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Risk and social media: the podcast

Three things:

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Check out Six Pixels of Separation

One of the real treats of speaking at the Canadian Marketing Association's Word of Mouth Marketing Conference last week was meeting Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image and the guy behind one of the best podcasts on the Internets.

It's called Six Pixels of Separation, and it focuses on the leading edge of marketing with a strong emphasis on social media. It's spontaneous, engaging, fun and always informative. And it gives you a glimpse into Mitch's fine, fertile and fascinating mind.

I'm a fan, which means life doesn't get much better than this: Mitch and I sat down after a great dinner (yes, fellow Vancouverites, there is great sushi to be had in Toronto, when you have Jennifer Evans hunting it down for you), and he broke out his voice recorder.

For the next eight minutes, he asked really challenging (that's as opposed to aggressive) questions about very big issues. We talked about change, marketing ethics, social trust and the prospects for humane capitalism. It was great, and it was also some of the hardest work I've ever done in an interview; I found myself mulling over the ideas we discussed well into the wee hours that night.

Check out the episode here – and then do yourself a favour and subscribe to Mitch's podcast if you haven't already.

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Risk and social media: the Canadian Marketing Association's Word of Mouth Marketing Conference

I just wrapped up a panel with David Jones of Fleishman-Hillard and HarperCollins' Steve Osgoode, ably animated by Scotiabank's Michael Seaton. Very smart people, these folks.

The subject was whether it's possible to market in social media and virtual worlds. But one theme kept coming up again and again: risk.

What if users say bad things about us on our blog? What if nobody shows up to participate? What if this flops?

Here's where I come down on those questions:

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Reflected glory marketing: building brand with Web 2.0

Web marketing 1.0 taught companies one simple principle: brand big. Make your brand visible and consistent by spreading your logo and brand message across your site (ideally with a few demonstrations of your web team’s Flash prowess) and throughout the Internet (through the awesome power of banner ads).

That approach worked great – or at least ok – in the era of content push. But while a great Web 1.0 site was as good as the marketing and web team behind it, a good Web 2.0 site is only as good as the people who contribute to it. And that makes all the difference.

You can have the best web developers in the city and the smartest marketers in the country, but if your customers don’t want to play – if they don’t want to put their words, profiles, voices, photos or videos on your site – you’re going to have a hard time creating a Web 2.0 community.

The trick is creating a site where people want to play. For a few lucky brands – like media companies, Nike or Apple – customers care enough about the product or brand that they’re happy to come and talk about your products. For everybody else, the best way to tap the power of Web 2.0 is to create an online community that has intrinsic value, and let the activities of that community reflect positively on the parent company's brand.

CMA Word of Mouth Marketing Conference: From Mass to Grass

2 p.m. panel session:
Does marketing work in Social Media and Virtual Worlds?


  • Michael Seaton, Director, Digital Marketing, Scotiabank


  • Rob Cottingham, President, Social Signal
  • David Jones, Senior Vice-President, Fleishman-Hillard Toronto
  • Steve Osgoode, Digital Marketing & Business Development, HarperCollins Canada

To register, click here

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Advice to social media mavens...from media pros

We're just back from two days in Houston as the guests of ttweak, a marketing, communications and design firm that shares our belief that authentic, original voices are the best way to convey a message. ttweak's best-known work is probably their Houston It's Worth It campaign, but their extensive and varied experience also includes a number of video projects that let interview subjects, rather than narrators, tell the story.

Social Signal on...

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.