Category Archives: Social Media

Prime Time 2014

Sorry guys, I know I’ve been silent while all sorts of wonky things have been happening (Rogers licence renewal, Talk TV Part 2, Starlight resubmission etc. etc.).  Paying work has kept me occupied not so sadly.  But I am off to Ottawa shortly for the CMPA’s Prime Time conference and they have accredited me as media on the basis of my tweeting and blogging – which I think is pretty cool.  So I will tweet all the panels (and possibly social things too since the networking is an important part of why you go to Prime Time), blogging summaries and Storifying the collective tweets once it’s all said and done.  You can follow along the general conversation by following the hashtag #PTiO.  Last year I was really impressed by how many producers got into the tweeting conversations – I hope to see a few more this year.

Now to head for the train – fingers crossed Viarail saw the error of their ways and have returned to the chocolate truffles.

Hashtag Rules

I didn’t think this post was needed but apparently so.

What is a hashtag? It is a word, or group of words with no spaces or punctuation, preceded by #. On Twitter, and now on Facebook and Instagram, soon the entire world (but please not verbally), it allows you to tag your tweet or post with a searchable term. That is basic function no. 1. Say you are watching a TV show and tweeting. You end each post with #MurdochMysteries. Sometimes you need to put the broadcaster in there because there are different Canadian and US broadcasts so #FPCTV vs #FPIon (for Flashpoint). Then other fans can search the hashtag and see all the posts whether they are following you or not. That works great for tweeting television and for attending conferences or following along with CRTC hearings.

Who comes up with a hashtag? Conference organizers set it, broadcasters and producers set it but for the rest they come about by consensus. If the ones that are set don’t work then consensus will find a new one that does work so you might want to think of the rules of hashtags if it is your job to set it.

The Rules:

1. They are short. You are asking people to remove possible characters from their 140 character limit so keep it as short as possible. Stick to what’s necessary. If it is absolutely necessary to have your broadcaster in the hashtag then keep it (eg. #FPCTV) but if it’s not the fans will likely drop it (eg. PlayedCTV). If it is necessary to put the year in do you really need to put 2013 and not 13? But do you really need that year??

2. Search to make sure that your hashtag isn’t already being used by something else. Remember the purpose. You want people to search the hashtag and follow along. That doesn’t work if you want to talk about Canadian TV but the hashtag is already in use for US chat shows, for example.

3. No punctuation. Only the letters before the punctuation will be an active hashtag.

4. It should make sense for what you are trying to identify with the hashtag. If you are a small group, say those following a CRTC hearing, you can be a bit obscure like #91h or #GLR but if you want a wider audience you need to be really clear.

5. Consider an already acceptable hashtag that is in use. Is it necessary to reinvent the wheel or specifically brand your exercise? If you adopt one that is in use you will become part of an existing conversation instead of trying to start your own from scratch. Easier, eh?

What about all those long hashtags or strange ones like #whatdoyoumeanitsFridayalready or #wheelsup. These would be for advanced users ;). They give flavour to a tweet and aren’t intended to be searchable. Sometimes they become searchable re-used hashtags through use (like #loungesoup or #wonkcake) but usually they are one time only hashtags used to add emotion to a tweet, which can often read emotionless. I’m partial to them myself.

If I’ve missed any of the rules or uses of hashtags, let me know.

Update:  For a little hashtag and grammar fun check out this post:  https://medium.com/we-live-in-the-future/1bb14533fbfd (h/t @elizadushku – another fan of hashtags).

It’s all about the fans

As an advocate for Canadian media I have been told time and time again that Canadians don’t watch Canadian television, go to Canadian movies or play on Canadian websites because it just isn’t good enough. We have the stats to prove otherwise but that doesn’t stop the trolls (who are sometimes even mainstream media) from slagging the stuff that we make here. I wish they all had spent the weekend at Fan Expo to see the truth. We have a star system, we have crazy fans, we have a huge audience for our home-grown content. This is a good news story (and a good news blog post). And honestly – if someone tries to tell me today that we don’t make good stuff I think that I might slap them.

I’ve been going to FanExpo for a few years now. The first year (2010) there was one Canadian property at FanExpo – the steampunk web series Riese (that’s the wikipedia reference – I couldn’t find a Canadian source to watch it as it’s geoblocked on Syfy.com) – I saw some fans still cosplaying characters from that webseries this year – which is quite cool. Each year since then the Canadian contingent has grown. This year there were panels and booths and cast signings for “Lost Girl”, “Call Me Fitz”, “The Listener”, “Murdoch Mysteries”, “Orphan Black”, “Bitten” (which hasn’t even aired yet but has a huge following based on Kelly Armstrong’s books – which I first learned about at last year’s FanExpo) and several other series which are American but shot here such as “Warehouse 13” and “Defiance”. The Independent Production Fund hosted a booth for several of the web series that they have funded. Across from them was the booth for “Ruffus The Dog’s Steampunk Adventure” (which apparently Gina Torres loved – #geekheaven). The animated web series “Captain Canuck” had a booth where Kris Holden-Reid, who voices the main character, did signings (I stood there for a while and ogled him – have to admit it). Quite a few indie gamers had booths. The Canadian presence was huge.

And the fans loved it. I spent some time on Saturday in line with fans and I really enjoyed meeting people. In the “Murdoch Mysteries” line people kept talking about being in line to see Jack and that confused me until I realized that was Yannick Bisson’s character name from “Sue Thomas F. B. Eye” (an industrially Canadian series from 2002-2005). My favourite fans were the lady in her 60s and her 90 year old mother in a walker. “Jack” was the mother’s favourite actor on TV. Both mom and daughter were pretty excited when the cast made a fuss over them. [Note – FanExpo is not just for geeky gamer boys and Lolitas. This story shows just how mainstream it has become.]

I took a break from the madness of FanExpo on a Saturday and went early to line up for “The Listener” panel and sit and read my graphic novel. I had passed a surprise “Listener” cast signing and let the women around me know that it was going on and offered to save their places for them. Then I started talking to the identical twins behind me. They now introduce each other as ‘clones’ after becoming big fans of “Orphan Black”. We talked clones (Will there be a new one next season?) and “Bitten” casting (can Supergirl play a werewolf? They think so) and they raved about how terrific everyone they met had been.

When the ladies came back from their cast signing one had brought me a poster and another invited me to join her in her VIP front row, as thank yous for their incredible experience meeting the cast. Awwwww! Listenerds are the best!

It’s not just about meeting the stars though. At each panel I attended (or heard about), fans got a chance to ask questions about story and in a few cases pitched story ideas for future seasons. [Christina Jennings was quite taken by a few of the “Listener” fan ideas.] They loved meeting the creators when they had a chance – I heard about how great it was to meet co-creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson of “Orphan Black”.

And then there were the “Bitten” ears. Everyone who went to their panel got a pair of wolf ears. You could tell after the panel was out and the rest of FanExpo (including the Nathan Fillion line which I was in instead of the panel – sorry guys) was infiltrated with wolf ears. Brilliant.

As we all know Nathan Fillion is Canadian. I’m not sure everyone knew how proud of that fact he remains. He made that clear and the crowd roared in appreciation (I have to admit it – I almost teared up). And yes, an appreciation for our Canadian talent who have gone south and done well for themselves is an integral part of our Canadian media world. Which is not the same as only promoting our ex-pat stars.

So what did I learn from this? Canadian fans are very aware that they are Canadian and different from Americans (you should have heard the crowd loudly correct George Takei when he said both Canada and the US entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbour). We are proud that we are polite and generous whether we are celebrities or fans. We love our Canadian television not because it’s Canadian but because it’s great stuff. It competes with and is just as good as the American shows. We have a star system that seems to have grown organically just on the basis of that great television.

It’s not that the broadcasters do NOTHING – no, they do promote their Canadian programs and talent but just not enough. So the producers and talent take on promotion when they have the time and money to do so. Some of it is as simple as jumping in on social media (I think more than a few fans will be joining Twitter to twatch the “Listener” finale next Wednesday after the cast talked about regularly twatching) and the lack of ego that leads to free cast signings when the big US stars are charging mega bucks and limiting the number of autographs.

Some people are catching on – loved the sneak peeks from Shaftesbury and seriously if someone could send me some wolf ears I swear I’d wear them. Somewhere. Space does a great job at working FanExpo. We can do more. We can grow the audience with more fan support. And if the audience grows then maybe, when benefits money runs out and BDU contributions to the CMF drop, then just maybe broadcasters will see that it’s in their best financial interest to continue to give the audience the great Canadian TV that they have come to expect, with the stars and stories that they love.

Every year I tell people what a great experience it is to go to FanExpo if you work in Canadian television (and digital media but this year I focused on the tv side – maybe next year). Our task now is to support the fans throughout the year. Seriously guys, I don’t think a hashtag is going to do it.

Social Media Musings – Personal Rule re My Industry

As I have mentioned before, I don’t believe in a set of social media rules that should apply to everyone.  I think however that everyone should create their own set of rules that govern how they interact in social media and some of those rules might be universal but others will be very specific.  I’ve talked about my personal rule on politics and now I’m going to talk about my personal rule on how I tweet about my industry.  If you also work in film, television and digital media this could be directly applicable to you.  If you don’t then think about how you could adapt this rule to your industry.  If you play the role of an advocate, whatever your sector, then I think my rule might be helpful.

I have spent my entire career working on or advocating for Canadian content film, television and digital media.  Social media gives me a great platform to talk about Canadian media, promote it and advocate for positive change.  Positive is the key word here.  I take a very positive approach to my social media activity.  I will sometimes question whether a policy or program is the right one but even then with the utmost respect and politeness (I think).  I will not be negative about media that I have seen but if I love it then I will shout it from the rooftops.  You may think that this is a biased approach and it is but hear me out.

It is tough to work in Canadian media.  We could all be making more money easier – I am convinced of that.  The vast majority of us who work in this field, whether we are creators or administrators or even wonks, do so because we have a passion for Canadian media.  We work hard to get the best content possible in front of Canadian audiences.  So I hugely respect the work that people do, even if sometimes I don’t like the outcome.  It’s all a crapshoot and sometimes the elements that kill a project are outside anyone’s control.  The broadcaster didn’t promote it or the producer couldn’t get enough financing for a decent budget or the wrong actors were cast or the script needed a rewrite.  What are you going to do.

If it’s great then it needs help to get seen.  That’s just a reality in our world.  I did my best with “Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays” but it needed more than me and the other handful of advocates.  Sigh.  I’m a Listenerd and a member of the Clone Club.  And I’m a big, vocal, fan of a few other shows that don’t have cute names for their fans.

There is a place for critical review of media, both by regular people and professionals.   There have been many conversations about how we need to be more critical of our Canadian media – it isn’t all great and some of it needs to be much better.  Sometimes it makes sense that a television show is cancelled or a feature film doesn’t get a big audience.  I just feel too close to the content and know too many of the people involved to have the necessary distance to play that role.  So I don’t.  And sometimes, I have to tell you, it’s really hard.  But that’s my rule.

[Note – I have also been called an incurable optimist so this ‘rule’ may just be who I am.  You decide.]

 

 

Social Media Musings – Politics

As some of you might have guessed, I was totally biting my tongue (or my virtual tongue) on Twitter during the federal cabinet shuffle today.  It occurs to me that it might be useful to explain why I do that so readers can decide how they want to approach moments like that.

As I mention in my social media training workshops, I don’t have a set of rules that I share but principles that I encourage others to consider as they create their own rules.  First, there is no such thing as a personal-only Twitter account.  Tweets are public and can be found by anyone looking to see what you said.  Your audience is not just your followers.  It is very easy for your tweets to reflect on you and your job.  You should have an idea of the persona that you want to have in social media and you should consider whether that persona could in any way impact your ability to do your job – before you start tweeting or posting.

What that means for me is that even though I have definite personal political perspectives, I keep them off my main twitter account.  That’s the decision that I have made.  I totally respect those who include partisan tweets in their feed but it is not something that I am comfortable with.  I would like to be able to advocate on behalf of whoever engages me with the government of the day.  If I, or my clients, have problems with a specific policy then that is fair game but partisan tweets are not.   [Now and then one slips out but this is the rule that I TRY to follow.]

So while I tell people that they need to share their personality on Twitter in order to build trust and engagement, there are limits to how much personality you may want to share.  Where you draw the line is up to you.

If my social media musings are useful, then I might share a few more over the summer.  It’s hot and I don’t want to get into anything terribly wonky in this weather.

Wonk Down

As many of you heard, the Canadian media industry lost one of its own over the weekend when Alan Sawyer passed on after a 9 month struggle with cancer.  I won’t make any attempt to summarize his life but just wanted to share some thoughts.

I first met Alan through evaluating Bell Fund applications and meeting to review the evaluations.  After a while I started playing Scrabulous with him.  He loved his words.  Then it was running into him at digital media and television conferences and cocktail parties.  Then came Twitter.  Alan was one of my first Twitter friends (3rd in fact).  We both really took to twitter and enjoyed talking about the daily wonky events in Canadian media.  A group of like-minded tweeters started to form.  It was inevitable that we would start to drink together.

Mary Henricksen, Cam McMaster, Alan and I met for drinks in March or April 2010.  We had so much fun talking about wonky things that no one else in our ‘real’ lives enjoyed talking about – policies, hearings, politics, media developments, gossip . . . . oh and shoes but that might have just been Mary and me.  We decided that we needed to do it again and bring others.  In no time we became a monthly gathering of those who love wonky conversations about Canadian media:  Mary, Cam, Alan and I plus Joanne Deer, Sasha Boersma, Bram Abramson, Suzanne Keppler, Cynthia Lynch, Reynolds Mastin (special dispensation to attend though he doesn’t tweet), Peter Murphy and Ottawa chapter wonks: Jason Kee, Mario Mota, Jeff Lieper.   They became known as Wonktaculars and Alan was the creator of the monthly password (ostensibly to keep out wannabe wonks but really just to amuse us greatly).

Alan loved #wonktacular.  Except maybe when we talked about spas or shoes.  But other than those topics he had a wide ranging set of interests as did we all and he enjoyed talking about whatever was going on in the media world or the greater world, poking fun, being controversial, drinking craft beer.  He challenged our ideas and asked ‘but why?’  He celebrated our successes with us and we celebrated his with him – an Emmy!  He was very excited about transitioning away from wonkery and into interactive production but still loved wonky conversations.

Somehow, between drinks and giggles over NMBUs and serious work conversations that went behind and under the powers that be, we became a tight knit group of wonks.  In the past year a number of us have had challenges to deal with and turned to the others for support but nothing challenged us more as a group than Alan’s illness and nothing made us see what we had become as a group more than Alan’s illness.

We asked him what he needed, he said distraction – and we gave it to him.  We got him out to industry functions and parties and made sure he always had company.  We met for drinks as often as he wanted.  We laughed at his jokes even when they got really, really dark.  When he was tired he would just sit and listen.  We were a safe and comfortable crowd.   He was grateful for our company.  I know that because he told us.  And we were grateful that there was something that we could do for him when there was nothing that we could do about the cancer.

I really respected the way that he handled this challenge.  Alan went public very early on and kept anyone interested informed through a blog (which he wished he had the energy to fix – it just didn’t work the way that he wanted it to!).  He rediscovered his love of writing and was really good at it.   The result was a huge wave of ongoing support for him and through the blog he was able to tell us all how grateful he was for that support.  The last time that I saw Alan, in late April, we compared notes about blog writing.  He really enjoyed it, but he felt that he had run out of things to say.   His last few posts were sparse and he ended up having written his final one in early April.  I kept on top of what he was up to through his Foursquare checkins.  I’d start to worry if he hadn’t at least checked in for schnitzel once in the previous week.  Other wonks who weren’t on Foursquare would ask me if he’d checked in lately.  We had found each other through social media and we kept an eye on each other through social media.  With Alan at the centre of it.

We knew this day would come but we all thought Alan, and we, would have more time.  He was getting more and more tired whenever we saw him and started cancelling social gatherings because he just wasn’t up to it.  But still, it was a shock and we are all still processing it.

Mary has some last words that pretty much sum up how I think we all feel: “He was a good guy, a sharp wit, a curmudgeon and a friend deeply missed.”

Thank you Alan.   Kim, you are in our thoughts.

How I would like you to use LinkedIn

[Remember – this is my blog so I can muse about whatever I want.]

I think that we’ve all noticed that LinkedIn usage has jumped in recent months.  According to LinkedIn itself, membership grew by 16 million to 225 million in the first quarter of the year.  That’s a 7.6% increase in just one quarter.  It is the 22nd most visited web property in the world.

LinkedIn is an ‘old’ social network since it launched in 2003.  Many people (myself included) built a profile and then ignored it.  Many of you still are ignoring your profile because you think that you are not job-hunting so don’t need it.  I am posting today to ask you to update your profile.  Please.  For me.

There are two things that I use LinkedIn for now and neither is job hunting.  One is to publish blog posts.  Links to a blog post go out simultaneously on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  If you miss it the moment that it goes out on Twitter, you can find it more leisurely on LinkedIn or Facebook.  That is, if you are connected with me in either place (and note that I have to know you pretty well to connect on Facebook – not so much on LinkedIn).

The other thing that I use LinkedIn for is to check out people’s profiles before I meet with them.  Before in my previous job and even more now, I frequently meet with new people.  I like to check out their profile first to see what they look like (it helps when meeting for coffee in a crowded café) and get a better handle on what they are doing now and what their background is.  This is why I would like you, all of you, to post a photo and update your LinkedIn profile so that it tells me what you are doing now and the essential things that you have done in your past.

And yes, I also use LinkedIn to build a network because you have no idea where the next consulting gig is going to come from.  And when I was hiring in my last job I always checked out the applicant’s LinkedIn profile.  So for independent consultants and job hunters or engagers it is essential.

But for the rest of you – please update your profile!