Innovation in Advertising: Ignacio Oreamuno and Giant Hydra

I am excited to introduce a new feature on my blog. Every few weeks, I will be posting short interviews with interesting people who are truly making an impact in the business world – through their thoughts, their ideologies and their actions, paving the path for new and innovative ways of doing things.

This week’s interview is with Ignacio Oreamuno, a true innovator in the advertising industry. Ignacio is President of IHAVEANIDEA, one of the world’s largest online advertising communities, and he is CEO of the Tomorrow Awards, an international advertising awards show with a focus specifically on the future of advertising.

More recently, Ignacio developed and launched Giant Hydra. Giant Hydra is a unique technology that enables ad agencies and clients to access a global pool of creative professionals for work on a particular project. Qualified professionals, selected by the ad agencies and clients, participate in mass collaboration – working virtually and as a team through Giant Hydra, leveraging their collective ingenuity to create ideas for the project at hand.

Thank you, Ignacio, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your insights.

1. How do you envision the creative development process at agencies evolving over the next five to ten years? With respect to a movement towards mass collaboration, at what stage are we at?

The advertising has not changed in over 150 years. It is pretty much the same structure and method of work.

Take a look at all other industries and you can see that they all have changed dramatically over the last 50, 20, 10 and even last two years. Remember when Kodak claimed that digital photography would never have the quality of film? When music companies said digital music wouldn’t work, that the quality of CD’s was better?

The creative process between a copywriter and an art director that Burnbach famously pioneered is no longer apt for the campaigns of today.

As the recession proved, money talks. If an industry can produce a product (in this case creative ideas) in a lot less time, of better or equal quality and for less money, there is nothing that will stop change from destroying the old way of things. All it takes is a handful of agencies to start doing it and boom, it will change things forever.

Look at other industries, like digital film, online music etc. Once technology makes things better, it’s impossible to turn back the page.

Right now agencies are skeptical. They are all waiting for the other one to try mass collaboration and see if it works. Again, instead of seeing the opportunity and jumping on it, a lot of them are so scared of change that they would rather wait. I know a few people who say this model won’t work. They are the same people that have never used it. Ironic.

2. What do you believe is the biggest barrier with regards to improving collaboration and innovation?

The biggest barrier is going to be in getting proof that mass collaboration produces quality. Agencies want to know one thing and one thing only. That you can produce award winning work out of mass collaboration. Giant Hydra is so new that it is hard to show case studies since all of the work is confidential. It will take some time for the work to come out and for the evidence to be ready. I am not worried about that, I’m just focused now on showing the system on a case by case basis to each agency. Everybody always gets blown away by the quality of the people working in the system and the quality of the ideas.

I don’t think there are any more barriers apart from that. Giant Hydra works. Period. Mass collaboration works. Period. I’ve seen it, I’m seeing it right now.

3. A number of creative professionals and associations have expressed reservations about crowdsourcing, essentially claiming that crowdsourced creative undervalues their skills and expertise. What are your thoughts on this?

The HydraHeads in Giant Hydra are all paid. Some of them work on multiple projects at the same time earning multiple fees. And they work from wherever they are in the world, whether that is NY or Japan or a beach. They are all award winning creatives, strategists, planners, and social media mavericks. I would challenge anyone to have a beer with one of the HydraHeads and ask them how they feel about it. In all honesty, they seem pretty excited and happy, and these are 10+ years experience people.

Most people understand crowdsourcing as a contest where the best idea wins. This is not the case with mass collaboration crowdsourcing where it’s essentially a group of people (more than 2 working together online for a fixed salary). The word “crowdsourcing” is now tainted I think, and there’s not much anyone can do about that.

Follow Ignacio Oreamu on Twitter at @ihaveanidea.

Follow Giant Hydra on Twitter at @GiantHydra.

The One Question That Truly Defines Someone’s Level of Social Media Expertise

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to blog. Now that my life is a bit more settled, I hope to be able to write and share my thoughts on a more frequent basis.

Over the last number of months, there’s been a fair bit of discussion in the social media world about how people describe their level of social media “expertise”. Terms like social media “expert”, “evangelist”, “guru” and, surprisingly, even “ninja” are used so frequently, it’s almost like there’s a fire sale on them.

Now, I am all for the progression of social media – I feel that it’s important for companies to leverage available tools and technologies in becoming more social and more human in the way they act, communicate and conduct business.  Having people who are enthusiastic about social media, as well trained in and knowledgeable about social media tools and emerging technologies, is key to this progression.

However, unfortunately there is a significant credibility issue when it comes to people and their often self-proclaimed level of social media expertise. Social is evolving at such a breakneck speed, can anyone really claim to be an expert? In my opinion, no. Further, and more notably, many who claim to be experts actually lack formal marketing or communications experience – social media doesn’t exist by itself in a vacuum, it needs to be integrated with marketing, communications, customer service and other business functions!

This leads me to a key point I would like to make. There is one great way to judge someone’s knowledge of social media. Ask them this question:

What tangible business results have you created through your social media efforts?

The proof should be in the pudding. Even Bruce Lee can’t fake an answer to this question.

A Social Welcome to Your New City

I recently co-authored a blog post with my friend Debbie Horovitch, posted on the blog for her new community management talent agency sparkle & shine. The post provides tips on how immigrants to a new country can leverage social media to ease the transition and become better acquainted with their new surroundings.

Please read the post and let us know what you think!

Ignite Passion and Word of Mouth: Connect Your Customers!

Buoyed by eagerness to reach customers on the social web, many businesses have endeavored to build personable, direct relationships with customers and other stakeholder groups using social media. Businesses realize the potential to create deeper connections and loyalty, which should ultimately lead to sales over the longer term customer life cycle. However, many businesses are uncertain how to participate and consequently, in my opinion, few truly take full advantage of the business potential associated with social media.

One key is to create a strong and vibrant online community of ambassadors for your brand. It’s true that the web has made building individual relationships cheaper and faster than what was previously possible. However, scaling such deep relationships over a broad base of stakeholders is, in most cases, neither feasible not effective.

Alternatively, companies that focus on building brand loyalty with a small subset of customers might find that their efforts have an exponential impact.

Here are several companies that have done this successfully:

Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark is a small batch bourbon whiskey that is distilled in Loretto, Kentucky by Fortune Brands. For a number of years now, they’ve been running an ambassador program that is all about passion for their brand of bourbon. Maker’s Mark ambassadors receive access to a private online community, appropriately named “The Embassy”, through which they can receive a number of perks – including personalized business cards (ideal for handing out in bars), as well as having their name engraved on an actual barrel of Maker’s Mark bourbon. How cool is that? Additionally, amongst other things, ambassadors receive access to VIP tasting events and exclusive gift shop access.

Yelp

Recently, while on a group hike near Toronto, I asked a fellow hiker if she had any recommendations on Toronto events and restaurants I should consider checking out. Immediately, she provided a few thoughts and strongly suggested that I create a profile on Yelp – a social networking, user review and local search website for members to post reviews and get user feedback on local businesses and restaurants. She’s actually a member of Yelp’s Elite Squad – a program through which Yelp rewards it’s top users, providing them with exclusive offers and access to members-only events. In addition to rewarding loyal users, the program provides a great incentive for other members to post additional reviews, making the site content stronger while keeping the broader community active and engaged.

Fiskars

In an earlier post on Community Management Best Practices, I referred to Fiskateers.com. Fiskars, a well-known brand of scissors, created a vibrant online community by focusing on a shared passion for many of it’s customers – scrapbooking. The company started by recruiting some of its most loyal customers to the community – branding them as Fiskateers. Fiskateer ambassadors receive a number of benefits, including access to exclusive meetup events and the opportunity to share their passion for scrapbooking with others in the private online community.

So, what did these companies do right? They built strong connections with the most passionate segment of their customer base. In doing so, they essentially put their customers to work for them – spreading word of mouth through their personal networks, inspiring new customers and spurring community growth.

Building connections with customers takes both commitment and recognition that social media can be a great tool for achieving businesses goals. In oder to attain a tangible return, business must be willing to make an investment – online and offline – as Maker’s Mark, Yelp and Fiskars all did. They didn’t just focus on counting Facebook Fans, they created social communities that generated value – for themselves, the ambassadors, and other customers.

Do you know any companies that have connected their most loyal customers through innovative brand ambassador programs? If so, please share!

We Are All Canucks

Wow, do those words ever ring true. Thanks to a loyal, ardent fan base, and the power of social media, Vancouver Canucks fandom has risen to an entirely new level. Canucks fans have turned to social media to share their experiences and emotions, expressing themselves through compelling content ranging from short tweets to engaging videos. At the same time, the organization itself has really excelled at leveraging social media to encourage fan participation and build loyalty – and there is little doubt that the strength of the Vancouver Canucks brand has been significantly augmented as a result.

Let’s first look at fan participation in creating and sharing content. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the blogosphere have all been significant conduits for the spread of entertaining and engaging videos, images, and opinions on the Canucks.

Numerous fun, high quality videos have been created – many by relative amateurs. This one, a parody of Rebecca Black’s viral hit “Friday”, was posted on YouTube at the beginning of April and has already garnered over 320,000 views.

People have also developed Canuck-themed avatars, posting and sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

The blogosphere is also abuzz with postings related to the Canucks. Enter the term “Canucks” in Google Blog Search, and over one million results are returned. No, not all are related to the team – but given limited alternative applications of the word “Canucks”, it’s a fairly good indicator of the conversations that are happening.

On top of all this, Twitter and Facebook truly enhance the experience of watching a Canucks game, by enabling people to partake in banter as the game unfolds – no matter where they are watching from.

Paralleling the fan generated content, the Canucks organization has really done a great job in engaging with fans through social media.

For starters, the Canucks have built a strong presence on Facebook, with over 445,000 fans, and Twitter, with over 113,000 followers. According to sportsfangraph.com, the Canucks rank 7th amongst NHL teams with respect to total following – and second amongst Canadian teams, trailing only the Montreal Canadiens. They also have a strong degree of activity in forums hosted on canucks.com.

Of course, numbers only tell part of the story. The Canucks have used their website and social media platforms to share compelling content including, for example, polished highlight videos, player interviews, and behind the scene glimpses of team activities. They also run fun, compelling contests that fans enjoy.

One neat social initiative the Canucks have launched for the playoffs is This is What We Live For – a website through which Canucks fans can help create a mosaic. Upon submitting a personal photo for the mosaic, people are asked to mention why they are a Canucks fan, and are then prompted to share the mosaic through Twitter or Facebook.

I find the mosaic itself to be quite fitting. Yes, fellow Canucks fans, We Are All Canucks.

50 Key Takeaways from the BCAMA VISION Marketing Conference

On May 19th, the British Columbia Chapter of the American Marketing Association held its’ annual flagship VISION Marketing Conference. This year, the focus was on the concept of ‘community’ and how the concept is reshaping our marketing landscape – as companies build deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers.

As I’m currently in Toronto, unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend VISION. However, I was paying close attention to the Twitter stream, enticed by a great speaker lineup and my affinity for the BCAMA – I volunteered with the association for over five years.

Thank you to VISION attendees, as well as the BCAMA’s social media team, for sharing what was being discussed. Here are the top 50 takeaways I was able to glean from Twitter!

Scott Stratten – Social Media Expert, Author of UnMarketing

  • rgerschman: #2011vision Marketing is not a task. Marketing is every time you choose to or choose not to engage with your market. It just is (S.Stratten)
  • wusnews: Online conversations are the most raw, passionate thoughts of your customers. #2011Vision
  • patrickmgill: #2011vision the best marketing is creating awesome customer experiences @unmarketing
  • rgerschman: #2011vision “When does the ‘we are experiencing an unusually high call volume’ = the usual high call volume? Think about Customer service!!
  • BCAMA: “Every time you create a QR code and it does not go to a mobile page… a puppy dies.” @unmarketing #2011Vision ^NT
  • kelsey_bar: People spread “awesome”. They don’t spread “meh…” Great stuff from @unmarketing at #2011Vision
  • GusF: By 2013 50% of web access will be done on mobile phones – get your website mobile #2011vision
  • GillianShaw: Create awesome content 1st then SEO. Create your content for your audience, not for Google. @unmarketing #2011Vision
  • rgerschman: #2011vision @unmarketing social media success doesn’t exist… It’s just amplification. If you suck offline, you’ll suck even more online!
  • shirleyweir: Reminder: we do business with people we know, like and trust. Live it #2011Vision @unmarketing

Kerry Munro – Technology leader and visionary

  • GillianShaw: 72% Internet users say they’re exposed to too much advertising (could you buy a @vancouverSun please : ) ) #2011Vision
  • nicolb: “Strategy. Insights. Automation. 3 areas that are the biggest level of challenge today. ” @kerrymunrois #2011Vision /via @bcama
  • GillianShaw: Your customers will create new customers, all you have to do is take care of your existing customers, sez Kerry Munro #2011Vision
  • GusF: A social media strategy should be inline with your business strategy. Many have that disconnect #2011vision
  • BCAMA: “FB user value: spend, loyalty, brand affinity, acquisition cost, propensity to recommend, media value” @kerrymunrois #2011Vision ^NT
  • GusF: Since the core of any business is to drive sales, it’s important to understand the value of your “fan”. #2011vision
  • rgerschman: #2011vision Consider this: Friends & family continue to be the biggest influencers in ppl making purchase decisions.
  • fburrows: #2011Vision Bing and Google change their analytics daily-impossible to keep up, just focus strategically on what works for you.
  • BCAMA: “It’s all about being in that moment and creating the most efficient and optimal connection w/ the consumer.” @kerrymunrois #2011Vision ^NT

Scott Bedbury – Author of A New Brand World and former Marketing Executive at Nike and Starbucks

  • rgerschman: #2011Vision “Consumers are not just that into you. Look past your product to the world your consumers live in.” – Scott Bedbury
  • asilhouette: Worlds best brands connect themselves to timeless human needs that are both physical and emotional #2011vision bcama
  • G_Speaking: Cool. Original brainstorm map of Starbuck’s ‘the third place’. #BCAMA #2011vision http://t.co/hzmovdW
  • rgerschman: #2011vision Stand for something more than your product. Humanize yourself. Consider value, ethics & style. Tell stories.
  • Ian_Cruickshank: It’s what you do beyond your core product that actually defines you. Scott B #2011vision love it.
  • SuburbiaRetail: “At the heart of a brand is it’s relationship with employees.” – Scott Bedbury @bcama #2011vision
  • rgerschman: #2011Vision Physical brand touch points can do more than digital bytes. Who is representing your brand offline? Train, inspire & motivate.
  • kelsey_bar: Scott Bedbury: “Be fully present in the moments that matter most.” As true in business as it is in life. #2011Vision
  • k8senkow: “Stay forever curious. Don’t ever think you have all the answers.” Scott Bedbury at BCAMA #2011Vision Conference

Nikki Heller – Director of Marketing, Future Shop

  • timr03: Social shopping isn’t just online #2011vision
  • misscheryltan: “Social Shopping is ANY purchase influenced by your personal network (i.e. community forums)” Nikki Kellyer #2011Vision (via @bcama)
  • GillianShaw: Listening to people in social networks flipped Future Shop marketing plans for back to school. #2011Vision
  • BCAMA: The funnel before: http://ow.ly/i/bMHC & the funnel after is a loop: http://ow.ly/i/bMHL #2011Vision
  • codias: #2011vision #authenticity #authenticity #authenticity #authenticity #authenticity
  • erinpongracz: #NikkiHellyer just used #BBC “groundhog Alan” vid as an ex. of mrkters shouting msg into the void & not knowing ur aud. #Amazing #2011vision
  • elliottchun: Online and offline retail is merging. And, evenings & wkeds are dead. – Hellyer #2011Vision #FutureShop

John Ounpuu, Strategy Director at Blast Radius and Sarah Dickinson, VP Strategy at Blast Radius

  • Ian_Cruickshank: Traditional models work in traditional media – outside of traditional you have to be more creative and break some rules – #2011vision
  • codias: When you transcend categories, you elevate yourself beyond your category into a superlative. #2011vision
  • GusF: 3 steps to build meaningful relations – Foundation, Role, and Culture. #2011vision
  • BCAMA: “Gamefication – leaderboard scores, badges – moving out of the realm of games and into other areas.” John Ounpuu #2011Vision ^NT
  • BCAMA: “Finding your shared ideal. Understand role & live it. Build on relevant cultural currents. Execute boldly.” Sarah Dickinson #2011Vision ^NT
  • petequily: Social media can be an incredible tool but it can’t fix an acute internal problem. It may only make it worst. #2011vision
  • robynmichelles: Great insights from Blast Radius – understand the foundation of your brand & it’s role, then live it. Be culturally relevant. #2011Vision

Tod Maffin – One of North America’s leading digital marketing experts, CBC Radio Host

  • BCAMA: “By deconstructing viral videos, you can find 6 “markers” that can increase the chance of going viral.” @todmaffin #2011Vision ^NT
  • BCAMA: “#1 Audience, Content, Call to Action Matching: content must match audience. CTA must match content.” @todmaffin #2011Vision ^NT
  • BCAMA: “2. Successful viral campaigns are stripped down to a simple, single concept. Double Rainbow.” @todmaffin #2011Vision ^NT
  • misscheryltan: Successful viral videos are one of the following: Silly, Serious, or Stunning. @todmaffin #2011Vision
  • BCAMA: “3. Sentiment Factor (silly, serious or stunning). Dove was seeded entirely online: http://bit.ly/lsvEdV@todmaffin #2011Vision ^NT
  • BCAMA: “4. Reward sharing. Ex. Doritos unidentified flavour campaign, winner sharing Doritos profits.” @todmaffin #2011vision ^NT
  • BCAMA: “5. Embrace the unofficials. Do not hate them. Ex. Diet Coke & Mentos” @todmaffin #2011vision ^N
  • BCAMA: “6. Deliberate successive rounds. Need a certain # of impressions for people to take action. Ex. Shreddies” @todmaffin #2011Vision ^NT

Stop Counting, Start Engaging

More and more brands are truly embracing social media as an important component of their overall marketing and communications strategy. That’s the good news. However, unfortunately too many companies are focusing on the wrong metrics when it comes to gauging the success and business value of social media initiatives. Sure, it’s great to have hundred of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter. But where’s the benefit if fans and followers aren’t engaged with the brand?

Companies must do what they can to inspire engagement and action from their fans – focusing on fan acquisition is simply not sufficient. One hundred engaged fans who can relate to a brand and share it’s core values are more valuable than one thousand passive fans. They’re more likely act in favor of a brand – speaking not only with their wallets, but also through recommendations to friends and family members.

Consumers are looking for companies to be more human-centric, and to show interest in the communities they already participate in. Companies that are currently doing a great job of this include Starbucks, Zappos, Converse and Lululemon. They realize that Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are not broadcast mechanisms. Instead, they leverage available tools to build genuine relationships with their fans.

How are the relationships built? By providing a fair exchange of value. Companies must offer something meaningful to fans and followers, perhaps product, service or cause related, that generates goodwill and entices the community to spread word-of-mouth.

It’s not about numbers, it’s about relationships. Genuine relationships that will enable a community to grow and prosper.

More Community Management Best Practices

Following up on my recent post on community management best practices, I thought I would share some additional tips and advice – based on my own personal experiences.

Building an online community for your company and brand isn’t rocket science. That being said, there are some simple steps you can take that will facilitate growth and foster engagement with your burgeoning band of advocates (otherwise known as community members).

The five key points from my previous post:

  1. Participate where the conversations are happening
  2. Be timely with your responses
  3. Focus on being people-centric, not company-centric
  4. Be careful what you say
  5. Don’t ignore negative comments

Five more I’d like to add:

1. Give new members a warm welcome

It’s important to make new people feel welcome in your community, to set the stage for engagement – particularly when a community is young and growing. If possible, take the time to send a personalized welcome message to new members. Imagine how a new member will feel, receiving a message from a community host or moderator that is uniquely customized and tailored.

If you see a new member contributing to the first time, give that person some recognition. Thank them for their contribution, and try to elicit further discussion or comments if possible – perhaps that member has more to say. Showing a little gratitude will go a long way!

2. Study your community

Yes, study your community! Do your homework! Learn the make-up of your of your community – read member profiles and gain a better sense of just who has joined, and the different types of interests your members have. The more knowledge you have, the better you’ll be able to interact and converse with your community.

3. Monitor community activity and health

Be sure to stay tuned in to your community, from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Track key data that is most relevant, whether related to new member joins, commenting activity, voting activity or another metric that you value, and develop reports as deemed appropriate. Keep an eye out for trends! If your community had higher or lower levels of participation that expected during a specific period, dig in and find out why.

4. Communicate with your members

It’s important to keep members appraised of activity in the community. A regular email, if you’re hosting the community on an internal platform, can go a long way.  If you’re using Facebook, Twitter or another network, make use of status updates. Just don’t overdo it, however – you’ll need to find the communication mix that is right for your brand.

5. Keep members engaged

Provide community members with incentives for contributing. At Genius Crowds, a product innovation community I used to moderate, we provided community member with gift cards related to different types of community activity – such as posting product ideas, commenting and voting. There’s plenty more you can do. For example, if a new hot topic is posted in the community, send a personal email to members who might be interested, to let them know (this is where your homework on knowing member interests will come in handy!).

See You in 2015!

We are going through some amazing, transformative times in the business world. I don’t think it’s a stretch to use those words. Digital technology and social media are providing unprecedented opportunities for companies to truly engage and build relationships with stakeholder groups, on a very direct, personalized and humanized one to one level. It’s scaled caring, to the point where companies and brands can create relationships with thousands of customers – and it’s what people are increasingly looking for in the brands they do business with.

Unfortunately, many companies do not yet fully realize or understand this. I have had a number of conversations with peers who work in marketing, communications and advertising – with companies and agencies. Many of them believe that the value and benefits associated with social media, particularly as presented by well-known social media bloggers and authors, are just hype – stating that they are far removed from present realities within the companies they work for or do business with.

Perhaps that is the case. Perhaps their realities are far different. If so, it is unfortunate, because their companies risk being left behind by competitors who embrace the social capabilities that digital enables – no matter which industry they operate in, no matter whether they are B2C or B2B.

Recently I sent a tweet to Gary Vaynerchuk, a well-known social media luminary and author of best-selling books Crush It! and The Thank You Economy, asking for his perspective on the issue. Gary was kind enough to record a video response, which he originally posted on garyvaynerchuk.com and I have re-posted here.

I have read both of Gary’s books, and I agree with Gary’s perspective. I think, in today’s day and age, it is necessary to have an entrepreneurial mindset – to be proactive, to search for new and emerging opportunities to engage with customers and grow business, and to be willing to take risks while doing so. Digital and social are evolving at breakneck speeds, it’s important to be mindful of new platforms which companies can leverage to build relationships with customers.  Not all initiatives will be successful, but companies that employ a diverse, well-thought out range of engagement activities will uncover some that are “sticky” and favored by customers.

Having the right corporate culture, one that truly supports the new social paradigm, is also key. According to Jason Baker, Digital Strategist at Magnify Digital and Digicate, “The most important thing for any company is to focus on their culture and how their culture fits into telling their story in an authentic and genuine fashion. Anyone can know that you’re a social company. You can blabber on Twitter for as long as you want in 140 characters, but no one can truly connect with your business until you’ve identified your core values, personality, vision, purpose, and/ or cause. Ask the hard questions to extract those answers, then develop an integrated digital strategy that allows you to share those elements in a passionate, authentic, and genuine way.”

Collectively, we are all learning as we go – and sharing insights along the way. Age and experience in marketing and communications, while still important, are not the be all and end all. Look at the number of bright, young minds who are excelling in digital marketing – there are a lot of young entrepreneurs out there. Awesome!

That said, while lots of the talk is on social and digital, I don’t believe that traditional marketing is going away. Actually, I look forward to the day when traditional marketing and digital marketing just become known as “marketing”. I think there is a fantastic opportunity for companies to develop integrated campaigns across a variety of platforms, telling their brand story while engaging and building rapport with customers. Companies need to pick best platforms and engagement styles that are right for them.

It’s important to think strategically and realize that success in digital and social media will not happen overnight. At the same time, companies need to be nimble and fleet of foot, adopting a culture that enables engagement opportunities to be seized as they arise.

For a great example of this, please read my recent post on KLM.

As for everyone’s favorite social media topic, ROI, well let’s not kid anyone here – tangible metrics are important. Here is a great post on the topic from David Armano, SVP at Edelman Digital.

It’s an exciting time to be in marketing and communications, I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store. See you in 2015.

Every Customer Counts

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of TV commercials, I tend to ignore them. I just don’t feel that most advertisers are creative enough in their messaging, nor are they infusing enough value  – through entertainment or relative, informative engagement – that is worthy of attention.

That said, I would like to applaud a recent ad from Telus. Granted, I did not view it on TV, I caught wind of it on Twitter thanks to Michelle Coates.

Attention companies: I care about how you give back to the community. I care about which charities and initiatives you support.  I care about what your employees do, and how their efforts set you apart.  Sometimes, I care about all of this more than I care about the services you offer and the products you sell. I really like it when companies come across as being … human.

Well done, Telus.

Now, have you considered leveraging social media to build further awareness of your “Telus cares” efforts, as well as solicit input on other charitable initiatives you should consider? I’m sure you have. Perhaps you could create a micro-site or a Facebook Fan Page, through which you could provide regular updates of your community involvement and receive feedback on what you’re doing? How about opening the door to suggestions on programs worthy of your support, and letting people vote on which ones they like the most? You could also make it easy for people to share news of what you’re doing.

You’ll come across as being more human. And in today’s world, that’s a good thing.