Social Media Round Up

As always there has been a lot going on in the social media arena in the past week. This is a summary of the major (and minor!) developments.

Facebook Questions

On July 28th Facebook announced that it was going to launch Facebook Questions. The tool is set to allow you to crowdsource the collective intelligence of the 500 million and growing Facebook user base to ask questions and get answers. Set to compete with tools like Ask, Yahoo Answers and Answerbag, you will be able to ask any question and hopefully get the right answer practically instantaneously. The functionality isn’t live yet and is only available to a small number of beta testers but to find out more you can read this Mashable post about the 5 Ways Facebook Questions can be improved.

Google Wave

Google waved bye bye to its Wave product which was launched late last year. At the time there was much clamoring to get on the communication and collaboration tool which was supposed to allow people to easily work together online. Unfortunately, Wave didn’t really catch on and today it is no more. In typical Google fashion though, it would appear that they are turning the failure to their advantage. On a positive note Google yesterday announced that business can now respond to reviews on Google Places. Not before time.

Twitter Fail

The Twitter fail whale was omnipresent for much of the afternoon which prompted diehards to take to Facebook to voice their complaints and comments and to vent to relieve their anxiety withdrawal. This leads me to conclude that the Reuters article in today’s Washington Post highlighting a study that found that social media is costing businesses in the UK billions in lost productivity, could in fact be true across the Twitter world! Twitter is back up much to the disapointment of businesses in North America who saw productivity peak in the last few hours.

Foursquare For Business

Foursquare, the location based social network, is purported to be the next big social media phenomenon despite ongoing privacy concerns. Launched just last year in only a few cities around the world, Foursquare now has over 400,000 unique visitors (in January). Since September there has been a steep increase in activity as users catch on to this popular social networking game and this is only expected to grow since Foursquare went global last month.

Foursquare Growth

Playing Foursquare

Foursquare allows users to check in from their mobile phones when they are out and about at dinner, sports venues, tourist venues and even at the hairdresser. As a user, each time you check in to a location you are awarded points.

Once you start accumulating points or visiting locations frequently you are awarded badges and titles (I am the Mayor of Stock Up, one of my favorite places to have lunch in Kerrisdale). Foursquare apps are available for download to most major smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre.).

If you think it sounds like more of a game than a serious business network, you are right but if your business is location based, it is a game you really should be taking seriously. A little friendly competition can do wonders to bring people back to your location again and again and so businesses are beginning to clue in to the loyalty potentially and Foursquare as a tool to spread awareness: many businesses are offering incentives to those who become mayor and to visitors who offer tips about the location.

Foursquare Tips for Business

1. Make sure you are listed on Foursquare. The best way to do this is by joining the community, downloading the phone app and adding a venue from there (read this post from Dave Tailor for more detail on how to do so).

2. Consider offering incentives for those who visit frequently and sign up with Foursquare to promote these. Every time someone signs in to your location, their followers see this, so the more Foursquare visitors you have the better – its like free advertising!

3. Monitor Foursquare to see who is visiting and especially to track tips. Foursquare users can provide tips about your location and since this is user driven you may want to reward positive tips and be prepared to go to bat if someone posts something negative. Most of the tips I have seen to date are positive.

My Perspective

I have been playing around with Foursquare for a few months and it is fun but so far I haven’t been rewarded for my patronage – here’s hoping this post changes that!

Frustrated at the longer anticipated wait for sushi the other week, I posted this warning others to factor in time but there has been no response to that either.

Since Out-Smarts is virtual and not location based, we’re not on there but we do encourage all businesses to be aware of what Foursquare is, to make sure they are listed and to keep an eye on what is being said about their business. If Foursquare does take off, as it is predicted to, then more and more of your clients will be using this tool to share their nights out, business meetings and fun.

Social Media and The Olympians

The Olympics are in town and this city is all a buzz. Following my post last week about how the Olympics use social media, I thought it would be great to follow up on that and take a look at how athletes are using these tools.

According to a Wired Magazine blog post, there is some confusion among athletes as to whether or not they are actually allowed to post during the games. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

But there is no Olympic rule that sets up a blackout period for athletes according to Bob Condron, the Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee.

“Athletes are free to blog during the Games,” says Condron. “And Twitter is just a blog that’s written 140 characters at a time.”

There are some restrictions on what athletes can do online during the Olympics. According to the IOC Blogging Guidelines for the 2010 Games, athletes and other accredited people must keep their posts confined to their personal experiences.

Despite this confusion many athletes are using social media right now. Lets look at which social media tools they are using, how they are using them as well as how you can find, follow and lend your support.


Lots of athletes are using Twitter to share their Olympic experiences. One of the best ways to find them is to follow Olympic lists like these ones.

Canadian Athletes on Twitter

US Olympic Athletes on Twitter

Olympic Winter Sports

True North Media House

Huffington Post Athletes List


Athletes are using Twitter in different ways. Some are simply sharing their experiences in getting to BC and settling in to their new diggs at this point. Many are posting their experiences in their final practices leading up to their events and all are building their fan base. By finding and following our athletes on Twitter we have the chance to share in their Olympic experiences first hand as well as to give them our support.

Many national teams have dedicated Twitter feeds too, to keep fans updated:

Team Canada

Team Great Britain


Whilst Twitter gives athletes a quick and easy way to communicate with fans, many also have fan pages on Facebook to build awareness of their endeavors, to post video content and share their Olympic aspirations. Canadian gold medal contender in figure skating, Patrick Chan’s page links to video clips, fan photos and updates about the skater.

One of the best ways to find and follow athletes on Facebook is through the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Page. Theyrecently asked the question “Hey any Olympic athletes out there? What is your Facebook page?”, here is the response. Another way is to find the national team pages and check out who they are fans of – athletes are usually listed. Here are a few – to find the rest search Facebook for “Olympic Team”.

Canadian Olympic Team

US Olympic Team

Swiss Olympic Team

Australian Olympic Team


How these athletes find time to train and blog is beyond me – I guess that is why they are Olympians and I am not! Here are links to athletes using these forums too:

Dustin Cook – Official blog of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team Member

Speed skater – Denny Morrison.

Good Luck To All Athletes

Good luck to all athletes competing at the games – thanks for keeping us posted on social media. Welcome to BC and enjoy your time here: may it be golden!

Social Media and the Vancouver Winter Olympics

Vancouver 2010

With only 11 days to go before the Vancouver Olympics begin, the excitement is building here and I thought this would be a good time to update on our last post about the Olympics and Social Media.

Since posting over a year ago, it would appear that the Olympic organisation has embraced social media somewhat and had some hick-ups on the way.

The Olympics on Twitter

In November VANOC was chastised for their poor response on Twitter when thousands were left waiting and eventually dissed because of a glitch in their ticket ordering system: rather than using Twitter as a customer service tool to let customers know exactly what was going on, their Tweets were ambiguous and erratic.

You can enjoy “timely Tweets from the VANOC communications team” at 2010 Tweets, where the organisation continues to push out information about itself with little interaction or true community building. The same can be said for their other feeds: @followthe flame, @code2010.

The Olympics on Facebook

They do rather better on Facebook, it has to be said. Both Vancouver 2010 and The Cultural Olympics are well represented there.

Again, fans cannot contribute to posts on the site but they can and do comment – most of them being positive.

The less publicised Canada Code page though is centred around community and collaboration. The Canada Code website encourages everyone to upload photos and text sharing their Olympic experiences. If you do, you could win a pair of those red mittens everyone is trying to get their hands on (or on their hands as the case may be!) and if you are really lucky your content may be shared on public screens across Vancouver during the event. Now that is more like it VANOC! From their Facebook page:

The Olympics and Citizen Journalism

As for the Olympics embracing social media journalism, according to VANCOUVER ACCESS 2010, a collection of multi-media content; blog posts, pictures and videos covering the various winter/summer sports and cultural events, despite numerous attempts by prominent social media commentators VANOC seems to still be ignoring this vehicle:

“Over the past few years, as a group, we have spoken at various conferences and events about the impact of citizen journalism, social media and the internet on the various Olympics, IOC and “ANY”OC brands. We sent VANOC several letters over the past 18 months requesting to meet with them, and have a discussion about this change in culture… Without any replies.”

Seems a shame to ignore such valuable contributions.

Watch out for more on social media and the Olympics over the next month.

Reasons to Be Cheerful

After a brief hiatus in December, our regular month end Reasons to be Cheerful post is back. Here is a compendium of cool sites I discovered over the past few weeks that might of interest or useful for you. Enjoy!

Screenr – easily create screencasts to post to Twitter.

Lifeforce TV – Canada’s online broadcast network.

Biddingo – an online portal that connects suppliers providing various goods and services to buyers from public and private sectors across Canada.

Xina – handy tool for checking how your SEO efforts stack up.

Entreprenuerial Woman Magazine – online journal aimed at Canadian small business.

Rollip – professional, online photo effects.