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A 2016 @stratlab Year in Review 

Those who think they can change Regina are the ones who do.  -@Stratlab, 2016

What a year it was! The StratLab Fam had some ups and downs but all in all it was a stellar year! We said goodbye to Miranda, Jeremy, and Braedon. With a big smile we welcomed to the team Anastas, Brooke, Addison, and Marc. Whether it was some amazing new non-profts we got to work with, the visits to Fort McMurray before and after the fires, or hosting another wildly awesome Big Idea Camp, it was a another fun filled year.
Some New stickers, some old ones too!

 

A few amazing trips to Fort McMurray for Brandon, Eddy and Jeph this year. A horrible tragedy but an amazing community rebuilding itself. A month after the fire Layers Wellness held a “Wild Fire” party, to celebrate the community that wasn’t broken, only made stronger.

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What’s Our Marketing Strategy? Plus 8 Other Questions About @StratLab

What is your marketing strategy?

free-prize-inside-by-seth-godinWe don’t have one. Over deliver, care more, work harder. At Strategy Lab we believe in being so good at what you do that you don’t have to rely on telling others about it. We want to ensure the work we do is remarkable enough that people will inherently want to talk about it. Permission based marketing.

Pull > Push

 

Remember, we never used to buy cereal for the whole grain goodness inside, we bought it for the free prize inside! You don’t need a marketing strategy if you have a free prize inside!

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Advanced education in saskatchewan

I Would Do AnyThing For a Like But I Won’t Do That: Post-Secondary Social Media Marketing

When it comes to Social media don’t forget the social part of it. No one cares about you until you care about them. Engage, interact, retweet, like, and share. Help others and eventually they will help you.

People only go online for two reasons, to solve a problem or to entertain themselves, nothing else. Remember this when you’re publishing on your website and sending email.

Don’t tell people to like your institution, give people reason to like it.

Don’t tell people to follow you online, give people a reason to like you online.

Don’t tell people to share something, give people a reason to share what you are doing.

A “Cribs” style video to showcase your school

Tell your story as to why you’re going to school

 The best University/College Recruitment Video Ever

The Top 500 University/College/Research Institutions in Canada

Marketing and communications professionals of colleges and universities in Saskatchewan

Hat Farm on Instagram

The Hat Farm: An Example of Social Enterprise Using Instagram || Eps 29 #InTheLab

Born out of necessity the Hat Farm has grown into an amazing example of Social Enterprise.

The Hat Farm started at Carmichael Outreach in Regina. Carmichael Outreach is a place where people can get clothing, food, a cup of coffee, help with housing, drug addiction, plus pretty much anything else people need when they have no where else to turn. In 2014 Carmichael Outreach served 53,689 meals to people in Regina. In 2015 it’s looking like that number will be closer to 70,000. They’re growing, and that’s not a good thing. I mean it is great people who maybe weren’t getting a meal last year have the chance to but as an organization they can’t just keep growing.

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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.

 

 

 

The Stanley Cup of Twitter: Bruins vs. Blackhawks

The series is knotted up at a game a piece after two exciting overtime games. Those placing bets might as well just follow their heart because it’s basically too close to call if you’re relying on logic and each team’s performance in games 1 and 2.

Can the same be said for the team Twitter accounts? If the cup were handed to the team with the best social media presence, who would be declared the victor?

Let’s find out.

First, we must establish what “best” means. We believe that a great Twitter account helps a person establish a personal connection with a business or entity. From the business’s (or team’s) standpoint, an account should align with the image and values they portray and become more passionate about their product in order to facilitate purchases. In the case of the NHL, purchases include things like tickets, merchandise, and television/streaming subscriptions. The goal of these accounts should be to recruit new fans and engage those who are already fans.

I always say that the best marketing is a great product or service and, in this case, both the Hawks and the Bruins have iced an amazing product as has been made evident by their respective playoff runs. They already have that advantage over the competition so for this head to head matchup, we must establish some criteria.

But first! (I’m sure the suspense is killing you) it should be noted that Chicago and Boston are very similar hockey markets. Before looking at the accounts, it could be assumed that each team has a similar following based on annual revenues in these Forbes NHL Teams Valuation Rankings.

Ranking NHL Team worth

As chosen by the TSN panel..err..Strategy Lab panel, each team’s account will be evaluated in a seven game format with each game being based on a different competency category:

Tweet Frequency – the team’s ability to find a quantity-of-tweets “sweet spot”.
Game 1: Following Quantity – number of followers.
Game 2: Quality of Content – the degree to which a team’s tweeted content is dynamic and compelling
Game 3: Personality – the account’s ability to establish a twitter identity that aligns with the team’s and garners interest.
Game 4: X-Factor/Standoutishness – the team’s deviation from tweeting norms that often make for a dry, uninteresting feed.
Game 5: Engagement and Response – the team’s ability to mobilize/respond to followers.
Game 6: Faux Pas Avoidance – avoidance of spelling mistakes, rookie mistakes, and twitter worst practices.
Game 7: Contributing Platforms – a look at the quality of each team’s most commonly used twitter-connected app (ie. Instagram).

Let’s take a look:

Game 1: Number of Followers

Blackhawks vs Bruins

Recap: Boston edges Chicago out by an almost negligible 20,000. These extra followers could be due to their more recent cup run having taken place when Twitter had increased in popularity since Chicago’s championship season in 2010. Another reason could be the 7,300 edge in total tweets.

Game 1 Winner:      (Boston Leads Series 1-0)

Game 2: Quality of Content: 

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Recap: Boston starts it off with a nice picture showing the pre-game festivities, evokes emotion with the Boston Strong theme, and makes fans following on Twitter feel like they’re really there. The Blackhawks counter with some lineup information and let everyone know that Ben Smith is in and Marian Hossa is out after an incident in warm-ups. The tweet lacks the degree of insider detail you’d expect from a team’s official account.

Game 2 Winner:     (Boston leads series 2-0)

Game 3: Personality

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Recap: Tweets with any sort of personality that come even close to touching that of the LA Kings twitter account are hard to come by with these two squads. If this were a real game, it’d be a bit of a snoozer. Luckily, the Hawks’s Twitter team just came through with an awesome tweet that shows the tweeter is a real person — capable of having emotions. In doing so, it made me feel like I’m in Ben Smith’s skates and don’t doubt I’m alone in feeling that.

Game 3 Winner:      (Boston leads series 2-1)

Game 4: X Factor/Standoutishness:

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Recap: In comparison to many great accounts that aren’t afraid to do something off-the-wall or out of the ordinary, these two play it pretty safe. The one standout thing that the Hawks do is retweet Hawks-related content from supporting organizations and subsidiaries like the Cubs picture tweet above. This, in my opinion, engages the community and helps prevent the team and the sport of hockey from becoming siloed. The Bruins have ample opportunity to do the same and more as the city recently became more tightly knit after the Boston Marathon tragedy but there is no evidence of this on the Bruins Twitter feed.

Game 4 Winner:      (Series tied 2-2)

Game 5: Engagement and Response:

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Recap: The only recent effort at fan engagement made by either team was this tweet from June 15th by the Chicago staff. Fans were encouraged to ask their questions to the hosts of a third-party show. Plenty of room for improvement in this area for both teams but Chicago narrowly escapes this one with a victory.

Game 5 Winner:      (Chicago leads series 3-2)

Game 6: Faux Pas Avoidance:

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Recap: In this crucial game 6, with the Bruins on the brink of elimination, it became a lesser-of-two-evils battle. Chicago missed the mark (and constantly does so) with hashtag overuse. Every tweet during games is adorned with a head to head hashtag. I, for one, am skeptical of the effectiveness of these hashtags and think they should be used in moderation but Chicago’s own metrics will be the final judge of that. Boston, whose tweets always include the initials of the writer despite there being no documentation of the full name of the initial-bearer in the bio or previous tweets, luckily had one tweet that included the initials “B.B.” amidst the thousands of “C.S.” tweets. The slightly less stinky team in this one was the Bruins, who force a game 7.

Game 6 Winner:     (Series tied 3-3)

Game 7: Contributing Platforms: Instagram

For the seventh and deciding game, each team’s most recent Instagram post was scrutinized:

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Recap: As is expected in game sevens, a valiant effort was put forth by each team. Chicago really captured the energy following Patrick Sharp’s impressive 9th goal of the playoffs. The post was timely but lacked the organic feel Instagram enthusiasts have come to know and love. Boston’s pre-game hype picture, on the other hand, is quite likely taken with in iPhone and looks great with a black and white filter. It hasn’t been doctored by any gaudy text and really uses Instagram properly with a post that likely appeals to ‘Gram enthusiasts.

Game 7 Winner:     (Boston wins series 4-3)

 

2013 Stanley Cup of Twitter Champions

stanleycupoftwitter

Off-Season Analysis:

Each team does a good job of delivering hockey news and updates in a traditional way. The only real instance of going to the next level in terms of non-traditional media was when Boston really embraced the platform that Instagram is with an organic-feeling post. Twitter is dominated by witty and compelling people and businesses. Neither of these teams has truly found Twitter’s sweet spot. If they’re looking for an off-season trainer, it should perhaps be the Los Angeles Kings account.

katewillselfiebest

The Trouble With Social Media

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We all enjoy seeing people like our Instagram pictures, like our Facebook pictures and posts, and favourite our tweets. The problem with these tokens of affirmation is that often, whether we’ve acknowledged it or not, we base our self esteem on these “vanity metrics”.  Once we’ve achieved that “100 like picture” or hit 10 favourites on a tweet, we don’t walk away with confidence and look for different ways of getting better that are actually productive. We look for new ways to do the same thing because, as far as we’re concerned, we’re only as good as our last post. We don’t get better; we simply work to improve the way others see us for the sake of our ego.

This phenomenon of improper focus can be extremely damaging for businesses. Those who pour their energy into stacking up Facebook likes  and Twitter followers are often missing the point. Time spent acquiring these things which, more often than not, have little to no bearing on overall health of an organization, takes away from measuring appropriately.

Did taking five different pictures of the same thing before spending 15 minutes editing and choosing the right filter in hopes of 50+ likes take away from quality time spent building relationships with the people around you? And did celebrating your company page’s 500th Facebook like take time that could have been better spent following up with a recent customer or measuring actual conversions?

Social media can enhance your life and business relationships if used properly and with a purpose. Don’t get caught spinning your wheels.

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branding don't buy in

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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