Social Mediators 9: Promoting a book with social media

Recently, Terry Fallis found both of his novels – the Leacock Award winning The Best Laid Plans and the soon to be published The High Road – in the top five of the iTunes Literature podcasts. In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Dave Fleet and I talk with Terry about how he and his publisher, McClelland & Stewart, are using social media to find and cultivate a fan base for Terry’s novels.

Also up for discussion this week: Social media adoption still isn’t universal among communicators.

Do you think social media is just a niche expertise or should it be a core skill set for all professional communicators?

Taking The High Road with Terry Fallis

Terry Fallis‘ story started out the same as that of almost any other unpublished writer with a first novel. Pitch it to every publisher he could find – and be rejected by every one. And it could have ended there – as it does for most first time writers.

But Terry knew something about social media. And he decided that, if he couldn’t get his book to readers in the traditional way, he’d try to get it to readers in a totally different way. He’d read a chapter a week and distribute it as a podcast on his Terry Fallis blog and via iTunes.

And that’s the way The Best Laid Plans found an audience. Via social media. Virally. One fan at a time found it, liked it and passed it on to friends.

Some of the people who heard about the book and read it were on the selection committee for the Leacock Award. They liked it. In fact, they liked it so much that they nominated it for the award. And in a true Hollywood ending, Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid plans won the Award in 2008. And then traditional success followed. He picked up representation from one of Canada’s leading literary agents and a traditional publishing deal from one of the country’s most prestigious publishers, McClelland & Stewart.

Well, Terry’s back with a sequel, The High Road. And he’s persuaded his publisher, McClelland & Stewart to test his approach again to see if lightning will strike twice. This is a first for a Canadian publisher. And I’m sure that others are watching closely to see whether podcasting the book in advance of publication will lift sales.

This week’s Inside PR, features an interview with Terry about how he and McClelland & Stewart are using social media to promote his book. Following the interview, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I talk about Terry’s experience and whether it can be more broadly replicated.

Listen to the episode:

Here are the complete Inside PR show notes, prepared by our producer, Yasmine Kashefi.

0:23 Martin opens the show.

2:50 Joe mentions that Terry Fallis’ book podcast has made it to number one on the iTunes literature podcast charts.

4:03 Joe interviews Terry about how he used social media to promote his two books.

13:00 Martin, Joe and Gini comment on how innovative Terry was with his approach to social media to promote his book and himself.

19:00 Joe presents this week’s topic, recent developments in social media. He starts with the YouTube news feed and how citizen journalism has changed how news is defined.

24:21 Joe adds that the move toward government 2.0 has been gaining momentum and cites the Australian government’s Gov 2.0 as an example.

25:53 Martin introduces a new closing segment, the round up.

26:12 Gini kicks off the last -30- segment on Inside PR.

28:14 Martin wraps up the show.

How the other 1% live – a look inside the Governor General Suite

On Friday, I wrote about how Fairmont had given me a really special experience when they upgraded my room at the Fairmont Royal York from a standard room to the Governor General Suite.

If you’ve ever wondered how the other 1% live (the 1% that definitely does not include me under normal circumstances,) I recorded a brief video tour of the Governor General Suite to share with you.

Click on this video, lean back and experience what one of the G20 leaders will go “home” to after a hard day sorting out the global banking industry.

Fairmont Hotels takes a smart approach to customer relations

This is a story about a company that understands the importance of going above and beyond what’s expected to show that it cares about good customers.

I stay at Fairmont Hotels a lot. I’m sure they consider me a good customer. And this week they showed that they understand they can still surprise and delight a customer by giving him more than he expected.

I had planned to stay at the Fairmont Royal York on June 24. However, the G20 Leaders Summit is being held in Toronto that weekend. The Fairmont Royal York is one of the hotels being used to house delegates – and it’s inside the exclusion zone. (Think big ugly fence that circles a multi-block area in the heart of Toronto.)

So, the people at Fairmont phoned me to let me know that they could not honour my reservation. They offered to place me at another hotel. I indicated that, given the expected transportation and business disruptions that will accompany the G20 Summit, I was going to cancel my trip to Toronto that week.

Fairmont could have left it at that. But they didn’t. They offered to upgrade my room on my next stay at the Royal York. A nice gesture.

So, I wasn’t really suprised when they told me at check-in this week that they’d upgraded my room. But I was surprised at what Fairmont upgraded me to – the Governor General’s Suite! 1,830 square feet of luxury. A fireplace. A separate parlour. A dining table. Wet bar. Views around three sides of the hotel.

Fairmont definitely didn’t have to do something this spectacular. But they did. And that’s one of the reasons why I stay at Fairmont. If they can make a regular customer feel special, they do it.

As a frequent customer of many other companies, I find that very few stand out like Fairmont by doing the special extra thing for customers. All too many seem to believe that they will deliver exactly what you paid for, nothing more, nothing less. While this does match my expectations, I think that those latter companies are missing a great opportunity to build loyalty. They should learn from Fairmont.

With the occasional gesture like this, Fairmont ensures that I’ll not only be a faithful customer, but that I’ll also tell my circle about my experience. And in the long run, they’ll no doubt get much more business than it cost them to let a customer use an expensive suite at the price of a single room.

That seems like simple good business sense to me. And Fairmont has it. Why don’t more businesses do this type of thing?

Canada's Consumer Privacy Consultations: Location-based/Geospatial Tracking

The afternoon panel at the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Consumer Privacy Consultations dealt with location based/geospatial tracking.

The panelists were:

  • Keith McIntosh, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association
  • Dr. Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law, University of Ottawa
  • Jesse Hirsh, broadcaster
  • Prashant Shukle, Director General of the Mapping Information Branch, Natural Resources Canada
  • Michael J. O’Farrell, Mobile Marketing Association

Lisa Campbell, Acting General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, moderated.

I used CoverItLive to capture the highlights of the discussion from the Twitter stream.

Consumer Privacy Consultations – Location-based / Geospatial Tracking

Social Mediators Video Podcast launches

Today, we’re launching Social Mediators, our new video podcast.

Each week, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I will talk about social media, ubiquitous connectivity and their impact on communication, organizations and society. We’re always on, always connected. How are we taking advantage of the new capablities that gives us? And how is that affecting the way we relate to one another and how we organize around common interests? Finally, what does that mean for traditional organizations – companies, cause-based groups and government?

In this first episode, we talk about the concept of personal brand. Terry, David and I will be serving as mentors at the upcoming Personal Brand Camp 2 that Michael Cayley is organizing for the Humber College social media students. So, we talk about some of the issues relating to personal branding and our concern that young people not build an artificial brand online, but instead make sure that their personal brand reflects the same person they’d see when they look in the mirror – their real self.

We also talk about how Thornley Fallis’ new Online Communications Policy guides our employees to understand that what they do in their private online spaces reflects on the judgment they exercise in the workplace and, by extension, on the company.

You can watch the podcast here or subscribe to the RSS feed directly on the Social Mediators Website.

After you’ve watched the episode, please leave a comment. Let me know what you think of it. What topics would you like us to cover in the future? What guests would you like us to interview?

You can leave a written comment below or a webcam comment on the Social Mediators video blog.

Third Tuesday Toronto explores Social Media and Customer Reviews

ThirdTuesdayTorontoWhere do you look for advice when you are considering whether to buy a product or service? If you’re like me, you’ll probably search for customer reviews on specialty Websites or, event better, you’ll reach out to your online friends to find out who has experience with the product or service and what they think of it.

Customer reviews married to social media are changing the way that many people make decisions.

At the next Third Tuesday Toronto, four well-known entrepreneurs will share what they have learned building and working with customer reviews and social media. We’ll hear from Ali De Bold, co-founder, ChickAdvisor Inc., Pema Hegan, co-founder,, Brian Sharwood, president,, and Stuart MacDonald, CEO and founder, and

Special thanks go to Eden Spodek, founder of, who suggested this session and put the panel together. Eden also will moderate the discussion.

You can register online to attend Third Tuesday Toronto. I hope to see you there.

One more thing: As always, we’re grateful for the ongoing support of our Third Tuesday sponsors: CNW Group, Molson Coors Canada, Rogers Communications, Radian6, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their support is allowing us to program great speakers not just in Toronto, but at Third Tuesday across Canada.

Disclosure: We're on the Zoompass team

Thornley Fallis has been engaged to help EnStream launch the Zoompass mobile payment service. (Zoompass users can request and transfer money between one another directly from their smartphones. They can also transfer money directly to a prepaid touchless MasterCard to make purchases.)

zoompasslogoDuring the launch phase, Kerri Birtch (@kerribirtch), Dave Fleet (@davefleet), and I (@thornley) will be monitoring the online discussions about Zoompass and participating in them through the Zoompass Twitter ID and through posts on the Zoompass blog. We’ll be supporting Zoompass’ Vice President, Aran Hamilton (@aranh) in this effort.

It’s our hope that, working as a team, we’ll be able to be present in the conversation from early in the morning to late at night seven days a week.

If we refer to Zoompass on our own Twitter accounts, we’ll insert “(client)” into the tweet to be sure that the reader, whether they know us or not, is alerted to the fact that we have a relationship with Zoompass.

I’m really excited about being part of the launch. I’ve been playing with Zoompass for a couple months prior to the launch and I think it will add a whole new function to my cellphone.

If you are curious about Zoompass and how you could use it, click over to the Zoompass Website to sign up to try it out. And once you start to use it, follow the Zoompass Twitter stream. If you ask a question or offer a comment there, you can be sure that we’ll respond to it.

Be part of a crowdsourced article for Marketing Magazine

If you have a point of view on how the relationship of companies to consumers and communities has been changed by social media, I’d like to hear from you.

MarketingMag 090501Marketing Magazine has asked several Canadian bloggers to crowdsource a feature-length article for Marketing about how people are using social media to shape perceptions of companies and brands and how companies should adjust to this new reality.

I’ve agreed to participate, along with Maggie Fox, David Jones, and Duarte Da Silva. We’re being coordinated and edited by Marketing Mag’s Jeromy Lloyd and David Crow is setting up a workspace to enable us to write and edit collaboratively.

As a first step Jeromy has suggested that we look at the crises involving Motrin, Amazon and Domino’s. This should give us a starting point to identify the issues that are involved when the online world wrests control of brands from companies.

And this is where you come in. I’d like to get some input from you about what really happened and its long term significance.

To be truthful, I rarely purchase anything from Amazon and never have used Motrin (I didn’t even know what it was prior to the Twitter storm). Nor have I ever eaten anything from Domino’s. So, my perspective on #amazonfail, #motrinmoms and #dominosvideo is that of a disinterested observer. In fact, when I first saw references to each of these, I did not follow the links. I simply did not care about the brands. However, when I saw the fourth or fifth reference to each, I followed the links. And it really didn’t take more than 15 minutes of online time for me to see enough references to pique my curiosity.

My starting point on #amazonfail is that it was largely invisible to me. I buy my books at Chapters and rarely visit Amazon. Moreover, I was offline when the initial event was noted and I caught wind of it only through Twitter. The Twitter stream suggested that Amazon had done something that offended many people. However, it wasn’t clear from the Twitter stream exactly what the problem was. This goes to show a shortcoming of many tweets. They don’t provide context. Nor do those “in the know” bother to define hashtags or remind us what they stand for.

I had a similar experience with Motrin Moms. I missed the initial weekend wave of indignation. By the time I focused on it, others had already weighed in saying that Motrin had caved too quickly (largely because they were bewildered as other non-participants in social media might be), that the reaction had been driven by one perspective (that happened to be online at that time) and that as others came online a more balanced view developed.

I tweaked a bit more quickly to the Domino’s problem. One of the first Tweets I saw included a link to the video. An immediate, visceral statement of the problem: Don’t trust the food that you receive from Domino’s (or any fast food restaurant.) Here, the problem wasn’t what people were saying about the company’s actions. The problem was video evidence of behaviour on the part of employees that fulfilled our worst fears about food preparation. This was the real world realization of the whispered tale of the “secret sauce” on Big Macs.

As a non-patron of these brands, I became aware of the controversy, but not consumed by it. I did not become engaged in the conversation. However, each controversy did affect my impression of each brand.

How about you? I’d love to hear about your take on what happened here.

  • How did you find out about each of these crises? What was your reaction?
  • Were your perceptions of the brands changed?
  • What are the lessons we can learn and apply in the future?

I plan to use any comments I receive as input for the Marketing article. And hopefully, I’ll receive several comments and links that I can quote and point to in the article. If I do, you can be sure that I’ll give you full credit.

UPDATE 090512: Well, experiments are good. Sometimes they don’t take you where you expect to go. And that’s the case here. Marketing reassigned Jeromy to other stories and so this experiment in crowdsourcing an article ended. Nevertheless, I learned something. Crowdsourcing an article drawing on the time and expertise of several busy people is tough – even with social media tools. It takes more time and effort than you might expect.

Google Ad Fail

Thankfully, everyone on the US Airways flight that crash landed in the Hudson River today was safe.

But clearly Google’s ad placement algorithm needs some work. Look in the bottom of this video from an eyewitness. Google’s advertising algorithm thinks this would be a good time to offer me “US Airline Ticket Deals.”


No thank you. Not today.


CT Moore sent me a similar image of inappropriate display advertising on an image of a damaged Qantas aircraft.

More inappropriate advertising