Personal Branding and Social Media

Digital Marketing News and Tips | Montreal SEO Expert

I was recently a guest speaker at the Marketing Yourself in a Digital World workshop organized by the Alumni Association at Concordia University, lending my expertise on social media and personal branding. This presentation was geared towards students and recent graduates, but the basic principles can be distilled and applied to any personal (or company) branding strategy.

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Marketing and Social Media: Looking Back at 2010

The Psychology Of Facebook (INFOGRAPHIC)

Digital Innovation for IKEA

Digital marketers – what do we really do?

Digital marketing spending trends for 2012

Digital Marketing for Business

The digital marketing spending trends for 2012 demonstrated a robust in which inbound marketing channels seem to be outweighed than outbound ones. The following information will provide us the obvious prospects of spending for digital marketing in the near future.


The forecast for the period between 2012 and 2015 expected that spending for digital marketing can reach the number of 50 billion dollars. The data shown that search engine marketing (SEM) accounted for more than a half of spending for digital marketing by 2012. Another type has been prioritized to use is display marketing with the total spending of roughly 11 million dollars.


The mobile ads is increasing gradually with slow speed of spending by this time, however, it is projected to be one of the most popular digital marketing channel later on.


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How to Execute an E-Mail Marketing Campaign

BizBrag - SEO & Social Media Blog

E-mail marketing, or sending newsletter-like e-mails to a list of customers, has become increasingly popular. It’s all well and good investing in an e-mail marketing campaign to boost your homepage rankings, heighten your brand’s exposure and keep in touch with your loyal following, but at first you’ll need something worthwhile to say.

You’ve got loads of things your audience will want to hear about, right? Talking to a mailing list is a lot easier than addressing a physical crowd of 500. You won’t be wrong in thinking this either. Whether it’s a product launch or the announcement of a partnership, it’s likely that your readers and customers will want to remain in the loop. However, putting these snippets of news into a suitable format is where people often become stuck.

For the mailing list to have taken shape, you will have needed to ask for each individual’s permission. They…

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Google AdWords Made Simple

CreativeWorks Marketing

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics.  One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found…

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7 Things you need to know!

Over the course of the last year, we’ve been fielding increasing requests from people wanting to know about potentially joining a YouTube Network – Maker, Machinima, Revision3, to name a few. These networks can do a lot of things. Among their services are providing you with production support, helping link you as a creator with brands and finding brand deals, and an increased (usually flat rate) CPM. What they ask for in exchange varies – some ask to own your content, others ask to take a percentage of your revenue, and others may ask you to work with their other artists.

Online video “networks” bear striking similarities to the old Hollywood studio system in the 20s (Danny Zappin straight up says that’s basically what Maker is in this Fast Company article). Studios back then strove to do two things – first, to bring together a bunch of creatives and their means of production under one roof and own their content, and second, to control the means of distribution of that content. The same can essentially be said for how online networks are operating today – except that the control of the distribution is very easy for them (the studio system basically got sued trying to do that and that’s why theater chains aren’t owned by Universal Pictures or Paramount)

A good summary of these networks and what they do can be found here.

I consider what I’m about to say as essential advice for anybody who is approached by these networks or is interested in joining these networks. I am writing the following because I’m tired of seeing people get screwed by their contracts, or entering into legally binding relationships without fully understanding the implications of their actions. And most importantly – if we, the creators, band together and act as a unified front, we won’t be bullied by ridiculous contracts and business practices online – practices that have been, even by the standards of the entertainment industry, shockingly predatory.

Simply put, if we all follow the advice below, that means better deals for everybody.

Additionally, if you are not being pursued by a network or have no interest in joining a network, take a gander at this article anyway. We cover a lot of the mentality behind treating online video production as a business, and some of our tips may be helpful in a broader sense.

Before we begin, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. It’s an invaluable manual for how to conduct yourself in a negotiation (which is what you’ll be doing with these networks).

Please note, before we continue – the following does not constitute legal advice. It’s for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you need an actual lawyer, which I am most certainly not.

In the interest of full disclosure – the FreddieW channel is represented by Collective Digital Studios. We followed all our own advice when we talked about signing on with them, and because of that, we’ve been very happy with our relationship.


1. As a content creator, you have something these networks need. You have the power.

You have content. That content has likely already proven itself to a certain extent – you probably have built some audience, or have some viewership, or you are simply making really good work – and that’s what they need. Their entire business model of these networks relies on people like you to supply them with content, which in turn generates viewership. No views on their channels means no money. No money means no business. Your content represents, simply put, a business opportunity. Therefore, you need to treat your interactions with any network as a business.

They are not your friends. They will not look out for your interests if there’s no direct benefit to them. Anything they say that isn’t backed up in writing is meaningless.

We’ve had networks tell us that our exclusivity to them was something we could “back out of anytime we wanted to” and that they would “let us leave.” The contract says otherwise, and when push comes to shove, what’s on the page is what sticks.

At the same time, they’re not your enemies. There’s no need to be adversarial. They have a business to run and so do you. There is no need to be intimidated – remember:You have something they need.

They’ll help you so long as it helps them, so it’s good to structure your deal in a way that this is possible – you want them to want to help you. This usually means giving them a percentage of the business they bring you. This is win-win for everyone – for you, you’ll get more opportunities than you would have otherwise. You get to be associated with their (probably) more powerful brand. For them, since they only get paid when you get paid, it’s in their best interests to get out there and find work for you. This is a relationship that fully acknowledges that each party is self-interested and provides for that fairly. What percentage is fair? We’ll talk about that in a bit.

Never agree to a relationship where they are passively siphoning off your income if they’re not improving your prospects beyond what you normally have. Always weigh what you’re getting versus what you’re giving away, and make sure it’s fair. Granted, in some cases the benefit might be an immediate CPM bump from what you’re used to. Make sure you calculate exactly what that bump is – do the math. Is what they’re taking proportional to what they’re bringing you?

How do you know what’s fair? There aren’t any hard rules – what’s fair for someone in one situation may be ridiculous for another. Trust your gut.

2. Never sign the first draft of a contract. Lawyer up and change it up.

Here’s how a contract usually works. Party A drafts up what they believe is a fair contract and sends it to Party BParty B makes changes to that contract and sends it back. Party A makes further changes. They go back and forth until they arrive at a contract that both parties agree on.

The receipt of a contract is the beginning of a negotiation. You have every right in the world to want things changed, and you must communicate those changes by altering the contract and sending it back.

I’ve seen a lot of the contracts they hand people right off the bat and frankly they are absurd. They should not be signed under any circumstances. These companies have legal teams or lawyers on retainer. These lawyers are paid very well to ensure their client gets the best possible deal at all times. Unless you have some background in entertainment law, you are not equipped to fight these guys.

Your first step is to read and re-read the contract until you get a grasp of it. Your next step is to find an entertainment lawyer, pay them their fee, and have them review the contract with you point-by-point to make sure you absolutely understand what’s going on. This lawyer will likely suggest and notate changes, and you should have some changes of your own. You should also have questions ready (many of which probably begin with the phrase “What if I…” or “Would this contract allow me to…”)

If you’re considering joining a network, you’re taking things seriously. Whatever fee you pay that lawyer will be well worth it.

You don’t need to call the network and ask them questions about their contract. They’re under no obligation to warn you of any caveats, and based on our off-the-record conversations with some of these networks, they may straight up lie to your face about what you’re signing. Remember – your lawyer (who you are paying) is the only person you can really trust.

Incidentally, make sure you outline out exactly what you’re looking for with any prospective lawyer and get a sense of how much it’ll cost. Remember – this is pretty basic contract/entertainment law – this isn’t negotiating out the director fees for The Avengers and you don’t need the world’s top lawyers on the case.

I have heard of people afraid to challenge the contract because they fear the network will pass them up and they’ll lose out on an opportunity. Remember Rule #1 – you have what they need.

3. If one network thinks you’re awesome, odds are the other ones do too.

Remember – they all need content, and believe me – there’s not a lot of good, proven content out there. If they think you got what it takes, then the fact is, you got what it takes for every other network as well.

Strong negotiation requires a good “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” or BATNA (This is outlined in great detail in the book I recommended). The beauty of being a YouTube Partner is that your BATNA is very strong – you can continue making money as a YouTube Partner. The allure of the network might be that you can makemore money, but you’re probably not totally desperate to sign on with them. You can always walk away.

If you don’t like what’s on the table you should willing to walk away and approach another network directly. You may not be able to tell that other network what the first network was offering (if you signed a non-disclosure agreement), but you can say you’re fielding offers from other networks and wanted to see what they could do for you.

In fact, the moment you get approached, get in contact with every other network who will listen, send them your stats and an outline of your channel, and see what they’ll offer you. Let them know you’re being courted by the other networks, and let them sling mud at each other. When the dust clears, pick the best deal.

4. Flat CPMs suck.

From our research, the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rates these companies offer range anywhere from $2 – $5 or more. These are flat rates for video views. At first that sounds like a great deal, right? It’s a guaranteed amount and it’s probably more than what you’re making normally.

As a quick side note – students of internet history will be interested to know that those CPMs are paltry compared to the tech boom hey-day. Back then, you could be getting $15 CPMs or more for freaking pop-up ads! That was a good time to have a popular website.

Networks take all their creators and lump their stats together. When considered as a whole, those stats are mega-super impressive. Millions or billions of monthly video views. They then take this aggregate amount and use it to sell to advertisers (“Look guys! Look how many people we have!”), who in turn pay them a lot of money to access those views.

For all online advertising, CPMs differ from quarter to quarter. In the early parts of the year it might not be much, but come Q4 (i.e. the holiday season), advertising revenue shoots through the roof. A lot of this has to do with companies advertising for the holidays, as well as departments needing to spend their budgets so they can justify asking for more the following year. If you’ve ever worked on commercials, you’ll know the end of the year is a time when you can book gigs left and right.

It goes without saying that the CPMs the networks can get when selling an aggregate of channels is far more than whatever paltry sum they’re offering you as a flat rate (they’re trying to make a profit, after all). A $2 CPM might seem like a lot, until you realize that they could be selling your content at a CPM of $20 or more.

We even had a network tell us once that their CPMs were so great that their company lost money most of the year on that. Of course, what they didn’t mention is that they make that up in spades come the end of the year.

Instead, what we should all be asking for is a baseline flat CPM, coupled with a percentage of anything they sell above that. If times are slow and they’re breaking even with your content, fine. Getting the base rate is fair. But if they’re getting $20+ CPMs, I don’t think it’s fair that your content receives only a tiny fraction of that amount while the vast majority goes to lining their pockets, do you?

5. This is the internet – Time moves faster.

Looking at a two year contract? Two years is a lifetime on the internet. Two years ago, we had the Old Spice guy ads. Two years ago YouTube looked like this:

Two years ago the “freddiew” channel didn’t even exist. In two years we went from complete unknowns to a top 10 YouTube channel. A lot can happen in two years.

As a starting point you should be looking at a contract term that lasts from six months to a year, depending on the deal. It should go without saying but never take a lifetime contract.

One note: the reason they ask for a long term is so they can reasonably sell you to their advertisers throughout the year. Q4 content gets sold early – it does them no good to say “Hey, we have this guy” and have you potentially drop out before the time comes to execute. That’s fair – whatever you sign should take you through the end of the year at least.

But consider this – if you ask a network, they’re tell you that everyone is happy and everyone loves being part of that network. If they’re so confident that you’ll be in that same boat, you’ll be happy in 6 months, so you’ll just renew right then and there no questions asked.

Yet somehow, six months is not ok. If they’re so confident that you’ll be a part of their network, why do they seem to assume you’ll abandon them the moment your contract is done?

What’s baffling is many networks seem to be hell bent on holding their creators to their contract terms. It does nobody any good to do this – if someone hates working under a network, what do you think the quality of their content will be if they’re forced to continue churning it out for another few months?

6. The entertainment industry has guidelines for percentages. Use them as starting points.

While the whole business of online video and networks is relatively new, the business of “organizations taking a cut from talent” is most certainly not.

In general, in the world of entertainment, agents take 10%-15% and managers take 10%-15%. So why should we treat what we do as any different? These entities often are similar to YouTube networks in that both are looking to find you work, so anything more than that and there better be a very good reason for it. They need to be really bringing something to the table.

What they bring to the table depends strongly on what you actually need. Brandon and I, for example, don’t really need much help in the VFX department, but maybe they’ll offer you things you do need – maybe you could use a team of cameramen, or actors, or writers. Whatever they offer, make sure it’s better than what you could do yourself. Otherwise, you’re just taking a step backward.

Always weigh the cost/benefit of letting a network step in and fill a production need, or simply using money to fill that need yourself. In the end, you don’t want to become so reliant on the network to be providing you with cameras and shooters and locations that, if time comes you’re no longer happy, you’ll be unable to leave them because so much of your business’ infrastructure is tied in with them.

One way to incentivize them to work harder for you might be to have different percentage tiers depending on how much work they bring you. That way, there will be some motivation on their part to bring you additional of work because that’ll allow them to take a bigger cut, which is totally fair. Sales Agents for feature films will sometimes do something like this – their rake might enter into a higher percentage tier after they’ve sold a certain amount.

Remember – there aren’t any rules or any “right” way to do this. If it makes sense, odds are it’ll probably work.

7. Do your research. Interview people under the network.

Any prospective network should have no issues whatsoever putting you in touch with people so you can ask them about their experiences. Find people of similar size to your channel. Take them out to lunch. Ask them how their experience has been. What, if anything, would they change? Get a real sense of the vibe of the place before you throw your chips in – this is very important. You might negotiate a great deal, but if you’re not happy there, it won’t be worth it.

You should have a sense of what you need and what these networks can provide for you. This is very important because your relative influence in this negotiation depends entirely on this factor – if there’s nothing they can offer you, you’re in a very strong position. If you would rely on them for a lot of stuff, you’re in a weaker position, and will have to negotiate accordingly.

Don’t compare yourself to the superstars of the network. Instead, look at the entire range, and see how everyone, as a whole, is doing. Try and get a sense of the bigger picture.

Finally, a special bonus 8th thing reserved for people trying to actively leave their contracts right now or are so unhappy they want to terminate it. Check to see if there’s a termination clause in the contract. If there is, invoke it to the letter. If not, there’s still hope – lawyer up and get their opinion.

After all’s said and done, we think networks can be a major boost for content creators, and can be incredibly beneficial, provided said content creator does the legwork to make sure they understand their deal and that it’s a fair deal to begin with. These networks are not your friends – they’re potential business partners. Never make the mistake of confusing courtship with friendship. They want to bring you in – so make sure you’re doing everything you can to get a fair deal.

That being said, in our experience, the vast majority of people’s experiences with joining networks have been very positive. Just make sure you cover your bases so that if something does go wrong, you’re not screwed.

Good luck! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them below, and I’m sure the rest of the RocketJump community can chime in on their experiences as well.

p.s. Never give up your Facebook or Twitter. That’s your first point of contact with your audience. You should have full approval of everything that goes through those.


Edit: List of Networks

Based on some feedback I’ve gotten, it sounds like it’d be useful to know what’s out there. here’s a list of networks that are out there (I’m playing loose with that definition – some of these are less “Networks” and more “conglomerations of channels” or “record labels.” Some of these are also subsidiaries of other companies on this list.) If there are any I’ve missed, let me know in the comments section below.

Big Frame

ChannelFlip (Must have British accent)

Collective Digital Studios

Curse Network

DFTBA Records


The Game Station


Maker Studios

Next New Networks




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YouTube’s New Strategy: Create a Network Of Networks


YouTube is now showing approximately 3 billion videos a day. A growing proportion of those are shown with ads—more than 2 billion a week—and YouTube as a business is expected to pass $1 billion in revenue next year.

But when it comes to making money, some videos do better than others. Professionally-produce videos attract the most ad dollars. These include videos from TV networks and major media companies, which is the low-hanging fruit, but also increasingly from Web-only video networks and studios such as Blip.tvMaker Studios, and Revision3. A big part of YouTube’s strategy is to encourage and promote these native Web networks. It bought one of the biggest ones, Next New Networks, and that team is now training other video producers how to replicate their results.

For YouTube, it is all about scale, and networks of loosely aligned online video producers scale better than individual shows and viral-video phenoms. In fact, there is a brand new department inside YouTube called Networks. The purpose of the department is to encourage the formation of these outside networks which then use YouTube as their distribution channel. (Update: YouTube denies the existence of this department, see below).

YouTube can then help sell advertising targeted at these more professional networks of Web series and shows, and that scales better than supporting individual YouTube producers. YouTube will keep doing that, of course, but you can see the beginnings of an organization that will help to further professionalize the Web video industry.

In this view, each network is like a channel, and YouTube is the new cable system or MSO (multiple system operator). The ABCs and Food Networks are welcome on YouTube, but Networks is very much an attempt to grow native channels on the Web. If YouTube gives them enough support and makes it profitable enough for the Web-only networks, they in turn will be able to pay more for native Web shows and series, and one day the best talent might even skip TV altogether. But first, baby steps.

Update: YouTube denies there is any new strategy or organization focused on Networks. A spokesperson says: “There are many networks doing great things on the YouTube platform, but there is no group inside YouTube called Networks.” Whether or not it is a formal department, executives in the online video industry refer to it as “YouTube Networks” and perceive a shift in strategy. That may turn out to be wishful thinking, although there is at least one YouTube manager overseeing these relationships.


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Has Social Learning Grown Up?

growing up too fast(Image credit:

Over 64% of organizations are leveraging social learning in some fashion, based on Brandon Hall Group’s recentrelationship-centered learning survey. This finding has dramatically increased from several years ago, when the use of social learning was in single digits. Social learning has come into its own and is now a common form of learning used by many organizations.


Even though the number of organizations using social learning has increased dramatically in the last two years, we often still get the question: “What is Social Learning?” Exact definitions vary, but as social learning becomes a larger part of the learning landscape, a definition is helpful to pinpoint the role this invaluable learning method can provide.

Brandon Hall Group has defined social learning in this manner:


“Social Learning is a form of learning in which the learner acquires information, skills, and knowledge from interactions with both formal and informal members of a set group. The learning is affected by the act of learning in a group environment, and the actual learning becomes greater than the sum of individual learning parts.”


The two important parts of that definition are “how” the learning is taking place and with “whom.” Social learning takes place through group interactions and the learning itself will change due to those interactions. Social learning is about building something new. Take the following interaction:


“I hear a great story about creating innovative work methods, and I add to the conversation – sharing how that idea could be implemented in my own environment. Another person hears this idea, and it sparks her to recall a research study she saw last year on this topic and she shares it with the entire group. A long term veteran shares how this idea was tried two years ago in the organization and adds how he feels it can be altered to fit the culture better today.”


The previous dialogue could either be a hallway conversation or labeled as a social learning experience. It becomes a social learning experience when the organization enables the learner to take action on the dialogue and interactions, and connects those actions to a learning outcome.


The one thing you’ll notice that is missing from this definition is any mention of technology. Somewhere in the last ten years the concept of social learning has been blended with the technology used to support social learning in our highly connected society. Many organizations believe that simply implementing social media tools or using an LMS with social features such as a chat board denotes that they are conducting social learning. In reality, If the intended audience has not actually leveraged these tools to hold group discussions that drive further learning and spark growing conversations, then social learning has not taken place.  Effective social learning can be done in any environment – with or without technology.


The role of technology is to enable social learning and enhance its value to both the learner and the organization. Social learning technology can support and enhance social learning by:


  • Connecting learners in multiple locations
  • Tracking the history and outcomes of the social learning interactions
  • Providing ways to rate and prioritize social learning interactions and outcomes
  • Helping to evaluate the effectiveness of the social learning efforts in relation to the learning and business outcomes


Social learning is not a fad – but it is also not appropriate in every situation. It should be evaluated as a learning methodology, like all other learning methods. It is not appropriate for learning requirements that are very specific, compliance driven, or with a clear right or wrong answer. However, it is appropriate and very valuable when the learning outcomes require increased engagement and building a shared understanding that is more valuable than the initial individual thoughts. Social learning has become mainstream and a part of regular learning portfolios in many organizations. Take some time and reflect on your own social learning practices, and make sure they meet your expectations and the needs of your organization.

Read more: BrandonHall Group

Social Marketing:

 It’s still… All About  Content!

Brands both big and small across the globe are looking for the key to social marketing success. The answer may surprise you: it’s STILL all about your content. In fact, it’s so important, we devoted an entire series of white papers to content marketing, delving specifically into four components of effective content marketing: content creationevent sponsorshipsocial media contests, and understanding Facebook EdgeRank.

After you’ve performed a social audit to find your customers and competitors on social channels, and developed your social goals, in accordance with your overall business goals, it’s time to think about developing content. When you think about the kind of content generation that will jumpstart audience growth on social channels, it’s important to focus on two distinct areas:

  1. Proactive Content
  2. Reactive Content

You will likely be managing content across multiple channels at once. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed with platform management and scalable content creation by channel, consider proactively scheduling a portion of your social content. It can provide a solid base of content, providing you ample cushion to focus your limited resources instead on monitoring and responding to timely and relevant developments as they occur – or ‘reactive’ content. We’ll share how Starbucks has successfully implemented this strategy to amass a Twitter following of over 2.76 million users.


Proactive Content – 70% of Your Content

Although proactively scheduling 100% of your content will certainly fill your social channels with content, this is not a recommended strategy.  Scheduled content is not conducive to authentic, immediate audience engagement. While all brands share branded messages, like company updates and product offers, it’s not all your consumers are looking for. Promotional and evergreen content should be supplemented with engaging, real-time content to keep up with the ‘here and now’.


Best practices for scheduling proactive content show that 70% of content can be scheduled early in the week, which allows room for reactive content. In the example below, Starbucks spreads the word about their program ‘treat receipt’, in which a customer may bring a receipt verifying an AM purchase to a store in the afternoon for a discounted afternoon pick-me-up. This is a perfect example of a message that can be scheduled ahead of time.



Reactive Content – 30% of Your Content

The other 30% of content should, in turn, be reactive content focused on two areas: popular, timely topics and appropriate audience dialog. Staying abreast of trending topics allows you to leverage popular conversations to receive increased reach and engagement. Connecting trends to how they affect your audience will increase your opportunity for growth. The Nashville, Tennessee tourism board used the trending topic #tourismchat to prompt engaged chat users to plan a trip to Nashville.


ImageResponding to users who have engaged directly with your brand through content moderation is another component of reactive content. Responding to your fans and followers in a timely manner increases your ability to maintain an engaged audience. The key is offering quick, positive, and helpful responses. Starbucks makes a personal connection with a store visitor, who shared an anecdote from his visit. Starbucks took the time to respond, providing Josh a closed-loop social experience.


Successful social marketing requires strategy and planning. By scheduling a portion of content proactively, marketers can spend their remaining time focused on creating authentic, immediate relationships with their audience, either by responding directly to users, or being active in broader digital discussions. For a closer look at specific components of a content marketing strategy, check out our newest resources on content creation, event sponsorship, social media contests, and understanding Facebook EdgeRank.

By Mike Lewis

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A CEO Speaks Out About…the truth outside the Web

Ronen Shilo is the CEO of Israel’s largest Internet company, Conduit.

“People are more interesting than companies

…so effective leaders are responsible for getting out there and spreading the good word.”

Here’s the paradox: I run a company that’s incredibly visible, but not that well known. Conduit has 260 million users around the world, but our brand isn’t top of mind. It’s not even mid-mind, to be honest. One of those reasons is that I had never made a personal effort to get out in front of the company and act as a public advocate.

That’s changed now. I’m becoming more visible, leaving many people wondering why I’ve decided to emerge from my cave. Have I developed a newfound urge for the spotlight? Am I jealous of Zuckerberg? Why the sudden availability?

They’re all questions worth answering. They’re questions that got me thinking as well.

Into The Spotlight

I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide it was time to become more visible. It was a process. But I can tell you that I always believed that the responsibility of a CEO includes getting out there, and I had been thinking for a long time that I should start representing the company more actively and consistently. Plus, I realized that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by resisting the exposure.

I’m essentially a product guy. People at Conduit are bored of hearing me say that if the product isn’t right, nothing else matters. But I was also telling myself secretly that if the product is right, then nothing else matters either. In other words, a great product will speak for–and sell–itself. Anything else is just frivolous sizzle.

But I learned quickly that my thinking was faulty. There’s a marketing and media side to the success equation that’s really pivotal. And I probably used “it’s all about the product” as an excuse to stay behind the scenes because I don’t really enjoy the media whir.

Some people have asked me if there’s a right time for a CEO to become an active presence in the media.

Like most things in business, there is no one answer. It depends on the personality of the CEO, how competitive the market is, and how mature your product is, among many other variables.

But these are the key questions that can shed light on some answers: What are you trying to accomplish and how do you measure success? Do you want to raise awareness with opinion makers? Are you looking to raise visibility because you are, or will be, raising money? Do you want to attract new customers or consumers? Are you starved for talent and in need of improving your recruiting? Or does your giant ego need some stroking?

While all of these questions can be important, you need to figure out what’s most important to you, and how it all fits in with your objectives. Go deep before you go out. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, has done just that. He’s been terrific as a visible, sometimes in-your-face, evangelist for his brand. But often, I see a lot of CEOs working the media without a clear point of view about what they want to accomplish.

I realize now that I should have done this earlier, but I enjoyed taking the time to focus on product, on building the company. (And on family.)

As I look back, there wasn’t a burning need for anyone to know who I was in the beginning. We had a rapid uptake of our product by publishers, so I didn’t feel compelled to be visible. Soon after, toolbars–our primary business–began to get beaten up by the media. It was unfair, but so what? Life is unfair. Reporters didn’t really understand what we did.

I couldn’t help but think that if I had been out there more, I would have been able to push back. To strongly argue for our company and our brand. If I couldn’t change their opinions, I would have at least created a dialogue. I think we lost the opportunity to shift the perception of the toolbar. Now it’s too late to do that in any meaningful way. I’m not worried though, because I know there will be other opportunities to redefine our company.

So my advice to others is to be part of the dialogue sooner rather than later. It will benefit your company and your employees to do so. True, your product needs to mature, but it’s easy to hide behind the maturity excuse, particularly if you’re not really a media junkie at heart.

Visibility And Value

If I were hustling for an IPO though, everything would have been different.

There’s no question about that. CEOs and founders contemplating an IPO recognize that visibility translates to asset value. That’s actually why many Israeli companies hire an American CEO; they know that it will help achieve higher levels of awareness, whether for an IPO or an acquisition. But since neither of those is the case for my company, I had more reason to continue to operate Conduit under the radar. It wasn’t a conscious plan. Like many things, it was unplanned yet retrospectively, right.

Now, the more I get out there, the more I’m amused by the differences in global media. The American and the Israeli media are as different as a hot dog and falafel.

Cultural differences are manifested everywhere and they’re only heightened in the journalistic world. The media in Israel are tough. Compared with U.S. reporters, they’re even brutal. American audiences are much more generous. Some Americans may disagree, but having been exposed to both cultures, I can tell it like it is.

I remember being at a conference in the U.S. where a CEO gave a presentation that was not impressive, to say the least. In Israel, he would have been torn apart, whereas Americans are more polite. Your social rules create an atmosphere of friendliness. I guess that’s because we’re in survival mode all the time, and pleasantries are a luxury Israelis don’t get too often. Or at least they’re seen as one.

Last time I was in the U.S., a reporter began an interview by proclaiming, “I hate toolbars.” It was so unusual that I was really taken aback and felt for a second like I was at home in Israel. So forget media training. My advice to any American CEO is to come over here, expose yourself to some reporters, and get toughened up.

I’m also convinced that differing CEO backgrounds play a large role in how they relate to the media.

I once worked for a sales-driven CEO who started every day by asking everyone, “What did you sell yesterday?” He saw the media as one giant sales call. I’m from the product and engineering CEO track, not the sales or marketing side. This gives me the flexibility to speak about the product, the vision of the company, and how what we’re building delivers on that.

If a CEO gets out there too soon, especially when he or she is from the sales or straight marketing side, there’s a risk of overselling. Hype can make a fast difference, but in today’s world of media scrutiny, it has a dangerously short shelf life. It quickly starts to rot and smell.

Personal Brand Takes A Backseat

As far as the ‘Ronen Shilo’ brand, I don’t think about it much. My public brand is no different than my private behavior. Those who know me would agree that I don’t put on a mask when I speak to the media.

But I do want people to start to think of me and Conduit in the same breath. That’s a good thing. Whether it’s Bill Gates (before he started giving his money away) or Larry Ellison, or many others, the company benefits when it’s strongly linked to an individual. People are more interesting than companies. So it’s better for Conduit if I’m out there, and I certainly want to do what’s best for my company.

Except, you won’t see me making any speeches in the future. I like the intimacy of a one-on-one interview. For me, it’s important to look someone in the eye, to read body language, to be in tune with the conversation. If you get thrown a curve ball, you can handle it. And I like an environment where surprises happen.

One thing I really don’t like is a scripted speech. Once, when I was in the army, I had to give a lesson to a reserve group. They allocated an hour. Sixty minutes of air time! I finished what I had to say in five minutes. I was happy and they were happy.

The End Of The Media Hermit

After taking a breath of fresh air, I don’t think I can head back to my cave any time soon.

I have to admit that I can get energized by meeting with the press, particularly with really smart reporters who’ve done their homework. (When it’s the other way, and I have to educate a reporter who doesn’t have a clue about what we do, it’s frustrating. I’d never hire someone who hasn’t spent time studying us, so why should I waste my time with a reporter who didn’t gather any background information?)

At the same time, intelligent reporters can be challenging. They know the category and tend to ask some provocative questions that really get me thinking. They’re out talking to a lot of smart people, so they have a perspective I might not otherwise hear. Learning from a reporter, that’s something I never would have expected when I was in my media hermit period.

Come to think of it, I also never expected that coming out of my shell to answer people’s questions would, in turn, get a lot of my own questions answered.

MARCH 2, 2012

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McKinsey Weighs In on the Future of the Social Economy

McKinsey & CompanyDespite the popularity of social media with businesses, new research from McKinsey suggests that businesses are leaving value on the table, to the tune of billions of potential dollars. When McKinsey released new research this July on the changing face of the social economy dubbed ‘The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies’, we eagerly devoured it. We present some of the key takeaways from the report below:

Adoption and Benefits

The report revealed fascinating figures around social media adoption and business benefits realized. Consumers have adopted social technologies, defined as products and services that enable social interactions in the digital realm, at an unprecedented speed and scale. In fact, social technologies have been adopted at a faster rate than any other media technology. While it took commercial television 13 years to reach 50 million households and Internet service providers three years to sign 50 million subscribers, it took Facebook just a year to hit 50 million users and Twitter – a total of nine months.


However, while 70% of companies use social technologies, only 3% report deriving substantial benefit from this usage across all stakeholders – customers, employees, and business partners. More broadly, 90% of those companies who use social technologies report some business benefit from them. It’s clear here that businesses can better leverage social technologies to drive more value from their investments.

Influence on Social Commerce

McKinsey reports that up to 1/3 of consumer spending is subject to influence from social shopping. This growth indicates the almost primal appeal of social technologies, which bring speed, scale, and economics of the Internet to social interactions. Consumers can now rapidly search for, find and compare various offerings for their needs. Combine that information transparency with the ability to garner peer feedback on potential purchases and you develop a very attractive market for online shopping.

Economic Impact of Social Technologies: $900 Billion to $1.3 Trillion

McKinsey identified ten specific ways where social technologies can add value to businesses.  These value-added levers include:

  • Product development – Use social technologies to derive customer insights and co-create product
  • Marketing and sales – Use social technologies to derive customer insights; for marketing communications and interactions; to generate and foster sales leads; social commerce
  • Customer service – Use social technologies to provide customer care

McKinsey estimates that the use of social technologies can contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value (based on estimates across four industry sectors), with $500 billion added from marketing, sales and after-sales support activities. Specifically, consumer goods companies, with their dependence on brand recognition, can use social technologies across all value chain steps to recognize margin increases of as much as 60%. McKinsey cautions that simply shifting advertising and consumer insights budgets to social media will not suffice; advocating instead for well-planned and well-executed programs which incorporate non-social components such as mass media to capture the potential value of social technologies.

Truly capturing the business value will be a challenge for most enterprises, as they will have to transform their organizational structures, processes, and cultures to become “extended networked enterprises.” Extended networked enterprises connect both internally as well as externally with customers and partners. For these technologies to deliver value, enterprises must embrace information sharing and create cultures of trust and cooperation.

Business Opportunities

The McKinsey study also highlights areas in which business can use social technologies to improve. For instance, many companies have found these social technologies can generate rich consumer insights cheaper and faster than traditional methods. Companies are tapping into what consumers do and say to one another on social platforms, gathering unfiltered feedback and behavioral data (e.g. do people who like this movie like that brand of soft drink?).

Additionally, leveraging of social platforms provides the potential to tap the great “cognitive surplus” of society by using leisure time for creating content and collaboration, rather than consuming. McKinsey refers to the growth of self-publishers and video creators, who add their own content to the social sphere.

Beyond 2012

As we move beyond 2012, we expect to see companies further leveraging emerging social technologies to drive distinct and measureable business value. We believe marketers will use social marketing to identify new prospects based on sophisticated monitoring, profile collection and social scoring.


By Mike Lewis | September 4, 2012

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Λάθη στα social media

Ποιοί είναι οι 8 λόγοι για τους οποίους οι στρατηγικές marketing στα social media αποτυγχάνουν και πώς μπορούν να αντιμετωπιστούν αυτά τα σφάλματα…….?

Σε περίπτωση που εδώ και καιρό προσπαθείτε να εφαρμόσετε και να αξιοποιήσετε στρατηγικές marketing μέσω των social media και τα αποτελέσματα είναι πενιχρά, δεν θα πρέπει να απελπίζεστε. Κι αυτό γιατί αποτελείτε τον κανόνα και όχι την εξαίρεση – και μάλιστα σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο. Έχει παρατηρηθεί πως παράτη μεγάλη εξάπλωση των μέσων κοινωνικής δικτύωσης οι εταιρείες αδυνατούν να αποκομίσουν τα προσδοκώμενα οφέλη από αυτά. Η βασική αιτία, σαφέστατα, δεν μπορεί να είναι το γεγονός ότι τα social media αποτελούν άγνωστη λέξη για τους χρήστες, καθώς η αποδοχή που χαίρουν βαίνει αυξανόμενη με απίστευτα γρήγορους ρυθμούς. Στο συγκεκριμένο άρθρο θα προσπαθήσουμε να προβάλουμε τις 8 βασικότερες αιτίες που κάνουν τις καμπάνιες ανεπιτυχείς ή τουλάχιστον μη αποδοτικές.

1. Έλλειψη ξεκάθαρων στόχων: Σε περίπτωση που ασχολείστε με τα social media προσπαθώντας να προβάλετε τις υπηρεσίες ή την ίδια σας την εταιρεία, χωρίς να έχετε θέσει ξεκάθαρους στόχους, τότε λυπούμαστε αλλά σίγουρα βρίσκεστε σε λάθος δρόμο και τα αποτελέσματα που αναμένετε δεν θα έρθουν ποτέ. Κάθε ενέργεια marketing -και στα social media πιο έντονα- απαιτεί μία ξεκάθαρη στρατηγική, από την εφαρμογή της οποίας αναμένουμε και ένα ξεκάθαρο αποτέλεσμα. Ανεξάρτητα από το είδος της εταιρείας ή του προϊόντος που επιθυμείτε να προβάλετε θα πρέπει να έχετε αρχικά αποσαφηνίσει σε τι ακριβώς στοχεύετε.

2. Υπέρμετρες απαιτήσεις: Η ύπαρξη ξεκάθαρων στόχων είναι σαφέστατα σημαντικότατος παράγοντας, όπως είναι όμως αντίστοιχα και η ύπαρξη ρεαλισμού στα αναμενόμενα αποτελέσματα. Θα πρέπει να κατανοήσουμε πως τα social media δεν είναι σε καμία περίπτωση η μαγική λύση σε όλα τα θέματα. Είναι απίθανο να καταφέρει μία εταιρεία να προσελκύσει εκατομμύρια χρηστών – πελατών από τη μια στιγμή στην άλλη. Τα social media είναι το μέσο από το οποίο κάποιος μπορεί να αποκομίσει κέρδος με μακροπρόθεσμο σχεδιασμό. Σε καμιά περίπτωση η χρήση μόνο των social media δεν μπορεί να προωθήσει ικανοποιητικά την εταιρεία, τα προϊόντα ή τις υπηρεσίες σας. Οι ενέργειές σας, για να έχουν τη μεγαλύτερη δυνατή αποδοτικότητα θα πρέπει να είναι συνδυαστικές και ελεγχόμενες ανά τακτά χρονικά διαστήματα.

3. Η αποκοπή από το κοινό που σας ενδιαφέρει: Πριν ακόμη ξεκινήσετε το σχεδιασμό μιας καμπάνιας για τα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης θα πρέπει να καταλήξετε στο κοινό το οποίο αποτελεί το εν δυνάμει πελατολόγιό σας. Θα πρέπει να έχετε απόλυτα ξεκάθαρη εικόνα για το ποιο είναι πραγματικά το κοινό στο οποίο απευθύνεστε, ποια τα ενδιαφέροντά του, ποιες οι προτιμήσεις και οι ανάγκες του. Η κατανόηση όλων αυτών των δεδομένων θα οδηγήσει σε μία ξεκάθαρη στρατηγική με πολύ καλύτερα αποτελέσματα.

4. Δεν blog-άρετε αρκετά: Η καρδιά κάθε σωστά δομημένης ενέργειας στα social media είναι χωρίς καμιά αμφιβολία το blog. Αυτό συμβαίνει φυσικά γιατί εντός του blog το κοινό μπορεί να διαβάσει, να αναζητήσει και να αξιοποιήσει χρήσιμες πληροφορίες που εσείς έχετε βάλει. Μέσα από αυτή τη διαδικασία αναπτύσσεται σταδιακά μία σχέση εξάρτησης με το κοινό που σας ενδιαφέρει το οποίο μετά από κάποιο σημείο θα επανέρχεται στη σελίδα σας σε τακτά χρονικά διαστήματα, αυξάνοντας σημαντικά και το κομμάτι της προβολής της εταιρείας σας. Σαφέστατα το περιεχόμενο που κάθε φορά θα επιλέγετε να προβληθεί θα πρέπει να έχει άμεση σχέση τόσο με την εταιρεία όσο και με τις υπηρεσίες ή προϊόντα που επιθυμείτε να προωθήσετε. Σημαντικό ρόλο όπως σε πάρα πολλά ζητήματα στην καθημερινή ζωή παίζει και ο τρόπος που παρουσιάζετε μια είδηση ή μια κατάσταση. Θα πρέπει να δώσετε προσοχή λοιπόν και στον τρόπο με τον οποίο προβάλλετε μια είδηση αλλά και στον τρόπο που αυτή εμφανίζεται στο κοινό που σας ακολουθεί. Για παράδειγμα, μπορεί να ακούγεται κοινότοπο αλλά ένας καλός τίτλος παίζει μεγαλύτερο ρόλο από μια καλή είδηση. Σε περίπτωση που οι συντακτικές δυνατότητές σας δεν επαρκούν ή στο τέλος της ημέ- ρας δεν παράγουν τα επιθυμητά αποτελέσματα, καλό θα ήταν να απευθυνθείτε σε κάποιον ειδικό για τη συγκεκριμένη δουλειά.

5. Δεν είναι υποχρέωση αλλά ανάγκη: Σε περίπτωση που η ενασχόληση με τα social media δεν είναι τίποτε περισσότερο για εσάς από μία συμβατική καθημερινή υποχρέωση, το καλύτερο που έχετε να κάνετε είναι είτε να μην ασχοληθείτε με το κομμάτι αυτό είτε να το αναθέσετε σε κάποιους άλλους. Κι αυτό γιατί έχει αποδειχθεί πως οι πιο επιτυχημένες καμπάνιες στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης προέρχονται από εταιρείες και ανθρώπους που πραγματικά ενδιαφέρονται και αγαπούν το συγκεκριμένο χώρο. Θα πρέπει επίσης να κατανοήσετε πως ούτε το κοινό των social media ούτε και οι εταιρείες που ασχολούνται με το συγκεκριμένο χώρο δεν είναι απρόσωπες και χωρίς αντίληψη. Ο χώρος των μέσων κοινωνικής δικτύωσης έχει ιδιαίτερα αυξημένα αισθητήρια.

6. Έλλειψη κατεύθυνσης: Η στρατηγική παίζει πολύ σημαντικό ρόλο όχι μόνο στην επιχειρηματικότητα αλλά και στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης. Σε περίπτωση που επιθυμείτε μία καμπάνια αποδοτική θα πρέπει να δημιουργήσετε ή καλύτερα να χτίσετε και μάλιστα βήμα – βήμα τη στρατηγική που ταιριάζει στις ανάγκες και το πελατολόγιό σας.

7. Ενημέρωση του κοινού εις το ενημερωτικότερον: Σε περίπτωση που αποφασίσετε να θέσετε σε εφαρμογή μια καμπάνια σας στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, θα πρέπει να ενημερώσετε παράλληλα και τους πελάτες και συνεργάτες σας για τις ενέργειές σας μέσα από την εταιρική ιστοσελίδα σας. Ιδανικά θα πρέπει να δίνετε τη δυνατότητα από κάθε μέσο με το οποίο επικοινωνείτε καθημερινά με την αγορά που σας ενδιαφέρει να γνωρίζει την παρουσία σας στα social media. Υπάρχουν μάλιστα, ειδικά τον τελευταίο καιρό, και πολλά νέα εργαλεία τα οποία δίνουν τη δυνατότητα άμεσης προώθησης περιεχομένου από ιστοσελίδες σε social media και το αντίστροφο. Με τον τρόπο αυτό εξασφαλίζετε ότι το κοινό που σας ακολουθεί, ακόμη κι αν δεν συνεργάζεται μαζί σας, σίγουρα κάποια στιγμή θα κάνει το πρώτο βήμα.

8. Έλλειψη αφοσίωσης: Σε περίπτωση που δεν ανταποκρίνεστε στα αιτήματα, στις ερωτήσεις και τις απορίες των ατόμων που σας παρακολουθούν μέσω των social media, τότε να είστε βέβαιοι πως τα άτομα αυτά θα στραφούν άμεσα και χωρίς περιστροφές αλλού. Μία ακόμη σημαντική λεπτομέρεια που όμως κάνει τη διαφορά είναι και το γεγονός ότι δεν χρειάζεται να διστάζετε να αναφέρεστε ακόμη και σε ανταγωνιστικές λύσεις ή προϊόντα προς το κοινό σας. Αυτό θα σας δώσει σίγουρα σημαντικό κύρος και πολύ μεγάλες πιθανότητες να αυξήσετε την αξιοπιστία σας.

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