The Canadian Cabinet’s first day on Twitter

Tweets by the new Canadian Cabinet that resonated most strongly

Tweets by the new Canadian Cabinet that resonated most strongly

Will Canada’s new Cabinet use social media to engage with Canadians?

Canada’s new government was sworn in yesterday. The new Cabinet is dramatically different from its predecessor, with a marked decrease in age, the achievement of gender parity in its composition, and greater diversity of representation.

As I watched the swearing in of the new Cabinet, I wondered whether the new Cabinet will use social media more or differently than their predecessors. And I thought it would be an interesting research project to track their use of it over time.

So, today, I’m launching the first what I intend to be a series of posts looking at how the Trudeau Cabinet is using social media. Today’s post looks at the use of Twitter on the day that Cabinet was sworn in.

How did I go about developing this perspective?

Shortly after the Cabinet was announced, Twitter Canada posted a list of the Twitter IDs of each of the 30 of the 31 incoming Cabinet Ministers. (One Minister, Dominic LeBlanc is not on Twitter.)

I created a watchlist of these IDs in 76insights, the tool we have developed to track which social objects resonate with people. Resonance is the flip side of engagement. Something resonates when it drives people to take action. And on Twitter, this means that people actively shared the post with their friends or added it to their favourites list.

So, what did I see?

76insights resonance graph Trudeau Cabinet November 4 2015

Cabinet Tweets on November 4

The thirty Cabinet Ministers collectively published 86 tweets on their first day in office.  Looking at the total day, we can see that the Cabinet members were more or less silent prior to the 10AM swearing in ceremony. The first to break the silence was Patty Hajdu, who tweeted her excitement at 9:18AM.

The real action began with a tweet from @justintrudeau’s account displaying a Periscope of the swearing in ceremony inside Government House.

Once the ice was broken, the tweets came hard and heavy until mid-afternoon, when there was a relative quiet time. Clearly, Trudeau’s Cabinet realized that tweeting from inside the Cabinet meeting room is a no-no. The first to break the Cabinet meeting silence was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s account, which tweeted the dates of the return of Parliament and the Throne Speech.

Following Trudeau’s post, tweets by his Ministers recommenced at a strong pace. There was a two hour silent period from about 7PM until 9PM, which I assume corresponded to a dinner for the new Cabinet Ministers. But once that was over, the tweets pick up again at 9PM continued until midnight. Who can blame the new Cabinet Ministers for celebrating late into the night what may well have been the best days of their life?

All tweets are not created equal

Collectively, the new Cabinet Ministers 86 tweets were shared or favourited over 24,900 times, for an average resonance score of 289.

Anyone who is on Twitter knows that only some of the things we post will actually resonate with other people. In fact, most tweets go unremarked and trigger zero reaction.

The same was true of these tweets. Some of the Cabinet Ministers’ tweets failed to move anyone to active engagement. On the other hand, some were passed around and favourited thousands of times.

Which tweets resonated most?

When it comes to making a mark, this was clearly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s day. Two of his tweets resonated most strongly. The most shared and favourited tweet of the day, with a resonance score of 8.36K, was this tweet marking the Justin Trudeau’s swearing in as Prime Minister.

The second most resonant tweet, with a resonance score of 3.33K, was the PM’s early evening open letter to Canadians.

But Trudeau isn’t the only member of his government whose tweets resonated with a large number of people. Several of his Ministers posted tweets that struck a chord.

Canada’s new Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan’s tweet earned a resonance score of 1.78K.

A tweet by Canada’s new Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, followed close behind, with a resonance score of 1.1K.

A tweet by Navdeep Bains, the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, earned a racked up a resonance score of 826.

Late in the evening, a 10:59PM tweet by new Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna elicited a strong reaction, earning a resonance score of 627.

Finally, Kent Hehr, the new Minister for Veterans Affairs, chalked up a resonance score of 593 with his tweet.

Will they make the most of their potential to engage directly with Canadians?

Obviously, the tweets posted yesterday were more celebratory and thankful than substantive.

However, several of the members of the new Cabinet demonstrated the potential to move large numbers of others to share their messages on twitter. It will be interesting to watch whether they make the most of this potential.

Hangout with Canada’s New Prime Minister


The swearing in of Canada’s new government today marked a passing of the torch to a new generation. It also saw a huge value shift as traditional Liberal priorities such as International Development, Democratic Institutions, and Science were recognized as full Ministries. In a Cabinet that was remarkable as Canada’s first with gender parity – an equal number of men and women as Ministers.

And one of his first actions as Prime Minister? To reach out to Canada’s youth by participating in a Google Hangout with students from across Canada.

In his post-swearing-in statement, Prime Minister Trudeau said,

“We will shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it is meant to serve. Openness and transparency will be our constant companions, and we will work to restore Canadians’ trust in their government and in our democracy. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and applying the utmost care in the handling of public funds.”

Hopefully, this represents the way that the government will again welcome Canadians into their government.


It’s come and gone. And at the end, the new Prime Minister told the students who participated that, “I’m really glad that one of my first actions as prime minister is to reach out to grade school right across the country. Politics is never supposed to just be just a speech politicians give that everyone else listens to. It’s about dialogue and conversation.”

If you’re curious about what Justin Trudeau’s first hour as Prime Minister was like, watch the Hangout below.

RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app

As of this week, this



has been replaced by this



Another legacy media attempt to attract audiences and advertisers in the digital-first era bit the dust this week. When I opened the iPad app for The Citizen, my local newspaper and the only major daily newspaper in Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, I was confronted by the news that the Citizen’s iPad app was no more. Launched with great hope and only a year ago, the Citizen’s attempt to make itself “appointment reading” has failed.

It was beautiful. It was big. It was interesting. It was doomed.

Perhaps its failure was partially linked to the plateauing in tablet use – in a world of larger smartphones. Maybe its failure was the app’s adoption of a “magazine format” – in a world that is not big on contemplation. But I think the app was doomed from the outset by its 6PM daily publication schedule – in a world in which we consume our news in realtime as it happens.

They didn’t succeed this time. But I hope they have the financial strength and vision to keep innovating.

It’s not news that legacy news outlets – newspapers, magazines, television and radio – continue to struggle to find economic equilibrium in the digital-first world. Every time they lose, we all lose. When we turn first to Facebook in the morning instead of our local newspaper or television newscast, we hand ourselves over to the viral, not necessarily the important.

RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app. A bold experiment. A noble failure.

And so that it doesn’t disappear unremarked, here are some screen caps from the last few days of the Citizen’s iPad app.

IMG_0061 IMG_0062 IMG_0064 IMG_0065 IMG_0073 IMG_0075 IMG_0076


Facebook is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to video views and sharing

Facebook has increasingly been making moves to position itself as the preferred platform for uploading videos. This morning I saw evidence that, in fact, Facebook really is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to viewing and sharing videos.

The Case

We’re in the middle of a federal election in Canada. My friend, Ian Capstick, uploaded a humourous video to both Youtube and Facebook on August 28. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the YouTube embed.

The Evidence

Ian uploaded the video to both platforms on Friday, August 28. It’s now Monday, August 31 and here are the stats for the first three days since the video was uploaded:




  • 60 likes; 5 dislikes

Same video. Very different views and social gestures. Facebook is generating 300% more views than YouTube, 300% more likes, and 500% more comments.

Clearly, something big has shifted in the past year. Facebook’s new video platform is making it king of video just as it became the top platform for pictures a few years ago.

What you should do about it

This is just one case. And it doesn’t mean that YouTube is in trouble. But it provides clear evidence that YouTube no longer has the video field to itself.

If you are not uploading your videos to both YouTube and Facebook, you are missing a substantial part of your traffic. So, starting now, upload your videos to both YouTube and Facebook. The times are changing – and so is our sense of where we will find and share video.

Native advertising going mobile at the New York Times

frames on white wall in art museum

Native advertising is an inevitable part of our future both as marketers and as consumers of media. Advertisers demand it for its promise of effectiveness and delivery of results. Publishers want it for its promise of revenue and a better reader experience. And consumers of media? Well we just want to get at the good stuff. The material that we came for. And if we think much about native advertising, we’re probably concerned about the threat to independence of editorial voice and our inability to know what to trust.

Native advertising is here to stay. So, we all should hope that it is done right. With transparency about the distinction between earned editorial content and paid content. With a presentation that enhances our content consumption experience. In a way that generates the revenue necessary to continue to fund the creation of content we will want to consume.

The New York Times has not been afraid to experiment with new ways of presenting digital content and charging for it. And it continues to innovate. Soon, it will be reworking the way that it presents advertising on mobile devices.

In a well-documented article, AdAge interviewed several NYTimes execs about the new mobile advertising approach, dubbed “Moments.”  These ads will be presented as “cards” with photos and videos spanning the full width of the mobile device, but leaving the previous and next articles partially appearing above and below the ads. According to the AdAge report, the ads will be customized to the seven moments in a given day that are most important to readers, as identified through a 12-month study conducted by the Times’ editorial product team.” This includes morning, mid-day and evening time periods.

The Moments advertising format and content will vary to match the way that editorial content is presented throughout the day. “For example,’ writes AdAge, “the early-morning ads will be largely text-based to align with the Times’ morning briefing, which is a text-heavy roundup of the day’s news and events. Conversely the evening version of these mobile moments ads will feature photos and videos to complement the Times’ evening briefing, which is a similar news roundup to the morning briefing but typically includes a dozen or more photos to make the reading experience more entertaining.”

This sounds like another big move forward by the Times. And if it works, it could show the way to the future for a lot of other publishers. Let’s hope that the Times does this right. Now just for itself. But also for readers as well as advertisers. And doing it right means transparency and clearly marking native advertising as paid-for content.

Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I talk about this in the #IPRMustKnow segment of this week’s Inside PR podcast. Download or subscribe to the podcast to hear our discussion.


#IPRMustKnows: Facebook and Google Make Some Moves

Each week on the Inside PR podcast, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I’m thornley on Twitter talk about three #IPRMustKnows, three things that we think that communicators and marketers should know about because they are likely to affect the way that we use digital media and social networks to connect withe people.

This week’s #IPRMustKnows are:

Facebook has made its platform even more attractive as a place to publish videos by providing new tools to give publishers greater control over how they post their videos and target their reach. Facebook has joined YouTube as a must-publish place for video. If you aren’t already publishing your videos to both places, it’s time to test a dual publishing approach. Test it for several videos. Watch your stats closely. Then draw your own conclusion about how these two platforms work together to enable you to reach the people who are interested in your content.

Google isn’t giving up on video. It keeps innovating with YouTube. It is updating the YouTube mobile app, to make it easier for you to upload, find and view videos.

And going the other way – reducing a service’s scope and reach, Google announced that it is decoupling Google+ profiles from the login for other services, starting with YouTube. What does this mean for Google+. Trying to strike a positive note, Bradley Horowitz, Google’s product manager for Google+, said in a post on his Google+ page that,

“Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine (like the recent launch of Collections –”

So, there is a lot happening with both Facebook and Google+. Things you should know about.

If you find these #IPRMustKnows to be useful to you, click over to the Inside PR podcast blog to subscribe to receive the new episodes as soon as they are published.


A European, not global, right to be forgotten


“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

“We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”

This week, Google took a stand that we all should support. It stood up against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws to restrict freedom on the internet. The specific case is the attempt by France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (C.N.I.L.) to require Google to delist links on all of its sites worldwide in order to comply with a right to be forgotten request it receives. Google  currently honours these requests by delisting the link on European Google sites. That makes sense. A European law is applied in Europe.

What the French court is trying to do is worrisome. Google is right to fight it.

At the same time, there is an irony in this situation. Google is taking a stand against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws. However, when you consider the terms and services we all agree to in order to use sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all the most popular social sites, you will probably be agreeing to terms and services established according to U.S. standards and governed by California law. In this way, we all are really agreeing to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws and values – not just on freedom of speech, but also things like copyright and privacy protections.

I applaud Google for standing up for freedom of expression on the Internet on this case. I just hope that my U.S. friends will also be sensitive to the fact that in some ways we all are asked to “become Americans” when we use the Internet. That’s not bad, as long as it always is balanced with a recognition that those of us who live in other countries may have different values that we hold equally dear – and that these values should be respected.

It’s a balancing act that requires that we look at situations carefully and not descend into thoughtless sloganeering.

In the case of right to be forgotten, I think Google has hit the right balance. Respect Europe’s laws in Europe. Now this issue is going before the courts in France. It won’t be decided quickly. It won’t go away. We should pay thoughtful attention.


If you are interested in this subject, here are some posts that I think provide useful context:

CNIL orders Google to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine

Google Europe Blog: Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

‘Right to be forgotten’: How Canada could adopt similar law for online privacy

Facebook questions use of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Consumer group asks FTC to adopt EU’s right to be forgotten

Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Inside PR 414: Humans, algorithmic content creation and #IPRMustKnows

Episode 414 of the Inside PR is available for download.

On this week’s episode, Martin WaxmanGini Dietrich and I give you three #IPRMustKnows:

  1. Meerkat introduces and embeddable player. Now you can put your streaming media on your own site.
  2. Yeplive joins the streaming video field. And it lets you shoot your video in landscape mode, unlike Meerkat and Persicope which serve up your videos in portrait mode. You can get the Yep Live app in the iOS and Play stores.
  3. Google “began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.” The code supports Google’s hotword feature that enables voice commands. This is the kind of feature you need to be aware of. Remember what you enable on your device because always-on monitoring has become a “feature” of our lives.

In our main discussion this week, we turn our attention to the increasing role of algorithms and computer code not only to shape the distribution of news, but also to create content. Do you know when your news is generated by a person or generated by an algorithm? This is the type of development that strongly divides people. And it is a discussion that we’ll surely be having much more in the future.

We’d love to hear what you think.

Send us an email or an audio comment to, join the FIR Google+ Community, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

And we have a favor to ask: if you like this podcast, please rate us on iTunes.

(This article is cross-posted from the Inside PR podcast blog.)

Facebook’s latest news feed change is just too creepy

On Friday, Facebook announced that it is changing the algorithm that determines what it shows on your news feed to “to factor in a new signal—how much time you spend viewing a story in your News Feed.”

iStock_000045129604_SmallYou read that right. Facebook is constantly watching what is on your screen. Not just what you actively click on. But what is displayed on your screen.

Up until now, the Facebook algorithm selected content that it would display to you based on active factors like whether you had shared or commented on or favourited a post. In other words, you knew that if you did something active, Facebook would know that.

But this new announcement suggests that Facebook is always aware of what is displaying on your screen – even if you don’t do anything active to it.

It feels to me that Facebook is violating my privacy. It is doing something that we see portrayed on crime shows or hear about in urban tales of hacking. It’s watching the screen on my computer. It’s watching what I see – even if I don’t do anything active with that content.

I don’t want to be watched this way. Facebook, I do NOT give you my permission to watch what is on the screen of my computer. Please leave me this bit of privacy. Please back away from using this power. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

Facebook provides an example of why they are making this change that raises the hairs on the back of my next. According to Facebook,

For example, you may scroll quickly through your News Feed and like a photo of your friend’s graduation, followed by sharing a funny post from your sister. You keep scrolling and happen upon a post your cousin shared detailing everything she did and saw on her recent trip. Her post even includes a photo. You spend time reading her post and the interesting discussion about the best places to eat that had broken out in the comments on this post, but you don’t feel inclined to like or comment on it yourself. Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past this post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.”

Did you get that. Facebook acknowledges that we may choose not to make a public gesture – a like, a share, a favourite – about a piece of content we see. And you’d think that if we see something but keep our comments to ourselves that we have protected our privacy. But not in the world of Facebook. It apparently is watching every word and image that scrolls down our screens, including how long we linger over a particular item. Now that’s creepy. And that’s overly intrusive.

You might say, “If you don’t like it, don’t use Facebook.” Well the simple fact is that Facebook has been so successful in working its way onto so many cellphones and computers that not using it carries a significant social cost. To not use Facebook is equivalent to not going for a walk in your neighbourhood or not using the phone. It has become a utility that we cannot do without.

I would argue that, thanks to its success in becoming ubiquitous and essential to our social lives, it carries an increased responsibility to us. And that responsibility is to behave in a way that we feel comfortable with. That means there are some things that Facebook should not do – like watch us constantly, even when we are not actively interacting with it. Facebook may be able to do it. But that doesn’t mean it should. We all learned early that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it.

Facebook is saying that it will limit the use of this information. According to HuffPost, “A spokeswoman for Facebook told The Huffington Post that the amount of time spent looking at content would not be made available to publishers or advertisers, and that it is purely used to determine how content is surfaced on the News Feed.”

For now, Facebook is not sharing this data. But let’s remember that Facebook makes its money selling advertising. We the users are the product. And it has changed its practices whenever it felt that it would be beneficial to Facebook. So, the fact that it says it is not doing something now should not be taken as any comfort that it won’t change that policy tomorrow.

The only defence against this possibility is to stop Facebook from starting down this path.

So, how can we stop this? Well a first step is for Facebook users to voice our disapproval over this move and to call on Facebook to stop this practice. That’s what I’m doing here. And I encourage you to do it as well. On your Facebook feed. On Twitter. On Reddit. On every social network you use.

But do I think that will change Facebook’s mind? Not likely.

This may be one of those instances when we have to turn to government to protect our rights. And the right to privacy is one right that we should be vigilant to preserve. We’ve seen a heightened scrutiny of Facebook’s privacy practices in Europe. I think this latest move is something that privacy commissioners across jurisdictions should examine. In the past, the Privacy Commissioner in Canada has been willing to challenge Facebook’s practices in the past. This is a perfect opportunity for privacy commissioners everywhere to engage with Facebook.

Attack on the Spirit of Social Media

When I first started to use the Internet, it was a place for people who had some basic coding skill to share their thoughts, their experiences, their interests, with others. It was a distinctly Uncommercial place. In fact, I remember the first time I saw someone try to promote a product on the Web. He was quickly flamed by others and branded as a bad actor.

But as we look at the Web and what grew into social media today, that version of the Internet as a community coming together to freely and generously share with one another is a distant memory. (In fact, I was reminded of this the other day and wrote a post remarking on the value of community-created, freely shared content.)

So, I found my head nodding as I watched Jay Baer express his distress over recent moves by Twitter and LinkedIn that undermined the maker spirit of the early Internet and further pushed us toward a totally commercialized environment of walled gardens.

Jay is a smart guy. And I feel his pain over these developments. Especially since I’m one of those people toiling to develop an application, 76insights, that relies on the APIs of the social networks.

I worry about where we may be going. And so does Jay. But as always, he says it particularly well. So, watch his video.

If you are interested in more thoughts from a leader in the digital marketing space, subscribe to Jay’s Jay Today podcast. It’s always interesting and thought provoking.