight to your daily conversations with “the dark side”, from whichever perspective you share.



Twitter: The new church basement

First of all, I’m a numbers guy. When I saw a post from Fraser Strategies saying that my former MP had left Twitter, I wanted to crunch the numbers.

The NDP member of parliament for Timmins-James Bay, Charlie Angus, had in fact, left Twitter. I’m not disappointed in Angus, or his advisors, but I am disappointed for the 4,441 (and growing!) of us who followed him on Twitter. Here are a few numbers on what this means.

4,441 : followers on Twitter

54 : people he was following on Twitter

81,957 : population of the Timmins-James Bay riding

246,275.67 : square kilometers in the riding

24  : number of people he visited during a 90 minute town hall meeting

Expanding on some of these numbers, if Angus is to allow his constituents to ask him questions directly, in groups of 24 participants, it would take him roughly 3,415 visits. In 90 minute meetings, working 12 hour days, it would take him roughly 426 days to meet with these constituents.

Now, I commend Angus for joining Twitter and representing his constituents and especially, for the awareness he built through Twitter for the residents in Attawapiskat. However, the irony in his leaving Twitter,I will leave as fodder for the Twitterverse.

Finally, for anyone participating in Twitter, it serves as a reminder that Twitter is not a megaphone on top of a hill, it’s a really big church basement.

Smoke Signals and Messaging.

Most recently I sat in the vast ocean of audience that was listening to a keynote from @JesseHirsh CBC’s national correspondant in technology, thinking to myself what Social Media consists of for the audience.

Jesse mentioned that “Social Media” really began with smoke signals, this dates back to ancient china when soldiers would send smoke signals to alert their countrymen over 750 kilometers away. This was really significant to me. Every time I face clients who are apprehensive about “social media” I’m of the view that this fear is really fear of the unknown. However, this media is already “known” to them, it’s merely an extension of their current communication strategy. The tools have changed but the game is the same.

If you believe in Marshal Mcluhan’s “the medium is the message” then the message may be different, however the goal is the same. The real change is in the tools, much as the evolution from radio, to television to internet, all of these mediums have relied on similar content. The most important thing we can teach is the tools.

Our mission should be to build the confidence in clients that they already have message, and that we can transform that message to fit the new mediums.

Social Media isn’t about followers, or fans, or click-through rates, it’s about building relationships with your network. Once that network is built on trust and value, then you can start looking at the numbers.

Those numbers are the measure of success but can only exist if you understand the reason behind the smoke signals.

Holiday Cheer

In this season of holiday cheer, social media brings us a chance to communicate with those far and wide. However, its really important to remember that people are getting overwhelmed with the traditional holiday greetings. Where is the innovation?

The most valued greetings are those you remember, and you remember those that are unique. Your warm picture by a fireplace, or in your back yard. This year I tried something new and sent out Holiday Cards via YouTube private link to friends and family, it was a personalized message wishing them happy holidays and giving them a small annecdote that is relevant to our friendship.

This isn’t earth-shattering, new or really innovative but it does show you care a whole lot more than if you send off a picture of your family photo with the title “Happy Holidays” to your contact list.

I hope you discover some gems these holidays.

Social Media’s Impact on Politics

The most recent Ontario election has left me wondering whether or not the results were impacted by the activities of the candidates on Social Media. With that, I decided to take a look at 3 races where an underdog came up to take the win in a close race. This will hopefully give us an idea as to whether social media may have had a positive influence on voters. Through these 3 races, I’ve tabled the social score of Facebook fans/friends + Twitter Klout score in order to establish which candidate is interacting more effectively with constituents online.


It’s easy to see in this case who had the handle on their “handles” with Thomson dominating social media. This landslide was explained by Marchese’s Facebook presence with his high privacy settings on his profile and he had linked his Twitter account to auto-update his Facebook status – classic mistake, no one wants to chat with a robot. Meanwhile, Thomson’s efforts of engaging posts and interactions were impressive. While this didn’t translate to a seat in office, the race was much closer than the anticipated result of Marchese doubling up on Thomson.
 Ottawa Centre

Naidoo held a 12 point lead however was trounced it the polls, similarly, in Klout score. As for Facebook, Naidoo had no updates to his personal profile close to election time and few interactive posts on his Facebook page. Naqvi was not much better on Facebook, with few updates but a much higher response rate on his page. Where Naqvi separated himself was in his use of Twitter, with a true reach of over 1K (175 for Naidoo) his tweets were focused and influential. In this case, again, use of social media was a pre-cursor for an unexpected result. 

Northumberland-Quinte West

In conclusion, the results have shown that the social media presences of these underdogs had a tangible impact on the end result of the elections. It is safe to assume that social media in general has a positive impact on ridings but may be further influential for city centre ridings. For me, what has been proven here, is that the impact of social media must be measured by political campaigns in order to properly gauge their polls.

Time will tell whether the winners of the election can properly use these tools in order to keep listening to their voters, or at least make the voters feel like they are ;)

This 10 point lead for Rinaldi disappeared quickly on election night as he was supplanted by teacher and beef farmer Rob Milligan. Rinaldi was non-existent on Facebook but did have a small presence on Twitter with a true reach of 148. His handle was the unassuming @VoteLouRinaldi and he rarely had tweets of any relevance, other than when he congratulated his competitor @RobMilliganPC. While Milligan’s usage of Twitter was not impressive either, his Facebook presence was tangible with updates and a significant amount of followers. While this riding did not prove the same result, however it did show us that this rural riding (and potentially others like it) may be less likely to be influenced by social media. 

Social Capital – Your Reputation

“Respect is not given, it is earned.”

The same is true for social capital. For brands, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convert visitors to followers. Gone are the days of associating with a Facebook page simply because of a given affinity. The value has to be identified quickly and delivered upon constantly.

Facebook page’s, Twitter accounts and Websites, they all garner attention based on content. This much I made as clear as possible in my last presentation at PSEWeb. The real important thing here is that each page, after converting a follower, has a finite amount of what some call Social Capital. In a nutshell, how long you are willing to tolerate items you don’t care about until you Unlike, or Unfollow.

Each post you create factors into your social capital, everytime someone sees your name, you either increase or decrease in their mind. A brand, a politician or a friend, your brain becomes conditioned to either ignore or pay further attention to that brand.

Your social capital should be guarded fiercely, every post should be strategic and vetted. It’s hard to believe that many big brands aren’t customizing their posts, their websites or tweets. Even on a personal level, thinking of who will actually want to read your content will drive you to be relevant, interesting and timely. When you hit these three components you’re in the #baconzone.

Viva la baconzone.