Bons mots

Slips of my tongue

Podcamp Toronto 2009


I had the pleasure of attending Podcamp Toronto this past weekend. Over 600 people converged at the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson to listen to their peers talk about new media, social networking sites, blogging and podcasting (natch). The two-day “unconference” was free, thanks to its many sponsors, and offered a venue to for social media pros and amateurs  alike to mingle, network and learn from each other.

It was a great way to meet new people who share my interest in social networking tools. I was also able to meet the real live people behind the small Twitter avatars I see every day. And I learned something new at every session I attended. 

I won’t bore you with minute details of what was discussed at Podcamp (affectionately known by its hashtag  #pcTO09); all sessions were recorded and will be posted on the Podcamp Toronto wiki  ( I urge you to listen to each session – every speaker is passionate about their topic and the fun is in listening to them reach out to their audiences and share their knowledge.

Thanks and congrats to the organizers of this event!


February 25, 2009 Posted by | Learning | , , , | 1 Comment

Can social media be measured?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is a bit more complicated. The question was the focus of this week’s Third Tuesday Toronto (which actually took place on a Tuesday!). A panel of experts in social media measurement and web analytics assembled to tackle this contentious issue: how do you measure something that is so fluid and, as yet, undefined?

The experts were: Katie Paine, president of KD Paine and Partners, a company that helps its clients measure the success of their communications campaigns; Marshall Sponder, a senior web analyst at, member of the Board of Directors of the Web Analytics Association (WAA) for Social Media and The Analytics Guru; and Marcel Lebrun, President of Radian6, a company that provides monitoring and analysis tools for social media to PR professionals.

This is what I took out of the discussion:

  • Before social media can be measured, you have to decide on your business goal. Does it involve improving customer service? If so, focus on the number of comments on your company’s website, perhaps, or what is being said about you in the blogosphere. If your goal is to increase sales, find out how many people are flogging your product or service; you could try to correlate that with your advertising or marketing campaigns.
  • There is no standard, no “magic bullet.” Social media is in its early state and remains undefined. Sponder identifies a need for standards among social media measurement to enact best practices and benchmarks. (This is similar to the MRP standard for traditional media monitoring.)
  • Traditional measurement criteria, such as tone, circulation and prominence, are difficult to apply to social media; different parameters are needed. If PR is about building relationships with audiences, and social media facilitates this, then it follows that we should measure the conversations that are happening. Are they positive?
  • In Paine’s experience, boards of directors are driving the demand for social media measurement. They are losing control of their brands to their customers and want to prevent DellHell-like incidents from happening at their organizations. The most important way to measure is to listen – to your customers, your competitors, the industry. Learn from being engaged.

The basic premise is to measure social media for the relationships, not the numbers. Find out if your audience is talking about you, what they are saying and how many people are joining in the conversation.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Learning | , | 3 Comments


Forgive me. It’s been two months since my last post. My mental energies have been devoted to school, school, school. Now that the worst is over, I can return to my musings.

Here are some from the past few weeks:


I attended an IABC seminar a few weeks ago (All-Star Social Media). Shel Holtz gave a great presentation on the communicator’s leadership role in integrating social media tools into their communications plans.

I spoke to a former colleague afterwards who remains unconvinced about social media. And he’s not alone. There are a few holdouts in my class, my family. And these are the very same people who have Facebook accounts. The irony alone kills me.

I’ve been privy to both sides of the argument. On the one end, you have the “social media as a fad” faction; on the other lies the rabid social media juggernaut. I plant myself somewhere in the middle, and here’s why:

Social media is not for everybody. Communicators should not jump in and acquire social media tools without some intelligence-gathering beforehand. Find out how your audience likes to receive your news. A publicly traded company may have a more conservative audience in their investors and should keep to the tried-and-true methods of communication (eg. newswire, mailings, e-mail distribution). There are also regulations surrounding the dissemination of material news; there must be some level of control so it is best to tread wisely in this area.

Use the force wisely. The road to social media is littered with companies who have attempted to reach out to their audiences using social media and failed miserably. (I’m looking at you, Wal-Mart.) It’s akin to a middle-aged man dancing in a nightclub filled with twenty-somethings and trying to look cool. (I’ve seen this; it’s funny and sad at the same time.) You have to know the rules before you enter the blogosphere; it’s already filled with detritus of johnnies-come-lately who jumped on the bandwagon then quickly jumped off once they realized that a) they don’t really have anything to say or b) it takes a long-term commitment to keep a blog. (My colleague, Mike, calls this Noodle Code – blogs with no planning or direction.)


I saw this article on “wedding wikis” on Wall Street Journal’s website ( It works like this: a couple are planning their wedding, a very personal event to celebrate their union as man and wife. They create an online polling site where they ask their prospective guests to help them decide on such mundane matters as, “Should I wear my hair up or down?” (if the groom-to-be is asking this, then it wouldn’t really be mundane, would it?) or “What song should we have our first dance to?”

Have we become that connected to each other that we must share every minute detail of our lives with each other? It is socially acceptable to ask your guests to help plan YOUR wedding? I’m already paying for the priviledge of attending, is that not enough?

As a singleton, weddings are not my favourite events to attend. I mostly go for the food and try to avoid catching the bouquet. (It’s simple – stand at the back, don’t put your hands up and steer clear of the rabid bridesmaids who will gladly wrestle each other for a few gladiolas and roses.) The one joy I get is to see how bad or great a wedding can be. I want to be surprised, so that I can regale my co-workers or classmates with funny stories (e.g. my aunts dancing to Strokin’; the flower girl lifting her dress up over her head during the ceremony). Spontaneity is the key to life and having everybody in on the fun is, well, not fun.

Again, you also have to do your research – how many of your guests are social media savvy? Is it going to come down to a few deciding on behalf of many? And is this a matter of the couple really trying to tailor their event for the pleasure of their guests? Or is it just an attention-getting manouver for a Bridezilla? As the author of the piece suggests, the true nature behind a wedding wiki is how faithful the couple will be to the choices of their guests. If polling results favour an erotic wedding cake, I wonder how many brides would honour that. If I set up a wiki for my wedding, I know I would.


A previous post was devoted to Tina Fey. I am a Fey-natic and looked forward to her movie, Baby Mama. I saw it and was disappointed.

Have you ever walked out of a movie and rewrote the ending in your head? And was the rewrite much better than the drek on the screen? I walked out of the theatre dejected. Tina, I thought, how could you do this to me? The movie ended up another paean to domesticity. Literally. The last scene heading into the credits is littered with babies and families. What happened to the single woman who wanted a baby on her own terms?

I will forgive her, however – she didn’t write the movie, just starred in it. I will wipe this movie from my memory by watching back-to-back episodes of 30 Rock and old episodes of SNL.

May 14, 2008 Posted by | Learning | , , , , | 2 Comments


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