Monthly Archives: February 2009

And The Winner Is … (No, Not The Oscars)

It’s always fun to take a break from work, especially with caption contests, and I got a nice surprise today here:

(All in jest, Facebook!)

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)


Hanging At PodCamp Toronto With Some Cool People, Simple As That

Today I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time some people at PodCamp Toronto who I have been following for quite a while in the social media space: Chris Brogan, Mark Evans and Danny Brown. In particular, Brogan’s presentation was very entertaining … the jokes, chair kicking and free books he gave out to the audience just some of the highlights.

Each presentation was 30 minutes, tops. I actually prefer that format to the longer time slots as it keeps things snappy, the presenters have to get to the point and — to me — it seems to fit better with the “here and now” of social media.

People wandered in and out, sat on the floor, good-naturedly heckled and I found it to be a great networking opportunity, more so than mesh actually, although that was that a cool event too.

And the best part, it was all free. It’s on tomorrow too.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)

Nothing Beats Face Time

It’s a cliche, but working from home has its pros — flexible hours, no commute, low overheads etc. One of the cons is the fact it can be pretty lonesome.

I like the interaction of walking into a colleague’s office and doing an impromptu brainstorm (if they have time), or shooting the breeze about campaigns and work during coffee-making stints in the office kitchen. I get a lot of that virtual interaction now via my contacts on Twitter and MSN Messenger, especially if the other party has a webcam.

Yesterday I was downtown at a client meeting, and it was great to immerse myself back in the office environment for a few hours. Today I went for lunch (thanks Ian!) with someone in the industry, and tomorrow I have some casual  meetings arranged at PodCamp Toronto — that looks very cool.

The trick is to keep myself connected to the physical world with interactions such as the above. Working from home is not for everyone, but I’m slowly getting used to it and making sure I get face time with “real” people in addition to the “virtual” ones. Nothing beats watching someone’s reaction and body language when you are discussing some cool new strategy, or trying to work together to solve a problem.

So, if you’re in the GTA and feel like a coffee sometime, give me a shout, I could do with the fresh air!

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)

Five Social Media Tips For Non-Profits

My friend [Daniel Knox from the William Osler Health Centre Foundation, thanks] tipped me off to a free PDF by Convio, an organization that provides technology for non-profits. There is a section in the report that gives five tips to help non-profits get started with social media, and what to expect. Here they are:

1. Know your audience and the community you want to engage
The tools you use should be directly related to the online behavior of the people you are trying to reach. You should consider whom you are already communicating with, as well as communities and individuals you want to reach, listen to and engage. Ask your members. Engaging them in picking the right tools can help ensure your success.

2. Align social media tools with organizational objectives
Different tools are better at accomplishing specific objectives. For example, blogs are a great way to get feedback on potential programs or causes from large groups of constituents, while video and photo-sharing applications are useful for building a sense of excitement around new programs. Keep in mind that because social and participatory media are evolving quickly, your plan and tools need to be flexible.

3. Establish operating procedures and policies
Social and participatory media require organizations to have a higher level of trust in their publics than most other communication tools. While it’s not necessary to have volumes of policies and procedures, it is still important to maintain some organizational oversight to ensure communications remain appropriate and focused on your organization’s goals.

4. Identify organizational resources
A successful strategy requires active participation from constituents, as well as at least one person from your organization. Before initiating, make sure the appropriate internal personnel support the idea and are willing to integrate social media functions into outreach activities. What you put into a participatory media campaign is typically what you get out of it. If you only have the time and resources to communicate once a week, you probably won’t get a timely and lively discussion, but you can still get value out of the use of the tools. Don’t assume that it is only the younger members of your team or volunteer community that can support you in this effort. According to Facebook, people over 35 are the fastest growing population in this arena.

5. Evaluate
Social and participatory media are in their infancy from a fundraising perspective — don’t expect to drive a million dollar campaign yet. But, when integrated with traditional campaigns social and participatory media can be especially successful. Concentrate on one social media network at a time. Experiment, observe and learn what works and what doesn’t. Establishing how you monitor and measure results will help manage expectations within your organization.

You can download the PDF from here.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)

The Tweet Pitch

Inspired by the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter, one of the consultants on the Echo Communications team (Kevin Morrison) came up with the idea for the ‘Tweet Pitch’ (not to be confused with Stowe Boyd‘s #Twitpitch for Twitter).

Here’s the idea: While our typical pitch abstracts run about 350 – 400 words (we use these abstracts to back up the top level story ideas we send to media, bloggers, etc.), Kevin’s idea was to start using pitches that are really short by traditional media relations standards.  For example, two of his most successful pitches were only 90 words long. He was even complimented by a journalist for a well written, well thought-out pitch.  Given that we need to be smart about what we say in each tweet because of the 140-character limit, why not apply the same approach to pitches?

This article written by Amy Jacques for PR Tactics and The Strategist Online (a PRSA publication) focuses on how to make the most out of 140 characters. I think there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t apply some of those guidelines to the pitches we send by email to media.  I imagine this is an approach that would be especially well received by the blogging community.

I’m interested to know if others are already using Tweet pitching as a strategy, and if the results they’ve seen are better than with the traditional abstract. And if you’re not already Tweet pitching, I challenge you to give it a try.

~ Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

Follow me, follow you

I’m often asked by Twitter newbies which folks in the Twitterverse they should be following. Of course, there are variables (such as what business they are in, how they plan to use Twitter, what their objective is for using Twitter, etc.) that will ultimately dictate which folks are the best one’s for them to follow.


Regardless, I typically suggest that a good starting place is the many lists that have been created to highlight the ‘top’ people to follow (keeping in mind that most lists are subjective and generally created based on personal opinion and perceived influence rather than scientific methodology). But the issue is where to find these lists.


Since I personally haven’t seen a single source detailing these lists, I’ve decided to pull one together to make it even easier for newbies to discover what an amazing tool Twitter can be:



v  Dave Fleet created a list of 40 PR-related people to follow



v  Sarah Evans created a terrific wiki focused on the different media who are on Twitter.

v  Brian Solis also put together this list of Twittering journalists (as well as a list of the Top 100 Blogs, and details on the platforms that power them)

v  BusinessWeek provided a list of their Twittering gang (I wish all publications would offer the same kind of list)



v  Carter Lusher put together this list of industry analysts on twitter. I love that he keeps it updated and notifies his followers when new analysts have been added.  Carter also created this list of Analyst Relations professionals.



v  Mashable offers a list of the best brands on Twitter

v  This list also identifies some of the best brands on Twitter, along with their TwitterGrader ranking

v  Paul Dunay provides his own list of brands that tweet

v  This is a list of 50+ Pro Logo Designers to Follow on Twitter created by Josiah Jost


Advertising and Marketing Blogs

v  Todd Andrik created the Twitter Power 150, a list of advertising and marketing blogs


C-Level Executives

v  Paul Dunay also created this list of C-suite Tweeters



v  Following is a list of professors that tweet created by Lon Cohen



v  This list started by Darren Rowse details tweeps to follow in different niches

v  While not a ‘Top’ list per se, this recent Mashable post details a number of different twitter directories


Of course, my ‘list of lists’ is also subjective and based purely on those that I’ve recently come across. I’m sure there are many more lists out there, and if you know of one that should be included, let us know and we’ll add it in. And don’t forget, you could also check out Twellow, which enables you to search for peeps to follow by category.


UPDATED: February 17, 2009


~ Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

We Want Stuff, Not Fluff


Lee Odden gives a nice roundup of some tools that take you to the next level of monitoring stats on a blog, rather than the ubiquitous Google Analytics. I’m a stats junkie and keep a close eye on who is visiting this blog, who referred them and — more interesting — which network or company they are surfing from. It doesn’t take much effort to dig down and, with some cross referencing on LinkedIn and other social sites, narrow it down to who that person might be. It’s good business intelligence.

We’re in the process of taking a look at some social media monitoring services too. I have used Radian6 previously, and liked its ease of use, but wasn’t too keen on how quickly the window can become cluttered with different reporting boxes, especially if you have a lot of searches running at once. Amber, have you got feedback along similar lines, or am I in the minority?

Another tool we’re going to explore is Toronto-based Sysomos. Looking forward to Steve’s demo.

All these services are a boon for the busy marketer that needs to automatically track what is being discussed in the social space. But I still think these are just starting points in that process; a human being then has to sift those results and decide how to present it to the client. I understand there are “e-mail person X on a daily basis” options, but I’d be wary of adding a client to that list without their knowledge. They are busy too, and need to get at the relevant stuff, not the fluff.

I’m also curious how these social media tracking tools decide on when to add a source of data to their monitoring lists? When do they become relevant enough to be included? Trade secret, or does someone want to offer that insight?

PR is 24/7 now. You can “set it and forget it” or take the extra time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)