Bridging Two Worlds

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

Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

The medium IS the message – at least for now

Posted by B2W on April 22, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Craig McInnes had an interesting opinion article in The Vancouver Sun yesterday with the headline: Digital pictures are the tattoos of the Internet: You wear them forever. It is a great headline, a good piece and worth a read.

In the article, McInnes talks a little about Ray Lam, NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek and the Facebook photos that led to his resignation. He also mentions Sharon Smith, Mayor of Houston, B.C., who had a photo of her wearing only her chain of office show up online. There are many instances and incidents—political, corporate and personal—where inappropriate comments, images or videos have shown up on the Internet. McInnes is right, even if you pull them off your Facebook page, blog or website, chances are they are still out there somewhere and accessible.

We talk to clients a great deal about this new and unedited world when we consult on brand/reputation management as well as how to deal with an issue or crisis online. It’s a part of who we are today as communicators, professionals and people.

One key point that I think hasn’t been talked about a lot yet is that right now, it seems that the medium is the message – or at least provides news value. Ashton Kutcher takes on CNN and the discussion surrounds the ethical use of Twitter and whether Kutcher represents the “common” person. Somehow the story that this “stunt” (for lack of a better word) did something good for charity. Oprah starts to Tweet and pundits wonder if Twitter has jumped the shark. Never mind that Oprah is highly influential and does some good things for the world and might use Twitter to create positive change among her followers.

I think one of the most interesting cases of the medium overtaking the message is the miracle of the crash landing in the Hudson River by the US Airways pilot. There were some great stories about the miracle landing, the amazing abilities of the pilot and how the story was broke on Twitter. All good news stories. What I didn’t see much coverage on was the reason the plane crashed or much focus on that key point – THE PLANE CRASHED.

Right now, an organization that starts to use social media has a good chance of generating some coverage – good or bad – about their use of social media. Are they using it right, what does it mean for the organization, it is a good or bad thing for that particular tool?

Oprah on Twitter, oh my goodness, it’s gone mainstream and that’s a shame – cry the purists and early adopters. And I can see their point, to a degree. But aren’t these tools being developed to create opportunities for all of us to communicate?

Perhaps Oprah will use the tool more as a broadcast medium to send out messages rather than join the conversation. Personally, I give her more credit than that. However, if she does use it only as a one-way megaphone to talk at people, then either her specific community will either accept that form of communication from her or they will abandon her. At the core of it, usage depends on what your stakeholders and/or community will or won’t engage with. It’s all about them.

Social media has opened the door for real conversations. Some smart organizations realize the value of embracing the fact that the consumer now has a strong voice. These organizations also support, encourage and collaborate with their communities.

I have to admit, I can’t wait until this phase is over and social media is seen as what it is – another tool in the communicator’s tool belt. We can do some great things with the organizations we work with – both as in-house communicators and consultants. Don’t let the buzz around it all push you away from looking at what will work for you. 

 

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Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Interesting, Marketing Communications, Social Media, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Edmonton & Other Social Media Thoughts

Posted by B2W on April 21, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There are a couple of topics for today’s post, so I will try to keep them short and sweet.

Della and I had the honour of speaking to the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society on Friday. It was a great group of people – all interested in how to apply social media tools and tactics to their communications strategies. You can check out some of the tweets throughout the session here.

Chris Brogan, who I have a huge amount of respect for, has a great post on The Undiscovered Country of Presence Management. Here he talks about the challenges of having organizations on Twitter and Facebook and blogging or commenting on blogs. Who should be the voice, where should you look online for your communities, how do you go about it? This is a great start to an important conversation.

One of the key points for any organization that would like to embrace social media is that you need to be strategic about it. You need to begin like you would any other traditional communications campaign and understand who your community is, where they are and how they would like you to join the conversation. And at the core of it—Chris nailed it in his post—what people want is “real” interaction. Social media provides the opportunity to create a relationship with people – one human being to another.

Great public relations has always been about building relationships – ethically, authentically and with integrity. Social media allows us to do this. It takes a client that will authentically embrace transparency, some effort, resources and a commitment to staying strategic (and not being pulled away by the newest, brightest, shiniest piece of technology). It provides opportunities that we have never had before.

We know that social media has changed how we do our job. Right now we’re in a bit of chasm between how it used to be done and how it can be done. It is a challenging time, but it’s exhilarating too. The world is demanding that organizations step up and be accountable, responsible, engaged and that they contribute. As communicators, our role is to help organizations do this in a way that benefits the community, the employees and the organization.

Posted in Public Relations, Social Media | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

What Social Media & The Grieving Process Have In Common

Posted by B2W on April 8, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is an interesting gap in knowledge and acceptance when it comes to online/social media in some organizations. I have seen a range of emotions about it from some senior executives (including communicators). And it hit me the other day – it’s not much different than the stages of grief that are often cited.

First we have denial. – Oh come on, this is just a trend. It will all work itself out and go away. Look at the dotcom boom and crash. This is all just a bunch of technology that has no business case for our organization. None of our stakeholders are using social media, right?

Then anger. – How are we supposed to add this to our plate? What do you mean our competition has 10,000 followers on Twitter and the CEO blogs everyday and LOVES it! What next? I just can’t keep up! How are they making money anyway…and why should this matter to us?!!! I will just pass this off to an intern and it won’t matter.

Followed by bargaining (or as we liked to call it the “pilot project”). – Ok, I will approve a small budget to try it this once. But <INSERT your supreme being here> (God, Universe, Board of Directors, Shareholders, etc.) if I do this – and it works, you need to give me help. And by the way Director of Communications, I think this falls under your department, don’t you?

Onto depression.Well, it worked…(sigh). We got responses from our stakeholders – and they’re excited about this opportunity to have an authentic conversation with us. I am beginning to realize the value – and what it all means (sigh). For the next month or two, I am not going to look at the report on the pilot project and just let it sit on my desk because I know there is so much to do and I don’t know where or how to start.

And finally onto acceptance, which can even lead to hope! This is by far the most exciting and rewarding stage – both for the organization and the individual. Realizing that not only is social media here to stay, but used strategically there is real value in it. The understanding that there are communities of people – decision makers, influencers, supporters – that want to interact with people in their organization dawns and it is exciting. Here is where you begin to embrace the fact that the world has changed and start to recognize the opportunities that come with this paradigm shift.

Below are a few random examples of how the world has changed.

In this report, a judge in the U.S. had to recently rule on a juror’s use of Twitter during a trial.

Here, a judge allowed a reporter to cover a federal trial using Twitter.

And here are some stats on the growth of Twitter and Facebook.


Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Interesting, Marketing Communications, Social Media, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Big Media Control Google Content?

Posted by B2W on April 7, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

TechCrunch has a very interesting article entitled “The Whining Sound You Hear Is The Death Wheeze Of Newspapers.” It’s well worth a read.

The article discusses how some large media organizations are accusing Google of “stealing” their copyrighted content. It also links to another TechCrunch post about the Associated Press declaring that it will now police the Web and “develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used.”

There is a huge challenge in trying to police the Internet and, while I am not a copyright expert, it seems to me that some of these large media conglomerates are spending an awful lot of time, energy and money on trying to control the Internet instead of focusing on creating a new, interactive and collaborative business model.

I read a lot of blogs, follow a lot of people (but not too many!) on Twitter, spend time on Facebook, use Google, and spend far too much time on Mashable. From my perspective, content creators online are quick to credit and to link to others – including media outlets. Doesn’t this drive traffic to the media sites? Isn’t that a good thing? And – according to the TechCrunch article – there is a way for these big media moguls to stop Google from listing their content and it’s just one line of programming. So why don’t they…because they WANT people to find the news and click that link. It seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too.

One of the few “grown ups” in journalism that I think really “gets it” and is investigating how journalism and the Internet can create a mutually beneficial relationship is Kirk LaPointe of The Vancouver Sun. His blog is also worth following.

I love journalism. I grew up at Maclean’s and I have a huge respect for how the mind of a journalist works. We, as a society, need journalists to ask the tough questions, to research and fact check, to make complex subjects more understandable to those of us who are not experts in the field, and to bring perspective and balance to an issue. In my opinion, journalists are an important part of the fabric of our society. It’s not the journalists doing this…it’s the big business that has been behind the media for all these years.

The Newspaper Association of America is meeting in San Diego this week and according to a blog post by Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, he says that Google CEO Eric Schmidt will speak to them.  That will be an interesting discussion.

This is an interesting time. I hope the business of the big media companies doesn’t get in the way of true journalism and that the big dog media conglomerates can find a way to see the value of the Internet, bloggers and Google and the fact that this wide open approach to information, sharing and a global conversation is a really good thing. And if they put half as much energy into finding a way to make money from it as they do trying to control it, their world would be much less stressful. 

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

You’ve Been Served

Posted by B2W on March 17, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

It was reported recently that a New Zealand judge has allowed papers to be served via Facebook – check out the story here.  This isn’t the first time that the legal world has used social media, and it won’t be the last. It does make a pretty interesting point – social media is a part of our day-to-day lives now.

I was at the Ragan conference on social media in Las Vegas last week and there was an underlying theme that came from all of the speakers – social media, online media, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 – you can call it what you want…but it’s here and it’s about communication.  Individuals, groups and communities want to be engaged in a conversation, they want to be communicated with—not at—and they are demanding that we do it in a way that is relevant to them.

One of the overriding themes at the Ragan conference was that all social media is now just a part of how we live – and we need to quit thinking of it as:

  • Something kids do.
  • A trend that will go away soon.
  • Not relevant to my organization, life, audience, stakeholder group or community.
  • A stand alone component rather than a part of the overall strategy. 

It’s time to not only accept this interactive and engaging way of communicating, it’s time to embrace it. And to learn about it – it’s not as overwhelming as you think. Pick one thing a week and learn a bit about it. Take 15 minutes a day and engage. You may find that you are more interested than you realized and you will make more time to learn. 

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Interesting, Social Media, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Social Media – Not Just For Kids

Posted by B2W on March 10, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is a great post on how Imedia Connection on how mothers are becoming more and more engaged and involved in social networks. It would appear, according to a recently released industry study, that year over year growth of women ages 25 to 54 with children in the household has gone up nearly 50% on Facebook since 2007. This post is worth reading. It has some very interesting stats and facts, such as: according to a recent MySpace study, the average MySpace mom spends more than 12 hours a week on the site. — That’s a lot of time!

One of the important points to note about social media is that it’s not just for teenagers anymore. I am reading Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital right now and he calls them “screenagers,” which is a great description. However, it’s not just kids that are online. There is a wide range of individuals that are online and you can’t generalize or group them by age anymore. When we deliver our workshops to the senior team or the board of directors of an organization, we are always pleasantly surprised when at least one of the group tells us that they are really active online. Perhaps they are a gamer or they are immersed in communicating on Twitter or that they upload several videos a week to YouTube – and it’s never who you think it is. Times have changed and our perception of who is embracing social media needs to expand.

The Canadian Internet Project released a study last year that showed us that an older demographic is using social media in a variety of ways. I am active on Twitter, the microblogging site. While the people I am following tend to be involved in communications, social media or other areas that I am interested in, the demographic there is much older than you would expect.

PEW Internet & American Life Project recently released an interesting study on Twitter usage. There is a great blog post at Socialmediatoday on this topic, it is worth also worth a read. It will give you a great snapshot of who is using Twitter.

A new report was issued by Nielsen – Social Networking’s Global Footprint. One of the interesting points in this report (and there are many) is Facebook’s jump in numbers of people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). According to the report, from December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million). Pretty interesting stuff!

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

Are You Missing Out On Opportunities?

Posted by B2W on March 5, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Recently we have had the opportunity to assist several large organizations create, expand or improve their conversation with a diverse stakeholder base. These days, social/online media is always considered when it comes to this type of initiative. Enabled by technology, organizations that have a diverse audience and/or one that is geographically distanced or separated have an excellent opportunity to open up a two-way conversation that fulfills the needs of everyone involved. There are more cost-effective and engaging ways to communicate now than ever before.

While technology has provided us with the ability to reach out and connect, it’s always important to realize that just because you “can” doesn’t mean you “should.” When we take on a project with the objective of connecting or re-connecting with stakeholders, whether internal or external, it is important to get back to the basics of strategic communication and understand the audience. There has to be research and analysis done before we can strategically choose how to reach out. I think that one of the keys to using online media successfully is that you need to fully understand how the community you want to open the conversation with receives and puts out information. More and more, we are finding that people are online—on Facebook, reading blogs, on Twitter—but you do need to understand their comfort with technology and their habits.

PR Newswire recently put out an interesting questionnaire called Social Computing Online Readiness Evaluation. It is focused on enterprise social software, but some of the questions easily translate to understanding whether your audience is ready—even anxious—to begin the conversation online. You have to provide your email address and phone number, but in my experience, PR Newswire doesn’t drive you crazy with spam-like emails or unwanted phone calls, so it is worth logging in to read.

Some of the questions that it asks would be logical to ask when thinking about adding a social media component to your communications plan. This questionnaire happens to use the word “employees” – substitute that with member, stakeholder, or student and you can see the potential for context about whether social media might work for you. Some questions include:

  • What percentage of your employees are millennials (under 33)? This is a demographic that is quite savvy online. However, don’t think that those of us older than 33 aren’t. You would be surprised at how many people in your organization are connected and are moving further and further into online communication.
  • How difficult is it for your employees to cross divisional, hierarchical, and/or geographic boundaries? We find that even in organizations where people are all under the same roof, there are challenges – scatter them across the city, the province, the country or the world and the challenge grows. 
  • How difficult is it to deliver crisis communications and/or other important organizational information to the right employees at the right time? This is a huge issue for many organizations and one of the biggest challenges is that many don’t plan ahead. This is something that needs to be in place BEFORE something happens. 
  • How easy is it for your employees to discover internal subject matter experts? This is a very interesting question. How do you share knowledge and expertise in your organization? How much time is spent researching information that is easily available through a colleague or re-inventing the wheel? An organization can become more cost-effective and efficient when colleagues and other stakeholders become a part of a community and share information about who has expertise in certain areas, what your resources are, where they are, and other collaborative opportunities. 

Our role is to provide strategic advice, planning and implementation to clients in both traditional communication and social media. It is questions such as these (and many, many others) at the beginning that help us to define the right roadmap for each client. It’s definitely worth thinking about. If you are considering using social media, what questions should you be asking yourself about how, when and why you communicate with your stakeholders and what would the value be if you added social media to the mix?

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

Can We Still Have Our Privacy And Be Online?

Posted by B2W on September 16, 2008

PATSY Post

There is an interesting series of articles running in the Globe & Mail — Privacy Lost – the not so private price paid for social networking.  In the rush to embrace Facebook and MySpace, many Canadians have left themselves exposed. These pieces are worth a read.

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