Archive for June, 2011

Here’s a second-hand stat I heard today:

“95% of your tweets should be about product or promotion.”

To which I respond:

“Would you rather be an interesting person someone met at the party? Or the annoying announcer nobody wants to listen to?”

Social media isn’t hard people. Quit trying so hard to make it hard. Be yourself. The organic (and way more lucrative) opportunities for your product or promotion will come. Just quit trying so goddamned hard. Or if you must, put that energy into being the life of the party instead.

When I was in university, my international business courses equipped me with the skills I’d need to market a product or service across countries. There can be so many ins and outs, laws, rules, regulations and the likes that it can take time to build up your lay of the land before being ready to engage in commerce in another country. By far the most interesting, and most important aspect, that I found came in terms of a country’s culture. If a word was translated incorrectly or a cultural reference not picked up, it could embarrass a company trying to break into a new market. If you weren’t familiar with cultural customs and norms, deals were likely to not go your way.

Many of today’s social networks have been likened to some of the world’s largest countries. If, for example, Facebook were a country, it would have ranked 3rd highest in terms of population in 2010. When it comes to a social network, it’s not just the company that created it that you are engaging, it’s the community that’s built itself around it. And beyond the Terms of Service, the community has made its own unwritten code of conduct. There are nuances in every culture that you just won’t find unless you immerse yourself in it. You’ll find the same with social networks.

So do yourself a favour. If there’s a social network you’re aiming to target, take the time to investigate it. Talk to the locals (members). Find out what flies and what doesn’t. They’ll appreciate the time you took and you’ll save yourself from making any obvious blunders.

The more I’m out there exploring Calgary, the more interesting things I find to do and fascinating people I meet. Our city is full of talent that so many of us were (and still are) unaware of. I’ve been mulling over how best to go about talking about everything I’m discovering. I contemplated starting another blog, as this one has been primarily about web, technology and social media. But the hell with it, part of outing my inner geek is finding other ways to geek out. It’s at the very least a weekly occurrence for me, and so I bring you a different take on my blog – A Day In My life.

This weekend found me at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (CCEE). The expo is in its fifth year, but I’ve never had occasion to go. My brother was the one into comic books growing up. I think my mom still has a box of his comics, all carefully stowed away in their respective plastic coverings. My best friend was a huge Star Trek fan when we were kids. Everyday after we came home from school, we’d watch Next Generation at her place. She even had a Star Trek themed birthday once. I can’t say that going to a convention with her ever crossed my mind as something I’d be into. Only since cutting off my cable a couple of years ago have I started to explore a few movies already in my collection (namely Batman, Spiderman and the X-men).

In the days leading up to the Expo, I inquired amongst my various groups of friends who would be attending. My frisbee team, not a single one. In fact, I got a funny look for even posing the question. Many of my social media friends, however, y’all were there to partake in the “full frontal NERDity” as Steve Hodges is so fond of putting it.

Three days of manning a booth, being surrounded by hundreds of fans from sci-fi to gamers to comic lovers gave me a glimpse into a world that many of you have been passionate about for years. It feels a bit odd approaching it as an adult. For so many of you, the nostalgia of childhood favourites has just as much of an allure as seeing your favourite characters from a modern-day series. I don’t really have either (although I would have been admittedly excited to see anyone there from Firefly). But I thoroughly enjoyed my immersion into your world and I’ve uncovered a couple of different topics, festivals and activities that I’d like to pursue.

Theatre – What’s theatre doing at a comic convention you ask? I would’ve asked the same thing too, except that it was a promotion for Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre’s current production, i-Robot. Considering the promo in Mark Hopkins‘ newsletter was written in binary, it didn’t seem so out-of-place. Mark is the king of knowing the ins and outs of events on the Calgary Arts scene, or at least having a fantastic list about them once a month. If ever you’ve been one to think there’s nothing to do in Calgary, Mark’s e-newsletter is a pretty solid place to start. How can you get on such an awesome sauce mailing list? Why, email him!

Anime – I spent my weekend next to a table for Otafest. Beyond episodes of Astroboy, I had never had much exposure to the world of anime. I first came across Otafest as I was digging for festivals in Calgary before Christmas. From their website, it was a bit difficult to glean what the festival was all about. However, the thundersticks they were giving away all weekend and the ongoing music from Nyan Cat (it’s the only music I heard for 3 days) made me pay closer attention. It seems I missed this year’s festival, held May 20-22. But it’s already on my calendar to check out next year. It’s back from May 18-20, 2012.

Drawing/Animation – When I was in high school, the words “quick draw” had an altogether different meaning than what the table to my left was promoting. The Quickdraw Animation Society had a still animation demo setup. You’d draw a few lines and take a picture with a camera attached to a Mac, draw a few more, take another picture. And repeat until your drawing was finished. Then hit play. Your drawing now drew itself! You could do the same thing with comic book characters they had cut out from some old comic books. It was fun to watch the different scenes people came up with throughout the weekend. A banner at the back of their booth was promoting a Giraf festival. Actually, it’s Giraf7. My first thought was a fundraiser with the zoo? Shows you how much I know about it, it’s really an animation festival in November. The Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival (Giraf). Say what now? Don’t worry, I still don’t know what it means either. But the stills were intriguing. Did you know that it takes 24 frames to make up 1 second of animation? For real! Imagine how long it takes to do a film? That’s a lot of time and energy–anyone willing to put that much work into a project is worth checking out in my books.

Still on the animation front, there was an artist up from San Francisco in the booth behind mine (does that mean it’s on the animation “back” rather than the front?). Fabian Molina is a young (I say young only because he’s younger than I) animator who once worked at Banana Republic. Importance? None in the context of animating. He worked there for 6 years before he mustered up the courage to quit and pursue animation full-on. In that sense, it’s an important lesson. If you’re nowhere near an industry that allows you to do what you love, the sooner you get out, the better off you’ll be. He let me read through a bit of his book, Animating in the Nude (anything goes at CCEE). All I could think was: “A book? How does this kid have a book already?” Naw, that’s not really what I thought. Instead, it gave me some good insight into what goes into making animations, 2D or 3D. There’s plenty of work to be done from concept to finish, and so much more before pen or pencil even touches paper in terms of character development and the likes. He also just joined Twitter.

I was attempting to embed the promo video for the book, but it appears WordPress isn’t enjoying it so much. Please do have a boo at it over here.

Next to Fabian was Mark McDonnell, whom I didn’t get nearly as much chance to talk to, but would say hello whenever I poked my head through the curtain between our rows. He does something called gesture drawing. Is it in any way related to Fabian’s guide to animating? No clue. If you know more about the field than I, I’ll let you be the judge. At any rate, he describes his book as having a strong focus on storytelling. We all know connecting with anyone–friends and family, strangers, an audience, companies, customers, etc–is much easier to do over a story. I’m curious to see how story-telling through animation might relate well to social media.

It was Mark’s 3rd visit to Calgary. Now that I know who he is, I’ll be looking for him next year, not to mention keeping an eye on his blog from time to time.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see Tony Johanson wandering by. Did you know he’s in on a comic book? I’ll let him spill the details when he’s ready, but would you have ever guessed? Me neither! The things you learn about people…

Not bad for experiencing CCEE from my table, hey? I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to seeing what lessons each of these organizations, people and industries can teach me as I continue to broaden my geekdom.

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo returns April 27-29, 2012. See you there!

Got a blog? Good for you! That makes you the writer and editor-in-chief. You decide the content, you decide the consistency and you decide the level of professionalism that goes into your work. You’re in charge of how the blog looks and how the content is presented. What you should also have figured out by now, is that this is generally the first impression people get from you, it’s the first interaction they have with your personal brand before they ever meet you. This scares companies enough to have policies and procedures in place to ensure a well-written end product before anyone in the public ever lays eyes on it.

You’ve gone to all of the work of researching your content, or at least thinking it out. You’ve put goodness only knows how many hours into creating your networks, gathering email addresses, finding readers and retweeters. You’re out and about making a name for yourself, creating value in your personal brand–and yet you don’t seem to want to take the extra 5 minutes to reread your post before you hit publish, or better yet, have somebody else give it a once over. It’s not even that hard, if you’re using WordPress, the spell checker is built-in. BUILT-IN.

I know we’re all only human. The odd typo sneaks through, even for me. But come on people. Don’t make me start a movement that requires you to have a publishing license. I love that the world has a voice and that you can sound it off at the push of a button. But when it’s littered with errors, that doesn’t help our cause. How are we supposed to take what you’re saying seriously? You obviously aren’t.

I’ll even tolerate the little Americanisms you keep sliding into our written word, dropping the “u” in words like favourite or neighbour, or mixing up “re” for “er” in words like centre and metre. Those grate my nerves, but not enough for me to dismiss all the of the work you’ve put into crafting a beautiful and eloquent masterpiece. But the obvious errors? Come now, that says to me that you just don’t care enough to polish it. So why should I care enough to read it?