Posts tagged social media

3 Useful Social Media Marketing Links

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I’ve recently come across a few articles and posts that I think address some important concepts–some that you probably know, but may not always think about extensively because they’re so familiar, and some that you may not have considered. Take a look:

1) Quit Trying to Sell Me Stuff! 10 Tips to Provide More Value
Pam Moore has a post about focusing on providing value. Right now I’m particularly interested in numbers 1-3, which I think can be summed up as “What have you done for me lately?” You can’t just ask your customers to buy from you. You might as well say, “Give me money.” As a customer, I’m going to want to know why. That means you have to know why, and to know why, you have to know me. And then you have to give me something that I want. Because if your product or service isn’t going to improve my situation, why would I give you money for it?

2) Stop being the “social media helpdesk” and cross-train your company to be social
Some organizations want everyone to be involved in social media. Some want no one to be involved. I think the real answer is in the middle: Employees who are interested in being part of your social media strategy should be involved (and that includes people who interact with the public, from sales to customer service and beyond). People who aren’t interested, shouldn’t. Encourage it, but don’t force it.

3) 5 Big Mistakes to Avoid in Your QR Code Marketing Campaign
I’ll bet a lot of people never even think about number 4.

Viral, in a Bad Way

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London Riots - Clapham

“Everyone run wild, all of London and others are invited! Pure terror and havoc & Free stuff. Just smash shop windows and cart out da stuff u want!”

We’ve heard a lot about Twitter and Iran, and Twitter and Egypt. Now we’ve got BlackBerry and cities in England. The Washington Post reports the above quote as one message that has been circulated recently.

And although the rioting began in London–the Prime Minister has deployed an additional 10,000 police officers there–it has now spread to other cities. While the shooting death of Mark Duggan may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in areas of London, the outbreak of violence in distant cities supports the idea that the camel was already laden pretty heavily.

Social media fosters connections between people, but this seems to be an example of how that can work against an awful lot of us. It appears that many rioters may be using BlackBerry Messenger, a popular app, to send encrypted messages. This means that unlike other recent outbreaks of unrest–again, Egypt–the messages are not on publicly viewable sites like Twitter. (Not that Twitter and Facebook have been ignored by rioters, mind you, but they aren’t the only tools being used to encourage “pure terror and havoc.”)

So often we hear about the desire to have messages and videos go viral, and it’s easy to overlook the dark side of this concept. But I think it’s important to take a look at these riots and consider: what about when viral goes wrong? And in the same vein, is crowdsourcing always as great as people like to say it is? What if your “crowd” is a group of rioters? That’s just mob rule, and no one benefits from that. Ultimately, not even the mob.

Photo by bayerberg, via Flickr.

Social Media Background Checks and You

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When I started working with my current employer, I had to have a background check. The reason why is a bit ridiculous, in my opinion–apparently it has nothing to do with, say, data security (I’ve never had that kind of job), and everything with a failure to properly check references. So now, instead of doing a more thorough job of verifying the claims on resumes, we all get fingerprinted. Make what you will of that.

There’s a new kind of background check in town, and it makes those “be careful what you post” warnings sound a bit less paranoid. Social Intelligence, a one-year-old startup, conducts “social media background checks” for employers, collecting information available for the past seven years.

The idea is that you sign a waiver and the screening company reviews your social media presence, reporting back to the hiring organization–but leaving out information that can be discriminatory, such as race, pregnancy, disabilities, and so on. The benefit for the hiring organization is that they’re buffered from discrimination claims. The benefit for you is . . . well, I guess the benefit for you is that the interview remains the key point at which you might face discrimination in the hiring process.

So what kind of information are they collecting? That depends on what the employer wants. According to the company’s website:

Social Intelligence Corp solely generates reports based on employer pre-defined criteria, both positive and negative. Negative examples include racist remarks or activities, sexually explicit photos or videos, and illegal activity such as drug use. Positive examples include charitable or volunteer efforts, participation in industry blogs, and external recognition.

At the same time, this doesn’t remove the possibility for individual bias, personal interpretation, or simple human error. As Kelsey Blair writes for Social Times:

Who determines what constitutes aggressive or discriminatory? Is it participation in a Facebook group? It could be. Is it angry status updates? Absolutely. And who gets to decide? The good folks at Social Intelligence Corp, of course. According to Drucker “since our team are in fact human beings, they are able to discern to the best degree possible what ‘explicit’ means.” And what discriminatory means. And what violent means.

In writing about the process, the New York Times says that the review also may look for “flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.”

Here’s an example of where discretion comes in. What counts as “flagrant display of weapons”? Is it a picture of a soldier deployed in a war zone? Someone teaching their son or daughter about gun safety on a firing range? A group of friends getting ready to go hunting? A disgruntled employee outside the boss’s office door? That seems like a pretty wide range of behavior to me, but someone else might not make that distinction. And since a photo is literally a single moment in time, how do people conducting background checks know what the context is?

So those are some of the issues related to social media background searches. The next question: what do you do about it?

Well, to begin with, be aware that when you use social media, you are choosing how you present yourself to the world, and that the world may not see what you intend to show. That’s true regardless of whether the person looking is a potential employer or your Aunt Edna.

Next, take a look at your privacy settings. These firms are going to be looking at what they can see–you’re not handing over your login information.

And consider what information you’re providing employers to begin with. In his Gizmodo article “I Flunked My Social Media Background Check. Will You?” Mat Honan writes:

It only uses the data an employer gives it to run a search. This tends to be standard issue information from your resume. Your name, your university, your email address and physical location. Which means that, ultimately, you are the one supplying all the data for a background check. Because you are the one who supplies that data to your employer. And that means you should be smart about what kinds of contact information you put on your resume.

Your personal email address, especially if you’ve had it for a long time, could have all kinds of things tied to it that you’d rather an employer not see. Spend the nothing it costs to set up a dedicated job search email account, and list that one on your c.v.

Social media background checks are here to stay. Social Intelligence isn’t the only company providing them (a quick Google search turned up at least one other company), and the FTC is fine with the practice. So take a look at what you’re putting out there, who you’re sharing it with, and what’s on your resume. But you were doing that anyhow, right?

Social Media and Org Charts

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Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that social media is a responsibility for your communications team to tackle–but I’m still seeing organizations try to shoehorn it in with IT.

Beyond that, there’s the issue of centralization vs. distribution–should social media be handled by a single core group, or should people from all over the organization (and in the case of Zappos, pretty much everyone) play a role?

How does your organization answer these questions? Where does social media live?

Summer Reading (Social Media Marketing Edition)

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The Washington Post usually has a great list of books in a variety of genres. I’m not going to try to match that (although I’m really looking forward to the new Louis Bayard novel), but I do want to share some recent titles that I’ve found valuable. Each is by a thought leader in social media and marketing, and all of them are easy to read.

Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
As you might guess from the title, this book focuses on the importance of content. I think we can all agree that content is essential–without it, you’re literally talking about nothing. Handley and Chapman provide a valuable look at how to produce substantive content for a variety of platforms, from Twitter to podcasts and white papers. (Ann Handley: @marketingprofs; C.C. Chapman: @cc_chapman)

Engage by Brian Solis

There are two editions, so be sure you buy the new one. I have each, because I bought the first just before the second came out. Solis does a great job of explaining why transparency and trust are vital to the new marketing world, and provides valuable case studies about customer engagement. (@briansolis)

UnMarketing by Scott Stratten
Great book. Stratten just might rule the Twitterverse, and here he provides insight into how every point of contact is important. I’ve long said that the saying ought to be “You only get one chance to make a last impression,” and I’m pretty sure Stratten would agree with that. His book really demonstrates why seemingly inconsequential encounters make a difference, and why “business as usual” just may lose customers. (@unmarketing)

Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard
I’m in awe of this book. Blanchard doesn’t just focus on ROI, although wow, will you learn about that. He also provides a social media primer that is a great reference for newcomers and a refresher for those of us with experience. Suggestions on how to develop social media training for your organization, how to persuade reluctant managers to buy in, and more–this book has a wealth of information. Buy it! (@thebrandbuilder)

5 Questions to Ask About Your New Social Media Campaign

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question mark

It’s tempting to just jump in, and doing so isn’t going to kill you. But it won’t be entirely effective, either. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (and your colleagues) as you plan.

1) Who Are We?
You don’t have to navel-gaze, but take a few minutes to think about your institution. What do you do? How does your audience perceive you?

2) Who Is Our Audience?

You should already know this, but now is a good time to take another look. Consider geography, demographics, and psychographics.

3) Where Is Our Audience?

You’re meeting them on their turf, so make sure you know where to find them. Do they use social media? What sites do they use? How do they use them?

4) What Is Our Content?
Your content is not necessarily suited to every social media outlet, just like it’s not suited to every traditional outlet. Take some time to figure out what goes where. Do you have multiple pieces of information to share each day? A few a week? Once or twice a month? Are you planning to create blog posts that elaborate on an idea, or rely heavily on URLs with short intro statements?

5) How Will We Interact?
Are you planning to push information at your audience, or provide a forum for conversation? Are you going to moderate comments, or will free speech rule the day? Who will do this, and how much time will they need to dedicate to it?

There are more questions, but this will get you started. Now, go forth and strategize.

Photo by Leo Reynolds, via Flickr.

Why Every Organization Needs a Social Media Plan

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Urban Outfitters is in the middle of a controversy, and it’s trending on Twitter. The company is accused of copying an independent jewelry designer’s creations, and people have taken to the Interwebs about it.

Urban Outfitters is also on Twitter, but so far they haven’t responded to the issue there. And they should.

There are plenty of examples of companies who responded well and poorly to crises playing out over social media. At this point, there’s really no excuse for failing to respond. If there’s a conversation going on, you need to be part of it. And you need to be part of it where it’s happening.

Do you work for an organization? Does your organization have a social media plan? If not, start working on one now. And remember, just because you’re not on a social media site doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. You need to be looking as broadly as possible.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your plan:

1) Who is our audience?
2) How do they use social media?
3) What monitoring tools are available to us?
4) How do we respond to common topics and issues that arise in our existing communications?
5) How can we adapt those to different kinds of social media sites?

Just as your approach to each site should be different, your method of responding to criticism or praise should depend on what site you’re using. Twitter is not Facebook is not YouTube is not Foursquare.

Learn. Think. Prepare.

You can’t anticipate everything, but the more you’ve done in advance, the better off you’ll be when the surprise comes. What’s stopping you?

Social Media, Social Change?

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT-3I5jg1xg&w=560&h=349]

Lately, we’ve heard a lot about the power of Twitter during revolutions. But what about the effect of social media on other kinds of change?

Manal al-Sherif, a Saudi woman, is counting on the power of social media to change the culture of her country. Simply put, she wants to be able to drive a car–something that religious edicts prohibit women from doing in Saudi Arabia. Al-Sherif and fellow organizers have set up a Facebook page to support their cause, and posted the above video on Facebook and YouTube.

“We have a saying,” she told CNN. “The rain starts with a single drop. This is a symbolic thing.”

So what do you think? Can social media change social mores?

50 Inspiring Custom Facebook Pages

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Wondering how major brands are using Facebook? Check out these samples.

Are there others you’d add to this list?

World Leaders and Social Media

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Recently, Brian Solis wrote an interesting post about world leaders and social media. A couple of thoughts:

I agree that there’s a need for both a personal account and an institutional account. This is true for much more than politics–we’ve seen it play out in the business world, but higher ed could learn from it as well.

It’s a good idea to have fun with it. Not everything has to be A Serious Big Deal.

But one thing I do question, and that’s Solis’s discussion of “Twitter Diplomacy.” I get the idea, but I also see how it is a really tricky subject. Do you unfollow a leader or office when international relations change? What are the geopolitical ramifications of unfriending a fellow head of state? There’s opportunity here, but there’s also room for tremendous hazard.

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