Saturday, April 03, 2010

Today's "zombie march" in downtown Moncton

Is this some sort of new event?

Remember the "social" in social media

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 2, 2010
Pg. F6, Metro section

Remember the “social” in social media:

One of the most common mistakes that users of social media make is that they simply think "being there" is good enough. They don't share much of their own lives or thoughts, other than hawking their wares, i.e. selling. They never retweet, reply, or use the "like" and "share" buttons on Facebook. They only talk about business. They never get personal. In essence, they forgot about the "social" in social media.

I had a very interesting conversation at a business reception a few weeks ago. I was talking to another person active on Twitter about this very subject -- and about how some people believe they're the cat's meow of social media but make the big mistake of thinking that "volume equals quality". Actually, people need to understand that content is the key to social media, not volume.

During the conversation, I described a local business person considered by many to "get" social media. They are, in fact, renowned for it and have garnered some publicity for it, as well. My take on the person was different, however. I remarked how I'd rarely -- if ever -- seen this person share anything about their own life -- barely even mentioning a good restaurant in town or a movie they've seen lately. It was all business -- and all about them. In fact, I'd stopped following them on Facebook and Twitter for that very reason.

The problem was that they were boring me to death. Zero to say other than stuff about their industry -- and even that stuff wasn't particularly interesting. It didn't even have anything to do about the local market. I couldn't care less about the market indicators in Zimbabwe (I'm exaggerating) in which they thought I'd be interested.

In fact, they are an expert in their field, but their use of social media could be much more social. So, during my conversation at the reception, I'd described this individual without mentioning their name and the person I was talking to blurted out the name right away. I laughed out loud. "So, I'm not the only one," I said. Clearly, I wasn't.

Lesson: If you think social media is going to do wonders for you simply by posting links related to your industry, you're wrong. The fact is that we already realize you're likely good at your job. A lot of other people are good at their jobs, too.

What we need to know is this: Why should I like you more than your competitor? Do you have pets? What do your kids do? What are your hobbies? Did you do anything dumb lately for which you can make fun of yourself? Lots of people in the world do good work. What we need to realize is that we tend to do business with people we like -- and you're wasting an opportunity on social media if you don't realize that.

If you're a real estate agent and only post links to the houses you have for sale, all you're doing is knocking at my door (i.e. my Facebook newsfeed or Twitter feed) and trying to sell me something. There are a couple of hundred others in town who can do the same thing. What you need to do is differentiate yourself from the others personally, not professionally. Help me to like you as a person.

Promote a charity event for some friends. Share some links that you thought were funny. Congratulate someone in the community for doing something nice for others -- and not for business reasons... just do it to be helpful and nice. If you're on Twitter, strike up some conversations with people. If all you're doing is posting links and talking about your business and wondering why social media isn't the "miracle" it was all cracked up to be, it's probably because you forgot the "social" part. Share. Be generous. Be personal. Help others. Be a real person, not a link-posting robot.

Making mistakes:

We all make mistakes. This week, I misinterpreted something and posted an opinion that turned out to be terribly wrong. When I was called out on it on both Facebook and Twitter, I apologized for the error and took responsibility.

Unfortunately, the person who called me out on the error kept coming back for more like some hyena who just wanted to nip away at the ankles of a wounded zebra. Doing this in private is one thing, but publicly is another. Many assumptions, misinterpretations and accusations were made that were overly angry and aggressive.

If you make a mistake, admit your mistake promptly. No one is perfect. Apologize graciously and quickly. The person who pointed out the mistake, meanwhile, should accept the apology equally as graciously and quickly and build a bridge and get over it already. No one is interested in reading a catfight on Twitter or Facebook. The credibility of all parties is hurt when arguments are public.

Social media is a process, not an event or instant cure-all:

Building your brand or image on social media doesn't happen overnight. If your company or organization suddenly starts using social media only during a crisis and then wonders why no one is buying it, it's because you didn't build credibility or a presence first.

Social media is not an overnight fix-it for you, your company or organization.

Author Seth Godin said it best: "The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations: It's a process, not an event. Dating is a process. So is losing weight, being a public company and building a brand. On the other hand, putting up a trade show booth is an event. So are going public and having surgery. Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul."

Criticizing:

If some of the people you follow on social media drive you nuts, try this: stop following them instead of criticizing them publicly. People don't do that often enough. Instead, they get toxic and whine and complain when they should just cut ties. Social media should be fun and productive, not a pain in the rear.

Brian Cormier is a writer, blogger and communications consultant. Social Media Matters appears every Friday. Contact him at brian@briancormier.com or visit his blog at www.briancormier.blogspot.com. Questions are welcome!

Friday, April 02, 2010

This week's Social Media Matters column...

Click here to check out this week's Social Media Matters column on pg. F6 of the Moncton Times & Transcript's Metro section.

Topics this week include:

- Remember the “social” in social media
- Making mistakes
- Social media is a process, not an event or instant cure-all
- Criticizing

The column will be posted in its entirety online here tomorrow.

Pope John Paul II died five years ago today

Despite its graininess, this video sends chills down my spine. When a pope dies, the bells in St. Peter's Square ring out to announce the event. When those bills start to ring, it's final... and dramatic.

This captures when Pope John Paul II died exactly five years ago today on April 2, 2005.

It's Good Friday


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Province of New Brunswick announces new rules for pet stores, kennels and animal shelters

The following news release was sent by the New Brunswick Department of Local Government today. Excellent news for animal lovers and those who want to protect those who cannot speak for themselves! Minister Chris Collins is to be congratulated for this pro-active and long overdue initiative.

New rules for pet stores, kennels and animal shelters

April 1, 2010

FREDERICTON (CNB) – Pets will be better protected in New Brunswick thanks to stricter rules proposed by government.

Local Government Minister Chris Collins announced today that the provincial government plans to adopt a new regulation under the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Act which will define specific standards for pet establishments, such as pet stores, animal shelters and kennels, and enable their licensing and inspection.

“This new regulation will fulfill the New Brunswick SPCA’s request for greater enforcement powers and will help them protect animals and reduce the instance of abusive situations such as puppy mills,” said Collins. “The comprehensive standards proposed under this new regulation will make New Brunswick one of the few provinces to oversee pet establishments to such a high degree.”

The changes will apply to both commercial and non-commercial establishments in municipalities and rural areas. Commercial pet operations include kennels and pet stores while non-commercial operations include animal shelters. In addition, owners of more than five dogs, over six months of age, will be required to adhere to nationally established standards of care for those animals.

“We welcome this new regulation that the Government of New Brunswick is putting in place,” said Joy Bacon, president of the New Brunswick SPCA. “It will give the society a broader mandate, permit us to have better oversight of pet stores and kennels, and enable us to prosecute those who willfully neglect their animals.”

Establishments selling animals considered livestock will be exempt from pet licensing requirements as will grooming facilities, training operations, research and educational facilities, veterinary clinics boarding animals for medical reasons and boarding and riding stables for horses. Licenses will not be required for circuses and zoos.

“We value the partnership the provincial government has with the New Brunswick SPCA and will continue to support its delivery of programs relating to animal protection,” said Collins.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Barbour, communications, Department of Local Government, 506-444-4693.

Looking for a new cat?

Snicklefritz is currently the longest resident cat at the Moncton SPCA. Click here for his profile on the shelter's website and check out his video below.



Click here for more information on the Moncton SPCA and all the animals the shelter has up for adoption!

Rufus Wainwright's "April Fools"

Since it's April Fools Day, I thought it would be appropriate to post this song by Rufus Wainwright -- his first big hit from 1998... "April Fools".

American Idol: Recap of Top 10 results show

Last night on American Idol, the Top 10 became the Top 9 when another contestant was eliminated.

I picked Tim Urban, Didi Benami and Katie Stevens to be in the bottom three. I also predicted that Didi would be eliminated. If you didn't watch the show, I can tell you that I was 100% correct in my bottom three prediction... but was I right in picking Didi to go home?

To find out how it all went down and what other reviewers predicted would happen this week, click here for my Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript and click here for Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Next week, the countdown to choosing the 2010 American Idol continues when the nine remaining finalists perform songs from the works of Lennon and McCartney. Don't miss it -- Tuesday at 9 p.m. Atlantic (8 p.m. Eastern) on Fox!

BULLETIN: Pope Benedict XVI resigns; Moncton archbishop elevated to papacy


In shocking news overnight, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, following an expense claim scandal that has rocked the Church to its very core in the past couple of days. The former pope will remain in the Vatican as a special advisor.

In even more shocking news, an emergency meeting of cardinals elevated a non-cardinal to the position of Il Papa Resplendente ("The Resplendent Pope"), a rarely used term for a pope named outside of the College of Carinals. Archbishop André Richard of the Archdiocese of Moncton was called to Rome late yesterday under a curtain of secrecy and security to be installed as the so-called Resplendent Pope. A full meeting of the College of Cardinals is expected to take place later in April to make the appointment official. Afterwards, the term "Resplendent Pope" will revert simply to "Pope".


Archbishop Richard has reportedly taken the name of Pope John Paul III, likely due to Pope John Paul II's visit to Moncton in 1984, but this will only be confirmed when the new pontiff meets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square later today.

The first Canadian pope is from New Brunswick! Who would have guessed?

Click here for full news coverage on BBC.

Considering the implications of a higher profile

(I just want to apologize to the person who suggested the book idea. I am grateful for the idea and would urge you to move forward if you want to. The comments in my column came across that I was ungrateful and thought the idea was somehow mean-spirited. I absolutely know that the suggestion was well intended and I apologize 100% for even seeming to suggest that the idea was intended to take advantage of the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I should have given you a heads up on these comments (to put them in the correct context) and I neglected to do so. My fault completely. I am a total, utter, flippin' idiot for this!)

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Editorial section

When I wrote last week's column about a missing woman, I had no idea she would be found a mere few hours later after escaping from her alleged kidnapper. Over the next couple of days, some of the sordid details of the entire ordeal were made known. A man has been charged and will go to trial.

Tens of thousands of people rejoiced. People praised God for the positive outcome. A truck driver driving innocently down a city street has a story to tell his children and grandchildren. Local people breathed a sigh of relief that the woman had been found alive and that the alleged perpetrator had been caught.

A family is reunited. The police have a happy ending that -- I can only assume -- they were starting to wonder whether it would ever happen.

Because of last week's column, my name became attached to the case by some media outlets doing online searches for potential interviews.

The night of her rescue it was the lead story on a national radio news interview show and I was privileged to be a guest and discuss community reaction to the news that she'd been found alive.

Then, it was an interview on national morning television and then a New Brunswick television news broadcast.

I then got a call from another radio show for a potential interview. The segment didn't go ahead, after all, but I was struck by a comment by the producer who was looking to book me.

Basically, she asked why I was being interviewed by these national media. My answer was that I wrote a column about the woman on the very same day she was found. Right place at the right time.

I laughed and said, "What was I supposed to say when they called? No?" Then she chuckled and agreed.

So while I found myself being interviewed by well-known national and provincial radio and TV hosts, I suddenly found myself as one of the people being sought out for community reaction to her rescue and the subsequent publication ban surrounding her case.

I didn't ask for any of this to happen, but the calls came in and I answered them.

Some, I'm sure, were asking, "Why him?" Trust me, so was I.

In fact, some did ask me to my face.

When I explained about the column and the coincidental timing, they understood -- I think. Again, I asked: "What was I supposed to do? Turn them down and say no?"

Of course, the answer always was, "Well, of course not! Do the interview!"

I did the interviews with mixed feelings, knowing that I was getting exposure due to this woman's horrible misfortune. However, I hope I did it in a dignified manner that didn't exploit her ordeal. The fact is that media need to get some interviews when these things happen, and I had a connection to the case solely by the opportune timing of last week's column.

Because I'm quite active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I also let my online friends and followers know that I was doing the interviews. That was a dilemma. How much was promoting the fact that I was getting this exposure too much? Was I supposed to hide the fact that I was on these shows? I don't know. After all, how many times do you get to appear on national shows? Was I supposed to keep quiet?

I never pretended to be an innocent little wallflower who doesn't want attention, but there's always that fine line of going too far. You now, the line where you start to think it's about you -- and not about the issue on which you're being interviewed.

I'm not going to lie. Appearing on these shows was thrilling. I could tell you something different, but I might as well be trying to convince you that I don't want to win the lottery. C'mon! Who doesn't want to win the lottery?

But then I sit back and think that my opportunity for this exposure only came from the hellish ordeal of an innocent woman who was kidnapped and held hostage. Actually, to be accurate, the exposure came from her rescue, not the ordeal itself -- and the rescue is a happy thing.

I don't know what I feel. Should I feel proud that I got these interviews (that I didn't personally seek out)? Should I be ashamed if it appears that I took advantage and put myself forward as someone trying to get exposure due to her horrific experience? Should I have not said a word to anyone and hoped the interviews would go unnoticed?

Someone e-mailed me the other day to ask me if I was interested in co-writing a book on the story. I didn't think it would be a good idea. First of all, I wouldn't be able to co-write with anyone. (One of us would end up dead.) Secondly, I think it's way too soon, and she and her family should be in on that decision. As inspiring and dramatic as the ending was, it's not over yet. There's still a trial. There's still healing. She may want to just forget. And no one should write a book if she doesn't want a book written.

I've never met the woman I'm writing about. Maybe I never will. But if she's reading this, I hope she knows one thing: I hope I helped and didn't make things worse. And I know that thousands of others feel the same way. Whatever any of us did -- the tips to the police... the prayers... the vigils... the media coverage... even just keeping an eye out for you wherever we were -- well, we hope we helped.

And, one final thing: consider yourself hugged by an entire community, my dear! Welcome home.

Welcome to April!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

American Idol: Top 10 performance show recap and predictions

The 10 remaining contestants on American Idol performed R&B and soul songs last night under the mentorship of Usher.

There were definitely some standout performances, especially from Casey James, Lee DeWyze, Andrew Garcia and Crystal Bowersox. Although I'm not a big fan, Michael Lynche really did well, too.

Worst of the night? Didi Benami seemed to get the crankiest reviews. Even poor Tim Urban fared better because he's so likeable.

Siobhan Magnus got called on her now-cliché scream by Simon. I'm glad someone else is noticing her over-reliance on this tactic.

My picks for the bottom three tonight are Tim, Didi and Katie. And who's my pick to go home? You'll have to click here to read my Idol Chatter column in today's Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

To find out who goes home, tune in to Fox at 10 p.m. Atlantic (9 p.m. Eastern) tonight!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about confused feelings of getting exposure after the national media came calling last week following a column I wrote on a Moncton-area woman who'd been missing for a month.

On the same day I wrote the column, she escaped from her alleged kidnapper and found her way back into the arms of her very relieved family (via a courier truck driver who drove her to the police). Wanting to interview a local person who was following the ordeal, two national media outlets called me. I also appeared on a provincial newscast.

I felt guilty about getting exposure over this, but was I supposed to say "No!" to these high-profile interview opportunities?

Read Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

And remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lady Gaga first artist to hit one billion views on YouTube

Singer Lady Gaga's YouTube channel is the first ever to hit one billion views. Click here for more on the story.

Here's one of the most popular of her songs, "Poker Face".