Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization

Archive for May, 2009

Who “Owns” Social Media?

Posted by B2W on May 26, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is a very interesting article by Adam Broitman on iMedia Connection on “Social Media: Whose Job Is It Anyway?” It is a question that is often asked by a range of professionals from front line staff that want to participate, to the communicators, to the CEO and board of directors. One of the key points we make when answering it—and the answer is a little different each time because the organization is different—is that if it is everyone’s job, it will end up being no one’s job. There has to be someone within the organization that “owns” social media.

That isn’t to say that several areas of an organization shouldn’t be involved in social media and I believe PR/Communications should have a seat at the planning table. There is often a blur between Marketing and PR in the online world and it’s important to recognize that. Another area that should be included is IT. At the core of doing anything online is the technology. Consulting with your IT team is important; they can help you avoid some challenges that only someone with technical knowledge could foresee. However, having said that, I believe that IT is a contributor to the common goal, not the manager of the process.

Much like communication impacts other areas of an organization, so does social media. Social media is about joining the conversation, it’s about connecting and communicating, and it’s an important component of your overall communications and marketing strategy.

We have had several clients come to us and say they have been asked to build a social media strategy. It’s always interesting when we dig a little deeper and see what they actually want to accomplish by creating this strategy. Looking at social media, communications and marketing as silos within an organization doesn’t work anymore, and it is a perception that can create challenges both internally and externally. In my opinion, there needs to be an integrated approach and Communications needs to be, if not the driving force, a strong partner in the planning and implementation.

So, whose job is it anyway? In most organizations right now, that’s a question that should be asked.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Marketing Communications, Social Media | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Are You Listening?

Posted by B2W on May 25, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There was an interesting article in BusinessWeek last week about Web 2.0 and managing corporate reputations. I am often asked about the challenges that come with the open conversations created by social media. It’s a valid concern for organizations and one that should be taken seriously.

Some organizations choose to block employee access to social networking sites. That seems to be old paradigm thinking to me and it is a bit like locking the barn door after the horse has already walked out. There are all sorts of ways around being blocked. Think about how many staff members have an iPhone or a BlackBerry and can get online that way (and that number is only growing) or they can use an Internet stick (we use one quite often when we give presentations to organizations). And – there is always time away from the office.

What if, instead of shutting it down or ignoring what is being said on the Web, you took the opportunity to find people in your organization that are online and ask for their input on what you should be doing online? What if it became someone’s role to see what is being said online and you took a good look it – especially if it is negative.

There are many horror stories about people saying things or uploading video online that they shouldn’t. We’re in a new age of freedoms and many of us are still finding our way around it. Mistakes are going to happen – and people seem to forget that what is written online may be read and passed on to many people. However, when I see some of the more “high profile” examples of things that are inappropriate, unprofessional or just plain wrong being put online, one question comes to mind: Does your organization have a social media policy that everyone in your organization is aware of – and understands? There are two sides to this kind of policy – what staff members can do or say online in regards to your organization and what they can’t. If you are going to tell them what is acceptable, you also need to outline what is not acceptable. There is a lot of gray area here and you really need to be clear.

There is risk involved with embracing social media (in my opinion, there are more risks involved in ignoring it), but there are also some amazing opportunities. You do have to be open to criticism and to learning some new things as you go, but there are incredible opportunities to extend your stakeholder community, to engage individuals and groups that are interested in what you do, and to join a conversation that is already happening.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Marketing Communications, Social Media | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Strategy Always Comes First

Posted by B2W on May 22, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is an interesting article in the New York Times about one of the “hot new jobs” – the social media specialist. Social media, emerging media, interactive media or online communication is becoming more and more mainstream. Communication has changed and organizations that want to engage with their stakeholders and community need to understand that and include social media in their strategic planning.

One of the key points that isn’t included in this article is where the social media specialist “lives” in an organization. Is he/she in the communications department, marketing, or sales? And how is social media being integrated throughout the organization? Is it being done in isolation, as an add-on, or “over there” kind of approach?

One of the challenges that come with the emergence of social media is that often communicators are asked to develop a “social media strategy.” What does that mean? Years ago, if someone said: “I need a brochure” – we, as communicators would take a step back and ask what the objective was and would work out whether a brochure was the right tool to meet the goal. It is no different now except the tools have changed.

Should your organization be on Twitter? That depends, what is your overall business strategy and communication objective? Should the CEO blog? Perhaps, but take a step back and look at the bigger picture before you allow a tool to drive your strategy.

I think that there are many opportunities to use social media strategically and it is an exciting and interesting time. I also think that there are many organizations that would benefit from taking a step back and reviewing their current communications strategy to see how and where social media tools can be of value.

I am glad to see that social media tools are becoming a part of a communicator’s toolkit– but don’t let the tail wag the dog. Develop your strategy first, then decide on the right tools for the job.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Marketing Communications, Social Media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Inappropriate Behaviour Online – a Management Issue

Posted by B2W on May 21, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Another common thread in our masterclasses was the challenge communications people are having within their organizations to explain that management issues around social media are not the responsibility of communications – they are still management issues.  If a staff person is doing something inappropriate online, the same rules apply.

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Social Media, For God’s Sake!

Posted by B2W on May 20, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

It seems the head of communications for the Vatican has embraced social media. In a news release issued yesterday by the Catholics Communications Network, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Holy See’s press office, encouraged communicators to meet the challenge of using the Internet to engage positively to further the Gospel message of the Church.

This followed Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the Church to speak to “the digital generation” – and from what we can tell, pretty much the only way to do that is through technology. Now, full disclosure – I am not Catholic and I am suspicious of large, organized religious groups. But in reading the release, it made me wonder whether the Church is interested in social media because it provides a real opportunity to have a conversation or they see it as a “marketing” channel.

The Vatican has a YouTube Channel, it has Vatican Radio, it even has Vatican Television. One of the things about what they are doing currently is that it is all  “information out”— it’s not a conversation.

It will be interesting to see how the Catholic Church joins the conversation. According to a USA Today story, on May 24th the Vatican is going to launch a new website (pope2you.net) developed to engage youth. They even have some iPhone Apps on the way.

Now – whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, think about the impact of the Catholic Church using social media. I mean, this is an organization that dealt with some very serious issues in the past, its reputation is not exactly about being open and transparent about these issues or even some its day-to-day operations. Using social media and saying you want to create interactivity is a big thing, and it isn’t just about getting out there, it’s culture changing. And I think that it will be interesting to see how they use social media – as a broadcast platform or as a true interactive, community building effort.

Anyone can say they are embracing social media and use the tools, but what is the strategy and how will you respond when your stakeholders or community starts to include you in the conversation – both good and bad. That’s where it matters.

Posted in Interesting, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Learn by Teaching

Posted by B2W on May 19, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Ruth and I had the pleasure of conducting Social Media Masterclasses earlier this month.  There were many interesting take aways.  We learn something new each time we do a session.  Here is another interesting tool xobni.com – that is inbox spelled backwards and it allows you to get information on people who email you.  I will trial it and post my thoughts next week.

Posted in QUAY | Leave a Comment »

The Social Media Mindset

Posted by B2W on May 15, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Paul Chaney of MarketingProfs has an excellent blog post entitled “Seven Social Media Mindset Markers.” He points out that many marketers – and, I would add communicators and PR people – have adopted social media tools without understanding the philosophy of social media.

The world is a different place because of online communication. We have struggled in finding the right “name” for social media – online communication, interactive PR, digital communication…it’s a challenge because by naming it something other than “communication,” we isolate it from traditional or classic communication, and that shouldn’t happen.

One of the key points I took away from the Ragan Social Media Conference in Vegas is that social media is today, it’s now, it’s a reality and that we have to stop thinking of it as this new, different “thing” or tool. It is a part of how the world connects and we need to embrace that communication has changed forever.

Having said that, in speaking with communicators, I often hear of the challenges that they face in convincing their senior executive or board of directors that social media is of value. There is a paradigm shift that needs to happen at organizations. At the core of this shift is the impact of social media on how we do business. I believe this is exactly what Chaney speaks about in this blog post. It is imperative that we change how we think about the way we communicate before we use social media tools.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Social Media | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Google In Quotes

Posted by B2W on May 14, 2009

Post by: Della Smith of QUAY Strategies

Google now lets you look for quotes by person.  This is great for anyone researching a political issue to see what their representatives or potential representative has said about their subject.  It’s also great to see how people get quoted, if you want to review it from a media relations perspective.

Posted in QUAY | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

You Don’t Know Chuck

Posted by B2W on May 13, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Common Knowledge is an excellent resource for not-for-profits (and organizations) that wants to leverage the Internet and create conversations with stakeholders.  While it does focus on not-for-profits, it has solid business applications for online tools and the site is worth a browse.

There is a very interesting blog post by Joel Bush on the site entitled “You Don’t Know Chuck,” which focuses on the actions of fans that want so stop NBC from cancelling the show Chuck. It seems the fans are focusing on the show’s sponsor Subway and buying up six-inch turkey and meatball subs by the thousands. (I don’t watch the show, so am not sure of the relevance of this.)

However great this show of support is, it isn’t translating to an audience for the show. This is somewhat reminiscient of the approach fans of the CBS show Jericho took when that show was cancelled – they sent over 40,000 lbs of nuts to the network because they were “nuts” for the show. CBS did listen to the fans and kept the show on, but the audience didn’t grow.  So, it ended up being cancelled.

The Common Knowledge blog lists some key points/lessons to learn from these events that are very important. One of the most interesting, I think, is that your most vocal online supporters may not be representative of your stakeholder base. The online community is very important, but we are still in a stage where many people are just getting used to the online world and to having a voice. They might be reading, but not yet participating.  Understanding how to build your relationship with your community is challenging and it needs to be approached strategically. Understanding where your stakeholders are online and how vocal or participatory they are is key.

On another note, given the passion of these fans—and their focus on Subway—I wonder if there isn’t something that Subway could do to further connect with this passionate community if the show does get cancelled. Webisodes perhaps? Maybe an online/in-person event sponsored by Subway that provides fans with the chance to interact with cast and crew? There is some opportunity here for Subway. It will be interesting to see what they do with it.

Posted in Interesting, Social Media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

You Don’t Send Me Flowers Anymore

Posted by B2W on May 12, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Apparently there is an issue brewing on Twitter about Mother’s Day. It seems that some moms didn’t receive the flowers that their loving children ordered from FTD.

The smart people at TechCrunch are all over this and have a great blog post about the issue. They also did a sentiment analysis of the issue using twendz. According to the TechCrunch post, FTD has sent emails to people affected by this and offered them a discount on their purchase.

1800flowers also appears to have had an issue with delivering last weekend. The difference is that 1800flowers is engaging with disgruntled customers via Twitter. I searched and couldn’t find any response from FTD on Twitter and, according to the sentiment analysis by TechCrunch, 1800Flowers is benefiting from connecting directly with unhappy people on Twitter.

Posted in Interesting, Issues and Crisis, Social Media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »