An Open Letter to Social Media

Dear Social Media,

We’ve been together for a long time. We’ve seen some major highs and some rock-bottom lows. For better or worse, I always knew I could turn to you. Always knew that at the end of the day I had a screen and a community of people I sort of knew who could validate however I was feeling, and if they didn’t screw ‘em, I’d find new ones that did.

I was really your first love. Previous generations never had you and never dreamed they would. Throughout the time that we’ve been together you’ve grown and changed so much. On one hand it’s fascinating to see your relationship with each new generation change. On another, it’s exhausting trying to figure out how to approach you on any given day. Secretly I worry that I don’t really understand you as well as someone much younger does. Are you outgrowing me?

Lately things have been different. I’ve started seeing someone else: the world around me. There’s so much beauty to be seen, so much fun to be had, and so many memories to savour without your constant interruption. As much as I love having instant access to anyone, anytime, anywhere, as much as I like the likes, things are better in 360 full-colour.

You were always best when you made the tangible world brighter and more exciting. You still amaze me with your ability to connect people and tell stories, but lately you’ve been dividing people and shifting their focus inwards.

I think we need to take a break. We’ll still see each other around, but right now we both need to figure out how to actually be social again.

Read more from Conrad Hewitt.

Sincerely,

Us

60 Second Instagram Videos are Coming… But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Post Them

If you have kept up with any of the latest content platforms and which ones are making it big lately you’ve probably noticed one major trend: These platforms are supporting shorter and shorter forms of content. First it was Facebook, where you could share statuses as long as your heart desired. Then Twitter, where you had to condense your thoughts into 140 characters or less; and god forbid you put a picture in there and get even that 140 cut down. Then Instagram and Vine, with standalone pictures and short, 6 second videos. And finally everyone’s favourite filter-toting, funny face-inducing, disappearing photo and short video platform Snapchat.

Then something interesting happened…

Instagram brought in 15 second videos. Based on the above pattern, this doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense. But, with their growing user base and the inevitable decline of Vine to a limited number of content creators treated like idols by tweens (can’t believe I just used that word), the move made sense. It was hard to get a brand’s message across in only 6 seconds, so the Instagram update worked, allowing brands to tease at promo videos, events, or whatever they were up to that was worthy of our 15 seconds of attention.

Now something even more interesting is happening…

In a statement released on March 29th, Instagram dropped that in the coming months they are increasing the length of videos that can be posted on the platform BY 4 TIMES. That is a pretty interesting decision given the popularity of Snapchat and the emerging use of it by some brands. It seems like everything is moving towards micro-content, or content that you can consume in the shortest time possible because hey, there might be a funny cat video if you keep scrolling.

As with everything, I think that this update can be used extremely well or very poorly. Just because you can now make 60 second videos, doesn’t mean you should. The golden rule applies as always: make kick-ass content. If you are crushing 15-second videos and getting amazing engagement from your audience (the perfect opportunity to engage back and create relationships) and don’t think you could fill a 60 second video with the same quality then don’t. On the other hand, this longer run time gives you the opportunity to hook in your audience and say, point them to a full vlog or video in your bio. The options are endless, but with content following an ever-shortening trend remember that the amount of time you have to make someone stop and say “Whoa” is growing smaller and smaller everyday. So if you choose to make these longer videos, reel them in with a strong opening, send them to the video or website link in your bio, and watch the traffic poor in. :heart_eyes:

Strategy Lab/Capital Ford Google Analytics Workshop

Thanks to everyone who came out to dive into the deep world of Google Analytics and measurement tools with us. The morning went very well, stimulated some educational conversation, and highlighted some compelling case studies. This workshop was geared toward non-profit organizations and will be followed by workshops open to all companies. See you all at the next one!

Strategy Lab Google Analytics Workshop

twitter-bird

The Top 100 Most Engaging People On Twitter In Regina [Infographic]

Follow me please!Hopefully you’ve seen the 100 Most Influential People on Twitter from Regina infographic we compiled last week. 

This list differs from the 100 Most Influential list because this is a list of the people who actually talk to other people on Twitter. So yeah, this is the list of people you’re going to want to follow.

This list is made up of people who have Regina listed in their bio on Twitter. Then I sorted the list of 16,141 people by percentage of @ mentions in their time line. I think this is one of the most interesting lists because these are the people who will talk to you.  Who want to talk to you. These are the folks who engage the most.

Methodology: 

Searched bios on Twitter for: Regina

Sorted by: % of Tweets containing @ mentions

For the entire list of everyone who came up for the “Regina” bio search (and to find your own score), see the Spreadsheet here: 8,267 people from Regina on Twitter. Read more

The Debate Continues: How Much Do Colours Affect Your Website’s Performance?

During the creation of a content-driven, engaging, educational, and well-measured website, people often spend a lot of time fretting over design details. While we’ll be the first to stress the website’s function and measurability as it meets your needs as being a much larger part of the website development and marketing strategy, the fact that the colours use have an effect on customers’ propensity to trust your business and make purchases from you can’t be overlooked. This is illustrated in great detail in this awesome infographic from the folks over at KISSmetrics. We’re sure you’ll learn something new. Let us know what you think.

Read more

Operation Alberta Flood Cleanup

groupflood

The call came in the form of a group Facebook message from friend and former hockey coach Barret Kropf from Caronport. Some mutual friends of ours from High River, Alberta had been in one of the hardest hit areas of the recent flood and hadn’t been able to return to their home since their abrupt evacuation and Barret was taking it upon himself to challenge a group of us to hit the road in his family’s motorhome with whatever tools we could find to spend the Canada Day long weekend helping our friends clean up upon returning to their damaged home.

To be frank, as with many calls to action via Facebook, there was some tentativeness in the replies from the group. Notice was short for a weekend that was long and the knee deep water we’d soon find wasn’t the kind we’d expected to spend our weekends in. Regardless, Barret handled the logistics and did everything he could to make it possible for a few of us to make the trip. On the day of departure, when we received the news that residents wouldn’t be allowed to return to High River during the time we were there, we decided to strike out to Calgary anyway — eager to help anyone in need.

Here’s a CTV news clip of us the day before striking out on the open road that highlights the contributions of many Saskatchewan residents.
CTV News Coverage (at 1:00 mark)

Upon finally arriving in Calgary, we met up with our friends Ryan and Genevieve Morrison who directed us to the Bowness area — just a block from their home — where many houses had been severely damaged and the volunteer efforts were underway. With no real plan in mind, we buckled our tool belts, slipped on some gloves, and made our way down to Bowness Crescent. (Despite the hard work that would ensue, if your ideal job is one where you’re offered a burger and a popsicle every three minutes, this is the place for you.) Volunteers swarmed the street in many roles, shapes, and sizes. The rest of the day consisted of checking in at the volunteer tents which were located in the front yard belonging to the first guy we ran into, shovelling muck out of basements, hauling dirt to yards lining the river bank, politely declining burgers number 4 through 35, and enjoying the feelings associated with contributing to a worthwhile cause.

Here’s a taste of our weekend in video form:

The second and final day of our stay was spent in Calgary’s Mission District. The devastation in this area was even more of an eye opener. The volunteer efforts seemed to be more centralized and organized with dispatch tents, barbecues, spare tools, sunscreen, and mosquito spray all located in the Safeway/Shopper’s Drug Mart parking lot at the corner of Elbow Drive and 4th Street SW. From here, we were sent to various locations to move furniture in and out of garages, remove tile from basement floors, and tear down slats and drywall in homes. This was by far the toughest day of work. Homeowners were eager to show us just how severe the flooding had been in their homes. One owner of a beautiful home showed us where the water line had been at the peak of the flood; halfway up his fireplace, about four feet above the floor, on the house’s main level. It was now being completely gutted.

We ended up spending most of our time in a house owned by a twenty-something girl’s family. Over just a couple short days, she had been required to absorb the shock of being chased from her home, come to terms with the damage, see multitudes of people charge in to help clear all of her belongings out to the front lawn, and finally become a project manager for an extremely daunting job being carried out by roughly 100 different volunteers (often 20+ at a time) stopping in for varying lengths of time with sledgehammers. This was a situation common to many homes across the city and I couldn’t help but admire the strength of those dealing with that kind of stress and sleepless nights.

All in all, I took many things away from this edifying weekend. Among them were a restored faith in humankind, a recognition of the need for leadership, management, and humility in volunteer efforts, and the realization that helping fellow Canadians may be the best way to celebrate our country’s birthday — or any day for that matter.

 

 

TCBY – The Country’s Bygone Yogurt

TCBYThe scene was a sultry June evening in Regina’s third favourite frozen yogurt (froyo, or “FROYO” to which my my phone has grown accustomed to autocorrecting it) shop. After making plans to bike to TCBY, which is short for The Country’s (self-proclaimed) Best Yogurt, I’d ditched the idea at the last minute in order to take my car and get there five minutes earlier to avoid the awkward the-entire-staff-hates-me-for-walking-in-right-at-close scenario.

Success. I arrived at exactly 10:50pm.

Read more

5 Ways To Be Awesome Online

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 3.11.23 PM

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 🙂

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 

 

 

 

Strategy Lab Logo - Purple cow

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

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 6.42.21 PM

 

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.