Archive for August, 2011

Scavenger hunts have always been an amusing way to spend a day (I even did one at my sixth birthday party). But with the advent of social media, they’re taking on an entirely new twist. Even Pearl Jam hopped on the hunt train. I’m not sure we hit 5.9 Million tweets globally, but we certainly took over Twitter today in Calgary as participants in Tweets For Eats YYC tweeted in photos, took good-natured jabs at one another online and raised the profile for a Calgary charity as we descended upon the city. It’s yet another avenue of online successfully meeting offline… and all participants and spectators having a blast in the mean time. Today was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve had at a fundraising event in a long time.

Let me start out with a little run down of the day. I was on a team with Margot from The Costume Shoppe and her friend Karen. We met for a morning picker upper at Chiasso and then headed on over to Melrose to join the couple dozen people already stationed outside waiting for the doors to open and check-in to begin (not to mention the free breakfast sandwiches, yogurt and fruit Melrose had waiting to fuel us up). The hunt didn’t start until 11, but at 945 the doors opened wide and we rushed in to get our forms all filled in and wait for the much-anticipated hunt list.

We ride bareback on Team Silvester

At 11 on the nose, the list was handed out. There were over 200 items consisting of sponsored items recognizing the hunt sponsors, physical items (as in we had to bring these back with us), photograph items (send in a picture) and unique items (only one team could win each one!). Most teams were out the door lickety-split. Not us. We took our time and perused the entire list, sorting out what we wanted to find and splitting it up by neighbourhood or location. From there, we hopped in the car and off we went!

The hunt could take you from just a block or two from the start point all the way out to Elbow Falls. We concentrated on covering as many items as possible in as small an area as possible. This meant restraining ourselves to downtown, Inglewood and… where else but The Costume Shoppe!

I had no idea the day was going to go by so quickly! Part of that was thanks to my awesome teammates, I couldn’t have asked for two better ladies to spend the day with. We had a hoot and had a similar approach to the hunt! The other, well, there were just so many places to try to visit and items to get. We got a little creative with a couple of the clues, like having our team crawl underneath a truck bed instead of a real bed and finding a paper clip in place of a “trombone” (Hint: it’s the French word for paperclip). I was also introduced to a couple of places in the city I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, like this garage filled and decorated with bottle caps!

We didn't do it... I swear!

The day ended at 400pm back at Melrose to tally points, have some much-needed food and drink, listen to some tunes and await the winner of the grand prize of 4 iPads! Three recounts later, we had our winners. The Four Pink Ladies!

Check out the #t4e stream to read all the Twitter updates and photos from the day.

Congrats John S, Mike B, Mike and Ally S on a hunt well done. Can’t wait for next year!

If you’ve had any contact with social media, any at all, you should know that one of the main reasons for being online is to find your influencers. Those people who care about you, your brand and everything you stand for. Finding them in the past hasn’t been easy, and it’s definitely been time-consuming. Almost to the point that it may not have seemed worthwhile to put that much time and effort into it. But now… now! My goodness, now, finding your influencers is as easy as spending a few minutes a day participating in conversations, spreading information and just all-round caring about what your friends and followers are up to.

As of July, 2010, Master Maq reported that there were 10,501 local Twitter users in Calgary. I’m not sure what the number is a year later (that was the last report I found on his blog). I’d be surprised if it had more than doubled. Even less than that amount of Twitter users are real information contributors. Many of you folks sit out there lurking, just waiting for the rest of us to entertain you. But that’s not to say you aren’t watching.

Awhile back, waaaaay back to November, 2010 (if you can remember that far) there was a panel at Third Tuesday about last year’s civic election. One of the panel members (forgive for not remembering his name) asked the audience members how many of them were on Twitter. Once those in the room with accounts raised their hands, he proceeded to call them (us) all weird. But it’s true. We are a weird bunch. Not weird like you’d expect to encounter at a sci-fi conference, but weird in the fact that we’re so plugged in, so hyper-engaged. It’s this characteristic that makes Twitter a hotbed of influencers. People who want to be in the know right now.

Last month, I sent a question out into the Twittersphere asking how many people shared information with their offline networks that they heard about through one of their social networks. Nearly everyone who responded (granted, this was only a dozen or so) said they shared information with offline friends frequently. All respondents I knew to also have relatively large offline networks. In other words, they are just as plugged into the “real world” as they are to the online one.

Have you ever heard of the 1/9/90 rule? The gist is that for every 1 person that posts content online, there are 9 people interacting with that post and 90 people watching and reading what’s going on. There’s no timeframe for those eyeballs mind you. So in a real-time environment like Twitter, we can’t count on followers alone for an exact measure of reach. In fact, we can’t count impressions at all, merely the potential reach. That number would be astronomically large, so even predicting a reach of 10% of that number is impressive. If you’re repeating the message, well, compounded tweets will make it around eventually. And remember, it’s not a passive medium, like reading a newspaper or magazine. It’s an active one where people are having dialogues and conversing about everything from where they’re going for lunch to local and international themes and events.

I’ve said many times before that Twitter is the most valuable social networking tool I’ve found to date. For those of you who balk at its use (whether for B2C or B2B business use, promotional or personal), it’s a sure tell you don’t understand the medium, nor do you seem to want to. On this point, please accept my condolences on all of your missed opportunities. We shall continue to reap the benefits of our active little circle without you. But for any of you still curious about what the Twittersphere may hold for you, jump on in! The water’s fine.

I feel a food truck debate coming on. I can see both sides. Calgarians are hungry for some food culture. Everyone’s excited about the food trucks, but what about the restaurants they may or may not be parking in front of? Are they stealing customers? Or bringing more awareness to the businesses in the direct vicinity?

There was a quick article on CBC’s website about how many neighbourhoods are turning away the food trucks, and yet, the end of the article says Marda Loop’s considering allowing the trucks to visit twice a week. Who’s thinking synergistically here? The answer’s pretty obvious.

I get that restaurants might feel threatened by this new mobile food revolution. But, everything’s going mobile these days… so why the Debbie Downer ‘tude on something many city folk are excited to finally see hit Calgary? Learn from the social media craze folks. Mobile, whether app or food, isn’t going anywhere. I see an opportunity here for some lucky business. A lucky business who’s got private property, and wants to be the official parking spot for food trucks in their neighbourhood.

I walked into Barbecues Galore for the first time when I was heading in hunt of Jojo’s truck parked in the lot of their NE store. Sure, you might lose a couple of customers to a quick food truck lunch, but how many more will discover you as they’re following their favourite meal on wheels around town?

Have you met a person, whether business owner or individual, that just doesn’t “get it” yet when it comes to social media? I have. In fact, I’ve met several of them. Many are on the brink, they’re trying hard to learn the ins and outs, find the value, and discover what it is they need to do to get involved. There are others who continue to turn a blind eye and think: “Hey, if I can’t see you… you can’t see me!” There’s another category of user out there though. It’s the one full of people who are on social networks, and yet don’t understand the idea of processed vs. organic growth, relationships, promotion, conversation, connection.. you get the picture.

It’s an analogy that Vince Fowler from Action Coach relayed to me during a coffee and social media chat. And it’s one that’s stuck with me as I’ve been explaining online word-of-mouth to those I meet along the way. People are smart. They can sniff out a plant faster than you can say information super-highway. And now, more than ever, it’s so blatantly obvious when it’s being done. A business attempting to sway opinions in any kind of black hat approaches might as well strap on a cone-shaped hat with D-U-N-C-E written across the top. You’re filling the pipe with processed food and expecting luscious and miraculous growth, when really, you’ve just got a lot of shit coming out the other end.

Social media’s not going anywhere. That’s a fact the rest of us accepted long ago. Those of you basking in social media success, good for you! Keep doing what you’re doing. For the rest of us, here are a few tips I think might help make the transition into this new land of real world transparency a little easier on you:

  1. Quit trying to buy our love and just be loveable. This means being the best you can be at what you do from start to finish.
  2. Take note, not offense. Learn from the feedback you receive, whether online or offline. Use both positive and negative comments to improve weak spots, or make strong spots sparkle even brighter.
  3. Take any outlying comments with a grain of salt, both positive and negative. Just because one person may think you’re the cats meow doesn’t mean the rest of us do. Certainly, be proud of pleasing a person or customer that much, but use it as an example on how to make every person purr that contentedly. Don’t stop until you’re rolling in praise. Same goes for any feedback you may not want to hear. It’s also a grain of salt. One outlying comment or two is not the end of the world. It’s when you keep on receiving it that it becomes your signal that there’s something more than just a grumple-puss behind it.
  4. Know when to cut your losses. You cannot please 100% of the people 100% of the time. There are just way too many of them and only one of you. Do your best to right any wrongs. Once you feel you’ve done all you can, shrug it off and continue on. Remember that organic process? The rest will come. If you’re focusing on excellence in your industry, all you need is some time.
  5. Recognize what you have influence over, and what you don’t. The minute a person walks through the door of your business, or meets you on the street, you have influence over their experience of you. Once they’ve walked out of your life, it’s all over. Do everything you can to ensure every aspect of their interactions with you are the best you can muster given the current situation. The rest isn’t up to you.

Learning to roll with the punches and incorporate feedback, both positive and negative, is the most important first step in this space. You may have heard the term “listening” before. It means “to pay attention.” So sit up straight, turn and face the people who are trying to tell you something. And just listen. From there, your next step should become a little more clear.