Category Archives: Social Media


The Difference Between Twitter and Facebook

When people who don’t use Twitter talk about Twitter, I usually get annoyed. The idea that Twitter is only about what you’re doing (i.e. eating lunch, watching a movie, taking a dump, etc.) is a misconception propagated only by those … Continue reading

2011 Will be the Year of Integration

Credit: Jeremiah Owyang's Flickr account

Credit: Jeremiah Owyang's Flickr account

Thanks to the amazing BC AMA Facebook page, I stumbled upon Jeremiah Owyang’s Slideshare regarding the social business forecast for 2011. (Owyang is an Industry Analyst at the Altimeter Group.)

Check out the full Slideshare below. Some interesting things that caught my eye:

  • The “holistic” approach – An interesting concept, and something that companies might need to look into given that Zappos is seen as a leader in social media.  But to adopt this, a complete shift in thinking and in culture needs to happen. Not an easy nor affordable task. No wonder only 1.4% of companies surveyed have adopted this structure!
  • All about ROI – Looks like the pursuit for good ROI measurement will continue.  Owyang recommends the ROI pyramid to help with measurement. Overall, though, ROI might be difficult to measure because social media is about relationships, not necessarily revenues.  Twitter’s planned official analytics product might help produce some more metrics for professionals to look at.
  • Even more increase in ad spend – This is a confirmation of the recent survey that suggests that advertisers will be increasing their spending on internet marketing. It is good to see that companies plan on investing on training employees.
  • Social Graph – It’s the first time I heard of this, but it looks like Owyang explained this way back in 2007. Given that Owyang’s blog post regarding the social graph is more than three years old, I wonder if it’s still accurate. Any thoughts on this?

What’s clear is that businesses continue to recognize the importance of having an engaging presence in social media. Some may be late to the party — but more and more companies are starting to get it., More importantly,  it looks like many are ready to move on to the next step.

What do you make of these findings? Is there anything that surprised you? Let’s hear it – please leave a comment.

Group Buying: It’s More Than Just Providing Discounts


Last night, I attended Net Tuesday Vancouver, a meetup where “Social Media and Web Innovators come together with Social Change Makers and Nonprofits to mix, swap stories and ideas, and build new relationships.”

This month’s topic is group buying and Google Analytics goals. I haven’t had enough experience with Google Analytics yet, so that part of the meetup actually didn’t make too much sense to me. The panel for group buying, on the other hand, was great because they brought in perspectives from both the non-profit organization and the group buying company.

Chris Mathieson is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Police Museum, a non-profit that has already offered two Groupons. Chris considers both Groupon campaigns a success. Annalea Krebs is the founder of ethicalDeal, a group buying site with a focus on environmentally-friendly products.

Why Group Buying is All the Rage

Annalea briefly discussed why the group buying business model makes sense. First, there’s the viral component – the model requires a minimum number of transactions before a deal becomes official, and so there’s an incentive for users to spread the word and invite friends. Secondly, there’s the sense of urgency. Deals are only on for a short period of time (usually 24 hours), and this urgency usually convinces people to get on it and grab the deal.

Of course, neither one of these are really a surprise, but I think that this is a good framework to start the discussion. These also suggest that group buying is likely here to stay, given that the business model behind it makes sense. (Google’s attempt to buy Groupon for $6 Billion is probably another indication that group buying is not a fad.)

What About Relationships?

From the non-profit side, Chris shared a glimpse of what it’s like to work with Groupon. To participate, the organization/business is expected to provide deep discounts – at least 50% is recommended. Again, this not really surprising as this is one of the main draws of group buying. It is quite interesting, though, how the revenue is split between Groupon and the organization.

A major consideration for the organization should be the consequences of the deal. Given the popularity of these deals, a spike in customers should be expected. A critical question for your organization is whether you have the necessary resources for this increase in business.

Also, group buying sites will get people in your organization, but it is up to you to build the relationship from there. Have a plan on how you can build on the relationship once customers are at your door.

As an alternative, Chris mentioned the possibility of building partnerships with other organizations such as Yelp or Google Places in order to strengthen customer relationships. (Location-based apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla were also mentioned.) The one advantage of these sites over something like Groupon is that organizations can offer on-going discounts. Creating brand loyalty may be possible with these sites.

Chris also mentioned that once an organization offers a deal, other group buying sites may approach to see if you’d like to do it again. Be careful with this. Think about whether you really want to be seen as a discount brand. Don’t compromise your brand identity for promotion’s sake. This point is especially true for non-profits, who may be strapped for resources and may not be able to offer discounts all the time.


Group buying is something that’s relatively new, but it definitely has a place for businesses and non-profits. If done right (i.e. with lots of preparation) and if done occasionally, it can definitely contribute to an organization’s brand awareness.

This month’s meetup was great, and I’m impressed that attendance seems to be growing every month. If I had one complaint, it’s that the panel could have been more diverse. There is value to having opposing views on a panel. I think that the organizers could have extended an invite to organizations that haven’t had a good experience with group buying. (On a side note, I think Scott Stratten’s blog post on how to make a conference panel rock is pretty bang on.) Chris provided some good things that organizations should think about, but it may have been even more interesting if these insights were coming from someone who haven’t had success with the process.

Overall though the meetup was informative, and there was even free food! (W2 Storyeum sponsored the meetup.) There won’t be a Net Tuesday meetup for January, but I’m already looking forward to the February one!

Were you at this month’s meetup? What were some of the new things you’ve learned? Leave a comment and let me know!

Why Students Should Attend Meetups

One of the things that kept me busy these past few months was attending meetups. For those not familiar with what a meetup is, it’s basically “an arranged informal meeting” around a pre-determined topic.

When I talk about meetups with most of my fellow students, I usually get the deer in the headlights look.  It’s an alien idea. Something intimidating.

But there are many reasons why students should attend meetups. I outline a few of them below.


Whatever your interest is, there’s likely a meetup for it. Interested with a career in the non-profit sector? No problem – Net Tuesdays can give you ideas on what non-profits are doing.  Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? The Vancouver Small Business Meetup might be for you.

If you don’t find a meetup that’s of interest to you, you can always start a group and organize one. You don’t need to be an expert to go to these events. In fact, most people are there to get and share information; it’s a great place to learn.


Truth be told, networking is not my primary purpose when I go to meetups, but I do see it as a possibility.  These events attract like-minded professionals, so they are a perfect place to network.

Whenever I go to a meetup, my following on Twitter always increases by at least five.  Now, I’m not saying that each one of those followers will result to an opportunity, but networking is pretty much a game of numbers. The more you connect with, the more possibilities.


Most meetups are free, which is fantastic considering the quality of information you usually get.  Conferences and workshops usually offer student discounts, but you can’t beat free stuff. In the last Third Tuesday meetup, I heard from RichardAtDell, a member of the Dell social media team.   I don’t know any other way you can hear from insightful speakers at no cost.

From my experience, where there’s a small charge for a meetup, the proceeds were given to a charity.


Meetups have a few disadvantages, but all of these are workable. First, there are too many meetups; just check to see how many alternatives there are. There’s  a quick solution for this: Use the “find” feature on Meetup and try several keywords that’s related to your interest. If you’re on Twitter,you can also keep an eye out for what meetups your professional networks are attending.

Some also question the quality of the meetups. As I’ve already said, my experience with meetups so far have been great. If you’re really worried, though, you can check the rating of a meetup before you RSVP.

CONCLUSION: Meetups are a great way to learn new things and meet new people.  If you’re a student, you should take some time from your busy schedule to attend these events. It’s an affordable way to develop your skills and grow your network at the same time.

Ever been to a meetup? I’d love to hear your experiences – share them with me!

The Story of Electronics

Note: This blog post originally appeared in the AIESEC SFU blog where I regularly contribute.

Ever wonder what happens to your old iPod when you decide to replace it? Or to your old cellphone once you decide that it’s time to move on with a Blackberry or an iPhone?

The Story of Electronics tries to take on that question that we often fail to ask: what happens to our old gadgets once we decide to dump them?

For some of us, it’s a question we never really thought about. We dump our stuff in the garbage, and that’s where it ends. Some of us try to be more green and drop off our old electronics at a recycling centre. The Story of Electronics video exposes the consequences of e-waste and recommends some ways we can tackle this issue as a society.

Main takeaway for me? That this is not an issue we can solve via consumption. The proposed “Take Back” programs certainly sounds interesting and something we should all look into supporting. It’s also pretty clear that this issue can be solved mostly through sweeping policy changes and our individual choices when we shop.

I love technology –  I can’t really imagine a day without my iPhone. But sustainability is also an issue I care about. Watch the video and take action today.

By the way, if you want more information about the Story of Electronics, visit its official website. The video is a sequel to the video “The Story of Stuff”, which went viral and is now being used by some institutions to educate the youth about environmental sustainability.

Facebook Ads: A Newbie’s Perspective

Credit: IABC/BC

One of the benefits of getting involved with a trade association is having access to volunteer opportunities that is related to what you eventually would like to do. In my short involvement with IABC/BC so far,  I’ve already had the privilege of volunteering for some projects.  Managing a Facebook ad campaign was one of them.

Some background: The association was looking for ways to promote an event titled IABC/BC 101. The target audience of the free event was non-members who may be interested in joining the association. The association was interested in using Facebook ads as a way of promoting the event.

After getting some advice from a more senior IABC/BC member, I decided to run two campaigns. Call it A/B testing if you’d like. One of them had images of people (see pic above); one used the association’s logo. Also, one ran as a CPM campaign and the other ran as a CPC.

The ads actually ran comparatively well, so I can’t comment on the CPC vs CPM debate. I offer these five lessons instead:

Lesson 1: Need to say more? Add text to the image!

The biggest challenge I’ve noticed right away was the lack of space for characters. Facebook only allows 25 characters for the headline. For the copy, you only have 135 characters. That’s not really a lot, especially if you want a long word like “communication” in it. An idea I got again from another IABC/BC member is to put some of the text in the image itself. I was concerned that Facebook might not approve such image, but I was able to get through just fine.

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Careers in Marketing Panel

Photo Credit: SFU's Work Integrated Learning / Online Learning Community

Note: This article first appeared on SFU’s Online Learning Community, where I regularly contribute about social media and work & student life.

On September 28, 2010, the SFU Business Career Management Centre hosted a panel of marketing professionals at SFU Segal downtown. The purpose of the session was to give insights to current SFU Business students on what it’s like to actually be in the field.

The night’s panel included:

After a quick introduction about the panelists, students asked questions, ranging from the panelists’ day to day activities, to their thoughts on social media.

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