By Diane Bégin

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Use ambassador videos to tell your brand story

It’s estimated that in 2017, video accounts for 74 per cent of online traffic. Combined with the fact that 55 per cent of people watch online video every day, video should be part of your brand’s integrated story.

Husqvarna Canada has been working with ruckus Digital since 2015 to build and sustain an engaged social media presence.

From timely branded holiday content (i.e. mock Father’s Day tie below) to #FanFriday user-generated content, momentum continues to build with Husqvarna Canada’s audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To take content to the next level, we created a Husqvarna PROfiles video series with industry professionals at Parkwood Estates (film location for movies such as Billy Madison) in Oshawa, Ontario.

The long form video content (approx. 2 minutes each), gave Husqvarna ambassadors the opportunity to tell their industry stories in an authentic and meaningful way – with the integration of on-site product use. This approach continues to perform well online with its intended audience.

Need help telling your brand’s story through video? Drop us a line.

MakeLab: edible selfies and laser cut swag

Last month, some of us at ruckus digital toured the MakeLab studio – a space tucked away in the downtown core pumping out larger-than-life event activations. Founder and creative director, Jonathan Moneta and lead events producer, Alyssa Janzen share their thoughts on digital technology and working with brands to create memorable brand experiences.


Founder + Creative Director

Jonathan Moneta is the Creative Director at MakeLab — a studio of designers, technologists, and logistics freaks who invent hands-on pop-up-style interactives for events. Three years ago, they took eight 3D printers to a Toronto bar and taught design ‘till last call. Since then they’ve taken their laser cutters, light tables, giant colouring books, and edible photo booths out of the lab, and into public events, brand activations, and parties of all kinds. MakeLab’s interactives leverage new technologies to spark wonder and creativity — and better social media engagement — in unexpected places.


What is MakeLab?

“Our studio explores technology + play. We take new technologies — like 3D printers, laser cutters, and other creative tools — out of the lab, and transform them into accessible experiences that let people meaningfully interact with them for the first time. We host in-studio workshops and produce live experiences at events around the world. Many of the interactives we’ve created ourselves, while others are tools that we have customized to create hands-on experiences at events, conferences, and festivals.

We’re a close knit team hailing from design, technology, and theatre. Our studio began with us taking 3D printers to bars and restaurants, showing people how to design in 3D for the first time. We thoroughly test each event offering, ensuring they’re designed for fun, and to stir creativity in unexpected ways. We work with brands, agencies, and event planners for public and private engagements.”


How did MakeLab get started? How and what did you see in the market that led to creating MakeLab?

“We started taking 3D printers to to bars and cafes three years ago and taught drop-in design classes till last call. Shortly after we began doing it, the Royal Ontario Museum invited us to create a Mesopotamian city-building 3D printing experience at their 19+ Friday Night Live series. This was the first big test of our hypothesis — that new technologies could be made accessible, would have mass appeal with demographics that would otherwise have little opportunities to engage with them, and that bringing real individual creativity to interactives would drive engagement. Even we were delighted by the results. We quickly became experts in teaching uninitiated, non-technical (and often somewhat intoxicated) people how to quickly design. And after several nights of packed events with our printers going at full speed, and hundreds of guests going from unaware of the technology to holding a 3D printed object they designed (and taking a million selfies with it), we knew we could build on this. We’ve taken the same approach to all our interactives, continually bringing in new tech and adapting it to events.”


What makes for a strong digital experience/activation? What elements should brands consider when planning an event they want a strong digital/online presence for?

“Giving people something that they can be proud to post about. We too often see brands begging for posts by incentivising sharing of a logo or hashtag with a contest or swag. When we design an interactive, we’re not thinking about reducing barriers to sharing, we’re thinking about how to help people create something they’re excited to share. We focus on creating something people haven’t seen or done before. It’s why we’re often using tools like laser cutters and 3D printers; they’re magical to watch and empowering to create with. We saw clients use more traditional photo booths with limited engagement/sharing. The idea behind our edible selfie photo booth was to take that interaction a step further. Laser-caramelizing photos onto macarons and cookies in front of people’s eyes is an authentic and new experience, and it’s shared with gusto.”


Where do you see the business/field going? Any trends you’re noticing in terms of the type of digital experience brands want to create?

“We’re seeing a lot of brands shift away from digital to more physical experiential. There are a lot of screen-based interactions in people’s day, and we’re increasingly being asked for interactives that involve physical, hands-on elements. Our Analog Instagram Light Table is one way we’ve begun catering to the call. Another is our giant 10-foot digital graffiti colouring book wall, where people grab electronic spray paint cans and create murals.”


If budget wasn’t an issue, what type of activation/experience would you most want to create?

“Oooo this is a fun question. We love interactives where people can walk away with something that continues to have value/presence in their lives. We also like really big installations that make a visual impact at events. We’re working on some new activations now that we can’t talk about quite yet, that combine big digital design, and physical paint and canvas.”


What’s next for MakeLab?

“We’re working with retailers on in-store interactives where people get to customize products on-site. The tools we use allow us to do much more than simple engraving, such as letting customers etch their signature or handwritten dedication onto perfume bottles and beauty products. We’re starting to book the 2017 holiday season with it. We’re also about to launch a new line of food + catering interactives made with lasers. Our Edible Selfie Photo Booth — where people get their faces laser-caramelized into a french macaron — has been killing it at parties, and we’ve got lots of new foods coming down the prototyping pipeline.”

These questions were compiled by ruckus digital digital content strategist, Vivian Kwong. Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Canadian cell phone emergency alert system coming soon

UPDATE – As of April 6, 2018, these emergency alerts are in effect

Would you want to receive a text message from authorities if your life may be in immediate danger?

From the 2012 Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto to the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray (incidentally the anniversary of the evacuation is this week), the ability to send a text message on the advanced wireless network could minimize chaos by sending accurate information to 97 per cent of the Canadian population instantly.

Well up until now in Canada you couldn’t receive those alerts. But, that’s about to change. On April 6, 2017, the CRTC “directed all wireless service providers to implement a wireless public alerting system on their LTE (long-term evolution) networks by April 2018.”

In an effort to catch up to other jurisdictions, the CRTC consulted last year about appetite for wireless service providers’ (WSP) participation in the National Public Alerting System for dangers to life and property. This would include “broadcast immediate alert messages” such as “imminent or unfolding dangers to life (including tornadoes, forest fires, industrial disasters, and tsunamis).”

The United States has had a system in place since 2012 – called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), which was a WSPs voluntarily initiative led through a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Such an alert was used in the most recent New York bombings.

Australia also has an emergency alert system, using location-based SMS.

This evolution is part of other emergency innovations the CRTC is building upon including launching an interactive map for emergency alerts from broadcast media and next generation 9-1-1 (i.e. maybe 9-1-1 texting).

Some are opposed to the idea but the major wireless service providers are in favour – at an estimated $25M cost. All submissions on the change were made public following the close of the consultation last year.

“We agree that Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) will be a significant benefit to Canadians and should be mandatory for all Wireless Service Providers (WSPs), including primary brands, extension brands, and resellers.” Bell Mobility submission

“TELUS fully supports the implementation of a national wireless public alerting system in Canada. TELUS maintains that “a full wireless emergency alerting system implemented across Canada must be effective, reliable and robust.” TELUS Communications Company submission

“Rogers is committed to the next chapter of Canadian National Public Alerting System (NPAS) through the rollout of Wireless Public Alerting.” Rogers Communications Canada Inc. submission

Considered a lifeline for many already, this change to our cell phones will likely pass without most of us realizing it – that is until its service is most valuable, at a time when we need it.

Diane Bégin is VP, brand communications & social marketing at ruckus Digital. Also learn about our experiences on the ground during the Fort McMurray wildfire (video) and a Storify recapping our third ruckus makers event also on the wildfire.


Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Tweeting for a non-tweeter

At the beginning of the month the ruckus crew posed a challenge to one another: Use a social platform you don’t usually use. We all have our favourites and not so favourite social platforms. (My favourites are Snapchat and Instagram and not so favourite are Twitter and Facebook.)

So, for one week I tweeted multiple times per day. A couple of my colleagues were tweeting away with me – similarly they tend to stray to more visual platforms (read Instagram and Snap) on any given day.

To give you an idea of my usual social habits, it goes something like this: wake up and immediately scroll Instagram, watch a few Stories and then switch over to Snap and skim the Discover section for major news stories or a few laughs. Throughout the day I’ll head back to Instagram and Snap to check out what’s new and to keep in touch with friends. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter personally, only for work.

Most of my tweets over the week were making fun of myself or the platform (sorry Twitter), because I just couldn’t seem to get into it.

But, that all changed thanks to Pepsi’s giant ad blunder, here’s a recap in case you missed it. The Pepsi/Kendall Jenner debacle became the highlight of this experiment. Twitter was amazing for not only keeping all the articles, relevant trolls and tweets consolidated under one trending topic, but the commentary was entertaining as well as insightful. I found a ton of new accounts that I now follow – on Instagram – and catch up with daily. Man Repeller I’m looking at you!

After this little challenge I appreciate Twitter for its niche market in real-time trending topics/news, but once I find the accounts I’m looking for, I still head to Instagram or Snap to see what they’re up to.

I know Twitter is making the effort to claw back to relevancy for the masses; they plan to launch live video 24/7 and are trying to crack down on abuse on the platform. They also just announced their latest earning’s report that had a few bright spots too, including an increase in user growth.

The experiment was great as it pushed the team out of their social comfort zones.

Sarah Rogers is a digital account coordinator at ruckus digital. For more digital insights or to chat about your strategy, drop us a line.

Apps on my phone

As a millennial and a digital content strategist, it’s no surprise that I’m always on my phone – it’s an extension of myself and my work.

Community management is part of my job when managing the social accounts for APEX PR and ruckus digital. For businesses or brands on social, it’s important to stay on top of the engagement, especially what followers are saying about or on your account pages. While actively engaging with followers is how you build relationships with key players in the field, negative comments from followers can really damage a business’s reputation.

Here are the top apps I use for work!


Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter


These are the Big 4 apps. Needless to say, I have these apps on my phone at all times and they’re probably the ones I use most frequently. Whenever there’s an update, I see it on my phone first. I like being the first to know what’s going on in every one of my accounts.



My Hootsuite app allows me to manage content across different social media platforms in one place. It gives me flexibility because I’m able to switch around content when I’m on the go. It also allows me to monitor engagement from different social channels at a glance. Definitely a must have!




Emojis are now a part of most conversations that happen online. Why wouldn’t you want your very own personal avatar? I’ll admit, I was pretty late to get on the Bitmoji train – I only got it after Snap acquired Bitmoji’s maker, Bitstrips, but I’ve learned working in this industry that I need to keep my finger on everything. Even if I wouldn’t use an app personally, I need to understand what it does and how it works to find new and fresh social media opportunities for the brands I work with. That being said, my Bitmoji wears a Wonder Woman outfit and I love her.


Vivian Kwong is a digital content strategist at ruckus Digital. Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Visual story telling with Instagram Stories

Opportunities in visual storytelling continue to evolve each day, and as digital nerds we are constantly strategizing what content should go where, when and targeted to who.

A definite contender for brands would have to be Instagram Stories, which launched in August of last year.  (And the newest contender Facebook Stories, which launched a few days ago.) What was initially a feature of flattery (essentially another Snapchat), has evolved into something more robust (and in my opinion) surpasses Snapchat in many ways.

With Instagram Stories you can

– tag users (handy to call out partners, influencers, etc.),

– link to a website within the Story itself (it’s all about those web clicks and conversions my marketing friends), and,

– include Boomerangs (a personal fave where you can put it in a mini video mode that plays forward and backward).

These features, along with the usual editing capabilities (stickers, tags, filters, etc.), have led to over 150 million users a day posting to Instagram Stories.

Many brands jumped on board quickly, as it allowed for an established and often much larger audience (than Snapchat) access to the content. Instagram stats show that 1/3 of the most view Stories on the app are from businesses, which makes sense when over 70 per cent of users are following a brand (or two).

Today brands continue to use Stories as a spot to share

– promotional info and events,

– how-to tutorials,

– discovery content, and,

– authentic and exclusive behind the scenes experiences.

So, with the value of organic Stories proving itself in under a year, it’s no surprise that ads are now available. Fashion, beauty and alcohol brands were some of the first to test ads on Instagram Stories earlier this year.

With additional objectives and calls to action expected, there seems to be great opportunity for brands that want to integrate the vertical video, mobile-first approach, which according to this year’s Facebook Retail Summit is the way of the digital future, into their digital strategy.

Of course the effectiveness of the ads will depend on the audience, targeting and quality of the visual storytelling, which can (hopefully) suss out with detailed metrics.

Sarah Rogers is a digital account coordinator at ruckus digital. For more digital insights or to chat about your strategy, drop us a line.

Building Better Partnerships: Beyond Tech

Last month’s Dx3 event featured great speakers, intriguing activations, and an opportunity to bump into colleagues. Everyone leaves having a slightly different takeaway, here’s my favourite.

Is the agency of the future going to be smaller, consisting of fewer than 50 people and focusing on greater collaboration with freelancers and vendors? That was the theory put forth in one speaker session I attended. The tools to bring people together have definitely bridged the distance: I’m a big fan of collaboration tools like Basecamp, Slack and Microsoft’s new Teams. But tech can only go so far – most great work comes from partnerships, and everyone involved has to play a part.

The tech we have allows us to bridge physical distances and other barriers to collaborate with humans with special skillsets that may lie outside your team. The tech is there, but we have to remember to always bring the humanity.

It’s the seemingly little things, like always being on time for meetings or effectively communicating progress and obstacles, that elevate a working relationship into a partnership that can go beyond simply completing the project into a group performance that ends up being greater than the sum of all parts.

Little things that end up shaping great results.



Missed DX3 this year? Check out our live tweets from the event.

Dimitri Bariamis is Digital Media Specialist at ruckus Digital. Need digital help? Drop us a line.

ruckus Digital at DX3 Canada

ruckus Digital was at DX3 Canada, Canada’s leading technology, digital marketing and retail event, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this week.

This year, #DX32017 brought in speakers and industry leaders from big players like Walmart, Pinterest, IBM, Corus Entertainment, American Express, DAVIDsTEA, Lululemon, BMO Financial Group, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and many more.

See below to check out some of our live tweets from the two-day event!

Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Big vs small: Which agency size is better?

Size matters. But, does that mean bigger is better?

At a November 2016 SoDA Academy session, Jack Skeels, CEO and Founder of Agency Agile, described how he realized at a previous job, the bigger they got, the bigger he felt the shark chasing them got as well. Essentially, as they grew larger as an agency, so too did their efficiency problems in delivering good work.

Skeels’ exploration led to the study of the Theory of the Firm, rooted in pioneering research from Ronald Coase in The Nature of the Firm.

Coase explores three areas when asking the question: is a bigger better?

  1. “First, as the firm gets larger, there may be decreasing returns to the entrepreneur function, that is, the costs of organising additional transactions within the firm may rise.
  2. Secondly, it may be that as the transactions which are organised increase, the entrepreneur fails to place the factors of production in the uses where their value is greatest, that is, fails to make the best use of the factors of production.
  3. Finally, the supply price of one or more of the factors of production may rise, because the “other advantages” of a small firm are greater than those of a large firm.”

The first two reasons given most probably correspond to the economists’ phrase of “diminishing returns to management.”

‘I wish we could go back to the days when we were larger,’ said no one ever. The research suggests that this is due to the intersection of “economies of scale” and “dis-economies of management.”

  1. Economies of scale simply means cost-sharing within an agency (e.g. a fixed yearly expense such as social media monitoring platform Sysomos) amongst a larger group of clients brings its cost down for each client.
  2. Dis-economies of management means that as an agency grows in size, so too does its costs because it means an increase in management, which leads to an overall decrease in productivity and in turn increased cost to provide service.

So, size does matter. What you do with it too. And hitting that sweet spot in the middle is your key to agency satisfaction.

Diane Bégin is VP, brand communications & social marketing at ruckus Digital / APEX PR (mid-sized agency). Need digital help? Drop us a line.