Heather Morrison

The Garden Isle and The Valley Isle

A month ago, I wrote a blog post with some photos that I took while I was in Puerto Rico using a GoPro Camera. Over the Christmas break, Heather and I went to Maui and Kauai and used that same camera to make a video. Enjoy!

I edited it using iMovie, and the song playing is Cloud (Plastic Plates Remix) by Sia (I snagged it off of this blog post by Vacay Vitamins).


Heather at Mesh!

Here at BlogCampaigning, we've been pretty big supporters of the Mesh Conference over the past few years. That's why I'm super excited that BlogCampaigning's own Heather Morrison is going to be speaking at Mesh this year! Along with her colleagues Ujwal Arkalgud and Michael Coulson from Sequentia, Heather will be speaking on a panel entitled "Digital Ethnography: How to build a better online community by understanding your audience's culture"

From the description:

"This workshop will introduce you to the power of digital ethnographic research. Through the use of interactive exercises, we will walk you through a practical application of this research method to examine the cultures of two prominent online communities, Reddit and Digg, and spark ideas for how you can use digital ethnography at your organization. Here are three key questions that we will address:

  1. What is digital ethnographic research and why is it useful to me?
  2. How can the idea of contextual observation, the foundation of ethnographic research, be used to: better understand audiences, optimize marketing initiatives and messages, and better position products and services
  3. How can digital ethnographic research be applied to understand and build online communities?"

I'll definitely be heckling live Tweeting this panel, and I encourage you to check it out!



Have you been wondering why Heather Morrison hasn't been blogging here lately? Its because she started a new blog, Fitnesse! It is all about fitness, nutrition and wellness.

She's only just started, and already she has a great few posts, ranging from making the perfect herbal tea for a winter day to the exciting sport of indoor cycling!

Hopefully, she'll post a weekly wrap-up from Fitnesse here on BlogCampaigning (seriously - we're starving for content here!). In the meantime, head over to Fitnesse.ca

Negative Comments Can Have Positive Results

Most companies have realized that digital communications and social media tools are here to stay. They accept that they will need to embrace online strategies or go the way of the dodo, but many are still scared.  Can you really blame them? I can't.  No matter how succinct a company's launch into social media may be, it's unlikely they will completely avoid negative comments or  haters of their brand.  But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Negative comments or feelings can go a long way to actually help a company move forward with a successful social media program.
I recently worked with a client to launch a new product using a number of social media channels. Part of their program involved seeding content on  content sharing and community based sites. On some sites, the content was rather well received, and got positive reactions from bloggers and online media. On others, however, the content did not meet the standards of the community members. They felt the content provided too little value and made sure they told us so.  Confronted by negative feelings, we had to act fast to address their concerns.
We wrote a response thanking those who had spoken up for their feedback. Negative feedback is just as useful as positive.
We then wrote direct messages to the specific members who were most vocal, asking them for more input: What kind of content would they like to see? What questions (if any) did they have that we might be able to answer? Would they be willing to discuss industry topics in greater depth to help develop content that would provide real value to their community?
Unfortunately the community members didn't continue to engage with us after their initial round of commenting. However, we learned some really valuable information about the community and industry.  This community site is absolutely one we want to work with going forward. Even though their comments were negative, they are engaged and passionate.
No brand is hater free.  Negative comments are always a strong possibility. It's what you do with them and how you learn from them that will decide if your social media campaign will flourish or fall flat. Social media is social - good or bad, all comments count!

BlogCampaigning: Movin' On Up

Congrats to a few members of the BlogCampaigning crew: The official notice of Heather Morrison's new position at Sequentia Environics went out (over the newswire, no less) last week, saying that she'll "supervise the daily operations and performances of client service teams." A good move indeed; Sequentia is  a digital communications firm that "focuses on the online relationships between companies and their customers." It's also part of the Environics Group.

In other celebratory news, Jens "Schredd" Schroeder sent me an email last week to say that he handed in his doctoral thesis last Monday. "I can't really believe it's over... " he wrote. "But I suppose you never reach the point where you're convinced that it's the right moment to hand in a project of this size." The paper is titled 'Killer Games' versus 'We Will Fund Violence' :The Perception of Digital Games and Mass Media in Germany and Australia, and Jens is hoping to make it available here on BlogCampaigning sometime soon.


Toronto Meet-Ups and Greet-Ups

Third Tuesday TO via LexnGer If you're part of the PR, tech, communications or social media community in Toronto you can pretty much fill up your entire week (and sometimes weekend) with different industry events. There are so many of them that it's sometimes hard to keep track, and even harder to know which ones are worthwhile. As September begins, bringing with it cooler weather and an end to the summer vacation mindset, Toronto's networking community is back in full swing. Here are some regular events to check out this fall:

1. Third Tuesday: Organized by Thornley Fallis, Third Tuesday is a long running social media event featuring discussions and presentations by industry professionals. Past guests have included Steve Rubel, Jeremy Wright, Mathew Ingram and Amber Mac. Third Tuesdays are a good venue for anyone just getting into the industry as well as self-proclaimed veterans. The networking at Third Tuesdays always adds value. I have made many great connections by simply attending and engaging in pre- and post-presentation discussions.

Cost: $10.00

2. SproutUpTO (formerly Wired Wednesday TO): Sprouter's SproutUp events are geared towards the tech, online and geek communities. They bring together start-ups and entrepreneurs as well as some PR and communications professionals. Recent events have seen presentations by Saul Colt and Stuart MacDonald. I find the networking at these events to be really top notch and have met great people and learned something valuable every time.

Cost: Free

3. Toronto Geek Girl Dinners: I wrote about these in a recent blog post on Toronto Uncovered. Food, girls and geek talk. Need I say more?

Cost: $10.00 (to hold your spot), plus cost of your dinner

4. GenYTO: Less formal events held at different watering holes throughout the city. These meet-ups are for young professionals working within the tech, communications and social media fields. Upcoming events and news/dialogue are streamed through their Facebook page.

Cost: Free

Thirsty Thursday Toronto5. Thirsty Thursdays: Similar to GenYTO, Thirsty Thursdays are usually held once a month, or once every couple of months at different bars in and around Toronto. This is a more intimate event, where you can count on a good mix of professional and not-so-professional topics of conversation. They're always a lot of fun, and a good way to meet people in the industry.

Cost: Free

Canadian Law Firms And Their Use Of Social Media

My CNW Group colleague, friend, teammate, and BlogCampaigning contributor, Heather Morrison, has put together a great report about the way that Canadian law firms are using social media. Omar Ha-Redeye said it "is likely to become one of the primary sources for Canadian firms looking to enter this area."

Steve Matthews called it "a nice overview of the benefits of social media investment."

And Garry J. Wise wrote that it "thoroughly canvasses the key social media platforms and provides much-needed context via thoughtful comments from several Canadian lawyers who are constructively engaging online."

So what are you waiting for? Download the PDF via the link below:

Canadian Law Firms And Their Use Of Social Media


30 Days of Wine Challenge

Sideways Movie I am a wine lover. Admittedly. I have proudly arrived at the level of consumption which laughs in the face of the ever-dreaded wine hangover. I like to believe I have a fairly open-minded pallet, and love trying different regions and blends as they catch my eye. When I saw a tweet for the 30 Days of Wine Challenge (#30DOWC), daring Ontarians to drink nothing but Ontario wine for 30 days, I immediately stepped up to the plate. I believe that Ontario produces great wines, and that these wines are often overlooked for seemingly more exotic and worldly vineyards. I wanted to become more educated on what my home region has to offer. At first glance, the Wines of Ontario campaign has all the social media  elements needed for success. They are active on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and have a semi-interactive website. Participants also receive regular e-mails providing tips on serving, tasting, and purchasing wine. However, three weeks after signing up, I realized I hadn't bought a single bottle of Ontario wine. I quickly ruled out any decrease in my overall wine intake and focused on the campaign itself. It seemed to be missing connectivity and engagement. The following is a list of possible remedies:

1. Make the 30 days start at the beginning of each month. By setting a unified start date the community can solidify and build from a certain point—working together towards certain goals within that month. Right now there is no start/end date, which left me feeling a little disconnected and not part of a greater movement.

2. Give each month a general theme. This will encourage people to participate for more than one month and will also provide people with ongoing information and sense of commitment.

3. Add content to your Facebook page. There are currently 145 fans but very little content on the page itself. No posts, links to videos, events, photos, or other content. There is no reason for fans to check the page. This is easily remedied by highlighting new promotions and engaging fans in discussions on their favourite Ontario wines.

4. Encourage user-generated content. Ask for submissions of photos and videos of taken of participants during the challenge, possibly even following one or two key fans on their 30-day journey.  Post these to the website, Facebook page, YouTube, etc.

5. Send me tips on brands of wine—e.g., Five Wines To Try This Month. I am less in need of "how-tos" of drinking wine (this part I think I have down), and more in need of different brands and wineries in the Ontario region and which blends to look out for. The Twitter feed has some good suggestions, but more could be done to highlight specific wineries and blends.

6. Link all of the content (and communities) together. So far the website only provides a link to the Twitter stream, which might be why YouTube and Facebook pages are suffering from lack of content and viewers. Linking the content and communities together will increase awareness, interest, and engagement.

7. Results, results, results. At the end of each month provide me with some numbers. Did sales increase? How much? Are we making a difference?

Overall, I think the 30 Days of Wine Challenge is a great idea, but it needs more continuity, engagement, and a boost of WIIFM (What's In It For Me) factor.

What are your thoughts? Agree/disagree? Other suggestions?

The Rise of the Video News Release?

Empty News Room A large part of my week is spent meeting with clients to discuss their communications and media objectives. In one such meeting last week, my client announced that they would be increasing the number of Video News Releases (VNRs) they produce for distribution  to the Canadian broadcast media.  As multimedia becomes more important for online coverage, this wasn't exactly an earth shattering announcement. What did surprise me, however, was that they had no intention of using the content to build up an online or social media presence (aside from eventually posting the VNRs to their website's media section).

Instead, their reasoning for increased VNRs is as follows: News rooms across the country have been cutting journalist and editorial positions in an effort to save their bottom lines. This has meant an increased workload for the members still on staff and a decreased likelihood that every story will get the same attention it might have a few years ago.  My client is betting that if they increase the number of ready-to-air VNRs they distribute to these overworked and understaffed outlets, their chance of televised coverage will increase and they will benefit from more air time and exposure.

One hopes (and advises) that the stories are still strong and news worthy. Otherwise, why bother with the production efforts? This  made me wonder if any other agencies or organizations are increasing their VNR output for the same reason. Mike Masnick recently posed a similar question in his TechDirt post "Corporations Hiring Their Own Reporters". He too notes a definite shift towards corporate journalism. Will we see more VNRs and corporately crafted stories run in the place of journalist-generated content? Does this pose an unfair advantage to companies with deeper pockets? What are your thoughts?


Turn Online Activity into Offline Action

The Obama presidential campaign was one of the most successful social media campaigns to date. Last month I went to see Rahaf Harfoush speak about her time spent in the "trenches" as a member of Obama's new media team. She gave a good overview of how a variety of online tools and applications were used to rally supporters, build awareness and raise funds. Rahaf emphasized one important theme which was featured in every online initiative. It was simple: aim to turn online activity into offline action. It's one thing to rally online support for something or someone, or have a huge number of fans, followers or friends, but it's a lot harder to turn that momentum into something meaningful offline. MyBOThe Obama camp did a great job of this. MyBO (my.barackobama.com) was launched early in the primaries to unite communities and supporters already active online. The site grew to over 2 million profiles and 35,000 volunteer groups. This activity translated into 200,000 offline events and over 35 million dollars raised by personal fundraising pages alone. The new media team also used a number of other social applications including YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter to build support and provide fans with shareable content. This helped get Obama's message out and also directed traffic to MyBO, where fans could be converted to volunteers. High levels of engagement with supporters led to millions of dollars of small donations. By building strong online communities, divided by region, Obama's team could spring into action offline whenever and wherever they needed to.

Other successful campaigns have also benefited by keeping this rule in mind:

Dunkin' Donuts uses its Facebook page to bring fans together to share pictures and videos of themselves expressing their love for DD. It also uses Dunkin' Run, a site where customers alert their friends and co-workers when they are about to make a "run" and invite them to submit items to their order. This activity has created a sense of community online and also increased DD's in-store sales.

BlendTec made a series of inexpensive "Will it Blend?" videos, which are housed on its YouTube channel. The videos generated hundreds of thousands of views and led to a 700% increase in sales.

Starbucks launched its My Starbucks Ideas site where members can share ideas, give suggestions, vote and chat. The aim was to tie Starbucks fans closer to the brand and allow them help "shape the future of Starbucks". By also adding an "Ideas In Action" section, contributors can see the suggestions that earned the most votes and which ones will be called to action offline.

Canada Dry Mott's recently launched a Facebook page and Twitter account to energize fans and followers around their goal of making the Caesar Canada's official drink. Not only are they becoming more engaged with their community, but they also have a clear goal of 50,000 signatures before they can take their petition to Parliament Hill. This campaign is still young, but looks like it may develop a strong following.

In your next online campaign or initiative, remember to ask yourself how it will translate towards your online goals.

Do you have any other examples of campaigns that have succeeded by employing this strategy?

Social Media For Control Freaks

ctrlLoss of control is a major objection faced by most social media advocates. For many senior-level executives, losing control is their biggest fear.  This shouldn't come as a big surprise, as their ability to control people, situations, and outcomes is how they landed the top job in the first place. To give up this sense of control by putting themselves and their company into an unregulated, unfamiliar environment is scary. This fear is further exaggerated as they hear stories of social media blunders  from their peers. Why on earth would they want to risk it?

Engaging with new media is not about throwing yourself into uncharted waters. It is about listening to what is going on, finding out what people think about you and your brand, and pinpointing your biggest fans and haters. For anyone in the c-suite, this actually INCREASES the level of control you have both internally and externally. Becoming engaged allows companies to gather intelligence on people posting comments on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, discussion boards, and other social networking sites. It allows you to monitor not only the discussion, but also the entire online environment for your industry. You can become that elusive fly on the wall, predict when tides are turning, and take appropriate and necessary action immediately, before the sh*t hits the fan. This is not a loss of control or throwing caution to the wind.  It is understanding your industry, followers and market on a deeper, more intimate level. Your ability to control the situation and the outcome actually goes up.

Engaging in social media doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be shouting your product, company or service to the world. But it will let you know when people are shouting at your product, company or service. I recently heard the line "You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately". I think this applies tenfold when engaging online and conversing with your market.

Some free social media monitoring tools that help keep your ear a little closer to the ground include:

1. Addict-o-matic: Aggregates one search term from a number of different social media sites, video sites and blogs.

2. Google Trends is probably the most popular site to monitor and graph online trends. Trendrr and Trendpedia are also good tools to track and compare search terms.

3. BoardTracker: Monitors discussion boards. Allows you to set up alerts for ongoing searches.

4. Alexa: Allows you to track website traffic (and compare against other sites).

5. Backtype: Monitors comments on blogs and social networks.

6. Twitter Search: I find search.twitter.com is the best for searching Twitter. You can also use the search feature on Tweetdeck to keep running tabs on Twitter topics and users.

More free tracking tools are listed on Andy Beal's "8 Essential Free Social Media Monitoring Tools" and Rob Gonda's "Free Social Media Monitoring Tools".

We're Getting The Blog Back Together

Its been a while since we last posted on BlogCampaigning, and I know that a lot of our readers are wondering what happened: PR message boards have been flooded with rumours and speculation, and Jens and I have been getting emails and phone calls at all hours from fans. Everyone has been wondering what happened to BlogCampaigning. The short answer is that we don't really know.

The long answer is that the site got messed up and that I've been super-busy with real life (work, soccer and summer drinking). Thanks to Tommy Vallier at Wordpress by the Minute, we were able to get rid of the spammy links and Javascript that had pervaded our RSS feed (if you need any blog work done, I highly recommend his services).

I haven't been writing much for the site because I was working on a product launch for CNW Group (more on that in an upcoming post), Jens hasn't been writing much because he's been "working on his thesis" (which I equate to playing Xbox), and Heather has probably just been busy with her own blog, Toronto Uncovered.

We still don't know where Espen is, but we hope you like the BlogCampaigning redesign and that you'll continue to read our thoughts about Public Relations, Video Games, Technology and whatever we feel like.

But don't spend too much time reading BlogCampaigningget out there and enjoy the summer weather.


Virtual Worlds: Hype or Here to Stay?

For the last little while my interest in virtual worlds has been growing.  Having spent countless hours playing games like The Sims when I was younger, I can easily understand their appeal on a gaming and entertainment level. My real curiosity, however, is whether they will play a key role in the next phase of social media. My original inclination was heavily weighted towards 'No'. There have been a number of companies, law firms, and banks experimenting and opening offices in virtual worlds, namely Second Life. To the best of my knowledge, many of these have since shut down because their virtual offices were too timely to maintain and, after the initial buzz had died down, they failed to see any inherent value in keeping them open.

That said, the more I learn, the more I understand how virtual spaces may become extremely valuable going forward.

About a month ago I attended Digital Theory's "Playing to Win: Broadcasting and Social Media event, which featured a presentation by Valerie Williamson, VP of Marketing and Business Development for the Electric Sheep Company.  Electric Sheep built a name for itself by creating virtual worlds for a number of different companies. Valerie explained that instead of using two dimensional applications like Twitter and Facebook, younger generations have been raised on virtual games where they create 3D avatars to co-exist with their 'friends'.  She believed strongly that this was the future of social media and online engagement, and the direction in which we are headed.

These Experiences will occupy a previously barren portion of the Engagement Plane

If what she claims is true, what will the future look like? To begin answering this  question I looked at what organizations are currently doing to tap into this market.

Some brands such as Disney's Club Penguin and Webkinz have built their own virtual worlds, and experienced success by providing a new, rewarding form of entertainment to children. These sites are able to monetize without the help of advertisers, leveraging product sales and/or membership fees.

PepsiCo. Virtual Hills Other brands such as PepsiCo. are using the popularity of worlds  that already exist to market their products .  This can take the form of advertising within the VW, or selling virtual products to benefit the world's citizens.  PepsiCo. launched into this model last year by sponsoring vMTV's Virtual Hills. They have  since reaped branding and reputation benefits both on and offline (further outlined in Ad Week's Case study: vMTV's Virtual Hills Makes Pepsi Cooler).

Role playing and video games such as World of Warcraft, Counterstrike, and the Halo Trilogy have maintained popularity with slightly older generations (many of my friends included). These games have made significant earnings through subscriptions and virtual product sales. WoW alone makes up half of Activision/Blizzard's earnings, proving VWs to be a highly profitable model.

Although the above examples are largely entertainment focused there are many other useful applications of virtual worlds being explored.

At Mesh09 the #MeshLearn session  focused on education. Although virtual worlds were strangely absent from the conversation, the panel did state that the education sector in the US is larger than both the military and finance sectors combined. If this statement holds true, it is certainly a huge market.  In response to growing demand from educators, Activeworlds launched educational settings a few years ago, betting that virtual worlds will start to play a larger role in the development and education of children and university students.  With this tool, teachers will be able to develop new concepts and learning theories not possible in a regular class room setting.

Virtual worlds are also being used for collaborative learning, allowingRatava's Line students and/or professionals to engage, learn, and share over large distances. In 2003 students from three universities developed a fashion line (Ratava's Line) and show rooms using collaborative VWs. In a final report, students described it as  "a perfect medium to marry culture, collaboration, visuals, 3D, and social spaces" .  Collaborative VWs can easily translate into other business settings as well ie. training, safety, architectural design, business strategy, etc.

As the economic downturn continues to rear its ugly head, we will likely see more companies taking advantage of VWs to host job fairs. Dennis Shiao's Blog Post "Economic Downturn to Spur Virtual Job Fairs" does a good job of outlining reasons for this growth.

Given their collaborative nature, popularity with younger generations, and ability to adapt to a wide array of applications a strong argument can be made that virtual worlds are here to stay (and may even be highly profitible).

I'm interested to hear any of your thoughts on the business of virtual worlds - do you see them as the next wave for social media? Or just a lot of hype?

Lessons Learned at #mesh09

The following post was written by Heather Morrison. She has written a number of previous posts on BlogCampaigning and she also maintains her own blog about events and happenings in the T-dot at Toronto Uncovered. She is @HMorrison on Twitter. Mesh, Canada’s largest Web Conference, was held at the MaRS Centre last week. The schedule was packed with the ‘who’s who’ of the online world, speaking on topics like Twitter, word of mouth, monetizing, community building, and the ever expanding internet population. Top of mind, both in and out of the scheduled sessions, were questions like: What happened since Mesh08? What do we think will happen in the next 12 months? And, most importantly, what does it all mean? I enjoyed my first Mesh experience, and came away with some key lessons learned:

Lesson 1: According to CIRA, one billion more people will join the online community within the next three to five years. That is amazing market growth. The size of the pie is about to expand exponentially, making online business and commerce more attractive than ever before. For anyone who was at Mesh09, this was great news – we are already at the forefront of this shift, already learning and understanding how to work within, and benefit from it. Lesson 2:

Companies need to put more dollars towards digital media. This nugget of information came straight from the lips of Bonin Bough, PepsiCo.’s Global Director of Digital and Social Media. He went on to explain that, in order to see any true ROI or measureable statistics, marketing departments need to devote more dollars towards online campaigns. They need to think creatively, outside of the box, push the envelope, and not be afraid to make a mistake (how else will they learn?). He noted that HP recently devoted 50% of their entire marketing budget to digital – definitely a move worth watching! Lesson 3: There is such thing as Twitter foreplay. Just when you thought you were a Twitter expert, they had to hit you with this. When asked what he looked for when courting a new Company/start up, Venture Capitalist, Howard Lindzon advised that interested start ups should begin by commenting on his blog, and connecting with him on Twitter (@howardlindzon)– he doesn’t jump into the investment sheets with just anyone – you need to earn his attention and respect first. Lesson 4: I heart Torontoist, Spacing, and BlogTO. The “Hyper-local media: Does it work?” panel, which featured all three Chief Editors was intelligent and informative. Online local media sites have a distinct place in Toronto’s media, with the ability to tap into initial stories often before the mainstream, traditional media. Tim Shore of BlogTO noted that traditional media have more resources to pick up where online sites leave off, and follow a story to its conclusion. The existence of both types of media, and their ability to work in conjunction with each other, gives Torontonians full coverage beginning to end. Lesson 5: The Web can be used for good. One thing can be said about the communities popping up on Twitter: people care. And not just about hard earned dollars, trash talking, or raising the bottom line. Speakers on the ‘Using Social Media for Good’ panel highlighted that companies are moving away from “cheque book philanthropy” and are becoming more engaged and active with online communities looking for charitable support. The Toronto online community has definitely employed this new model of giving back by supporting initiatives such as Twestival, HoHoTo and PIBTO. Lesson 6: Geeks (myself included) know how to throw down and party up. The post conference events were well organized and well attended by Mesh-ers. Tuesday night’s party, sponsored by Social Media Group, was held at the Mod Club. My original plan of stopping by for one or two hours was out the window pretty quickly. Based on some of the pictures (Parker's note: I've got to learn how to smile better in photos...) that surfaced the next day (thanks @photojunkie) everyone clearly had a pretty good time. Wednesday night’s event at Proof was hosted by Edelman PR and was so packed you had trouble making it from one side of the room to the other. It was great to put a lot of Twitter names to faces and get to know Toronto’s online community on a more personal level. Both events were definitely worth attending.

With Mesh09 officially wrapped up, I have lots of new information to sort through, and people to follow. I am already looking forward to next year’s conference.. only 11 months and 3 weeks to go!

-Heather Morrison

PodCamp Wrap-Up

This past weekend I officially popped my Podcamp cherry. Tagged everywhere as PCTO09, PCTO09, Podcamp Toronto was a whirlwind of activity. Although it wasn’t easy motivating myself out from under my nice, warm duvet at 8:00 on a Saturday AND Sunday morning, it was well worth the effort. Day 1 was pretty intense, with large crowds, and ‘standing room only’ in some of the more popular sessions. Whether you were interesting learning best practice when engaging with bloggers; how to calculate (and dictate) your success on Reddit, Digg, or StumbleUpon; or effectively (and creepily) stalk your audience, there was something for everyone. The Molson party following the Day 1 festivities was also well attended – apparently we are all easily swayed with promises of free beer tastings, munchies, and swag (who can resist 6 free Heineken glasses!). Day 2 was a little emptier. I imagine most people were probably nursing their hangovers and live streaming from the comfort of their beds. The great thing about having everything stream live and archived is that you know you’re not missing out on any content – sometimes it was really hard to choose between sessions. Overall, a great first experience. PCTO was well organized, FREE (thanks to generous sponsors), and filled with tons of networking opportunities. I was able to put names to faces and faces to names, and engage with people whose eyes didn’t glaze over at the first mention of Twitter, SEO, or Blogging. Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers for their hard work – I think it was a great success!

This post was written by Heather Morrison, who has previously written about Israel's Use of Social Media and about Building Your Twitter Empire here on BlogCampaigning. She is @Hmorrison on Twitter.

Thanks to Wayne Macphail for the photo above.

Nothing to Fear

The following post was written by Heather Morrison

At a recent IABC social sedia event last week the discussion of ‘buy in’ was brought up a number of times, from various perspectives. The question seems to be on every communicators mind – How do you convince your boss/CEO that social media is worth being involved in? How do you get buy in? How do you decrease the risks, and allay their fears.

The first question to ask is: What is their greatest fear or concern?

Costs? This is an easy one. Most social media applications have very little monetary costs associated with them. The real resource needed is time. Many companies combat this by starting small (think baby steps), and working together so that no one person feels over loaded with work.

Making a mistake? More than likely every company first entering into social media will make a few mistakes along the way (close to 50% of initial attempts will flop). But whatever happened to ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again’? With proper education, these initial mistakes will provide a good base for future initiatives.

Negative Feedback? There are two types of kids in every schoolyard - the kids who stand up to rumors and bullies, and those who hide from them. While those who hold their heads up might take an initial beating, they will ultimately gain more respect than those seen hiding their heads in the sand. Not everyone will agree with every opinion, post, or decision that you make. That said, people will agree and/or disagree whether you are part of the conversation or not. Social media allows companies to enter these discussions, learn from what’s being said, and provide feedback and perspective directly to their clients/prospects. It also provides an opportunity to sculpt future campaigns based on raw customer feedback.

There is far more to be afraid of by remaining disengaged and distant from your market than there is by becoming involved. You don’t want to miss the boat and let the conversation carry your brand and reputation down stream (think Motrin, Walmart, Wholefoods, Kryptonite, and Hertz). As Matthew Ingram once pointed, “you need to have a presence in social media to have a voice when you need it. Don’t try to jump in during the fire!”

Heather Morrison is an Account Executive at CNW Group and has previously written about Israel's Use of Social Media and about Building Your Twitter Empire here on BlogCampaigning. She is @Hmorrison on Twitter.

Building Your Twitter Empire

This post was written by Heather Morrison, an Account Executive at CNW Group. She is new to the world of social media, but learning quickly. She's also the captain of my dodgeball team. -Parker

I am fairly new to ‘Twitterville.' logging in for the first time back in October. As a new user I remember how daunting the experience was. Looking at some other member profiles, with their thousands of followers, I wondered how I would ever get to that level. 2 months later, I am still nowhere close to being part of the Twitter elite, but I have noticed a steady a rise in the number of my followers.

For everyone who is new to the game, looking for some ‘newbie’ advice, here is what has been working for me. For all of you ‘Senior Twitizens’ out there, any added other advice is most welcome.

1. So you’ve signed up and chosen a user name, now what? Personalize your Twitter page. Include a picture of yourself, location, bio, and add character to your background design.

Remember that Twitter is about building your personal brand, and as with all branding, packaging goes a long way. Photos and personal information will tell people about who you are, and what you are about; potentially increasing the number of followers on your list.

2. Start Networking. Look at the contact lists you already have – friends, their follower lists, and colleagues are a good start. Once you follow them there is a good chance that they will reciprocate and follow you back

Bloggers are also a great resource when starting out as many will provide constant updates and have a keen understanding of how Twitter works. Most will include their Twitter profile on their blog or at the end of their posts.

3. Look outside your social network. I found that sites like twitdir.com and justtweetit.com are helpful for finding specific people or industries. Search.twitter.com is great for key word searching.

By sifting through some of these results you will find other people who are interested in the same topic or industry as you. Follow members you feel are most relevant and some will follow you in return.

4. Tweet! Now that you have some followers start tweeting. Make your voice heard throughout your network. Provide your followers with informative posts on topics that interest you, making it part of your daily routine (at least a post or two per day).

Being a regular contributor to the ‘Twittersphere’ will make you more available to like-minded users. When they are searching out topics of interest, they might come across your posts and decide to add you, allowing your twitter network to grow.

5. Market yourself. Don’t be shy! Give out your twitter account to various parties when an opportunity presents itself. Add it to your personal and professional email signatures and/or business cards.

6. Pay attention to conference/event #hashtags. As Twitter becomes more mainstream, it provides a good back channel of information, quotes, facts, and opinions for various events and conferences. I can attribute most of my recent growth to conference/event participation. By searching out the hashtag (search.twitter.com) you will find all the people who were twittering at that event (and what they were saying) and can add them to your list. For more information about the benefit of using hashtags and twittering at a conference, check out this post by Jeff Cohen.

7. Give it time. Success doesn’t happen over night. It will take time to grow and cultivate your social network. Track what works for you, and keep at it.

Help Heather build her Twitter empire by following her - she's HMorrison there.