Social Signal

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The next chapter: Emily Carr University

Two months ago, Rob and I decided to refocus Social Signal on social media capacity building. We recognized that we have the most impact -- and the most fun -- delivering the workshops, training and content that helps organizations find and realize their social opportunities. And we decided that one way to help build social media capacity was to open source our consulting practice, even though we didn't know what that would mean for our business.

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Welcome to the new Social Signal


Valentine's Day celebrates the power of relationships. We're celebrating with a Social Signal relaunch.

The relaunch of our site and business coincides with the explosion of interest in social media. Business leaders and nonprofit communicators are asking how social media can support marketing, collaboration and innovation. Public officials and public citizens want to know how social media creates new opportunities for communities and conversation, on- and offline.

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Credit unions and online community

There's a great article by Kevin Hogan in the latest issue of Credit Union Management, all about how credit unions are using online communities like blogs to engage members and the public. It's required reading for folks in that industry, but it's also a great general-purpose organizational blogging primer.

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We're looking for a bigger office

Social Signal has been expanding quickly enough that our current digs are starting to feel a little... cramped. (Helpful business hint #73: when you have to start stacking staff to hold an all-hands meeting, it's time to crack open the classifieds.)

With Vancouver office space jumping from the midway point of our nice-to-have list to the peak of our do-it-yesterday list, we're on the market for something with...

  • about 800 square feet
  • lots of natural light
  • transit, bike lockers and parking nearby
  • modern wiring and the obligatory peppy pipeline to the Internet

We'd love to land in Gastown or Yaletown but we're open to anything west of Main and north of 16th or so.  If you have some sweet space on your hands – or want to share your current space with a charming group of people who can do cool things to your web page – let us know. Give us a ring at 778-371-5445, or email Pravin at pravin-at-socialsignal-dot-com.

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Introducing our new Chief Operating Officer: Pravin Pillay

Pravin Pillay

If we've seemed a little more delighted then usual when you've spoken to us in the last few weeks, we can finally tell you why:

We're pleased to announce that Pravin Pillay has joined our team as Social Signal's new Chief Operating Officer.

Pravin holds an MBA from McGill University, and has a long record of success bringing together innovative interdisciplinary teams – from artists to engineers – and helping organizations consolidate and enhance their business capacity.

Does his name ring a bell? That may well be from his work with non-profits, businesses and government agencies for positive social change:

  • Pravin was the first director of development with Médecins Sans Frontières, working with their international team to establish the organization in Canada.
  • He served as the director of special projects for the federal agency Youth Service Canada, partnering with businesses, organizations, institutions and agencies to help young people overcome barriers to rewarding careers.
  • As the first executive director of the Rediscovery International Foundation, he developed sound, lasting business practices to advance the organization's mission: drawing on the strength of indigenous cultures to empower youth around the world.

Pravin's high-tech background that dates back to his first experiences programming a classic Commodore PET computer. From one of his early jobs working with British Telecom's mainframes, to advising tech firms navigating the transition from garage-based startup to full-fledged businesses, he's had a healthy respect for both the transformative power and the limitations of technology. His reflections on the meaning and future of identity in an online world were featured in the 2003 film Avatara, the first feature-length machinima documentary.

He also maintains a thriving artistic practice – informed by his social and political activism – that has spanned a wide range of installations, performances, talks, symposia and articles.

In short, Pravin brings the best of the worlds of business strategy, activism, non-profit organizing and the arts. We're confident that we'll benefit every bit as much as our clients will from his proven role as a proven catalyst for change, growth and success, as he helps us enhance and expand our business capacity. And he's a mensch.

All of which means he's absolutely ideal for the critical role of managing Social Signal's rapid growth and honing our entrepreneurial edge, while keeping us true to our purpose: helping you use the power of online community to change the world.

We can't wait to have you meet him.

Social Change Institute blog

The Social Change Institute (SCI) is a new initiative aimed at building the capacity of the community and social change sector. The Institute is a project of the Hollyhock Leadership Institute (HLI), which provides training and strategic assistance to the social change sector. SCI’s inaugural event was a four-day retreat to held in May 2006.

As part of its work on SCI, HLI has undertaken a pilot e-learning project that aims at supporting the SCI community while also exploring the potential opportunity for extending HLI’s reach through online community tools. HLI retained Social Signal to advise on its e-learning strategy, and to set up a conference blog as part of its e-learning pilot.


Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with over 300,000 members. As a community-based organization with a proven commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability, its brand is closely tied to both values and relationships.

We've been thrilled to working with Vancity on their ground-breaking project –  an online community where people in the Lower Mainland and Victoria can find information, tools and connections to inspire and support change in their own lives, their communities, and the world.

Confeederation is a news aggregator that gathered candidate blogs from across the political spectrum during Canada’s 2006 federal election. The Confeederation site provides a single window on candidate blogs, organized both by party and by province. The site garnered widespread blogger attention and became a key source for journalists following the election campaign. The Confeederation web site is now being used as the basis for, an aggregation of American candidate blogs that is being created by a US web development team.

Recent Projects

Social Signal works with public-facing organizations to build online communities that motivate users to participate and contribute. We've helped such clients as Vancity, BC Hydro, Mountain Equipment Co-op and TechSoup to engage their audiences and open up valuable conversations.

Here are some of the very latest projects that Social Signal has launched or supported:


NetSquared is a major conference and online community initiative undertaken by CompuMentor, a non-profit organization that provides software and technology assistance to more than 80,000 non-profit organizations across the United States and Canada. NetSquared aims at dramatically expanding the strategic technology capacity of these organizations by engaging them in a series of online community activities, culminating in a May 2006 conference.

Social Signal was retained by CompuMentor to develop an online community strategy that would engage its diverse user base in a process of online learning and discussion about the latest generation of online technologies and technology strategies. The strategy we developed outlined recommended content and activities for the eight months leading up to the NetSquared conference, and specified the technical and staff requirements for a web site that would support those activities. Our involvement was subsequently expanded to include the implementation of many aspects of this online community strategy, including setting up the NetSquared web site, configuring major web site features, managing custom development work and writing and editing site content. We also conceived and created Net2Learn, a companion site that allows NetSquared community members to create resource centers on different topics related to nonprofit technology strategy.

NetSquared has rapidly become one of the web's most visible forums for exploring the social web's significance to nonprofits. The levels of interest generated by the online community has led to the successful launch of NetSquared groups in San Francisco and other U.S. cities, and to an overwhelming demand for conference registration. That success has confirmed hopes that NetSquared would give rise to a durable, vibrant online community, taking a key position at the heart of CompuMentor's future online plans.

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.