#bill44 on Twitter by Edmontonians & Calgarians

A little while ago, Paula told me she was interested in reconstructing the Twitter stream that happened last year around Bill 44 (PDF and if you want a summary, Ken has a great one). She tried using Twitter Search but quickly found that it only goes back so far, so she asked if I could help. With a few caveats, I said I could.

The first caveat is that the tweets I have are only from people in Edmonton and Calgary (with their profiles set to one of those at the time). I’m sure other Albertans were taking part too. The second is that it’s pretty hard to find all the back-and-forth tweets for the various conversations, so the ones I pulled out all contain the #bill44 hashtag.

I looked at the data for May and June of 2009. Here’s what it looks like:

I was initially surprised by the double peaks, but Paula helped make sense of it:

The first peak is the night debate went until 3:38 AM and the amendments were defeated. The second spike is the night (and early morning) of the final vote. Debate started the evening of the 1st, and ended at about 3:20 AM on the 2nd. The Twitter chatter continued like mad on the 2nd and 3rd, as people bemoaned the result.

Here are the top ten most active #bill44 users during those two months: KenChapman46, Sirthinks, taudette, DebraWard, robertmcbean, AllieW, ChrisLaBossiere, davecournoyer, Paulatics, bingofuel.

After removing #bill44, #ableg, and RT, this is what the word cloud of the tweets looks like:

And here, in chronological order, is all 2406 tweets:

I have archived that spreadsheet here or you can get the full version here. That means you can download the data set and do your own analysis, if you like!

I agree with Paula and all of the others who have said this: Bill 44 was a landmark moment in Alberta’s social media & political history. I’m glad we were able to preserve a part of it.

As a minor aside, I think this a great example of what could come out of MediaCamp.

Recap: MediaCamp Edmonton Initial Meeting

Tonight we held an initial planning meeting at Credo Coffee for an event called MediaCamp. I have wanted to hold a local event to bring mainstream (or old) media together with social (or new) media for some time, and last week Karen Unland provided the necessary spark when she tweeted about a hacker event that took place recently in London, UK. A bunch of us very quickly settled on a hashtag – #yegmediacamp – and we got the ball rolling on Google Wave.

MediaCamp Edmonton PlanningMediaCamp Edmonton Planning

The meeting tonight was appropriately informal, and gave everyone an opportunity to meet one another and share ideas. We went around the circle with introductions and initial thoughts, and then discussed what MediaCamp might look like. Karen probably has better notes than I do, but here are some of the things I wrote down:

  • Should it be a small event or a large one? The consensus seemed to be “go big”.
  • Would an event focus on business models? Technology? Something else?
  • BarCamp is pretty unstructured, TransitCamp had a bit more structure but used the same kind of model. What’s the right approach for MediaCamp? The consensus seemed to be that we have some structure.
  • Lightning Thoughts was something that everyone thought was a good idea – quick, five minute demos.
  • Multiple streams or not? We want to break down silos and encourage input from everyone.
  • Will they come? How do we remove barriers to entry? How can we ensure a good mix of mainstream media folks and social media folks?
  • As with most of these events, connections are perhaps the greatest outcome.
  • Potential dates: April 10, May 8
  • It was decided we’d loosely follow the ChangeCamp structure, striking subcommittees to focus on sponsorship/budget, volunteers, day-of, etc. The first step – create a Google Group to get everyone connected.

I agree with Bruce that labels seem to be a necessary evil, so I’ll use them here. The common thread seemed to be, “let’s work together”. What can old media learn from new media, and just as importantly, what can new media learn from old media?

I was quite impressed with the turnout, especially since it was just a planning meeting. Here’s who made it out tonight: Karen, Cam, Asia, Alain, Dave, Rachelle, Kelly, Jeff, Eugene, Brittney, Diane, Jas, Curtis, Reg, Bruce, Marty, Kerry, and myself. I know there were many more who wanted to come but couldn’t make it work!

Please follow along on Twitter, and join the Google Group. I think there’s a lot of excitement around MediaCamp, and I’m eager to see what comes of it!

Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

Nearly thirty people from Edmonton’s very active social media community attended the blogger sneak peek today at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton. Armed with smartphones, video cameras, audio recorders, and lots of digital cameras, we toured the new building with Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations and Communications Coordinator, and Gilles Hebert, the AGA’s Executive Director.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

The very striking building is situated at #2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, on the northeast corner between City Hall and Chancery Hall/Century Place. I think it is just as beautiful on the inside as it is distinct on the outside. Everyone is in for a real treat when it officially opens to the public on January 31!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit the building with Torch Reporter Chris Wheeler, so I thought I’d start this post with some of the under-construction shots I took at the time:

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

And here’s one of AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, who has been working to make the new AGA a reality for more than ten years:

Art Gallery of Alberta

On to today’s tour! We met in the foyer, right underneath the borealis.

Art Gallery of Alberta

Here’s a shot of our guides, describing the borealis above:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Our first stop, after the coat check, was Zinc, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s new restaurant. Still under active construction, we got a very quick glimpse at what dining in Churchill Square might be like. As Sharon remarked, standing in Zinc is reminiscent of standing inside Cactus Club Bentall 5 in downtown Vancouver.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Here’s Chris and Sharon, representing Edmonton’s food bloggers:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Next we ascended the grand staircase to the third level, which provided us with a fantastic eye-level view of the borealis, as well as the opportunity to step outside onto the City of Edmonton Terrace.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

We slowly made our way back downstairs, pausing on the second level to learn more about the way the new building is meant to capture snow. It’s explained in this video, which also provides a sneak peek at Storm Room, an interactive ten-minute exhibit featuring water, among other things:

Passing by the front entrance, we next visited the basement level, which features a number of education spaces (the rooms are named after colors, such as orange and yellow), theatre space, the AGA sales office, and the LRT entrance.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

A lot of thought went into the design of the new AGA, something that architect Randall Stout illustrated very well during his talk back in September. It’s a building that you have to visit multiple times – it looks different depending on the season, weather, and time of day. It’s a fantastic addition to Edmonton’s downtown, and to the city as a whole.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the tour today! You can see the rest of my photos here.

Here are some of the other posts from today’s tour (I’ll update as more appear):

Art Gallery of Alberta sneak peek for Edmonton’s social media community

As I’ve mentioned here a few times before, I’m very excited for the new Art Gallery of Alberta, opening to the public on January 31 (on ShareEdmonton). The AGA has done a really solid job of keeping everything a secret so far for the big reveal, but at the same time they want to stir up interest in the community. I had the opportunity to suggest a sneak peek of the new building for Edmonton’s social media community, and was thrilled when Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations & Communications Coordinator, said it was going to happen!

Here are the details:

The Art Gallery of Alberta will host a private tour for local bloggers later this month. The by-invitation-only event will be led by AGA Executive Director, Gilles Hebert, who will provide Edmonton’s social media community with a sneak peek of Alberta’s newest gallery, opening on January 31, 2010.

If you’re an active blogger or Twitter or other social media user in Edmonton, you should be receiving an invitation soon! The invite will contain all of the other relevant details.

For more information on the new building, check out Randall Stout on the new Art Gallery of Alberta. For updates about the AGA, follow yourAGA on Twitter!

See you there!

Social Media and Ask Premier Ed

Yesterday CBC Edmonton’s John Archer called to get my take on the “Ask Premier Ed” campaign, Premier Ed Stelmach’s latest foray into the world of social media (as you know I don’t like to be called a social media expert, there’s no such thing). The premier has had a Twitter account for a little over a year now, but it has always been used to broadcast messages, never to interact with Albertans (in Twitter-speak, that means @PremierStelmach doesn’t post replies). The idea with the “Ask Premier Ed” campaign was to get Albertans to post questions on Twitter or on the premier’s website. I thought the idea had potential, but unfortunately, I don’t think it has turned out as well as it could have. It certainly hasn’t changed the premier’s broadcast-style communication (see DJ’s great overview of Stelmach’s communication issues).

Over the last couple of weeks, many Albertans have submitted questions. Yesterday, Premier Stelmach started posting responses. He’s doing that using YouTube videos. In each video, the premier is seated behind his desk with a laptop (and a bunch of other interesting things visible). He gets a question from the laptop, then answers it unscripted (of course the questions are probably prescreened).

Is “Ask Premier Ed” social media? I would say no. The campaign uses Twitter to crowdsource questions, and YouTube to host video responses to some of those questions, but that’s it. Social media is about more than just having an account. It’s about people, and about the interactions between people. How do you have interactions? On Twitter there are replies. On YouTube there are comments and video responses. People use those mechanisms to have a conversation, to have a dialogue. That’s what’s missing from “Ask Premier Ed”.

Here’s what I told CBC:

"If people are asking questions on Twitter, for instance, I might ask the question and then you might respond to it and somebody else might chime in and there’s a bit of a dialogue going on around the question," Male said.

"That’s the kind of thing that would be great for the premier to be participating in …and that’s what’s missing here."

The funniest part of the article is this:

Stelmach spokesperson Tom Olsen said the video responses are a lot like having a conversation with Stelmach in a coffee shop.

Like having a conversation in a coffee shop? Really?

A couple of suggestions for Premier Stelmach and his team:

  • Answer questions as they come in, on Twitter! Make use of that reply function.
  • Some answers just can’t fit into 140 characters, I get that – post them on a blog! That way Albertans can continue discussing it in the comments and on their own blogs.
  • Instead of one ten minute video for a few questions, why not one short video per question and answer?
  • Why not display the question on screen as Premier Stelmach looks at his laptop? The video is pretty high quality – how hard could it be to add an overlay or two?

And don’t forget – as you start conversing with Albertans, rather than just broadcasting to them, use your human voice! We’re all humans, after all.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Premier Stelmach and his team have a Twitter account and are at least trying. That’s more than you can say for a lot of politicians. I just think they have room for improvement!

You can listen to a radio clip at CBC (link on the right) and look for the story on CBC Television tonight with Kim Trynacity at 5:30 and 6.

Also: Check out this post from DJ Kelly, posted on December 3rd. He’s way ahead of me!

Alumni outreach at the University of Alberta

A little over a month ago, Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2009 was announced and I was fortunate enough to make the list. So many people have said “congrats” in tweets, wall posts, emails, and other messages, and I really appreciate all of them, thank you! I was somewhat surprised, however, to receive a letter and a follow-up email from the University of Alberta’s Office of External Relations.

The letter itself was fairly standard, and basically said that as I am a graduate of the University they wanted to offer congratulations. The email was from Jen Panteluk, a Development Officer at the Office of External Relations. She invited me to meet for coffee, and I happily accepted. We met at Credo Coffee yesterday afternoon and had a great chat about what I do, what she does, and about social media and the University of Alberta.

I learned that Jen is meeting with as many U of A grads on the list as she can, and that the idea to do so was hers. Alumni Affairs rightly or wrongly has a reputation of only reaching out to alumni when they are able to contribute back to the University financially. Jen decided to do something about that perception, and that’s why she pitched the idea of meeting with the Top 40 Under 40 grads. I think it’s fantastic!

Jen and I talked about social media quite a bit, and how effectively local schools are using it. Slowly but surely the various U of A departments are starting to embrace social media. For instance, you can keep up with Alumni Affairs on Twitter and on Facebook. There’s a long way to go, however!

If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #ualberta for U of A related stuff. SU President Kory Mathewson and his colleagues are hoping it becomes the standard, because it’s less ambiguous than the rival #uofa. Makes sense to me!

The Story Behind the Transforming Edmonton Blog

Today the City of Edmonton is launching its first official blog, called Transforming Edmonton. In some respects, it might be fair to say that a City of Edmonton blog was inevitable. After all, the City has a growing social media presence and is using its experience to experiment further. The reality is that the existence of the Transforming Edmonton blog was anything but a matter of time!

Though many City employees are involved, Raffaella Loro has been the driving force behind the new blog since March of this year. In fact, she has been working to get the City blogging since at least 2006. As an early NextGen volunteer, Raffaella suggested the group start a blog to engage with volunteers. The City seemed ready to support the project, but the idea just didn’t pan out at the time. While she was disappointed, Raffaella didn’t give up. When the opportunity arose early this year during her tenure in the environment department at the City, she pitched the idea of starting a blog again. This time, the idea was met with enthusiasm.

The original goal was to start the blog in time for the ICLEI Conference in June, but that was a busy time for everyone involved, followed by the summer, and it just didn’t materialize. Raffaella used the delay to refine the concept, and realized that an environmental focus was too limited. I like the way she described it to me:

Just as individuals have a perspective when writing their blogs, the City has a perspective too. The Vision and Strategic Plan represent the City’s perspective, and that will come through on the blog.

The Transforming Edmonton blog will consist of human interest stories and other content that illustrate the City’s progress on realizing the Vision and delivering on the Strategic Plan. Or put another way, the blog will “share stories about how the City is working on transforming itself.” This is reflected in the blog’s sections: Economic Diversity, Environment, Financial Sustainability, Livability, Transportation, and Urban Form.

It’s important to note that the blog is a pilot at this point. It’s an experiment. Raffaella won’t be the only author – she has been busy over the last month recruiting other City employees to contribute content. A large number are on board already, but that support will have to continue to grow for the blog to be successful. The initial goal is to have two new posts about each category per month. Comments are encouraged, though they will be moderated in accordance with the blog’s Comment & Trackback Policy. Where appropriate, posts will link to non-City of Edmonton websites.

In our conversation, Raffaella suggested that the blog is about encouraging a cultural shift in the way the City of Edmonton operates. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but so far I think the project is on track. It makes use of the City of Edmonton’s existing social media profiles, rather than creating new ones. Transparency is a key focus of the blog, demonstrated by the fact that it will serve both external and internal audiences (there is no separate internal-only blog). And though it is quite different from some of the City’s other online initiatives, the Transforming Edmonton blog was relatively inexpensive to create – essentially just staff time.

Raffaella had lots of praise for the many individuals at the City of Edmonton who have played a role in getting the Transforming Edmonton blog up and running, in particular Jason Darrah and the other members of the Social Media Advisory Committee. She said “it’s the right time for the City to be doing this” and I completely agree. Kudos to Raffaella for persevering and making the blog a reality. It might take a while, but I think the blog is going to have an incredibly positive impact on the City and its residents.

Check out the Hello World post and welcome Transforming Edmonton to the blogosphere!

The City of Edmonton’s Social Media Advisory Committee

In the grand scheme of things, the City of Edmonton could be considered an early adopter of social media tools. They’ve been on Twitter since February 5, 2009 and have established a presence on Facebook, YouTube, and other sites. While most organizations are still unsure about how to get started with social media, the City of Edmonton is slowly but surely gaining expertise.

Recently I learned that the City established a Social Media Advisory Committee (SMAC) in the spring of this year. I asked Jason Darrah, Communications Business Partner at the City of Edmonton, to tell me more about it. He started by explaining how the committee came to be. I’m paraphrasing here:

In the early days, the City was a fairly simple system. The roads people worried about roads, and the sewer people looked after the sewer system. These were silos, but it worked fine. When a new way of dealing with the world appeared, each silo handled the changes on its own. So at some point in the City’s history, Transportation handled all media related to Transportation, and Waste Management handled all media related to Waste Management. Eventually, it became clear that economies of scale and a unified voice could be achieved by creating the Communications department. More importantly, the Communications department could use its experience to help each of the silos be more effective than they could be individually.

The SMAC followed a similar trajectory. The difference is that today, the City is a complex system. We still have silos, but a change in one area quite often has an impact in another. I think that’s the reason that the SMAC was created so quickly. Jason and his colleagues in Communications recognized some of the advantages:

  • The committee can act as a resource for each of the silos. So when a department wants to get started, they know where to go to learn.
  • They can also provide operational support, actually doing some of the social media work.
  • It’s a way of managing risk, by establishing a competency.
  • The committee is a way of distributing knowledge. They gather information about all of the different social media projects taking place, and can offer advice based on experience.

That last point is particularly important. The SMAC is an advisory committee. Unlike many City committees, whose members are designated by senior managers, the SMAC is comprised of 26 individuals with social media experience (as you can imagine, many of them are young). It has grown fairly organically by attracting people who are using the tools. At their first meeting in May, the SMAC members simply talked about what they knew and had experience with (and they have since recognized a few gaps, Legal for instance).

The key for SMAC is to avoid becoming the social media police. If a department or group wants to do something with social media, they might have a representative on the SMAC, or they would reach out to one. They’d make a pitch to the committee not for approval, but for knowledge. The SMAC might share information about similar projects, or it might make recommendations for tools to use, but it doesn’t say no. The other characteristic that’s interesting is the pull model – SMAC waits for people or groups to come to it, rather than proactively preaching. Obviously some projects will happen without SMAC’s knowledge, but that’s okay.

I really love the SMAC approach. I talk with a number of local organizations about using social media, and I often wonder why they want to learn from me. Obviously I think I have something to offer, and I usually do it for free, but I have always felt that most organizations have untapped knowledge and experience within. By getting all of the individuals with social media experience together, the City has recognized that and has created a fantastic resource for all other employees. I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that although SMAC was started by Communications, it exists outside of it. Kudos to Jason and his colleagues for embracing the notion than social media is something different.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Social Media Advisory Committee will play an integral role in helping the City of Edmonton use social media effectively, and I believe it’s a model that other organizations should look at adopting also.

Somewhat related…

While social media is different than other communications tools, some of the same rules still apply. The City of Edmonton (and SMAC) is currently drafting a set of Social Media Guidelines, to help employees use the tools effectively. Note this is not a policy, because there are three policies already in place that cover employee conduct with social media tools and everything else: the Employee Code of Conduct, the Media Relations Policy, and the Conduct and Acceptable use of Telecommunication Technology policy. The other advantage to having guidelines rather than a policy is that guidelines are easier to update, which is important when you’re dealing with something that changes as quickly as social media.

Reporting live in a world with Twitter

As you are undoubtedly aware, a gunman held eight people hostage at the WCB in downtown Edmonton last week. I happened to be on Breakfast Television that morning, so I was on the Citytv set as news was trickling in. I had the opportunity to tweet about the news live on the air:

Unconfirmed via @CitytvEdmonton: armed man holed up in the WCB building downtown. #yeg

It all happened very quickly and if the news wasn’t so terrible, I’d have said it was exciting. Certainly it was a good illustration of one aspect of the social media tools I was scheduled to talk about that morning.

A couple of hours later, I setup a live page on ShareEdmonton to cover the story (the feature is a work-in-progress, so it should be time-boxed but isn’t currently). That enabled anyone to quickly look at the stream of updates coming from Edmontonians related to the hostage situation. I used it throughout the day, and the feedback I received was mostly positive. I think what was most powerful about it was that you simultaneously got updates from the local media (in particular, @lyndasteele) and regular citizens, some discussing the event, others simply trying to find out what was going on. I’m sure many more people were just monitoring the #yeg hashtag in Twitter Search, TweetDeck, or some other app.

I think most found Twitter to be a useful resource that day, but not everyone was happy. Can you guess who complained about the Twitter coverage? Some members of the local media, of course. I heard from a number of journalists throughout the day that they were concerned about posting news on Twitter. Esther Enkin from CBC even wrote about it:

The task is complicated further by the sheer volume of communication. Facebook and Twitter were working overtime. At one point, there was a rumour that someone holed up in the building was updating the situation on Facebook.

The level of speculation and misinformation on Twitter was an object lesson on the need to verify and sift the facts.

Late in the day, someone from CBC tweeted that some hostages had contacted us. We weren’t reporting the fact that we had become involved for a bunch of reasons.

But here is a really important principle. We should not tweet what we wouldn’t put on the air.

I’m not going to deny that verifying the facts is important, but I will disagree that the level of “speculation and misinformation” on Twitter was higher than normal. I think it was the opposite actually – I think Twitter enabled citizens to get the facts faster. Faster than walking around talking to neighbours or coworkers, which is where speculation truly thrives, and certainly faster than waiting for the six o’clock news.

Esther takes care in her article to deny that they were withholding information for competitive reasons:

One reason we didn’t let on is because we didn’t want every other news organization jumping in. Not for competitive reasons, but because the chaos could be dangerous.

Really? Chaos would ensue from other media organizations knowing that CBC had talked to the hostage taker? I’m not so sure.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the media over the last year it’s that they are incredibly competitive. That was the primary concern when Twitter hit the scene in Edmonton back in Februrary – “we can’t tweet that or our competitors will find out.” Maybe Esther is telling the truth, but I don’t believe it.

Her other reason for withholding the information was based on CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, last amended in 2004 (before Twitter, you’ll note).

Of course, the primary danger of live reporting and detailed descriptions of what is going on outside in a situation like this is that the hostage taker can be listening, watching and logging on.

That makes sense at first, but think about it a little more. That statement implicitly suggests that reporters can collectively control the information the hostage taker is receiving. Really?

Trying to control the information is impossible. You have to assume the hostage taker is going to be looking for information. These days, that probably means he or she is carrying a device with Internet capabilities. You also have to assume that regular people are going to be posting information, people who never went to journalism school and who don’t work for a media organization. Some of those people are going to be merely observers, looking at the situation from the outside. Others will be part of the event.

All the signs point to more information, from more people, faster than ever before. Most of us walk around with phones or other Internet connected devices, and in a couple years you probably won’t be able to buy a device without Internet connectivity. I think that’s the reality, and that’s the world the media need to visualize themselves in.

Stop complaining about the misinformation on social networks, and start preempting it. Stop trying to control the flow of information, and start figuring out how to effectively contribute the facts.

How far beyond the city does Edmonton Stories reach?

The winners of the Edmonton Stories contest were announced by Mayor Stephen Mandel on Tuesday at City Hall during the lunch hour. About 50 people attended the public event, not including the large number of City employees who were present. Nearly all of the City Councillors were on hand as well, a strong show of support for the project. Congratulations to all of the contest winners and runners up!

Edmonton Stories Contest Announcement

Mayor Mandel’s speech started by highlighting some of the traffic statistics for EdmontonStories.ca. Here are some of the key numbers:

  • 242 stories have been posted, 44 of which include videos
  • 453 comments have been posted on 78 stories
  • Users in 2159 cities from 131 countries have visited the site
  • Total Visits: 113,979
  • Total Unique Visits: 87,049
  • Local Visits: 60,497
  • Total Page Views: 348,750

Those are pretty good numbers, though they are unverified. I think the “local visits” stat is interesting – over half of all visitors to the site have come from Edmonton. That makes sense at this stage, as Edmontonians are visiting to submit and vote on stories. Over time though, I would hope for that percentage to drop.

I’d love to see more stats on the non-local visits. For instance, I’d like to know the bounce rate for non-local visits. How many non-local visitors come to the website and then promptly leave? Referral statistics would be interesting to know as well – how did they get to the website?

As Edmonton Stories moves into its second phase, recruitment and visitor attraction, non-local visits will become increasingly important. There are a solid number of stories up on the site now, but if they aren’t shared with the rest of the world, how successful can the campaign be?

The City has repeatedly stressed that Edmonton Stories is unique because it focuses on social media and online marketing as opposed to traditional marketing. Most of the social media marketing I have seen thus far has been directed at Edmontonians though, not the rest of the world. I don’t think they’re doing enough to spread the word beyond Edmonton.

For a website marketed almost entirely online, I’d expect it to have a decent number of other web pages linking to it. I tallied the number of inbound links for some Edmonton websites, using Yahoo! Site Explorer:

Obviously the City of Edmonton site has the most inbound links, no surprise there. What jumped out at me about this graph is the number of inbound links for That’s Edmonton For You. Despite launching a month later than EdmontonStories.ca, and without a large budget to promote it, that site managed to accumulate over half the number of inbound links that EdmontonStories.ca has. I would anticipate that a majority of the inbound links for That’s Edmonton For You would be from other local sites, which doesn’t bode well for how far beyond the city EdmontonStories.ca is reaching.

The budget for promoting EdmontonStories.ca isn’t insignificant either, when you consider that it’s being spent on social media and online marketing, not traditional marketing:

The total budget for 2009 is $1.4 million dollars. City Council approved $1 million, and EEDC kicked in another $400,000. According to The Journal, project staff expect to ask for another $1 million in 2010. Should they get it? I’m leaning toward no.

I wonder how much of that $268,500 earmarked for social media marketing has been spent. Based on the number of inbound links above, I’d hope very little, but given that there are only three months left in 2009, I’m not so sure. If there’s a lot to spend still, I expect to see Edmonton Stories everywhere online for the next few months.

I think Edmonton Stories is a great concept, and I’m glad to see that Edmontonians are contributing stories. The project was created to help market the city elsewhere though, and I don’t think it is accomplishing that yet.