Content Drives Successful Social Media

I first started working as a journalist in 1976 in Calgary.  I’d been working in radio for a few years, but when I moved to CHQR Calgary in 1976, I became a full-on news reporter, working ‘the street’.

The tools of the my trade were my 1965 Mustang with a giant Motorola 2-way radio strapped under the dash, a pager, a Sony cassette recorder and a bag full of spare batteries.

1976 - self portrait -|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|- 2010 - photo by Kris Krug

Stories were my business – and on a good day I’d cover a couple of press conferences, stop by city hall or the police department (the cop shop), and I’d pick up one or two more stories by doing the rounds.

If the newsroom got hold of a good story they needed me to cover, they’d page me.  My beeper would go off and I’d have to find a pay phone to call back to the station.  I’d write my stories long hand on a steno pad, or if I was close to city hall, would pop in there where we had a desk and a typewriter I could use.

Filing stories meant cracking open a phone headset, and with 2 alligator clips, ‘patching in’ my cassette deck audio output to the phone wiring so I could feed clips back to the station.  Then I’d file my story over the phone while they recorded it at the other end.

It’s no surprise that in those days, we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the technology of delivering the story.  We spent all of our time talking about ‘the story’ itself.

Flash forward to 2010.

I now have a huge collection of digital tools, both software and hardware, that make my 1976 toolset look ridiculously archaic.

These days, it seems to me we’re always talking about the technology.

And why not, it’s exciting.

Particularly in the social networking sphere where things are developing fast and furious.  But it’s easy to get lost in the conversation about the technology, and forget the point.  What are you there to talk about?  What stories are we actually going to tell with all these new tools?

One of the first things I tell clients is that for business, a social media strategy is actually a content strategy.  It’s about opening up and telling the stories about your product, your company, and your employees – really about anything that someone might be interested in learning about.  Interestingly, often this kind of content isn’t found on the company’s own web site.

The second thing I tell clients?

Stories talk back.  Social media is about engagement. Sure it’s ok to tell people about your products of what you’ve got on sale, but you also have to engage in the conversation.  The analogy I use is that it’s like the customer service desk, not the bulletin board.

I encourage my clients to get involved with social media – but – with a couple of key pieces in place. First, we spend some time thinking and planning the kind of stories they intend to share.  Second, that they understand that social media isn’t   ‘set and forget’; they need to be engaged in a meaningful conversation in order for it to provide meaningful results.

I wouldn’t for a minute go back to the dark ages of 1976. I love my digital studio and suite of distribution tools. I love knowing there’s something new coming at any moment.

I would, however, encourage you to remember that without ‘the story’ none of it means very much.


And I would take the Mustang back.


thanks to kk+ for the 2010 photo!

Podcast | Wireless Meets Digital

It’s not every day you get to hear insights from a world-famous blogger, leaders in the phone and wireless industry, game developer and a digital entrepreneur – all in the same room, all at the same time.

On February 25th in Vancouver, DigiBC presented a full day of  conversations featuring an international group of thought leaders and innovators, part of the VX Conversations series.

In all there were five sessions presented at the BC Showcase Centre at Robson Square, and I recorded them for DigiBC’s website

This session is titled Wireless Meets Digital, and featured:

  • Robert Scoble, author & blogger,  Scobleizer
  • Chris Langdon, VP, Network Services, Telus
  • Saul Orbach, Founder, COO at Aguru Images, Inc.
  • Doug Whatley, CEO of Breakaway
  • Gregg Sauter, Director, Global Head of Media Partnerships and Content Publishing at Nokia

The conversation was moderated by DigiBC‘s Michael Bidu, who posed the first question to Robert Scoble…


click to play

runs 26:21

Other sessions in the series included:

Collaboration Meets Innnovation
Medicine Meets Mobile
Entertainment Meets VFX/3D
Vancouver Meets the World

Podcast | Alex Beim of Tangible Interaction

A year and a half ago, Alex Beim was hoping his company, Tangible Interaction, would be involved with the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He never would have predicted that all together, he and his team would create 16 different installations related to the games.

Tangible Interaction Design creates full-on sensory experiences people can interact with in the everyday physical world. You can see them at Vancouver House, the BC Pavilion, and if you’re an athlete at the Games, inside the athlete’s village.

When I talked to Alex (on Feb 24) he was sworn to secrecy about yet another Olympic related project, Tangible Interaction’s contribution to the closing ceremonies.

“The ultimate achievement for us is to get someone so engaged with something they kind of want to hang out and enjoy their experience there…that’s why we do what we do”

To find out more about Tangible’s unique work, I spoke with Alex by phone from his studio in Vancouver…


click to play

If you aren’t able to see any of Tangible Interaction’s work at the various locations in Vancouver during the Olympics, you can see videos and photos of their projects on their website.

You can also see examples of their work in this video tour of the Multimedia Gallery at the BC Pavilion, or in this tour with photographer Kris Krug.

Video: Kris Krug at the Multimedia Gallery

Vancouver photographer Kris Krug is multi-tasking even more than usual during these Olympic Games, and that’s saying something.

He’s been contributing photos to DigiBC at VX Showcase events, his photos have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, he shares them with the world on Flickr, and at (love the images of the skaters).

He and I got a preview tour of the Multimedia Gallery at the BC Pavilion last week, and I thought it might be fun to turn the camera around on him a bit – and give you a glimpse of kk+ in action…

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

You can find Kris on Twitter, or contact him through

There’s a full gallery tour video here.

The Podcast Desk

20100102_podcastHere’s a peak at my podcast production desk.

Almost all the podcasts I produce for clients involve on-location recordings – so after the sound has been gathered, I spend a lot of quality time huddled with this gear, assembling the material and doing whatever post-production is needed to the audio.

Typically, production involves multi track mixes of eight to 12 tracks, and up until recently I’ve been doing that work with Adobe Audition.

I switched to Pro Tools last year and regret not doing it sooner –  the learning curve is quite steep, but once it clicks, everything just falls into place, particularly if you’ve ever worked in a large multi track studio environment.

I should point out that even though I’m a huge fan of Pro Tools, I still recommend Audion to people – it runs well on just about any PC and is still an inexpensive way to get going with multi-track audio software.   (When Adobe bought what was then called Cool Edit, I thought they’d bury the software, but Adobe has continued to support it)

Here’s the guide to what’s on the desk (click either image to see a larger version).

1.   ProTools 8

2.   Ta20100102_whats_on_the_desknnoy Active monitors

3.   Ipod

4.   Phone audio interface/patch for
recording phoners, like on

5.   Headphones

6.   Microphone

7.   CF cards from Sound Devices field recorder

8.   Pen for Wacom tablet

9.   Mixer for house sound

10.  M-box (audio interface for ProTools)

11.  Wireless keyboard

12.  Must have – coffee

13.  Must have – analog notepad

14.  Midi keyboard

15.  Mackie  MCU  control surface

In the field I use  Sound Devices gear – their digital recorders and field mixers are simply the best. People accustomed to those tiny consumer  recorders find the gear big, but for flawless & dependable field recording, there simply is nothing like it.  I am almost always running on battery power, and I can go for a solid 4 hours without even worrying about a charge – and that’s with a full 4 channel mixer feeding into the digital recorder.  And coupled with custom PortaBrace bags, I can use the stuff in any kind of weather.