Archive for October, 2009

Continued from “Review: The Calgary Women’s Show (Part 2 of 3)

Note:  These are my own thoughts and ideas on how social media was executed based on my experience live tweeting the event and the limited knowledge I had about the event before attending.  This post is meant as a discussion item only and to provide thought for others looking to leverage social media tools for their event.

Digging a little deeper… what improvements can be made?

A successful social media campaign is a two part process… especially if your intention is to drive traffic to your website.  A solid outline of your expectations is needed prior to embarking upon any campaign to give you some clear direction as to where it is you want to go.  With clear direction, the uses of the tools, the placement of ‘sharing’ buttons, and the networks to engage all become more obvious.  Once you have established these fundamentals, then it’s time to dive in.  Except diving in doesn’t just mean starting a Facebook group and hoping for the best.  It means taking a long, hard look at your current mix and seeing where social media efforts can support what you’re already doing.  It also means evaluating your website.  If your website isn’t up to snuff to begin with, the chances of a successful campaign decrease significantly.

I see some gaps and areas of improvement for the Calgary Women’s Show to use social media and the web as they are today.  The first disconnect is that they are trying to create community and do something viral at the same time.  Which, to me, are two completely different goals.  If you’re trying to create buzz, you don’t care as much about getting people to become fans of your Facebook page or follow your Twitter account as you do about how many people were driven to your Facebook page, how many people retweeted information about the event or used the event hashtag and how this impacted attendance, awareness and ticket sales.

It’s also a difference of short term vs. long term strategy.  In the short term, you want buzz, you want viral.  In the long term, you want to build a community of fans and followers who will then share your information with their networks.  You can use buzz to build up community of course, but that requires thinking about how the buzz will sustain the community in the long term.  How can you keep that momentum going?  That’s something you should have at least thought a lot about before you start creating buzz.

Short Term:  Improving the ‘buzz’ component for the Calgary Women’s Show

Below are suggestions for improvements I think could be made to enhance the buzz at the next show.

  1. Add sharing buttons to the website.  There is no way to ‘tell a friend’ about the Calgary Women’s Show on http://www.calgarywomensshow.com.  Go to addthis.com or sharethis.com.  Adding these buttons is simple and a great way to let people who are already on your site tell their networks about it (and they’re free and give you some statistics about what’s being shared and where).
  2. When someone purchases a ticket, give them the option to tell friends they’re attending.  It’s the same principal as the one above, just at a different point (tip: using amiando.com for your event coordination and ticket selling has a lot of these features already built in).
  3. Make the hashtag more apparent so people can tag it if they’re writing blog posts or tweets about the event.
  4. Encourage users to share their thoughts on Twitter by doing a draw for anyone who has a tweet using the correct event hashtag.
  5. Send out a Twitter promo code, and give anyone who heard about the event on Twitter a 10% discount or a special gift or something at the door.
  6. Put the information about the show front and center.  When I looked at the front page I had no idea who was speaking, who was exhibiting, what to expect, etc.  Chances are if people are hearing about the Calgary Women’s Show through online methods, they’re going to want to find out what’s going on, when it is… and fast.  Right now, I think they’d follow my lead – look at the front page… not see any links… and leave.  So some fine tuning on layout, site architecture, etc. may be something to look at before driving a lot of traffic.

Long Term: Building a Sustainable Community

  1. Show attendees and other target audiences (in 140 characters or less) the benefit of joining your fan page or following you on Twitter.  What is it that they’re going to get out of it?  Where’s the value?
  2. Educate attendees on gaining more value from the Calgary Women’s Show at other times of the year.  Set up a booth near the front to give people ‘free social media training’.  I bet many of them still don’t know what Twitter is or how they can use it.  Tell them.  And show them that Facebook isn’t just for their sons and daughters.  Find the value they could get from it, and then tell them about it.  And continue to engage them from now until the next show.
  3. Give them access to the exhibitors in case they want to go back and find them, whether they sign into a special section of the website using their Twitter ID or their Facebook account or they get to use a special promo code for future purchases with exhibitors, give them the added bang for their buck for keeping up with The Calgary Women’s Show outside of show time.  And add links to the websites of all exhibitors on the website.
  4. Encourage exhibitors to start using social media as well.  If the show is using it, and many of the exhibitors are too, it will enhance the community.

Can you think of anything else that would increase the success of using social media for such an event?  Have you seen it used successfully elsewhere?  I’d love to hear about it.  Feel free to drop me a comment below.

This post is a continuation from ‘Review: The Calgary Women’s Show (Part 1)

I’ve heard of the Calgary Women’s Show before.  I’ve just never gone, nor have I paid much attention to it.  But when a friend put forth my name with a few others as a potential person to live tweet at the Calgary Women’s Show, it trickled up my radar.  This is what they were looking for:

What we are looking for is women who would like to attend the Woman’s Show and make tweets about it using #yyws. In other words just walk around the booths and tweet your thoughts and opinions. For example you might want to tweet about the 5 wineries and 1 brewery who are offering samples of there products (if I or the show was on twitter last year I would have made several post about Big Rock Brewery’s Booth running out of Winter Spice Beer early on Saturday afternoon and not having any on Sunday), as well as the food samples, Buttercup cupcakes is always there and always gives away samples - if you arrive before 2 pm which is usually when they run out or tweet something about the fashion show, or the items in the swag bags. It is quite open as to what you tweet about, we would just like to get some twitter buzz going for the show and followers to @calgarywoman. So for a ticket or entry into the show we would like you to twitter, hopefully positive things, about the show.

Planting some people to tweet about your event sometimes seems a bit fake, but when an initiative is just starting out in the social media realm, and when the general public isn’t really all that used to how these tools work yet either, having some folks around who can demonstrate how these tools can be used and what kind of material people could potentially share is a good place to start.

Further to the point of many Calgarians not yet being used to how social media tools work and how they can benefit from them, I think there needs to be some ground work done to create awareness for current attendees.

Since the purpose was to create buzz for the show and followers to @calgarywoman, I think there were some things missing from the mix.

  1. The only mention I saw at the show of Twitter or Facebook was a photocopied sign on the doors saying The Calgary Women’s show had a Twitter account and a Facebook page (or group?  It didn’t come up when I did a search for ‘Calgary Women’s Show’ on Facebook).  They could have provided something in the bag of swag about it, or some stickers for people to give out, something.  Do like the musicians at Warped Tour and pimp out your fan pages a bit more.
  2. There was nothing to explain why people should follow them on Twitter, or visit their Facebook page.  What will they get by going there?  Why would they?
  3. There was a lady making announcements throughout the afternoon.  She didn’t mention Twitter or Facebook once in the 4 hours I was there.
  4. None of the exhibitors appeared to be using social media to connect either.  I didn’t see one sign saying ‘Hey! We’re on Facebook’ or ‘Follow us on Twitter for product updates or to find out about sales, discounts, etc.’
  5. I also used the wrong hashtag while tweeting the event.  The one given to me forgot the ‘c’ (#yycws as opposed to #yyws).  I didn’t realize it until I saw the photocopied sign hanging on the door on my way out.  Yep, after tweeting about the show for 4 hours.  So, again, better sign placement or the announcer saying ‘If you’re tweeting about the event, the hashtag is #yycws’ would have been helpful.

All in all, I’m happy to see events and businesses alike starting to experiment with social media.  Good for you for getting your toes wet.  But there are definitely some strides that events like the Calgary Women’s Show can take to supplement the exhibition experience with some online materials.

Were you at the event?  What do you think they could have done or could do in the future to further engage people online?

I had the opportunity to live tweet for the Calgary Women’s Show.  I’ve got a couple of different takes on how it went, so I’ve broken up my post into three parts.  Below is the first, a review of the show itself.  Part 2 (coming Tuesday) looks at it from a ‘live tweeting’ perspective.  Part 3 (coming Wednesday) explores some long term suggestions for social media strategy and enhancements.

Part 1 – The Calgary Women’s Show

Today I donned my Sunday best and hit up the Calgary Women’s Show.

Highlights included:

  • Finding gluten free crackers called Crinkles.  They’re not being sold in Canada yet, but they were tasty little rice chip type things.  If you ever find them, try the Salt and Vinegar ones.  Tasty.
  • Discovering that chocolate milk is actually good for me.  Seriously?  I had no idea.  I talked to a nutrionist at the calcium booth and she said that chocolate milk is even better for you than gatorade to rehydrate after exercise.  Who knew?  Time to head to Co-op and stock up on the chocolate milk supplies.
  • Buttercream had some awesome little cupcake samples.  They were so moist and delicious, I do believe they’re better than Crave.
  • Indigo Art.  A couple of years ago I was attempting to sell hand painted reproductions from China.  It didn’t go well, but with all the hours sitting in markets, I thought, ‘You know, if we had a few different artists lined up to actually make real paintings out of people’s pictures, that would do really well’.  Well, that’s what Indigo Art does, and for a fantastic price.  They’ve got over 300 artists worldwide that they commission to do paintings on behalf of clients.  They’re incredibly well done and a decent sized one (like 1.5 ft by 2 ft or so…) is only around $100.00.
  • The Nutman.  He’s an old favourite.  He used to come around to my office in Leduc, and then again in Calgary and sell all sorts of wonderful treats.  The corn chips have forever been my favourite.
  • Homemade perogies.  Cheemo perogies are about the best store bought ones I’ve ever found.  I buy homemade whenever I can (mine just do not taste the same as those from somebody who’s been making them their whole lives).  These ones were from Ukrainian Fine Foods (you can also find them at the Crossroads market on weekends).

The Show

herman

I started out with the wine and beer samples.  That was a fantastic place to hit up.  I even got a free cat toy for cute little Herman (to the right) from Flat Roof Manor.  I met a delightful woman named Mary and her brother while going through the wine lineups as well.  She was an exhibitor with Global Wealth Trade, which apparently is a relatively new jewellery retailer that’s using a similar model to Mary Kay, Party Lite, etc. by having independent sales consultants to promote their product.  They say they can get your jewellery at wholesale prices.

The vodka mudshake I think will be something I seek out to stock my fridge with for a bit.  They had three flavours: French Vanilla, Banana Cream and Chocolate (I recommend the chocolate… and any of them would taste best if used as a liqueur I think.  Too sweet as just a drink).

Another interesting stop was a ‘free spiritual reading’ from Your Conversations with God.  There’s wasn’t a long lineup, but it was a long wait.  But I figured ‘hey, I’m here, I’ll try what I can!’.  So, I did.  It was a good 15 minute wait, it seems God’s in high demand right now.  When I sat down, the girl doing my reading had me fill out a piece of paper that asked for my name and my religion.  ‘Religion?  What if I don’t know?’ I asked.  The girl had no answer, so, I wrote down ‘I don’t know’.  She then proceeded to explain what it was they believed and that she was going to make some weird noises but that was her speaking in ‘tongue’.  And she really did.  She took my hands and started making clicks and other odd noises for a few minutes.  Then she stopped and said ‘Do you like to sing karaoke? I see this image of you singing karaoke, and it’s not like you’re shy and quiet about it, but like you are full of life and just want to share it with the world.’  Some of you have experienced my excitement for karaoke, especially for #yyckno, so she was dead on with the karaoke analogy.  There was a bit more to it, and she kept talking about my connection with God and love and the Bible and things, which to me aren’t all that relevant.  But the message behind her words resonated, to keep on being exactly who it is I’m being, because that’s the gift I’ve got to give to the world.  So if you see them on the next run through, check it out… even if it’s only to hear somebody speak in tongue and find out what in the world it is they just said.

The highlight for many women (young and old alike) was seeing Billy from Young and the Restless.  I’ve got to admit, my time watching soaps is behind me, and back in the day, I was a Days of our Lives fan, but I went to watch him nonetheless.  He was charismatic and funny, rolled with some pretty fun questions that were thrown his way (like  ‘When you do your love scenes, are you actually naked?’ or ‘How can I get an audition with Young and the Restless?  Maybe you could pass me your phone number to send it along?’).  Besides being charismatic and fun, he’s pretty easy on the eyes too… so no complaints on the half hour or so I spent watching that.

All in all, I enjoyed my afternoon.  I was there for a solid 4 hours and met some pretty cool people.  When the Calgary Women’s Show comes around again in April, start with the beer and wine samples, pamper yourself with some yummy cupcake samples and other foods, and enjoy the latest heart throbs.  I think it’s safe to say I’ll be back in April.

Advertising on Facebook and other social networks doesn’t work.  Ask any online marketing person.  The click through rates are horrible.  Nope, they don’t work.  And for good reason.  90% of the ads are atrocious and don’t have anything to do with what people actually want to click on (FYI – I made up that number.  It’s probably even higher than that in reality).  Today I clicked on the first Facebook ad that was relevant to me.  AND I even signed up for the offer.  But that’s because it was for entering the Oilers mini-pack tickets purchasing draw.  It wasn’t for something stupid like ‘meet hot 27 year old men in Calgary’ (LAME) or ‘lose 10 lbs in 10 days!’ (double whammy LAME).

It was for something useful.  And the ad took me straight to the page where I could sign up for it.  It was straight forward, believable and met my expectations on the click through.

More to the thought behind this post, though, is that maybe advertising isn’t for everyone.  Maybe click through rates on Facebook ads are so low because they don’t work for everyone (or because they really promote mediocrity).  You know how you hear people say that social media isn’t for everyone?  Well it’s true.  And maybe advertising isn’t either… at least not on social networks.

Many of the ads I see are equivalent to the junk mail I never look at in my mailbox.  How much wasted time and money has gone into those?  What if you saved your pennies and came up with something creative and interesting instead?  None of it has to be done by the top agency in town.  In fact, there are plenty of amateurs out there who could do a pretty bang up job of a video for your company or revamp your website, or create some other fun ways to promote your company for the same price you’re paying for crappy Facebook ads.

So, before you jump on the online advertising wagon just because everyone else is doing it, put on your thinking cap and ask yourself if you’re actually contributing to the success of online ads, or if you’re going to be just another piece of junk mail nobody wants to look at.  If you’re the junk mail… maybe advertising isn’t for you.

“Personalizemedia shows us how active & dynamic the Social Web is.”

Wait… what?  There’s people out there actually doing stuff?  And this is different from how the world used to work… how?

Sorry Personalizemedia, this is not an attack on you.  I like that you can provide us with information on human behaviour online.  This is a post, though, in response to all of the information out there that keeps talking about how great the social web is (which I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of doing a lot of to date).  FYI – the “social web” isn’t that great.  It’s just a bunch of  computers and wires and servers and websites and photos and data and other things all mashed together.  Ie… it’s still the web.  The same web we knew.  And it’s still just a way to transmit information.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook really aren’t all that spectacular once you’ve been on them for awhile.  They’re handy.  They’re useful.  But they’re nothing more than websites.  Websites with information on them that I connect to the same way I used to connect to websites.  Through the internet.

No.  Social media isn’t all that phenomenal.  At least not in the way most people think of social media.  They think of it in terms of the tools.  Of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Myspace… Again…  They’re all just websites.  They’re websites that would have no value at all if people didn’t post information to them.  But do you know what IS pretty phenomenal?  The way the world is changing AS A RESULT of what people are doing with online social networks.  The different, innovative, creative ways people are coming up with to raise money for a local charity, the causes and initiatives people are passionate about creating change around, finding new opportunities and new business ideas… from internet security to design to local community gardens to products.  The social web is becoming more active and more interesting because more people are doing more cool things.

I must admit, this post is driven by a comment on my FB wall that may or may not actually have been intended as a shot to social media as a profession.  But it’s stirred something inside of me.  At first my back raised at the undertone of distaste for social media that I read in the comment…. the same way it does whenever I hear somebody groan about social media.  But after a bit of thought, you know what?  I’m tired of hearing about the same things too.  I don’t need to hear about how great Twitter is.  Because it isn’t actually all that great.  And I already know that it can create opportunity and value.  And I’m guessing the early groaners already know this too.

That’s where it’s nice to have events coming through town like the Social Media Innovation Summit.  I’m tired of social media cheerleaders and I actually want to know how others think of it in terms of their business strategies.  There is only so much watching and listening and reading a person can do before they need an injection of innovation and strategy to further push their ideas forward.  So, I hope that this is the first of a new wave of information sharing.  The next level to social media is no longer about the hype.  It’s about how it can actually be effective.  Let’s get over our excitement and our fear of having people know what’s going on so quickly, get our hands dirty and actually do something.  Less talk.  More action.  Time to see if this stuff can really do what everyone keeps saying it can do… actually… I’m calling myself out here too.  I’m making it about the tools again.  Let’s see if I/we can do what we say we can do.