Lifting the lid on Twitter’s big taboo

Twitter logo

I recently read with alarm in the Wall Street Journal about the truly distressing plight of increasing numbers of marketing executives:

Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com Inc. says: “I can’t ignore them,” Ms. Notkin says of her more than 19,800 Twitter followers. As a small-business owner, Ms. Notkin says she doesn’t take long vacations. But even on a weekend at the beach, she warns those around her of her need to check her phone.

“We need to appear active,” Douglas Quint, co-founder of Big Gay Ice Cream, says. “We want to appear in people’s Twitter feeds once or twice a day.”

On the eve of her trip to the Southwest, Eva Chen, beauty director at Teen Vogue, sent a tweet: “Huzzah! I’m officially on vacation!” Over the next five days, while driving through Arizona, she tweeted more than 120 times, checked-in more than a dozen times on Foursquare and posted more than 30 photos to Instagram.

In the case of the prolific Ms Chen, she may as well on be on vacation at all . . . . . . 120 tweets in 5 days; in addition to the Instagram posts and Foursquare check-ins. It sounds rather like a day in the office to me!

The need to ‘carry the brand’ throughout their waking moments has forced these executives to – literally – become slaves to Twitter. According to the WSJ: “the most compelling social-media handles, whether a brand, a small business or a person inside a larger organization, usually are the work of one individual, with a unique personality and voice . . .”

I’m all in favour of living the brand, but encapsulating into the identity of a single person has its downside. Quite apart from the risk to brand equity (and followers) should a ‘power Tweeter’ leave the organization, I wonder how genuinely authentic such communications can really be. Most people do not see the World the optic of a single brand, experiences are made up of a variety of insights, prejudices, tastes, opinions and loyalties; some of them rational many of them completely irrational.

In fact, that’s what makes Twitter so engaging – people share literally what’s on their mind, what excites, stimulates, amuses, annoys and means something to them. Twitter enables me to catch up on the state of the European bond market (http://t.co/LsrIeekH) and check out the Onion’s latest take on Jennifer Aniston’s new beau (http://t.co/gyxBOD53) in many cases retweeted from the same person! Twitter becomes far less compelling if we see a corporate agenda crudely concealed behind the feed; worst of all it becomes predictable.

Returning to Twitter’s modern slaves, I would encourage them to – literally – get out more, experience life, feelings, emotions, doubt, uncertainty . . . and express them online through a personal account. They are sure to find life outside the brand liberating . . . . or at least their friends and family might appreciate it.

WSJ again:

‘For most heavy tweeters, it isn’t a burden, or even a work obligation, to stay “on brand” and connected. It’s a choice. “I don’t find it to be an intrusion of my vacation,” says Aliza Licht, senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan Co., who has amassed more than 413,600 followers on her @DKNY Twitter handle.

More revealingly she adds that she also checks work email while on vacation. “It’s not comfortable for me, my personality, to be away,” she says. Her husband and young children are “accepting” of her social-media connectivity, she says. Sometimes her husband suggests tweets.’

“Accepting” of her tweeting . . . sometimes her husband even suggests tweets . . . . ?!” Hmm I’m not sure I’m convinced. When I had the temerity to pick up the BlackBerry during a recent vacation to share an amusing story about a head of state suggesting that hitting a rugby referee with a rock could be justified ‘under certain circumstances’ (http://t.co/zhm3HOLd), my wife’s reaction could hardly be described as ‘brand compliant’ (unless the brand in question included surgery without anesthetic in its portfolio). Her perspective is that vacations are there for a purpose and that purpose does not include work (which she associated with my picking up the BlackBerry).

I believe that she is right – but in more ways than she realizes. For brands and brand ambassadors to be credible they need to reflect multiple experiences, opinions, points of view, insights . . . . most of all they need to include some element of spontaneity and surprise. A brand ambassador who never removes the corporate avatar from his or her online musings is missing out and . . . . ultimately, doing the brand in question a disservice.

So power tweeters of the world, use this summer’s vacations to remove the chains of brand compliance and express yourselves! United, we can put an end to this modern form of slavery!

Let me know what you think!

Post by: Roger Darashah

ENTER MUS-GRAMMYS 226 LAIn today’s social media driven world it seems like all companies are using social media and are trying to be the experts in the field. But as we all know creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle and frequently shouting about your brand is not likely to make you an expert in social media. 

This post comes as a result of the Twitter storm that was sparked around Adele the night of the Grammys. This suggests that personalities work better than brands with online conversations often backfiring on brands and advertising often taking over true conversations. Instead, it is about being able to create content which users can discuss, share and recommend while also supporting customer service and experience.

There is no doubt that brands must embrace social media. The fast-changing landscape means that many companies remain confused about exactly why they are on social media sites – beyond the usual talk about building a fan base there are many ways that brands can interact with customers using social media including handling customer complaints, offering discounts and listening to online conversations.

There are only a small number of brands that are using social media to really connect and interact with customers. For example Dell, has a social media ‘listening command centre’ that identifies customer service issues along with brand evangelists. KLM also is using social media to improve customer service and gleam customer insights. They have a unique 24hr customer service platform on Facebook and Twitter, employees held up large poster with individual letters and created a living alphabet that was videoed and sent to customers to spell out customer questions. Unisys also has a social knowledge sharing platform for employees to network and share information.

Another great example of a brand excelling in their use of social media is American Steak house ‘Morton’s’, who identified that a social media guru tweeted about craving a @Mortons steak after a long flight. Morton Steak House acted quickly and used this as a media opportunity organising a number of employees to greet the influencer with a juicy steak at the arrivals gate. This highlights the importance of noticing a PR opportunity and acting fast.

Looking at these brands examples gives useful insights into why these companies are succeeding in social media.The small handful that really are using social media successfully are listening and communicating with their customers by two way communication that is not overly brand biased. Improving customer service is a key theme flowing through the above examples; customers who feel like they are listened too and understood are likely to be more loyal to the brand. Successful brands are talking to customers about what they actually care about.

Brands who demonstrate understanding, creativity and innovative thinking which moves them out of their comfort zones seems to be winning ingredient. 

@T_Bloore

peasantThe medium was the message in 2011, a year in which revolution and riot were ignited by social media. The persistent insistence that the internet has come to represent a force for democratisation has come under increasing scrutiny. The # is equated to a symbol of equality and freedom, but the extent to which this parallelogram marks out our personal Hyde and becomes a symbol of our own serfdom is something I have recently questioned.

The similarities between social media and feudalism resonate under closer inspection of the ideologies underpinning the two systems. In announcement prior to the announcement of Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg announced "we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better…” Feudalism, a system based on social interaction, functioned on a peasants willingness to toil to maintain a space in return for protection, nourishment and submission to authority.

The reciprocity of relations in feudalism echoes the reciprocity of relations in feudalism. Social media is reminiscent of feudalism as we work to rent a segment of cyberspace (a Hyde), be it a profile page, a news feed or a channel, from a corporation (or a magnate) ie Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Like feudal lords these sites (estates) profit through our willingness to work for free and pay for our space through site maintenance. Because we do not give capital for our segment of cyberspace, we pay for it in other ways.

Just as the serfs had no control over their regulating authorities, we too have no space to protest over site updates (for example, the introduction of Facebook timeline). When taken in this context social media appears on an oddly retrograde. It is then that the uprisings of 2011 become the doppelgängers of the Early Modern Peasants Revolution.

Both Luther and Swedenborg were inspired to action partially due to the apparent corruption in the feudal system and the arrival of new media which allowed them to disseminate a message of egalitarianism and revolution. The reformation changed the shape of Europe. However, what has become clear in the wake of the revolutions in 2011 is the difficulty which users of social media have had to impact on any lasting or meaningful change.

@camillaEclarke

Not the prettiest nor most effectively designed infographic, but data rich nonetheless; Dream Systems Media launched an infographic last week illustrate numbers from the largest social media networks, based on AdAge data. Some of the more interesting highlights are below, see the infographic for full details and sources:

  • 95% of Facebook Wall posts are not answered by brands.
  • Twitter updates that include verbs have a 2% higher shareability than the average tweet.
  • 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars annually on social-marketing programs, though nearly 30% are not tracking the impact of social-media programs on lead generation and sales.
  • More smartphone and tablet owners are researching products that purchasing them – 80.8% compared to 41.4%.
  • The Mobile Marketing Association of Asia stated that our of the 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
  • 56% of college students said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or they would find a way to circumvent corporate policy.
  • You can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on Facebook than if you post on Twitter.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8584-mapping-the-social-media-lands…

Via eConsultancy

@jacqui_fleming

no answer

Recently I have been updating my twitter account adding relevant followers to be list of people I want to regularly hear from.

The process is pretty simply, I have several columns setup on topics ranging from #influencechat, #ARchat to #measurepr. After a while, i recognise that there are some people whose tweets are interesting that I would like to keep track of regardless.

However, and this is where the twitterquette bit comes in, after I follow them, I frequently get a DM from them. At first i thought it was quite a nice thing to do but now I can’t stand it.

More often than not, they direct me to a link asking me to ACT. I have only just followed you – surely we haven’t built up the relationship for me to start clicking on the links you send me. Other times, its a tweet (un)sincerely thanking me for following them. Should I be flattered that they have setup tweetlater as a way of being sincere with there new followers. In my case, no. Auto-DMs should be first against the wall when the revolution comes (followed by real estate agents and bankers).

The simple rule, which everyone inherently knows is engagement. Why is this forgotten so much? A DM is more intrusive than an @reply so please limit your usage of it to when it is right.

Rant over. You may now eat (but use the cutlery from the outside in).

Image courtesy of nickmack.net

Is Facebook a content or conversation source?

Back in May, Matt Locke, Richard Sambrook and I had a conversation about the future of Social Entertainment.  (In case you are thinking “My that’s a wonderfully catchy, if opaque, buzz word. But what on GoogleEarth does it mean?”; Social Entertainment is a term we coined a few years back to represent the idea that as social networks grow to parallel the influence of mainstream media channels, so too would traditional media companies need to progress their content and communications to fully embrace the social sphere).  Not rocket science, perhaps, but we’re interested in the implications of Social Entertainment, especially with regard to how entertainment companies communicate with audiences.

It’s highly probable that no one listened to the podcast back in May (I haven’t asked for the statistics lately, in case my worst fear was confirmed and we had chopped down trees, but no one was around to hear the loud thud of timber on the forest floor).  So if you didn’t, let me summarise: We talked about some meeja things and at the end Matt and I made some predictions for the next 12 months.

The erudite Mr Locke suggested that the talent rather than the media brand would continue to increase in influence and that this posed both a problem for the brand and an opportunity for talent looking to take advantage of the currency of their social profiles.  The case of @ITVLauraK (nee @BBCLauraK) perfectly illustrates this issue.  Both Tom Callow at TheWall and Jemima Kiss at the Guardian sum up the ramifications better than I could.  Congratulations Matt.  You were right.

Back in May, I felt the interesting shift would be the inverse of our original Social Entertainment theory.  I.e. Social Entertainment originally concentrated on how traditional entertainment companies could leverage social channels to engage audiences.  I predicted (again, perhaps not radically) that Social brands would expand to become fully fledged media channels and businesses.  This was based on increasingly professional content finding its way onto YouTube – but I thought that Facebook, Twitter and the like would increasingly become media channels – producing and distributing content, not just hosting conversations around it.

Interestingly, our annual research shows a conflict in consumer perception, here.  As this graph shows, consumers now think of social networks as a form of entertainment.

However, when asked who are the top-of-mind entertainment companies, consumers do not name new social or internet brands.  No Facebook, no YouTube, no Spotify.  Only the old dogs are named (I can’t actually show you the brands, but we do have this info should it be of interest.  Let me know if so).

And so here we are at the 22nd September 2011 and the f8 conference.  Much has already been written about the social updates (I’d recommend the Mashable picture gallery, if you’re looking for a quick summary of what it’s all about).  But I’m most interested to hear about how content companies and entertainment channels are going to be integrated in Facebook. Is this the coming of age for Social Entertainment?  True my prediction, unlike Matt’s, has yet to come to full fruition.  But with the f8 announcement, we may well be one step closer. The integration, assuming the often vitriolic users embrace it, will mean that Facebook becomes a powerful, if not the de facto, promotional channel for content owners and publishers.  This presents an opportunity but also a challenge for entertainment brands.  Content has always driven conversations. But some content is more naturally geared to social conversations and ‘lean forward’ programming than others.  For all entertainment brands, programs and channels, not applying Social Entertainment is, from today, arguably not an option.  It’s a simple dilemma; innovate and  collaborate, or risk not being talked about at all.

I must admit to being unusually intrigued by the above headline spotted on Twitter yesterday. Knowing my boss as I do, I can attest to his absolute commitment to, and vision for, influencer marketing through channels such as YouTube.

However, YouTube to “save his career” seemed a bit extreme even in these times of crisis!

Then a follow up headline shed more light on the mystery “Hargreaves to prove fitness by YouTube” . . . . a click on the link revealed a different Hargreaves, England and ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who has turned to social media in an attempt to convince clubs of his recovery from knee injury.

Apart from the ease with one can confuse one of English football’s leading proponents of the holding midfielder (formerly “Makalele”) role and Edelman’s European Managing Director of Technology, this story revealed some interesting insights into the use of social media within the workplace.

By turning to YouTube, Hargreaves (Owen) is seeking to convince not merely prospective clubs but also their fans; a vital constituency in any eventual transaction. While no club would seriously rank armchair or bar room insight above that of professional scouts or medical experts, they ignore this community at their own risk as Hargreaves is fully aware.

He will be wanting to remind them of his prodigious past; winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich aged 20 and England performances in the 2006 World Cup (where he was one of the few England players man enough to take and score a penalty in the shoot out against Portugal.

With staff review season fast approaching at ‘Edelman Towers’, how could Hargreaves’ approach be adapted to the workplace in general? Am I about to receive a dozen urls from aspiring account managers highlighting their best pitch moments, the phone call of the year when they secured additional out of pocket expenses, or – even – their network moment of the year when they collared a journalist/prospect in a bar over cocktails?

Perhaps these links will be shared “a la Hargreaves” with the wider PR community as part of a genuine influencer marketing campaign supporting their bid for promotion (“did you see that pitch . . . ? S/he still has it . . . they haven’t lost their touch!”). [although the YouTube pitching stunt by 10Yetis split the PR world; either ingenious or desperate? – Ed]

Football is a distinct workplace given the level of media coverage, discussion and opinion that it generates, but the principles of influencer marketing could still apply in terms of promoting your cause internally. I like to think that we in the PR profession would produce something a little bit more sophisticated that the Owen Hargreaves keep fit video, but the logic of seeking endorsement from a wider community (i.e. beyond that of your immediate line manager) is equally relevant.

I am, therefore, standing by for the creative videos and virals extolling the virtues and professional prowess of my colleagues. Jonathan Hargreaves scoring a penalty against Portugal in the World Cup finals; now that’s a YouTube video I would not want to miss!

@RogerDara

Hello strangers!  Or Hello familiar people that we talk to a lot in the real world but who also happen to read our blog occasionally.

Are you well?  We’re very sorry that DERTy Talk has been absent for so long.  We’re almost entirely sure you hadn’t noticed our absence, but nevertheless we. are. back.  Sort of.

There’s been a lot on of late.  Presidential visits, a footballer on the front pages, ash clouds.  Aside to all this real news, May may well go down in memory as the month we’d care to forget, which is why we didn’t bother recording it on DERTy Talk.  Adding insult to injury Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have got the memo about Bank Holidays being sunny this time round.  Tis a pity.

Anywayz.  Next week is JUNE and we will resume the ordinary, regular service of DERTy Talk.  For now we just wanted to share some actual talking from some splendid people who participated in our #SocialEnt event yesterday.  Thanks again to Gail, Jon, Matthew, Simon and Emma for taking part and for leading what was a very lively and informative discussion.  It was the highlight of the week, it’s true.

Enjoy their wisdom shared in the videos below.  Should you have missed all our other content from the event you can find it here.

Last week I was speaking with a ‘social media pro’ who informed me that I shouldn’t bother with blogs as its all Quora nowadays.

At first hand it’s not such a silly statement – may people instinctively believe that the volume of blogging has fallen massively since 2007 at the expense of the shiny toys of Twitter, Quora, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. If all the conversations are happening in other channels why should we bother to blog at all?

This view is short sighted. In fact, blogging for marketing purposes has increased:

A common mistake people make is that people live in a “field of dreams” world whereby they think that simply blogging about a subject will make people come and visit. Blogging is great for telling prospects about what you are selling but it does not bring people to your site.

In fact a blog is a focal point and acts as a base of operations for communications. Even though you may use Twitter and Facebook there still needs to be landing point – a place that people end up when they click on the link.

 

image

Writing as a blogger, I an confirm what many people know, in that it takes a great deal of effort and dedication to compose a blog post. it’s not like twitter where brisk thoughts can be jotted down in 140 characters – instead a blog is a place where context is added to headline, where ideas are fleshed out and where structure is given to a proposition. Twitter and Facebook are not the right platforms for this – this is where a blog shines and becomes a library of all your thoughts and ideas. In essence it is where ‘idea starters’ reside.

What’s more a blog can also address questions or concerns your audience find important. By all means people use amplification tools like Twitter and Facebook to draw their attention to your blog post, but the thoughts reside in one place.

SEO is also vital. New, focussed and relevant content will always be picked up by Google which will in turn bring extra traffic. It is here where the second stage of engagement takes place – directly on the blog. This is often more in-depth and focussed than through other channels like Twitter. How often have we all felt that 140 characters is not enough to give a detailed opinion. Facebook too has its limitations – even though you can write as much as you like, many find lengthy wall posts unappealing – it really is a case of the right message for the right channel.

At no stage i am suggesting that a blog is used in isolation. As if proving my own point, when i raised this question on Quora, i received in depth replies. Priit Kallas, Founder and CEO at dreamgrow.com explained his reasons why Blogs are important:

  • Create an image of an expert
  • Interact with clients and prospects
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Spread the word
  • Talk about more than just products and services
  • Solve client’s problems
  • Build trust
  • Stay on top of your field
  • Build brand
  • Exercise your creativity
  • Put a human face on your brand
  • Proving ground
  • Foundation for social media activities
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Educate clients, prospects, stake holders
  • Increase traffic
  • Make money

And here is a real life screen shot straight from Google Analytics (points are weeks):

The increase in traffic was 3 to 4 times and leads grew even more. Not too shabby.

So how should a blogger blog?

  1. Write informative and relevant posts
  2. Use social media to amplify the post

Blogging takes time and effort. Whereas a quick tweet may be insightful, the dedication to compose and elaborate on ideas takes in the form of a structured blog post is incredibly difficult. To all those people who do this regularly or even as Jeremiah calls it – a ‘casual career blogger’ , truly salute you for bringing opinion and content. Where people talk of information overload, they forget that all the info points somewhere – and that more often than not is a blog.

Recommended reading:

29 Ways to Keep Me Coming Back to Your Blog Again and Again

Corporate narcissism: The single biggest mistake made on corporate blogs?

The State of the Blogosphere 2010

21 Tips To Create A Brilliant Business Blog

Corporate Blogging Goes Mainstream

 

Originally posted on Technobabble 2.0

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