We’re Live: GO Transit Case Study

Hi all, as promised in my last blog post, I’m posting the link to our GO Transit Case Study slideshow posted in SlideShare.

For the comprehensive collection of research, once again here are the links to Aaron’s blog, Ana’s blog and Tanya’s blog.

The team would love for you to have a look and to post any feedback you have!

The final curtain.


Thanks again, team. It’s been a slice!


Lesson #4: Einhorn is Finkle. Finkle is Einhorn.

Usually when I take a class, I learn a few things. The #smrtcce class is no different. (I think I just heard Jared let out a sigh of relief.)

You can read about some of the other things I’ve learned in this class:

This culmination of learning brings me to my next (and maybe final) lesson. The whole “final” thing depends on how epic I think this post ends up being.

The catalyst

Earlier this month, I tweeted under the #smrtcce hashtag. Here’s a screenshot:

The tweet linked my followers to a Ragan’s PR Daily article called “The Army Reserve’s 10 rules for social media practitioners.” Now, that title may have scared some, but Lt. Col. Andrew Morton (who wrote the article) offers some really great tips – straight from the U.S. Army Reserve.

Scroll to the bottom of the article (the Summary section).

Warning: reading the Summary section may elicit brain synapses and extreme feelings of minds exploding.

The realization

Among his words of advice, one thing really stood out to me. He says, “Social media is not a device, a platform, or a medium.”

Say whaaaaat?

He continues, “It’s a culture.”

Woah. Mind blown.

I definitely had an Ace Ventura moment (hence this blog’s title). Here’s the moment I’m referring to:


Saying social media is a culture might be a simple concept to a lot of people. But this was completely revelatory to me. And the idea sums up the #smrtcce class for me.

Social media is a culture that people choose to opt in to, or opt out of. There are those who fully embrace the culture. There are others who sit more on the peripheries. Some folks are “counterculturalists” who sit outside the hegemonic circles (thank you, Antonio Gramsci).

Whether we’re coming from a business perspective or a personal perspective, we choose how we’ll interact with social media. And there are many tools to help us participate (to what degree is the choice).

Just like with other cultures, there’s also etiquette to be aware of. For example, in Thai culture, it’s considered rude to point or touch anything with your feet. In Canadian culture, it’s considered rude (even if justified) to show somebody your middle finger.

And just like those instances, there are accepted behaviours and there are behaviours that are frowned upon in social media culture. Even though social media is a culture that can transcend other cultures.

What now?

Now that I know how to use many of the tools, and how to plan, strategize and measure activity in social media culture, I guess I’ll have to decide how I’ll participate…beyond an academic setting.

Thank you

This is just a quick post to say a big “thank you” to my #smrtcce case study team mates. (Not to be confused with “teamsters”.)

It’s been (and continues to be) a pleasure to work with Aaron, Ana and Tanya.

From our research strategies to Google Docs brainstorming, and everything in between, it’s been great fun using social media as a way of communicating and exploring.

I can’t wait to cross the finish line with you guys.

Readers: Stay tuned for the final product! In the meantime, you can check out some of our research (in the way of blog posts) on MTATranslink and STM transit systems.


Automate – lesson #3

You’re likely aware that I take the train. Frequently. And that I talk about it all the time. With that, it’s been helpful to have a smart phone.

I can check my email, any social media sites I’m on and even my blog  – all from my phone.

Sometimes, whether it’s for personal reasons or professional reasons, if you don’t have alerts or notifications set up, it’s very easy to miss opportunities for engagement.

This brings me to my third lesson in this #smrtcce class: automate.

Make it easy on yourself

When it comes to social media, I think it’s a great idea to get notifications. If you plan to engage (effectively), it’s helpful to know if someone has tweeted you a direct message, or has posted on your wall, or commented on your blog. Without having to go to each site individually to check.

Image courtesy of AOL

Now some proponents of time management would suggest responding to email no more than 2-3 times a day.

If you already have trouble managing your email, you might want to read the Harvard Business School’s Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload.

When you choose to check and respond to email is up to you, but if you receive notifications, at least you know that someone is trying to communicate with you. Depending on the sites you use, it may be a good idea to research a dashboard like HootSuite.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

This lesson is about making informed decisions. There are tools available to us to be able to better manage our use of social media. If we use the tools properly, we will be more effective and engaged users of social media.

Of course, it’s up to you to respond…and to make sure your responses are useful and timely.

Don’t ya think?

Reflections: #MacPirate

Recently I participated in the McMaster Class in Advertising.  I was one of the remote participants. That meant that I followed the #MacPirate hashtag on Twitter, but there was no live-feed of the event itself, so I was relying on classmates and other participants to post informative tweets. Perhaps a tall order…

As I reflect on my experience of the event, I’ll answer 4 main questions.

What was it like to participate or monitor what was going on at the event without being there?

In a word: eep. Have you ever read the entire script of a TV show episode? Well I have. I’ll tell you it’s much easier to just watch the episode.

I sat (comfortably in my PJs, mind you) refreshing my Twitter feed. I tried to read every #MacPirate tweet as it came across my screen. Not too tough. And I had a couple of questions ready to ask via Twitter.

Frankly, it was kind of boring. And ultimately, I wish I could have been there, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

Did you feel like you were connected to what was going on? What would have helped improve the experience?

I had seen Terry O’Reilly speak at a Speaker’s Spotlight event, so I had some sense of what the presentation might be like. Of course, reading a ticker tape of 140-charactered sentiments wasn’t the most engaging experience.

I think my one wish was to have had a webcast of the event itself. It would have been much easier to follow. There were more tweets leading up to the event (expressing excitement for the speeches to begin) than there were tweets during the event. I understand though. You were watching the speeches and trying to listen and engage. Tweeting isn’t the most ideal activity when we have our listening ears on.

During the Q&A period, it would have helped to have been tweeted the questions that got asked of the panel. I sent a few questions into the Twittersphere without knowing if any had reached the stage. I think one of my questions (regarding social media) might have been asked but I can’t be sure.

What role did you take on Twitter? (Resource person, inquirer, observer, etc.)

I was definitely more of an observer. I read the tweets as they popped up and I was pretty bored. But I’m also a visual learner.

I did ask a couple of questions but, again, I just wasn’t sure if they were going anywhere. I suppose I could have tweeted specific people at the event, but I felt that might be intrusive to their experience.

I certainly appreciated those who tried to act as resource persons during the event. Some very thoughtful and informative tweets stood out while others were just quote-splices of advertising song choices (I think).

From your perspective, when it comes to using Twitter at events like this one, what would you stopstart, and continue doing to improve the experience?

Stop: I wouldn’t really stop anything. There were no issues with offensive tweets or anything like that. I’m not sure if it would be helpful to give some instruction on what it’s like to follow a Twitter feed. And, with that, have examples of good, bad and ugly tweets.

Start: I would recommend, if it’s possible for the event you’re running, to host a webcast or video stream of the presentation. That would cut down on the “unnecessary” tweets and help those remote users engage more effectively.

Continue: A Twitter hashtag for the event was a great idea. Although it wasn’t the most epic Twitter experience, I did get to participate in some way. And, all in all, it was kind of interesting to see what people chose to tweet about. A study in anthropology…

To those folks who tried to keep me engaged: thank you! I did sincerely appreciate the tweets. Without the feed, I wouldn’t have been able to participate at all.

Here’s one perspective from someone who attended the event in person.

Until next time!

GO Transit #FAIL?

Man it’s great when companies make mistakes. Otherwise, what would we have to blog about?

Maybe I’m being picky here, but let me present my case for GO Transit’s recent #FAIL. Then you can decide.

The evidence

On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 8, 2012, @GetontheGO tweeted:

Screenshot (Feb. 8, 2012) of @GetontheGO Twitter feed

Seems like a regular, everyday, corporate kind of tweet. Nothing amiss, right? Wrong.

Here’s why. Follow the link they inserted into their tweet. There’s nothing wrong with posting a link to their Passenger Charter. Except for one small problem. This video was posted a year ago.

Here’s the video (but you can also check out their YouTube Channel to see when the video was posted):



Old news

I actually like GO Transit’s Passenger Charter. It’s straightforward, clear and gets to the core of some of their issues. But this tweet, to me, is like saying “check out how we’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing all year.”

Why is GO Transit linking us to old news? There are a ton of other, more current things @GetontheGO could be tweeting about.

If you want to link us to this video, why not just say something like “if you missed it, check out our Passenger Charter and let us know what you think”?

More proof

There’s a ton of research on what makes a tweet good and what makes a tweet bad. Here’s a blog posted to Technorati on that very subject.

The most important thing I’d like to draw your attention to is the FIRST of the “9 ways to avoid annoying people with your Tweets.”

Yup, you guessed it, it’s “Don’t tweet old news.”

“McFail” — lesson 1

I was reading about the recent “McFail” on Ragan’s PR Daily blog and it got me thinking about lessons learned. Convenient that we have to post about them…

My lesson? We can’t control everything  – especially when it comes to social media.

Now, my fellow #smrtcce folks will likely agree that we can do a lot of work up front to prepare and prevent. But there are cases, like the McDonald’s Twitter campaign gone awry, where even up-front planning can’t deter a social media runaway. There are a lot of ways to look at this recent “incident” but I’ve been thinking about it from that preparation perspective because of where we are in the course.

We (as PR and Marketing pros) can brainstorm, assess the risks, make a strategic plan and finally roll it out thoughtfully. And still something goes wrong. Even the smallest hiccup or misunderstanding can derail all that work. But that’s our job in a nutshell. Things come up. All the time. Forever.

There’s gotta be something we can do about it. And I think the answer is flexibility. We have to be ready to respond. We have to be prepared to manage the affected community. The plan doesn’t end at campaign roll-out.

So that’s my first lesson. I think Murphy had it right, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. So? We roll up our sleeves.