Bandwidth » blogging http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Blogging is Dead: Long Live Blogging http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/23/blogging-is-dead-long-live-blogging/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/23/blogging-is-dead-long-live-blogging/#comments Thu, 23 Dec 2010 19:35:42 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9812503 I was going to post my own comments on the false notion that blogging is dead based on this piece from a week or so ago at Mashable, as have dozens of others.

But Kimberly Turner writing at The Regator Blog (that’s not her in the pic) has taken up the cause with more effect than I could. Here is the Coles Notes version of her well-argued comeback(my emphasis):

“The Mashable article’s (current) headline states: “Everyone Uses E-mail, But Blogging Is On the Decline.” According the study Schroeder based the post on, this is false. As the handy-dandy chart below (from the same Pew study) shows, blogging is on the decline in Millennials (18-33) and G.I. Generation (74+) but on the increase in all other age groups with an overall increase from 11 percent of internet users in December 2008 to 14 percent in May 2010.”

“The Mashable post turns its nose up at blogging but makes no mention of stats from the same report indicating that even after blogging’s decline with teens, there are still more teen bloggers than tweeters.

“The blogosphere has become the realm for things that cannot be expressed in 140 characters, a place where significant conversations, debates, and information exchange can occur. This shift means the blogging is maturing and evolving—not dying.”

“The evolution of blogs has made the very definition of a blog ambiguous. Millions access blogs such as Mashable, The Huffington Post, TMZ, Gawker, and Boing Boing every month. Because the line between blogs and other websites has blurred with blogs’ maturation, visitors may or may not consider themselves to be blog readers…even when they are.”

I guess I’ll keep at it.

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Facebook and Twitter on a Tear http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/11/facebook-and-twitter-on-a-tear/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/11/facebook-and-twitter-on-a-tear/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2010 14:07:38 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6649206 Reading studies about trends in digital marketing is not how I prefer to spend leisure time. But they can be a nice counter balance to the time spent trying to convince organizations that social media are not going away (unlike mainstream media).

A comScore Inc. recap of digital marketing in 2009 in the U.S. released yesterday tells us, among other revealing findings (Would you have guessed that the largest growth rate in e-commerce in 2009 was in the purchase of books and magazines?), that people in the U.S. continue to flood to Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser extent MySpace.

According to the study:

"Facebook grew substantially across nearly every performance metric in 2009. Unique visitors, page views, and total time spent all increased by a factor of two or more. Frequency metrics such as average minutes per usage day (up 6 percent) and average usage days per visitors (up 37 percent) also saw gains. As more people use Facebook more frequently, the site has grown to account for three times as much total time spent online as it did last year."

Others with an analytic predisposition can deep dive into the charts and graphs in comScore's study. Suffice to to say from my perspective this even more important than the huge numbers tossed around which compare Facebook's 350 million or so users to the populations of various countries.

The numbers are telling us that people are coming to Facebook more often, spending more time there, and exploring the Facebook landscape more broadly.

As for Twitter, someone commented on a recent Tweet of mine which asked whether I should try to be funnier in my posts that I shouldn't because it is a "business medium."  The comment may have been justified a year ago given the demographic composition of users, but the change in the age of Twitter users (which now total 20 million in the U.S.) may bring that assumption in question:

"The initial success of Twitter was largely driven by users in the 25-54 year old age segment, which made up 65 percent of all visitors to the site in December 2008, with 18-24 year olds accounting for just 9 percent of visitors . . . Despite Twitter's initially older skew, as it gained widespread popularity with the help of celebrity Tweeters and mainstream media coverage, younger users flooded to the site in large numbers, with those under the age 18 (up 6.2 percentage points) and 18-24 year olds (up 7.9 percentage points) representing the fastest growing demographic segments."

There may be troubling questions about the options for monetizing these platforms so they can be sustained and about the ability best ways to harness online networks for marketing purposes, but there is clearly every reason to keep at it. These platforms are in increasing part of how the world plays out its relationships, idea and information excahgne, civic engagement and, yes, product and service research.

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Reading studies about trends in digital marketing is not how I prefer to spend leisure time. But they can be a nice counter balance to the time spent trying to convince organizations that social media are not going away (unlike mainstream media).

A comScore Inc. recap of digital marketing in 2009 in the U.S. released yesterday tells us, among other revealing findings (Would you have guessed that the largest growth rate in e-commerce in 2009 was in the purchase of books and magazines?), that people in the U.S. continue to flood to Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser extent MySpace.

According to the study:

“Facebook grew substantially across nearly every performance metric in 2009. Unique visitors, page views, and total time spent all increased by a factor of two or more. Frequency metrics such as average minutes per usage day (up 6 percent) and average usage days per visitors (up 37 percent) also saw gains. As more people use Facebook more frequently, the site has grown to account for three times as much total time spent online as it did last year.”

Others with an analytic predisposition can deep dive into the charts and graphs in comScore’s study. Suffice to to say from my perspective this even more important than the huge numbers tossed around which compare Facebook’s 350 million or so users to the populations of various countries.

The numbers are telling us that people are coming to Facebook more often, spending more time there, and exploring the Facebook landscape more broadly.

As for Twitter, someone commented on a recent Tweet of mine which asked whether I should try to be funnier in my posts that I shouldn’t because it is a “business medium.”  The comment may have been justified a year ago given the demographic composition of users, but the change in the age of Twitter users (which now total 20 million in the U.S.) may bring that assumption in question:

“The initial success of Twitter was largely driven by users in the 25-54 year old age segment, which made up 65 percent of all visitors to the site in December 2008, with 18-24 year olds accounting for just 9 percent of visitors . . . Despite Twitter’s initially older skew, as it gained widespread popularity with the help of celebrity Tweeters and mainstream media coverage, younger users flooded to the site in large numbers, with those under the age 18 (up 6.2 percentage points) and 18-24 year olds (up 7.9 percentage points) representing the fastest growing demographic segments.”

There may be troubling questions about the options for monetizing these platforms so they can be sustained and about the ability best ways to harness online networks for marketing purposes, but there is clearly every reason to keep at it. These platforms are in increasing part of how the world plays out its relationships, idea and information excahgne, civic engagement and, yes, product and service research.

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Why social media schadenfreude is scarier than swine flu http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/09/why-social-media-schadenfreude-is-scarier-than-swine-flu/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/09/why-social-media-schadenfreude-is-scarier-than-swine-flu/#comments Fri, 09 Oct 2009 22:33:02 +0000 Meghan Warby http://withoutayard.com/?p=664 There’s a particularly startling epidemic happening in the online world, which I’m noticing mainly in Toronto of late.  It might just be the 2.0 version of the classic Canadian tall poppy syndrome, but this strain is turning out to be stronger & scarier than swine flu.  Victims are compelled (nay, forced?) to gush out unnecessary mea culpas, fall on their twittering swords & hide in abject terror of the virus reappearing.  It disguises itself as a ‘transparency’ inoculation or an ‘authenticity’ booster shot, but there is only one diagnosis for the unfortunate malady-stricken online risk-takers – they’ve been bitten by social media schadenfreude.

Now I’m the first to grab the popcorn when things get spicy on the political scene, and don’t get between me and my indierock drama…BUT when it comes to jumping down people’s throats in an online/professional context…I get a little…empathetic.  By the luck of astrologically-aligned-nerd-stars, my salty slangly casual language whilst pitching bloggers, writing content & generally floundering through life has not put in me in this position.  According to the law of averages, until I am drafted to the WNBA, I will soon play the role of the  ’social media practitioner’ or ‘community member’ receiving a thorough ego trouncing from the peanut gallery.  {In fact, if those web gremlins continue to highjack a lovely microsite/app-project we’re eager to seed/launch I might be in this position early next week :) }

We all make mistakes.  If we’re doing right by our clients, we aren’t just going through the same-old super-safe motions developing & executing campaigns.  Ask any stellar standup comedian.  Some jokes kill and some jokes bomb.  That’s life.

So on this turkey weekend eve, let’s be thankful that there are social media peeps still taking risks, let’s remember that when this happens with ad campaigns we think it’s unique & quirky & let’s consider the embarassment of riches we have in terms of attending awesome events.  Before you pile on to critique someone going out on a limb or trying something new or having an opinion…ask yourself if you really want to end up like these dudes:

Enough with the peanut gallery already

*Massive full disclosure – A staffer at Social Media Group is my basketball bud & I have been known to enjoy cheap soft-serve ‘ice cream’ with Refresh Events founder.

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Beyond adoption – considering NGO’s social media intentions http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/05/beyond-adoption-considering-ngo%e2%80%99s-social-media-intentions/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/05/beyond-adoption-considering-ngo%e2%80%99s-social-media-intentions/#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2009 01:11:10 +0000 Meghan Warby http://withoutayard.com/?p=657

It’s been a long non-blogging stretch, which included live music (natch), a bday (piñata & nacho-enhanced), driver’s ed (2nd time’s a charm, right?), domain registration lapse (ack!) & details emerging on what could be the wildest winter ever…

Thankfully, the key sanity check (outside of running/air-drum solo’ing) has been reading.  One of the best nerdy reads in a long while has been the Hatcher Group’s recent report ‘New Media & Social Change: How Nonprofits are Using Web-based Technologies to Reach their Goals.’ Despite the sins of unnecessary capitalization, this is a punchy report worth downloading regardless of whether you or your clients are in the nonprofit sector.

Why is the Hatcher report, which is filled with some good ‘how-tos’ & tip sheets, different than the usual freebie ebooks or ‘top ten’ digg/delicious-bait blog posts?  It’s the data peppered throughout the report, which was culled from a relatively recent survey (May 2009).  The survey asked 70 key questions to gauge 30 NGOs’ new media interest & experience.  Most telling were these statistics confirming NGOs’ attuned state regarding the online world:

  • 53% ‘infrequently’ & 30% ‘frequently’ perform blogger outreach (& 57% spend at least 1-2 hours a week doing so)
  • 73% frequently monitor blog references to their organization &/or issue
  • 60% increased their fanbase, 40% increased web traffic & 20% increased media coverage thanks to Facebook

It’s valuable to stay on top of this sector’s digital communications habits because it’s planting social media seeds in the most fertile ground.  This fertility is thanks to two factors – the necessity of very cost-conscious tool-use & a youngish workforce with a seemingly limitless supply of passion for their cause.

About this time last year, I drafted an interview list for a winter interview circuit of New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles & San Francisco.  A large percentage of the almost 30 interviewees were working for social change either in-house at non-profits or at agencies dedicated to the nonprofit sector.  While almost all of the interviewees were at or near the cutting edge of online tool adoption & seamlessly integrating digital communications into their organization’s overall plan, the Hatcher Report is a valuable sample of an average NGOs’ habits.

To demonstrate the more realistic snapshot & less experimental respondents, check out this survey response about the aims of an organization’s blogger outreach:

  • 91% of organizations hoped to reach media
  • 83% wanted advocates, legislators &/or staff to take note
  • 70% sought the general public’s engagement through this unique digital channel

Perceiving online communications & blogger outreach as primarily a ‘means to an end’ for mainstream media coverage is a somewhat disheartening response from almost all 30 groups the Hatcher Group surveyed.  While blogs can break or popularize stories before they are reported in newspapers or on television, the 91% wish to affect MSM left me worrying that blogger outreach wasn’t being executed with the best intentions, & as a consequence, without the most tactful approach.

Am I being completely paranoid?  It seems odd that there was a 20% gap between NGOs who considered the ‘general public’ as a separate entity worth speaking with via blogs vs. feeding messages to the masses in a backdoor fashion via blog authors.  Regardless of this concern, the report is a great short read & in addition to the data offers short & sweet reminders about best practices in conducting campaigns online.

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Labour Day of Love http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/09/07/labour-day-of-love/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/09/07/labour-day-of-love/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2009 00:59:09 +0000 Meghan Warby http://withoutayard.com/?p=653 My long weekends begin & end with an epic trek to the Sound & involve spending overdue time with the fam.  Despite the gorgeous clear skies, fresh rural Ontario air & infinite opportunities to sing ‘Save a horse, ride a cowboy’ at karaoke, I usually end up splitting this free time 50/50:  sleeping in & nerding out.

This weekend was no different – nerdery included a docu-binge, interesting new client/sector reading, and indulging in a thorough leisurely read of the Pew Internet & American Life Project report on The Internet & Civic Engagement, which was released just last week.

If the impact of the internet on political participation is at all of interest, download the entire report – it’s less than 70 pgs (incl. big’ol’graphs!) – not a massive undertaking, I swear )

A gem gleaned/interpreted from the report is that once someone becomes involved in politics online – not necessarily partisan – they are on a slippery slope to nerdsville.  Posting a blog comment is practically a gateway drug for full-on civic engagement – next thing you know they’re signing petitions, writing their local representatives, writing & posting material themselves…& even donating cash.  Who knows what they’re doing in the streets to get this money to pass on to organizations & campaigns.

  • 19% of Americans online had posted material about political &/or social issues or used a social network for civic/political engagement
  • This crew was disproportionately young, of course, & also don’t show as much of an old/rich/educated socio-econo slant compared to other engagement measures such as donations & volunteering.
  • 61% of politically active online Americans signed petitions (vs. 32% of all adults)
  • 50% of online politicos have contacted an official directly.  (Very cool to note that satisfaction rates for contacting political officials was equal online/offline)

The authors posit that social media could alter the vast majority political participants being well off/educated.  The catch is ensuring that newly recruited online politicos start affecting change IRL.  We all know how easy it is to comment on a Facebook/blog post, or ping off a petition – but ratcheting up the free-time donation to include face-to-face canvassing, volunteering & other vital parts of being a ‘real’ citizen are tougher to nail down.

Now this is usually the part of the blog post where I complain about not having similar report from a Canadian thinktank or pollster, but that’d be unfair.  In April’09 Elections Canada published a Working Paper on ‘Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada.’ Thankfully I CAN complain about the age of the data – most recent year in the report was 2006.  The authors have similar conclusions regarding age/income/education as being the three determining factors in political participation as Pew.  The highest engagement levels create this familiar demographic combo: Older religious married born-in-Canada men who earn more than $40K with post-secondary education in rural communities.  Of these factors, being born in Canada was the #1 influencer, with post-secondary education a close runner-up.

Although I whinge about the age of the Elections Canada data, (even Pew study authors admit that without cell-phone owners included in their survey they’re not getting a true glimpse of the younger cohort) there’s a great section on ‘Why is youth turnout so low?’ that has a fantastic summary of previous political science theories on declining engagement.  Citing Cart & Eagles, among many other political scientists, the authors state:

“…the way election campaigns are run may be partly responsible for the turnout decline…traditional door-to-door canvassing has a powerful impact on turnout…evidence that direct candidate contact with voters has been decreasing over time, as parties have devoted more attention to the media…may have contributed to lower turnout, although it is not clear why this should have affected the youth more than older people.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Although online content is a great source for spreading information/sparking discussion/priming donations about politics & social issues, until the user becomes engaged with an issue to the point of ponying up volunteer-time – online engagement is a series of soon-forgotten empty gestures (green avatars, anyone?).

This ends tonight’s nerdcast – I’ll be online less this week because of an especially short work week for less than awesome reasons.  Heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s helped thus far (whether you know it or not ) ).  Equal gratitude goes out to a flexible employer & helpful IT crew who’re eager to lend wireless routers, webcams & laptops during a time of coccooning.

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Why online protests fail IRL http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/30/why-online-protests-fail-irl/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/30/why-online-protests-fail-irl/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2009 02:42:16 +0000 Meghan Warby http://withoutayard.com/?p=642 What do KISS, IKEA & Muslim women have in common? Unfortunately there’s no snappy punchline, it’s just an excuse to weave a nerd narrative through a bunch of interesting news stories.

I’m sure by now you’ve got your Oshawa B&B resos, relieved to hear the city’s glam-rocker residents’ KISS ARMY allegiance wasn’t in vain. The band ran a straightforward prove-how-much-you-love-us online contest, which was styled like a petition, requiring city residents to submit email addresses, & promised a concert for the winning city (regrettably it was a KISS concert).  After the band announced the winning city, they published a tour schedule that did not include Oshawa. Now, it doesn’t take Columbo to examine a tour schedule & discover a gap that is geographically & schedule-wise able to accommodate a ’secret’ show or ‘by popular demand’ second night in a venue (Hello Wilco, Welcome to Massey Hall x2!).  Nonetheless, the interwebs’ hyper hypos have an irrepressible impulse to stretch their harnesses.  The city was up in arms, thousands joined Facebook protest groups, locals became ‘representatives’ on news outlets, fansites heaved & a PR maelstrom ensued.  Can’t completely blame unnerved fans for their reaction, but it proves that an online ‘petition’ campaign banking on engaging region-specific communities must reach all stakeholders clearly, consistently & concurrently – online & in ‘public’/mainstream media messaging – or face the wrath of multiple red-dye-tongue-waggings.

From KISS to kisses, The Times’ Freakonomics blogger Steven Dubner references gay rights kissing protests in Salt Lake City (or ‘IRL’ – in real life) in a fantastic quorum post called ‘How Much Do Protests Really Matter?’.  It’s a great long piece that highlights some of the most effective protests throughout history – & puts the KISS KRAP, ridiculous IKEA font fiasco & the ultimate online overreaction of #AmazonFail (of which Shirkey’s blushing reflection is the best) – into perspective.  Kent State, this ain’t. Aside from totally dismissing the online flareups, what can be gleaned from recent issues that’ve made their way into the mainstream?

One positive example of addressing consumer concerns straight-on is the triage-style response from Tim Horton’s to their comp’ed coffee clusterfritter.  After being accused of supporting anti-gay groups, HQ calmly, widely, publicly stated otherwise, while explaining the franchisee relationship & corporate values in a balanced manner.  Though they’ll go down in Twitter history as being ‘too slow’, realistically a major multi-national addressing an online issue centered on a (not ideal ideologically…) backwoods charity BBQ in less than 48 hours (counting weekend days…sadly the downside of our email era is expectation to check 24/7) is approaching impressive.

Finally, last Sunday’s NYTimes magazine on women’s issues had a special ‘The Medium’ column on Feminist Hawks by Virginia Herrernan. It illustrates how ‘motherhood’ issues (for lack of a better word…) can be repackaged, re-purposed & emailed for protest campaigns under new auspices.  In this case an anti-Afghan outlook was wrapped in women’s rights.  Herrernan tracked a popular email petition propelled by pundits such as David Horowitz that sought signatures supporting persecuted Muslim women, but stated military aggression was the solution to women’s liberation.  “This material is expected to help seal Horowitz’s general case for the war on terror, though he has not yet changed the name of his cause to, say, the war on misogyny.”

It might be hard to assign a #fail to online protests writ large, but the summer months brought a new level of inane chatter that could be called out & calmed down as the temperature drops & leaves begin to fall.  Creating online communities, sharing fact-checked/substantiated information & organizing IRL events is one of the strengths of the internet.  Our creative communities’ ongoing successes in subverting negative legislative/funding changes & presenting a strong case for supporting the arts is my favourite example of combining social networks, multimedia & the power of assembly to affect legislative change & public discourse.  Maybe revisiting the history of protests & learning from past well-informed, organized, thoughtful participants, will remind us of this.  You’ve been assigned Whingeing History for first period, first semester – enjoy the final days of summer, kids )

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