Hear about the hits (and misses) from SXSW at Third Tuesday Toronto

Did you miss South by Southwest this year? Are you wondering what all the sound and fury actually amounted to?

Now you can hear about what really mattered at SXSW from three social media leaders who were there. Keith McArthur, Dave Fleet, and Karen Geier have just returned from SXSW. And they’ve come back with stories to tell. What were the most promising and intriguing ideas they heard? What were the biggest fails? Where is social media going? What are the top trends we we should be looking for over the next year? What’s hot? What’s not?

Keith, Dave and Karen will share what they heard and learned at SXSW at the next Third Tuesday Toronto on March 29.

Register online to attend

If you’re interested in participating, click over to the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site and register online to attend.

Acknowledging Third Tuesday’s sponsors

As always, I want to thank the sponsors of Third Tuesday: CNW GroupRogers Communications, the Canadian Internet Registration AuthorityRadian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Thanks to these sponsors, we are able to program great speakers in cities across Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa.



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?

Social Mediators 8 – What do you want from a conference?

It’s conference season. And we’ve all gone to conferences that we loved – and conferences that we hated.

In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I discuss what makes a good conference experience – and what can ruin a conference.

One good idea and I’m happy

I don’t just attend conferences because I love Las Vegas hotels (I don’t) or seaside resorts (I do.) I take time out of our schedules for much more practical and worthwhile reasons. I want to hear from leading edge thinkers and network with others who share common interests.

I’m happy if one simple need is met: I want at least one good new idea from each speaker. If I get that, the conference is worthwhile. If not, I’ll exercise the law of two feet and head out to do some work.

So, I’m easy to please. Give me great content and I’m a happy camper.

My personal hit list

Now to the other side. Things that detract from the conference experience. As a frequent conference attendee, there are some things that really bug me.

1) The conference within a conference. By invitation-only dinners and get aways for speakers and sponsors that are obvious to paying participants. We pay good money for a conference. We don’t want to feel like second class participants.

2) The conference with an unstated agenda. The worst of these are conferences that bring business together with government. You can get the feeling that you’re merely a prop in someone else’s GR campaign.

3) Panellists who think that they’ve given value merely by showing up. Conferences like SxSW which use a panel picker have seen a real slide in the quality of many panels, as a noticeable number of panelists seem to place their greatest effort into campaigning to be selected, not in preparing their presentations.

4) The biggest annoyance of all: Product pitches from sponsors who become speakers. When I speak, I rarely mention my company name. I’m there to educate, not to do a product pitch from the stage. And I don’t expect others to abuse their time on the stage.

And what about you?

What makes a conference a good experience for you?

What are the things that detract from the conference-going experience?

Eqentia – a new social media monitoring tool for enterprises

Eqentia is a social media startup headquartered in Toronto Canada. In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Eqentia’s CEO and Founder, William Mougayar, joins Dave Fleet and me for a discussion about Eqentia, what it does, who its aimed at and future plans for it.

Eqentia is positioning itself as a team-based knowledge dashboard that can be managed by one or two users, freeing others from the need to set up and refine searches. William hopes that managers will turn to it each day to answer the question, “What’s new that I need to know about?”

Eqentia’s text mining engine promises to deliver content to users in near realtime, providing them with an up to the minute picture of conversations and references to their brands and issues of interest.

William sees Eqentia becoming a productivity tool for medium and large enterprises. Initially, power users can curate the content to ensure that the highest relevance and most valuable content is featured, saving time and effort for the rest of the team. Once the principal user has set up the tool and refined the settings so that it focuses on the company’s specific interests, other team members will have access to the data without the need to manage the sources, relevancies and advanced filters and settings that make all of this possible.

Eqentia will be most attractive to teams that have both power users and executives who don’t care about how to use the tool, but just want to see its output. The power users can publish the information in user-friendly form for the end users – via email, Twitter, RSS feeds, or by giving end users access to individual topics.

Unlike many other social media tools that focus on providing users with the ability to build folksonomies by applying multiple tags, Eqentia incorporates predefined taxonomies to standardize searches and make it easy for end users to find the same data set with a simple search.

Still to come in Eqentia’s development – a comprehensive approach to social media metrics.

The company has some potential client deals in the works and hopes to be able to begin to announce these in the near future.

Eqentia has been seed funded by Extreme Venture Partners, who also funded Bump Top, which was recently acquired by Google. William says that he had the funding to carry on with the development of the product and to explore its marketing potential.

Have you tried Eqentia? What are your thoughts about it?

Social Mediators 4 – Social Media in Government and Automated Sentiment Analysis

In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I talk about government and social media as well as the measurement of sentiment in social media.

Terry suggests that government departments seem to be lagging government agencies, with their narrower focus and specific mandates. Government has found it difficult to leave shed the command and control approach to management. And this holds them back from engaging in the give and take of social media. Dave offers, “Social media is really built on trust and that’s something that is lacking in government.” Terry adds, “Government often moves in geological time and it’s hard to move into social media in that environment.”

We also talk about machine measurement of sentiment in social media. Dave feels that the tools aren’t up to scratch. He offers props to the approach taken by Radian6, who offer automated sentiment measurement, but counsel that it’s just a starting point and that most organizations will want to add a layer of human review to any critical analyses.

We conclude the episode with the idea of running a comparative test of the automated sentiment solutions offered by Radian6 and Sysomos.

Organizations and people mentioned in this episode:

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

The Ombudsman of Ontario

Parks Canada

Genome Alberta and Mike Spears

Nick Charney

Ralph Mercer

Advanced Learning Institute‘s Conference on Social Media in Government



Social Mediators 2 – Are you always one of us?

In this week’s Social Mediators, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I talk about corporate online communications polices and then delve into the case of the Toronto Transit Commission’s handling of their social media crisis.

Following my post of the new Thornley Fallis Online Communcations Policy, I received an unusual spike of traffic on ProPR. Over 1,300 pageviews on a Sunday, which is normally my lowest traffic day, followed by an increase the next day to over 1,500 pageviews. This, compared to the couple hundred pageviews on an average day. When I checked my Google Analytics, I saw the source of the traffic: MetaFilter. My post was the subject of a pretty heated discussion, focusing especially on my admonition to employees to be mindful that

Each of us represents the company to the world and the character of the company is defined by our beliefs and actions. We must be mindful of this when participating in social media and any kind of online communications.
You may be active in social media on your own account. That’s good. But please remember that whether you are on your own time or company time, you’re still a member of our team. And the judgment you exercise on your own time reflects on the judgment you exercise at work. There’s only one you – at play and at work.

Terry and Dave weigh in with their own view about this in our Social Mediators discussion. Dave suggests that guidelines and policies need to be closely tied to the prevailing company culture. He likens social media guidelines to a “safety net.” Terry suggest that it goes both ways. If you do something that reflects negatively upon your employer, it most likely also reflects negatively on you as an individual. “Once something bad happens”, adds Dave, “it’s like the toothpaste is already out of the tube.”

The TTC found itself facing a series of citizen criticism that started with a picture of a subway ticket taker asleep on the job and a bud driver who stopped his bus mid-trip for a coffee break. Management sent an email to employees suggesting  that “you and you alone are responsible for your actions” and the employees fired back at the public. The damage has been done. We discuss whether it’s too late for the TTC to recover.

With logo


Sites referred to in this episode:

Marketers Miss the Mark with Twitter, Mitch Joel

TTC Staffer caught apparently sleeping on job, National Post

Alleged TTC napper under investigation, National Post

TTC union shocked at uncaring response of riders to “sleeping” staffer, National Post

Second photo emerges of another alleged TTC napper, National Post

About Social Mediators

Each week, Joseph ThornleyTerry Fallis and Dave Fleet talk about social media, ubiquitous connectivity and their impact on communication, organizations and society.

Future episodes will be published on ProPR.ca and on Social Mediators.

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.