Mining, Social Media & Corporate Social Responsibility

In this research, we wanted to understand if Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) important to urban Canadians? In short, yes, but this varies across Canada. As the issue ranked fairly high for investors looking into mining stocks, we thought it worth taking a look at what Canadians in major cities think about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and to what extent it is an important issue. We measured the volume and weight of discussions around CSR in Halifax, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver and here’s how those cities ranked comparing men and women.



In this chart, we ranked the importance citizens placed on CSR in various cities across Canada, with a 9 being very important. The sample size was 500 individuals in each city. We confirmed them to be resident in Canada, although we cannot confirm if they are Canadian citizens or not. Certainly a CSR program is of importance to Canadians (we may at a later date conduct a historical analysis on the growth of interest and awareness and the reasons or perceptions around CSR to citizens.)  It is curious as to why Toronto has such a high level of neutrality in a city with a significant role in mining?

Hot Topics for Tourists in Social Media

Food. It seems tourists in North America (USA & Canada) love to chat more about the food experiences they had on vacation than where they stayed, at least that’s the trend we saw in 2011 and are predicting into 2012. The topic of food has continuously increased since 2009 while discussions around property (hotel, motel, resort, B&B etc.) has steadily declined.

So why has food become more of an interest? We’re not sure there’s a definitive answer. Perhaps it has something to do with the increase in television food channels, cooking lessons via YouTube and a general gastronomy trend across North America? That might take a bit more research and we’ll be checking our aggregate data for insights.


When we delved into the topic of food, we found that 78% of the time tourists were looking for local cuisine and that ranged from greasy burgers to fine gourmet meals. We also found that food has become part of the experience planning for tourists; while they won’t plan all their meals they will look at having at least one posh meal and attempt to have a local experience. For restaurant owners, this represents an opportunity to partner with local inns, B&Bs or boutique hotels if you want a slice of that crowd.

Although it may be a trend, it is our view this will continue for sometime. Surprisingly we also saw a decline in the discussion of local attractions and this was largely around theme parks as we’ve seen a downward trend in family vacation planning unless it is more regional. We also note an increased volume of discussion by empty-nesters and professionals without families, perhaps as they have a higher disposable income in this tough financial period.

The data shown here is the aggregate data from over 40 online tourism research projects we’ve conducted for tourism authorities, boards and operators in the U.S., Canada and UK.

So…why do you think food is a hot topic?

Your Deadly Diagnosis Awaits in Social Media

Asking about your health condition in a social media channel means you are 82% more likely to get a deathly diagnosis from your peers than a non-lethal diagnoses. Yes, when it comes to diagnosing each other in social media it seems we like to tell each other we’re about to die from some rather nasty disease or condition. This was the rather odd finding of ours when we looked over the many research projects in the health care field we’ve done and then did a little more digging.

So why do we, as non-medical professionals with little more than an ability to do a brief Google or Bing search, like to tell our fell humans, they are going to die? Perhaps you have a thought? The attention it brings? Or is it our inner need to see someone else in tragedy then maybe rescue them?



So how did we notice this? We’ve done over 20 health care related research projects in social media channels. When we recently ran the numbers to look at some trends, we noticed this trend of giving each other doom and gloom stories. So then we went to 20 forums on health care issues, Yahoo! Answers, Quora and public Facebook profiles/comments. Out of 8,000 conversations, testing for sentiment then analysing the question and response, we did indeed find that 82% of the time people would offer a deadly diagnosis.

So, next time you put out a question on your sprained ankle in a social media channel, don’t be surprised to learn you have flesh eating disease and will be dead by breakfast tomorrow. Sorry about that, hope you find a miracle cure…


There Is No Recipe for Success With Social Media Campaigns

Two of the hotly debated topics around social media engagement for businesses are 1) ROI metrics and 2) what makes up a successful plan. In this post, we focus on the “recipe” to create a guaranteed successful campaign in social media. Unfortunately, what we discovered is that there isn’t one. Certainly there are tactics and elements a business can take to mitigate the potential damage. Again, unfortunately however, many businesses don’t take those steps.

How We Arrived At Our Findings
We took two approaches to answering this question around a perfect recipe. First we looked at over 120 of our over 260 research projects for clients in the private sector. Then we looked at some famous flops (i.e. MacDonald’s and Motrin.) We looked for commonalities in both successful campaigns and failures. We discussed how several of our clients approached the planning, design and implementation phase as well, to gain additional perspective on the concept development of social media campaigns.

There is No Recipe for Success
Our conclusion: there is no recipe or methodology. None. There is no guarantee. The best a company can do when planning to execute a marketing campaign in social media is take some certain steps that will mitigate any failure and certainly help for possible success.

What is The Tipping Factor for Success or Failure?
We found that success or failure boiled down to two things. One can be controlled, the other can’t. The first reason for success/failure is human beings. Because people can decide if they “buy in” to your pitch and in “buying in” they can share what they think of a campaign – if they like it or hate it, they will share it and discuss it. There is nothing a company can do to make people like or hate something. The second factor was advanced research and we estimate that only about 15% of companies do any advanced research into audience preferences, types of content preferred and even potential issues that could cause trouble. Motrin Mom’s is a classic case of failure to do an initial campaign litmus test or research the audience – they ended up alienating moms as an audience and dealing with a PR crisis. The same happened with MacDonald’s asking on Twitter for peoples favourite experience…instead people told them their worst experiences.

Mitigating The Risk of Failure
There are some actions a business can take to mitigate failure and boost the chances for success. These include first and foremost doing some research. Know your audience, the channels they prefer, hot topics, things that make them happy and things that make them mad. Then, do some A/B testing with a small, controlled audience, just like might be done with an adwords campaign or similar. Have a plan on how you’d respond if things go wonky. Be prepared to spend time during and after the campaign engaging in and monitoring the conversation. Too many companies dive in for a quick campaign hit and then pull out…only later to discover their audience is mad at them and feels abandoned or neglected.

So while there is no recipe or guaranteed methodology for success, not engaging at all leaves lots of space for your competitor to edge in and build their brand. So you need to engage for competitive reasons as well.


Why Google+ Is A Digital Threat to Mining Industry

Why is the impact of Google+ so important to the mining industry? Because all online activity starts with a search engine query and Google holds 78% of the world search market. As of May 2012, Google started to include content from social media in its search results.  Most prominently, Google started to rank Google+ content as very “important” in search results. This means that content produced by citizens not just in Google+, but links from news articles, blogs, videos and photos on other sites and services will suddenly rank very high in a person’s search results. But may not appear in a GoogleAlert. As activists and environmental groups have become increasingly agile with the use of digital media and social media, this means anyone searching for “open pit mining” is 90% more likely to see content opposing this form of mining. The issue then, is that people will refer to these resources before they ever see your message about the different approach you are taking and the environmental safeguards you are putting in place. As a result, initial impressions are formed and once perceptions are established, it’s very hard to change them.

The more content placed in Google+ by these activist groups, the harder it is to convey your message of being environmentally responsible.

Our research into Google+ use shows that content opposing many forms of mining has increased 25% since February 2012 and in search engine analysis, Canadian citizen searches for information on mining has increased by 37% over 2011. But in 97% of the instances, the content being delivered is by opponents to mining. In terms of North America, that means over 40 million people are researching mining practices through Google alone.