Your Content Gimmicks Ruin Everything

With the evolution of each and every social media channel over time, we witness the advent of content gimmicks. 

What are content gimmicks?

Content gimmicks are things like

Prime example of the vertically-stack sentence gimmick.

Prime example of the vertically-stack sentence gimmick.

  • posting a link in the comments of your own post versus including it in the original post itself;
  • changing and dramaticizing the headline of your articles over time to see if you can attract a different wave of viewers;
  • using fear-mongering headlines to attract clicks (eg "10 Things You're Doing Right Now That Will Ruin Your Entire Life")
  • And now: writing clickbait-style LinkedIn posts in vertically stacked sentences. 


The idea is that you'll have to click 'see more' to read the whole post. Why does this matter? Because LinkedIn now offers metrics, which means writers can see how many people interacted with their posts, and in which ways.

Why do people start using gimmicks?

No matter how a social media channel starts out, there is always a point where the channel becomes monetized, or used for some form of financial gain. Influencers are big talk right now--people on channels who have clout with the community. As LinkedIn starts to enter its next phase of evolution, people are beginning to see the potential payoff of being seen as a LI influencer. So now they're all clamoring for engagement. 

The thing is, this type of shallow, meaningless engagement doesn't benefit anyone in the long run--and usually, really harms the social media channel itself.

How do content gimmicks hurt you--and all of us?

Is this post going to be worth it? Could it have been said in fewer words? Would a summary with a link to an article have been more effective? Yes.

Is this post going to be worth it? Could it have been said in fewer words? Would a summary with a link to an article have been more effective? Yes.

Gimmicks often abuse the intended format of the channel. For instance, LinkedIn provides a whole separate 'article' space for writing long posts, but when users write these vertically-stacked mono-sentence anecdote posts in their status bar, they warp the usage of the status area and dilute the value all all status updates. People start thinking, "Do I want to scroll through LI right now? Ugh, no, I'm not interested in reading a bunch of self-aggrandizing tales today." 

Additionally, there's a very good chance that your gimmick will be an affront to the person you're most trying to impress. When I see something like a stack-of-sentences LinkedIn post, I conclude one or all of the following:

  • You're an unskilled writer
  • You think you're clever 'beating the system' but you're not
  • You put your own priorities (metrics) over the welfare of the entire platform
  • You think my time is yours to waste--you want me to spend my precious few social moments scrolling through a poorly-written vertical post, trying to divine the value of it.

If you've jumped on a particular gimmick bandwagon early enough, yes you will get clicks and engagement; but in a very short time, you'll lose the eye of the people you most wanted to attract--the savvy users, the A-type entrepreneurs, the (often successful pro's) who easily recognize gimmicks and avoid those who use them.

How to avoid being a gimmick user:

Prime example of a clickbait-y post. You're better than this, LinkedIn community!

Prime example of a clickbait-y post. You're better than this, LinkedIn community!

The easiest way to keep yourself from falling into gimmicky behaviour is to remind yourself what the purpose is of this particular channel. As you click to open your app, close your eyes for a second and think, "Ahh, twitter: microblog site." Not, "Ahh, twitter: somewhere to post endless links to off-site articles." Or, "Ahh, instagram: pictorial storytelling app." Not, "Ahh, instagram: place to post flyers about sales." 

And of course: "Ahh, LinkedIn: Business networking and news site." That's it. Stop there. Stop. Right now. I mean it. You want to share a self-congratulatory anecdote, in paragraph fragments? Awesome; go build a blog where you can abuse the English language and your readers' patience at will. But let's please stop abusing our social media channels with gimmicks that only serve to water down the value of the channels overall.


7 Things Leaders Can Do to Lose All Their Star Players

Unhappy employee

Advice writers love to give advice on how to be a leader--and usually the ideal they present is completely unrealistic. Instead of trying to envision ourselves as leaders with Buddha-like patience and Stephen Covey-like planning skills, let's take a look at some easy pitfalls that even a new or less-skilled manager can avoid.

7 Ways to Lose Your Key Players:

1. Promote All the Wrong People.

Maybe your star player is the person everyone trusts to find solutions, or maybe they're the person that everyone knows will pick up the slack on any given project, or maybe they're the best at bringing the team together. Whatever the case may be, your team will notice if and when you promote someone else above their defacto chosen leader, and the end result can be a loss of more than one disenfranchised team member.

2. Don't Give a Flip About What Your Stars Care About.

Yep, it may seem silly to go to the CEO because your star player really wants new office chairs, or to reprint an entire project because one of the chapters just doesn't meet your star's personal standards; but there's a sound reason to get on board with their frustrations. Showing them that you care on the things that really irk them can be a great way to build a genuine sympatico, a great sense of loyalty, and it can help bank you some credit for the next time you need your star's backing on an issue of your own.

3. Fail to Compensate or Reward. 

After all the candy bars and pinball machines have lost their shine, there's really just two ways that a company shows its appreciation for productivity: compensation, and title. Providing your star with the title they've earned shows that you're willing to publicly declare your satisfaction with their work; compensating accordingly shows you're not just talking the talk. 

4. Actually believe that Executive-Level Dilemmas Are Relevant to Their Daily Lives. 

There's very little decision-making at the top of the food chain that ultimately affects the daily activities or pain points of your staff. Represent your team with the execs as they talk about mission statements and five year visions; but make sure you spend more of your time listening to the things that actually help or hinder daily production. 

5. Refuse to Praise.

When the heat is on and crisis hits your company, all the monetary compensation and grandiose titles won't stop your star player from checking out...but your enthusiastic accolades may make it feel like all the sweat was worth it because the efforts were truly appreciated.

6. Work Less (or Less Seriously) Than They Do.

If your star is sending you weekend emails trying to iron out that last-minute client request but you're just not getting back to them, you'll likely end up with a star that loses momentum. And lost momentum usually means a loss of focus, and a wandering eye...over to your competitor, perhaps. You've basically got two choices here: either adapt their workload so they, too, can take weekends off; or up your own game and jump into some of the overtime--it'll go faster with two heads, anyway.

7. Be Reactive Instead of Proactive When Problems Arise.

Your star is likely highly attuned to the ebb and flow of the workplace. If he can see how important a problem is but you seem to keep putting off a solution for another time, you may lose his confidence. Not only will he get tired of watching problems spiral out of control, he'll also start to worry about his name being associated with your reactionary errors. That's a surefire way to see him heading for the door.

In all, it's Easier to Avoid Sins Than to Be a Saint.

Maintaining your star team members may not make you a 'perfect leader', but it's a helluva good place to start. In the end, you may not be the best meeting facilitator or the next Dale Carnegie, but with some minor effort you can at least avoid scaring off your best players. Your team is what makes you look good, so take good care of your achievers and they'll keep making you shine.

The Care and Feeding of Your Social Media Manager

These days, many businesses and companies are hiring staff specifically to run their social media, online marketing, and even their guerilla/non-traditional marketing efforts. It’s a great idea, but do these companies understand how to care for their social media staffers?


 I see a lot of social media people these days that are working for places that are, in every other sense, pretty anti-social. I have colleagues who run social media channels for places that, say, manufacture tiny glass lenses for microscopes. Chances are, the new staffer’s working style will be a bit of a culture shock to those around her. The nuances of wielding new media like a skilled swordsman is something that does, indeed, require a specific skillset, interest level, and training background…but stop to consider that it may also require a certain personality. Here are some tips that may apply to your social media staffer.


An SM Staffer is a creative soul. This is not a field where you can do something ‘by the book’, or in the same way every day, and meet with success. You’ve likely hired someone who is artistic, or creative in some other way. Respect that creativity and embrace it. I have blogged before about how much I hate wearing business clothes to my job—a job where I’m rarely seen by anyone other than my direct supervisor. It may sound silly, but your SM Staffer may do his best work when he’s wearing a Storm Trooper helmet and rubber boots. What’s the trade-off? You remind him to wear a suit on important days, and in exchange he thinks up geniusy new ideas while contemplating how the Empire could have beaten the Rebel Alliance, if only they’d built droids with more stable footwear.


If your SM Staffer is always afraid that she’ll get fired because a video doesn’t go viral, or because a campaign got some criticism from the local news channel, she won’t give you her craziest ideas—which are usually the best ones. Personally, I’d sooner hire an SM Staffer who’d messed up a couple times before. It means she takes chances, tries new things, and knows where the pitfalls are.


Creative souls may need to do things differently. If I had my choice, I wouldn’t have a desk at all; I’d write all day on a big fat armchair while Modern Family episodes played in the background. If you want your SM Staffer to pump out five blog posts a week, he may need to head out to Starbucks for an hour or two for a change of scene while he writes. Or maybe he wants to prepare all your scheduled tweets from home at 6:00am. Why not? Worried about reliability? Here’s a trick: the more engaged and understood your Staffer is feeling, the more likely he is to put 100% into his working day. Ruling with an iron fist is almost guaranteed to crush the very creativity you hired your SM Staffer for.


This one is simple: if you hired an SM Staffer because you’re not a pro in social media yourself, consider trusting his judgement when he says yea or nay to an idea. If he spends 80% of his day explaining Hootsuite’s limitations to you because you won’t just trust what he’s telling you, he’s just a very expensive tutorial program.


Is your SM Staffer wandering around sometimes, or texting, or following trending topics on Twitter? Again, remember: you hired her for social media. If you suck all the social out of her day, she’s going to lose touch with the very culture she’s committed to working with.


Especially because social media is a creative field, there’s no one right way to get trained up on how to do the business. Support your Staffer in his quest to find new seminars, networking groups, and meetups (or tweetups) to attend. Most of the cool professionals I’ve used in my day job are people I’ve met at various social media learning or networking events. My socializing helps my social media. Seems obvious, I know; but many employers don’t get it.

These are just some starting tips on how to foster a happy, healthy social media staffer. Remember that you can hold someone accountable to goals and deadlines without strapping them to an office chair for eight hours at a time, and it’s okay if you don’t understand every nuance of social media, yourself. Be kind to your social media staffer, and you may have yourself a loyal, lifelong companion.

Better Branding: Choosing Your Ensembles

Branding, as a term, is thrown around a lot these days. It’s on the verge of becoming a meaningless snippet of jargon instead of a descriptor for one of the most important aspects of your projects.

In my experience talking with people who are working to build a business, a program, or even something low-key like a book club, people know they need to brand but aren’t sure what that’s supposed to look like.  And yet, most of us naturally perform our own natural branding everyday without even realizing it.

Let’s say you buy a cowboy hat while you’re on vacation in Mexico. It’s one of those straw numbers, with the wire brim so you can shape it as you please. You’re getting ready to go out to a concert at a pub one night, and you decide that this is one of those rare times when a straw cowboy hat will look totally cool instead of screaming, ‘I bought this after too many margaritas on the beach!’

Now that you’ve picked out the hat, you’re going to need an appropriate outfit to go with it. You opt for jeans, because they’re a casual staple and are pretty neutral. You pull on your vintage cowboy shirt, look in the mirror, and realize you’ve gone too far towards ‘dude ranch’, so you switch it up for a well-worn tee with a faded stallion on the front. Better. Now the message is, ‘I’m a hot young college kid with a sense of adventure who wears a cowboy hat ironically.’

Great, but what if we switched it up and put you in a full black suit? The cowboy hat would now appear to sit atop the head of a Johnny Cash fanatic, or a mobster who accidentally grabbed the wrong hat on his way out the door. A huge part of branding is finding a look/feel that represents what you’re offering/doing/making.

It’s more complicated than hats, of course, but the first steps are fairly simple. Choosing brand colors, for example, is like our cowboy friend deciding between a blue tee-shirt or a pink one. Setting standardized fonts that you’ll use on all your materials is like Cowboy choosing between a black tee, a black tank, or a black fishnet number: they’re all shirts, but they all send different messages.

It’s time to establish what your branding is going to say about you. Is your company a black skinny tie, or a pair of tap shoes? Whatever you figure out, start putting the whole ensemble together. if it ends up looking like the equivalent of a spandex-wearing gymnast sporting a cowboy hat while rocking’ a pair of black-and-white wing tips, you may need to regroup and try again. But give yourself some slack: we all have our fashion fail moments.


This is what Forty Under 40 looks like.

About a month ago, the Ottawa Business Journal called and told me I was named one of 2017's Forty Under 40. I was pretty chuffed, I admit. It's been an arduous past year with a lot of intense work and getting recognized in such a distinguished way briefly made me feel like I had finally "arrived", whatever that means. I say briefly, because within the next few days, these were just a few of my less than dignified moments:

  • Half asleep after one of my usual bouts of insomina, I was hurrying to assemble something resembling a lunch when I yanked the fridge door open way too fast and ended up braining myself with the door, leaving a notable red mark for the rest of the day.
  • Running late to a meeting, I was frantically running out to my car when I realized I could not find my keys. I dug around blindly in my purse, but time was ticking away and in my rising panic, I opted for the easiest solution: unceremoniously dumping my purse all over the asphalt, then digging through the resulting jumble of cosmetics and receipts like a Roman soothsayer sifting through the entrails of a sacrificial sheep...all while in a skirt and heels, and all while my coworker stared blankly.
  • Received a piece of mail from my beloved former employer of 8 years...and found they'd addressed me as "Mr Jordon Kent".
  • Had a loud and childish argument with a cashier who ID'd me because he insisted my age must be inaccurate and I insisted I would never have willingly labeled myself over 30 if I didn't have to.
  • Spent the day with a Value Village tag hanging out of my new jacket.
  • Caught a glimpse of my face in my rear-view mirror on the way to a meeting and realized I'd forgotten to make a certain waxing appointment. Ended up pulling into a gas station, buying a disposable razor, and shaving myself in broad daylight.

I'm sharing these stories with you because as I reflected back on these totally commonplace, ridiculous, normal human moments, I remembered all the times I saw award winners and other Forty Under 40-type people, and I'd think, "Man, one day I hope to be a freakin' superhuman like that." But believing that high achievers are somehow a breed apart makes our own visions of success seem unattainable. Instead of pretending that I'm some sort of streamlined success machine, I want to be candid with all the aspiring weirdos and klutzes out there: we're no different, you and I. The only thing that got me to this (very humbling and appreciated) moment of receiving an award is that I persistently and consistently brought my weirdo self to the battlefield. And sometimes that's all it takes to appear superhuman.

Ottawa's Forty Under 40: Jordan Danger is one of 2017's winners!

Jordan Danger, founder and Creative Director of DANGER Communications, has been awarded as one of Ottawa's Forty Under 40 for 2017. This honor is a joint project between the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal. Nominee's careers, community involvement, and other facts were gathered and weighed; over 200 finalists were considered before the final forty were chosen. From Jordan herself:

"I'm so grateful for this amazing honor. To be recognized by the Ottawa community for my work and passion over the many years that have led me to this great point in my career is something really amazing. Thank you so much for the opportunity to pause a moment and celebrate this success."

The recipients will be highlighted in detail in the June issue of the Ottawa Business Journal. Stay tuned for more.

temp image 4040.jpg