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All marketing is digital.


I’ve recently had the opportunity to make a move from my role at Proximity to become the Global Digital Planning Director for Gillette. This new position is at BBDO in New York City.  I leave behind the titles social media consultant, strategist, etc, to focus on what I think is needed for the next chapter of my career development – a better understanding of business objectives and strategies, and an answer for my insatiable appetite for famous creative.

My time in social media has taught me that this is not a channel; it is the very definition of the web. It’s only marketing and media people that need to name it and define it. I believe it’s inevitable that the term “social media” will come to pass and in time we’ll opt for a phrase that spans total integration into the marketing mix. In other words… ideas that work at driving persuasion and influence over all media; ideas that will align to consumer behavior, and with a little luck and a lot of insight, change it.

I’m no longer interested in the notion of ownership of social media amongst communication disciplines. If I were a client, I’d put my agency up for review if it had such a small-minded interpretation of this universal medium. A claim for social is like a claim to voice or image… ridiculous. And so the lines blur between PR, advertising, digital, CRM, in-store, events, and sponsorships. Agencies that can’t, won’t, or refuse to execute any initiative in digital without consideration of the social potential are simply doomed.

My biggest take away… a universal truth is born:  all digital is social in nature. As print goes online, television goes app-based and gaming goes to the cloud, another truth is born: all marketing is digital.

Digital has sat at the “kids’ table” since the beginning, but now? It sits at the head of the table. Next year’s budgets are beginning to emerge… 30-40%, even 50% going to digital. But how can it be that the head is not the majority of budget?  A client once told me… “I’d pay more for digital but I don’t need too.” And guys like me start to belly up to the adult table to offer our experience, our insights and hopefully some wisdom.

A fond farewell to my friends, my extended family, my country, my collegues a I embark on new and exciting adventures as the Global Digital Planning Director for Gillette. The ship sails the first week of August.

Rest assured… we are still at the beginning.



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June 8th, 2011 | 37 Comments »

The Social Media Stage – White Paper

There are plenty of documents on why you should “do” social media. There are thousands of blog posts on who’s executed social media tactics. There is very little content on how to do it for the long-term. That’s why the “The Social Media Stage” exists.

The Social Media Stage” is a practical guide for brand marketers who are just getting their feet wet in social media. With a focus on the community management realm, this paper is loaded with tools, best practices, response protocols, content filters, job descriptions, effort assessments, etc.

I recently authored this paper and launched it internally within the Proximity World Wide network of agencies and clients.  It’s actually little more than the gems I’ve collected over the years and assembled for my own reference –  turns out it makes a pretty solid white paper!

Feel free to grab a copy to use and share with your networks.

DOWNLOAD: The Social Media Stage
by Collin Douma from Proximity Canada

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February 15th, 2011 | 27 Comments »

The Universal Declaration of Avatar Rights

Imagine a world where your community, your friends, your assets, and all your creative freedoms were suddenly expelled by a corporation or government. Now consider the same corporations and governments pulling the plug on Facebook, 4Chan, Twitter, or other online communities you may belong to. A frightening thought. But is it really that far off? When considering the totality of creative expression and human connection found in online communities – arts, beliefs, thoughts, emotions – we are well beyond the simple definition of community, we are now entering the realm of culture. As online cultures continue to aid and develop human connections, serious moral questions arise. Is it time to start considering the ethical responsibilities of platform controllers who create and maintain these unique cultures? Should they have the right to determine the destiny of these cultures, or should the people have a right to self govern, free from the fear of complete annihilation? As online communities continue to blur the line between virtual and true reality, is it time to critically consider a Universal Declaration for Avatar Rights?

I have submitted this idea to the SXSW (South by South-West) Interactive conference in Austin Texas to present next year.

If you like the idea, please go to the website and vote for it. You don’t have to attend the conference in order to vote, so it would help me a great deal either way.
Questions I aim to answer:

  • Are we beyond the basic definition of community on the internet? Have we entered the realm of culture?
  • Should these online cultures have the right to exist free from the possibility of complete annihilation?
  • As a brand or a company, are we really obliged to preserve and protect online cultures?
  • What would a declaration of avatar rights look like?
  • What can I do to identify and protect rights of members in my online community?
  • Also:

    Check out these other panel ideas from colleagues at Proximity, please vote for them too!

    • Andrew Bailey ” What does Google TV mean for advertising industry?”
      This panel will explore what Google TV means for the advertising industry, what it will take to produce award winning and effective creative and how creative will have to evolve to meet the demands of Google TV.
    • Matt DiPaola “Branded Entertainment: Do Brands Hurt Good Storytelling?”
      This panel is for anyone who lives to tell a story. Content producers will learn how to assess brand participation in their project, navigate new funding models, and bullet proof their elevator pitch.

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    August 12th, 2010 | 38 Comments »

    Dear Mr. Warhol

    Trademark infringement, or brand advocacy? Before you release the hounds with a nasty  cease and desist, consider this approach that the Campbell’s Marketing Manager took over 46 years ago. Community managers and social media markerters should take note, this is how you do it!

    Campbell SOUP Company

    May 19, 1964

    Mr. A. Warhol
    1342 Lexington Avenue
    New York, New York

    Dear Mr. Warhol:

    I have followed your career for some time. Your work has evoked a great deal of interest here at Campbell Soup Company for obvious reasons.

    At one time I had hoped to be able to acquire one of your Campbell Soup label paintings – but I’m afraid you have gotten much too expensive for me.

    I did want to tell you, however, that we admired your work and I have since learned that you like Tomato Soup. I am taking the liberty of having a couple of cases of our Tomato Soup delivered to you at this address.

    We wish you continued success and good fortune.


    (Signed, ‘William P. MacFarland’)

    William P. MacFarland
    Product Marketing Manager

    (Image from the collection of Billy Name, via and )
    Disclaimer: Campbell’s is a client of Proximity Canada

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    August 8th, 2010 | 30 Comments »

    Definitively Measuring Social Media (in Rainbows)

    Everything you need to know about social media measurement can be learned from this video.

    1. Benchmark: How many rainbows are there normally?

    2. Determine key performance indicators:

    • Volume: “Double rainbows”
    • Reach: “All the way”
    • Sentiment: “WOOOHOOOOHOOO”

    2. Hypothesize: “What does it mean?”

    3. Report: “OMG, double rainbows all the way!”

    4. When possible, replicate success: “Triple Rainbow!”

    That’s all there is really.

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    July 29th, 2010 | 28 Comments »