Author Archive: LoveStats

My essential list of 120 inspiring, educational, and human-operated #MRX Twitter accounts

I’m pretty good about curating my Twitter account to be relevant to me and current. When accounts go dormant, the author switches their career, or there’s too much promotion, I unfollow (or mute) those accounts. Given that, the people I follow are at least somewhat active tweeters within the marketing research, polling, data, statistics, visualization, VR, and AI industries.

Within that set, however, there is a core group of people who inspire, teach, or make me rethink what I thought I knew. If you’re looking for the same, may I suggest following every single person on the list below. For quicker following, go right to my Twitter list: https://twitter.com/LoveStats/lists/my-essential-mrx-peeps/members. This list is always changing as I occasionally find new gems.

I also follow a bunch of unrelated, fun accounts so if you want to know what tickles my fancy outside of research (mudlarking, archeology, birds, horrid jokes), have a peek here: https://twitter.com/LoveStats/lists/off-topic-fun

(((Adam Korengold))) @akorengold  Insight generator, PRC.
Adriana Rocha @adricrocha  CEO at eCGlobal, the creator of http://eCGlobal.com , a social network that helps brands & consumers to collaborate and make better data-driven decisions.
Andrew Kohut @AndrewKohut1  Founding Director, Pew Research Center
Andrew Reid @reidandrew  CEO of Rival Technologies | Founder of Vision Critical | Entrepreneur • Innovator • Investor • Husband • Dad • Adventurer
Andrew Vincent @Waves05  Childlike curiosity, insight practitioner, consultant and trainer. Waves on twitter: no blog just 140 characters of opinion (and NOT 280, LESS not MORE).
andrewjeavons @andrewjeavons  text analytics, software development, psychology, cat wrangler and silversmith.
Angus Reid @AngusReid  Chair, Angus Reid Institute, Angus Reid Forum. Passionate about public views on the issues of our times. Prepared to put my own spin on the unfolding dynamic.
Angus Reid @Reid_Angus  Exec Chair @Visioncritical; lifetime pollster @angusreidglobal
Ariel Edwards-Levy @aedwardslevy  Reporter and polling editor @HuffPostPol, covering politics/public opinion. LA native, USC alum, perpetually in search of a pithier Twitter bio. I like puns.
Ashley Kirzinger @AshleyKirzinger  Associate Director for Public Opinion and Survey Research at @kaiserfamfound. Also: @AAPOR’s Transparency Init, #womenalsopoll Elder Millennial. She/Her. Ph.D.
Barb Justason @barbjustason  Pollster follows only active accounts: #Vancouver #VanPoli #BCpoli #Civic #Urban. Justason Market Intelligence & Vancouver Focus®.
Barry Watson @bwatson_erg  President and CEO at Environics Research
Ben Page, Ipsos MORI @benatipsosmori  Chief Exec at Ipsos MORI, Visiting Professor at Kings College London https://www.ipsos-mori.com . Trustee at @centreforlondon and @Ageing_Better
Betty Adamou @BettyAdamou  CEO & Founder @RTG_Ltd Author: Games & Gamification in Market Research http://amzn.to/2LI2H5m  SeriousGame designer. Inventor of ResearchGames™. Keynote speaker
Brian F. Singh @BFSingh  Catalyst/Strategist/Data scientist. Angel investor, food/wine aficionado & (tries to be) decent guy. They/Them.
Bruno Moynié @BrunoMoynie  Ethnographer-filmmaker, inclined to storytelling. Blues & Stinky cheeses lover.
Carol Fitzgerald @carolfitzgerald  President & CEO of @BuzzBack #MRX
Caroline Criado Perez @CCriadoPerez  Lobbyist for Big Vagina. Author of INVISIBLE WOMEN. UK publicist: @lucietwiggs US publicist: publicity[at]http://abramsbooks.com . Agent: tbohan[at]http://wylieagency.co.uk .
Cathy Harrison @VirtualMRX  Insights & Market Intelligence Professional: Creative, skilled, & methodologically agnostic. Holistic approach to exploring complex business concerns #MRX #PMP
Claire Durand @clairedurand  Professeur, dept. de sociologie, U de Montréal; Sondages/ Survey research; Méthodes quantitatives/ Quantitative methods; CECD-CSDC; Past President, WAPOR.
Dan Ariely @danariely  Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics
Dan Foreman @winifredatwell  https://www.linkedin.com/in/dforeman
Dan Womack @DanWomack  Insights, strategy and innovation guy. Fan of meaningful change, informed decisions & vinyl records. #MRX
Danielle Todd @DanielleDDTodd  Account Director @wearerelish. London @WomenInResearch lead. Love great brands that do good, feminism, boxing and wine.
Data Science Renee @BecomingDataSci  Creator/Host of Becoming a Data Scientist Podcast // @DataSciGuide @DataSciLearning @NewDataSciJobs // Personal acct: @paix120 // Data Scientist at @HelioCampus
David Dutwin @DDutwin  Its all about the method – EVP/Chief Methodologist at @ssrs_research
David F. Harris @David_F_Harris  David does training and consulting on questionnaire design and research planning. Author of the book, The Complete Guide to Writing Questionnaires.
David Stark @davidstarkca  Widowed dad, road safety advocate, privacy officer in financial services industry. Co-founded Friends and Families for Safe Streets. #ffsafestreets
Diana Lucaci @dianalucaci  Founder, CEO at True Impact. We humanize the customer and drive growth with consumer neuroscience research.
Diane Hessan @DianeHessan  Entrepreneur, author & angel investor. Founder/Chair of C Space, Boston Globe Columnist, lover of all things baseball & politics. Mom to 2 fabulous daughters.
Director of Global Attitudes Research @pewresearch Jenny C @Jenny_Census
Dr Liz Allen @DrDemography  Demographer | Demography, populations, surveys, data, methods, census. Educator, researcher.
Dydra Virgil @dhvirgil  25 years marketing research experience (qual & quant). Skilled moderator. MBA, Wake Forest University BA Economics, UNC at Chapel Hill
Edward Tufte @EdwardTufte  Statistician,visualizer,artist, professor. Founded Graphics Press, Hogpen Hill Farms, ET Modern Gallery
Edward @Edward04  Consumer Insights Manager based in Berlin
Elina Halonen @SquarePegMind  Consumer behaviour specialist | Neurodivergent | Cross-cultural psychologist
Elizabeth Moore @ms_lizzie  Analyst wrangler, insights professional at Telstra. Choral singer. Lover of classical music, opera, skiing and my family. Opinions my own.
eric salama @ericsalama  ceo of @kantar, leader in global #marketresearch insights and consulting and part of @wpp. governor of @birkbeckUoL dad, arsenal supporter
Finn01 @Finn01  Director General, ESOMAR
Fiona Blades @FionaMESH  Founder & Chief Experience Officer of MESH – The Experience Agency.
Frank Graves @VoiceOfFranky  Frank Graves is the president and founder of EKOS Research Associates. Views here are personal and not those of EKOS Research .
Gian Fulgoni @gfulgoni  Former Chairman & CEO and Co-Founder, comScore. Digital Media, Digital Commerce, Market Research, IRI, Sports, Porsche, Pittsburgh Steelers
griffinsc @griffinsc  Passionate supporter of young creatives and artists, especially in theater.
Hilary Mason @hmason  GM for Machine Learning at @Cloudera. Founder at @FastForwardLabs. Data Scientist in Residence at @accel. I
Howard Fienberg @hfienberg  VP Advocacy for @InsightsMRX and co-director of @CensusProject … tweeting on Hockey, lobbying, sci-fi, horror and #mrx
Ilka Kuhagen @ilkakuhagen  Award Winning Qualitative Research Consultant: Insight | Innovation | Consulting
Its all about the method – EVP/Chief Methodologist at @ssrs_research Andrew Kohut @AndrewKohut1
Jacqueline Rousseau-Anderson @jaranderson  Passionate exec turned strategist who loves helping people get sh*t done.
Jane Frost @JaneFrostMRS  Chief Executive Officer at MRS – the world’s largest research association. Experienced marketer, and champion of all things research. All views are my own.
Jean-Marc Leger @JeanMarcLeger1  Président de la firme de sondages Léger, la plus importante firme de sondages et recherche marketing à propriété canadienne.
Jeffrey Henning @JHenning  Executive director of the MRII, providing continuing education to market researchers worldwide. ~I mark quotes edited to fit Twitter with tildes.~
Jen Romano-Bergstrom @romanocog  Experimental Psychologist; UX Research Director @Bridgewater; Coach; @UXPA_Int Board Mem; Author of ‘Eye Tracking in UX Design’ & ‘Usability Testing of Surveys’
Jenny C @Jenny_Census  I’m a Research Psychologist for the US Census Bureau. Views expressed here are my own!
Joaquim Bretcha @jbretcha  ESOMAR President | Netquest International | Mindprober advisor | HealhtusNepal co-founder #mrx #dataanalytics #connector #communicator
John Crockett @JohnCMRP  modern market researcher who spends too much time talking sports with his dog
John D. Willis @TOjohnw  Inclusive design in services. organizations, and markets. Current work in social service modernization. All tweets are my own opinions.
John Kearon @ChiefJuicer  Founder & CEO of System1 Group PLC [formerly BrainJuicer]
John Wright @JohnWrightLive  30 yrs polling. 40 yrs Public Affairs Communications. Demography. Commentator. Pundit. Political Observer. Absolutely Non Partisan. 3 Bestseller Canadian Books.
johngriffiths7 @johngriffiths7  explorer planner and researcher Planning Above and Beyond Research Liberation Front and Waggledancers are all social objects I am linked to
Jon Cohen @jcpolls  chief research officer @surveymonkey. x-@washingtonpost, @pewresearch @ABCNews, @PPICNotes, @Accenture. Suffering @CalAthletics fan; x-suffering @warriors fan
Jon Puleston @jonpuleston  Vice President Innovation Kantar Profiles division, specialising in the design & development of interactive surveys & online research innovation
Julie K @julie1research  Market strategy & research for F500 tech, platform, fin tech, media, e-commerce brands. Amplifier, listener, socializer, spotter, friend #MRX, #NGMR #NewMR ENTJ
Justine Bulgar-Medina @Bulgar_Medina  Survey Researcher. Sociologist. Researcher @ NORC. #Northeastern alumna. Amateur chef. Bibliophile. And, an overall geek.
KARENE SMITH @ShineyInsights  Leading the creative & efficient insights geekery at Shine Insight – an alternative insights agency. #MRX #visualstorytelling #dataviz #marketresearch
Kathryn Korostoff @ResearchRocks  I get to work with 9 instructors and 100+ consultants, and all of us are aiming for the same thing: advancing customer insights through research excellence.
Kathy Doyle @DoyleResearch  Innovative qualitative research. We are experienced, curious, smart and strategic.
Katie Clark @InsightsGal  Market researcher, digital storyteller, life hacker, productivity nerd, #twinmom, adoption advocate
Kerry Hecht @Kerryhecht  Mom of a human and three dogs. Lifelong market researcher and CEO/Founder of Echo MR
Kevin Gray @kevinsgray999  Andrew Vincent @Waves05
KJ @kristajoyce1114  kicking and screaming
Kristen Olson @olson_km  Survey Methodologist by profession. Sociologist by choice.
Kristen Soltis Anderson @KSoltisAnderson  Polls at @echeloninsights, host on @siriusxm POTUS Ch + @thepollsters + writes for @washingtonexaminer
Kristin Anderson @kanders32  Customer Insights professional in the Women’s Retail Apparel sphere. Curiosity driven. Sometimes athletic, always enthusiastic. All views my own.
Kristin Luck @kristinluck  Serial #entrepreneur turned advisor & #growth strategist. Data monetization pro. Latest project @scale_house. Passion project: @womeninresearch
Kristof De Wulf @kristofdewulf  Co-founder & CEO @InSites l Empowering people to shape the future of brands l @TEDx talker I Former @Vlerick professor I #mrx #insight #innovation #cx #custexp
Laura Davies @lauramdavies  Researcher, marketer, pollster, online community builder & non-profit campaigner, living it up in Essex, but homes away from home in Canada & India. Views own!
Laurent Flores @laurentflores  #Entrepreneur #Digital #Marketing #Analytics #Professor of Marketing #Author #Sailor
Layla Shea @UpwordsInsights  Chief Insights Officer and founder of Upwords. Curious about everything.
Leonard Murphy @lennyism  Thinker, Doer, Leader, Advisor, Investor. Insight innovation junkie. Dad to 5 and proud uber-geek.
Lisa Horwich @PallasResearch  B2B Researcher | Strategist | Marketer | Moderator | Martial Arts Enthusiast
Lisa Wilding-Brown @WildingBrown  Lisa Wilding-Brown
LKHDavison @lkhdavison  Founder, MD @keenasmustard marketing agency for data, research and insight. Formerly @keenasmustard now me. Fan of Radio4 and tea, builder’s please
Marcello Sasso @marcellosasso  VP, Aimpoint Research, Market Research Thought Leader
Mario Canseco @mario_canseco  Mario Conseco
Mark Blumenthal @MysteryPollster  Pollster. Husband. Father. Cyclist. Formerly: SurveyMonkey, Huffington Post, http://Pollster.com , political consultant (D).
Michael Link @MLink01  Dad, drummer, foodie, registered drone pilot — Views are my own.
Molly Brodie @Mollybrodie  Mollyann Brodie | Kaiser Family Foundation (@KaiserFamFound) Sr VP Exec Operations & Exec Director, Public Opinion & Survey Research | @AAPOR President
Natalie Jackson @nataliemjb  Research Director @PRRIpoll (opinions my own) | polisci PhD |
Nicole Radziwill @nicoleradziwill  VP Quality & SCM #rstats #wx #machinelearning #IIoT #EHSQ #datascience #asd UNI’92 & 50% Nichól Ní Radsibhfuil! http://qualityandinnovation.com
Niels Schillewaert @niels_insites  Managing Partner, co-founder InSites Consulting | Author & Speaker | PhD | Research Geek | Change Executive Thinking via Consumer Consulting
Nikki Lavoie @NikkiMindspark  Me, but professional me. Globe-trotting Managing Director of @mindsparklab. Conduit of human connection. American in Paris.
Oana Rengle @OanaRengle  Qualitative Research Fairy
Ol’ Man Crosstabs @OldSchoolMRX  Research the way it should be done.
Paul Fairie @paulisci  Sometimes I teach politics, more often I tweet jokes.
Peter Harrison @Peter_Harrison  Behaviour Change, branding & Insights person. Opinions / sense of humour my own and statistically speaking likely to be shared by you if you choose to follow
pollcat @pollcat  AKA Scott Keeter. Senior survey advisor to Pew Research Center. Lapsed political scientist. Bad golfer. Hiker. Same colleges as Steph Curry & Michael Jordan.
Rana el Kaliouby @kaliouby  Entrepreneur. Scientist. Co-founder and CEO @Affectiva. On a mission to humanize technology with #EmotionAI – YGL at WEF. #CV #ML #DeepLearning #womenintech
RayPoynter @RayPoynter  At the intersection of work, fun & discovery. Founder #NewMR – my core activities are consulting, learning, training, writing, and having fun.
Reg Baker @thesurveygeek  Market, opinion and social research maven, contrarian, avid birder, photo enthusiast and music lover
Reineke Reitsma @rreitsma  Forrester Analyst. Interested in anything related to consumer behavior, technology change, and market research – preferably in combination
Richard Wike @RichardWike  Director of Global Attitudes Research @pewresearch
Rick Hobbs @rhobber  Research, Analytics, Sports. Views are my own.
Robert M. Groves @RobertMGroves  Provost of Georgetown’s main campus, professor in mathematics and statistics, and sociology. His blog can be found at http://blog.provost.georgetown.edu
S Saurage-Altenloh @SaurageFacts  Trendspotter. Research strategist. Networking junkie. Lover of music, wine, fast cars, motorcycles, art and my Constitutional rights. MBA, PhD…
Scott Koenig @Scott_Koenig  Marketing storyteller, educator, researcher, and community volunteer helping businesses and individuals reach their potential.
Shannon Danzy @sdanzy  Sharing my curiosity abt culture, brands + people | Online qualitative research specialist | Brand strategist | Co-Chair, QRCA Young Pro Committee + NY Chapter
Siamack Salari @SiamackSalari  Outsider, Ethnographer, dad, cook, lover. Visiting Fellow Dept of Management Kings College London. EthOSapp creator.
Sima Vasa @simavasa  Passionate, curious, successful leader focused on elevating the data, #mrx and analytics ecosystem. Entrepreneurship, Investment Banking, Advisor, Podcast Host
Stan Sthanunathan @ssthanunathan  Strategy, Insights, advanced analytics, big data and Impact. Humour, Laughter and Optimistic view of life. Self proclaimed shopaholic!
Stas Kolenikov @StatStas  Survey statistician. Views are not my employer’s (@AbtAssociates @AbtDataScience). Looking forward to opportunities to collect data for you. [stas kɐlʲ’enʲikɐv]
Sue York @1sue3  Helping Create the Future of Research. Author of ‘The Handbook of Mobile Market Research’. Founder of #NewMR. Social and Market Researcher.
Susan Abbott @SusanAbbott  Facilitator, quallie, author, artist. http://thinkglobalqualitative.com  | http://sgabbott.com  | http://ca.linkedin.com/in/susanabbott  political: @mspundit
SusanSweet @SusanSweet  Qualitative research consultant who loves travel, food, coffee and her kids. Can be found here: susan@sweetinsightgroup.com
Tom De Ruyck @tomderuyck  Managing Partner @InSites | Creating Consumer-Centric Thinking, Future Proof Organisations | Keynote Speaker | Author | Prof. @IESEG | Investor @SpeakersBaseHQ
Tom Ewing @tomewing  Pop writer, market researcher, lazybones. He/him.
Trent Buskirk @trentbuskirk  Data Science Renee @BecomingDataSci
Trina Arnett @trinalytics  Perpetually curious and passionate researcher, data junkie, visualization wonk, analytics geek.
Vanessa Oshima @VOshima70  Kiwi that loves Japan, her husband and kids … and life in general … motto is to never let it beat you … try hard enough it will join you!
Zontziry Johnson @zontziry  #MRX influencer. Lifelong learner. Mother. Sewer. Sci-fi and boardgame geek. Call me Z! All tweets are my own opinion and craziness.
CEO @abacusdataca Prof @Carleton_U. Speaker with @speakersdotca #cycling, #strategy, #cdnpoli, #marketing, #foodie, #wine, & #Millennials.
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Dear Technology Vendors, Welcome to the Market Research Industry #MRX #NewMR #IIeX

You are the delighted owner and inventor of an amazing new technology that will turn the market research industry around. Now all you have to do is simply show it to research buyers and reap the rewards. But with hundreds of new vendors popping up every year, it’s not that easy.

Here a few pieces of advice that might help.

  • Your tool and your service is not new nor better. Every new vendor is positive that their tool is a brand new, amazing innovation that solves a problem no other vendor can. It’s not. There are at least five other technology companies out there doing pretty much the same thing albeit with a slightly different yet similarly hip name that verbifies some word. You just haven’t heard of each other yet. But some of your research buyers have. Along with many research suppliers who have been in the market research industry for ten or twenty years. They know better than you and whether they confess it, selling yourself as unique is not reality.
  • You’re a research company. If you sell products and services that help researchers and marketers understand companies, consumers, customers, and markets, you’re not a technology company. You’re a market research company. That’s not an insult. That’s knowing what your business is and who your clients are. Saying you’re a technology company sure sounds cool though, doesn’t it.
  • Speak the language. You are part of the market research industry. Be proud of that fact. Learn the language. Learn what box scores, test groups, control groups, confounds, sampling, targeting, order effects, experimenter effects, validity, reliability, and other basic research terms mean. These are your terms too. When you can use these words properly, you’ll be able to talk to your potential clients quickly and clearly. And get to the sales discussion more quickly.

Hands cooperating

  • Complements over criticisms. One common technique for promoting a new tool is to outline the flaws of existing tools and show how using your tool instead eliminates those problems, thereby rendering the old and tired tools irrelevant. But chances are those old, traditional tools still exist because for decades they have served a genuine, much needed purpose that cannot be met by other tools. Including your tool. Focus on how your tool can complement existing tools rather than criticizing those tools. Collaboration, not cut-throat. Friends, not enemies. We’re still going to use those ‘out-dated’ tools so don’t make us feel stupid for doing so.
  • Make it easy to switch. So if you’re no better and no different than a bunch of other vendors, why would anyone bother with your tool over anyone else’s? Because you’ve made it EASY to add it to their toolbox. You’ve incorporated language into the tool that makes sense to researchers – test and control, randomization, box scores. The tool creates familiar charts that mirror charts from other projects they’ve done – bar charts, line charts. It easily imports and exports into other tools they are already comfortable with – Excel, SPSS, PPT, R, SQL. You’ve prepared case studies and white papers showing reliability and validity by categories they understand – consumer packaged goods, finance, pharma, food, beverage. And best of all, when a client puts their traditional output next to your output, their CEO would be able to transition between the two reports with complete ease and comfort.

Ready to make a deal?

AI News Marketers Can Use: I hope your key marketing strategy for 2019 includes voice!

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton blog.

Take a minute to think about every car commercial you’ve ever seen. Close your eyes. Let the imagery percolate. Now watch this commercial.

Is that the PRECISE commercial you just imagined? Probably.

That’s because Lexus used AI to create a commercial based on a training dataset of award winning car commercials. The commercial is effective for several reasons. First, the AI system that produced the script correctly identified the criteria that would win with its target audience. Second, a human director, Kevin Macdonald, applied emotional creativity to weave together the required components. And third, incorporating AI into the creative development process is the perfect way for Lexus to demonstrate how the use of cutting edge technology to build vehicles. This AI commercial is completely on brand.

AI exploded into nearly every industry and under many Christmas trees last year. After witnessing the massive sales of voice assistants last year, and now this holiday season, marketers are starting to realize they must figure out how products and services that are overwhelmingly visual can find a space in an environment that is completely audio. Some marketers are striving to decode the voice assistant algorithms to ensure their brands earn first mention. Other brands are creating fun games or useful tools that consumers will seek out by name.

Survey Says: 11% of Canadians own a smart speaker. 18% plan to purchase a Google Home, and 14% plan to purchase an Amazon Echo. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Despite earlier concerns about transparency and privacy, Google has begun to roll out its Duplex feature, an AI voice system can make telephone calls that are indistinguishable from a human being. This system can interact with customers and customer service agents to, at a minimum, make reservations and answer basic questions. It’s an amazing opportunity for brands to more effectively meet the needs of customers who want 24/7, personalized service.

 Survey Says: 55% of Canadians would find it annoying if they get a chatbot instead of a person. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Along with this growth, stress tests in the real world have exposed many issues of bias, privacy, and compliance with emerging privacy regulations. Amazon’s Alexa experienced this first hand when a woman’s private in-home conversations were sent to a random person on her contact list. This is likely one of the contributing factors that led to Gartner selecting Social, Legal and Ethical IoT as its #2 trend.

Survey Says: 43% of Canadians are worried about AI their phone. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Marketers who are reticent to find their path in a voice directed world will quickly see the impact on their brand’s success. We know that people are less likely to seek out additional information after getting recommendations from voice assistants. Marketers need to find ethical ways to ensure their brand remains competitive in a voice world and they need to do it in a way that safeguards personal data.

Survey Says: 59% of Canadians say they would be comfortable with a voice assistant providing recommendations on what to buy. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

I’m an individual market researcher in Canada: Which association should I join?

What’s up Canadian researchers! In recent weeks…

  • CRIC set out a statement of purpose and polices to help market research companies in Canada.
  • ESOMAR announced a partnership with CRIC to help individual researchers whose company’s are members of CRIC.

But what about students, academics, government employees, freelancers like me, and all the individual researchers from Canadian companies that aren’t members of CRIC? Where do these people turn?

Fortunately, I’ve helped provide a Canadian perspective to a lot of really great organizations over the years including:

  • ISO: I’ve been the Canadian Chair of the International Standards Association, TC 225: Market, Opinion, and Social Research committee since 2014
  • Insights Association: I was part of the MRA Research Advisory Board (2016), and worked on the MRA/IMRO Guide to the Top 16 Social Media Research Questions (2010)
  • ESOMAR: I helped with the ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on Social Media Research (2017), ESOMAR 24 Questions for Social Media Research (2010), ESOMAR Guide to Market Research (2016)
  • AAPOR: I helped AAPOR with the planning group for council on diversity (2016), national conference planning (2018), board nominations (2015), conference code of conduct (2017)

In other words, I’ve seen first hand that these associations have decades of experience in promoting high quality standards and ethics in our industry and have been longtime supporters of the Canadian industry as well.

You will be extremely well served as an individual member of one of these four associations.

  1. AAPOR: If you’re an academic, polling geek, or into social and political research, this is a great association for you. Even better, their annual conference will be in Toronto this May. I’m helping them organize the chapter event!
  2. ESOMAR: If you conduct research around the world or want to stay in touch with what’s new and amazing in countries beyond our borders, look no further. Esomar is a great choice for you even if your company is not a member of CRIC.
  3. Insights Association: If much of your work is conducted in North America, why not say a howdy hello to our neighbours to the south sharing the same time zone as us!
  4. QRCA: Oh quallies, you’ve built something amazing here. If you’re a quallie and not already a member, correct that mistake post haste!

There are, of course, other options. But before jumping into one, do your homework. Make sure the association and association leaders you choose have a solid foundation and proven track record of promoting high standards and ethical behaviours, and are viewed as gold-standard providers by our industry leaders.

If you aren’t sure which association is right for you, talk to several of your clients or research providers. Find out which associations they know and trust. And if you’re still stuck, I’d be happy to help you out. Send me a quick message.

[Side note: MRIA-TT progress is slow. We don’t yet have an option to add to the above list.]

How to win the battle between privacy and personalization

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

We’ve been hearing for years that if you get something for free, you are the product. But for a lot of people, that adage never really sunk in until the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company was accused of misusing and failing to secure Facebook data from more than 71 million people.

Before the scandal erupted, Canadians were perhaps complacent about privacy. But, this Google Trends chart shows a stark reversal beginning in March 2018. Now, though interest in Cambridge Analytica has quickly dropped off, searches related to privacy continue to rise.

google trends

Privacy and personalization create a double-edged sword. For many people, personalization is what you get when emails and newsletters address you by your first name. Our names have been public information since the day we were named, so we don’t normally feel a huge loss of privacy when someone we don’t know uses that information. And for the 2 BILLION people who use Facebook, the personal data we share on that website, from friends and family to favourite musicians and politicians, is shared under the assumption that it will be safe and secure within the website.

But for early adopters who have plunged head first into all that technology has to offer, the broader application of personalization is the magic that happens with a voice activated home assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Echo, Apple’s HomePod, or Google Home. When you literally tell a small electronic device such as Alexa to order more slow cooked beef pot roast, personalization of this device means that it recognizes YOUR voice. It knows that you usually buy pot roast from M&M Food Market. It uses your saved credit card numbers and places the order to be delivered to your home after 6pm that day. That instant gratification is the ultimate goal of personalization. And the consequence is the ultimate loss of privacy.

Many of us willingly give up our most personal and risky details to companies and brands, because we love them and believe that the relationship improves our lives. We give those companies our kids’ names and our credit card numbers because it makes things easier and lets us spend our time doing the things we want to do in the way we want to do them.

On the other hand, personalization can sometimes be a less than wonderful thing. Social media games that ask for personal information such as pets’ names, favourite activities, authors, books, and more, probably are used to tell you which celebrity you’re most similar to. But, in some cases, these data are also used to profile your shopping personalities and determine which products and services you could be persuaded to buy. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But in some cases, these data could be used to facilitate serving deliberately slanted or misleading information. As we are discovering from the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

We need to find a happy medium.

We know that privacy standards, even when very strict and enforced, are not always sufficient to safeguard data. We know that we share too much information with websites we don’t completely trust. We know that laptops get forgotten, lost, and stolen allowing access to files and software that are highly confidential. We know that hackers around the world are actively trying to access private information, whether for fun, status, or malice. Privacy with technology is impossible.

The happy medium lies in giving consumers good options. Companies that are willing to put in the work to earn consumer trust will enjoy long-lasting success. Consumers will reward companies that have a track record of good behaviour, and quick and friendly customer service. Consumers will even reward companies that make the occasional privacy or security mistake as long as the desired and necessary apologies are quick, genuine, and the resolutions are purposeful.

It might cost more to create winning customer service experiences, and build appropriate compromises between personalization and privacy, but the reward is loyal consumers. And nothing is more valuable than that.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.

 

From Bumbling Dad to Human Being: How advertisers are finally giving dads their due

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

As a kid, my dad played catch with me every day after work in the summer, took me to swimming lessons every weekend in the winter, made me wiener soup for lunch when my mom spent a day doing her own thing, and spent hours with me picking elective classes in highschool (history, because I was going to be the next Indiana Jones). I personally can’t relate to the bumbling dads portrayed in ads I watched growing up.

To a far greater extent five and ten years ago, men have been portrayed as incompetent fathers who couldn’t properly feed a child or do simple cleaning tasks around the home. That historical model in the marketing space used to match some segments in real life such that it made no sense to extend parental leave to dads – it was presumed that dads couldn’t take care of the kids and the home anyways. It made no sense to strive for equality in the workplace when there seemed to be none in the home. As the saying going, you cannot do what you cannot see.

However, a study released by Statistics Canada shows that men’s roles in the family have changed starkly over the last forty years, particularly in terms of how many dads are stay-at-home dads. Compared to 1976 when stay-at-home-dads were 1 in 70 of all stay-at-home parent families, today that number is 1 in 10. If you consider households where the mom is employed, nearly 11% of dads today are the caregivers compared to only 1.4% forty years ago (see chart). It’s a consistent trend across all of Canada. If they ever truly were bumbling dads, dads today are regular human beings doing regular child-rearing and home case activities. Dads are changing diapers, buying groceries, cooking meals, cleaning toilets, and are viable audiences and target groups for pretty much every product category. These are all real spaces for companies to grow their business simply by reaching out to their current audience, not just their historical audience.

Advertising leaders in the United Kingdom also have a hard time relating to the stereotype of the bumbling dad and they have decided to do something about it. The Advertising Standards Authority released a report exploring harm arising from media gender stereotypes that “relate to body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles, and mocking people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.” The organization intends to create new standards for ads that incorporate stereotypical behaviours. For instance, ads that might not meet the new standards include those that:

  • Depict family members creating a mess while a woman has the sole responsibility for cleaning it up.
  • Suggest that an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys or vice versa.
  • Feature a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks

In another initiative, Unilever, UN Women, Mars, and Alibaba have bound together in the ‘Unstereotype Alliance’ to do their part to stop stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising. In their research , Unilever’s chief marketing and communications Officer Keith Weed notes that progressive ads are 25% more effective and deliver “better branded impact.”

It’s been truly heartwarming to see brands plan for this change and make huge strides in response to the evolution of gender roles. Over the last couple of years, brands have begun to make great efforts to ensure their ads are more representative of the current population, They are focusing more on the way things really are today as opposed to taking the easy way out by using the stereotypes that have existed for innumerable decades.

When it comes to gender, and dads in particular, newer ads have begun to focus on men and dads not as lazy, ignorant bystanders or handsome supermodels with ripped abs, but rather as equal partners taking on their share of responsibilities in the home, and as human beings who genuinely care about the other people in their lives. Newer ads present dads in a manner that reflect today’s reality. Dads who don’t have time to go to the gym every day because they’re taking kids to hockey practices, piano lessons, and library sessions. Dads who turn on the oven and feed the kids while mom puts her feet up after a long day behind the welding visor.

Tide has fully embraced this trend with its television commercials. For instance, in this commercial, though mom and dad are packing suitcases together, it’s the dad who is first to speak up and take action when his daughter, and then his son, needs some last minute laundry done.

This Motts Fruitsations commercial shows a dad taking on the grocery shopping duties. Not only is he caring for his baby at the same time as every mom has always does, he is fully aware of what his other children are up over the rest of the week including their karate and gymnastics classes, and sleepovers.

This Dove commercial shows many dads including their young children, both boys and girls, in a huge range of non-stereotypical activities. From dancing with them in front of the TV, gleefully terrifying them in a plane or race car, pushing their wheelchair through a skateboard park, or saving them from crashing after a fall, these dads share joy and passion with their young ones regardless of whether ‘girls do that’ or ‘boys do that.’

And, if you need something to wipe away the tears and put some fun into your soul, enjoy this last commercial from Ikea. The young boy is clearly disappointed when he tells his dad that mom cooked macaroni all week. And of course, dad saves the day with a beautifully prepared meal. You’ll just have to watch the rest of the ad to see the conclusion!

I quite love these new portrayals of dads in the media. It’s a great reminder that stereotypes don’t always reflect current trends. Sometimes you need to really push beyond tradition to reach the broader set of your consumers. If you’d like cast aside stereotypes and find out who your consumers of today are, we’d love to help you. Please get in touch!

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.

 

Shhhh…. A Post in Which We Reveal the Midi-chlorians of Questionnaire Design

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

There are no midi-chlorians when it comes to questionnaire design.

Sigh. I’m sad to start the post like that but it’s true. There are no Jedi mind tricks that will make people generate better questionnaire data. There are no sacred texts on the market research version Ahch-To containing that one single piece of advice that will allow someone who’s never written a questionnaire before to create an effective questionnaire that generates actionable outcomes. The only Force at our disposal is careful training as a Padawan and years of experience. Fortunately, as a questionnaire Jedi Knight myself, having years of experience does mean that I can share a few tidbits I’ve learned along the way, tidbits not necessarily found in an academic textbook. So here goes.

spaceQuestionnaires aren’t about grammatically perfect writing: After perhaps two decades of primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate school, many of us have learned an abundance of grammar and writing skills that we’ve been told are essential for clear communication. Don’t end sentences in a preposition. Don’t use sentence fragments. Don’t start sentences with ‘and.’ However, as questionnaire writers, we have a very specific goal: To write questions and answers that are understandable to as many people as possible. And sometimes, that means joining the Dark Side and ignoring the rules we’ve struggled to follow for years. With that in mind, when there isn’t a good alternative, it is indeed okay to write questions that end in prepositions!

  • Which country do you live in? [Or better, ask “Where do you live?”]
  • Which of these have you heard of?
  • Which of these have you seen before?

Questionnaires aren’t about professional and formal writing: Of course we want research participants to recognize that the questionnaire they’re completing is important and should be taken seriously. However, formal language can be a deterrent to questionnaire completion, particularly for people whose reading skills don’t match the writing skills of the researcher. Besides, participating in a research questionnaire ought to feel like entertainment, not like a 30-minute life skills exam. Banish that language to a life locked in carbonite and instead, choose a casual language style that people will feel comfortable with. (Oh, see what I did with that preposition!) You need to avoid slang, idioms, and inside jokes that are meaningless without context, but you can certainly inject a bit of casual but relevant humour along the way.

  • Are you ready to chat about carpet cleaners and vacuums? It might be a boring topic but we all need a clean home!

Questionnaires aren’t about comprehensive questions: Sometimes, in our attempts to be clear and focused, we end up writing questions that are long and complicated, subsequently making it difficult for people to deconstruct and comprehend the intention behind asking the question in the first place and causing the resulting data to be riddled with quality issues. The alternative is to break sentences apart. Short sentences make comprehension accessible to everyone. People who are reading in a second language can understand short sentences. People who have different reading skills can understand short sentences. Be part of the resistance when it comes to long questions and long answers. If our goal is comprehension, short sentences are always preferred.

  • In the last month, how many large bottles of detergent did you buy? (A large bottle is 1 litre or 1 kilogram or more. Please include liquid and powder detergent.)

Questionnaires aren’t about category comprehensiveness: When you start thinking all the questions that could be answered, it’s easy to stretch a 5-minute questionnaire into a 35-minute questionnaire. Use the force to avoid this inclination. Short questionnaires retain the interest and attention of participants and therefore generate much better data. Cut every question you know you won’t act on. Cut every question that won’t generate an actionable outcome. Cut all the ‘nice to know’ and ‘I wonder whether’ questions. If the questionnaire still requires more than 15 minutes to complete, then you need to move to step two – figure out whether it can be cut it into pieces. That could mean giving twice as many people half as many questions, or spreading the questionnaire out over multiple occasions.

Quality questionnaire writing is a rare skill: Whether it’s designing marketing strategies that double the business in one year, accurately translating mission statements into six languages, or writing effective questionnaires, everyone is a Jedi at something. Jedi Knights in the research industry have written entire textbooks on how to create a good questionnaire. They’ve witnessed thousands of fatal errors across many different categories and industries, and know many of the common and obscure mistakes. Even better, Jedi Masters have learned a plethora of techniques to counteract hundreds of cognitive biases that prevent people from answering truthfully. They’ve acquired a unique skill of ensuring questionnaires will meet specific needs and generate the best possible data quality. If your research outcomes are intended to feed into major decisions impacting the health of your business, it is essential that you seek out the advice of Jedi Master questionnaire writers.

And with these tips firmly entrenched, may the survey force be with you!

 

Annie Pettit, PhD, FMRIA, is a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. She helps marketers build research tools that facilitate clear and direct answers to key questions and problems.

Sklar Wilton & Associates has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them solve tough business challenges to unlock growth and build stronger brands. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Recognized as the number one Employee Recommended Workplace among small private employers by the Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell in 2017, SW&A achieved ERW certification again in 2018.

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Leading by Design: A leadership profile of Dr. Ann Cavoukian and her passion for privacy

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog

If you’ve read anything about privacy in the last few years, you’re certain to have come across the name Dr. Ann Cavoukian. And if you don’t recall her name, surely you’ve heard of her concept of Privacy by Design. With all the data breaches we’ve encountered over the last several years and the most recent debacle with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the value of privacy has never been more clear.

Ann Cavoukian, Privacy, CanadaPrivacy by Design is the idea that every piece of technology, every website, every tool and process ought to consider how to incorporate concepts of privacy from day one and throughout the entire development process. Historically, many products and services have been, and continue to be, built such that privacy is an afterthought – once the product or service has been fully developed, people try to figure out how to retroactively apply privacy components. This strategy can easily lead to unnecessary collection of data, awkward programming work-arounds, and privacy policies that are far too complex for regular people to understand. By accounting for privacy from the start, through Privacy by Design, many of these problems can be prevented or simplified.

Ann’s career is impressive. She had Privacy by Design in mind before serving three terms and 17 years as the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, the largest province in Canada. Now, she is a distinguished visiting professor and Executive Director at Ryerson Universities Privacy and Big Data Institute. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at Ryerson University, and a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Her awards are numerous and include being named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada, ‘Power 50’ by Canadian BusinessTop 100 Leaders in Identity, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada for taking her Privacy by Design concept globally.

What’s inspiring about Ann’s leadership is that she never wavered from her commitment to Privacy by Design. Twenty years ago, digital privacy wasn’t a thing. AOL Instant messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN messenger, and LiveJournal existed. Skype showed up in 2003, Facebook in 2004, and Reddit and YouTube in 2005. To the average person 20 years ago, privacy was boring and manifested as physically locked filing cabinets in locked rooms – impenetrable without two keys. Yet Ann had the foresight to realize that planning for digital privacy would become paramount. She’s held strong to this message for more than two decades.

Today, her Privacy by Design strategy has traversed the globe and been translated into 40 languages. In 2010, International Privacy Regulators unanimously passed a Resolution recognizing Privacy by Design as an international standard. As we progress with integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning with our marketing technologies, we must take care to implement Privacy by Design. Not because regulators say we should, but because Ann has repeatedly demonstrated that it’s the right thing to do.

You can find Ann on TwitterLinkedinWikipedia, at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence where she is the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, or her foundation Global Privacy and Security By Design.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.

What to do when anticipating the gift of feedback makes you feel like a failure

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

For some people, feedback is an extremely valuable gift to be sought after and treasured.

For others, it’s a dreaded piece of torture that reminds them how terrible they are at everything in life.

Feedback is an essential component not only at Sklar Wilton, but also in the larger business world, one that is valued by high performing leadership teams, and one that helps every employee learn and grow and be better at the things they love. Well delivered and well received feedback can promote a positive workplace culture, build stronger relationships among employees, and contribute to growth.

So what is someone to do if anticipating and receiving a gift of feedback feels like torture? Here are a few tips.

feedbackRemember that there is more to your life than your weaknesses. You are also the dad wearing a tutu in the grocery store because your son wanted someone to join him, the mom who shovels the snow from the walkway for your elderly neighbour, the friend picking up mail for a colleague who is away visiting their aging mom in the hospital. You are a multi-faceted person succeeding in over-lapping areas of life from work to school to volunteer activities and leisure time. A weakness or two in one area of your life does not translate to weaknesses in all areas of your life.

Remember that it is impossible for anyone to perform at peak, all day, every day, while carrying around the emotional baggage that all of us do. We all worry about our kids, our aging parents, our health, the bills we need to pay, and so much more. We are not robots programmed with artificial intelligence to input and output based on perfectly programmed algorithms. By design, humans have weaknesses and are not perfect. We get tired, bored, annoyed, over-excited, over-worked, and stressed and that can only impact our work.

Remember that your successes are far greater than your weaknesses, as small or large as you’ve imagined them to be. Your failures might threaten your self-image and your identity. They might take centre stage with giant billboards in your brain. But your successes at work, both large and small, are certainly far more numerous than your weaknesses. Make the effort to remember all the great things you’ve accomplished at work over the last month, year, and decade, and how awesome they really were.

Remember that feedback is someone else’s perception. Sometimes, the feedback will be 100% valid and completely unknown to you. It could give you reason to improve specific behaviours you never realized needed improving, and jump-start you onto an even better future. And sometimes, though the feedback might not reflect your reality, it does reflect the other person’s reality, their perceptions. In such cases, you will need to recognize that someone’s unique experience with you is valid and deserves to be appreciated. In either case, feedback is a gift that will help you adjust your behaviours for the better, whether that means changing the behaviour itself or doing a better job of managing expectations and perceptions related to those behaviours.

When you do find yourself on the receiving end of the gift of feedback, be sure to ask your gift giver for specific, current examples. Examples from the far past or from one-time events probably can’t be acted on now. But examples from ongoing tasks present multiple opportunities for you to learn and implement real change. Be prepared to take full advantage!

Be open to hearing suggestions you’ve already thought of and discarded. If someone who has taken the time to offer you the gift of feedback has specific suggestions, it’s worthwhile to reconsider them. Find out more specifically what they’re referring to and see if they have more specific ideas of how those ideas could work.

Be aware of your words and your body language. Receiving feedback might be difficult for you, but it might also be difficult for the person offering it. Focus on listening and encouraging rather than defending and rejecting. Make sure your body language demonstrates that you are open and positive about the feedback even when you’re struggling to feel good about the words you’re hearing.

Finally, remember that feedback really is a gift. It means that someone cares enough about you to want to help you learn, grow, and become more successful. Accept it with many thanks.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.

 

Digital Networking for the Skeptic Leader

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

There are many reasons to love the internet but my top reason is that it shrinks the world to fit into my own backyard. Whether someone lives in Australia, India, Japan, Finland, South Africa, Venezuela, Mexico, or even in another province of Canada, I can communicate with all of them on a personal, one to one basis any time and any day I want. Networking with a global community of industry experts has never been easier and, given global accessibility and the accelerated rate of technological innovations, never more essential.

One of the main problems people have with social media networks and digital networking, however, is that the tools are boring, irrelevant, or waste a lot of time. A few quick tips might help to improve the experience so that you too can benefit from digital networking.

1.      Find the social network that’s right for you

There are hundreds of social networks but you only need to find and participate in the one that suits you best. If you are visually oriented, head off to Pinterest or Instagram. If you want to get to know people personally, Facebook is the place for you. If you like a mixture of personal and business content that is short and sweet, Twitter is the place for you. If you’re all business, all the time, LinkedIn will suit you perfectly. Indeed, anyone wishing to grow their brand or further their career should be active on LinkedIn.

There are many more networks to choose from but the bulk of English industry conversations take place on these networks. You could try QQ.com or Weibo.com if you speak Chinese, or Vk.com if you speak Russian.

2.      Focus on people in your industry

Most social networks try to help new users by suggesting accounts to follow. Bad idea! Absolutely never follow their recommendations. If you are forced to do so to get your account working, be sure to unfollow those accounts as quickly as you can. Following celebrities, athletes, musicians, and pundits might be fun at first but, over time, you’ll find that type of content to be sensationalist and boring. You’ll probably even give up.

Instead, seek out people in your field, including industry experts, keeners, and hobbyists. If your industry is marketing, search for keywords like marketing, advertising, branding, retail, customers, consumers, messaging, pricing, or targeting. If your industry is market research, search for keywords like analytics, data, ethnography, focus groups, insights. Identify the relevant hashtags such as #marketing, #advertising, #branding, #MRX, or #NewMR. Find your relevant industry association. Identify the people who use those words and follow their accounts.

Even better, identify at least one expert who is well known in your industry and follow all the accounts they follow. More specifically, take care to follow personal accounts that showcase the names and photos of human beings not business accounts with names and logos of businesses.

To ensure you’ve always got a regular stream of new, interesting, and unusual ideas flowing through your stream, follow at least 1000 accounts from around the world. You aren’t supposed to read everything from these 1000 people as if they’re emails or personal messages. Rather, glance at whatever is passing through your stream when you happen to feel like taking a peek.

3.      Go beyond surfing and lurking

Social networks are supposed to be social but that doesn’t mean you have to share photos of your dinner or your kids (actually, give your kids the gift of privacy and don’t share any information about them online). You also don’t have to fill up the interweebs with random chatter just for the sake of being able to say you participated.

In the digital space, you are encouraged and expected to communicate with anyone, even world renowned, industry gurus, about anything. When you do see a post that is interesting or thought provoking, reply or leave a comment for the author. Let them know you liked their idea or share your own experience with the topic.

In addition to replying to comments, be sure to share your own ideas. Many people think they have nothing interesting to say, nothing new to say, or simply nothing worth sharing. I can 100% assure you that this is wrong. Everyone is an expert in something. Everyone has a unique perspective on even the most ordinary topics. The trick is simply to recognize when one of those opinions has popped into your head.

When you do share and comment, you’ll quickly become part of a conversation with people you’ve never talked to before but who now look forward to hearing from you. You never know who you’ll become fast friends with, who might ask you to speak at a conference, or who might turn into your best client.

4.      Communicate on a personal level

Networks like LinkedIn try to be helpful by giving users templated responses, sometimes suggesting phrases such as “I’ll be in touch” or “thank you” as one-click responses. Unless you need to reply to a hundred messages in the next five minutes, don’t take the bait. Take the time to respond to every person individually with a relevant thought or comment, even if it is simply a more personal way of saying “thanks a bunch!”

Some networks allow you to send automated messages. For instance, Twitter can be set up so that any new follower automatically receives a private message thanking them for the follow. Some people create longer private messages that include further contact information about their products and services. Don’t do that. Most automated messages are unwelcome. In fact, they might even encourage someone to stop following you. If you truly want to thank people for following your account, take the time to do it personally.

5.      Social media is for social not selling

If your title begins with a C (e.g., Chief, Consultant) or has the word “business” or “sales” in it, chances are every time you talk to someone, your brain tries to force you to offer a sales pitch or to invite someone to review your products and services. Don’t do it. Turn off that part of your brain. Beginning any new relationship with a sales pitch is a sure fire way to encourage someone to click on the mute/unfriend/unfollow/block button.

Instead, get to know people. Simply chat with people. Engage in some genuine conversation about the state of the industry. Learn what industry topics are important to them and what their challenges are. As part of a normal conversation between friends. Over time, you might experience the ultimate metric of success… you might find that you are asked for a pitch.

6.      Keep your profile current

Over time, you`ll learn more about your industry, and your interests and experiences will evolve. The profile you set up on a social media account 3 years ago may have been fun and relevant then, but it certainly doesn’t describe who you are today. Sometimes, that very short profile is all that people will see about you so make sure it reflects who you are today, not the young and uninformed kid you were 3 years ago. Current photos help new friends recognize you in the conference crowd, and current websites help potential clients learn more about your services on their own initiative. Make it a habit to update, or at least check, your information once each year.

Above all, don’t stress. If you find a social network to be overwhelming or unhelpful, find a buddy who can guide you through the intricacies and help you find a strategy that works for you.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. Sklar Wilton & Associates has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them solve tough business challenges to unlock growth and build stronger brands. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Recognized as the number one Employee Recommended Workplace among small private employers by the Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell in 2017, SW&A achieved ERW certification again in 2018.

 

 

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