Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tips to promote a GoC Video Contest via Social Media

A fellow Government of Canada (GoC) colleague recently asked me how she can use social media to promote a video contest her department is soon launching. Although I answered her question by commenting on the original post directly, I thought I'd share what I wrote here as well, in case others are facing similar challenges, and to hopefully get some feedback (or more ideas!).

Assumptions:
- the department in question does not have their own official Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin presence
- The video will be hosted on the department's site or on YouTube, or on both (did not specify).
- No budget to spend on advertising (e.g Facebook targeted ads, Youtube home page/masthead and standard box ads etc.)

I am by no means saying that this list of tips is definitive or even complete, but it is based mostly on tactics I have employed and/or have heard of others using, and have basically compiled as many as I could think of.

So, here were the suggestions I had regarding spreading the word (link) for a Video Contest:

Twitter
• Twitter: ask relevant accounts to partner with you by either posting the link on their stream and/or retweeting the one you tweeted. To start, see this Twitter list of GoC accounts: http://twitter.com/Lissansky/canadian-government-accts . Certainly do not limit yourself to GoC accounts, and consider non-federal institutions as well as associations and NGOs. If you're wondering whether this is already being done, the answer is yes! Take a look at Environment Canada's tweets [link to be posted] - they not only tweet their own content, but also point to Provincial government sites and even retweet posts by the public on their own personal blogs - as long as the subject matter pertains to their account's objective.

• Ask other colleagues on Twitter to retweet your post by tagging it #GoC and #gc20 - in some cases if this is not generating enough traction, you can Direct Message (DM) people you know/interact with. Don't hesitate to ask other relevant Twitter accounts to do the same. *Caution -use your discretion in terms of who you think would be responsive, as well as with the frequency of these types of requests.

Note: the person who asked me for these tips does not yet have a departmental Twitter account, hence my emphasis on partnering with existing accounts.

Facebook
• Post the link and a brief description to relevant Facebook Groups/Pages
• See if you can liaise with group admins to send out the info to their members on your behalf (each group has a Facebook messaging list).

Linkedin
• Post a link to the contest on your Linkedin Status and relevant groups don't hesitate asking others to help spread the word

Cross-promote
• Include a link to the contest in your email footer
• Include a web banner /button/feature/link to the contest in prominent places on your department's site
• Use a backlink checking tool to see which sites already link to your department's websites - wherever appropriate, see if they will link to and/or feature your contest

Note: It is important to track all links you post, either by asking your Web Coordinator to create a separate trackable link for each method, and/or by using URL shorteners such as bit.ly (lets you track clicks). This will help you determine which methods/tools are proving more effective. Also, since I have not mentioned this yet, be sure to, wherever possible, post in both official languages.

To help with the above, a good starting point would be to make a list (you probably already have one) of the organizations your department normally partners with (both federal, and other levels as wells as NGOs and perhaps educational institutions) and see who among them also has a social media presence - you may be surprised just how many do.

Think of your social media strategy as a complement to all the other strategies would normally be using (such as email, newsletters, asking partners to link to the contest from their sites etc.). Try stuff, test things out. Learn a few lessons, and improve the next time.

Keep in mind that video is one of the hardest "asks" for user contribution - because it requires a lot more effort than other user generated activities. Furthermore, because the request is coming from the Government of Canada (vs. MTV), there should be fairly "good" prizes/incentives attached to the contest in order to get a lot of entries. I can't comment on the benchmark for number of entries to a government sponsored video contest - but finding one would be recommended.

Hope you found this post helpful. If you think I'm missing some great ideas, feel free to add them in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why is Canadian Online Advertising Spending so out of Sync with our Media Habits?

I've been reading a lot lately about Online Advertising vs. Traditional Media spending budget splits not being "in sync" with Canadian media consumption habits.

Here are the basic Canadian stats:
  • 79% of Canadian households have internet access and almost all of those (92%) are on broadband (Comscore).
  • Canadian Internet users spend more time online than Internet users in several other nations including US, UK, Japan and Germany.
  • Media consumption has shifted recently: < 35 year olds spend as much or more time online than watching television or engaging with other media (radio, newspapers, magazines) (Ipsos Reid, 2008)

However, Canadian marketers and advertisers, have been slow to respond:

  • 11% of their Canadian advertising dollars go to online (IAB Canada 2008)

For comparison, let's look at other industrialized nations:

  • UK co's invest 20% of ad budgets online
  • US avg. is currently 12% and anticipated to grow to 21% over the next five years (PwC/IAB UK 2008, Forrester 2009)

And, although as of 2008 Internet Ad spending (1.6 billion) surpassed Radio (1.55 billion) (IAB Canada), as mentioned above, it is still at just 11% of total advertising spending.

Given the above statistics, and the fact that online advertising is among the most trackable/ROI measurable medium, I'm still puzzled as to why this is the case in Canada.

It is easy to point out the current situation, but far more difficult to explain why we tend to lag behind. If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Facebook: Is your professional world mixing with your personal?

Mine started to. So I did something about it. A few weeks ago I created a separate, professional Facebook account using my work email address. Now, this is not simply so that I can network with colleagues, managers, and other people on a professional level. I found I also needed to have a separate account for my work duties - i.e. I recently started promoting corporate events via Facebook. I didn't want people clicking on "event creator" and not seeing anything at all because of my strict privacy settings, but I also didn't want people seeing/reading things about my personal life - people that I have not "friended."

Another reason I decided to start a separate professional account is because I often want to share my Tweets, or articles I'm reading, but most of it may not be relevant to my friends, classmates and extracurricular group members. And, I really try to avoid annoying people. I will now only post articles that are of a "broader" nature on my personal account.

So far, it has been working out well for me...although some people have asked me "Ana, what's with the two Facebook accounts?" I proceed with explaining that if they want to read / know more about my professional life, they can "friend" my second account too, and if not, then not to worry about it! Essentially, I'm giving them a heads up that my professional account will not talk about the movie I saw or the restaurant I went to, so not to expect that type of conversation there.

Furthermore, I find it very liberating to have a separte professional account - I don't have to worry about constantly saying no to professional contacts asking me to "friend" them when I don't know them well enough to share my entire personal life, and I can add people from Twitter whom I may not have ever met in person (which so far, my Facebook contacts have been 99% people I've met in person).

To sum up, here is my list of Pros/Cons of having separate personal/professional Facebook accounts:

Pros
  • separate personal chatter (movies, restaurants, vacation, parties) from professional (work projects, work travel, and articles I'm reading), and at times more serious subjects
  • not have to worry about giving wrong impression to professional contacts with some Wall posts posted by myself or others
  • ability to post more often on common interest subject matter - people on my professional account are usually from the same field or organization type (i.e. public sector) and are interested in similar things. My personal contacts audience is much broader, and only a small percentage may be interested in hearing about my work all the time.

Cons

  • Splitting time between two accounts
  • People commenting/wondering why there are two accounts, negativity?
  • Search engine stuff: both accounts will appear in results - how will Friends / Professional contacts decide which one to add as a friend?

Also, to comment on one of my "Cons" someone I know has added the word "work" and their Twitter handle to identify a particular Facebook account as their professional one - maybe I'll do that too?

Feedback

Feel free to add additional pros and cons I may not have thought of!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Terms & Conditions of a Twitter Monetizing Scheme

I recently clicked on what I thought would be an interesting article, via Twitter, and it sent me to RevTwt, some affiliate marketing program that allows people with "real" Twitter accounts to monetize their Tweets. Not that I'm interested in participating in such schemes, but I decided to look at their TOS (Terms of Service). [Note: Always check Terms & Conditions before signing up for anything and everything!]

First of all, I strongly dislike extremely long TOS / T&C statements, and especially those written in highly cumbersome legal jargon. The interesting thing about this TOS statement is that it was written partly in legal jargon and partly in "simple language" (some things they want you to understand, and some things they'd rather you overlook?). Either way, wouldn't it be great if all T&C pages had a searcheable Q&A somewhere on the page where common questions about some of the legal jargon would be answered?

Here's an exerpt from TOS statement:

"You agree to not use the Service to:

(d) forge headers or otherwise manipulate identifiers in order to disguise the origin of any Content transmitted through the Service;

(e) upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships (such as inside information, proprietary and confidential information learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure agreements);

(f) upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights ("Rights") of any party;

(g) upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation, except in those areas (such as shopping rooms) that are designated for such purpose (please read our complete Spam Policy);

(h) upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any material that contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment; "

Term (g) particularly shocked me, because essentially, the posts made in a user’s Twitter account via RevTwt are SPAM because they link you to RevTwt instead of to what the Tweet describes! Furthermore, the products/services the Twitter user is linking to are not even guaranteed to be things he or she has used/tried/reviewed personally - so how can this ad any value to the system?

Also, Part A section (b) of the TOS states that "at least 80% of the posts are written are not ads. You will not post more than one ad in a 2-hour period and will not post the same ad more than once in a 24-hour period". Come on! Who would continue following someone who's Tweets are 20% ads?

I seriously hope these montizing schemes do not increase in prevalence, or at least I hope Twitter will take action to prevent this noise which essentially turns valuable time into a waste of time.

If you know of any other Twitter monetizing / ad schemes you'd like to flag please share them here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pros & Cons of Multiple Twitter Accounts

I started with one Twitter account (@Lissansky), with a very specific focus on Social Media and Government 2.0. Then, as my account evolved and the list of followers and people I was following grew, I began thinking that I may be missing something. And so, here's what came out of that thought process:

  1. Professional Interest accounts VS. Personal Accounts
  2. Multiple Language Accounts - Listen to Global Conversations & Learn from Experts Around the World
1. Professional Interest accounts VS. Personal Accounts
I just recently decided to create a second professional interest account, one on web and graphic design (given the freelance I do on the side). Having a separate design focused account allows me to tweet on the subject, without loosing followers who don't want to hear about the latest InDesign Plug-in and why Photoshop CS4 image cloaking rocks! I also get to follow several hundred amazing graphic and web designers that share AWESOME tutorials and tips. For my second account, I was also able to take use the twitter ID
@ottawawebdesign, which happily was not yet taken! Using this Twitter ID will likely also help me the search engine rankings of my personal web site and potentially with getting more clients for my freelance work.

The third Twitter account I'm considering opening is a personal one - for friends and family. One small problem though...I don't have many non-workrelated friends or family members with Twitter accounts! I guess I'll have to wait until more than 2-5% of Canadians use Twitter (See March Ipsos Study:
http://bit.ly/zo8oI). I certainly do not want to tweet on personal topics in my other accounts and be considered annoying or a waste of time. But I guess I'll just have to wait until Twitter truly hits mass adoption.

2. Multiple Language Accounts - Listen to Global Conversations Learn from & Experts Around the World
Yes, I speak and write in 5 languages. In terms of writing, I am of course much better at some (English/French/Spanish) than others (Russian/Bulgarian), but overall, I would be able to write well enough to use Twitter (I'm not writing a technical manual here!). I would also be able to understand and/or inform myself on the Twitter norms in those languages, hopefully allowing me to Tweet as effectively and efficiently as in English.

Another reason for accounts in multiple languages is that I have often found myself wanting to Tweet en Fran├žais, but then I recall that 95% of my followers probably don't speak French, and that on my main account, @Lissansky, the only language common to all is English. Tweeting in French would probably cause me to loose followers. Thus, I am also considering creating extensions of my main account in French (@LissanskyFR), Spanish (@LissanskyES), and Russian (@LissanskyRU). Besides my desire to continue to write in the other languages (in order to not forget them!), I also believe that in general, we are not listening enough to social media conversations on a global scale. Given the languages I have selected, I can "listen in" on a much larger part of the world of conversation, and I find it fascinating!

This particularly applies to Russia. The recent article on Online Media Daily, the news portion of Mediapost.com titled
From Russia With Love states:

"No wonder Mark Zuckerberg [Facebook] turned to Russia for Facebook's latest investment round. When it comes to connecting via social networks, Russians lead the way with a monthly average of 6.6 hours and 1,307 pages per visitor.
That's well above the global average of 3.7 hours and 525 pages and just ahead of runner-up Brazil, at 6.3 hours and 1,220 pages, according to a new comScore World Metrix report. Rounding out the top five in time spent were Canada (5.6 hours), and Puerto Rico and Spain both, at 5.3 hours."

Yes, this study discusses Facebook, but could this not be the case with Twitter too?

PROS & CONS OF MULTIPLE TWITTER ACCOUNTS

Pros


  1. Ability to have focused Tweets, annoy less people, reduce "noise"
  2. Ability to follow people interested in a very focused niche topic
  3. Ability to have a Twitter ID/description containing the keywords of your topic of interest, thereby getting more relevant followers
  4. Ability to list your other special interest accounts under relevant keywords in Twitter directories - may be able to build more followers that way, than with one general Twitter account?
  5. Ability to follow people from many different countries/language backgrounds - i.e. not only English
  6. Ability to read and share articles that are not available in English
  7. Ability to tap into a wider community of enthusiasts (for my main interest: Social Media) and learn from them
Cons

  1. More difficult to manage multiple accounts?
  2. More time consuming
  3. Spreading my "engagement" too thinly
Your Input
If anyone has experience in managing several Twitter accounts, in both multiple Topics and Languages - please feel free to share your thoughts and advice with me and add to the Pros & Cons.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

I've been debating on whether to start a blog for a while. Since I'm a heavy Twitter user and get to micro-blog regularly, I thought I didn't need a blog. However, I have found that at times the 140 character limit doesn't suit the topic and I would prefer to add more description and allow for deeper, more meaningful discussion. So, I finally decided to go for it.

A little about me...
I'm work for the federal government in the marketing and communications field. I admit I'm a social media evangelist, for internal and external communication, and with the ultimate end goal of a more open and transparent government. Since having joined, I have met many like-minded, hardworking, time-volunteering individuals who are striving for the same goals! This has given me courage and made me more optimistic than ever.

I'm hoping to attract readers with similar interests and goal - particularly those who are currently leaders in government and can be a force for change.

If you are interested in these topics, I will ask you to bookmark, come back next month, and if you see anything interesting and worth sharing...share it!