Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be comfortable talking about the uncomfortable

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The relationships you build in social media follow some of the same basic principles your in-person relationships adhere to. You should communicate regularly and effectively, show interest and share parts of your personality if you want to make a true connection.

Many people have a very difficult time discussing less than positive things about themselves with anybody, let alone acquaintances that they've never met face-to-face. It is difficult for people who are proud of their lives to share the negative aspects such as the possibility of losing a job, health issues or relationship troubles. More often than not, it is the people who you share these details with that become your closest relationships and your biggest supporters.

The same is true in social media. Addressing negative aspects of your brand with interested people with breed brand advocacy in the long run. People will respect you for being open and honest about potential faults in your services, business model, communication strategy or anything else.

If you work for a large corporation or brand, I know there will be a great deal of pushback from the conservative members of the organization, the legal team and traditional processes that have been in place for years. Hiding the negative is a thing of the past though. If there is a small issue that won't bring down the brand, I would strongly suggest admitting to it, addressing it with your interested consumers/key audiences and moving forward with them at your side.

A prime example of a brand making a minor mistake, hearing about it from consumers, addressing it publicly, gaining respect for doing so and moving forward with more brand advocates is ESPN. Earlier this year, ESPN released their new social media policy, which received a great deal of negative attention from social media users. ESPN listened and rather than sweeping it under the rug they responded on air.



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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Social Media Strategy

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Strategy is an integral part to the success of a campaign that involves social media. I've said it on this blog before and I say it all the time in my work, but there has to be a strategy behind social media efforts. You shouldn't dive right in and hope it all works out. "Guess and check" isn't a good system when trying to build a positive reputation for your brand.

With that said, you have to be extremely careful about who you talk to and what advice you get when building a social media strategy. Here are a few key points to remember:

1. The strategy should be your own

Don't settle for the application of basic social media best practices to your brand. Your brand, products, services, target audience, resources, leadership buy-in, and much more make your campaign unique.The campaign you create should be tailor made to give you the greatest chance of success after factoring all of these key variables.

2. Social media won't succeed alone

Though social media is a great communication platform, it won't win the battle for brand awareness and advocacy alone. Social media is best used if integrated into a cross-platform marketing/PR strategy.

3. Don't obsess over a single tool

Make sure you don't focus all your time and effort on a single tool like Facebook or Twitter. You need a proper cross-pollination of messaging on multiple tools. What if you focused your social media efforts solely on Twitter and it went under because it couldn't procure $100 million in funding? Where your brand be now? Make sure there are at least 2-3 landing pages for consumers to visit.


4. Content continues to be king

What you put on your blog, in your profile, in your tweets or wherever else you are is vital to the success of your campaign. The content should be engaging and relevant to what you are trying to achieve. It should also be published on a regular basis. You shouldn't have long lapses in time between posts.


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Friday, September 25, 2009

What New Technology Means To Your Brand

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This is a great video about the evolution of technology, the growth in communication platforms and what it all means. It's a long video, so sit back, relax and enjoy what Martin Czerwinski created:

social media from martin czerwinski on Vimeo.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

5 Twitter Applications You Should Know

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Twitter can be daunting when first getting started, or when you start significantly growing community. Here are 5 applications that will help you during your Twitter journey:

**WARNING: This post is geared more toward Twitter novices

1. Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is a browser that allows you to stay attune to what the people you are following have to say, create groups of specific people to follow closely and run real-time searches for exact terms. You can also create shortened URLs and operate your Facebook and Myspace statuses easily.

2. Twitter AnalyzerTwitter Analyzer claims to be the "most advanced Twitter analytic system in the world," and I haven't seen another application that would disprove this claim. It provides metrics on your tweets, conversation, the growth of followers, the subjects you discuss and more.

3. TwitpicTwitpic is extremely popular. It allows you to post photos to Twitter and receive subsequent comments on those photos in an organized fashion.

4. Twtpoll
Twtpoll allows you to ask questions of your following in survey format. Twtpoll will keep track of responses and even graph the data.

5. Wefollow
We follow is a great tool to locate and connect with people in your target audiences. You can search by any identifier and be shown a list of people matching your criteria. For instance, you can search for real estate agents, people from Seattle, Orioles fans and more.

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Are There Any Professions That Shouldn't Adopt Social Meida?

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Earlier this year we heard from CNN and other media outlets that surgeons were tweeting from the operating room. Surgeons decided to use Twitter to inform a larger community about the details of certain procedures and the safety precautions that are taken.

Though I find a play-by-play of a surgery extremely interesting, I would be livid if I woke up to find out that my surgeon was distracted by Twitter, Facebook updates or any other social media platform. I've been through a couple major surgeries in my life. I wasn't at all nervous for them, but that was because I knew my surgeon would be focused entirely on me.

I spend my life educating people about the pros of social media. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in talking about the positive impact social media can have on life, marketing campaigns, awarness and more that I neglect to share that social media isn't for everybody.

In the example above I don't think tweeting during surgery is a good fit, but I would encourage the hospital to create a Twitter account and share details about it's staff and procedures.

What do you think, are there any professions that shouldn't be adopting social media for one reason or another? Police? Teachers? IRS auditors?...
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did the Recession Help Social Media Grow?

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In 2008 the United States began a terrible economic downturn, which eventually was titled a recession. The economic struggles certainly aren't over, but there are signs of improvement.

My question is did the recession speed up the growth of social media and increase the likelihood of corporate adoption of this communication platform?
If we take a look at Google Insight's analysis of the search terms "social media" and "recession" we can see that there is a positive correlation between the growth of conversation for both topics. For those that don't know, Google Insights tracks the volume of searches through Google for a set time period. I analyzed the search terms from 2004 to the present:


As you can see, the amount of searches for "social media" increases as searches for "recession" spike in late 2008 and early 2009. Clearly there can be a number of lurking variables here, but it is a good indicator that the economic issues faced by people and brands helped with the explosion of social media.

Brands had to find cheaper methods of marketing their products, which led them directly to social media. It is a low cost, potentially huge return on investment method of marketing products and services. Not just brands, but people turned to social media. Companies had to downsize and make their hiring practices more stringent. The difficulty people had finding jobs led many of them to create and build social media profiles/landing pages to market their skills and network with as many people as possible.

The widespread purchasing of iPhones, the creation of new social media technology and more have also contributed greatly to the growth of social media. I just don't think it can be ignored that America and the world's economic struggles have sped up the velocity and momentum of social media growth.




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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitter Trends Younger

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The Pew Internet and American Life Project asserted in a recent study that Twitter has younger users than the rest of the internet. In fact, 40% of Twitter users are under the age of 18 and 59% are under 24.

This is especially big news when we consider that Facebook is trending older. It is obviously important for markets and public relations professionals to know which demographics are populating which social media platforms, but it is also important for the users. If a 16-year-old is deciding whether to sign up for Facebook or Twitter, knowledge of these statistics might factor into his/her decision.

Pew also found:

"The use of Twitter is highly intertwined with the use of other social media; both blogging and social network use increase the likelihood than an individual also uses Twitter. Twitter users and status updaters are also a mobile bunch; as a group they are much more likely to be using wireless technologies -- laptops, handhelds and cell phones -- for internet access, or cell phones for text messaging. "

This is a fact that can't be ingnored. Many Twitter users have cross-polinated themselves across the social media landscape. Twitter is a great community to be a part of if it fits your goals, but you can still interact with many Twitter users on various other platforms.

Though Twitter is popular, it certainly isn't the end-all-be-all of social media.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Don't Let Your Social Media be a Frozen Meal

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Social media is truly what you make it. You can join whatever community you want on whatever platform. You can participate on a regular basis or you can almost never participate. You can listen and read or you can put your opinions forward.

For brands and companies, social media is what you make is as well. It can either be as good as a four course meal in a five-star restaurant, or it can be a frozen meal that takes a couple minutes to heat up.


The five-star meal comes from people that have worked behind the scenes to strategize about the best combination of flavors. It is also a meal that they have tested time and again before offering it up on their menu.

The frozen meal is essentially a quick fix for you hunger needs. It may satisfy your hunger temporarily, but it has it's problems. First, if you are like me, a frozen meal doesn't fill you up. It doesn't do enough to compare the five-star meal. Second, more often than not it is unhealthy. Eating that frozen meal may actually hurt you in the long run because of added calories and unhealthy ingredients.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Incorporating Social Media Into Internal Communications

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Internal communications are an integral part of the efficiency of a large or small company. Internal communications can include e-mail, an intranet, office newsletters and much more. The wave of social media has brought with it a host of tools specifically designed for internal communications.

One of the most popular social media tools for internal communications purposes is Yammer. Yammer is essentially Twitter for the office. The benefit of Yammer is that it's a private communications channel for employees to share quick messages about what they're working on, get questions answered or blast out news. According to the site, Xerox and Cisco are among the over 200-plus companies using the service.


Robert Scoble recently wrote in his e-book "The Conversational Corporation" that Accenture has an internal community that looks a lot like Facebook, except that its private. Rather than talk about personal stories and opinions, the employees use it to discuss business related subjects and share eachothers experiences and knowledge.

If the top companies are incorporating social media tools into their internal communications, don't you think other companies should evaluate if it is a good fit for them as well?
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Creating a Social Media Policy

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Now that more and more companies are adopting social media for their communications needs, they are also coming to the realization that their employees are using social media for personal use. This realization has led many companies and will lead many more to construct social media policies and guidelines.

There are a number of questions companies should ask when building a social media policy:
  • What is your company trying to achieve through social media?
  • How much internal manpower and resources are available for social media needs?
  • What legal restrictions are there regarding messaging?
  • Are there social media advocates present in your employee base already?
  • What content will you be producing?
  • Where are your target audiences most prevalent?
Most companies I have spoken with are quick to go the conservative route. They create policies that say employees can't use social media to talk about work and can't use social media during work hours.

Before you fall in line with the conservative mindset, I would urge you to consider the power of your employee base. Your employees present an army of company advocates that can spread messaging in a rapid fashion. Each employee has their own personality; therefore they will have their own network of social media friends on varying platforms with which to promote your company's initiatives.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Impressions Really Matter

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It's an accepted belief that a first impression can dictate the course of a relationship between two people. Both psychological and sociological studies have provided scientific data to support this idea.

Earlier this year, another study was done that compared the effects of first impressions during a face-to-face interaction to the effects of first impressions from a digital interaction. The study focused around online gaming, but certain lessons can be learned and applied to the social media world.

When a person makes a bad first impression, the negative feelings are harder to overcome than a betrayal that occurs after ties are established.

"First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust," said study researcher Robert Lount of Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. "If you get off on the wrong foot, the relationship may never be completely right again. It's easier to rebuild trust after a breach if you already have a strong relationship."

After the computer partner made two defector moves, it would follow with 30 rounds of pure cooperation. Turned out that cooperation wasn't enough to gain back a participant's trust. Those who experienced a breach of trust at the game's start were the least likely to cooperate at the end of the game, cooperating less than 70 percent of the final 10 rounds.

"I think we would find this to be even more pervasive in real life, because you're going to be less likely to give these people second opportunities to interact with in the first place. In the game we forced them to interact," Lount told LiveScience.

"Often, a lot of times people end up writing people off. And if they can avoid future interactions with them, they would prefer to."

He suggests a person forms a first impression and sticks to it, looking for future cues that are consistent with this first impression.


Clearly, first impressions have a major effect on relationships both in real life and digital life. It is important to remember this lesson when networking in the social media space. Your profile, picture, account name and initial messaging will ultimately play a major role in future interactions with people. Remember to portray yourself as you want to be seen in every facet.

If you don't make a great first impression, there is hope because people will be more forgiving in the digital space than in real life, but make sure that second impression is stellar.


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fun With Widgets IV-Simon

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Tweeting on the toilet

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Have we come to far in technology when a person can sit on a toilet, take care of the business nature intended and tweet to 10,000 followers?

Doesn't that image just make you think of King Henry VIII or Louis XIV yelling at their plebeians to listen while they do their duty?

I'm connected to my social networks all the time, but I refuse to send text messages, type e-mail, post a comment and especially tweet during bathroom time. That might just be me though.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top 10 Social Media Blogs

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Friends, clients, strangers and other interested parties often ask me where they should go if they want to learn about social media. There is no single answer to this question because there are so many good minds out there and the landscape changes so quickly. In an effort to organize the places to go and learn from the best, I wanted to share the best social media spots on several different platforms. This will come in a series of posts, but I'll start with my top 10 social media blogs.

I came to these numbers factoring in both quantitative data like page rank, alexa rank, compete unique visitors and others, as well as qualitative data like quality of posts and activity level of communities.

1. Mashable : Simply the powerhouse of social media news. Mashable attracts more visitors in one day than some blogs can even dream of getting in their active life. Great writers, great ease of use. It is simply the best right now.
2. Seth Godin's Blog: If you want some great insight into life while learning social media both directly and through osmosis than Seth is your man. Don't let his shiny scalp scare you away. He truly knows what hes talking about and has been the mentor to many social media minds.
3. ChrisBrogan: Chris is an expert in social media and isn't afraid to show it. That doesn't mean that he isn't humble because he most certainly is. He lives and breathes social media, which is evident in every post about his daily experiences or his major insights.
4. Marketing Pilgrim: There are a few primary bloggers whose primary goal is to flood you with industry news that can be of help to you. Go, read, download and emerge a smarter person.
5. Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang: Up until a couple of days ago Jeremiah was working with and providing intensely helpful information from the comfort of the Forrester offices. He has now teamed with Charlene Li, which should make for a powerful force in the social media world.
6. Scobleizer: Robert made his name while working at Microsoft, but his innovation and expertise goes beyond the world of Microsoft.
7. Duct Tape Marketing: Focused mostly on small businesses and small budgets. DTM is a great source for those just getting into social media marketing as a part of overall marketing strategies.
8. How To Change The World: Guy Kawasaki is a name that most if not all social media people know. He is really pushing Alltop, but continues to guide us through his blog. You can also find Guy's thought leadership at his other home on OPEN Forum.
9. PR 2.0: Brian Solis writes PR 2.0, while contributing at TechCrunch and Brandweek. He's a great strategist that knows the best technologies to use along the way.10. Logic + Emotion: David Armano is stretched a little thin these days because he is in such high demand though his work with Dachis Group, but he still manages to write posts about the contemporary issues and industry-specific news for social media.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

What if Twitter fails?!?

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I was recently speaking on a social media panel in Georgia. The room was filled with marketers from large brands like Napa Auto Parts, Coca Cola, Best Western and Aarons. Even though these were marketers, they almost all fell closer to social media novices on the spectrum.

As is usually the case when speaking with people that aren't extremely knowledgeable about social media, the conversation became focused on the most popular tools and in particular Twitter and Facebook.

After discussing the benefits of these technologies to the marketing process, a very fair question was asked...

"What if Twitter fails?"

It really is a great question. Brands have a legitimate concern of a social media platform like Twitter going under after they spend significant time and resources building of a valueable presence.

The core of the answer is very simple: SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE

If marketers approach this communication realm in that way, they will be able to transfer the conversations they're having on Twitter to any other social media platform when needed. If people/consumers trust you, enjoy your content and feel like they are a part of something real they will follow the conversation from Twitter to Facebook to Ning to a discussion board on the brand website. It is truly about the strength of the relationship with readers and consumers.

While building a community on a specific platform, be sure to cross-polinate your messaging on at least 2-3 platforms total. For instance, if your primary communication spot is Twitter you may also want to have a Facebook fan page and a blog. Send your followers to all of these locations throughout your entire communication process. This will train your readers to visit your other platforms if one of these technologies fail overnight.
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Who? Why?

Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard
jake.a.rosen@gmail.com

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.

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