Tag Archives: social media

The Death of E-mail?

25 Sep

crystal-ball-scary

Reposting this oldie but goodie….first published in August 2009.

Back in the early 1990s, e-mail was considered exciting and new. Hard to believe, Millennials, I know. There once was a time when e-mailing attachments was as exciting as sharing video with friends on Facebook. You could even send around prehistoric versions of Facebook quizzes and notes…they were called chain letters.

Long ago, in the dark ages of the 1990s, e-mail was considered revolutionary because it was “instantaneous.” We’ve come a long way, baby. “Instantaneous” is relative. It’s getting faster, and more complex, every day. Instant messaging tools from just a few years ago (like MSN Messenger and AIM) are now obsolete, replaced by social networks that facilitate instant sharing of pretty much any type of media that can be digitized–not just text. Even my mother, who is 71, recently joined Facebook so that she could see mobile uploads of her grandkids’ vacation photos.

As for snail mail, the U.S. Postal Service is considering the elimination of Saturday delivery. I won’t miss it. What about our not-so-old, reliable and not-so-instantaneous friend e-mail? What’s to become of one-sided messaging?

Here’s my prediction: As more baby boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials transition to regular use of social networks for both personal and business use, e-mail will fade away. More and more of our time will be spent in real-time interaction through tools like Facebook and Twitter, and their successors, and less time will be spent in cleaning out our in-boxes.

Why? Because in a world of information overload, we are hungry for friend-sourced information. Just knowing that a friend recommended a particular article or video makes me more interested in seeing it. And commenting in a venue where other friends can comment back just opens up the conversation for more thoughts. Social networking creates a forum where I can read the news “with” my friends–having the added bonus of their feedback and opinions built right in.

It’s all about engagement in the context of information. Social networking makes us happy because it informs us and keeps us connected with friends, at the same time. While it doesn’t replace in-person interaction, social networking is a good complement, when used judiciously.

Not Your Mother’s News Media

21 Jan

A post from the Werth Mentioning blog — one part of my day job.

Corporate Twitterer: Mascot, Spokesperson, Teacher

14 Oct

stringphonehj1For several months now, I have been the woman behind the curtain of my company’s Twitter presence. Every day, I put up several tweets, and since we began tweeting we’ve organically built a base of 1,000 followers. That’s several million less than Ashton Kutcher, for the record. But our enterprise is more about quality than quantity, so we’re in no hurry to get there.

Being the designated twitterer has been illuminating. There are several keys:

  • Tweets demonstrate the company’s values and culture, adding content of value to the conversation.
  • Retweets are within industry and share helpful information to broaden the minds of our followers.
  • Mentions call out other respected thought leaders within the industry.

In short, serving this role has me behaving somewhat like a combination of mascot, company spokesperson and teacher. Mascot, because I am “in costume,” behind the walls of Twitter, not posting my own individual thoughts but engaging as the Twitteresque embodiment of our company’s unique combination of offerings. Spokesperson, because I am serving up the company’s thoughts and opinion. And teacher, because I am providing a curriculum of sorts for our followers, through which they engage back with the company to provide shared content.

We’ve stayed away from prescheduled, automated tweeting, believing instead in the power of real-time, I’m really here interaction. Our belief is that our authenticity and credibility are built on our actual presence in the space, to build our reputation and engage with our customers.

Next time you visit your favorite brand on Twitter, say hello to the Twitterer behind the curtain. You might be surprised by the conversation.

Social Media Policies: Guidelines or Rules?

17 Sep

Here’s an increasingly common question from clients:

I want to implement social media, but I’m afraid that my staff will take advantage of the freedom. What social media policies can we institute to shape use by our employees?

It’s a good question. Businesses are catching on to the practical necessity of social media for customer interaction and reputation-building. But it’s unwise to jump into the fray before preparing in advance.

Having a clear communications plan in place is the first step. Warning: If your plan involves only social media, do NOT activate. Social media is only one channel for communication. Comparisons with walkie talkies and telephones are apt. Just knowing how to use a walkie talkie or telephone doesn’t mean that you know how to WISELY communicate with it. It all depends on what you say, not whether you know how to pick it up and talk through it. Take Gap’s new Born to Fit campaign. They are leveraging social media—heavily—but only as one among many tactics within the media mix, that includes billboards and other examples of “old-school” ads. No television, though. Interesting.

Now back to the policies. The situation reminds me of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Elizabeth Swann is trying to outsmart the Captain, and he reminds her of the flexibility around the pirate’s code:

Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann pretending to be Elizabeth Turner): … wait, you have to take me to shore, according to the code of the Order of the Brethren …
Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa): … first, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement, so it must do nothing, and secondly you must be a pirate for the Pirate’s Code to apply and you’re not, and thirdly the code is more of what you call guidelines than actual rules, welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner …

The same will be true of social media policies. The landscape is so dynamic that you cannot account for everything that could possibly happen. And not everyone will follow them, but without them you are rudderless.

Now back to the policies. Here are some common themes drawn from various social media guidelines:

  1. Use good judgment. Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Be yourself. Never be anonymous.
  3. Preserve confidentiality and intellectual property. Don’t disclose client or proprietary information.
  4. Own your own content. Take responsibility for what you post.
  5. Disclose your blogging to your supervisor. And put a disclaimer on your blog clarifying where you work and that the opinions and views you express are not necessarily those of your employer.
  6. Link back to your corporate culture guidelines. These should shape your social media practices.
  7. Use social media at work, because the process of communicating through social media is so often now a part of our work. But don’t let social media use keep you from getting other parts of your job done. Stay productive.
  8. Follow the ethics code of your given profession. Respect copyright and fair use. Do not risk defamation.
  9. Be a courteous social media community member. Pay heed to mutuality, authenticity and timeliness. These concepts have special meaning in the social mediasphere.
  10. Clarify the place of social media within your overall business goals and communication plan. It should not stand alone.

Now go forth and post!

More on Manners: SMetiquette

13 Sep

Judging from the traffic to this little blog, people like to read about manners. And they like to read about social media. This post is dedicated to a topic that I will call “SMetiquette,” or etiquette for social media.

Whether you’re just starting to use social media or have been out there as an “expert,” everyone can use a little reflection on proper adult ways to interact through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.

Here are some thoughts, based on what I’ve seen on the business and life sides, for what works and what doesn’t:

  1. DO share. Giving of your true self—including your thoughts, opinions, contributed content of all sorts—supports the social media ethics of authenticity and mutuality. Holding back, by only showing your business perspective and approaching social media simply as a way to make money, will not get you anywhere.
  2. DO be there. Now. But not 24 hours a day. If you are out there on Twitter all the time, then I’m going to think that you are lurking, at best, and stalking, at worst. That’s just weird. A few times a day is fine, but realize that your posts should be reflecting what you are learning about living life—which is not the same thing as being online all the time. Go out there and be offline to enrich your life, PLEASE! But when you are online, by responding to my posts and being fully engaged, I count you as a valuable contributor in the conversation. This is why I’m not a fan of automated posting through the variety of tools that are out there to support the omnipresent ideal. If it’s not really YOU out there putting up the post, it looks to me like you are not committed to genuine interaction.
  3. DO know when it’s time to DM or chat, or just plain talk in person. Everybody doesn’t need to see all of the back and forth—or inside jokes—that you think are hilarious. Use some judgment and take the conversation away from Everybody mode when it gets to a certain point.
  4. DON’T auto-DM or self-promote. If you do this when I follow you, I’m apt to promptly unfollow you. If you are just looking to drive traffic to your blog or Web site, I will care about you much less than I used to. It’s just rude and is the social media equivalent of jumping up and down or doing the “ooh-ooh” pick me thing that Arnold Horshack did on Welcome Back, Kotter. Looks and is desperate for attention.

This is by no means a comprehensive listing, but it should get you well on your way to being an appreciated contributor and practitioner of good SMetiquette.

Social Media Musings

13 Aug

This summer has been an interesting set of firsts for me in social media:

  • I got my first “commercial” offer on the blog–an incentive to run a contest. Gratifying to get asked to help promote a publication as lofty as Harvard Business Review.
  • Just a few weeks ago, I friended my mom on Facebook. It’s been interesting. She will not let me help her to post a picture of herself, but she was very interested in joining the fan page for Elvis and her church. She’s a bit lonely out there right now. I don’t think that there are many septuagenarians on Facebook. But my mom is not afraid to try new things, and I am quite proud of her.
  • I made the decision to “defriend” some people on Facebook who don’t interact with me anyway, in person or online. I am all about having quality interaction with the people that share back with me—not those who share nothing or just include me in push messaging that I’m not interested in. Life is too short to waste time. This defriending lightened my load in terms of friends but gives me more time to read and enjoy content from people where the friending is reciprocated. In case I accidentally deleted someone who really does matter to me, I made sure to let folks know that they should give me a shout to refriend–just as a safety net.

Nothing revolutionary here. Just some social media musings.

Snake Oil in the Social Mediasphere

13 Jul

imagesSo many self-proclaimed social media gurus are full of it. They confuse quantity with quality, and juvenile behavior with “authenticity.” Use of social media does not equal expertise in leveraging the medium for business purposes.

These days, there’s a fair dose of snake oil being peddled by people seeking to make a profit. Business advisors encouraging companies to hire a  “social media expert” lead to further confusion, setting aside real strategic decision-making for reactive jumping-on-the-bandwagon.

Just because someone’s using social media doesn’t make them a go-to for solving business problems. This is like saying that because a person can dial the telephone and talk with every friend in an afternoon that they are an expert in sales. It just doesn’t work that way.

Here are four recommendations for identifying a purveyor of social media snake oil:

  1. Take a look at their design aesthetic. Is the color palette of their blog reminiscent of the choices you would have made as a teenager? Just because you can make your blog header bright pink doesn’t mean that you should. Appearances do matter, and this is a signal that they are not playing to a business demographic. Taste is not something we’re all born with. Most of us develop it over time, through trial and error.
  2. Read their blog. Does it include self-promotional and narcissistic photos and a minimum of useful content, primarily focused on their drinking exploits? Is there a preponderance of lol, omg and cul8r? This is self-absorption that they’ll mature out of, but you probably don’t have time to observe the process of growing up. Let them interact with the newbies in the industry and pay their dues before they get credit for being a “guru.” Experience counts. Come back in 5-10 years.
  3. How much content do their tweets deliver? If they are mainly flirting with people or trash-talking with friends, this is another reason to filter them out. Sharing information is key on social media, but being mindful of what’s worth sharing is the “twetiquette” to live by. Some do not switch gears to DMs when a one-on-one conversation is started on Twitter, and that’s a shame. Knowing when to go off-line or on a private line is a judgment easy to make and honestly appreciated by the Twitterverse. A high frequency of  tweets does not get one access to the ranks of the Twitterati.
  4. Is their point of view “authentic” in a style that can be converted to play in a business setting? The beauty of social media is each individual’s ability to establish a uniquely authentic voice. Just as all voices are not welcome at the board table, not all social media voices are worth tuning into for business purposes. Being authentic in the business world probably does not include over-use of emoticons, IM abbreviations or stream-of-consciousness chatter. High-quality tweets consolidate big ideas, embedded in tiny urls and spartanly precise word choice. They are mini-headlines that when mined open new worlds for the reader.

Remember, there’s a “me” in social media, but it comes after the “social”–meaning that awareness of social standards is still good sense and good business.

Alsop Book Missing!

14 May

imagesI seem to have misplaced my Alsop book, so hopefully I can tear the house apart and it’ll turn up.

In the meantime, I will put in a plug for the Columbus Social Media Network. Michele Savoldi of Columbus imPRessions and I were speakers at a lively meetup on Tuesday for this relatively new group. The crowd was terrific, very engaged and provided a terrific opportunity to meet some of the social media personalities that I follow on Twitter.

By the way, thanks to the person at the meetup who gave me this idea: Why not batch several of Alsop’s laws together in my next few posts, so that I reach #18 more quickly? Great thought!

Note to self: Next time you choose to write a series, make it a three-parter, not an 18-parter.

Let this be a lesson to new bloggers: Don’t overextend yourself!

Alsop’s Law Six: Compelling Vision (aka Pizza Surprise)

26 Apr

Most organizations spend precious time writing vision statements, but few hit the nail on the head. Ronald Alsop’s The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation explores the connection between compelling vision and reputation in Law Six.

A vision statement should be aspirational, with a five to ten-year horizon. It should evoke an image of what can or will be, as a result of the work of a corporation or entity. As Alsop describes, there is a certain amount of poetry involved in setting visions, but the words must be jargon-free and substantively embody your organizational goals.

Interestingly, Alsop cites Domino‘s as one of the vision statements that’s pithy and on-target:

To be the best pizza delivery company in the world.

images-1A recent Deloitte paper compliments Domino’s vision and even states that “everyone is expected to know exactly how their job fits in to the company’s mission.” By now, everyone knows that at least two of the company’s employees were either unaware or didn’t bother to buy into it.

Here‘s an ABC story about the incident that has raised new questions about how companies can preserve their reputations despite employee faux pas via social media.

Domino’s took quick and decisive action in this situation, and they are to be praised. The company invested in a “listening post” so they could pay attention to social media that could damage their corporate reputation. Once the problem was identified and isolated in terms of location, their reaction was immediate and left nothing to chance. They closed the location, had everything sanitized and let go the two employees in question. The Domino’s spokesperson appeared on YouTube and commented head-on that the situation ran so counter to the company’s standards that it was downright distasteful.

Pizza surprise, indeed.

Learning New Tricks

16 Jan

Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in learning how to do new things. For some reason, the learning is more important to me than the end point of having learned.

Some people are just never satisfied. I’ll admit to a bit of that. Growing up, my parents moved 14 times between my birth and finishing college. So I come by it honestly — my mom is a big believer in change. She likes the smell of new carpet, I guess.

But for me that searching is about new ways of thinking. My work is an outlet for this, in a productive way. The landscape of public affairs, PR, marketing and advertising is constantly in flux, which keeps my thinking fresh. My discovery of social media has been an outlet for me personally and a boon to my professional portfolio. Helping clients learn more about how to apply social media in the business environment has become one of my pet projects. I am impressed by how technology can help our productivity, and help us to pioneer new ways of delivering our work processes and products. Olivier Blanchard (blogger handle The Brand Builder) has a good post about this phenomenon.

Client account management is fluid–never a dull moment–and it also keeps my brain flexible. Working with people, including their infinite array of ways to surprise and engage my imagination, is fulfilling. I am fascinated by the dynamics of teamwork in the client environment. Just yesterday I facilitated a meeting that included several more junior associates that are all up-and-comers. We were brainstorming with a client, who happens to be a guru in his area of practice, and I observed such active creativity that would never have occurred via conference call or back-and-forth e-mail messages. The beauty of client engagement is the interpersonal, in-person contact that fuels our work. I was proud of our team for the ability to bring best-practice thinking to the table and infuse it with in-the-moment solutioning. You can make your agenda, plan the desired outcome of a meeting and anticipate how it will unfold, but so often it goes in a different and improved direction. In yesterday’s case, we were generating new ideas that will soon be moved into execution. It’s good to see a group’s ideas go from start to finish.

And knitting is similar. I just learned how to make cables–easier than I thought it would be. And they are just lovely. I am so proud of my cables.  Every new row of cables makes me happier. There’s a beauty in learning a new technique and repeating it row by row, letting it sink in. Mastery of one’s craft–for fun or for money–is rewarding.

Teaching is a natural progression for this admirer of change. Yesterday I led an informal lunch-and-learn session on using FastTrack for project management. I’ve found that PR professionals do not always see the benefits of this practice, but at Paul Werth Associates my colleagues understand the practical application and how this can help us to be better account managers. I would like to do more teaching in my field, and have equally enjoyed opportunities to share my knowledge of knitting with those who are learning their way.

I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. – Albert Einstein

The teacher if he is indeed wise does not teach you to enter the house of wisdom but leads you to the threshold of your own mind. – Kahlil Gilbran, Lebanese symbolist poet and painter