5 Ways To Be Awesome Online

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1. Be Remarkable

These days, everyone and their dog has Twitter, Facebook, and a website. The quickest way to get lost in the noise is to do exactly what others are doing and expect a different result. Learn to pivot and don’t be afraid to take a leap to get noticed. People will find it refreshing and maybe actually listen to you and follow you. A good way to do this is to create a social object. A good example of this is GEICO and their gecko. They’ve ¬†taken a dull as dishwater insurance industry that has little or no place on platforms people use to be entertained like Facebook or Twitter and entertained people with their little warm-climate lizard.

2. Solve Problems Simply

Contrary to the popular belief that people go online ‘for no particular reason’, people go online for two main reasons. The first of which is to solve a problem. You’ll see the second reason if you scroll down to the next point. But don’t just yet! Think of the problems your clients might have. Even if they’re not directly related to the kinds of problems you solve for them offline, use your expertise and your platform to become the go to place for solving problems of that kind. The successes of mayoclinic.com, livestrong.com, and webmd.com are no accidents. They’ve tapped into the wealth of health problems that people face on daily basis and have become the front-of-mind destinations for people wanting to get to the root of their symptoms. How can you do something similar?

3. Entertain

Here it is; the second reason people spend hours online. The television spots you remember are the entertaining ones. The reason you’re tired at work is you were up late watching 2012’s worst wipeouts on YouTube. It’s no secret that you scroll through Instagram because it adds some entertainment to your day. In terms of your business’ online content and social interactions, seek to entertain. Try different methods, measure, learn, and pivot until you find something that resonates with your tribe.

4. Be Awesome Offline

Who’s awesome on Twitter? Well, typically it’s people that you’d actually enjoy going for coffee with. You think Kelly Oxford only strings together controversial but oh-so-true observational sentences on Twitter? No, I’m willing to bet my first 100 followers that a coffee with her would be the most entertaining encounter of my week. Don’t view your online personality and interactions as being different from your offline ones. Talk to people as though you’re running into them on the sidewalk, not as though you’re yelling at a crowd through a foghorn. Put as much effort into responding to and wowing friends and customers alike as you would if they were standing at your house’s front door or in your store.

5. Attend Our Workshop ūüôā

I wouldn’t be adding this point to this post if I didn’t truly think July 18th will be an extremely valuable, collaborative, and informative day. Instead of us telling you what we’ve done with clients and what we do with our own platforms, we’re bringing people we’ve worked with and people who have influenced us from the community. We’re sure you’ll find them to be remarkable, problem-solving, entertaining, and just plain awesome.

PRESENTING: Strategy Lab’s How To Be Awesome Online Workshop¬†

 

 

 

PRESENTING: Strategy Lab’s How To Be Awesome Online Workshop

internet workshop

The date has been set! Some amazing marketing influencers and presenters are ready and eager to spend a morning in July imparting upon you their experiences marketing online in this rapidly changing business world.

Kaeli Decelles of the Regina Police Service, Mitch Gallant of Capital Ford, Jackson Middleton of First Foundation, and Brin Werrett of Rockstar Homes all have experience in the trenches and want to share them with you.

The day will be a combination of short presentations and interactive panel discussions designed to equip you with a deeper understanding of how to crush it online. And, of course, our very own Jeph Maystruck will be on the microphone with his unabashed opinions and signature candor.

Whether you’re just beginning to think about marketing online or have vast experience, this interactive, informative, and collaborative day is for you and your company.

See you there!

Register Now

Speakers:

Why Instagram Will Crush Vine

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Everyone’s buzzing about Instagram video. Social mastermind and well-respected wine connoisseur Gary Vaynerchuk even released one of his short and sweet video blogs¬†about it today.

Vaynerchuk also happens to be working on a brand new agency concerned with representing Vine celebrities and despite his excitement about Instagram video, is arguing that they can both exist and be successful.

Despite my utmost respect for Gary, I’m going to plant my flag firmly in the camp of disagreement.

Gary, I think you’re wrong and here’s why:

 

Current Users

Instagram is currently home to 130 million users. Vine had 13 million a month ago, just prior to its Android release. Perhaps if Vine had reached Instagram’s usership, I’d be open to considering Vine to be a long-term threat. ¬†We saw what happened to Pheed last season. It didn’t have the usership to weather the Vine “storm”. Instagram has remained firmly anchored over the past, potentially tumultuous last few months and remains in a position to re-motivate their users with video.

 

User-friendly Experience

On top of Vine’s inferior usership, of those 13 million Vine users, how many had actually abandoned Instagram? I, for one, still wasn’t impressed with the slow load time and the finicky navigation of Vine. To me, Instagram was far and away the more sleek of the two and still continues to do pretty well with the addition of video.

 

Individual Features

Many Vine advocates are arguing that the 6 second time limit will work in its favour and people (with increasingly short attention spans) will be annoyed by a full 15 second video. Luckily, people get better at posting (perhaps shorter) videos as they learn what their friends like and don’t like by seeing a presence or absence of likes. If you’re annoyed with a 13 second video, you can always hit the unfollow button. The other feature that Vine enthusiasts advocate is the looping nature of Vine videos. If this, in fact, is enough of a reason to stick with Vine then I’m sure Instagram will be aware of this and adjust accordingly. Talk about a flimsy and easily duplicated competitive advantage.

 

Conclusion

This one comes down to Instagram’s far superior user base and user-friendly nature. Those professing loyalty to Vine and vocalizing a displeasure in Instagram’s copycat ways must realize that a large majority of “art” is stolen. And, as I mentioned in the post immediately preceding this one, harbouring your product’s strengths and relying on them for a competitive advantage won’t get you anywhere. The only way to win is to learn faster than everyone else.

My money’s on Instagram. But hey, let the games begin.

 

 

 

App Spotlight: Tinder: The Spicy New App That Could Get You A Date (Even in Regina)

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Perhaps one of the spicier apps catching on these days is Tinder.

Overview:
Tinder is simple. It connects you with people around you, whether you know them or not, lets you decide if you want to connect with them based on their appearance, interests, and mutual friends, and then allows you to chat with them if you’re a “match”. You become a match if they, while unaware of your interest or lack of interest in them, decide that they want to connect with you. The concept sounds a lot like what Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker were trying to accomplish with their under-utilized Airtime creation but with more emphasis on what is loosely referred to as “dating”.

The User Experience:
Users upload up to five pictures of themselves and have the option to write a short tagline that will appear under them. Mutual friends and interests are drawn from Facebook profiles. You can set your matching preferences for the categories of age, gender, and search distance (to a maximum of 100 miles). The fun begins when you click on Recommendations and the first profile pops up.

At this time, you can click the photo to view the others and then make a decision on whether or not you want to invite this person to connect. You have to make this decision to discard them into an abyss, never to be seen again, or save them before viewing the next profile. The allure and thrill come from the feeling, real or contrived, that you’re tempting fate with each dismissal swipe to the left or approval swipe to the right.

The Evaluation:
What some might immediately dismiss as a meat market of sorts actually has some draw to it. The problem at this point is that very few people in the Regina area are using it, meaning you’ll quickly run out of match recommendations and have to check back every few days to see if any newcomers match your criteria. The value of this app for a business is extremely minimal or non-existent since it lacks the premise of meeting new people for the idea of knowledge-sharing and relationship-building in a business context. My initial thought is that an app could make a road trip into a strange new city a bit more exciting depending on your selectiveness. This app has the potential to take off as more users get it.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Google goes rainbow

Why Google is Winning and What This Means for You

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Why:

Long-term strategy:

In a tech economy with four major players (Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple), Fast Company’s Farhad Manjoo describes what Google has as “a coherent, long-term strategy to fight the tech war on every front.” While the other three are leaders in a specific area, Google’s strategy can prevail on three different time horizons: today, next year, and the far-off future.

Diverse strengths

Amazon has become the online shopping leader, Apple’s iPhone garners 3/4 of the world’s mobile phone profits, and Facebook has, by far, the largest social network. Despite this, as Apple fan and blogger John Gruber puts it, “Google is getting better at what Apple does faster than Apple is getting better at what Google does. Google, despite trailing in mobile profits,¬†Google’s Androids account for nearly 70% of mobile units sold worldwide — a total that has sparked competitive action from Apple in the form of the iPad mini release and talks of a cheaper iPhone. What few may realize is that Google has 330% more ebook titles available than Amazon. Finally, Google crushes Facebook in online ad revenue and, despite possessing a smaller network, collects more data from its users.

Data-mining superiority

How can data-dependent app developers compete with Google? How can other search engines improve at a competitive rate? The fact that Google’s mobile advertising game is unmatched is an indication that, in our increasingly data-driven world, if you’re winning data-mining then you’re well on your way to a sustainable competitive advantage; something hard to come by in a turbulent tech world.

 

What This Means for You:

For the purpose of this post I’m going to focus on business owners. As a business owner, Google’s strength means two things:

Analyze

Google’s data-mining capabilities are reflected in its Google Analytics tool, allowing you to do what they do in a smaller way. Google Analytics should be the backbone of any company’s marketing plan. Educate yourself before you spend a single dollar.

Optimize 

Use tools like SEO-Moz¬†to evaluate and improve your search engine optimization. Google’s success and our increasingly referral-based world will have your business’s success depending on where you come up on Google and what people are saying about you. It’s as easy as our mantra: Create, Engage, Share, Measure.

 

 

 

Professional Stock Photos-the im ammused by a good book

Snapchat. Yay or Nay?

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Surprise surprise. Another social media platform is gaining steam. But can you really call Snapchat a platform? I suppose you can but, for those looking to grow their own platform, can it really be of any use? In a recent Six Pixels of Separation podcast (which I highly recommend you check out), Mitch Joel discusses the permanent internet vs. the impermanent internet. Snapchat falls under the category of impermanence.

Here’s a quick rundown for those unfamiliar with Snapchat:
1. A user takes a picture (or short video) using the app (the user can’t use pictures that already exist in your camera roll as you can with Instagram).
2.  They can then add rough animated sketches or text to the pictures.
3. A time limit/expiry time is set for the picture – making it only available to be seen for that length of time while the viewer holds a finger on the screen.
4. If a viewer decides to take a screenshot of the picture, they can do so successfully but the viewer will be notified.
5. The picture is then deleted forever.

In a world where many of us work hard to create content that will help us find our voice online and give us permanent credibility, Snapchat seems to be much too fleeting to be instrumental. This skepticism is met with even more pessimism from those who scoff at the app, calling it “sleazy”, “controversial”, and “obviously only for racy photos”.

Let’s consider the good, the bad, and some possible uses.

The Good: Snapchat has continued to bring enjoyment (on somewhat of a surface level) to its users who enjoy giving people a glimpse into their daily lives without worrying as much about how they look or how the Toaster filter affects their like count. And of course, fuelling our dopamine-driven social media world, is the busy nature of a person’s Snapchat inbox due to the ability to mass send pictures. The fact that Snapchat connects people can’t be disputed. It can brighten a boring workday, enhance an event, and give you a laugh you otherwise wouldn’t have had (and who can put a value on that?). My initial concerns were that Snapchat would become everyone’s default photo app – limiting Instagram use and hindering the spread of video apps like Vine. I’m starting to become more optimistic about its effect on apps like Instagram which, in my opinion, are bombarded with those low-quality-look-at-me-now pictures. Now these pictures can be shot out into the Snapchat world and expire like they should – increasing the overall quality of pictures posted to the ‘Gram.

The Bad: As you’d expect, and as the naysayers will attest to, Snapchat does get used for pictures that would otherwise not be taken or sent. It’s almost like “don’t worry, i’ll just snapchat it” will begin justifying things that shouldn’t be justified. Also, the “humour” sometimes goes a bit too far and “fun” is had at the expense of a person being photographed by adding cartoon drawings of things I’m sure you’ve seen or could imagine before the picture’s sent. Here’s a controversy resulting from inappropriate use of the app: Teens’ Nude Photos From Snapchat Lead to Investigation Also in the category of “bad” falls the fact that Snapchat’s impermanence makes it more easily classified as a time-wasting app – increasing doubt as to whether a business could use it in a positive, meaningful way.

Possible Usefulness: On that note, here’s where I’ll make a quick argument regarding its usefulness for a business. I ran into the organizer for the Regina Folk Festival the other day. She was carrying a roll of posters of the 2013 summer festival’s lineup on them. The lineup was to be announced the following day and the group of us sitting near her did all we could to convince her to give us even a one second glimpse. And now I’m sure you can see where this is going. How easy is it for a major festival to encourage people to add them on Snapchat with the incentive of advanced lineup “glimpsing”? I’ve spent minutes looking at full lineups for festivals and failed to notice a band that later sparks conversation with a friend. The amount of conversation resulting from a multitude of people each getting a one second glance at a small picture of the lineup would be an interesting thing to attempt to measure. Even if someone manages to take a screenshot, the idea of a “leaked” schedule can create even more conversation. It’s these kinds of things, that actually add some value for viewers who give companies the permission to speak to them, that will endure as we become more selective about who we follow, like, and listen to.

Conclusion: Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Pavel Datsyuk’s “Thoughts” on Stealth-Mode Business Strategy

Clients often ask the question of whether or not certain product features should be shared with the general public for fear of people copying them or defending against their tactics.

My usual response includes a quote from Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup:

“A head start is rarely large enough to matter, and time spent in stealth mode-away from customers-is unlikely to provide a head start. The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”

Sure, Pavel Datsyuk’s getting paid quite healthily to put these clips together for Reebok but just being willing to put this type of thing together shows a confidence in his ability to develop new shootout moves to add to his arsenal. Trying to keep these hidden and trying them only when no one’s watching would keep him focused on this one set. Instead, he’s letting everyone see and basically forcing himself to, as Eric Ries would suggest, learn faster than everyone else.

You can be sure he’ll have more to show this year and next. So should you and your business.

Time to Reconsider What You’re Sharing on Facebook (Part 1 of 2)

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Sssshhhh!¬†It’s time to acknowledge that the days of simply asking questions, sharing quips, and doing giveaways on your business’s Facebook page are over.

If you’ve continued to rely on these tactics, I’m sure you’ve noticed plateaus or stagnant engagement.
If you haven’t and things are still rolling smoothly, think of just how much more effective you could be with some smarter posting.
We all know it was Steve Jobs who said, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
This is a case of staying hungry and looking for ways to constantly improve but staying intelligent while doing so.
Here’s how:

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 12.39.06 PM1. Discover what people love about you: Perhaps you already know exactly what people love about you. Perhaps you THINK you know what people love about you but it’s time to find out again. Even still, what people love about you in real life might not directly translate to what they like about you on Facebook. If there’s a disconnect, reel them back in to what’s truly great about your product or service by offering this info up in a way that adds value to them.

2. Recognize what people are likely to share: The average post is seen by 16% of those connected to your page. In order to increase this, you’re going to want to focus on the virality of your posts (shoot for 1-2% for post). Virality depends on people sharing your content. Pay close attention to what people have shared from your page in the past and focus on how your posts appear on the News Feed NOT on your own page. The News Feed is where people are most likely to see your post.

Part 2: The Four Main Reasons People Share and Like Facebook Content (via HooteSuite)

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The NHL and Branding

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As you probably know, the NHL and the NHLPA have finally ironed out a new collective bargaining agreement and the current hockey season will be salvaged starting next week. The excitement of some fans has been dampened by bitterness that an agreement wasn’t reached earlier. I’m sure some fans share the dissonance this is creating for me. While I am very much looking forward to watching my beloved Maple Leafs (who are still “sitting in a playoff spot”), the critical customer side of me can’t help but wish I had the gumption to boycott the NHL like I would any other business that closed its doors and offered me, a loyal patron, nothing for months on end.

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