Armadillo Studios Inc.

SXSW10: The State of The Internet 2010

As SXSW kicks off, the ideas are flowing and the conversations are blooming.

One of company’s that caught my eye in the barrage of posters and advertising material is “JESS3”:http://www.jess3.com a design agency out of Washington DC. In their impressive portfolio is their gorgeous state of the Internet vimeo clip, which anyone interested in the metrics of the web should check out.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

I’ll have some more posts up over the next few days, but first sit back and get int he mood of SXSW with this beautiful clip.

SXSW10: Armadillo Studios At SXSW’10

Has it really already been a year?

Sure doesn’t feel like it has, but once again *Armadillo Studios* is heading down to Austin, Texas for the “SXSW Interactive Festival”:http://www.sxsw.com.

That’s right another five days of beautiful spring Texas weather, far too much salsa and *the latest trends in the Web and Social Media Industry*. But this time there’s a twist. Armadillo is not just a spectator, but an actual participant. Yes, Armadillo will be apart of the “Leave Your Job, Start An Agency”:http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/3303 core conversation with our good friends from “Stale Life Inc.”:http://www.stalelife.com/ and “Bitfyre”:http://www.bitfyre.net/. It’s happening on “March 14th, at 11:00am at the Hilton E room”:http://eventful.com/events/leave-your-job-start-agency-sxsw-/E0-001-028441777-1, if you happen to be at SXSW make sure you swing by to say hello.

As all always, Armadillo will be blogging and “tweeting”http://www.twitter.com/armadillostudio the entire conference. If you’re in Austin or just on hanging online all day make sure you follow along with all the fun.

Calgary Social Media:Free Social Media Advice for Local Politicians

News of “Bronco Dave’s decision to not run in the next round of civic elections”:http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/After+nine+years+helm+Mayor+Dave+Bronconnier+decides+again/2605297/story.html has sent a bit of a political shockwave through the circles of political pundits and social media networks in our fair city.

While this buzz grows, plans will be formed and serious candidates will start to come out of the woodwork. So as they do, they will inevitably turn to the growing local Social Media communities to get their voice heard. So in anticipation of that, your friendly friends at Armadillo have some *free advice on how to best get your message heard and better yet, not have it backfire*.

Join Twitter And Learn The Vocabulary

First and foremost, join “Twitter”:http://www.twitter.com and set-up a clear and interactive “Facebook page”:http://www.facebook.com. We have an “intro on Twitter for the Calgary Market”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/twitter-for-the-calgary-market that has some nice advice.

Second, covet and understand the hashtags of Twitter. The “yyc hash tag”:http://twitter.com/#search?q=yyc has grown into an unstoppable beast that many Calgarians use for a variety of information. While this aspect of the Twitter lexicon is invaluable be sure you don’t abuse it, as it can quickly turn on you. Using the _yyc tag_ is a great way to reach many Calgairans, but if you start overloading the stream of information, it may tarnish your image. *So don’t SPAM! Be engaging in the community*.

Even better start using the “yyccc hash tag”:http://twitter.com/#search?q=yyccc (yyc City Council). Many users who follow city council have adopted it and it would be best to broadcast your message through that channel rather than through _yyc_. People who are interested and invested in City Council spend much of their time following this hash tag. *They are the people you want to reach*.

Casual voters also follow it too, so seeing an involved presence in that area of the Calgary Twitter community will be a good first step.

Interact, Don’t Broadcast

It might seem simple, but you need to interact with the online communities in the City. *Don’t just broadcast your message, as it may quickly comeback to haunt you*.

Facebook and Twitter are engaging tools; in the months leading up to October people will have many questions and concerns. They will be looking for your ideas. You will need to be able to answer them through these networks. Social networks, especially Twitter, have levelled the communications playing field for everyone. Citizens are now able to directly and publicly connect with your campaign. There could be a discussion brewing about your platform that you might not even know about, so it’s best to get involved and get involved early.

Know Your Audience

Nobody likes to admit this, but there is a unwritten hierarchy within these social media circles that you may not get a chance to learn about before you dive in. Treat all responders with respect and try not to air your dirty grievances in public. You may involuntarily aggravate a local political maven, who has more clout and influence within the local community than you think. So be careful in how you engage on these sites. *Treat everyone with respect and dignity*.

Don’t Use Foursquare

Although, it would be incredibly cheeky and witty, declaring yourself Mayor of City hall on “Foursquare”:http://www.foursquare.com before November rolls around, is probably going to look bad on you.

Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to scare you off of using these Networks. In all honestly, this is an exciting time for municipal politics and these growing social media networks have the power to make these elections the most interactive and exciting elections we’ve seen in a long time. We just want to give you some free advice, as we’ve seen “companies miss opportunities”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/a-tale-of-two-bars before and we’d hate to see a great candidate get sandbagged by a small slip up.

So to all those would be city councilors and mayors, best of luck in October 2010.

Calgary Social Media: A Tale Of Two Bars

Here’s a tale of two local bars.

A tale in which two bars set out to engage in the local Social Media community of Calgary. Both bars are of similar statue and manner. Both are located at cross-sections of popular nighttime destinations. Both are new ventures, which have taken over from _Classic_ and well known establishments. And this year both bars reached out on Twitter (and to an extend Foursquare) to attract new customers.

Bar Number 1

Let’s briefly talk about the first one. Last March it established a “Twitter presence”:http://www.twitter.com/classicjacks and proceeded to follow the Calgary community. The account page was bland, generic and didn’t provide any insight into the culture of it’s clientèle or even an hint at it’s overall image. Instead the bar made two comments along the lines of _we’re open_ and _we’re hiring_. It didn’t try very hard to engage the community and didn’t create a two-way form of communication; rather it just broadcasted a simple one-way message to an uninterested audience.

Since those two posts … well the account has sat dormant.

In all likelihood the account will never resurface in any form. Which is unfortunate, as it was one of the first restaurants to venture into the Twitter community. It had a leg-up on the community and could have been poised to potentially leverage this new clientèle. *But it failed*.

There was no commitment to the campaign and _more importantly_, it didn’t give back to the community it was interacting with. Instead, their tactics probably left most members of the Calgary online community with a sour taste in their mouth.

For their image, their soft attempt at leveraging Social Media *probably did more harm than good*.

Bar Number 2

Now, let’s look at the second bar. It’s a fairly new concept bar, which took over the reigns of the old Fox and Firkin. Their goal is to sell locally produced food and _Brewskies_. This bar of course is “The District”:http://www.enjoydistrict.com. Opened a few months ago, it is a place that is slowly becoming an after-work destination and an enjoyable niche hangout.

Similar to my previous example, The District also embarked on a “Twitter campaign”:http://www.twitter.com/enjoydistrict. Unlike the aforementioned establishment, The District began engaging in the growing Calgary Twitter community through a simple organic campaign – offering specials, promoting it’s bucket of bacon and (recently) it began encouraging organization to use it’s location for a variety of meet-ups. Over time it has grown it’s audience to well over a 1,000 followers and now appears to be a destination within the online community.

In addition to all this wonderful Twitter exposure, it also took the plunge on the newest Social Networking craze “Foursquare”:http://foursquare.com. In the past few weeks it became one of the first venue partners in the city and now offers “discounts to mayors and some secret discounts for frequent visitors”:http://foursquare.com/venue/253410. As a foursquare user, it’s become a place to visit to ‘achieve’ the next status of discount.

Subsequently, The District has created an identity and presence within these two networks *that is unique to its competitors*.

It’s positioned it’s self as a destination place for the people engaged in the community and a quick look at either network shows it’s success. This level of interaction has change the community’s opinion, from a bar on the outskirts to a place to meet and be seen.

In The End

I’m not going to speculate on the success of either establishment, I’m not by any means a restaurateur. The point of this post is to look at the difference in Social Media strategy and the change to the online perception of both establishments. The one thing that I do know about the _Food and Drink_ industry is that *optics are a key element to success*.

Buzz and word of mouth are invaluable.

When we look at the rewards of these two Twitter campaigns, it’s pretty obvious which of these bars came out on top.

Calgary Social Media: Foursquare Starts To Make Waves In Calgary & Edmonton

Much has been made of the Geo-locational social application “Foursquare”:http://foursquare.com/ since it’s launch into the “Calgary and Edmonton markets in November of last year”:http://foursquare.tumblr.com/post/249951087/yet-another-round-of-new-cities-sprinkled-all-over. The application has been garnishing a bit of buzz in the local tech communities and it is now poised for it’s big breakout role within our cities. Because of which local businesses should really start taking note.

The application, which allows users to notify friends about their whereabouts through instant notifications and an addictive reward system, has been heralded as the next big thing by the Tech community since the 2009 SXSW interactive conference. But now Foursquare is making great inroads to become more than just a nifty competitive game.

News from “Techvibes has revealed a groundbreaking partnership between Metro Newspapers and Foursquare to deliver local content to nearby users”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/metro-newspapers-foursquares-join-forces.

As part of the partnership, Metro will add their location-specific editorial content to the Foursquare service. People who choose to follow Metro on Foursquare will then receive alerts when they’re close to one of those locations. For example, someone close to a restaurant that Metro has reviewed would receive a “tip” about that restaurant and the have ability to link through to the full Metro review on metronews.ca. – “Courtesy of Techvibes”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/metro-newspapers-foursquares-join-forces

This partnership with one of Canada’s largest media outlets will connect Foursquare with a daily audience and will inject it’s brand into the mainstream consciousness. In the short-term, this will add more users to the growing audience in Calgary and Edmonton

Now on the flip side of this, Foursquare is also allowing 3rd party developers to create apps to make the service that much better. One of the first Third party Applications for Foursquare is called “PlaceWidget.com”:http://www.placewidget.com. Placewidget allows businesses (or organizations) with an already established Foursquare presence to promote user activity on their own web sites with a simple HTML widget … So for example if a _small_ business like Calgary’s own little Apple Store wanted to promote their Foursquare activity it would look like this:

Or maybe a more local competitor like Westworld Computers wanted to get in on the action, it would look like this:

While PlaceWidget might seem like a simple and remedial integration of Foursquare’s information, it really is the tip of the iceberg. As the service grows the need for businesses to leverage this information will evolve with it. Similar to how Twitter and Facebook streams now appear on the web sites of many organizations and businesses, Foursquare will be next in line.

These are just two small examples of how Foursquare is slowly fulfilling it’s _tech prophesy_ as the next major social network. The next question is when will local Calgary and Edmonton businesses start to incorporate this extremely business friendly social network into their own marketing practices?

The clientèle is growing, so who is going to be first?

The GetDown.ca Campaign

In early July, Armadillo Studios was approached by the Calgary Downtown Association, in conjunction with Tag Advertising, to help jump-start the online campaign for the new “Getdown.ca web site”:http://www.getdown.ca.

The goal of the Getdown.ca project is to help create a new web site that would inform Calgarians of the great events going on Downtown. Our roll in the project was to help develop and guide a social media strategy for the newly launched site. Through a combination of on-site training and hands on work, Armadillo Studios worked tirelessly to help kick start Getdown.ca into a viable element of the Calgary online community.

We enlisted the help of some of Calgary’s up and coming writers as well as active and influential members of the “yycTwitter Community”:http://twitter.com/#search?q=yyc to populate the new site with great content. We also provided customized social media training sessions for the Downtown Calgary team and applied an organic growth strategy for the Twitter campaign. In addition, we tailored Downtown Calgary’s “Twitter”:http://twitter.com/downtowncalgary and “Facebook Fan”:http://www.facebook.com/downtowncalgary pages based on Xpan’s & Tag’s elegant web site design.

During our tenure, the Getdown.ca project has grown by leaps and bounds. Since handing the project to Downtown Calgary earlier this month, GetDown.ca continues to grow. We’re pretty proud of the work we did with Downtown Calgary and here are some of the simple stats for the project.

* The Downtown Calgary Facebook Fan page has broken the ever-so popular 100 fan check point. The page continues to evolve as Downtown Calgary begins to utilize different elements of Facebook’s Fan pages to improve communication with the Calgary community.
* The Getdown.ca blog has published over 60+ posts about the Downtown area. Covering everything from Downtown’s own “Stylocity week”:http://getdown.ca/2009/09/11/stylocity-hit-the-streets-guerrilla-style/ to the flagship “*atomic Bubble Tea shop”:http://getdown.ca/2009/09/03/atomic-tea-feels-like-home/ to the “latest plays from Calgary’s Theatre scene”:http://getdown.ca/category/stage-and-screen/.
* “The Downtown Calgary Twitter”:http://twitter.com/downtowncalgary account grows at a positive and organic pace, with new users joining regularly.

Not bad for a 4 month period.

Anyways, we’d like to thank Downtown Calgary & Tag Advertising for the opportunity to work with them on the GetDown.ca project. We know Downtown Calgary’s Social media influence will continue to grow as it is in great hands. And last but not least, a big thank you goes out to all the local writers who helped launch the GetDown.ca project. Without their content none of this would have been possible.

Shel Israel’s Twitterville

A month ago Shel Israel swung through Calgary on a “promotional stop”:http://www.meetup.com/third-tuesday-calgary/calendar/11278682/ for his latest book, “Twitterville”:http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/twitterville.html. Intrigued by his previous work, “Naked Conversations with Robert Scroble”:http://books.google.ca/books?id=8tD1OOLUbJgC&dq=naked+conversations&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=dj3qSr7pBI30sQOR3fHWCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAw, Half of the Armadillo team attended his talk to see what Shel had to say about on twitter. Shel spent the evening doing what he does best; regaling the audience with anecdote after anecdote about the growing importance of Twitter for business (and to a lesser extent society). Needless to say, very few attendees of that event left without a copy of twitterville under their arm.

Shel is a gifted story teller and _Twitterville_ is nothing short of enthralling and inspiring. From a business perspective if you are looking to properly explore the world of Social Marketing, in particular Twitter, consider picking up a copy.

See Twitterville easily overshadows the “plethora of other Twitter books”:http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&ved=0CA4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dummies.com%2Fstore%2Fproduct%2FTwitter-For-Dummies.productCd-0470479914.html&rct=j&q=twitter+for+dummies+book&ei=30zwSpzYCJLWtgPO7LiABg&usg=AFQjCNFPwJyyZ2O85EOsh5qHKEYzgsPJ0g, because it is *an honest look at the evolving community, from the viewpoint of someone who truly cares*. Shel enthusiasm clearly demonstrates his appreciation for the subject material. His business anecdotes have an intimate feel to them, due to the relationships he has built with the major protagonists in each story. Within each chapter he is promoting and championing businesses that understand Twitterville and are pushing it in a positive direction. More importantly, he showcases the people behind these successful accounts, who are leverage their own generosity and compassion to further the community and their own bottom-line.

In a sense, the basic take-away from Twitterville, revolves around the divide between the personal and impersonal. As Shel notes throughout the book, the downfall of many business strategies on Twitter are routed in the impersonal and archaic _broadcast_ tactics many companies are familiar with. Where businesses are seeing favourable results on Twitter, is when they shift their focus towards a more involved and open two-way communication strategy. Shel’s philosophy is that *Businesses will succeed on Twitter only when they are personable*. And he leverages many examples throughout Twitterville; from the success story of “comcastcares”:http://twitter.com/comcastcares to “scottymonty”:http://twitter.com/scottymonty and his ability to suppress Ford Ranger Fan-club backlash to the small business success of Houston’s “coffegroundz”:http://twitter.com/coffeegroundz.

That is not to say that Twitterville is only for the novice twitter user. Rather Twitterville is an important read even for the most seasoned of power users. From his own personal ideal _That Twitter is the Place where People Act The Most Honest_ to the concept of _Lethal Generosity_, Shel is able to show Twitter’s evolving ability in a different light. In addition, Shel’s business cases and anecdotes are well researched and provide even experienced marketers with ideas and concepts to work with or bring to their clients. That is not to say that there aren’t any remedial chapters intended for the novice users (the Last Chapter is dedicated to the basics of Twitter and there is a detailed chapter geared towards the darker side of twitter).

It’s easy to be sceptical of the magnitude of literature popping up regarding the business opportunities within the Twitter community; the technology is far too young for anyone to truly comprehend the future ramifications of the tool. But Twitterville is a fantastic first step in that direction. It is a book which is chalkful of insightful ideas and positive concepts, that showcase ideas that promote the community rather than exploit it.

If you are small business looking to engage with your clients on Twitter, take the time to seek out _Twitterville_.