Up, Periscope: A Review of the New Live Video Streaming Platform

Periscope is a free live video streaming app, like an Instagram of live streaming, offering users the real time opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else.  To be honest, I haven’t yet jumped onto the Periscope bandwagon.  I’m doing what is generally referred to as ‘lurking’ by signing into the app and watching livecasts (or “scopes” as they’re called) from around the world, and observing how users interact and the way the platform responds.

Periscope technology can be iffy, and though it is not yet perfect, my prediction is that Periscope is going to go mainstream, very soon. Both Periscope and another live streaming app called Meerkat appeared on the social media scene last spring. Meerkat didn’t really take off, but Twitter bought Periscope, which catapulted it to the forefront.

The appeal of Periscope lies in its simplicity. All you really need is a Twitter account and the app downloaded to your Android or iOS device to start livecasting – that, and a comfort level with in-the-moment, unstructured engagement with viewers. Periscope sets a new bar for ease of use, and scopes are spontaneous, candid and lively. Setting up a profile is simple and your content streams directly to Twitter and Periscope followers and anyone searching the app worldwide.

Early adopters are offering organic, unrehearsed clips that entertain and educate viewers. Periscope is highly interactive, so broadcasters must stay on their toes, taking note of comments as they scroll by and answering questions as part of the narration. Excellent multi-tasking skills are definitely required, and patience, as the new app refines its technology.

Periscopes are fun to watch and if you love the content you are viewing you can tap your screen to generate on-screen ‘hearts’ in real time that tell the host you like what they’re doing. These are sort of like fast-flowing ‘likes’ that bubble up the screen as the ‘scope rolls. I think Periscope has plenty of potential uses for businesses and organizations wanting to build their brand and connect with stakeholders and customers.

As consumers, we love a ‘backstage pass’. Periscope is an ideal tool to invite your followers on a behind-the-scenes tour of products and services. Live question and answer sessions can help showcase your expertise, and demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively on the spot. You can offer live how-to videos, tutorials, demonstrations, or focus groups.

For personal use, Periscope’s biggest promise lies in watching a live personal story – tragic, comic, or mundane – unfold.  From watching your best friend poach eggs, to monitoring the results of a surgery, Periscope captures it moment-by-moment from a smartphone.

The implications for news agencies, first responders and governments are huge as this new form of communication can bring us closer to the action than photos or video do.  The power of Periscope is its casual chat format. It offers timeliness, interactivity and a sense of intimacy, all of which are pretty much irresistible to people. If you’re not comfortable with an unplanned, unrehearsed approach to engaging, though, Periscope probably isn’t for you.

Vicki McLeod is one of the Social Chicks, offering social media tips and training. Vicki is the host of Everyday Happiness: The Pajama Podcasts and is a business and personal coach and consultant. Find her at www.mainstreetcommunications.ca

Unmasking the ‘dark social’

Are you familiar with the term dark social?

While you might think it refers to the shadowy side of social media and Internet use, it is actually a term coined in 2012 by Alexis C. Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, to refer to the sharing of content that occurs outside of what is measured by web analytics programs.
Examples of dark social include links copied and pasted into emails, instant messages, or shared via text message.
So what we’re talking about here are links sent through online chat or other means rather than via a social media platform, from which referrals can be tracked.

Why is this important?
If you’re relying on your website or Internet-based marketing to track leads and determine how and where to spend your online marketing budget and resources, it means that the data that you are collecting may not accurately reflect the traffic sources to your site.
This is a vital component of the metrics that are used to devise marketing strategies and budgets and measure effectiveness.

Dark social sharing also offers insight into how we behave online.
In many ways the increased use of dark social reflects pre-social media and certainly pre-Facebook era habits of social Internet use where chat, forums, email, and instant messaging were the norms for digital social communication.
The numbers are fairly staggering.
In a more recent article Madrigal explains that with a push resulting from the insanely popular Facebook mobile app, upwards of 50 per cent of mobile external traffic is coming in to websites lacking a referrer.  Madrigal’s research explains that the app does not provide specific referral tracking the way Facebook on the desktop does, but that there is a direct correspondence between app usage and increased website visits.

This means we don’t know for sure where the traffic is coming from – but we do know, according to Madrigal, that “Facebook has a much tighter grip on website traffic than anyone thought.”  This tells us that playing nice with Facebook, at least in terms of our outbound marketing efforts remains important, particularly in light of the massive use of mobile devices.
This holds true, regardless of whether or not we can actually track Facebook via metrics as the source. It means we need to make sure that websites – the heart and soul of online communications – are mobile responsive and integrated.
It also tells us that there is still a significant preference for one-to-one direct communication versus the wide-open public nature of most social media platform use.
In other words, we don’t want conversations to be public, and we don’t want them to be tracked.

The Challenge
The challenge for marketers is understanding and identifying traffic sources in order to replicate success and increase and measure market share.
Dark social makes it incredibly difficult to demonstrate return on investment (ROI), if we can’t track the actual traffic.
This points us back to the fundamentals: know your audience, create authentic, engaging, high-value content that resonates with the target market and is highly shareable. Keep it real, and they will come.

We just won’t know where they are coming from.

Vicki McLeod is owner of Main Street Communications and is happy to answer questions. Send them to her through http://www.thesocialchicks.com.

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform For Your Business.

In a recent interview on Motherpreneur TV, Maple Ridge’s Christina Waschko asked:  “How do you choose the right social media platform for your business?”

My answer to this, as it is with many social media questions is: It depends.

There are two things that are important to consider before choosing a platform for your business. The first one is your capacity to deliver on that platform. I answered Christine’s question by saying that I typically start by asking clients what social media platforms they are already using personally.

If you are already using a platform personally, you’ll have some basic understanding of how the platform works, of the principles and context for online conversations and a degree of comfort. When you’re taking on something new, it is important to feel you stand a chance of success. I recommend you start where you are, and build your social media muscle and confidence before launching into an online strategy to drive your business.

Again, it depends. Choices around platforms will depend on the size and scope of your business, the time resources you have, and your own experience and skill in using the tools. For most small and microbusinesses, time resources are precious.

The second consideration, and the one that is most significant any business, regardless of size, is having a great understanding of the ideal customer or client for your service or product. The more you know and understand your client and their needs, the easier it will be for you to determine the platforms they use and what kind conversations they’re interested in.

There is an old adage in marketing: Fish where the fish are. If we use Christina’s business as an example, she produces weekly YouTube videos targeted towards helping mompreneurs ‘kiss their excuses goodbye’ and take action in life and business.  Christina will obviously want to serve an active community on YouTube.  That’s a natural given the medium. She also uses Facebook as one of the primary platforms for connecting with her market.  This makes sense too, as we know that women users are one of the largest growing demographics on Facebook.

Depending on the primary age group for Christina’s target market and their interests, Pinterest or Instagram might also be great choices. Much will depend on what Christina feels she can manage. See, there’s that word again – depends.

The single most important piece of advice for any business looking to choose a platform is toresearch the market and decipher the market’s online behaviors. Understand their demographics and go beyond statistics. Figure out what qualities and characteristics they share, what hobbies and activities they like, and where they hang out both online and off-line.

Research the platforms, too. User patterns are constantly changing. Find out who is using Facebook and what for; check out demographics around platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. What’s up with Ello? This kind of research will not only help you make the right choice and maximize your time online, it will also make you better at what you do. The more you understand the online community, the better you will be able to serve them.

Vicki McLeod is a Maple Ridge Social Chick, the host of Everyday Happiness: The Pajama Podcasts and is a business and personal coach and consultant. Find her atwww.mainstreetcommunications.ca

Link to Motherpreneur TV

https://youtu.be/Ii10xAZTcs8

The Wonderful World of Digital Marketing: 5 Tips to Make Yours Stick

The Maple Ridge Times: Social Chicks Column

Social Chicks & Maple Ridge Times

I recently had the opportunity to attend the first-ever Canadian Internet Marketing Conference as a guest speaker on a Business-to-Business (B2B) panel.  It was great to be at an event with a broad view of the world of digital marketing, as opposed to the often narrowly-focused world of social media marketing.

Mixing and mingling with the brightest and best in digital marketing was heady stuff and I came away with fresh insights and new perspectives. Attending the conference also reaffirmed my conviction that, at heart, all marketing is a people-to-people practice where courtesy, mutual respect and authentic communications rule the day.

So what were the big takeaways? Five themes emerged consistently over the two-day span of the event, and that these five points apply not only to our digital and social media strategies, but to our offline engagement as well.

  1. Know your market;

Businesses and organizations must spend time researching and understanding their audiences and defining their ideal customers in order to “fish where the fish are”.   Digital platforms are ideal for stakeholder listening and conversations whether via social media posts and comments, blog engagement or online surveys. The old marketing adage ‘go where the traffic is’ still holds true.

  1. Build a cohesive brand

Building a great brand is all about cohesion. Customers and clients must resonate with the brand in order to come to know, like, and trust it.  Focus and consistency across all touch points – on your website, blog, Facebook page, business cards, brochures, or in person – is critical to brand awareness and making a real connection with customers.

  1. Tell an effective story

The Internet makes it possible for anyone to tell a story. Consumers are looking for brands that tell their story in an effective way.  Human stories that carry emotional impact or that enlighten, inform and entertain make our hearts beat a little faster.  Create compelling stories and tell them consistently. Include your customers in the story. Encourage them to generate and post their experiences with your brand.

  1. Integrate your tactics

Third-party credibility still rules, and having your product, service or cause featured or validated in mainstream media is well worth the time and money invested. Integration of traditional, grassroots and interactive strategies that include a savvy combination of public relations, social media, and strong SEO and digital ad campaigns are proving to have the most impact. While the print world isn’t disappearing just yet, it is changing dramatically. Find creative, interactive ways to use print.

  1. Grow relationships

During the B2B panel, I posed the question: What are people for? Do we reduce people to consumers, fans and followers or are we in the game for something bigger? In the B2B world we’re generally looking at a long-term relationship with our clients, and with their businesses.

Digital platforms can provide an entry point for your brand, product or service but the relationship is going to grow and blossom offline. For my money, relationships are everything. Good old-school face-to-face meetings and personal follow-through are still the most powerful tools in your marketing toolkit.

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Photo: The Chicks: Karina Cebuliak, Vicki McLeod Credit: Braden Paul Photography

Vicki McLeod is a Maple Ridge Social Chick , the  host of Everyday Happiness: The Pajama Podcasts and a business and personal coach and consultant. Vicki is happy to answer your social media or business questions. Find her at www.mainstreetcommunications.ca

Social Poaching.

Four Tips for Best Practices to Guide Online Engagement and Social Media

This week’s Maple Ridge Times Column focuses on the four top tips for online engagement and social media.

There is no question that the digital environment can be a challenging one and that sustaining a strong, effective social media presence for your business or organization requires a savvy combination of strategy and resources. Successful communication itself can be tricky enough without the added complexities of understanding the new norms and sometimes overwhelming expectations that are emerging as we move ever more completely into the online realm.

The good news is that successful navigation of the online world can be made easier by understanding a few common sense principles and practices. Although, as my mother says, “Common sense is less common than you think”, these four tips will help you stay in the game and maintain your sanity.

  1. Stay real and maintain integrity:

A key principle and challenge in good social media practice is staying real in a virtual environment. As our mothers once admonished, ‘be yourself’.  There is a high expectation of transparency in the digital world. Despite the seemingly endless examples of lurking, poaching and trolling, good practice dictates being up front and authentic about who you are and what value you have to offer.  The environment is virtual. The relationships are real. One of the biggest assets you can have is personal integrity.

  1. Mind your manners:

All social media platforms are guided by a similar set of cultural norms and etiquettes. In this arena, too, we can be guided by the wisdom of our mothers. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Compliment publicly and criticize privately. A few journalistic principles are helpful here, too. (We are, after all talking about social media.) Acknowledge your sources, attribute quotes, don’t plagiarize.

  1. Stay focused and manage distractions:

Tech expert and Canada’s favourite geek, Steve Dotto of Dotto Tech reminds us that the internet is a place not a thing, and to be conscious of how much time we spend there.  He advises maintaining awareness of the impact of the artificial urgency created by ‘instant communication’ and to stay focused on what matters and handle distractions. He warns that we can become addicted to responding and engaging 24/7 and the subsequent stress it can cause.

Turn off notifications while you are working on specific tasks, set aside blocks of time to reply to emails and texts and use timers or time management software to track and prioritize.

  1. Take a break and get perspective:

I am a big fan of the digital detox. Sometimes you just need to get offline and reassess priorities and get perspective.  Social media marketing maven, Rebecca Coleman concurs, especially when it comes to Facebook, where comparing our lives to the online lives of Facebook friends can result in ‘Facebook Envy’ and a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Here’s what Rebecca had to say in a recent blog post: “Just get your head out of the game for a while, and…when you come back, you’ll feel like you have a bit more perspective on Facebookland.”

These four tips offer a strong foundation to build an effective online presence for you, your business or organization.  In my recent podcast series, Everyday Happiness, I explore life in cyberspace in more detail and the how it is changing the way we relate and find happiness.

Vicki McLeod is a Maple Ridge Social Chick , the  host of Everyday Happiness: The Pajama Podcasts and a business and personal coach and consultant. She, Steve and Rebecca will be speakers at the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference in late March. Vicki is happy to answer your social media or business questions. Find her at www.mainstreetcommunications.ca

Vicki McLeod

Vicki Chick Crowned Business Leader of the Year

This was so well written and worth re-posting here.
Thanks to Roxanne Hooper of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times (entire article found here)

Vicki McLeod Crowned Business Leader of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce

Vicki McLeod has worked with, and for, various levels of government, many of the community’s non-profit organizations, and countless small businesses in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the past several decades.

And in the last 20 years, she has shared her range of talents as a business coach, marketing expert, social media guru, and community cheerleader from the helm of a business she and her husband, Ian, share – Main Street Communications.

It was all those years of dedication to this community and all that she has given on a personal and corporate basis that earned McLeod a special distinction Saturday night.

McLeod was crowned business leader of the year by the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Still a little shocked by the win, McLeod took her glass award out of its protective box again – just a few minutes after being presented the trophy and a lengthy ovation – to read the engraved wording and verify that it did – in fact – bare her name.

She actually never expected to win, McLeod said, noting she’d been nominated for at least three chamber awards in past, as well as provincial and national small business accolades – but she’d never won.

“I’ve had my fair share of nominations – how does it go ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” she chuckled.

But that all changed Saturday night.

McLeod
Vicki McLeod was crowned business leader of the year by the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, giving an appreciative peck on the check to her husband Ian. – Roxanne Hooper/TIMES

McLeod beat out two other shortlisted nominees for the business leadership award, one of them being her own natural health practitioner Dr. Cobi Slater, the other being Fred Formosa – the owner of Falcon Homes and a developer who McLeod described as a Maple Ridge institution.

“What makes this award even more of an honour is that it is for the person, not the business. So, it means I’m recognized by the community as a person… who is valued by your peers for having made a real difference in our community. Wow!”

McLeod hopes that by receiving this award on the weekend, her story will serve as an inspiration to other small local business operators to keep going and to persevere.

Sharing with the sold-out crowd of 200 people, McLeod said she feels fortunate to be acknowledged for doing what she loves.

Her recipe for life, she told the crowd, is to “do what you love, with people that you love, and in a place that you love… if you have all that going for you, how could life be anything but incredible.”

In addition to the business leader award presented Saturday night, the chamber also bestowed other excellence awards.

Honeyland Canada was crowned the 2014 agri-business of the year, Simplified Business Solutions given accolades as the home business of the year, Maple Ridge Towing was acknowledged as the small business (1-20 employees) of the year, Meadowridge School was crowned small business (21+ employees), Alouette Addiction Services was given the non-profit organization of the year award, and Lorraine Bates and Tom Cameron – of the Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society and the agricultural association’s Country Fest – each received a 2014 community spirit award.

“One of the key actions of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce is to support and promote local businesses,” said Andrea Madden, the chamber’s executive director.

“This evening’s celebration is a prime example recognizing those businesses and leaders’ whose greatest achievements have made a significant impact in our community,” she added.

“They have a reputation for excellence and have demonstrated themselves to be leaders in their fields through their successful business strategies and community spirit,” Madden said, acknowledging the winners and nominees alike.

“Each finalist is distinguished in their own field,” she said.

Chamber president Terry Becker was also impressed by the calibre of nominees this year.

“All were deserving” she said of the nominees, explaining why there were no surprises for her when each of the winners was revealed in an Oscar-style announcement.

She hopes to make the nominee luncheon an ongoing feature of the chamber’s annual business excellence awards, noting that it gives the community more opportunities to recognize each of the town’s best businesses for their “outstanding” commitment and their contributions to both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Looking around the room as guests emptied out after the awards presentations, Becker concluded: “It’s nice to see a function like this that can draw over 200 people to celebrate the small businesses that give so much to the community in time, treasure, and talent.”

• Stay tuned to The TIMES online edition for more from Saturday’s business excellence awards night.

– See more at: http://www.mrtimes.com/news/business/photos-maple-ridge-business-coach-and-community-volunteer-lauded-by-chamber-1.1770853#sthash.3gPHmSli.dpufVicki McLeod

Canadian internet marketing Conference

2015 Predictions from Our Peeps

So what’s up in the world of digital marketing and social media in 2015? Collaboration, integration and content according to presenters and organizers of two of 2015’s “do-not-miss” events, the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference (CIMC) in March, and Social Media Camp in May.

Darian Kovacs of Jelly Marketing, CIMC organizer, points to the emergence of cross-pollination between fields. He predicts more collaboration, integration and involvement between traditional, print and digital. More interactive ads versus passive ads, resulting in more engaging websites and experiential public relations.

“2015 will be the year metrics and data become sexy again.”

Business Growth Strategist, Bosco Anthony concurs. Says Anthony, “Brands are going to emphasize storytelling with meaningful contextual campaigns. We are rapidly seeing content engineering evolve. Content distribution channels will be a major focus to drive engagement, reactions and conversions. Monetization paths will be discovered in the process. I am boldly predicting marketing will evolve as an integrated platform where both online and offline channels fuse. 2015 will be the year metrics and data become sexy again.”

No argument from Maple Ridge’s Cadi Jordan who sees us getting more strategic in partnerships and thinking outside the box to share stories. She predicts people will see the value of varied content across social media platforms and an increase in content whether blogging, using video or cross-pollinating content via guest blog posts.

Yes, says Ricky Shetty, The DaddyBlogger who foresees more brands working with bloggers as a highly effective and cost-efficient way to get the message out about products and services.

Canadian internet marketing Conference

“Schools will add Social Media education as part of curriculum”

That Social Media Guy, Sean Smith predicts social media will find a place in our education system. Says Smith, “Schools will add Social Media education as part of curriculum, teaching safe use, etiquette and professional development. It may be more of a dream, but I think we are getting there.”
Social Chick, Karina Cebuliak shares Smith’s wish. Said Cebuliak, “Kids these days know more about what’s going on online than their parents do. A supportive knowledge base for parents would be awesome.” Cebuliak adds that we’ll see more online traffic than ever. All ages will look to social media for reviews, online shopping, ideas, and connections. Websites will integrate more social media and blogs to stay current with an ever-changing market.

Paul Holmes, co-founder of Social Media Camp predicts Twitter usage/traffic will decline year-over-year, while social media maven Rebecca Coleman, forecasts continued growth in video and social media that features beautiful images. She notes the speedy growth of Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.

“On and offline we’ll build relationships and expand our sphere of influence”

Speaking of Instagram, Sue B. Zimmerman, author of Instagram Basics for Your Business, declares 2015 as the year of the collaborative community. Says Zimmerman, “On and offline we’ll build relationships and expand our sphere of influence from communities outside our own. We’ll be more relaxed about sharing what we do and who we know. I call it ‘lead with giving.’ In this evolution of how to do business, everyone wins.” She also points to the hashtag as the anchor of the social media revolution. A single hashtag connects a conversation across Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Google+. From these conversations, communities are quickly formed; people with common interests unite, and this becomes the place where businesses conduct powerful market research. Integration, indeed.

Vicki McLeod is a Maple Ridge Social Chick and is a business and personal coach and consultant. She will be a speaker at the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference in March, and is happy to answer your social media or business questions. Find her at www.mainstreetcommunications.ca.