What can the father of Mad Men advertising teach us about Social Media success?

I came across a blog on the Masterful Marketing success of David Ogilvy this morning and while reading began to ponder on how much of his “great marketing” lessons are still relevant to social media marketing today…


Here are the 5 big take away lessons from David Ogilvy as listed in the blog.  Below I attempt to put them within the framework of Social Media Marketing and to update them accordingly…

1. “Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”

Social media is not a campaign — although you can create a campaign when executing your social media and while good ideas about content and the “market conversation” are still vital — more important is the conversation that allows for the “audience” to participate and the opportunity to promote them.  No longer is it just about your “big idea”, smart marketers today focus on building relationships first.

2. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” 

Business in 2013 is the “end of  business as usual” — Brian Solis has shown us that. Businesses in Canada are in the bubble of a very old mindset, one that is risk adverse and complacent after having 100 years of resource based commodities fueling it. The only ones that are selling anything new are those consultants and marketers who have embraced social media and see a future where unless Canadian businesses become more human they are destined to become obsolete in the next decade. Canadian businesses are going to miss the opportunity to connect with their audience who being online have options to connect with global competitors, like our American cousins, who are focused on building social media relationships at all costs.

3. “I abhor advertising that is blatant, dull, or dishonest. Agencies which transgress this principle are not widely respected.”

In today’s market place the agencies still have control over much of the advertising space as together they and the larger businesses continue to support old school marketing and advertising campaigns. Small and medium enterprises, for the most part, have their heads in the sands and are trying to ignore social media in hopes that it will to away…

4. “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

I wish all the advertising agencies in Canada would print this out and pin it on their walls. Most are still painfully ignorant about social media preferring to service the status quo with the tried and true ways of doing marketing — totally missing the reality that the “progressive” consumer has moved on and they are now just shouting at Dumb and Dumber with their one way mass media tactics.

5. “If we hire people who are smaller than we are, we will become a company of dwarfs. If we hire people who are larger than we are, we’ll become a company of giants.”
Amen. Don’t even get me started on the companies of dwarfs that populate the Canadian business landscape. Oh for the days of Giants. Even finding a business leader who has vision is rare. I am so grateful to my clients who have dared to have me activate their  social media and enrich their business!

Yes, the world has changed thanks to Web 2.0 and Social Media. Thank God, for Facebook and Twitter, as the world of business will never be the same.

Why Search is a Waste of Time and Social Media allows us to Gain Time

“No matter how fast it seems, most search is a waste of time. In a way, we are using time (i.e., the time-based structure) to gain time.”

This quote is from a recent opinion blog in Wired Magazine online and it hits the target in clarifying what I have been trying to say to my clients for years now about the difference between Search and Social Media.

Yes they are two different animals. Why? because Social Media is Time Based and Search is not. The issue of time based vs non time based media is one dear to my heart as I studied Classical Animation. Animation is a time based media as is performance art, dance, music, new media, and some visual arts. “Usually time-based media are video, slide, film, audio or computer based and part of what it means to experience the art is to watch it unfold over time according to the temporal logic of the medium as it is played back.”

I know this to be true because of all the social media platforms, I have always loved Twitter the most. I knew that it’s “real time” communications and it’s dynamic quality were key factors in my love affair. David Gelernter goes on to state that this time based quality — which is inherent in New Media— creates new way of structuring time on the internet. This new structure re defines time on the internet, taking it from static websites and search results to the “streams” of data arising from your curated interests that constantly add into your feeds. As seen from the author’s sketch below we are at the intersection of the “now” and the “new”. We are now fully engaged and informed by Social Media.

“Instead of doing an endless series of separate searches, we tune the knobs on our stream-browser to continuously feed us just the information we need.”


Unlike Search which brings up pages for you to review, having your social network set up to monitor people, topics and issues that are of interest, allows you or your business to always be in the moment and in the now of the conversation. This is the Zen state of being.

“But it’s about time: “Bring me what I want” is almost always more useful than “Let me rummage around and see what I can find.”

The other awesome point that he makes on this paradigm shift in communications is that this state allows for an abundance of creativity. Again for those of us who love to create content on the fly this is the best place to be as it allows for constant inspiration, insight and interpretation.  This is the state of artistic perception that McLuahn referred to in his definition of an artist as being one who “updates consciousness “. The Artist is one who lives in the moment and not in the past or the future.

“Yet it took us more than 20 years in computing to get here. The field has finally moved from conserving resources ingeniously to squandering them creatively.”

How true. I have been engage with new media studies for 20 years now and remember the MIT article that I zeroed and keep in my files up until today that speaks of the coming convergence of computers, video and telecommunications. Today we have the net, you Tube and smart phones. What matters most are not the devices themselves but the new real time communication channels of Social media that run across our devices via the internet and deliver great content to us. This in turn allow you to place that information, be it text, image or video, in a context that is relevant to your business – thereby adding value each and every day to your personal life or your business. Over time that value becomes enormous as your networks grow in influence and reach.

Social Media is Innovative Marketing that Adds Great Value to your Business

Part of my role as as Social Media specialist is to curate content for my clients and myself. I look at a lot of content every day — some of it on social media and some of it on business. I am always searching for the common ground between the two.

Because I come from over a decade of  Sales experience in Toronto I love to read about sales and see how it relates to Social Media. In fact, I used to make the claim that having a person who knows about sales manage your social media was an real advantage and still believe that social media that incorporates both sales and marketing insights will be all the stronger for it.

A blog caught my attention this weekend with a quote from Peter Drucker and his approach to business. It quoted him saying

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

I had never read this quote of his before and was blown away how he says that marketing and innovation create RESULTS, all the rest is costs and  by the last line in which he states that Marketing “is the distinguishing unique function of business”

Recently I burned through yet another client who decided that “social media” was just not that important and so they decided to terminate my contract. Why? Because I have the that attitude, when I take on a new client that they had better make a commitment to their social media for at least one year or I don’t even want to get started with them. This particular client began to question the value I was working to create and my attitude, after one month of managing their social media. It was barely time to let the ink dry on the contract, get their accounts set up, determine the tone of their market conversation and find the content that was engaging!

Ironically the client was a technology start up out of Calgary that began with no perceived need for marketing whatsoever!  They quickly found out that they would have to have a marketing person on board and a plan in place or “investors” would not even talk to them. So they hired an “old Media” marketing person who knew nothing about the new “social media” stuff. A smart move for a business model that relies on online subscriptions for sales revenue…

Don’t even get me started on how it all played out after they hired me on a short term contract. All I can say is that their marketing manager was hoping that social media might be a silver bullet to drive traffic to their site –overnight —-as they were unable to get even 10 hits to their site in a month after trying some old media marketing tactics. Of course I told them from the start that it would take time to build the value that would generate sales online. I am not going to go into the details but I was all over a month after I started — because their fearless leader thought it would be smarter to invest their assets elsewhere and cut the social media “expense” entirely…


Which brings me back to the quote by Drucker. He says that it is either one or the other to create results and SALES. You either Innovate or you Market. Preferably you do both. If you are not innovating — then you better be creating value for your product or service through marketing! Since very few Canadian businesses that I have dealt with actually innovate —  most copy the US market or their Canadian competition and on top of that, as a rule, they don’t market much either, I often wonder how they hope to compete for the consumer’s dollar and attention in the days to come. Even if they do marketing– it tends to be all old media stuff — that one way push marketing aimed at an audience that has for the most part, tuned out and moved on to social networks, preferring a new type conversation, a type of marketing that allows them to “interact” and communicate with a brand or company that they are interested it. On top of it all since so many Canadian small and medium sized businesses are short sighted and risk adverse, they are, as a rule, not about to innovate with respect to their marketing strategy.  Embracing and then focusing on mastery of social media is for the most part non existent.

By its nature social media is innovative. It is a new medium that allows those who are creative communicators to easily innovate and hence, to add value to a business in a way that they have never been able to do before.  That in itself, one would think, would be reason enough to give it a concerted effort to push forward.

Clearly most Canadian business owners are not reading Peter Drucker. I am not sure they are reading thought leaders on business intelligence and instead have become terribly complacent — asleep at the wheel of a big oil rig — thinking that the Canadian resource based economy will carry us into a sustainable future on a planet that is, in fact, currently dominated by technology innovations in internet communications. We have seem more social, political and economic change over the past decade as a result of the internet and Web 2.0 then in we saw in the last 100 years and yet Canadian business thinks that everything will remain the same when it comes to the ways in which they can create value for a potential client and then, for their bottom line.

The status quo that make up the majority of Canadian Business owners, especially in Alberta – don’t like to think about the idea of using disruptive marketing like social media to add more compelling value. Take out the word “compelling” and replace it with the social media buzz word, that means about the same thing , the word “engaging”. If you know anything about social media you know where I am heading with this one. A word of caution to all business owners who decide to stop their social media before it even  a chance to enrich your business. What is the real COST of stalling your chances of sustainable growth through new sales revenue via online marketing in 2013?

Culture is our Business and Social Media is the Method of Communicating It.

It’s been a while since my last blog post. Let’s just call is year end and holidays shall we? I must admit I have also been busy observing the effect of social media on Canadian Culture through the lens of #idlenomore. As a social media specialist I would have to be living under a rock not to see the hash tag trending many times over the last 42 days, and yet, oddly enough, I see very few of my “fellow” social media” peers in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto mentioning it at all in any way, shape or form. I find it a bit odd but then again I often wonder what they think it is to be engaged in social media communications as an “expert” for businesses. For now, I have to assume that like the status quo of Canada, they choose to ignore Idle No More, thinking that it will soon go away. For now, anyhow, it’s  just business as usual.

Which makes me laugh as that idea of Business as  Usual has already been shattered by Brian Solis in his book “NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL”. This title makes clear the effect of Social Media on the culture of Business.


I was educated in Canada’s finest Art Colleges and then did what I consider to be my Masters of Business Imagination by hanging out at the McLuhan Centre for CULTURE and Technology at the University of Toronto for several years in 1993-94 while working at the Art College as a Corporate Fundraiser, as part of team that raised one million dollars, to create the First New Media Lab at OCA — so I am attuned to not only Canadian Social media and business but Canadian Art and Culture.

As McLuhan said “Culture is Our Business”. For all those so called social media specialists in Alberta, Toronto and Vancouver who have not mentioned or weighed in on this movement, which is now a part of  Canadian “pop” culture – here is some advice —go back to school and study McLuahn, his Laws of Media along with studies in art and culture. These provide a foundation for critical thinking.

For those who think that culture is not our Business and who instead think that the business of the white European Settler, of our grandparents, including my family who settled in PEI from Scotland four generations, that is over 100 years ago along with the fathers of confederation and who signed those treaties with the First Nations of Canada. Those fathers included men from the British Crown, the Scots and the Irish. If you think for one minute that they were not focused on their own self interest in the form of European philosophy and culture over that of the diametrically opposed collective culture of First NATIONS  — please do me a favor and update your consciousness as soon as possible. There is a reason that McLuhan chose the pirate eye patch to be worn by the white business man on the cover of his book Culture is our Business.


While the effect of Idle No More has yet to be felt in the Canadian business community per say —it’s effect on Canadian Culture will be with us for decades to come. As First Nations move steadfastly towards updating Canadian Culture on the importance of their inherent treaty and collective rights —- business, aka the corporate body—- in Canada remains, at present, cool, calculating and unchanged. Ironically it is social media that has now imposed the elephant that will dominate the board rooms for decades to come. Lucky me I happen to work through this new communications channel and have my ear to the ground, it affords me to remain informed on the new and the NOW.

One day, many moons from now, I look forward to an open conversation with my peers on this matter, until then I will keep my left eye and ear open to the winds of change and try not to get blown away down here in Lethbridge, Alberta by the total lack of media & cultural literacy that has faced me every day since my return home to Alberta from the “big smoke” of Toronto over one year ago. Even though I was born and raised in Alberta the only word that comes to mind with respect to this attitude is one I learnt in art school. The word is “provincial“. A dangerous place to be for more reasons than one.

Designing Data. “Help I am drowning in data and I can’t get back up!”

According to John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, “who laid out his view of the future challenge facing leaders now that social media and technology have overturned the traditional company hierarchy. Fortunately, the solution to that challenge appears to be a applying good design to a lot of data.”

“He implied that this opens up opportunities for creative people to become leaders, but he directly stated that creative people could help make any leader in this new heterarchical structure more effective.”

Thanks to Social media and technology, it’s a level playing field in the business world today. Good news for Creatives. Good luck pitching a Canadian business owner on this one, still, as they don’t want to “re invent” the wheel any time soon, even though they are drowning in data. Looks like I have my work cut out for me when it comes to convincing them that the creative management of their data via Social Media will, indeed Enrich their business and save them from the pool of tears….

The Hidden Ground of Social Media

IN this graph of web traffic on The Atlantic —If one adds up the direct traffic from social media networks with the hidden traffic from social sharing via email, IM and secure sites one sees clearly how social dominates search.

The web is build on hyper links and social media is about sharing those links.

The ongoing activity of sharing links is what creates engagement, especially if the content shared is relevant to the interests of your target audience. I have had more than a few discussions with clients about the importance of sharing links on twitter in which I had to defend my preference to do so over what they thought should just be only a line of text that reflects their position on this or that. I argue that without that link no one is going anywhere to dig deeper into their interest in the topic mentioned—not to your site or to your blog or to a landing page with an offer or to another site or blog which might in turn mention you as being the referrer — thereby increasing your social capital.

In a recent blog post by the senior editor of The Atlantic online magazine he describes how he discovered that in addition to the stats that show a clear link to a social network like Facebook or Twitter there is often over 50% of web traffic coming from what he calls DARK SOCIAL. This category, he goes on to argue, is what I call the “hidden ground” of social media, he calls it DARK social —- the fact that long before the rise of the big social networks people were sharing links with one another through various online communication tools which in turn, were driving traffic to websites. These links continue to be shared through email, secure website and instant messaging.

Surprisingly, Search is also included in this category, which, to me, clearly shows how social media dominates web traffic and enriches any business found on the web today. The argument the SEO remains a key factor in the success of your business offering pales in comparison to the 50% of known referrals from social media platforms along with the additional 15% of the hidden, dark social links.  Add those two number together and  a conservative estimate is that at least 65% of web traffic these days is driven by social media efforts. If you are not doing social already is it not time you invested in Social Media to further enrich your business?

Re-Imagine. The Power of the Personal Brand.

Let me begin by saying that I love the new WordPress blog interface that I accessed via the new home page. Sweet. Looks and feels alot like Tumblr and yet I am glad I do not have to post only in that totally crazy mad world of the Creatives – I can still remain respectable and hire-able by posting to Word Press.🙂 Thanks WordPress for being cool and creative and for still seeing the creative writing on the wall!

It has been a busy summer. mostly doing websites and managing some social media properties. As of late I have been away on yet another one of those client journey’s. It was the classic scenario. To begin they love that I am so creative and want to know what I think—even went so far to claim that they are “obsessed” by me. Not a good sign as obsession leads no good… but hey for the first few weeks I felt like I had just won a shot at the Olympic good metal round in Fencing, my favorite sport, and that someone was actually listening to what I had to say!  Then suddenly the honey moon was over and I am assigned to what feels like the position of “employee” as all my creative ideas are swiftly, with no explanation, swept under the carpet and we return to BUSINESS AS USUAL — even though we have not signed anything to that effect and I have from the start been no other then what my Twitter Profile states.

In an effort to cheer myself up I set about to read some good inspirational stuff on my iPad about what I do best  –which is communications. Early this am I came across a post that lead to an app for a guy who claims to be a MEDIA Futurist. Excited not so much by what he had to say, I am sure I have heard it all before after all I have been in this game for a hell of a long time now, both on the technology, creative and sales side and adore McLuhan but rather by the his method of engaging me I proceed to the Apple Store for a download. For me McLuhan, is still my main media man for 100 years after his birth he is one of the few intellectuals who gave credit to artists saying “I learnt everything I know from the Poets and the Painters”.   AMEN.

Anyhow, I downloaded Gerd’s app onto my ipad so I could experience my first personal brand app, that was the coolest part and I made mental note to blog about it later as it had the same mind blowing effect as a good cranial adjustment — waking up some nerve endings which have fallen asleep in the race to please offer appeasement.

So the guy is named Gerd Leonard — not an American as one would expect but a European – as all white people are anyhow…..a German actually – who lives in Europe, who of course, lived for some time in the United States and advocates – god forbid, some green solutions– probably a fan of that guy who wrote the book called The Solar Economy back in the day.  Thankfully, in the video I watch on my ipad app Gerd talks only about Media Ecology so I don’t have to worry about the thought police knocking at my door…

Alas I am trapped in Canada, a nation of bean counters, who simple don’t get what it is to be Creative when it comes to business —-even though they do try on occasion, which typically means paying lip service to some tired old ad agency in Toronto who still advocates a mix of media even as Gerd speaks to me via his personal app loaded onto my ipad in a You Tube Video posted at his channel about “The Future of Technology”.  He is cool school and apparently advises large fortune 500’s in Europe about change and employs 25 “Change Agents”. While I do feel a connection with him thanks to social media my ipad craps out half way through his talk due to a bad Bell connection.  While feeling uplifted I am quickly forced to go back to the reality of the day, one spent in a country where the dominant network does not know the works of Marshall McLuhan little lone some dude named Gerd who has his own ipad app and recommend that we all  “RE-IMAGINE”. One can only re-imagine what that means for the Future of Canada,eh?

UPDATE: Just went to like Gerd on FB and see that three of my Facebook Friends also like him. Surprise, one is Canadian – Don Tapscott, whose own writings are greatly influenced by McLuhan.