Bridging Two Worlds

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

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Domino’s Delivers Charges

Posted by B2W on April 16, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Domino’s has created a YouTube response to the issue that they recently faced regarding what we have now heard was supposed to be a “hoax” video on YouTube.  There were several videos made by the two young people who worked (past tense) at a Domino’s franchise in North Carolina. (See our previous post on this.)

Domino’s takes a very interesting approach to this issue – and in my opinion, it’s a little over the top.  Depending on what kind of policy Domino’s has, maybe these young employees didn’t realize how wrong this was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a stupid, stupid thing to do, but not only have they been fired, according to Domino’s USA President Patrick Doyle, there are warrants out for their arrest.

Here are some of the phrases from the video:

  • We are taking this incredibly seriously.
  • This was an isolated incident.
  • The two teen members have been dismissed and there are felony warrants out for their arrest.
  • The store has been shut down and sanitized from top to bottom.
  • We’re re-examining all of our hiring practices to make sure that people like this don’t make it into our stores.
  • We have auditors across the country in our stores every day of the week.
  • The independent owner of that store is reeling from the damage this has caused.
  • It sickens me that the impact of two individuals could impact our great system.

I want to point out that I was not a part of managing this issue and don’t know all the details. This review of what I see is armchair quarterbacking, but it is also what I perceive as a consumer.  

I like that he was taking this seriously; it is a serious issue. It was very important to say that this was an isolated incident and that the teens have been dismissed.

I don’t know what they know and was not privy to how many complaints that they received or what the loss of revenue is but these two teenagers did a stupid thing. They should be fired, but felony warrants? (Mail Online is reporting that the two have been charged with distributing prohibited foods.)

It was important to let people know that the store was shut down and sanitized from top to bottom. (Although using the term “bottom” is kind of ironic…if you saw one of the videos.) I also think it’s important to let people know that there are auditors in their stores ensuring the cleanliness of the kitchens and that this is part of their ongoing policy and not just because of this incident.

I really think they need to look at what their social media policy is—or define one—rather than create hiring practices to make sure people like these two kids don’t get hired by Domino’s. Is this even possible? I expect that employees at Domino’s are like other fast food chains – many of them are young adults. We have all heard of these types of stories at fast food restaurants – so I am sure this kind of thing happens more than we think. I would love to believe that a hiring practice could remove this type of thing from all restaurants. If Mr. Doyle comes up with it, he should share it with the world!

It’s a new world; people do silly things on videotape and upload it to the Internet. Before this sort of thing happens, let’s give employees the knowledge of what is or is not appropriate and the repercussions if something like this was to happen.

Perhaps Domino’s might have said that we are now implementing a social media policy and are going to assist our franchises in working with staff so that they understand the damage that can be done by what they might perceive as a “hoax.”

I expect millions have seen the videos by now. The charges will now have hundreds of millions of people around the world searching these videos out. This will create further damage the Domino’s brand.

To me, it seemed like Domino’s used the heavy hand of “THE MAN” here and it could have used a little finesse. The words used were very powerful and created a strong emotional reaction in me – including fear for these poor, and not so bright kids. In this video, Mr. Doyle sounds angry. Maybe he could have gone to the gym and got rid of a little bit of his anger before taping the video. I get that he is taking it seriously, but I didn’t leave with a positive feeling about Domino’s after that video.

It may have been more effective to have this video done in an interview style or have Mr. Doyle speak directly into the camera. Having him read from a teleprompter didn’t allow for a connection to happen for me. 

Compare this to how JetBlue handled a huge issue a few years ago. This isn’t the best produced video and then CEO David Neelman trips over a few words, but he comes across as sympathetic, believable and authentic. This response video works, in my mind. Domino’s…not so much.

I would be interested in hearing other perspectives.

 

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Posted in Interesting, Issues and Crisis, Social Media, Things That Make You Go hmmm..., What Were They Thinking? | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Has Twitter Peaked?

Posted by B2W on April 14, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Steve Rubel, one of the leaders in the field of social media, just wrote a piece in Advertising Age saying that he thinks Twitter is peaking. He makes some good points, but what I find more interesting are the comments under his piece. Many people in communications and marketing disagree with him. They believe that for organizations in a non-tech world, Twitter is just hitting its stride.

Rubel is one of the gurus and has been active on Twitter since 2007. That’s a long time and he was obviously an early adopter. The tech savvy types out there that jump on things like Twitter first provide an amazing service to those of who are mid-adopters. They get in, check it out – and because the online world is open and collaborative, they share what they learn with us.

For the clients that I work with, it doesn’t make sense to be an early adopter. Investing resources, including getting senior executive buy in into an early stage technology isn’t strategic unless you are positioning yourself in the tech sector for a specific reason. Many organizations are just starting to get their feet wet with social media – from blogs to Twitter to Facebook. And for many that have started, they come to us looking for assistance in bridging what they want to do online with their traditional communications plan. They want to know how to develop a social media plan that supports their business objectives and how to engage and maintain an interactive presence. They want to provide value to their community, whether it’s an internal or external community.

Rubel might be right; the early adopters may be off looking for the next big thing. But if the past is any indication of the future, that means that people like you and me have quite a few good years left with the micro-blogging service. 

 

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

Some Social Media Tools

Posted by B2W on April 3, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Today’s blog post is a list of a few of the social media tools we like to monitor for ourselves and for our clients. These may help you navigate through the social media sites and weed through the hundreds of different tools in the area to figure out ways to increase business and/or open conversations with your customers/stakeholders.

Mashable – The Social Media Guide – is the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and social networking news. If you can only review one blog in the social media area, this one will keep you up-to-date with the latest and greatest.

Peter Shankman, the founder of The Geek Factory in New York, has developed an email/Twitter service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO). The email outreach is distributed three times a day, Monday – Friday, and offers 15 – 25 inquiries from reporters around North America looking for assistance with their stories. Go to his website and click on “Looking For Help A Reporter?” on the top right-hand corner to get on his email list. We saw Shankman speak at the Ragan Social Media Conference in Vegas last month. He is very interesting, engaging and really funny. HARO has changed things in how communicators connect with journalists – and it’s FREE! Shankman is also worth a look if you are searching for a keynote that is not typical.

Checkusernames.com is very useful. Simply type in your organization’s name in the “Check User Name” box and find out if your name (or your product’s name) is being used on various social media sites on the Internet. Over 100 social media sites are listed. This check leads into the topic of “brandjacking.” This is when a third party takes over another organization’s name or brand on social media sites and communicates with others for their own purposes.

 

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

U.S. Government Employees Can Access Social Media Sites

Posted by B2W on March 31, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

I had a good friend from Toronto staying with me this past weekend. She works at a credit union was explaining that she can’t access the Internet at work. It seems that many organizations are still living in the “dark ages” when it comes to allowing staff access to their Internet. There appears to be some concern that people will “waste” too much time online or perhaps say something they shouldn’t…

U.S. government employees are now able to access social media sites at the office. If the highest offices are allowing staff access, other organizations need to rethink why they are banning access to staff, and revise their policies to reflect this new and interactive world.

Most people are quite reasonable and won’t abuse the access, and putting policies in place provides staff with an understanding of what is expected. For many organizations that “block” the Internet, I often wonder if they realize that staff have other ways of going online – Blackberries, Internet wireless sticks, etc. There are more opportunities than ever before to get around rules and regulations that seem unreasonable.

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

Are You Listening?

Posted by B2W on March 18, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is a very interesting article in The Vancouver Sun today that cites a survey done by 6S Marketing. According to the survey, 61% of companies using social media are tracking what is being said about them while 39% don’t pay attention.

Social media is hitting critical mass – and as I mentioned in previous posts, one of the underlying themes at the Ragan Social Media Conference in Vegas last week was that social media is now a part of everyday life for the majority of people. My question is to that 39% not paying attention – why aren’t you? There may be conversations happening online at this very moment about your brand – don’t you want to know what is being said?

Every negative comment provides a chance to learn what your clients/customers/stakeholders/communities are thinking and saying about your organization and it allows you to understand their expectations and needs in an authentic way. There is so much to learn from what is being discussed openly and honestly online. It surprises me when I hear that some organizations and people aren’t listening. Active listening has always been one of the key tools in a communicator’s belt – so why not use this super powered tool that we have been given?  

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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 »

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 »

A New Year

Posted by B2W on January 5, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Happy New Year!!! Here is wishing you much happiness, success and conversation for 2009.

2008 was an interesting year, to say the least. While it is still an evolving and unpredictable area, online media was certainly a large part of our world in 2008. We have watched online/social media grow in acceptance and popularity. More and more clients wanted to include online media as a component of their overall communication strategy. Many of our clients increased their use of social or online media and found success in doing so. We also found that we were awarded contracts because of our blended approach – ensuring that the use of social media works alongside traditional communication and that no matter what tools we use, that everything we do is strategic.

With the current economic climate, there are challenges ahead for communicators. Budgets are being cut or, at the least, not being expanded. There is a growing demand for more than “average” return-on-investment from communication departments. This is an area where social/online media can make a positive and strong impact. It is cost-effective, the results are measurable and it can be implemented reasonably quickly and easily adjusted to meet the response of the community. It does take a shift in thinking from the senior team. There is still planning and understanding your audience. You have to make the effort to find out how your community would best like to communicate, but the result is often amazing. We have several clients that were a little hesitant to adopt an online/social media outreach and now, with several successes under their belts, they are embracing it and showcasing themselves as leaders in their industries.

The world is changing and social/online media are a big part of it. Even with the challenges we are facing, there are great opportunities for communicators to help our clients and our organizations to reach out and create meaningful conversations with stakeholders, to extend our communities and to take positive steps toward a better future.

 

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

The Big Three Don’t Get Social Media

Posted by B2W on December 9, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

I have been reading a great deal about the “Big Three” automakers and the controversy surrounding their proposed bailout. I have seen a lot of mainstream media coverage on this issue and wanted to know what was being discussed online. More specifically, I wanted to know what Ford, GM and Chrysler were doing online to open the conversation with consumers and the average person.

 

There has been a lot written online about how these companies were using social media to reach out “to promote the bailout.” Notice the choice of words: “to promote the bailout,” not to open a conversation with consumers, not to create a dialogue with the public, not to hear what their loyal customers or critics have to say… The words they used are: “to promote the bailout.” Sounds like a one-way conversation to me, but I put aside my natural skepticism and went for a look.

 

Silicon Valley Insider has an article on the Big Three being online. While it cites YouTube and even Twitter, I didn’t find much in this article that inspired me to think that maybe there had been a paradigm shift at these huge companies. Oh, and by the way – they bought Google Adwords and ads on sites such as the Wall Street Journal and CNN. Without looking at what ads they bought, I went to Google and searched “bailout,” “Ford,” “Big Three bailout,” and “automakers.” Apparently some of the words Ford used were “Ford Bailout,” “9 billion loan,” and “cash flow.” Perhaps my Google search brain isn’t working today, but those aren’t common phrases in my mind.

 

I also searched Twitter and couldn’t find anything specific. I only spent three minutes searching each company, but in this fast paced world – that’s a lot of time.

 

Ford does have a website. Thefordstory.com is Ford’s attempt at speaking with the average person. The front page has a video with Ford CEO Alan Mulally. It is a typical “old school” video where he talks about how he is more excited about being at Ford now than ever before. There is a short piece beside the video that reads:

 

At Ford, we are headed in a new direction. After turning a profit this year in the first quarter and making significant progress on cost reductions, we were hit by a spike in gas prices, followed by the current credit crisis. But instead of focusing on our challenges, we’d like you to know how very far Ford has come and how we’re doing business differently.

 

You can subscribe by RSS feed, email your friends or share this site. Nowhere on the site is there room for the average person to be involved in any kind of discussion or ask questions.

 

Much like their initial trip on private jets to Washington to ask for the money, Ford, GM and Chrysler seem to have missed the point in using online media. It is such a powerful medium and provides such an opportunity – especially during this crisis – to have an authentic conversation with their stakeholders. Instead, they reverted to Web 1.0 – we’ll tell you what to think.

 

They had a chance here to show some of the great things that their organizations have done, to explain that they know they need to evolve and show how they are doing it, to ask for opinions and feedback. Some of it, well, probably most of it, might be negative but there are a lot of smart people out there…and we’re willing to understand mistakes, to support change, to work with you…but you have to let us have our say and to acknowledge that you messed up.

 

Online media can’t create miracles, but it can mobilize supporters. It can provide information and a connection to those who want to know what is going on. It gives your critics a voice, a voice you need to hear. The meltdown of this industry is a symbol of how the world is changing. Online media is a part of that change…and for organizations that want to grow, evolve and improve, it’s a huge opportunity.

 

 

Posted in Issues and Crisis, Social Media, What Were They Thinking? | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »