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Web & Print Design - New Media Communication - Marketing Victoria BC Canada

Victoria BC Canada

2013 Predictions, or the Year of the Sneek

The 5th, or 6th year of doing a ‘Top Predictions’ blog for the upcoming year: inspired by the (ever expiring) Victoria BC Times Colonist journalist Jack Knox (@JackKnox), who annually regales us Islanders with his profoundly insightful prophecy. This year, a connection as the team at #YYJchat, of whom I am honoured to be a member, actually had our hero scribe as a guest – well done, we will never regain our reputations.

Looking over last year’s predictions jiggled the funny bone as a few made the zeitgeist – yep, Mayan Apocalypse certainly gained attention.

normal_happy_teaser_ad_copySo…. Here’s looking to 2013

1: Chinese year of the Snake: Snakes on a Plane….snakes in the grass…Washington State legalizes marijuana…B.C. in a big election…BC Marijuana Party wins! (stream of thought)

2: Social Media finally combines into an extremely useful, single platform called #PintYourFaceintoMyTube – marketers revel. Google adds a + version a month later.

3: Apple launches iPhone 6, 6.3, and a ‘mini-mini’ iPad (iPhone 4 revamped) all within 3 weeks, with midnight launches. Expectant buyer lineups combine and cause riots around the world.

4: US ‘fiscal cliff’ becomes a ‘cliff hanger’ lasting well into the the next Presidential election – which starts next week.

5: BC Ferries announces $50 million revamp of upper class lounges – though, these will be at terminals. Have a great meal, or 2 – even 3 – while you wait.

6: Lockheed introduces the F36, just to confuse Canadians.

7: Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece all apply to leave the EU and join the Canadian currency. Mark Carney has a giggle fit from London.

8: The Mayans were right, just a month off – it’s January 21st folks!

9: China notes buying and centralizing world iron/steel around Beijing is creating an earth magnetic wobble. Solution: buy these accredited sea sickness ginseng pills from our wonderful, safe and friendly factories.

10: In reference to #9, Harper notes Canadian potash exports help the global production of ginseng.

11: BC Premier Christie Clark goes for broke, and kisses a girl – though it turns out to be Katy Perry who crashed a fund raiser…even the NDP say ‘it could happen to anyone’. John Cummins …. ‘goddamn, why was I not invited?’ Jane Sterk kisses a sewage pipe, and that wins the election….

12: The Amazon cloud sever becomes sentient – John Grisham is forced into slavery to write novellas for Kindle.

13: 13th year of the new century: Blade Runner is looking like a soft landing!

and this is the year of the sneek: who gets your data?

Your comments, questions are welcome – have a great year.


Twitter is the News

There is no doubt Twitter has altered the broadcast and news gathering culture of media organizations, but what is behind the 140 character system that aligns so well with ‘news’?

Maclean's Magazine TwitterA reason for posing the question is noticing how some news papers and broadcasters are dedicating sections solely to Twitter trends and headlines, others incorporating #Hashtag streams into programming. Recently Maclean’s Magazine – a weekly Canadian print publication covering politics, business, and news – began a daily online article: Daily Headlines via Twitter using Storify to curate top headlines from a number of news organizations.

Next, take a look at a basic search for ‘Twitter’ on the Guardian UK newspaper website. For July 28th, almost all the top headline stories, from the latest Olympic updates to news from Syria, and the passing of actor Geoffrey Hughes have a direct reference to Twitter in the articles, clearly demonstrating the short message service has inordinate influence as a news gathering tool for journalists. Likely because it so quick and responsive, reporters can easily grab relevant content to boost just about any story: a quote, comments, updates etc.

It seems somewhat disproportionate as Twitter has around 150 million active users compared to Facebook’s 900+ million, yet Zuckerberg’s platform is nowhere near as mentioned as a source, or even as a news story itself unless discussing its share price. A news search on Google for “Twitter Olympics” shows 10800 news items compared to “Facebook Olympics” at 127.

Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief of the Guardian UK: posted fifteen points on “Why Twitter matters for media organisations” in November of 2010. Nearly two years later, are they still appropriate or actually reinforced, can others be added?

Point One:  It’s an amazing form of distribution: No doubt, and even more so now as the user base has extended from around 60 million in 2010 to 150 million today. Twitter (and yes, Facebook and Youtube) have profoundly impacted, some even argue inspired, the Arab Spring and now a necessary communication tool for politicians.

Point Two: It’s where things happen first: Or, where news is reported at all. The now 18 month uprising in Syria illustrates how citizen media can equal, even trump, traditional journalism in places where accredited media are denied access by authorities.

Point Three: As a search engine, it rivals Google: Yes and no these days as even Google has given in to including Twitter profiles and sometimes tweets themselves into results. Social is becoming even more integrated into operating systems and search.

Point Four: It’s a formidable aggregation tool: Where Twitter excels over other search engines – even those within the likes of Facebook and Youtube – is that the aggregation itself is user generated. A #Hashtag can be created by anyone, used and posted to by anyone. It turns search on its head from the realm of mathematicians to a crowd sourced function.

Point FiveIt’s a great reporting tool: Such an obvious statement it’s not even worth bothering to comment, except to say journalists and editors must be vigilant on specious tweets and deliberate misinformation.

Point SixIt’s a fantastic form of marketing: Yes, certainly with a growing user base news organizations can directly broadcast both breaking news and more nuanced opinion, to a far larger audience. The problem is twofold: journalists themselves, especially those who grabbed a Twitter user name before many organizations had a brand policy, are in a position to take their followers to another ‘brand’ – and – it is a flat platform. The audience decides who has authority on any given issue. Quite often the most re-tweeted posts are not from news organizations, but citizens directly involved in an issue or event.

Point SevenIt’s a series of common conversations. Or it can be: In fact, Twitter is about the conversation which is why chats surrounding a #hashtag are one the most popular and powerful features. This is where news organizations are getting it wrong, with only a few notable exceptions. Al Jazeera has daily open chats on topical issues, The Guardian has experimented with open editorial – ‘make your own newsroom’ idea, and CBC has a weekly Wednesday Politics chat. For the most part however, the majority of publications and broadcasters are not utilizing discussion features, to the detriment of their own organizations.

Mainly due to the fact no one in Greater Victoria BC had plugged into the concept of a regular Tweetchat, the group at Victoria Wave (of which I am a founder) decided to start our own. In many ways, #YYJchat is a news source on its own with weekly guests – politicians, community leaders, experts – and topical to the region. One wonders why news organizations are not taking advantage of chats and #Hashtags to reinforce their community credentials and brand image.

Point Eight: It’s more diverse: As with any social media platform the greater the number of users, the more diverse the opinions and focus. However, unlike Facebook which is the ultimate walled garden, Twitter does allow non user viewing through search apps and widgets – then again, you still require an account to participate.

Point Nine: It changes the tone of writing: Many would say to the detriment of any language, yet ultimately what Twitter has done to journalism and writing of any form is to highlight the necessity of brevity.

Point Ten: It’s a level playing field: Which goes back to my #7 point – a level playing field means news orgs have to take the initiative and not be afraid to experiment.

Point Eleven: It has different news values: This point from Alan Rusbridger was one of the most poignant. Twitter (and other platforms) highlight trending topics, which often are the goal for publicists, marketers and political parties. One could say ‘Twitter trends are the new SEO’. An open platform, where the crowd is determining what is topical, can force editors into ‘follow the audience’ to maintain online ratings – create a quick article or blog post that fits a trending topic simply for the retweet value is not uncommon.

Point Twelve: It has a long attention span: More so than most would think. In Canada the #Hashtags #TellVicEverything and #HarperHistory still resonate, and are searchable for an archive. This simple function, grouping messages around a tag, beats any searchable query on any other platform.

Point Thirteen: It creates communities: Yes, and relevant to many previous points, with an emphasis that news organizations are not taking advantage of this essential nature of Twitter. Editors and broadcast/publication owners might feel it is not their duty or function to create and maintain Twitter communities – yet they are broadcasting into them, and quite often seek comments on articles and opinion pieces (a blog is a community of sorts). Instead of complaining that social media is taking away an audience, while using published material, news organizations should be taking it on and creating the community – you can’t own a hashtag, but you can be the first to use it.

Point Fourteen: It changes notions of authority: In a much more problematic way now than in 2010. Certainly aggregators like Huffington Post filter and add to mainstream media posts – the bug bear of early social media to traditional media, and now largely discounted as an issue. What has occurred is a confluence of both highspeed mobile access to the web, and simple, equally high end, production. An iPhone, with the right apps, is a media production platform rivaling professional studio output from only a few years ago. Yes, it does take skill to create a video with appropriate context – a blog article with authority – an interview that hits the facts, but this is now in the hands of citizens, and as individuals gain audience, they gain authority. For better and worse.

Point Fifteen: It is an agent of change: Or an agent of the status quo, depending on who owns the trend at a particular time.

No doubt Twitter has radically altered ‘News’ as we know it – and it will become more profound as the platform gains more users. There needs to be a balance however between profit motive editors chasing trends for the potential audience value, vs allocating resources to reports that have community impact.

As always your thoughts and comments are valued and welcomed



Victoria Police Take to Twitter for Canada Day

One of the most difficult jobs is changing the communication culture of an organization, especially a police department. There is a natural resistance not only over legal barriers, but the ‘vision’ of what policing and community engagement actually means.

Update: analytics have been crunched regarding the #VicPDHelps Twitter hashtag for Canada Day – 123 tweets generated 314,345 impressions, reaching an audience of 75,099 followers within the past 24 hours via @Org9. Total network reach, which includes secondary level ie: ‘friends of friends’ is an estimated reach of 105 000. Considering the population of Greater Victoria is around 376 000 (source CRD), this illustrates the potential of social media to engage the region.

CHEK News Video

This is #YYJChat In Real Life!

Victoria Police Constable Mike Russel with #YYJchat

It is so refreshing to witness the Victoria BC Police Department experiment with Twitter on Canada Day. Creating a Hashtag – #VicPDhelps – as a non-911 means for people to note problems or concerns while tens of thousands gathered in the downtown core to celebrate the national holiday.

Mike Russell, the Victoria Police officer behind the Twitter handle @VicPDCanada, along with the department’s communication team, has moved online engagement from a staid press release broadcast, to putting a personality into the ‘handle’, making real connections, and proving that taking the time for online conversations can have real benefits.

Mike has reached out to the community. He has presented at the largest conference in North America dedicated to social media, Social Media Camp, and did a full hour on #YYJchat taking questions from the Greater Victoria online ‘crowd’.

On Canada Day, with an expected record number of over 50 000 people flooding into the downtown Victoria and Inner Harbour area to watch concerts and the fireworks, police communication changes. Crowd sourcing issues, nipping problems in the bud before they get out of control seems elemental, but can only happen if the community trusts the people behind both the badge, and hashtag.

In this case, it seems to have worked. The night is not over, but up to midnight, it is quite obvious the local community was well aware of the Victoria Police Twitter initiative, trusted it, and was willing to offer leads and assistance.

The problem for Victoria Police now is the future. Once a hashtag permeates a community, it can take on a life of its own. Using #VicPDhelps simply for special events, during set hours, might not be possible. Integrating Twitter, and other social media platforms, directly into 911 call centres and non-emergency, but reactive, communications, will be a challenge.

The following is an edited Storify of Canada Day using posts from @VicPDCanada #VicPDHelps #YYJCanadaDay and #YYJ

Note: the hashtag #VicPDhelps monitoring time was 4pm July 1st to 2am July 2nd. The Storify has posts to midnight July 1st


Twist My Rubber Arm….

Hoyne Beer with Empress Food

Hoyne Beer with Empress Food

When the Fairmont Empress (@FairmontEmpress) in Victoria BC sent a DM (direct message) tweet with an invitation to come down and try out their new Hoyne Honey Hefe – made by Hoyne Brewery, using Empress Hotel’s own honey – my response was ‘Twist my rubber arm’. The Fairmont Empress is a Victoria: no, let’s be clear, a world wide known hotel (and way out of my price range) and having known Sean Hoyne from his years as brewmaster at Canoe Brewpub, the match was made.

Not knowing the format for the meeting, I arrived at the Empress Hotel with no set ideas, and was truly pleasantly surprised at how Angela Rafuse (@HotelGoddess), and the Empress staff had created an intimate, small gathering. Angela is an executive at the hotel and, in her words, wanted to get the word out on how they made the connection with Hoyne Brewery. So what better way than asking a few people who can get the word out through social media, and make a personal connection.

This is what other local businesses and organizations should be doing. There are so many local people with blogs, on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms and with influential networks. The mindset of tasking resources and spend solely towards traditional media is rapidly changing, and frankly the approach by Fairmont Empress staff is refreshing. While the participants – Mike Dewolfe (@dewolfe001), Susan Martin (@suziezed) and myself know each other, we rarely connect in real life – and Angela gracefully offered an opportunity for all to share…. that is the key, an opportunity for serendipity.

The food was fantastic, and perfectly matched to compliment Hoyne’s Brewery beer. As good was sitting at a table, on the Empress verandah, overlooking Victoria’s amazing harbour and openly discussing all sorts of issues: creating a relationship. Well done Angela – you have reinforced what others should see – make the connections…


Mike Dewolfe and Susan Martin

Mike Dewolfe and Susan Martin






Taking #SMcamp Lessons to #Saltspring

One of the big takeaways from Social Media Camp in Victoria BC this weekend was ‘don’t piss off the #YYJ tag’. Inevitably it happened as nearly 700 ‘savvy’ people from all around Victoria, BC – and well beyond – , with speakers like @Chris Brogan and Erica Ehm @YummyMummyClub exciting all the attendees, and we wanted to share. Yes – so Twitter was full of conference notes and pics on Twitter with the #YYJ tag, and it filled the stream. So, apologies Victoria BC…we promise to do it again.

When you teach you learn: and that is evident at this convention. Being a panelist or presenter is a privileged position no doubt, but I was frankly stunned, and delighted, at the direct feedback, questions, and experience from delegates that enriched the entire weekend. There are no ‘Social Media Gurus’ or ‘Experts’ – there are people with experience, and the best know that asking questions is the best way to learn. So thank you to everyone at Social Media Camp, I learned, hope you did as well…

On Thursday June 14th I will be on Saltspring Island, at the invitation of the Saltspring Chamber of Commerce. Title of the presentation is “Tips, Tricks and Tools”, and many of those will come from learning at Social Media Camp… Yes, kudos to Erica Ehm for quantifying, Social Media is a Cocktail Party!

June 14th – Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast – Social Media and Your Business!

Join us for this Salt Spring Chamber Breakfast Networking featuring guest speaker Mat Wright who will be discussing social media and how to use it to create success in your businesses.

Thursday, June 14th from 8:00 am to 9:30 am

Location: The Clubhouse Restaurant at the Salt Spring Golf and Country Club – 805 Lower Ganges Road

$19.00 for members, $24 non-members and guests

Full Breakfast Buffet (including tax and gratuity) and Great Prizes!

Register by calling 250.537.4223 or email chamber@saltspringchamber.com






This is What We Do! #SMcamp #YYJchat

Recently I was asked by a friend “So, what is it exactly that you do?”. Great question, as most days there is no set schedule – yes, there are certainly duties for clients as a community manager, webmaster and public relations rep, but as the business has quickly morphed into the realm of social media much of the activity is serendipity. This type of ‘consulting’ and active representation is not taught at colleges – there is no certificate or degree – in fact as with many in similar businesses we spend much of our time teaching, along with research, as communications is an ever changing paradigm.

This is #YYJChat In Real Life!

This is #YYJChat In Real Life!

Which is why a conference like Social Media Camp in Victoria BC is such a delight. Not only an opportunity to both teach and learn, but also to collaborate and put into perspective what ‘we do’. A ‘camp’ is somewhat a misnomer – now in its third year, it has grown quickly attracting keynote speakers like Chris Brogan and Erica Ehm (so cool to meet them!) and this year over 650 attendees.

Often it takes a colleague or presenter to define, or provide the ‘imagery’ to what we as ‘new media’ folks provide clients. In this case, on the first day of the conference one of the best take aways was provided by City of Victoria Councillor Lisa Helps. In her presentation she urged the audience to have courage and jump into social media – or as we both tweeted later for a summary “have the courage to connect”. Those connections make the difference, and having the courage to do something different, or bring something already proven to a new location, is what makes a difference.

We have been running #YYJchat for about 6 weeks, and gaining a wonderful, engaged audience, and it seemed perfect to do it live from Social Media Camp – so we did! Very little planning, no set advanced guests, just dive in… the results, frankly were amazing. Proving, don’t be afraid. The plan was simply to grab speakers and get them to spend sometime live on the chat – result: Mike Russell, (@VicPDCanada) engaged for the full hour, and we were joined by Russell Lolacher (@russlol) who IS @drivebc (among many other great programs) and Louise Hartman (@CTVnewsLouise). A very eclectic group, but it worked – and had it been pre-planned would never have happened.

So the lesson today is, sometimes not planning is better than nailing the details when it comes to social media!



Social Media and Politics: Gifts or Gaffes?

Amazing how quickly a year passes, and it is time once again for Social Media Camp in Victoria BC

Social Media Camp 2011

Photo credit Raul Pacheco-Vega

I am honoured once again to be on the Politics and Social Media panel with Dr. Janni Aragon (@JanniAragon), Micheal Geoghegan (@BClobbyist) and, new this year, Alissa Wrean (@a_birdie). After reviewing the past 12 months of sometimes bizarre interactions with politics and social media we decided on a title of ‘Politics in Social Media: Gifts or Gaffes?

The battle ground for hearts, minds and votes has extended exponentially into social media at all levels of government, but are individual politicians doing it well? There have been a number of notable online ‘memes’: in Canada with #Vikileaks #TellVicEverything, #HarperHistory and MP Pat Martin’s famous FU tweet, in the US with the anit-SOPA movement (which worked, to an extent), Slut Walk, and so much more…

While each has gained both online, and mainstream media attention, do they really affect governance and policy? Can politicians and governments ignore social media and still be effective? The panel will discuss these questions, and more – and we look forward to your questions and comments.

Time: Friday June 8th, 11am to Noon
Place: Social Media Camp, Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria BC (Conference Registration)
Tag: #SMcamp


CFAX: What on Earth is #SMCV12 ?

“Google is now developing a Facebook rival, a product similar to Facebook. They say their goal: so you never have to see your friends in real life ever again.” – Jay Leno

What is a hashtag? Why are tweets mentioning Victoria BC tagged #YYJ? Do I really need to use Twitter and Facebook for my business or organization? Find answers from experts at Social Media Camp 2012 in Victoria BC.

Chris Burdge with Adam Stirling

Chris Burdge with Adam Stirling

Now in its third year, Canada’s largest conference dedicated to Social Media has grown to two full days of keynote presentations, workshops, panels and more with interest for the novice to expert. Featured speakers are Chris Brogan, Erica Ehm, Simon Salt and many more, with topics ranging from Building Facebook Pages for Business to Politics and Social Media (see the full schedule)

New this year is the introduction of Power Sessions, and a partnership with Intertainment Media with The Innovation Zone. Participants can also partake in The Knowledge Cafe – one on one or small group training sessions – and even have a conference mentor to choose the the most relevant presentations and workshops, and for introductions.

Finally, Social Media Camp 2012 will conclude with the Coasties, West Coast Social Media Awards

The conference is an opportunity to learn and network: June 8th and 9th, Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria BC Canada Registration is Open!

Congress was broadcast live on Facebook for the first time in history. Now you can waste time and not get work done by watching Congress waste time and not get work done.” –Jimmy Fallon

Podcast: On CFAX1070 with host Adam Stirling (@adam_stirling) and Social Media Camp co-founder Chris Burdge (@b_West)

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CFAX – Apps, Instagram and Customer Service through Social Media

What makes an 18 month old, free mobile App, worth $1 Billion? Is the App space a new dot comm bubble? Who is doing well using Social Media for customer service? Some answers and a great conversation with Adam Stirling on CFAX 1070.



Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion. Plenty of reasons why this might be a good deal for the Social media giant. First, Facebook has become a far more visuallly oriented platform with the recent introduction of Timeline for both individual profiles and pages. Users are now uploading more photos and graphics than ever before, mainly to gain attention in a crowded space. Instagram’s users fit that profile – a reason to grab that 30-40 million share of the market.

Facebook has also indicated Instagram will remain a stand alone product, and for good reason: advertising. Mobile screen real estate is tiny compared to desktop monitors, and Facebook wants to own the market. By keeping Instagram an open product, those ads can be shared across other social media platforms, like Twitter.

Is it worth $1 Billion? That remains to be seen. Apple, Facebook, Google and others are awash with cash, and seeking to out bid each other for App and mobile share. Look for others to be on the buying block in the near future.

Social Media and Customer Service: Not so long ago BC Ferries was being blasted for having a Twitter account, and not really using it. Times change quickly with a dedicated team online, using social media to post route and service updates, links to answers on parking and fares, weather warnings and, responding directly to questions. Other local, regional companies doing well using Twitter are SHAW, providing quick service requests to customers, Drive BC, highway and road information, and BC Hydro, with responses to power outages. There are plenty more, so if you can add to the list leave a comment on this blog – I’d love to hear of more!

We wrapped up with a question: if companies are raising their profile, and using social media for customer service, where are our local and regional governments? Portland Oregon, and many other cities, are implementing Apps and online engagement tools to do everything from reporting potholes and graffiti, to showing real time updates on garbage collection routes and road repairs. The online, mobile connected, App happy audience is out there – time for our local governments to join the party.

Podcast – Adam Stirling (@Adam_Stirling) on CFAX 1070 (@CFAX1070)

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Opinion Panel on SHAW TV

A question came up on Twitter today through Lisa Helps (@LisaHelps), a City of Victoria councillor, while attending a seminar at the Local Government Leadership Conference


From @LBMG_PR at #lgla Is social media the new press release? cc @lacouvee @matvic

with a response from Janis LaCouvee


@lisahelps @LBMG_PR @matvic IMO it’s reductive to say that social media is the new press release. It’s one part of communications.


@frank_leonard said tonight at #lgla since he’s been on Twitter he hasn’t written a press release, saves staff time cc @lacouvee @matvic

(Note: Frank Leonard is the Mayor of Saanich BC)

SHAW TV Opinion Panel

SHAW TV Opinion Panel

Janis is correct. Social Media is only one part of communications, be that advertising, politics, branding or ‘news’. However, it is true to say Social Media is the central hub of media aggregation. Outside of text, which is an important factor and not to be discounted, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Google Plus and even the somewhat re-vamped My Space, are not involved in production. Photographs, video, interviews, and articles are created outside the social media sphere, but in that space they gain an audience and interaction beyond the medium.

Community news especially suffers from a lack of broad based promotion. Despite provisions in Canada (and elsewhere) for community TV, the audiences tend to be small, while the production values often equal or beat commercial operations. Which is why the news that SHAW TV community programs, at least in the Victoria BC area, will soon have a Youtube channel, is welcome.

The weekly Opinion Panel on SHAW TV is a case in point. Host Alan Perry brings together opinion makers from around the region to discuss major issues. For February 10th, we discussed regional amalgamation, big box stores, a provincial judicial review and more…

with Nikki Ewanyshyn, John Treleaven, and host Alan Perry