The Near Miss

Social media is addictive. One of my biggest fears in life is that I might miss a great experience or opportunity. So I spend too much time consuming social media for fear of missing something. But sometimes missing something can be a good thing.

Last week, I was driving home when a car pulled out from behind a parked truck and almost hit me head on. The tires screeched and my adrenaline pumped. We didn’t crash – it was a near miss. We paused, looked at each other in relief for a moment, then went on our ways. But what if we’d hit? How would life be different right now?

Sometimes near misses happen in business too. I once found what I thought was the perfect career opportunity. The job description fit my skills and it was just what I wanted. The interview went well and I liked the big boss. I thought an offer was just around the corner, then suddenly . . . nothing. Pure silence. The opportunity fizzled out and I was left empty-handed. A few months later, a friend in the know told me that I’d had a lucky escape. It seems it was just another form of the near miss. My life might have been miserable working for that big boss.

I remember a time of great disappointment when I didn’t get a new client signed on. He seemed so eager to work with me that I started writing his blog before we’d sealed the deal. In a couple of weeks, he replied that some unforeseen circumstances had come up and the timing wasn’t right for his digital media strategy. Was it a lost opportunity or a near miss? Maybe he would have been a difficult client. I may never know.

Can you experience a near miss in the world of social media? Have you ever thought of posting something negative about someone? We all feel this way sometimes. Maybe you want to post a rant on Facebook about your mother-in-law. Or how about a slur against a co-worker on Twitter? Ever want to ridicule a celebrity or engage in a flame war with a stranger? If you did post it, think of how your life might be changed for the worse.

Do yourself a favour. If you write it, count to ten and read it again. Put your tolerance filters on and revise it before hitting the share button. You might just find you’re grateful for a near miss.


Research Results: Social Media Preferences

Social Media Cat

Recently, I thought it would be interesting to discover the social media preferences of our Facebook page followers at Social Media Marketing. The poll is here. I’ll leave it open for a while and invite you to contribute your thoughts. If you want to take the poll, stop reading now! Go and complete the poll first, then come back after so your answers will not be influenced by the results below.

But since most of the results are in, and I promised to share them, here are the highlights with a little analysis and suggestions for how to use them.

A few of the most popular answers:

83 percent

On social media, I like to see posts that:  Are informative: “How To” videos, current news events.


67 percentOn social media, I read posts that: Include pictures or video; ask my opinion or request a comment.


67 percent

I watch videos on Facebook more now that they play as I scroll.   No.


83 percentOn social media, I am likely to “Like”, comment, share or get involved with posts that: Coincide with my own opinion; provide information, news, tips or entertainment.

This was not a scientific poll, and there was a small sample size. However, there is room for reflection on what the answers mean to social media marketers and how they can engage their community of followers. But I’ll get to the analysis later. Let’s look at how people responded when asked some open-ended questions.

Revealing comments about social media:

The thing I like the most about social media is:

  • Instant updates on breaking news, sometimes directly from the source itself.
  • Feeling connected to my friends, family and acquaintances.
  • It’s a great way to stay connected to long-distance friends and family.
  • I read and learn/stay updated about different current issues.
  • Keeping in touch with people

The thing I like the least about social media is:

  • It’s a time-suck!
  • Negative comments or arguing.
  • Boring updates that tell you nothing important.
  • Some people go overboard with their posts and opinions.
  • Some people don’t like if you disagree with them and they can become combative.
  • Personal updates that I have no interest in.
  • Videos of animals doing allegedly entertaining things.

Most of the comments confirm what Chris Brogan and other social media gurus keep telling us:

People want valuable content when using social media.

In addition, current news has great value and people overwhelmingly want to keep in touch with their friends and family.

Pictures and videos are popular, of course. But what’s interesting, is that most people do not like the way Facebook now automatically plays a video as you scroll over it. And this didn’t increase their likelihood of watching those videos. So the results suggest that although videos are still a good idea, don’t expect this Facebook tweak to increase your views.

Sheila Gregory Social Media Marketing Twitter Header

When it comes to mobile versus desktop use, as you might expect, the majority of respondents proved they’re hip with the current trend. Two-thirds said they use their mobile device to view social media most of the time. If you are an experienced digital marketer, you’re already using social media to drive traffic to your website, so make sure you’ve optimized your site for mobile consumption. And don’t forget to test the view on a variety of devices! Seeing is believing when it comes to the digital experience.

Now, it was no surprise to find that most people like to read posts that reflect their own opinions, proving that we tend to fall prey to what U of T philosopher and author Joseph Heath calls “confirmation bias” in his award winning book, Enlightenment 2.0. This is the psychological phenomenon that influences us to pay more attention to ideas with which we agree. Then we tend to use them as evidence that our beliefs are correct, and ignore contrary ideas. Heath argues that no matter how rational you are, you can’t override this basic human characteristic in your day-to-day thoughts.

Clearly, people don’t want to engage in arguments, negative thoughts or boring posts. I don’t think we needed a poll to tell us that. But what it might suggest is that community managers might remove those types of comments unless they are doing something to increase their followers. Possibly less engagement is better than negative engagement.

What are the lessons for social media marketers?

  • If you want to increase engagement, you must know and understand your followers’ opinions and beliefs, then ensure your posts line up with them.
  • Post lots of visually interesting, informative and valuable content. No boring updates!
  • Monitor and incorporate breaking news stories so yours is the site of choice for keeping people informed.
  • You might increase engagement by finding ways to involve entire families, colleagues or groups of friends. Find ways to allow them to engage with one another on your site and you may be able to engage them yourself.

Research, such as this poll, is only the beginning when it comes to determining what makes people tick in social media spheres. We can only scrape the surface and then test, re-test and test again to shoot for the best results.

If you just started using any of these ideas to engage your followers on social media, please include a link to your site in the comments below and let us all know if they are increasing your likes, comments, video views or shares. We’d like to know that research really does help!

See the complete Facebook poll results.


3 Easy Steps to Divorce with Wunderlist

Trying to become a social media guru means trying every new app you find out there so I sign up for just about everything there is, including the latest personal organizer and list-making miracle, Wunderlist.

Wunderlist App Logo
                                                    Download the Wunderlist app here!

Well, maybe it’s not new, but it’s new to me and TBG (The Big Guy). We were really entertained by it and tried all the features. You’ll probably love it since it’s one of the easiest personal organizers we’ve found. The main features include shared lists, notes, conversations and reminders.

TBG and I are always going out and buying things on our grocery list at the same time causing duplications in our reserves. This is not that much of a problem unless the universe is coming to an end. But since we like to think of ourselves as master and mistress of the universe, and must conquer all things digital, we think this app is just the cat’s pyjamas.

Step 1: Create a grocery list with Wunderlist

We hung around during cocktail hour one night figuring out how to use all the cool features (nerd city here, chez nous). We caught on quickly due to the intuitive nature of the app and, loving it immediately, a shared grocery list was born. Right away, we embraced uber-efficiency and the prospect of getting stuff done!

Step 2: Feel digitally superior with Wunderlist

After congratulations to each other on the pure beauty of our collective genius, I created another list and chose the most critical tasks to begin our new, perfectly organized life. In desperate need of reminders to do things like clean the toilet and pick up cat poop, I decided to use Wunderlist to create a list of things I should do daily. That seemed like a good idea until TBG said, “Why don’t you create a list for the whole week?” That sounded reasonable, so after a short search for the edit function, I easily changed the title of the daily list to a weekly list. He’s so smart, isn’t he? Not sure if it’s going to work for me yet, but hey – I’m a flexible, easy-going housemate, and being agreeable is so attractive, right? No marital strife in this household!

Step 3: Assign tasks with Wunderlist

But don’t count your anniversaries before they’re hatched, I always say. Just one little glitch reared it’s ugly head and I feel obligated to warn all you happily married folk out there. There’s a way to assign a task to people you share a list with. So for example, if I’m not going near the pet food store, but TBG is, then I can assign picking up cat treats to him. I thought this was great until a few hours later, this little exchange below poked a hole in our perfectly organized wedded bliss:

Wunderlist 1

That’s right, anyone can assign and re-assign tasks as they please. Hmmm, now where did I put that business card for the family lawyer?

My top social media campaign of 2014

Are you inclined to open social media articles with headlines that include lists? For example, “5 ways to improve your writing” or “3 Foods you should never eat”. I admit, I’m more likely to open and read them because of a combination of three things:

  1. Curiosity (I like to guess what’s on the list, then want to know if I’m right).
  2. The promise of a quick and easy read (sometimes I have the attention span of a two year-old).
  3. Knowing that I can scan the heading for each item and easily see the end of the list (Mom taught me to finish everything I started).

Mashable lists

Do you ever check out the top five or top ten list of anything on Mashable? It’s especially interesting if you like the “best of the year” type articles. For a 2014 year-end review of social media campaigns, Mashable lists its top five. The winner, celebrated at the Mashies Awards, was Burger King’s “Motel” campaign which entices people to “cheat on beef” by trying their new chicken burger.

What about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

I cannot agree with this choice and was surprised to see that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge didn’t even make the top five. This initiative took North America by surprise with every celebrity, co-worker and average neighbourhood dude taking the challenge and donating to ALS societies everywhere. Talk about VIRAL! Even fictitious characters were doing it:

The effort raised $16.2 million for research into ALS in Canada with 260,000 Canadians participating. The American ALS Association announced over $100 million raised in one month alone. This is what happens when you inject a simple, fun and entertaining idea into your social media efforts. People love it and it becomes contagious.

The title of this article is not a list – I’m offering only my top ONE, so maybe the open rate will suffer. And maybe Social Kitty is not as trendy and informative as Mashable, but my top ONE social media campaign of 2014 is definitely the ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE.

ALS Canada

I haven’t seen anyone doing the challenge since winter set in, have you? Of course, you don’t have to throw a bucket of ice over your head in January, but you can still donate online to ALS Canada to support research into this devastating disease.

Three Words for 2015

Happy New Year #2015

Let’s have some fun this new year with a very shareable social media idea. Why not play the three word game with us and tell us your words for 2015 as suggested by my social media hero, Chris Brogan. You can blog them, tweet them, post them or just add them in the comments here. Here are my three words for 2015:


And . . .


Your turn! Please play!

Are you a PIRDN (pre-internet relic / digital native)?

Recently my niece Jill, who was born in 1980, posted an article about the last generation to remember what life was like before AND after the internet. I found it fascinating that her generation and ours (some of us) have this thing in common.


There’s probably been no change in society so dramatic since the invention of the printing press. How lucky that we’ve been here to witness the impact the internet has had, as it was happening.

The advent of the internet can be broken down into subsets regarding life on the internet before and after. How many of you can relate?

  • Email and learning how to use it
    • “Why shouldn’t I use all caps?” (some people still don’t get this)
    •  “I didn’t get that email” (remember when there was no request for receipt?)
  • E Bulletin Boards
    • “Wow, there are people who want to talk about my hobby?” (you got up early to check on that thread before work)
    • Learning to avoid arguments and one-upmanship (remember before flamewars existed?)
    • What’s this new GUI thing? (good thing you knew how to type)
  • Online Gaming (remember BEFORE there was nothing more pressing than whacking your opponent in Doom or Quake?)
  • Skype, FaceTime (hard to imagine now that you couldn’t see distant young relatives grow up without ever meeting them)
  • Social Media (remember that thing with numbers, buttons, dials and a handset that you talked into? Does anyone still have a parent or grandparent who sends jokes via email?)

What’s sad and ironic is about the internet is that it divides people into separate camps. There are the digital natives as opposed to the prehistoric critters who will never fully benefit from its use. There are those who:

  • get it VERSUS those who don’t get it or refuse to get it
  • think they’ll lose their connection to people if they use it VERSUS those who think they’ll lose their connection to people if they don’t use it.
  • criticize others for being dependent on it VERSUS those who criticize others for still using the phone book

Then there are those of us who are straddling the line between these divisions. It’s second nature for us to understand both worlds. Some of us still have to teach a parent or grandparent, carefully ensuring we don’t become impatient and just give up. (“Sweetie, can you get me on the interwebs?”) But we’re the best ones in the world to help them, because we remember learning too while it developed.


And there’s a lot of controversy about how worse or better off we are now that the world has been changed forever by always having this tool at our fingertips. Pre-internet relics can list every negative impact it has had and digital natives will argue that for every negative, there’s a benefit.

Which side of the line are you on, or are you straddling it? Are you guilty of any of the following?

  • an incessant need to look up every detail that becomes a question or argument
  • checking social media 10 or 20 or 50 times a day
  • allowing constant notifications dinging, buzzing or adding exciting little red badges to your apps
  • all out rage when people use their devices in theatres and meetings, even after reminders
  • criticizing couples or friends at restaurants, who don’t interact but attend to their devices (is it really so wrong?)
  • scheduling screen-free time for your family (enduring their whines) so they’ll understand what it was like


Ok, so you’re in both camps. Congratulations, you are a PIRDN! You’re in the club with us combination pre-internet relic / digital natives.  I think it’s kind of a good place to be – in a class of our own!

What’s in Your Social Media Policy?

Can Social Media Policies in Canada include anything an employer wants? California has recently passed laws to restrict an employer’s use of policies that are too controlling.

But what about Canada? Can employers demand the Facebook passwords of employees to check up on their whereabouts or off-duty activities? Can employers discipline an employee for comments made about a boss or co-worker in her own personal account? Should there be a balance between employee privacy and the company’s business interests?

Where are we in employment law in Canada on this issue? Has anyone experienced a clash between the law and your employer’s policy?