Marketing

The Next Adventure Begins

I’m excited to announce that I am heading out to Calgary for a new job opportunity starting November 1! (More details about my new position to come.)

Calgary

Interestingly, I was in Calgary when I got hired at Circus Communications in Ontario, so I find it quite fitting that I am now heading back to Alberta for a new opportunity in marketing & communications.

Anyone who knows me shouldn’t be surprised, this is the fourth time I’ve moved for a job. 🙂

It’s definitely been an amazing experience working at Circus. I’ve learned so many new things and met amazing people in my time there.

circussite

I originally applied as a copywriter after a friend pointed out the job listing,. The position ended up being a Social Media Coordinator & Writer position. Little did I know that I would end up wearing MANY different hats unrelated to my job description, and that was awesome. Before working at Circus, I knew nothing of Facebook Pages, Google Analytics and AdWords, loyalty program creation, shopping mall marketing….the list goes on.

To say they created a social media monster is an understatement. As anyone who has been bombarded by my tweets, blogs, status updates, videos and more is well aware of. I love my social media!

I had the pleasure to work with an amazing group of people with skill sets all over the map. It’s cliché to say each day was different, but that’s the truth. One day I was writing social media reports, the next I’m in Ottawa making videos in a mall on a research trip for a client pitch.

My manager Angie wrote some kind words to announce my departure and I think they sum up everything quite nicely:

Where does one go after an exciting career full of rollercoasters and ringleaders? How about the rodeo? It’s with mixed emotions that we will be bidding Brad farewell as he heads westbound to find new adventures in Calgary.

Brad’s been an integral member of the social/digital media department and will be missed for all he contributes to the Circus team, from writing to reporting, to Apple genius to man-on-the-street video interviewing… and everything in between!

His last day with us will be Friday, October 19th – details of farewell festivities to follow.

To everyone I worked with, thanks for a great experience. On to the next chapter of the unpredictable life I live. Don’t worry, you’ll still be bombarded with updates from me so it’s like I’m not even gone. 😉

Revealing the secrets behind McDonald’s food

In case you haven’t heard, McDonald’s Canada has pulled back the curtain to showcase how their food is made. In a bold attempt at transparency, they are letting real consumers ask any question they like about the food. Instead of the usual corporate B.S. the public is used to getting, they are actually addressing the questions on a dedicated site using videos and real answers. Ever wanted to know how the food looks so perfect, or what’s in the secret sauce? All is being revealed over at McDonald’s Canada Youtube channel and the Your Questions microsite.

“Ever wanted to ask us about the food in our Canadian restaurants?  Now’s your chance! We’ll answer any questions about our food – even  the tough ones – then post a personal reply from McDonald’s® Canada.”

Simple, direct and honest. This is social media at it’s best: opening a two-way dialogue, creating buzz and being super awesome. It’s genius.

In this always connected world where every brand is now under the spotlight, McDonald’s is taking control of their message and showing they have nothing to hide. They have even revealed how to make the secret sauce for the Big Mac.

I must say this is the best advertising campaign I have seen in a long time (and it’s not just because I happen to worship McDonald’s!). The takeaways here aren’t anything new: be open and honest and everything else will fall into place. Many brands just haven’t got that message yet. Social media is helping them understand there is nowhere to hide anymore!

Of course there are critics, this is a billion dollar brand that is known for many controversial issues (pink slime anyone?), but McDonald’s has reacted in a perfect way that resonates with consumers.

The campaign is picking up a ton of momentum, I’ve heard people talking about it on radio, television  and all over the web. News outlets all over the world have picked up on the campaign. This is a viral campaign in every sense of the word: it’s spreading like virus!  Everyone wants to know the secrets behind the biggest fast food chain in the world. Many urban legends and misconceptions have circulated the internet for years, and this is their bold attempt at stopping them in their tracks.

One point of criticism: Users can’t comment on the videos, and while they do show real behind the scenes, they are also very controlled. While very open and honest, key information is being left out of the conversation. Maybe the next video can detail the food additives and manufacturing process of the food before it gets into the store. Either way, at least the world now knows how to make Big Mac sauce.

Great job McDonald’s! Now to head to my kitchen and attempt to see if I can make a Big Mac that is just as good as the restaurant!

How do you feel about this campaign? Do you love it, or hate it? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

11 Wicked sources to stay updated on Social Media

There are way too many places to get information these days, it’s overwhelming. In order to stay on top of the game and know what’s going on in the world, it’s really important to read as much as you can about your industry. Mine happens to be social media, marketing and advertising. My last post detailed some tips about how to consume information, now I’m going to focus on the sources I use to be the most up-to-date person you’ll ever meet. I spend hours each day reading anything I can get my hands on. Not only about my industry, but things that are completely unrelated. It helps my personal brand, at work and even when I watch Jeopardy! I’m going to reveal some of my sources,but remember this is the tip of the iceberg.

Here is the list of some of my favourite sources to get the latest & greatest information about marketing, advertising, social media and business:

Mashable

This site was cited at Social Media Week as the most important source for any person new to social media. They do post a lot of fluff, but if you can wade through that, it’s a valuable source for social media and tech news.

Social Media Examiner

Great daily articles about the social media world, but beware it’s very sales oriented towards their success summits.

Smartbrief on Social Media

A great newsletter that grabs the most important headlines of the day and brings them to your inbox.

Under the Influence

A homegrown podcast on CBC Radio about marketing and advertising. with Terry O’Reilly as its host. The most informative half hour of my week. New episodes every Sunday.

TechCrunch

Another tech blog, great for coverage of the newest technologies and apps.

Forbes

Information and inspiration about the world’s biggest brands and idea makers.

TED Talks

Videos from the super expensive and exclusive TED Conference. They range from design to business and marketing. All very informative and inspirational.

Inc.

Great articles on startups, business strategies, tech, marketing and ton’s of other things.

Ad Age

The advertising industry bible. A must read to keep abreast of the latest campaigns, strategies and ideas

Marketing Magazine

The Canadian version of Ad Age, a great overview of Canadian agencies and accounts moving around. It’s nice because most of the other trade magazine focus on the U.S. budgets and statistics, where this gives Canadian stats.

PR Daily

Focused on public relations, with articles about writing, spelling, grammar and other related topics. Great source for social media crisis management.

As I said before, it’s a lot of work to stay updated with these sources. The payoff is worth it: you’ll be better at work, and more importantly with your personal brand. Look for my next article detailing what that is and how you can manage it. Remember, things change very quickly and news breaks fast. These sources are a great start, but there are many more. Now that I’ve shared some my sources, what do you recommend I add to the list? Comment below and tell me!

What do Social Media people do all day?

Many people wonder what working in social media is all about. You can’t visit a blog or read a newspaper these days without hearing about this social media stuff. There are many facets to social media. Right now I’m going to give a high level view of what I do and a few things to consider. This is the first of many posts where I’ll be sharing my experience in the world of social media.

Take into account that while I know a lot about SM, I am not claiming to be: a guru, evangelist, strategist, expert, wizard or whatever else social media people call themselves these days. It’s an evolving trend that keeps me on my toes because it changes so often. No one is an expert. While I do spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter, it’s not like I’m playing Farmville or tweeting at Kim Kardashian all day long.

As with any form of advertising and marketing, strategy is key. Part of my job is to determine why a brand would need social media as part of an integrated strategy. BUZZWORD ALERT: Integrated simple means it’s consistent with the rest of the marketing and advertising. Think TV, Print, Outdoor, Radio etc. Most people would assume that if you’re getting lots of fans and followers, you are doing well. WRONG! Engagement is the most important aspect of any social media plan. Why invite 500 people to your party if no one will be talking about it afterwards?

Engaging: If you for one second think that Britney Spears herself is sending all those tweets and replies, you’re kidding yourself. Just like companies, celebrities are brands too. They have people to take care of their brand voice, and respond accordingly. This is called engaging. Social media allows a 2 way communication between the brand and the people. Doesn’t get more social than that!

Listening: Believe it or not, at this point many brands have people like myself that spend a lot of time scouring the web for mentions of their brand. If you tweet or post a blog about a company, you best believe that someone at that company will be reading and taking action. Well, the good companies do that. This is one of the reasons social media is so powerful. If you have an issue, you can tweet it to the world and most likely that brand will contact you to solve your problem. Preferably within 24 hours or so.

Writing Content: No one likes to go to a party where no one is talking. So I spend a great deal of my time researching, writing and editing content for my brands to post on their social platforms. There are really no rules, except that content must be within the guidelines of a brand. So Martha Stewart won’t be posting about the MTV Movie Awards anytime soon.

Reporting: This part’s for all the MBA’s and suits out there and is the most unglamorous part of the job. At  the end of the month, we prepare an overview of mentions, engagement, impressions and lots of other number based stuff to send off to our clients. This in turn helps them prove that there is some form of ROI (return on investment.) The key here is determining what you goals are from the start, and understanding that SM is an evolving medium, just like everything else.

Learning I spend a lot of time during my day, both at work and home, scouring the web for the latest and greatest information related to marketing, advertising, design, social media and many other topics. I watch webinars, attend conferences such as Social Media Week and basically sleep, eat and breathe social media. The more rounded I can be, the more effective my work becomes for my employer and clients. As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s an ever evolving medium. I’ll admit it’s a lot of work to stay updated on this stuff, but it can be done. Look for my next post for tips on how to devour the amount of information it requires to keep current in this crazy world of social media!

Remember each day is different (cliché statement, but true) and this is not a complete list of what we, the social media people, do for our careers. It’s too much to list here, and differs depending on the workplace and/or clients.

Challenge for you: Since most people are so keen on criticizing the smallest fault with brands, why not say something positive? Mention the brand in a blog post, tweet or Facebook update (if you profile is public, otherwise they can’t listen because your posts are private) and see what happens. Comment below and tell me how it went.


Why American brands fail in Canada

I was really excited to hear that Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville had opened in Niagara Falls Canada. Its one of my favourite places to go for drinks in Orlando either before or after a day at Universal. That was until I looked at the menu. They have about half the menu items, a quarter of the merchandise selection in the store and don’t even use Margaritaville brand liquor in the drinks! This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed with an American brand coming to Canada. TGI Fridays is known for having cheap, tasty food, but head to the handful up North and the prices are horrible and the menu hardly resembles the American version at all. I’ve been to these places in the U.S. and know what they should be like, as many other Canadians do as well. It would be interesting to see what people think who are experiencing only the Canadian versions of these brand, without comparing them the U.S. ones. That’s the issue here, we get a watered down Canadian version of these brands. Higher prices with less selection. With the available comparison shopping available with the internet, it has become more of an issue. Take a look at the uproar with J.Crew. They thought they could get away with a subpar brand experience by charging more money and offering less merchandise, but Canadian shoppers knew better. They have been exposed to the online shopping arm of the brand for years, and knew something wasn’t right when they visited the first Canadian store in Toronto. The simply facts are that the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the U.S. dollar for 5 years now, and it’s not reflected in the pricing of these companies. All the talking heads refer to the higher costs of doing business in Canada and blah blah blah. It’s simply sucks that we get a subpar brand experience. Now, some brands are taking preventative steps for price comparisons, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister sending customers to a Canadian version of their site that reflects the same prices as Canadian stores. You simply cannot access the U.S. website if you are in Canada. Other companies have even stopped listing both the U.S. and Canadian prices on the tags, thereby hiding the price differences in both countries.

It will be interesting to see what approach Target takes when they open the first phase of stores in Canada starting in 2013. Will it be the same Target those of us who’ve shopped there know and expect, or a vastly different chain with the only similarity being the logo. How will the pricing be in comparison to the U.S., and what will the merchandise selection look like. I’m taking a wait and see approach, and hoping for the best. But many of us know what the reality most likely can and will end up being.