COM0011 Blog 6 Five Things Social Media Knows About You

Robin Williams RIP top trend on August 11, 2014

The death of this wonderful actor has tens of thousands of tweets, youtube visits, and facebook mentions just hours after his death was announced.  Fans and commentators have lots to say.  He made me laugh and think and sometimes tear up a bit, so I admit, I am interested in this news and read a few articles about it.


But look what else happened today:

  • 45,000 Russian troops began forming up on the border with Ukraine
  • Spain tested a new anti-Ebola drug on an infected priest while the disease rages across Africa
  • Citizens riot in St. Louis after the shooting by police of an unarmed teenager
  • The United States will make targeted strikes in Iraq to quell the rising insurgency
  • Over 200,000 people are displaced in Gaza during the recent fighting

It’s all bad news and it’s all available on line, but you have to hunt for these stories a bit.  Each story has a set of ads that go with it and each ad is tailored to the demographic looking at the article.  The difference in coverage between these two kinds of stories shows us what Social Media has learned about us.


 So here’s what Social Media knows about you:

1.  We know what you want.  

You want to feel good.  We can make you feel good.  You want to remember happy times with friends and families even in times of sorrow.     You don’t want to challenge yourself with problems too big to solve.  You want to buy things.  

2.  We know what you want to buy.

Tonight you want to buy an iPhone 6.  We have videos of couples and singles and adorable children and nice houses and cars enjoying their lives with an iPhone 6.  You want all of that too.

3.  We know that if you’re reading about serious stuff you might not want to buy fun stuff.

But just in case you do, we place ads for the iPhone 6 on the serious stories too, so it’s there when you need a break.  Advertisers will not pay as much for these spots.  Because we are charging less for these ads, we don’t have as much money to spend for covering these stories and we don’t give them as much space on the page or flashy coverage.

4.  We know what you want to share with your friends or talk about at work.

We know because we measure what you like and what you share on line.  You will talk about Robin Williams tomorrow.  The anti-ebola test drug maybe not so much.  While you talk, you will have the happy glow of the iPhone 6 and you might buy one at your lunch break.

5.  We know that we can influence how you live your life.

We can sell you things that you didn’t even expect to buy.  We can make you think things are important to you, even if they`re not.  We can help you choose your political candidates, find a desirable mate, eat whatever food we want you to have, we can keep you up late at night doing nothing in particular and do you know what the really sweet thing about is?  This is exactly what you want.


The video clip above was inserted so that you would want to read the blog.

Meanwhile events that might have a true impact on your life go un-noted.

How do YOU remain unpredictable to Social Media?

COM0011 Blog Post #5 Connected but Disconnected

COM 0011 Blog Post #5 Connected but Disconnected

Wireless communications have 90.2% penetration in the developing world.

That’s right.  Billions of people have skipped the land-line development infrastructure phase and gone straight to digital communication.   To those of us who are accustomed to developmental stages in childhood, psychology, plant growth, bread making, technology and any number of other progressions, there is a disconnect when individuals or groups skip a stage.  In the developing world technology and infrastructure don’t progress in an orderly way.  It’s out of whack and it leaves me feeling unsettled.

This week I got a video from my friend in Nepal that illustrates my point.

My disconnect here is that space age digital technology – let’s call it magic – is connecting me with images from across the world that definitely show gaps in infrastructure.

A person with a smart phone sends video across the world.  Forget the fact that they are carrying the motorcycle on the roof of the bus.  There are no cranes or fall protection or safety codes officers.

This hap-hazard adoption of technologies allows us to communicate globally, but it also highlights gaps in understanding and relationship.

The man loading motorcycle has a nice shirt and shoes, not flip flops.  It might even be his bike that he’s loading.  He obviously doesn’t have the worker protection that we take for granted and he probably lives in conditions that we would find extremely difficult.

But it’s just possible that the man loading the bus has a cell phone.


COM0011 – Blog Post #4 Social Media Metrics and the World Cup

So how many people watched the FIFA world cup last week?

According the “The Telegraph”, over 20 million people watched the final game of the World Cup on television in Britain, with a total global TV audience of around a billion.

That’s 1,000,000,000.  

The telegraph also mentions that in Britain, a record number of tweets per minute (618,725) was set at the final whistle.

Sarah Groark of Snack Media reports that globally, over 72% of fans were actively engaged with social media while watching the final game.  With over a billion viewers, you can do the math.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity for organizations, businesses and causes.

Huge and successful campaigns were mounted by Nike and Adidas, while Snickers used an on-the-spot and innovative tweet that has been retweeted nearly 48 thousand times.


Like any campaign there were winners and losers.

Royal Dutch Airlines quickly pulled it’s Adios Amigos ad, but not before  Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal retweeted it with profanity to his 1.95 million followers.


How each organization deals with the fallout will affect their success in the coming months.

Which brings us back to the question of metrics.  With this size audience, reported measurements only count clicks.  More in-depth analytics classify positive and negative. But the real social media metrics will take place in the coming days and weeks as organizations continue to engage with their audiences, successfully or not, and build or rebuild to achieve their organizations’ goals. Social media metrics will be visible in the degree of bottom line success of the organizations that use them.

Did you tweet while watching?

COM0011 Blog #3 – Social Media Marketing and Canada Day

How Social Media Muscled in on Canada Day

Who could forget the amazing Westjet Christmas Miracle commercial that went viral just before Christmas?  

In it, children and adults waiting in Hamilton and Toronto airports asked Santa for gifts.  When they boarded their Westjet flights to Calgary, airline employees rushed out and bought the gifts, wrapped and delivered them so that they were waiting with the luggage when the travelers arrived.

It was an amazing, feel-good pre-Christmas vision that was shared and shared through social media.  It was released on December 9th and by December 12th over 13 million people had seen it.  By now it has been seen by over 36 million people in every country in the world except Kazakhstan.

I know you’ve seen it, but if you need a little boost, here it is again.

Advertisers and social commentators love these viewing statistics, not just because of the number of viewers, but because these videos are shared like good gossip or stories between friends.  They come with authenticity and approval to each new viewer.

So back to Canada Day

I enjoyed CraftyG’s post “Cheers to Canada Day”

In contrast to that thoughtful and thought provoking article, I got several shares of the Canadian beer ad.

In under a week it has been shared by over 1.8 million viewers.

It’s brilliant, but what does it mean?  It’s cute and funny and a bit patriotic.  It makes viewers feel good because people are shown happily singing our national anthem in strange locations to a refrigerator, while hoping to get a beer. This is a story our friends share with us.  We need to understand its message.  Our attitudes and emotions are shaped by this story, but because it is shared and approved by our friends and our friend’s friends and millions of others, social media marketing is helping to shape our national consciousness.

What is the message really saying?


COM0011 Blog #2 Social Media, Municipal Government and Democracy

I work for the City of Edmonton and there’s a serious re-branding campaign going on, using social media to engage workers, encourage recruitment, improve customer service and generally make Edmonton an even greater place to live.

The direction comes from the Mayor and is working it’s way through all levels of the organization.  The openness and accessibility of our Mayor and Councillors gives administration the go-ahead to develop innovative social media tools that give citizens responsive government and help to build better communities.  And it’s working.  People from all over the world follow Edmonton.

This connectedness is as practical as being able to find out where your late bus is and when it will get to your stop. Riders can access 15 different phone apps to get real time scheduling reports.  Drivers can find out where construction delays occur, and citizens can learn about subjects as diverse as the history of residential chickens, bike month activities, how to pay your property taxes and swimming pool schedules.

Like all true communication it goes both ways and the public participates actively in this 2-way dialogue.   Sure there are growing pains. Communication plans must be ready to respond to issues that come up, whether they’re true or not and it seems like the communications group must have a crystal ball to be ready when issues sneak up from nowhere.

But it doesn’t take a huge workforce to manage this.  Trending tools on twitter allow the communications group to keep an eye on what’s important to the public.  Like potholes.  When the mayor goes on the monthly radio call-in, he can be ready to tell callers about the Pothole Plan.  And there is a plan, because City administration has seen the trends and knows how important it is to respond to the public.

It’s basic democracy, actually.

So does social media make your city happy?

COM0011 – Blog #1 House Hunting and the Meaning of Life

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.

We’re looking for a new house after living in our current home for 34 years.  And yes, our house does have ghosts and memories, laughter, tears, bad music and good, cracks in the walls, flowers, stains and halos.  So why are we thinking of moving on?  Well the official reason is that we want to live in a neighbourhood close to the river or ravine trails.  We love hiking and trail running and there’s a lot of pavement to pound and busy streets to cross before we get close to any trails.

But maybe there’s more.  Maybe it’s a vague sense of discontent, maybe the fear of getting into a rut, maybe wondering “Is this all there is?”  So I did some research. I googled “Meaning of Life” and I came up with this by a person named Spanky at

A young man undertakes a perilous journey over mountains, through jungles, across oceans, seeking wisdom, enlightenment, and the meaning of life. After several years his search leads him to a wise man, drunk in a Thai pub with Isaan music blaring loud from the stage. “Please sir could you tell me, what is the meaning of life?” He asks. 
“Life is fun!” replies the jovial wise man raising his glass in a toast. 
“Life is fun?” The young man becomes irate. “I journeyed all the way here, across oceans and over mountains and all you have to say is life is fun!” 
The wise man puts down his glass, smiles at the young man and says, “OK then, life isn’t fun.” 
Life is what you make it, not more or less. 

Last week when I was out running, I came across graffiti that said “Ships in harbour are safe, but that’s not what they were built for.”  So here I am.  I’m learning something completely new.  This is my first blog.  Ever.  I’ve left the shore, entered deep water and my course isn’t clear to me yet.  Am I glad to be here?  You bet I am!