Hey, Digital Geek!

Posted on August 22, 2012 | No Comments

I’m a new blogger on Kidscreen.com, the children’s entertainment business-to-business magazine. Check out my first post, Meet the Digital Geek and check back every two weeks for more posts. If there’s anything you’d like to answer or address in these blogs, be sure to contact me.

Here’s the blog post:

Meet the Digital Geek:

The emerging media space is intimidating. Say you’ve decided to create a mobile version of your website. Sounds simple, right? You’re all set to go when suddenly the increasingly frustrated project manager bombards you with questions such as:

– are you looking for a website or an app?

– are your assets optimized for mobile?

– do you want a separate mobile site with a unique URL?

– what platforms are your users currently using?

– what content do you want on this mobile version?

Mind spinning yet? All you wanted was a mobile version of your website, and suddenly you’re expected to know the ins and outs of digital development.  No fair!

Well, I should be able to help. I work in the kids digital space as a producer and strategist  – and if you’ve been in the business for a while you may remember my name from a decade ago when I wrote for Kidscreen.

This blog will guide you through the maze of emerging platforms and help you make the right choices in online, mobile, social… and whatever else comes along… to effectively reach your youth and gatekeeper audiences. We’ll look at tactics for choosing the best social platforms, questions you need to know before you start your digital projects, trends such as social TV, and ways to create a ROI. That’s right: a return on investment for online, mobile and social – novel idea, eh?

I’d love to hear what kind of questions you have about emerging media.  Heard of a new social channel and need to know if it will reach your audience? Need help determining success metrics for your upcoming digital projects? Please join the conversation and if you require one-on-one consultation for your digital projects, ping me.

Read more: http://kidscreen.com/2012/08/22/hey-digital-geek/#ixzz24HldOI4l

Signs you may need a Content Strategist

Posted on June 20, 2012 | No Comments

Just For Laughs is holding an interesting festival in Toronto this September. The comedians are placed in venues due to customer demand. Cool, right? Unfortunately, their website isn’t very clear… so much so they had to run a clarification on their Facebook wall.

I’m sure (or at least hope) this usability issue was likely brought up during the QA process, but was pushed aside due to limitations with the website development. However, a better solution would have been to not show Sold Out or 0 seats remaining, and instead used that space to further clarify the process.

Sounds simple, right? Sometimes it isn’t easy but I can help. If you’re running into similar issues with your web projects, feel free to give me a buzz so you too don’t have to use Facebook to explain how to use your website.

How to use Google’s new Content Experiments

Posted on June 4, 2012 | No Comments

Last Friday, Google announced it has repackaged how you can test your online content.  Content Experiments is a tool within Google Analytics where you can A/B test your copy to different audiences. This is a fabulous tool.

Why does this matter to me?

It really helps save time. For example, maybe there’s been an internal argument at work about using “click here” as an affective conversion tool. Using Content Experiments allows you to put that argument to bed, finally.

As well, because Google is shuttering its Website Optimizer tool and folding it into Content Experiments, you’ll be able to see the results of your A/B test through Google Analytics instead of seeing it as a separate report.

Great, how do I get started?

Google created a walk-through for developers to set this up, so technically, you should be sorted. What you need to tell the developer, though, is what you want tested. It’s time to look at the areas of the site that aren’t performing as well as you had hoped.

1. Think of the purpose of your website – what do you want your customers to do when they’re on your website? Where do you want them to go? If they go to the pages you want, this is a conversion. What is your current conversion rate now and what would you like it to be?

2. It’s time to look at page flow: what pages are customers visiting before making that conversion, and more importantly, where are they dropping off?

3. On pages where you see a large drop off, is there currently a clear message that tells the customer what they should do and where they should click? If so, are there any other barriers on the page that is stopping the customer from converting?

These are just a few ideas to help you uncover areas for content testing. Once you start, you’ll likely find many other areas. Talk these over with your developer or analytics expert, and start testing!

Keep in mind, once you start the A/B testing, give it time to build enough data to provide you with the best answer. Don’t expect an answer in a week. Give it at least two weeks before deciding on a way to go.

Who with the what now?

If you love this opportunity, but you’re not sure how to get started, we can help. Send us a note and let’s talk.

Do you Really Need those Social Share buttons?

Posted on May 31, 2012 | No Comments


Came across an interesting blog post from InformationArchitects.net about the effectiveness of adding those Like, Follow, Pin It and G+ buttons to your website and blog posts.

Their argument is these social sharing buttons don’t add any value to your website at all. If anything, it reeks of desperation.

“The user doesn’t come out of nowhere. We don’t land on your page and then head happily to those social networks to promote you, just because you have a button on your site. We find content through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc., not the other way around.”

In my experience, not many people do click on these buttons. A website could get, say 5,000 uniques and out of that, only 3 clicks on a social button. That doesn’t mean their social channels were graveyards. In fact, akin to what IA is stating, visits and likes increased thanks to compelling content on the website.

I know the irony – I have a messy slew of share buttons on the bottom of this post. And I’ve had good traffic on this site with very few ‘shares,’ which does make it look as though my content isn’t good enough. The thing is, I have people talk to me about my posts, and they are shared about on social media without the need for these buttons.

I’m in the middle of a redesign and will be removing these social buttons post haste! We’ll then see if the content continues to speak for itself.

Remember: “Social media buttons are not a social media strategy, even though they’re often sold that way. Excellent content, serious networking and constant human engagement is the way to build your profile.”

Be sure to read the entire post from Information Architecture. Great stuff.


Help People find your Mobile App

Posted on May 30, 2012 | No Comments

Let’s say you spent the money to develop the best, most awesome mobile app ever to teach people about, oh, I don’t know… the weather. But no one is downloading the app. How? Why?

Before dropping some money on a digital media campaign, have you considered:

The App Category

You may feel your ebook app features educational content because it teaches readers about thunderstorms and where snow comes from… but will potential customers be looking under educational or under… books?

Think about how your users will want to find your app.

Your Description

Based on the idea of helping your users find your app, consider keywords and key phrases they would use to look for a weather ebook and use them as part of your app description. If you’ve managed to get any reviews on your app, be sure to include snippets to help users decide.

The Image

Does the picture used to demonstrate your weather ebook app really show what the app’s all about? Is it a compelling image? Is it misleading?

Your Cost

Have you charged a reasonable amount for your app? Have you done any promotional sales to help draw new users who were on the fence?

Your Competition

Doing a competitive analysis of apps that are similar to yours (and those most popular ebooks) can give you tips and tricks on how to write your description, what keywords to use and where to get your new customers. Don’t automatically pull up Angry Birds and consider that as your competition, unless you’re creating an addictive mini game. Use other books in the category, consider similar topics, themes and features for your competitive analysis.

Try these steps before spending money on your digital ad campaign to give your app the best chance in an overcrowded market, or email us. We can help expand this strategy to ensure all your bases are covered.

Amazon gets into the Kids TV business

Posted on May 2, 2012 | No Comments

Amazon put out an open call today for series creators and producers to pitch a kids show (ages 2 through 14) to go through an incubator. The selected pitch would receive $10K and development support. The developed series will secure $50K and up to 5% of merch. The series will be part of Amazon’s new Instant Video offering.


Here’s a link to the FAQs. Some interesting highlights:

If Amazon Studios produces my series, what role will I have in the production?

Your role will be determined over the course of development and at the time of production. Amazon Studios has an open door, so this is difficult to specify in advance as creators may have different skills and experience levels.

How do rights work in the Amazon Studios Development Agreement?

 Original Properties Submitted for Private Review

If you upload an original script for private review, Amazon Studios gets three important things with respect to your work:

  • The exclusive right to buy it (and its associated rights) during the 45-day term of the option, for $200,000 if it is a movie script and for $55,000 if it is a script for an episodic series, plus other possible bonuses. The 45-day option and evaluation period restarts each time you submit a revision to the project, even if the initial 45-day period has ended. We can also extend this option for two additional 18-month periods by paying you $10,000 for each extension. If we extend the option, we will receive all of the rights we receive for properties submitted for public review, as described below.
  • The right to review it during the option term (without sharing it outside of Amazon Studios and its subcontractors).
  • The right to include the title and premise of it in a game on or off Amazon Studios that is intended to solicit audience feedback, like the “Premise War” game currently at Amazon Studios.

And you keep four things with respect to your work:

  • The right to continue to revise it until we exercise the option (if we exercise the option).
  • The right during the option term to write one novel, comic book or other book based on your work, and the right to publish that book and any other books you first published before the work was on Amazon Studios. If we exercise the option, you keep those publishing rights, but you may not write any other books based on the work.
  • If you are a stand-up comic, the right to perform stand-up comedy based on a character from your work. You may also record and distribute those performances, but only until we exercise the option.
  • The non-exclusive right to publish and perform your original songs from the work, but only if your work is not a musical.


And here’s a link to the Development Agreement.

I find the open call approach, rather than reaching out to established producers, an interesting angle. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this development. What do you think of the “up to 5% of merch” deal? Were you approached by Amazon? Is this a fair deal for the producer?

When Bad Mobile Strategy Happens to Silly People

Posted on April 18, 2012 | No Comments


The City of Toronto announced an app today to help citizens reach its “311” information service, and it’s being promoted as an easy way to take a picture graffiti and send it to the government so it can be cleaned up.

The app costs $1.99.

While a portion of the money will go to support the library, you may ask yourself “why on earth would I pay $2 to download an app when I can do it for free?”


The most important thing to ask yourself with any digital endeavour is WHY. If you cannot answer the WHY, the product should not be made.

Why would someone download this app when your Apple iPhone will easily take pictures and attach them to outgoing email?

Why would someone download this app over calling Toronto’s information line: 311?

Why release this app only on iPhone?

Why would a citizen report graffiti on their iPhone when the average person who may complain is elderly and may not feel comfortable sending information via their mobile?


At least it’s not a QR code campaign.

Why Your Web Content Isn’t Credible

Posted on April 15, 2012 | No Comments

A couple of years ago, Google was in a pickle. A search for a common phrase would often result in spammy content farm lists rather than real articles from professionals. While Google has made some strides to re-establish its stake as a reliable search leader, us users may be feeling a little burned.

Content Science released a study recently that shows 65% of web users deem its content unreliable, and most people need to rely on recommendations from experts or someone they know to determine credibility.

Content Reliability infographic

So, more people than ever are using the web to find unreliable content.

What can we learn from this?

– When you’re creating content for the web, think about influence

– Think like a journalist. If you’re creating content, you need to back up your claims with reliable sources

– Engage in social media. Answer questions posed by your followers and consider what elements of your content is ‘sharable’

– Be likeable and personable in your posts. You are not a robot!

– Make sure what you write is original and creates an emotional response beyond boredom

– Measure your results! Are people reading your content? Have there been social media shares? Keep track of the analytics and analyze to help improve your site.




Following these key steps can help improve your chances to be influential and credible content.  Need help? Ping me and I can help you get started.




The Muppets show pitch to CBS

Posted on April 6, 2012 | No Comments

Discovered a gem today – someone on YouTube posted the original Muppets show pitch to CBS.

In just over two-and-a-half minutes, Jim Henson produced one of the best TV pitches I’ve seen (I’m biased because I grew up on this show), and must have been a hard sell considering it’s a primetime series starring puppets. Today, of course, he would have needed to include a blurb about the digital, cross-media plans. Would he have called us digital lovers egg-heads or  “Freaky long-haired dirty cynical hippies”?

Do you think this would have worked today?

Shifting social TV for those without Cable

Posted on April 3, 2012 | No Comments

Social TV for cable cuttersIn Cannes recently, a number of top execs gathered to learn everything there is to know about social television – the act of adding the social networking experience to TV watching. Think: adding a hashtag to your live event.  Twitter UK’s top exec told the attendees that social television is happening, whether they want it to or not.  This is true, but maybe the focus should shift slightly.

As the industry works to better personalize the broadcast experience for its viewers, from adding full length content on their own websites to selling their catalogue rights to Netflix, there will be an increased marketing challenge to help audiences find their programs. Why? Because for those of us without cable,  it’s challenging to know what shows to watch because there’s no lead-in from a top rated show, or because programmers are selling preroll ad spaces to legitimate companies, not filling it with in-house advertising to promote their latest show (for the most part).

I find my shows by listening to podcasts, reading tweets (beyond a Get Glue check-in), or overhearing what colleagues are watching. I’m more compelled to watch a show when I see most people on my Twitter feed are tuned in versus seeing a big box ad for the program.  In fact, seeing everyone watch a program live makes me twinge a little for ye olde days of cable because there’s a community building on social media I can’t be a part of because I can’t see the show. I’m missing out.

So, how do you do start a social TV campaign?

– take part in some social listening. What are people saying on Twitter or Facebook about you? About your competition? Gather the data and think up a fun angle to build a community. There are free and paid-for ways to gather this type of data, from Google Alerts to customized packages.

– don’t ask your coordinator to handle your social TV just because he/she is always on Facebook. Hire a professional and check their credentials. Have they created a social media campaign before? Do they understand and take part in social TV?

– Don’t rely only on Get Glue, Miso or other social TV check-in sites. They’re good for creating a reminder to watch, but take the community to the next level now that you know they’re tuning in.

– Let the conversation happen organically – viewers can sense a fake tweet from a mile away. If your staff is writing tweets to support your program, be 100% transparent.

– Concerned about people revealing spoilers? Those without cable are used to hearing the ending of shows – doesn’t mean we’re not going to still watch it. In fact, sometimes letting your fans leak the spoilers results in more people watching.

– Keep your fans interested by holding fun hashtag games on Twitter. Ru Paul’s Drag Race asks its fans to come up with ’70s drag names between broadcasts, for example.

– Don’t rely on contests to build your community. People who enter contests tend to jump in and out without full engagement. Make it rewarding to talk about your show with retweets and engage them in conversations.

Any other tips? Let me know in the comments.