Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Do you know your strengths?

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

If you haven’t taken a couple of minutes to watch our Good At video series, now’s your chance.

Your mood will thank you for it.

If you’re at Mesh today, please stop by and play a game of RIGHTSLEEVE Road Hockey.

RIGHTSLEEVE is a promotional products agency helping companies establish emotional connections to their brands through tangible, logoed merchandise. Please say hi on Twitter or Facebook.

A Story of Infographics and SWAG

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

I’m a sucker for infographics. Truck over to the RIGHTSLEEVE Pinterest page and you’ll see there’s a board devoted just to those charming nuggets of graphs and stats.

Naturally I wanted a RIGHTSLEEVE infographic of our very own and set out to rustle one up. I got one, but looking back on my quest, I see parallels to how customers want promo. Oh, and not the good kind of parallels.

I started my quest innocently enough, with a Google search. I found a few pages describing how to go about making a quality infographic. Things like: know what you want to convey, gather your data, take your time to create a custom look.

But, I want my infographic and I want it now!

The articles I found told me I was going to have to slow down and do some work. I didn’t want that. I wanted my graphic. So, I kept searching and found a site called that is currently building software that will take the complex elements (like design and number-crunching skills) out of making infographics.

Notice I said “building software.”  As in, not available yet.

I was back to having to put effort and resources into our infographic.

The Band-Aid Solution

I kept peeking around on (which does look like a really cool tool) and discovered that they could make an infographic for me based on the @RIGHTSLEEVE Twitter stats. And, they’d do it for free.

*Cue victory music*

I synced those bad boys up and got me an infographic.

Victory at Last!

Well, not really.

I have my infographic, but it’s not really worth anything. Sure, it’s cool for me to see the breakdown of our Twitter usage, but that doesn’t really matter to anyone who, well, matters. And, I don’t quite understand why the graphic says we have 1:1 “Follower:Following” ratio when we have over 1000 more followers than we follow.

Even though I have a graphic now, I’m not any further ahead because it doesn’t convey much of value to co-workers, clients, or readers.  It doesn’t serve anyone.

I have the shiny new thing, but it’s not worth anything.

This is exactly what a lot of people do with their swag campaigns. They want instant gratification. The cheapest solution. Something that’s not right, but that fills a want.

That’s why my infographic #fails. And why a lot of swag campaigns #fail.

The title of our infographic is “You Are What You Tweet.”  I like to think we’re more than that.  With swag.  And with any future infographics.

What I Learned From My SMWTO Session

Thursday, March 1st, 2012


RIGHTSLEEVE loves social media. We love to share and create.

We also love to participate and were proud to be on board as a sponsor again this year for Social Media Week Toronto. In addition to being involved in the sponsorship, I trucked out to some events and have been thinking a lot about what I learned from my session, ‘Storyselling: How to use great digital content to help make the sale.’

What I learned might not be what you think.

Sure, Lisa Horvat of Strategic Storytellers used great examples of stories that educated me, made me smile and, made me tear up. But, looking back, I learned a lot by watching what Lisa did with the session, not what she did at it.

Before the event, Lisa sent an event reminder to me, but it was more than your typical calendar reminder. She personalized it, kept true to my company brand by capitalizing RIGHTSLEEVE in her message, thanked us for sponsoring, and opened the door for me to speak to her at the event. Chatting with a friend who also attended the session, Lisa some online sleuthing and also personalized her contact. Eyeballing the full room of attendees at the seminar, I was impressed that Lisa would take the time to reach out to people on such a personal level.

Because she did her homework (see above) Lisa knew a sponsor (me) was in the audience and gave a personal shout-out to RIGHTSLEEVE. She also knew other attendees by name and commented on interaction she’d had with them prior to the event. Such engagement helps to tear down the wall that sometimes exists between presenter and audience and creates a personal connection…something fundamental to story telling.

The Extra Mile
They provided coffee and treats – score! There was also someone greeting me as I entered the room and getting me set-up with a name tag, which was nice when chatting with other attendees. There was good lighting and sound. It might seem like the small things don’t matter for free events, but they do. The small things always matter. Oh, and the bathrooms were clean. I totally judge events based on their bathroom facilities. And now you may judge me based on my bathroom prejudices.

Lisa made herself available. After the event she chatted with attendees. She also pointed out other members of the Digital Storytelling crew so that guests could speak to them. And, because she reached out to me with that personalized event reminder, I felt comfortable emailing her so I could ask for help while I was writing this blog post. An email she replied to within minutes.

I learned a lot from my session, but it went beyond story telling.

When was the last time you were surprised by what you learned?

4 Misconceptions about Social Media (an entrepreneur’s take)

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I have been fortunate to give a number of talks on social media and web marketing over the past 2 years. My audiences range from internet peers to business people from private industry to colleagues in the promotional products industry. While most people are pretty receptive to change, I have found that some people are downright hostile/scared about this freight train called the internet (and I might as well use the word “internet” and “change” interchangeably).

This post reviews some of the objections I have come across while presenting about social media, along with my typical responses.

1. Twitter is stupid. Why should I care that someone is in line for their Starbucks coffee?

Point taken. However, my view on Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) is that “you are who you follow”. If you follow people who tweet about stupid and vacuous things, the easiest way to deal with this is to unfollow/unfriend them. Like the internet itself, there is plenty of noise on Twitter, but the magic is finding the gems.

Twitter is full of fascinating tidbits that keep me in the know on a range of topics (a memorable example of this was the Amazon purchase of Zappos).  Twitter is full of links to articles that are highly relevant to my interests (again, see point above). Twitter beats any newspaper as a news source as it’s reported in real time vs having to wait for the paper to be delivered to my doorstep in the morning.

From a business perspective, I get all sorts of insights into my customers (who I follow) as well as potential customers (who I spend time cultivating relationships with). To understand what makes your customers tick just makes good business sense. Tapping into the Twitterverse to gain real time insights into your customers’ daily lives has made us a much more nimble organization. Conversely, people who sell me things always get preferential treatment if they can demonstrate they have done their homework and know a thing or two about RIGHTSLEEVE.

For a longer analysis of Twitter, you can refer to My Take on Twitter

2. Why do customers turn to the internet when they need something, versus just contacting their preferred supplier?

This comment was made at a session I gave to a group of promotional products professionals, an industry undergoing massive change as it relates to how buyers research product information. Here was the tweet that prompted the remark:

“Have spent day on phone with vendors. Looking 4unique event ideas 4 female audience – forget cooking and wine tasting. Need smthg different”

This example sparked a lot of discussion, most of it hostile. The prevailing view was that if a distributor was doing its job correctly, then this person would not have had to tweet their request. True, but only to a point.

In this day of instant feedback, it’s in the customer’s best interest to reach out to their network (before social media, you can bet they called around on the phone asking the same question). Posting such a comment online is valuable as it may generate a flood of relevant responses from peers who have gone through the same thing before. In my position as a vendor, I follow this person and was able to reach out with some suggestions relating to the promotion. We got the order.

The question people need to concern themselves with is NOT why people are using the internet to conduct research, but rather HOW to respond to their queries in a way a that is respectful and relevant to the customer. The customer, not the vendor, is now firmly in control.

3. Social media is for anti-social geeks. The web has ruined personal selling.

I half expect this comment to come from an over-the-hill sales curmudgeon straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross. Needless to say, I disagree with this claim.

People who use social media well are among the most social people I have ever met. Sure you have some exceptions, but any “social media type” I have ever met in the offline world, has been incredibly friendly with a penchant to share a lot of information. I personally use social media to engage with a wide range of people, and when the time is appropriate to meet, I have a wealth of information to talk about. The intersection of the online and offline worlds has made business easier, not harder.  Personal selling, in many ways, has now become more personal.

I can accurately make this claim given that I had run my business for 7 years prior to the advent of social media, and 5 years since. There is no question that a critical part of my business is still “face to face”, but these in person relationships have only been enhanced via social media. In several instances, I would not have even made it in the door had it not been for social media.

4. Who has time for social media? Do I now need to work 24 hrs a day to keep up?

No. I will draw from personal experience when it comes to how I spend my “selling” time at the office. Think of my day as a pie. In the “old days” before social media, I spent 1/2 of my time on the phone/email and 1/2 my time in front of clients. Now, the distribution of the pie is different, not larger. 1/3 of my time is now spent on the phone/email, 1/3 is in front of clients and 1/3 is using the internet/social media. I made this switch as it was in response to the new market reality.  Some customers will now only communicate by Twitter Direct Message!

When email was introduced to the mainstream in the mid 90s, people started emailing more, talking on the phone less and faxing even less. Same pie.

The bottom line?

I understand why there is hostility out there. The internet (and specifically social media) has changed the way we buy, completely disrupting traditional business models. There is a great quote in Ken Auletta’s recent book on Google when the head of Viacom blasts Google’s founders for “fucking with the magic” after learning about their mathematical approach to advertising. The “magic” he refers to is the smoke and mirrors of traditional advertising.

Similarly, social media is impacting traditional business relationships. Relationships that were once forged on the golf course are now being cultivated online and cemented offline. Most people these days don’t have time for a day on the golf course, as their time has now migrated online. Balancing these two worlds is the challenge that the modern business person must rise to.

This blog is only as good as the readers who weigh in. Your comments are, as always, welcome.

Why I Blog

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I was recently interviewed by a promotional industry publication on why I blog.

I started blogging in early 2006 as I wanted to experiment with a new medium as well as connect with people on a different level. So, 5 years later, I reflect on the what, why and how.

Why do you blog? How do you get the most out of your blog for the purposes you intend it to serve?

I have always enjoyed writing. Blogging gives me a creative outlet as well as platform to express ideas I have about the industry and business in general.

I use the blog to write about my philosophies as they relate to our business, RIGHTSLEEVE. I have found this to be a more genuine way to express an opinion as it comes across as more authentic than publishing a marketing brochure (there is room for this as well, it just serves a different purpose). Clients and prospects read our blog to learn about the human side of our company.

What advice would you give to companies looking to start a blog of their own?

(i) Have Fun

(ii) Be Human

(iii) Write it yourself

What is your overall impression of your blogging experience? Have you found it to be a successful marketing tool? Why or why not?

I have really enjoyed blogging because it has given me a way to connect with people on a whole new level. It is not a direct sales platform, rather it is a conversational platform as people will weigh in on what you write about and this starts a dialogue. I have met a number of new and interesting people via blogging (and other web 2.0 properties like Facebook, Twitter, etc). As with all solid relationships, a level of trust is established which can often lead to sales. As a result, blogging can be a wonderful, albeit indirect, sales tool. 

It has been a very successful marketing tool as it puts us into a smaller group of distributors that have taken the time to maintain a blog. I would guess that 5-10% of the promotional industry has a good blog and it’s always nice to be competing against a smaller number of people who are blogging than the majority that aren’t.

We also operate within a very competitive and commoditized industry with little to differentiate distributors from one another. The standard complaint about our industry is that “you can buy the same products from any distributor.” However, a blog is something that is unique to a company, something that can’t be shopped like a product SKU from a supplier catalog. Anything that is unique like this is a good thing in the industry as it helps sets you apart.

Promotional Products and Social Media

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This week I attended the PPAI Expo, the largest and longest running promotional products show in the world.

I was invited to present on how my experiences with social media have allowed RIGHTSLEEVE to grow and differentiate within this industry. I’d be reluctant to ever brand myself a “social media expert” (I am skeptical of the term), rather I like to think of myself of an industry entrepreneur that has dabbled in social media over the past 5 years and has learned a lot along the way, my trail scattered with a mix of failures and successes.

I have drawn inspiration from a number of people whose works I reference in this presentation. The links to their books  can be found here:

Tara Hunt The Whuffie Factor
Chris Anderson The Long Tail
Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody
Joel Comm Twitter Power
Mitch Joel Six Pixels of Separation

Chris Anderson The Long Tail

Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody

Tara Hunt The Whuffie Factor

Joel Comm Twitter Power

Mitch Joel Six Pixels of Separation