How Many Twitter Personas Do You Need?

Posted on August 31, 2010 by 8 Comments

When to combine business with pleasure with social media is a standing question. The answer: “It depends.” I’ve been on the Twitter bandwagon for a little over a year now and I’m admittedly a little all over the place with the kind of content I choose to share. With only one user name, I’ve taken the combo route. My tweets cover everything from social media tidbits to what I did on the weekend. Bottom line: At this point, I just don’t ever post anything that I wouldn’t want everyone to see.

Several colleagues have admitted to having two accounts – one for more conservative work-centric content and another for more personal sharing. And I agree that this approach could make a lot of sense.

  • Having multiple accounts allows you to network with like-minded individuals. This lets you branch out to other potential followers without ostracizing your current follower base who might only care about media-related tweets and not about the new recipe you’re trying. Twitter is full of cliques and many don’t overlap. Twitter lists are a great solution for filtering other tweeps by demographic, but have you thought about how you yourself are being categorized? What lists do you find yourself on?
  • If you are building a brand, you should register the name on Twitter. Point taken: I just secured the name of my personal blog, Living Portland. I’ll pocket this until I’m ready for it.

What are some of the challenges?

  • Time management. Having time to tweet from one account can be hard enough for some. Schedule your tweets ahead of time to make it easier. It’s important to keep content fresh but don’t let this become a burden. I recommend TweetDeck or HootSuite, which are both free options to help you stay organized.
  • Personal branding. If you’re on Twitter because you want people to get to know you and all your different interests, having two accounts might not make sense.

There are many champions of this strategy, including Mark Drapeau, Microsoft’s director of Innovative Social Engagement. Interestingly, his second account doesn’t seem to be around anymore, which seems to lend more credibility to the one-account approach.

 How many Twitter accounts do you actively use?

Evolving Social Media in the Enterprise

Posted on August 4, 2010 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson has a great post on the career path of social media practitioners. As with any emerging discipline there isn’t a set direction.  In his post Tac provides some suggestions on evolving your career:

  • “You Can’t Own Everything, Don’t Try”
  • “Become the Enemy: Management”
  • “Evolve or Move On”

What if we took the same suggestions for evolving social media at the enterprise level?

You Can’t Own Everything; Don’t Try

You might not be able to own everything, but you can take what you’ve learned and be a champion to extend those learnings to the rest of the organization. Customer service, engineering and sales can all benefit from social media programs. The challenge enterprises face when extending social media across multiple businesses is one of scale, voice and process. Companies that have mastered social media from a communications standpoint should equip and structure their organizations to provide guidance and governance to the other business lines. Setting up extensible workflow tools is a great starting place, but also designing a communications channel that listens, engages and routes appropriately across the organization is critical.

Become the Enemy, Management

Instead of tweeting and posting to Facebook, imagine stepping back and watching all the tweets, Facebook posts and engagements across the organization, then providing direction and strategy to improve the big picture. By harnessing and providing direction to the entire organization — and equipping other employees to use social media — you can create bigger change, faster.

Evolve, or Move On

When social media first became a discipline circa 2004, there was a new platform or medium every six months. Today, most organizations have  established a core platform focus  (example: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare). So evolving today means maturing how the platforms are used and maturing the organization’s use of them. At the same time other platforms will emerge, so organizations and social media leadership should continually test and create point of views for emerging platforms.

And with regards to “Evolve, or Move On,” move on might be the right career move if your org won’t evolve.

This post also appears at http://murphypdx.com.

Get in the Driver’s Seat With Video SEO

Posted on July 27, 2010 by Comments Off

Video is more and more the go-to medium for online marketing efforts. It has the crucial ability to increase a website’s stickiness and conversion rate, but merely posting a video online isn’t enough.

Take the e-commerce industry, for example. Sixty-eight percent of retailers have deployed video. (Forrester, 2009)

Top10OnlineRetVidsArial2

However, only 4 percent of the top 200 retailers manage to get more than 100 videos indexed by Google. This percentage is a staggering contrast with the importance of search-engine based traffic for those retailers, which typically report that such traffic accounts for approximately 30 percent of their total traffic. (State of Video in E-Commerce, Q2 2010)

Top10RetNoVidsGoogArial

Exceptions to these statistics include Amazon, Overstock and Apple, which all have tens of thousands of videos indexed by Google, and have likely employed some of the following video SEO tips:

  • YouTube. Be there. Since YouTube is the No. 2 search engine and fourth overall Web property receiving 2 billion video views per day, your video should likely be on YouTube if it’s consumer-oriented. Other YouTube tips worth pursuing (via Mark Robertson):
  • Your site. Make it easy.
    • Incorporate video results within your own site’s search functionality. 
    • A thumbnail trumps an icon and/or “click here for video.”
    • Embeddable players enable viewers to promote for you.
  • Help them help you. MRSS Feeds or XML Sitemaps tell search engines where your video is so they can make it available in search results, and with a thumbnail when possible. (Learn more via Google, Yahoo! and Bing.)

Nearly everyone is on board with the idea that video is an integral part of marketing strategies because of the visual medium’s potential for high ROI, but few are in the driver’s seat with video SEO, truly realizing the benefits that video can bring. What’s your idea for extending video’s reach?

Want to Get a Blogger’s Attention? Comment.

Posted on June 16, 2010 by 3 Comments

Let’s face it. In the blogosphere, you’re either a spectator, critic or creator.

To put the spectator or critic categories into a visual format, consider the following. Would you rather be:

A) A Statistic …

spectator

OR

B) A Connector …

critic

The answer is easy for anyone who has the intent of ever building relationships and engaging with others online.

Let’s be honest — we’re all strained for time. PR people are lucky to sneak in a glance at blogs or social news sites before having to jump back to client work (unless you’re Gatorade and have opted to centralize monitoring with a social media war room … yea, I’m jealous). While most people may be perfectly okay consuming content in a passive manner (option A above), we all know that it takes active participation to actually build dialogue and make connections online.

Too often, blogger outreach is still vastly overlooked on the PR front. Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a headline story in the NYT or Washington Post. But, why only bank on delivery of the golden ticket when having a vast network of influential bloggers can drastically help boost your outreach? In addition, bloggers are often the starting point for building momentum around a story that will eventually help you leverage outreach to top-tier publications.

So Scott, let me get this right. You’re saying we just need to start commenting like crazy on industry blogs and we’ll be moving right along?

Wrong.

Connecting with bloggers is different from connecting with mainstream media. You don’t pitch bloggers. You build relationships, and as we all know, relationships take time (check out Brian Solis‘ and Arik Hanson’s tips on blogger relations).

Commenting is a solid start to building relationships, but it’s important to remember the following before throwing up any random response:

1. Comment early
If you’re not already, you should be using Google Reader, Feedly or some other aggregator to pull in blogs and news sites that you want to read daily. A quick glance at your reader each morning provides a great opportunity to be one of the first to comment. This shows the blogger that you’re attentive and also gives you more freedom to shape the follow-up discussion.

2. Keep your comment concise and relevant
Deviate too much from the topic of the post or try to be a sly marketer and you’re asking to have your comment blocked or deleted.

3. Add value
Very rarely does a short “Great post!” comment do anything but boost the comment stats for a blogger. Provide some additional insight, share a relevant link to a similar article or useful resource (again, be careful not to appear as though you’re marketing yourself — it’s good to link to content that doesn’t directly benefit you), suggest that the blogger connect with person X — the options are endless.

4. Provide your name and a legit link
There is nothing worse than seeing a comment from someone only to find that it’s a spammer attempting to get you to click over to a bogus site. Keep it personal by linking your comment to your Twitter handle, blog or LinkedIn profile. It’s also not a bad idea to sign off your comment with your Twitter handle for other commenters to connect with you. NOTE: If you’re a PR pro and represent a client, say so. Transparency trumps all.

5. Monitor
Don’t just leave a comment and not return to a post — especially if you are voicing a strong opinion that is likely to generate further conversation. Some blogs do provide the option to be notified when you leave a comment, but if not, be sure to check back one other time that day and the morning after to see if you should respond further.

6. Show respect
Would you walk into someone else’s house and greet them by spitting on their shoes? No … at least I hope not. Same rules apply. It’s absolutely okay to disagree with a blogger (and bloggers will often write posts with the intent of prompting feedback with differing opinions), but don’t come out of the box with a contentious line. Step back, breathe, think about what you want to say, and carefully craft your response in a respectful manner lest you plan on being shunned from the comment board forever.

Bonus — Connect Further!
Comments are great, but you can easily be buried in the mix, especially with popular bloggers or posts. If the blogger provides an e-mail address, try connecting further after you’ve commented on his or her blog a few times. Your name will likely ring a bell as most bloggers receive e-mail notifications when a new comment is posted. That being said, keep your initial outreach simple. Don’t dare use the e-mail as a way to paste in a press release or irrelevant pitch and call it a day simply because this blogger made it onto your target outreach list.

On that same token, do your research: Some bloggers refuse pitches all together. But, remember degrees of influence. A “don’t pitch me” blogger may help you connect with a better resource down the line.

If not by e-mail, try poking around on other social sites to connect further. A few retweets and replies or consistent post bookmarks on Delicious are likely to help draw a blogger’s eye and assist with name recognition down the line.

Finding Time to Comment

Kiesha Easely recently provided a breakdown on her daily blogging schedule. Few people in PR have time to maintain this intense of a schedule, but it’s a good example. At the least, you should be monitoring. It’s too easy to do and way too important. If you’re not, you’re missing out on huge opportunities.

Start by taking 15 minutes after your daily monitoring to comment on three different blogs. Analyze the types of comments on others post, and find ways to fit your voice into the conversation. Over time and if done right, people will respect you as a member of the community.

Now, go get your comment on.

Cheers,
Scott

The Tweeting Bush

Posted on June 3, 2010 by 2 Comments

George W. Bush has a Facebook page and a Twitter account as of yesterday, although the latter appears to be fake. Still, Bush’s foray into the social media world makes perfect sense to me: Twitter and Facebook are great tools for listening to what people have to say. And the former president, as we know, has always been interested in what Americans are talking about — whether we know he’s listening or not.

All jokes aside, I’m glad to see more politicians using social media. It promotes transparency in government. For example, it’s easy for most voting-age Americans to watch Obama’s failed campaign promise to bring troops home from Iraq within 16 months. Thanks to social media, it’s tougher to flip flop, go back on promises or mislead the public. In a sense, we the people are poised to take over the traditional media’s job of keeping government accountable. That is a level of democracy the founders of this country could never have dreamed of.

Clever DisguiseThen again, social media can’t prevent scandals or stop power from corrupting. Future Governor Sanfords probably won’t create a Facebook photo album called “Appalachian Trail” and post pics from Argentina; future Monica Lewinskis probably won’t tweet “I’m under the podium, lol!” but the fact remains that social media helps keep politicians accountable. There are tens of millions of people on Twitter and hundreds of millions on Facebook, and their ability to spread news and shape opinions is making it tough for politicians to hide things in the shadows.

However, social media provides something even more important than transparency: Connection. Through social media, politicians can connect directly with their constituents in the same way corporate leaders can connect with company stakeholders. In Ye Olde Days, political candidates would ride trains from township to township. But towns aren’t communities anymore. Social networks are communities. Word doesn’t spread from village to village, Paul Revere-style. Word spreads via viral trends online. So, as more politicians join our online communities, their ability to listen to and understand us becomes greater.

Back to the matter at hand, I say congratulations to Bush’s staffers for getting “him” online. I say “him” with quotes because he isn’t running either account. Bush is not trying to build relationships and he is not trying to connect with people, which means his move is more of a publicity / reputation management stunt than anything else. That automatically makes it a failure as a social media strategy because nobody is interested in a boring feed of tweets like this: “Since leaving office, President Bush has remained active. He has visited 20 states and 8 countries.” Ooh la la.

This kind of social media is easy to spot because of the way it fails. Bush has just 7,000 followers on Twitter and 92,000 on Facebook, as of today. That is miniscule — Bill Gates got more than 100,000 followers on Twitter in 8 hours and John McCain has more than 560,000 fans on Facebook. Getting involved in social media is a nice thought, but it has to be done right.  Consider Bush’s Facebook page. Since the page is public, rather than personal, people can’t even “poke” Bush, as many people lamented on Twitter yesterday. Maybe the Twitter account isn’t entirely worthless though… if Bush isn’t contributing his own thoughts, I guess he’ll just have to re-tweet Karl Rove.

Image by Jill Clardy

Is Your Plan to Just “Sprinkle On A Little Social”?

Posted on April 27, 2010 by 3 Comments

SpringlesYou’ve spent endless hours researching your target audience.

Your campaign objectives are in place and you’ve pieced together a fine-tuned strategy and supporting tactics to make your public relations campaign a glowing success.

It’s time to kick things into action, except you realize you’ve forgotten one last ingredient to top off your campaign. What might that be?? A little sprinkle of social media, of course.

How about some Facebook here? A dash of Twitter there? Sure, why not, clients will love that. Heck, let’s even throw in one of those blog things people seem to like. If this approach sounds familiar, it’s time to tear up that old 3×5 recipe card, head back to the kitchen and start putting some more digital oomph behind the foundation for your next PR feast.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for communications professionals to ensure that overarching digital strategies are integrated into initial project and campaign planning. A social media strategy should not be perceived as a mere “add-on” and only applicable to specific online communications projects.

The way in which we all interact and discover information online is constantly fluctuating but one constant remains – the space between our own social networks continues to decrease. As such, it’s important that you keep online communications at the forefront of your mind as you’re planning your overall strategy.

If you’re struggling to identify items to consider in your planning, here are a few back-to-basics reminders to get you started in making “social” a main ingredient:

1. Audience - Figure out where they are hanging out. If you’re not already actively listening to online conversations, you should be. A solid listening strategy will assist you in determining where and how to connect with your key audience? Are Twitter and Facebook the only important hubs? What about community discussion boards or within Ning communities? Don’t forget the niche online spaces, they’re often the most influential.

2. Objectives – Why do these conversations matter? Can you clearly identify the value of engaging with this audience in helping achieve your campaign objectives? Map it out as it ties in with your offline strategy.

3. Content – Which online channels will be most effective in helping you communicate your message, share content and engage with your target audience in ways you haven’t previously tried? Go ahead, take a risk and expand that palate.

The next time you randomly reach for that social media shaker to satisfy your client’s digital taste buds, step back and reassess the basis of your online efforts and how to integrate communications efforts as a whole.

Note: Kudos to digital chef and Studio D social media strategy guru Tac Anderson for coining the term “sprinkle a little social.” Be sure to check out Tac’s full digital cookbook at NewCommBiz.com.

Image by Muy Yum

Remembering to see the forest AND the trees

Posted on April 8, 2010 by 1 Comment

While doing some reading recently, I came across a PR industry white paper that addressed some basic concepts important to how we demonstrate PR effectiveness to clients. I was curious to see what the Institute for Public Relations had to say on the matter until I noticed the publication date: 1999.

forest treesIn my head I started to mock, as quaint, what I imagined might be contained in the paper: advocacy of the dominance of print, the importance of encyclopedias, patronizing mentions of The World Wide Web (chatrooms!), etc. Of course, the internet and email were more than just curiosities 11 years ago, but the degree to which they have become ingrained and vital to our personal and professional lives today was hardly imaginable then.

The real point is that once I began to read through the paper, I almost immediately had a “duh” moment, deflating my smug, snarky attitude, when I recognized that the core principles then are essentially the same as today, regardless of the technologies or methods by which we execute them.  The cutting-edge tools we have at our disposal should be (and generally are at WE) operated on a solid foundation of concepts such as “what business problem(s) we are trying to solve” and “how can we show effectiveness and a positive return to our clients?” — just as it was 11 years ago.

As communications professionals, our success is dependent on how we can help our clients succeed — and while existing in a world of constantly evolving communications technologies and channels, we need to stay abreast of change, and ahead of it when possible, and understand what and how we can apply to the PR work we offer our clients. The key is to keep those core principles truly at our core, to always know WHY we’re doing what we’re doing and to build out strategies, methods and use of technologies around that strong center.

Photo by kretyen

Communication Channel Whack-A-Mole Doesn’t Make You Cool

Posted on March 22, 2010 by 2 Comments

A little glimpse into WaggEd life: Often, some of the best posts on Thinkers and Doers arise from email threads from our Studio D email alias, which includes our team located across the globe, each of us with different engagement, involvement levels and perspectives in the latest and greatest tools for online communications. We often share articles that we think may be of interest to the team through this, and have had some compelling debate, the best of which end up here.

Social Media LandscapeThis week, Pete Voss sent around an article by Rax Lakhani provocatively entitled “EXPOSED: UK PR Agencies fail to understand Foursquare”.  In the article, Rax states that PR firms who “claim to understand new trends in consumer behaviour still fear the platforms that they are only too quick to sell on to a client, wrapped up in strategic jargon and disingenuous enthusiasm”.  His evidence for this claim is that many PR firms do not have their offices available as venues to check into on Foursquare (a location-based social network where you can check in to restaurants and such, and connect with friends), and therefore they aren’t practicing what they preach.

Having read the article, and being a pretty prolific Foursquare user (not as much as some others in the office, but still), I really don’t think that “if your offices aren’t on foursquare, then you fail at social media” is a particularly insightful or relevant metric.  My apartment isn’t on foursquare, does that make me bad at it?  For me, a much more valuable metric is: if foursquare (or Gowalla or whatever is next) legitimately solves a business problem for your clients, and you’re not including it in the mix, maybe you’re not as up on things as you should be.

People writing articles on “you need to be on XYZ.com because it’s the next big thing!” tend to be suspect to me (remember the hubbub about Friendfeed being the holy grail of content aggregation?  Yeah, neither do most people.).  True communications strategy is about identifying and engaging via the most applicable, relevant and effective communications channels, not about making sure you’re using the most hyped whatever.  There’s always going to be a most hyped whatever, and then life just becomes social media whack-a-mole in an effort to stay cool and hip and relevant.  None of which creates, enables or empowers any lasting change.

This split is what separates the big guns from the hype chasers.  Sure, “getting more twitter followers” or “getting more people to join our Facebook fan page” may end up being useful, but they are not strategies unto themselves.  Those who spent the early 2000s building up tens of thousands of friends on their MySpace profiles will be the first to tell you that creating a strategy based on a channel tends to limit your ability to be effective in the medium-term.

The internet’s infinite number of channels creates a new challenge: every new channel you create makes it more difficult to meet the needs of any individual community.  Building a presence just for the sake of having a presence, or to look “with it,” seems to me to be a recipe for having a bunch of communities, badly maintained, which is much more of a hit to a corporate reputation than not being on Foursquare.

It’s better to craft a solid platform-agnostic message and then execute where appropriate than to constantly be building new channels.

What say you?

Image by fredcavazza

SXSW Day 1: The Content Path

Posted on March 12, 2010 by Comments Off

SXSW Day 1, I took the content path. The three-panel series – which they called workshops (not sure I entirely agree with that nomenclature though) – boil down to this:

    SXSW10

  1. You need a content strategy. Let me tell you why. Because words are cheaper than comps. Because a cohesive UX requires a conduit between the designers, the copywriters and the brand strategists. Because effective message delivery starts with a good message architecture. And because messages across channels become disjointed without an editorial calendar to ensure consistency and adherence to message goals. Also, you want a social media strategy? There is no social media strategy without a content strategy. Content strategy is core to conversation strategy. Passionately presented by Margot Bloomstein. See her slides here.
  2. Don’t be afraid of the scary spreadsheet, it’s here to help. Three streams of a product strategy are design strategy, technology strategy and content strategy. Content strategy is often the missing link. So how do you approach a content strategy? Four-stage process: discover, design, develop, deploy. The majority of the discussion dug into the details of what the discover process looks like (“a really scary spreadsheet!”) – both quantitative/get the facts and subjective/assess the quality. Overall, the panel contained a lot of good content, but at such deep detail as to be more suited for a handbook than a presentation. Hope Rachel and Karen make the slides available. In the meantime, my stream-of-consciousness notes are captured here.
  3. 90 percent of everything is crud. Particularly on the Web. Bah. According to Richard Ziade and Tim Meaney of Arc90, the state of publishing can be summed up by Sturgeon’s law. We are sacrificing quality for quantity. The art of composition – mise-en-scene in theater terms – has largely disappeared. The idea of assembling content around an editorial vision is also gone on the Web today. All content is created equal, so it just sort of streams by. And far from the concept of an ambient content stream that we dine upon, we are in fact haplessly gorging ourselves. Why? As noted in the NYT article about why people share articles, people crave shared experience. So where do we go from here? Richard presented a series of “hopeful signs” to counter Tim’s “issues,” but they were tentative at best. Whither the editor. I think I missed the revenge part … perhaps that came in the form of our midsession emergency evacuation? More details in my stream-of-consciousness notes here.

My two cents: Content strategy is mission critical on three levels: process/workflow, social media conversation-building, and user experience. The latter gets at Tim and Richard’s gripe with the direction content has been taking as print media collapses and content online becomes sliced into ever smaller pieces. It’s true that editorial curation is getting lost on the social Web, but I would argue that it is being replaced by tools that allow us to self-curate, or to select curators in the form of those influence multipliers that we choose to follow.

And we DO have the ability to control the flow through the pipes (though we sometimes forget). But we don’t have as much control over the aesthetic presentation of the content we consume. This is where I see the crux of the need – and the opportunity – for good content strategy. Not simply designing and filling the pipes, but structuring and packaging the experience of the content flow. Mise-en-scène.

Tags: ,

Counter-Insurgency Marketing

Posted on September 9, 2009 by Comments Off

Tac Anderson, Digital Consulting Director, WE Studio D

content guerrillas

I know I said we should abandon military analogies in marketing but I was wrong. There are just too many cool examples. Here’s one we’ve been working on:

The traditional world of marketing and media are under an attack. An insurgency has formed and the tides have turned in their favor. Corporations cannot win this battle using the same old tactics.

Insurgents capitalize on societal problems, often called gaps; counter-insurgency addresses closing the gaps. When the gaps are wide, they create a sea of discontent, of which Mao wrote “the guerrilla must swim in the people as the fish swims in the sea.”

An insurgency cannot be fought traditionally because it is fought by and/or supported by the people.

[A] popular insurgency has an inherent advantage over any occupying force.

So long as the insurgency maintains popular support, it will retain all of its strategic advantages of mobility, invisibility, and legitimacy in its own eyes and the eyes of the people. So long as this is the situation, an insurgency essentially cannot be defeated by regular forces.

As long as armies have occupied hostel territories there have been insurgencies. And with very few exceptions, insurgencies eventually win.

There are three main tactics for fighting an insurgency:

Crushing Brute Force

This is the “Shack and Awe” approach. This is a bit of a gamble and really requires the acceptance that you will hurt (and kill) countless bystanders. This is the approach the RIAA has tried to take with file sharing.

Cut off Support

Lay siege and cut off all food, water or support. This is very hard to do. On one level I think this is what Murdock and the WSJ are trying to do. But locking yourself behind really high walls is the opposite of a siege. Hope he has lots of food and water.

Paramilitary Operations

This is the “fight fire with fire” approach. The only real way to beat an insurgency is to win back popular support. Paramilitary officers become guerrillas.

It occurred to various commanders that soldiers trained to operate as guerrillas would have a strong sense of how to fight guerrillas.

They are fully trained intelligence officers with all the clandestine skills that come with that training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action.

This is why I’m so passionate about the shifting capabilities of PR professionals. They use better intelligence, better tools but the same tactics. At WE Studio D we’ve been calling them Content Guerrillas and in a future post I’ll go into more detail about how we deploy them.

All of my quotes, which have been pulled from various Wikipedia pages, with notes and more can be found in my Insurgency Diigo list.

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